THE PROPHECY LETTER
Studies in the Apocalypse
The Revelation Of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John
This brief overall consideration of the Apocalypse is intended to be a refresher for those who wish to study the structure and content of the Revelation without resorting to the numerous books which explain it in very great detail and require much time to explore.
Those books are (cautiously) recommend in order for one to acquire a deeper, fuller understanding of the events of the revelation which Jesus Christ gave John.
This revelation was dictated by the Lord Jesus Christ to the Apostle John who, at the time, was on the Isle of Patmos either as a prisoner in exile or seeking refuge, in approximately 96AD.
The first three chapters are introduction and setting, to which are added detailed instructions to seven Ecclesias of Asia Minor.
Beginning at the fourth chapter, a series of revelations is given John as Seals being broken, Trumpets sounded, Woes pronounced, and Vials being poured out on various parts of the earth.
It will be our task to elaborate upon these actions and strive to understand and relate their significance to the Believers who would come to Christ in John’s future.
The Setting of the Revelation
Rev 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
To signify a narrative is to relate it in symbols and signs.
The Apocalypse is therefore a book of symbols. It is not generally to be taken literally but is a carefully crafted revelation of future events in Biblical symbols and signs which are determinable and meaningful, as we shall see in our review of the work.
Rev 1:2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
Rev 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
The Apocalypse (this prophecy) is attested as being open to some who would “hear” its words, and adhere to the commandments written therein.
Note the last phrase, “the time is at hand,” indicating the rapid onset of these events. They are not given as events to happen at any one time in the far distant future as Futurists believe, but are to be a progressive work through the next centuries.
But to others, such as Preterits, its prophecies are already fulfilled. Preterits are those folk who believe the Revelation was fulfilled in John’s age and is finished.
Both views are extreme when compared to the words Jesus uttered: the events were shortly to begin to be fulfilled and would clearly stretch on into the future day when the kingdom is established because that era is palpably foretold in the prophecy.
Their fulfillment would occupy a long stretch of time into the future...
Rev 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
The geographic designation of Asia refers to Asia Minor, or the Anatolian Peninsula which is now largely Turkey. All these churches (Ecclesias) were located in the present territory of West Turkey and their sites are well-known today. Many of them have been excavated from ancient ruins and are readily available for visitation. This author personally has been privileged to visit six of the seven cities of this work, Laodicea being the exception.
Our guide advised us that the remote location of Laodicea is almost void of excavation and that there is little at that location that is valuable for observation.
Rev 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
Rev 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
These lofty inspired words speak to the student of the immense importance of the LORD Jesus Christ and the rarity and inherent value of his Sonship in both life and sacrifice. It is He Who is giving this Revelation.
He speaks of Himself in the third person here, and leaps forward to the supremely important Event of the Ages ... His own Second Coming; this is the object of the entire revelation recorded here.
Rev 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they (Israelis) also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Some have opined that the use of “clouds” without reference to “the” clouds here is strictly a reference to a huge assembly of angels – a great crowd of angels – but we believe this is not His primary meaning; as we shall discover, He is likely referring to an immense “cloud of witnesses” who are to be identified as the immortalized Saints Who appear with Him among the tribes of the earth with the immediate intent of conquering Israel’s enemies and defeating them – the nations “roundabout” Israel today, and the establishment of His authority as Messiah in the midst of his People Israel.
He is perhaps also referring to the literal clouds of the heavens in addition to the great crowd of accompanying Beings who appear with Him at that time.
We remember that when He ascended to the throne of His Father, He arose from Mount Olivet and was received by “a cloud,” as recorded in Acts 1: 9 (see below discussion).
And so shall He returns...
We may read His own words as recorded in Matthew 26:64 - Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless, I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
Mark records (Mark 16:19) that He was “received up into heaven (into the clouds and beyond), and sat on the right hand of God.”
We do not denigrate the use of “cloud” to describe a great conglomerate of people, for in Hebrews 12:1 the author attests to the fact that ... we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses ...
Paul’s description of His Second Coming utilizes the figure of “clouds” also – in this case meaning, we believe, a great throng of people, because “the” as modifying “clouds” in this passage is absent – added by the translators who did not get the entirety of his message: 1Thessalonians 4:17 - Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in
the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
We believe that in this instance Paul is referring to “clouds” of people – an immense throng of immortalized Believers of all ages and cultures now assembled with Him in order to carry out the great body of work that lies ahead of Him and them.
In so saying, we reject the notion that Paul was referring to the literal clouds of heaven in that particular apocalypse as the Righteous have been assigned the earth as their inheritance – not the heavens, as many claim. None of them shall ever have left the earth. Indeed, they are destined to be raised from the (memorial) earthly graves of all ages and gathered together with the living covenanted ones before they are all conveyed angelically to the place – the venue – of the Judgment Bema (seat) of Christ the Judge.
Luke specifically mentions that He was enveloped by a cloud as He arose to the heavens: Acts 1:9 - And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
This fact does not negate the truth concerning His Second Coming, however, that He shall appear with a great cloud of immortal Saints Who shall assist Him in His establishment of the Kingdom on the earth.
Rev 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
In this identification of Himself, the LORD Jesus is not appropriating a title to Himself which is deniable. In attaining to immortality, He has indeed assumed the nature and Purpose of His Father, and at that time may rightly claim that title with impunity.
It naturally follows that the Father’s Spirit and Power is invested in Him at this time, and He comes to do His Father’s will among the kingdoms of men ... and with His Father’s full sanction.
Now the Apostle John begins a short address, giving the background for the Revelation which he is about to deliver from the mouth of the LORD Jesus ...
Rev 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Rev 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day (Note: this was evidently on a Sunday, “the first day of the week,” as that seems designated as “the Lord’s day” in Acts 20:7), and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet (a shophar – loud, intrusive, authoritative, and clear),
Rev 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book (a scroll), and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
The Speaker’s decisive voice comes to John from a rather odd venue – from the midst of seven golden candlesticks! These remind us immediately of the lamp stand – the Menorah – the seven-branched candle-stand that inhabited the Temple of God in Jerusalem. The Menorah is so important in Jewish thought even today that it is the national symbol of the Jewish state!
Rev 1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
Rev 1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
It is the Master Himself!
Notice carefully the highly symbolized habiliments exhibited upon His person, and attach to these their appropriate meanings in spiritual symbology.
The golden girdle is an accouterment of FAITH, for faith is as “tried” (refined) gold. Revelation 3: 18 indicates its refined production out of great tribulation and trial.
Rev 1:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
Whiteness represents the righteousness of a godly Man ... and of godly men and women, Who in that day are clothed similarly to Him.
Rev 1:15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; it is created in high-temperature furnaces and is durable and highly malleable (easily transformed into many useful objects). As such it shows refined meekness and teachability – the ability to be admonished – which is a prime characteristic of Believers throughout the ages.
