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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Revelation 11

Verses 15-17

DISCOURSE: 2512
THE REIGN OF CHRIST ON EARTH

Revelation 11:15-17. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

WE read of our blessed Lord weeping over Jerusalem, in the contemplation of the guilt they had contracted by their misimprovement of his mercies, and the heavy judgments which were about to be inflicted on them. And, in truth, wherever we turn our eyes, whether towards the heathen or the Christian world, we see but too just occasion to weep over their unhappy state. It is almost impossible to behold the universal reign of sin and Satan, and not to participate the feelings of David, when he said, “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because men keep not thy law [Note: Psalms 119:136.].” But it will not be always thus. There is a time coming, and, we hope, now near at hand, when the whole world shall be converted to the faith of Christ, and “the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea.” Of this period the Apostle speaks in my text. Respecting the sounding of the seven angels I forbear to speak, because of the obscurity in which the subject is involved. But of the universal establishment of the Redeemer’s empire, and of the joy expressed amongst the heavenly hosts at the prospect of it, I may speak with certainty; because it is a subject so fully opened in the sacred writings, that we can entertain no doubt respecting it.

Let me then call your attention to,

I.

The approaching reign of Christ on earth—

The kingdoms of this world have hitherto been almost entirely under the dominion of the prince of darkness—
[Satan is called “the god of this world,” because he has reduced the world to a state of entire subjection to himself. That wicked fiend beguiled our first parents in Paradise, and brought under his own tyrannic sway the whole of the human race. The effect produced by him on his vassals may be seen in the first-born child of man; who was a murderer, and slew his own brother solely from an envious hatred of his superior piety. Some few, a little remnant, God has in every age delivered from his dominion; but, from the fall of Adam to the present hour, he has kept in bondage the great mass of mankind, and is therefore justly called “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in all the children of disobedience.” Not that he has power to make men act contrary to their will. They are possessed of a corrupt nature; and he knows how to take advantage of their evil propensities, and to ensnare them with temptations suited to their corrupt appetites. His wiles and devices are inconceivably subtle: the spirits also that are confederate with him are innumerable: and men are but too willing to comply with his solicitations: so that he takes them in his snares, and “leads them captive at his will.” He does not indeed impel every one to the same crimes. Some he instigates to fulfil the desires of the flesh; others to tread more nearly in his own steps, by gratifying the desires of the mind in the indulgence of pride, envy, malice, and other hateful passions; which are no less odious in the sight of God, than those lusts which assimilate us rather to the beasts. But, whatever diversity there may be in the outward conduct of mankind, all agree in this, they cast off the yoke of God, and walk after the imagination of their own evil hearts — — —
Such is the state of all the kingdoms of this world, as well of those which enjoy the light of revelation as those that are yet immersed in Pagan darkness.]
But they will in due season “become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ”—
[The prophets have fully declared this: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom,” which shall not, like the kingdoms of this world, be destroyed, but shall be universal in its extent, and everlasting in its duration [Note: Daniel 2:44.]. To “the Son of man,” the Lord Jesus Christ, shall this be committed; and “all people, nations, and languages shall serve him [Note: Daniel 7:13-14.];” “all kings shall fall down before him,” and “his enemies shall lick the dust.” Not that he will interfere with the exercise of kingly power amongst the different potentates of the earth: for “his kingdom is not of this world:” the seat of his empire is the heart: and there will he establish his throne; not by the sword of man, but by “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Of what kind his dominion will be, we may form some judgment from what took place on the day of Pentecost. His word on that day was “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,” and thousands instantly fell before it. So, when the time shall have come for the full establishment of his kingdom, all opposition, whether of men or devils, shall fall, as Dagon before the ark, and “all nations shall be subdued to the obedience of faith.” Then where sin and Satan have hitherto maintained an undisputed sway, the grace of God shall reign, and iniquity from thence-forth shall hide its face — — —]

No sooner was this glorious event announced, than all the hosts of heaven were moved to welcome it. Their thanksgivings will lead me to set before you,

II.

The joy expressed in heaven at the prospect of it—

Verily, the reign of Christ is a ground of joy, and may well be made so by all on earth, and by all in heaven. Consider the effect of it,

1.

As it respects the honour of God—

[God is banished, if I may so say, from the very world which he has made; and the whole of the human race are up in arms against him. His authority is altogether despised. Let any one attempt to impress on men the obedience which they owe to God, how will he be regarded? What will he meet with from every quarter but ridicule and contempt? I speak not of the liberty which by courtesy is allowed to ministers in the discharge of their public duty, but of expostulations or entreaties in social life: and who is there that knows not how such a liberty would be resented? Nor would it give offence only amongst the profligate and abandoned, but amongst the more moral and decent part of the community: nothing more need be done than to exalt God’s law as the rule of our conduct, and his authority as paramount to every other consideration, and it will soon be seen how entirely all subjection to him is cast off, and man is become a god unto himself. The same effect will be produced if we speak of the love and mercy of our God. Let us. declare to those around us what God has done for the redemption of a ruined world; let us invite them to believe in Christ, to apply to him for the gift of his Holy Spirit, to live in the continual exercise of prayer and praise; shall we be a whit more acceptable to carnal men, than when calling them to submit to the commands of God? No: the language of their hearts is, There is “no God” to controul us [Note: Psalms 14:1.]; or, if there be, we will not submit to him: “We know not the Lord, neither will we obey his voice [Note: Exodus 5:2.Job 21:14-15; Job 21:14-15.].” And as for his Son, whom you represent as sent to gather in the fruits of his inheritance, “let us cast him out,” and live in the undisturbed enjoyment of our own hearts’s lusts.