Rev 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
The student is fortunate that only four verses ahead, He gives a straightforward definition of the next two symbols: the seven stars and the seven candlesticks. The stars represent the messengers (angels) of each of the seven Ecclesias already enumerated; and the seven candlesticks represent the Light Stands which define the seven Ecclesias of the scroll ...
Revelation 1:20 - The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches (or Ekklesias in Greek: see Strong, G1577).
Rev 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
Rev 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
These words leave no doubt as to the identity of the Revelator. Only one Man fits this description.
Rev 1:19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
Rev 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. <HEL>
Messages to the Seven Ecclesias
Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos and Thyatira
Ephesus: From John’s writings to AD 100
Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
Rev 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
Rev 2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Rev 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Rev 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Smyrna: AD 100 to AD 313
Rev 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
Rev 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
Rev 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Rev 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Pergamos: AD313 to AD606
Rev 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
Rev 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
Rev 2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
Rev 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Rev 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Thyatira: AD606 to AD1517
Rev 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
Rev 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
Rev 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
Rev 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
Rev 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
Rev 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
Rev 2:24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
Rev 2:25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
Rev 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Rev 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
Rev 2:28 And I will give him the morning star.
Rev 2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
This is the longest commentary of the set of seven.
Letters to the Seven Ecclesias
Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea
Sardis: AD1517 to AD1739
Rev 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Rev 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Rev 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Rev 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Rev 3:6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Philadelphia: AD1739 to AD1850
Rev 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
Rev 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Rev 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Rev 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Rev 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Rev 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Rev 3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Laodicea: AD1850 to the Present
Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Rev 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Rev 3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The Rainbowed Angel
Rev 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
The first voice has the clarity and tenor of a trumpet – a shofar – which was the instrument employed in the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hoshanah, the two-day celebration of the beginning of the Jewish civil year. The trumpets are utilized to “raise a noise” to the LORD on that occasion, and thus gets the rapt attention of all within earshot. This trumpet is saying to John, “Pay attention to this!”
Rev 4:2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
Rev 4:3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
We understand “heaven” here to be indicative of higher planes of being or of thought, symbolized by the exalted heavens of the Great Expanse. It does not mean the Heaven where the Almighty dwells. This symbol is consistent throughout the scroll. Remember that the entirety of the Apocalypse is “sent and signified...” as in Revelation 1: 1.
This account of the Angel of the Bow (obviously representing the LORD Jesus Himself) sets the stage for the entire remaining scroll of the Revelation.
He appears at various intervals throughout the narrative, as we shall see.
The trumpet spoke to John, bidding him to “ascend” in the Spirit of God so that he might behold future events. As already stated, trumpets in scripture are used to gain attention – to rivet the concentration of one upon a given task or revelation.
As is true of all rainbows, the rainbow consists of sunlight filtered through water droplets suspended in the air – a process which fractionates the clear light of the sun into the component colors of the visible light spectrum. “White” light is made up of all these colors in a divinely founded and defined proportion and intensity.
Rainbows are first mentioned in the account of the flood of Noah’s day, where the first one was given by the Almighty as a token of His promise never again to flood the earth.
Four and Twenty Elders; Four Beasts
Rev 4:4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
The vision widens with this added description. As with the Angel (Greek, aggelos, pronounced “angelos” – a messenger of God) upon the throne, the twenty-four elders clothed in white and crowned with golden crowns, also deserve attention. We believe that these two dozen beings represent the called of God during the Israel age (the twelve tribes) and the Ecclesial age (the twelve apostles) – both in the most significant of terms, an expression of the principle of “God with us”): thus they symbolize the Twelve Tribes of Jacob and the Twelve Apostles of Christ, twenty-four in all. In these bodies were vested the mission of witness to the Truth of His word, and the forward movement of His plan with men in every age.
These are referred to in these assorted, widely-separated passages; notice particularly their specificity throughout the Revelation and that they are entirely subservient to the Angel of the Bow as indicated in every case by the underlined portions of the text:
There were also the voices of authority and supremacy emanating from the throne, lightnings and thundering and voices, echoing the words and will of the Most High.
These represent an innumerable multitude of crowned ones (kings) those who are with, but subservient to, the Angel of the Bow – they represent the Redeemed Ones of all ages and nations; the entire scene is a symbol of the initial days of Christ’s kingdom upon the earth and their conquest of it.
All the events of the Apocalypse lead to this end – the triumph of Zion over Rome, of Christ over Antichrist, of Good over Evil, of the Seed of the Woman over Satan. Indeed, these entities illustrate the polarities and the themes of the entire scroll.
The narrative looks ahead to a glorious day of the blessing of the Saints of God – at that later, ultimate time, immortalized and dwelling on the earth with their Master, and interfacing in the affairs of the world as it resists the Christ of the Second Advent.
Seven lamps, or candlesticks of fire, were before the throne, representing the Seven Spirits of God – that is, His power universal which pervades the heavens and the earth. The voices with which they speak define their admiration for the Angel of the Bow and their faithful dedication to His work abetted by their immense, newly-acquired power.
Rev 4:5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Rev 4:6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
The sea is a representative of multitudes of men and women of the world, as we shall see in several future references to this sea – sometimes troubled, as in our present time, and sometimes smooth, or glassy, as in this vision.
This sea is like unto crystal, which is clear, and transmits light. Its surface is smooth and peaceful and tranquil. This means that the Light of God – the Light of the World – is present within the nations so represented.
Thus, the nations are at rest in this vision, enjoying the peace which has been brought by and is ruled over by Christ. It consists only when Christ is in the earth again with His Saints (the Redeemed of all ages) and is overtly enthroned in Zion, and foreshadows the conditions which will exist when all these events have transpired.
The four beasts that were seen are the Cherubim of God, reminiscent of those in the first and tenth chapters of Ezekiel, q.v.
As in that earlier vision of the prophet, these have the likenesses of a lion, a calf (ox), a man and an eagle.
These are identical symbols of the four sections of Israel’s encampments of their wilderness journey.
They also represent the four major aspects or roles of the Son of Man, as illustrated and portrayed by the Gospel authors: Matthew (viewing Jesus as a Lion), Mark (as an Ox, or beast of burden and sacrifice), Luke (as a natural Man), and John (as an Eagle, or ascendant Son of God).
Rev 4:7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
Rev 4:8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
We visualize these four beasts as components of the Cherubim – the entire apparatus of the will of God in the earth, His expression in Jesus Christ, His plan for permanence and universal peace, and His enormous, electric, omnipresent power.
The collective is fully described in rather esoteric terms in Ezekiel One.
Their movement is unhindered, symbolized by the wings; they are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle.
They seek their goals without wavering or temerity of any sort.
They are always victorious and dominant.
They give glory and honor and thanks to the eternal Angel of the Bow.
In this great figure is embodied, in the finality, the Redeemed Saints of God as manifested by their devotion before Him, indicating complete and willing submission to Him, and subservience TO Him in all things – their faithful obligation to uphold His will in all things.
Their confession in verse 11, is that only He is worthy to receive their homage because He has brought about the New Creation, and it is He Who is described as He … Who was the beginning of the Creation of God (chapter 3:14, and verse 11, below).
Rev 4:9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
Rev 4:10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying (thus, they follow faithfully the lead of the four Beasts),
Rev 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
This acknowledgment of His role as Creator of the New Creation of beings who are entirely dedicated to his service reinforces our assurance that the object of their adoration is the LORD, Jesus Christ, Who at that future time sits upon the Throne of David in Zion, and rules over the earth.
Note well the distinction that He is not described as the original Creator of the heavens and the earth, but as the Creator of the New Creation of the spiritual realms of YHVH in the earth.
The vision is an earnest of the distant future. But its certainty is as final as the clarity of the vision: it shall be done. <HEL>
The Scroll With Seven Seals
Within the ensuing narrative, there is fully bound up and globally represented the certain future of the interface between Christ and Caesar – between Zion and Rome – the overall theme of this entire Revelation. The book is a scroll secured with seals at intervals, each of which, when opened, will reveal yet another chapter in future history – future to John’s day.
By the study of these accounts throughout history, men of faith have found their own place within the scheme of progressive fulfillment, many of whom recorded their findings for future students to prove and acknowledge.
This is the daunting task before us as we progress through this marvelous body of information, which shall mean little (and even be contradictory) to those who are not called, and chosen, and elected.
Luke 18:7 records Christ’s words concerning the great advantage of His elect: And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?
It is to this end that the Revelator commends to His people the intensive study and interpretation of the Apocalypse, in chapter one, verse 3: Blessed is he that readeth (meaning, to understand, or perceive), and they that hear (pay rapt attention to) the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
The last phrase bears witnesses to the imminence or nearness of the beginning of the unfolding of the events of the Scroll which is sealed with seven seals, proving quite sustainably that the Revelation is a document of continuous coming events of history, and is the only context in which it may be understood. This does not mean that the narrative is continually progressive from one point to the next, but allows for the narrative dropping back in time at some points to “catch up” an ancillary line of developments – such as the Muslim along with the Eastern Orthodox trains...
Rev 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book (this is a scroll) written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
Rev 5:2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
Rev 5:3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
Rev 5:4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
This phraseology reflects the interim condition described so exquisitely by Isaiah59:16 - And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him; and His righteousness, it sustained Him.
One who possesses the credible opening authority is elusive, at first; but one of the elders (Greek, presbuteros) speaks to John, informing him that the Lion of Judah, the Root of David shall perform the task – a discovery of which results in John beholding the Lamb of God, Whose sacrifice on Golgotha conferred the worthiness which He now possessed.
He is festooned with horns and eyes representing the universal power and perception of the Father of us all.
That personage, we know as the Lord Jesus Christ, Messiah of Israel, Son of Man and Son of God, who shall occupy in future the Throne of David reinstated in Mount Zion. Although he actually beheld a Lamb as if it had been slain, the elder bids him behold, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah!
This comparison shows the two to be identical.
This contrasting representation illustrates not so subtly the metamorphosis of Jesus of Nazareth into Christ Jesus, the Anointed Savior.
He has been divinely commissioned with the sole charge of bringing about these landmark events of a future time – all incessantly leading Believers toward the Kingdom of Christ.
Rev 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
The entity which the prophet turns to behold is, however, not a Lion at all – but is in appearance as a slain Lamb. But in this statement, the elders equate the two symbols.
But its physiognomy is unique ... almost bizarre to the initiated!
Rev 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. Being so equipped with horns and eyes, he is perceived to be a Creature of unlimited power and unlimited perception, or knowledge.
Rev 5:7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
In this action, the divinely sanctioned and approved Son of God receives the mandate from His Father to begin the revelation of all aspects of His New Creation, unloosing the seals of future history, which will eventuate in “the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2: 25).
Rev 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
Rev 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
Rev 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Rev 5:11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
The symbolic number (10,0002 ) yields one hundred million as a base; add to that the indefinite number represented by “thousands of thousands” and the number arrived at is an enormous number of the Redeemed of that day! Their ready praise rings forth...
Rev 5:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Rev 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Rev 5:14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
This account is the highly symbolic representation of the final scenes of glory and honor as rendered to the LORD God by His Son, Christ, and all Who are His at that future time.
The ultimate victory of the Saints of God is depicted here as now being in the process of being accomplished, and the kingdom to have been set upon its course of establishment, leading to its being inherited by Messiah and the Elect.
But many difficult and dreadful historic transactions were to mark the tortuous progress toward this perfect solution.
The Revelator now sets out to reveal the continuing course of future history couched in spiritual terms and within His divinely telescopic framework, so that the Elect may understand and be encouraged – but that the detractors from Truth shall be confused and hopelessly mystified in their attempts to understand the Revelation, as we see so clearly this day.
The Futurists forecast all manner of guesses as to its meaning, including a period of seven years of tribulation (based upon their misunderstanding of the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks) and a singular, personal Antichrist, which they expect to appear and deceive the whole world with his supernatural powers.
Their expectation of their version of Antichrist is to be precisely fulfilled in the appearance of the Christ of the Second Advent, Who shall proceed with the setting up of His kingdom in exactly that manner which they have already confidently attributed to “the Antichrist!”
By their blindness they are deceived, for He shall fulfill their expectations precisely – up to a certain point in time!
Their misapprehension of Him shall be reflected in the dishonor and resistance that they shall show Him, and the rejection of His “everlasting gospel” which He sends forth to them – a Gospel which they have never understood, and which does not conform to their gross prejudice as to events to come (viz., denying their hope of going to heaven at death, the “rapture,” a personal devil infusing the Antichrist, etc., etc.)
The other “class” of interpreters of the Apocalypse are labeled preterits (or preterists) and we understand that their conviction is that all the events of the Apocalypse have already come to pass and that none of the events depicted are yet to be fulfilled.
The gracious and effusive blessing of The Lamb of God is warmly portrayed by the great multitude of harmonious, immortal voices Who cry in heartfelt and thankful unison, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing (verse 12).
The implication of these words is that not only does He possess these qualities but that He is also willing and able to share them with all the redeemed of all ages!
Their faithful and relentless trust in His Truth has not been misplaced nor misunderstood; their spiritual perseverance is, therefore, being richly rewarded. <HEL>
Six of the Seals Opened
The First Seal
Rev 6:1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
Rev 6:2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
The first Seal – the White horse: its rider is equipped with a bow but no arrows. It signifies a time of bloodless warfare within the Roman Empire. It was uniquely fulfilled within the time span from AD96 to AD183 – from Domitian’s death to the beginning of the reign of Commodious.
Gibbon describes this as the happiest period of the Roman Empire. The invitation to Come and see is intended to draw the attention of the reader, and cause him to perceive (see) the meaning of the events described.