Now who that considers this must not blush, and be confounded for the indignities which are cast upon his God? How can we reflect upon it a moment, and not wonder, that the whole earth is not swallowed up again with an universal deluge, or burnt up with fire as Sodom and Gomorrha?
But it is delightful to know, that a period is coming, when “God will take to him his great power and reign,” from one end of the earth even to the other. In this contemplation our minds find some relief. Our God shall not always be thus dishonoured: his authority shall one day be universally acknowledged, and his will be universally obeyed. The mysteries of his love also shall be duly appreciated, and all the wonders of his grace be extolled on earth even as they are in heaven. Well might the four and twenty elders, the representatives of the whole body of the redeemed, “fall down and worship God” in the prospect of this time, “saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”]

2.

As it respects the happiness of man—

[Were we to look only to the temporal happiness of man, we shall find it greatly enhanced by the diffusion of true religion in the world. For partly through the calamities to which we are unavoidably exposed, and partly through the evils which men, through the influence of their evil passions, inflict upon each other, this world is, more or less, to every man, a vale of tears. But religion induces such habits of mind as to dispose us to an universal exercise of love; whilst it affords such consolations as turn afflictions themselves into occasions of joy. In reference to individuals, it may be said, that “instead of the thorn grows up the fir-tree, and instead of the brier grows up the myrtle-tree [Note: Isai. 56:13.];” and, in reference to communities, that the wolf is made to dwell with the lamb, and the leopard to lie down with the kid; nor will there be any to hurt or to destroy in all God’s holy mountain [Note: Isaiah 11:6-9.].

Great as the change is in this respect, it is far more glorious in a spiritual view. Where is the man who knows any thing of solid peace? He does not exist upon the face of the whole earth, except among the little remnant of God’s peculiar people. Many possess what they call peace, that is, a mere thoughtlessness and indifference about the eternal world: but who derives joy from the contemplation of death and judgment? Who is “looking for, and hasting unto, the coming of the day of Christ,” as the period for the completion and consummation of his bliss? Or who finds a real delight in God as his reconciled God and Father? This is the portion of those only who have believed in Christ. They do possess it: they walk with God as dear children: they maintain sweet fellowship with the Father and the Son: they live as on the borders of eternity, and enjoy already a foretaste of their heavenly inheritance. Of this indeed none can judge, but those who experience it in their souls: there is “a stone given to them with a new name upon it which they alone can read [Note: Revelation 2:17.]:” but though the stranger intermeddleth not with their joy, it is real, “unspeakable, and glorified.”

For the full effect of the reign of Christ we must wait till we come into the eternal world. We must be added to the heavenly hosts before we can at all conceive of their bliss: but when exalted to a participation of their lot, we shall feel precisely as they do; and “fall on our faces before the throne of God,” to adore him with all the blended emotions of humility and love. Where Christ is not known, the very superstitions of men impose on them such a yoke as makes life itself a burthen: but, wherever he reigns, “the wilderness blossoms as the rose,” and earth becomes a nursery for heaven.]

Let me now, in conclusion, address myself,
1.

To those in whose hearts the kingdom of Christ has been established—

[Mark, I pray you, the conduct of those in heaven. In the prospect of this glorious period, they, not on their own account, but on account of those who should hereafter participate their bliss, rose from their thrones whereon they were seated, and all with one accord fell upon their faces before God, the very instant that the glad tidings were proclaimed, and burst forth into the devoutest praises and thanksgivings to him on account of the blessings which were about to flow down on man, and the honour which would thereby accrue to God. And will not you prostrate yourselves before him; you who are so deeply interested in this event, and who have through the sovereign grace of God been already made partakers of the benefit? I charge you, brethren, to cultivate this very spirit. This is what I wish to see in all the religious world: this is the true and proper effect of redeeming love upon the soul: and I call upon you all to make this improvement of it, and to grow downward in humility, whilst you bring forth fruit upward to the praise and glory of your God.]

2.

To those who have never yet bowed to the sceptre of his grace—

[Do you not know that this revolution which is to take place in the world at large, must take place in the heart of every individual; and that, till it is experienced by you, you are subjects and vassals of the prince of darkness? Know of a surety, that, if ever you would be acknowledged by Christ as his redeemed people, you must be “turned from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” Yes indeed; you must submit to Christ; you must bow to the sceptre of his grace, or be “broken in pieces as a potter’s vessel.” Remember what he has said respecting those who reject “his light and easy yoke;” “Bring hither those that were mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me.” My dear brethren, cast away the weapons of your rebellion ere it be too late; and yield a willing obedience to your Saviour now, that you may reign with him in glory for ever and ever.]


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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Revelation 11". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/revelation-11.html. 1832.