The rider is crowned; he represents the “spiritual conquerors” of Gibbon’s description; he represents the spiritual warriors who went forth into the empire with the words of truth, wearing the Stephan, which, as symbolic of victory in the Roman games, was also symbolic of the success of the word of God over paganism – the result brought about by the teaching of the Gospel. The period followed a time of unrest, and presented a window of opportunity for the Believers in Christ to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
The victory Stephan shows that his work was effective, though in the end of the seals period, the price will be seen to have been heavy.
The Second Seal
Rev 6:3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
Rev 6:4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
The Second Seal: the Red horse: a complete change came over Europe. The period of the Seal is AD 183 to AD 211.
This rider took peace from the earth, and wielded a great sword indicating bloody warfare. This sword is a machaira – a large knife or dirk – usually employed for animal slaughter. It was the short sword of the Roman soldiers, including the Praetorian Guard.
The sword is “great” because of its effects, not its size.
Commodious was a despot; he was killed at the instigation of one of his concubines and the Roman scene became bloody.
The real power passed into the hands of the Praetorian Guards – the soldiers stationed at Rome – and a period of rapid assassinations of the emperors who reigned after Commodious; all were rulers for only short periods.
The demise of Julian initiated a civil war; three of the greatest generals in this conflict were Severus, Niger, and Albinus. The revolt of the Guards was fatal to Julian, who was beheaded, and continued the “red” period of the empire for a time.
The Third Seal
Rev 6:5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
Rev 6:6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
The Third Seal: the Black horse: its rider carried a set of balances (scales). A voice is heard which proclaims, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. The period is AD 212 to AD 235.
This announcement implicates a class of agents who possessed administrative authority and involved taxation. Caracalla succeeded Septimus Severus in AD211 and distributed the wealth of his father’s administration to his soldiers in order to suppress their rebellion against him.
He extended the citizenship of Rome to all the population of the empire along with its privileges – but also the burden of its taxes!
The black horse brought dark times of gross injustice upon the people.
Some of the most exorbitant taxes were levied against the commodities most needed by the general population – the barley and the wheat being representative of such.
This period lasted until the close of the reign of Alexander Severus which brought a period of comparative calm.
The Fourth Seal
Rev 6:7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
Rev 6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
The Fourth Seal, a Pale horse: its color was greenish – a corpse-like hue, which suggested the demise of the body politic. But its end was not yet to be: its curse fell on a fourth part of the earth, by which is implied the chief region of the earth, Italia, which included Italy. The sword is now not the machaira, but the rhomphaia – a large, broad sword used by the Thracians. The period began with the reign of a Thracian, Maximin, in AD235, after the murder of Alexander Severus by the army. It ends in approximately AD 303.
In the short space of 50 years, twenty-one persons ascended the throne of Rome. This does not even include the number of those who tried to attain the throne – of which there were 19 such pretenders during one reign!
A long and generalized famine took place during this period, which along with the murders illustrated the Death and Hell that followed him. In addition a severe plague existed from AD250 toAD265, from which during one extended period, some 5,000 persons in Rome died daily!
The “wild beasts” imply the untamed peoples who were located within the empire, who finally subverted the empire.
The Fifth Seal
Rev 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
Rev 6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
Rev 6:11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
The Fifth Seal – Souls Under the Altar: Now Diocletian arises as emperor. He was successful in converting the assaults upon the empire to fall upon the conveyors of its trouble. The community which brought the peaceful war of the first Seal was itself affected greatly by the action of Diocletian, who determined to put an end to the successes of the arrowless bowman which had continued throughout the entire previous Seals. The Roman feast of Terminalia, in February 303, was designated as marking the end of the Christian religion! The short term of this seal ends in AD 311. It was the last and greatest period of persecution of Believers.
Great numbers of true Christians were killed by various heinous means; these constituted the “souls (lives) under the altar.” Reference to Hebrews 13 gives credence that the altar is figurative of Christ: Heb 13:10: We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. It was solely for the teachings of Christ that they were slain.
Diocletian changed the character of the empire from that of a Republic to that of an eastern Potentate, including its trappings and practices. The people were compelled to regard him as a god. As such, he wore a Diadem, instead of the old Stephan of earlier rulers.
The reference to these souls crying to God is a literary device similar to that used of the blood of Abel which cried from the ground in Genesis 4. Perhaps it was some comfort to those so persecuted to realize from the pages of the Apocalypse the concrete and sure promise of retribution which would ultimately arrive.
The Sixth Seal
Rev 6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
Rev 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Rev 6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
Rev 6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
Rev 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
Rev 6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
The Sixth Seal – an Earthquake: The “little season” of persecution passed, and a season of a violent confrontation between Constantine and the opposing pagan rulers ensued – an earthquake which began to change the face of the empire forever.
It encompasses the years AD311 to AD324.
The sign referred to in the heavens was a complete solar eclipse as well as a lunar eclipse. … and the sun became black (solar eclipse) as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood (a blood moon).
The darkness of the sun symbolized the total eclipse of the pagan emperor; the dimming of stars represented the diminishing of the powers of the lesser luminaries of Rome.
The blood moon, however, represented the hierarchical priesthood, which as the heavenly moon, shone in the reflected light of the emperor; it was thoroughly quenched.
The great cost to the victors earlier hinted at was seen in the next chapter; it was the corruption of Truth which even in this era is already underway. But within this period, Roman paganism is essentially defeated and put down – and the Roman Church established! <HEL>
The flow of the narrative is now interrupted to inform the hearers/readers of the Apocalypse that because of the corruption of truth in this era, it became necessary to record the continuation of the “sealing” of the TRUE servants of God with HIS TRUTH.
The recipients of the Seals are not literal Israelites. Two tribes are omitted (Dan and Ephraim): Joseph and Levi are included, showing that In Christ, all these are a “royal priesthood.”
So these are representative of all the called, chosen and faithful in Christ Jesus, who have had impressed upon their minds and hearts the Truth which God had revealed.
The first purveyors of Truth had been the apostles of Jesus; their work was carried on by faithful followers who resisted the corruption of the faith that John recorded as to be expected, and which indeed ensued.
The special angel that appears holds a seal of a different kind – the seal of the living God.
As W. H. Boulton states, the process of calling out a people for His name continues even today, and will not end until the symbolic number is reached. These are thus sealed unto salvation through the ages which should transpire while the great and tumultuous events of the Apocalypse were being enacted.
The scriptures in at least one other instance, make allusion to this number it would seem in this statement of Paul: Romans11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. We are aware that Israel can only be enlightened by the return of and intervention of Christ in their mundane affairs – a blessed time after which, in light of His spectacular victories against their enemies – the people cry with one accord, “Blessed is He Who cometh in the name of the Lord,” as foretold by Jesus Himself in Luke 13: 35, which is the signal and landmark moment of Israel’s enlightenment as to His identity as the Messiah Who they slew at the time of His original manifestation, AD26, as they saw the dove come down and light upon Him, and a voice from heaven proclaiming, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3: 17.
That time is well summarized in such readings as Isaiah 2: 1-8, q.v.
Rev 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
Rev 7:2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
Rev 7:3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
Rev 7:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
Rev 7:5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
Rev 7:6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
Rev 7:7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
Rev 7:8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
The result of this process of sealing is now explained; it shall result in these Redeemed ones standing before the Lamb, clothed (equipped in every way) appropriately to their new station, praising God. The Elders and the Four Beasts join them in their worship of Him.
The Revelator clarifies their identity for us in verse 14: These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. They are all the people of His covenant.
He also illustrates that their number is not simply a symbolic 144,000, but a Great and Infinite Multitude which no man could number – they are the Redeemed of all ages and peoples Who shall serve God day and night; He shall tabernacle among them forever.
Their reward is outlined in the last three verses of the chapter – one in which finally, God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Rev 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
Rev 7:10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation (be ascribed) to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
Rev 7:11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
Rev 7:12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
Note carefully how precisely these acknowledged qualities parallel those of the Multitude in chapter 5. This is a personification of the gory and majesty of the Father by the same group of Redeemed ones. And the wonderful reality of these descriptions is that their blessings fall upon ALL the covenanted People of ALL ages – even the saved Jews who served God under the Law.
But we believe it is limited to those who had entered into a covenant with him, and excludes all others, unfortunately, who have not sought out and found the Door to the Fold, the Lord Jesus Christ as attested by: John 10:2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Further inquiry by the apostle results from the godly reasoning expressed by the tutorial elders there present, asking such rhetorical questions as that which now follows ...
Rev 7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they?
The question begs a deduction which the apostle is not able to make …
Rev 7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Everyone will admit that this process is accomplished ONLY by a specific parade of actions: by baptism into the name of Christ after carefully learning the reasoning behind that necessity – in other words, it is accomplished because they admitted the LORD Jesus Christ into their lives and beings in the most intimate and intelligent manner of being instructed as to His nature and being and purp0se for the earth.
Rev 7:15 Therefore are they (… for this reason only, are they here present – because of the covenant which their description belies and makes intelligible; that is their BASIS for being before Him. It is only among such that He intends to dwell forever) before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
Rev 7:16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them nor any heat.
Rev 7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
This wonderful description is a summary of their resultant eternal lives, stretching into the infinite future! It indicates no worldly influence upon them anymore, no failings, and no fleshly difficulties discomfiting or harming them.
Since questions have been raised as to whether this named destiny might even refer to the Jews lost in the Holocaust, who unmistakably passed through some of the most heinous persecution of all men who ever lived – whether they might be included in this number.
We think not, based upon their persistent refusal to accept that Jesus Christ was their Messiah, and their failure to have made a covenant with Him by baptism into His name.
He was not in their conscience in that day. Their leaders and rabbis had persisted in rejecting any such reality, continuing to lead their flocks astray from the revealed will of God.
Their race had remained outside the pale of understanding for nearly 2,000 years; so for that reason, we do sadly feel that they died without any real hope. To expect a different fate for them is to deny the basis upon which those pictured here are in that blessed position of being before the throne of God and the Lamb, and of receiving His eternal blessing.
Some might see this as a harsh judgment.
Please allow some further observations.
The Jews have long been under a special covenant as it pertains to the Law of Moses.
We admit to not having been perfectly advised as to the consequences of this Covenant upon His people after the death of His Son.
We can be certain that His death ended the observances of the Law, but know that it did not erase the benefits of the acceptable sacrifices of those who came before Jesus’ time; their historic sacrifices, as we understand it, were not abrogated (abolished by authoritative action), but were instead validated and made effective by His blood sacrifice.
Having stated those quite obvious facts, we also must realize that the words of salvation had been given to their race by the persons of such men as Peter and John – men of their own ilk who faithfully had worked alongside Him, and had received His words of life and salvation, and had allowed themselves to be carried faithfully forward in the spirit of Christ.
They had progressed from their own previous status, as the older covenant was made void and the newer covenant (which was actually precedent to the old covenant, as given to Abraham long before Sinai) was established in Christ.
That opportunity of acceptance by all men had been in existence all the while, had they sought it and believed it, but their blind leaders would not.
These followed their faithless forefathers, the scribes and Pharisees – the hypocrites of Jesus’ day according to His own word – who rejected Him and vigorously urged, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
Those had consistently and persistently followed the false lead of their forefathers which had been vigorously upheld and taught to reject Him, as expressed by the LORD Himself: But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering (viz., willing to enter) to go in. Matthew 23:13 <HEL>
The Seventh Seal – The Seven Trumpets
Now the Seventh Seal is broken, revealing a series of Trumpets, which are blown by seven angels which stood before God. They represent the will of God being done in the earth – an ongoing process which we shall now investigate.
The Seventh Seal
Rev 8:1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
This silence in the ruling class for half an hour is representative of the peace and calm that followed the accession of Constantine until his death in AD337, a period in which he founded the city which bore his name and became the seat of his dominion. The period is some fourteen years.
From this time forward, Constantinople has become associated with the Dragon Power of the Apocalypse.
A Summary of Things to Come
Now we see the Empire broken into thirds:
1. The Latin West – overthrown by the Teutonic barbarians.
2. The Hellenic East – which was torn away by the Saracens.
3. Hellenized East – as the Eastern Empire collapsed by the inroads of the Turks.
1. The decay of the West on the removal of the capital to Constantinople.
2. Barbaric invasions of the Western Empire, with generally a reverence for the Roman Empire.
1. Alaric and the Goths, Suevi, Vandals and the Burgundians.
2. Gaiseric and the Vandals.
3. Attila and the Huns.
4. Odovacar and the Heruli, Theodoric and the East Goths (Ostrogoths).
The First Four Trumpets
Now, more vigorous activity is about to be witnessed...
Rev 8:2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
Rev 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Rev 8:4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
Rev 8:5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
Rev 8:6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
The First Wind Trumpet
Rev 8:7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
The details of this First Trumpet are strikingly appropriate to the historic fulfillment.
The policy of the Roman emperors was to allow barbarians inside the bounds of the Empire, and to enroll them in their armies.
This practice resulted in swarms of barbarians being enticed to the borders, and even allowing them to come within the Empire, preparing them for the time when the Trumpets should begin to sound.
The Visigoths were given permission to cross the Danube, placing them in position for the time when the angels “prepared themselves to sound.”
The first angel sounded with the result recorded. Alaric and his Goths answered the trumpet call, and visited the earth with hail, fire and blood. The entire barbarian movement has been likened to “a furious tempest." As such, it was a dark cloudburst in hail and thunder upon the borders of the Empire.
The assault of Alaric affected the people of the entire domain – they being represented as “grass and trees” in accord with other scriptural imagery; but in addition, the literal, fertile grasslands and forests of Western Europe received the full brunt of Alaric’s assault.
Finally, Rome itself was given up to the invading Goths to pillage.
The historian Hodgkin, in Theodoric, the Goth, pages 16, 17, is quoted here:
This terrible beginning of the Wind Trumpets was a prelude to the greater judgments that was to follow. Alaric is quoted as having said this about his campaigns: “It is not of my own will that I do this; there is One who forces me on, and will not let me rest, bidding me spoil Rome.”
The reverberations of the First Trumpet died away to silence, only to find that silence abruptly and rudely broken by the sound of the Second Trumpet:
The Second Wind Trumpet
Rev 8:8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
Rev 8:9 And the third part of the creatures which ere in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
The sea is the Mediterranean – the western portion thereof – and these actions portray the assault of the Vandals, who by their maritime exploits, caused a tumult in the sea, in the islands, and in the coasts thereof. Genseric (Gaiseric) says Gibbon, in his great work, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, “cast his eyes toward the sea.”
So successful were his naval tactics that it is said, “The fleets that issued from Carthage again claimed the empire of the Mediterranean.”
By these means, a third part of the sea became as blood!
Similar to Alaric, Gaiseric, when asked by his helmsman what course he should steer, replied, “Leave the determination to the winds. They will transport us to the guilty coast whose inhabitants have provoked the Divine Justice,” according to Gibbon.
The naval response of the Eastern and Western Empires seemed to end the Vandal scourge when a further tactic was sprung upon them by Gaiseric’s fire-ships – the “mountain” burning with fire” destroying the Roman vessels and killing the crews. Nothing could stay the Vandals until their mission was fulfilled. Then they came to an end as indicated later.
The Vandals, like most of the other attackers of the Empire, were Aryans; as such they favored greatly the “heretics” who were being persecuted by the orthodox Romans.
Boulton and Barker (in The Apocalypse and History; p. 56) opine that, “With persecution, there is usually also a protection raised up for the people of God – the earth helps the woman.”
The Third Wind Trumpet
Rev 8:10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
Rev 8:11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
The sense of this Trumpet is that it briefly affected lands (“waters” being the people of those lands) which could best be described as rife with rivers and fountains of water.
The Trumpet portrays the assaults of Attila and his Huns, whose violent attacks gave name to a byword which caused great bitterness among the people affected.
This “star” was termed “Wormwood;” Absinthos is the Greek for Wormwood; it means calamity, or bitterness.
Attila was not a nation-builder. His appearance was brief. He was simply a star, burning as a lamp, falling upon its appointed place, and going out as quickly as he had appeared. Its meteoric period occurred in the west – northern Italy and the surrounding areas of France, Switzerland, and Germany/Austria. But it was a significant assault, bringing distress upon all the peoples of those areas. The history of Attila agrees quite fully with the figures employed by the Revelator.
The Fourth Wind Trumpet
Rev 8:12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
Rev 8:13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
The Fourth Trumpet’s effect was to endure longer than earlier ones. The eclipse which John saw occurred in the western third of the Empire – in Rome and in Italy. The desecrations of the Goths, Vandals and Huns had left the Empire weak and vulnerable.
Several of the barbarian chieftains seated their own people upon the throne of Rome, giving them the full authority and eminence of a Roman Emperor in name only.
Odovacar overthrew the last of these puppet rulers, eclipsing the constitution which governed the western third of the Empire. The diadem of the west was handed over to Zena, the eastern emperor in Constantinople.
The political eclipse of Rome passed, as do all natural eclipses. Once again the sun and moon of Rome shone brightly. Theodoric became “King of the Goths and Romans.” Although a barbarian, Theodoric assumed the guise and role of a Roman emperor.
The Gothic is recognized as one of the seven “heads” of the beast of the Apocalypse.
Utilizing Gothic officers in state positions, he maintained the Roman establishment with all the titles that had existed under the emperor.
The fourth Trumpet blast required, historically, that the (sixth) Imperial form of government should be removed and be replaced with another – the Gothic – which was the seventh. The interpretation of the horned beast required that the sixth head should be replaced for a short period by the seventh. Both these requirements are met by the establishment of a kingly government – Gothic by race, but Roman in spirit and profession!
Under Gothic rule, the empire in the west settled somewhat; so we leave it there.
The Woe Trumpets
The Revelator now turns his attention to events in the Eastern Empire, foreshadowed by the words of verse 13: “Woe, woe, woe …”
These are called the Woe Trumpets, as numbered, and refer only to events of the East. It describes the awful advent of Mohammed and his savage hordes which originated in the “abyss” (bottomless pit) of desert Arabia – events which we shall summarize at the end of verse 11 – this first Woe Trumpet.
“Woes” represent a change of character in the Trumpets’ effects. These fell upon the Eastern Empire and affected mostly its religious character, Islam being imposed on much of its lands and people. Their effects were also much more widespread that the first four Trumpets. Their effect would change the world!
The effects of the WOE period would touch the Empire in significant ways. For example, during the reign of Diocletian, it is estimated that 100 millions of people died from plague which ravaged the kingdom between 527 and 565AD (Boulton, p. 65).
Fifth Trumpet: the First Woe Trumpet
Rev 9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
The “angel” here is really an EAGLE, according to some expositors.
Its use portended the might and authority of Rome’s Empire, both east and west, as the eagle was a common symbol of Rome and its armies.
Rev 9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
Rev 9:3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
Rev 9:4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
Rev 9:5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
Rev 9:6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
Rev 9:7 And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
Rev 9:8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
Rev 9:9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
Rev 9:10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
Rev 9:11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
As already stated, these verses foretell the rise of Mohammed of Mecca – the originator of a new “monotheistic religion” known as Islam (“Submission”).
The name of the “angel” of the Abyssos is given in Hebrew and in Greek as Abaddon and Apollyon. These are not the name of one man, but a succession of the Caliphs, the descendants of Mohammed. The two names of these Caliphs both relate to a destroyer, which they surely were. But it is notable that their work of destruction is limited; they destroyed the Roman possessions of the eastern and African portions of the empire.
The bottomless pit is otherwise known in Greek as Abyssos, an unfathomable depth. It may be considered to be the Rift Valley of Africa, the lowest portion of which is in eastern Israel – the valley of the Salt Sea, at 1300 feet below sea level.
That is one conclusion.
Another is that the Abyssos is representative of the trackless dunes of Arabia where nothing of value exists (until oil was discovered!) and which supports little life. Its windswept, dry, hot climate fostered no vegetation except a few palm trees about its infrequent oases – pools of water in the desolate landscape around which the Bedouin encamped and tried to survive. This area lies just to the east of the Rift Valley and may be considered to be the same geography.
Fisher, in A History of Europe, p. 137, has said, “It was a land of mystery … as remote and inhospitable as the frozen north. Nothing reported from this scorching wilderness would be calculated to disturb the bazaars of Damascus or Alexandria. Arabian society was still in the tribal stage.”
We rather favor this application of the meaning, for it is here that Mohammed arose with his new “religion” of Islam, with a vast cadre of warriors who wielded the sword in their conquests, and showed no mercy to any resistance. The sword was the KEY to the bottomless pit; by it was Mohammed who was to emerge triumphant over so many in such a short period of time.
Their power was to torment men for five months (verse 5), and to hurt men for five months (verse 10). Ten months in total.
This period of time corresponds closely to the time of their ascendancy, as we shall determine below.
That Mohammed was a bright star in the political-religious firmament is incontrovertible.
Mohammed is here referred to as a star falling from heaven to the earth – appearing like a falling star (a meteor) out of the blackness of nowhere to torment and oppress the elements of earth’s peoples. He was given the key to the bottomless pit, which he opened, and out of it poured his hordes of violent, sword-bearing cavalry bent upon their mission of spreading the name and fame of Allah – a diminutive stone god which Mohammed adopted as “the one god” of the world.
Although Islam eschews the fact, their worship is based on idolatry pure and simple.
Fire and smoke came out of the pit, representative of war and oppression – and of persecution of those who thought not as Mohammed, who referred to himself as “a prophet.” Indeed, he claimed to be the ultimate prophet – the one who took precedence over all the previous prophets of God and uttered his “god’s” final decrees. Smoke implies a scorching judgment upon those who are targeted. Cf., Revelation 14:11 and 18:9.
But his decrees were not in accord with those of the God of heaven – the God of Israel, and Father of the Lord Christ – and were contrary thereto, offering little of value to the world of “religion.”
Mohammed’s great army of destroyers is depicted as horses like unto locusts (cf., Joel chapter 1) which came out of the smoke. The horse was then distinctly an Arabian animal and used in warfare. The warriors’ golden crowns are representative of the turbans worn by the Islamicists; they had long hair like women; their iron breastplates represented their relative invincibility against their enemies. Thus, their dress is described in some detail, depicting them as fierce, nearly unconquerable, and extremely dedicated to “holy war” or Jihad.
Their mission was to be against the false Christianity of Byzantium – the Eastern Third of the Roman Empire – or Catholic Orthodoxy. Abu-Bekr, a successor of Mohammed commanded that his troops show no mercy to “people who belong to the synagogue of Satan,” by which he meant the Orthodox people of Byzantium. This is reflected in the language of verse 4.
Next, their torment is described as that of scorpions. The stings of scorpions hurt but do not kill as a rule, if adults are healthy. Five months were to be devoted to their torture by this method.
But in verse 10, five more months are added for their “hurt.” These ten months, on the day for a year principle, is 300 days (or prophetic years). How was this fulfilled?
In 632AD they invaded Syria – the beginning of Islam’s “torture” and “hurt.”
300 years later – or thereabouts – we arrive at the conquest of Jerusalem (937AD); the power of the Caliphs was in a distinctive decline at that time. Speaking of Rhadi (936AD), Gibbon remarks, “(he) was the last who deserved the title of Commander of the Faithful … the last who represented the wealth and magnificence of the ancient Caliphs. After him the lords of the eastern world were reduced to the most abject misery.”
And so it was that the first Woe, for 300 years, spread over the Eastern Roman Empire and its African possessions, overturning the Christian religion (Byzantium) in those areas.
Rev 9:12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
The Sixth Trumpet: the Second Woe Trumpet
Rev 9:13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
Rev 9:14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
Rev 9:15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
Rev 9:16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
Rev 9:17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
Rev 9:18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.
Rev 9:19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
Rev 9:20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:
Rev 9:21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
Verses 13, 14. The sixth angel sounded his Trumpet, and was instructed to loose four angels which were bound in the River Euphrates.
The Euphrates was the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire of the East. To be “bound” is to be tied, or restrained. Beyond that boundary to the east lay numerous tribes of the Tartar races. But we are concerned with only four, which successively invaded the Empire spreading death and destruction upon the Orthodox power. These were the Seljuks; the followers of Ghengis Kahn; the Moguls (Mongols); and the Ottomans (Othmans). These are nominated “angels” (messengers) because of the message of death and destruction directly from the Lord, which they brought to Byzantium.
Verse 15. These four were “prepared” for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
These four separate campaigns covered a long period as specified here on the prophetic, day for a year basis. But John does not speak of a “time” but of “a year,” Eniantos in Greek, a word that means “that which returns upon itself,” and thus indicates a year of 365.25 days.
Elliott, in Horae Apocalypticae, vol. 1, pages 524-529, reveals his calculation of this period. He says, “taking it as an exact year, we arrive, on the day for a year principle, we arrive at a total period of 396 years, 121 days; thus an hour (1/12th of a day), say 30 days; a day, one year; a month, 30 years; a year (of) 365 years and 91 days.”
The Ottomans conquered Constantinople on May 29, 1453, This date certainly was a “woe,” as the Orthodox Church was trampled in the dust by this fourth “angel” from the Euphrates, and the proud adherents of Eastern Catholicism fell from their position of pre-eminence under the Moslem conquerors.
The Eastern Third of the Empire had now suffered “death” at the hands of the followers of Mohammed.
It is greatly significant that “if one back-dates from May, 1453 by 396 years and 121 days, he arrives at January 1057 – the exact month in which Togrul Beg (the first “angel”) left Baghdad and began his career of conquest” (ibid.)
Verse 16. The army of the horsemen numbered 200 millions.
Horsetails formed the battle-standard of the Turkish pashas; under this standard they fought and conquered.
This numerical figure of 200 million is the symbolic, collective number of all four waves of conquest. Records indicate that the numbers of horses alone were enormous: Alp Arslan fielded 40,000 horses; Melek Shah had a hunting train of 47,000 horses; Ghengis Kahn used 30,000 horses in his conquest of Persia; Tamerlane the Mogul entered the same country with 90,000 horses; Amaruth entered Albania with 60,000 horses and the same number were used by Mohamet II in his siege of Constantinople. Horses were indeed overwhelmingly dominant in their war tactics. But their armies consisted of innumerable foot soldiers additionally...
Gibbon says “The myriad of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of 600 miles from Taurus to Erzeroum, and the blood of 136,000 Christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet.”
Verse 17. Affords a symbolic description of the horsemen and their riders:
I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone:
and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions;
and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
In addition to the natural cavalry of the time, another most peculiar type of “horse” is here described in symbol.
The makeup of their breastplates being “of fire, and of jacinth, and (of) brimstone,” is also significant. These were the colors under which the Moslems conducted their campaigns.
But the last two phrases describe something much different.
The goal of the woe must be considered here – to kill a third of mankind. This “third” was that of the Hellenic East.
This killing was done by a secret new innovation brought by the Moslems, specifically the Turks – gunpowder. It was gunpowder and the weapons in which it was used which effected the downfall of Constantinople – an empire which had stood for over a thousand years!
Its effects were astounding. Its use inculcated terror in those being attacked and rendered their resistance entirely ineffective.
Gibbon makes special reference to this new element of warfare, and shows what a striking effect it had upon the Byzantines. Mahomet II, in his siege of Constantinople, made special use of cannon, which were said to have been introduced to him by a deserter from the Greek army who made the first Moslem cannon. It is said to have been able to propel a stone bullet of 600 pounds weight a distance of one mile! Others used by Mahomet in later campaigns could do the same, and 14 batteries were recorded as being used in the conquest of Constantinople.
The “mouths” of the cannons spewed invincible and certain death upon their enemies.
The missiles were launched in clouds of smoke and fire, and their appearance conformed to the vision which John saw.
Verse 18. The fire, smoke and brimstone kills one third of men.
As already noted, this “third” of men was the “death” of the Church of the Hellenic East – or Byzantium.
Verse 19. Their power was in their mouths; their tails had serpent heads, which did hurt.
See above comments. Its trail of smoke as it bore in on its target may be the “tail” which hurt – or “bit” like a snake, in the minds of those being attacked.
Verse 20. The rest of men who were not killed repented not of their devil worship and their idolatry. 21. And the rest of men repented not of their murders, sorceries, fornications or thefts.
The third part of men who were “killed” was those of the eastern region of the empire – or Constantinople. The language indicates that they were neutralized as to their former power among their citizens. The Islamic control which defeated them and obliterated their dominance was oppressive and cruel.
Those pagans (“Christians”) who survived – that is, the other two thirds of the empire which remained – were not “corrected” by their singular defeat, and continued to pursue their idolatries, their sorceries, and their moral depravity, as well as their teachings of false doctrines which could not save.
As a result they moved their center of influence northward – to Moscow, which became “the third Rome.”
But the influence and hegemony of Islam remained as a pall upon the lands of its conquest. That cloud hung over the land and peoples up to the time of the Second Advent of the LORD from heaven, as ushered in by the events hinted at in the apostle’s next words... <HEL>
This chapter opens with another vision of the Rainbowed Angel – the Lord Jesus Christ – who was “clothed” with a cloud – a fitting symbol of a great crowd of redeemed people – and his image was bright as the sun and his feet as fire. He holds in his hand a little book; and his feet are planted upon the sea and on the earth.
Rev 10:1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:
Rev 10:2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
The Seven Thunders; Sealed –
Part of the Second Woe (or Sixth Trumpet)
Rev 10:3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
Rev 10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
The timing of the Seven Thunders which were not allowed to be recorded by John has caused much discussion in prophecy circles. John Thomas opined that they represented the wars of Jesus Christ and the Saints subsequent to His Second Advent.
But in the narrative’s sequence, Jesus has not yet arrived on the earthly scene. So we must reject that interpretation if we are to consider the Apocalypse as being a continuously historical prophecy.
These Thunders therefore evidently usher in His Advent, leading directly to it.
We have researched this subject as extensively as it can be researched, and have concluded – whether rightly or not – that they represent the conflicts of the State of Israel with its Proximal neighbors prior to His appearance. The represent the conflicts of the returning People of God to their Land being opposed by the powerful, overshadowing shroud of Islam – the nations “round about” the newly-formed State of Israel around the “season” of the Second Advent.
Our studied reason for this opinion is that the Apocalypse is not concerned with, and does not directly address, the establishment or survival of the State of Israel, chronicling as it does, the interface of the Church with the Ecclesia of Christ. This subject is not the premise for the events revealed in the Apocalypse, so they are not recorded – merely implied for our consideration.
It reveals events that occur in the Land at times, but does not relate them to the State or People of Israel.
If it is true, we conjecture that the Trumpets indicate seven major conflicts of Israel with her neighbors leading from Statehood to the Advent.
In previous studies we have “assigned” these Trumpets to the major conflicts of Israel with her enemies since 1948.
We have supposed these conflicts to be:
Verse 7 below indicates the indubitably correct order in the narrative for the Trumpets; they LEAD TO THE COMPLETION OF THE MYSTERY OF GOD, i.e., to the Kingdom Age, in our opinion. They do not occur after He has come and is interacting with the nations.
Those conflicts are therefore fairly well revealed (are not hidden from our prophetically-enlightened eyes of this late period of the end-time) and are of little mystery.
The Angel who John saw – whose feet were upon the sea and the earth – now lifted his hands to heaven with an holy oath.
It was that there should be time no longer.
In our thinking, this means that the Adamic aion is depicted as coming to a close; the time for the resurrection and judgment of the saints has come; this dispensation is finished.
Rev 10:5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
Rev 10:6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
Rev 10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
Note carefully that John was given the message that in the specific days of the Seventh Angel’s sounding, the mystery of God should be finished; that is, as commented upon above, it is the end of the Adamic aion, or dispensation. The Bridegroom has appeared to claim His Bride, and redemption as we know it is at its terminal point.
John Ingests the Little Book
Rev 10:8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
Rev 10:9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
Rev 10:10 And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
Rev 10:11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
In a credible sense, John’s ingestion of the Little Book meant that he and his followers would at a later time minister and prophecy before the world.
We believe that time shall be that of the world of the Kingdom Age, in which the resurrected and immortalized John and others shall minister again to the nations, teaching them the Gospel message which they have never heard, and continuing his work as an Apostle in the kingdom age, including occupying a throne over one of the Tribal allotments of that age (Matthew 19:28).
But a more immediate result of John’s ingestion of the Little Book may be seen in the significant events which befell the Word of God (the Biblos, or little Book) at the end of the Middle Ages – the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the invention of movable type for printing.
At that time, only the learned of the clergy could read and write. The commoners had to rely on these hirelings for all their spiritual guidance. Nobles did the governing; priests did the teaching, at first. Only the Renaissance and the Reformation could change the course of these affairs in which the pope chiefly filled both positions – that of regent and high priest. <>HEL
The Second Woe (Sixth Trumpet) Continues
The narrative now turns to the development of Christendom – meaning the state religion which was imposed upon the masses, governing both civil and ecclesiastical behavior.
The history is a contortion of various intrigues and obscurity of justice and truth.
The long ascent from the depths of Church dominance is not within the purview of this review, but includes such faithful objectors to Church dominance as all the early scholars who learned Hebrew and Greek for themselves and were able to translate the Bible directly from these original languages to English and other common languages, being no longer dependent upon the Latin Vulgate of Jerome.
The main feature of this portion of the prophecy was that the Holy City should be under oppression for 42 months. The Holy City is Jerusalem, and represented those who held the Truth of His Word – and were put down by the false Church.
Two witnesses to His Truth should arise who should prophesy during this time, clothed in sackcloth – i.e., in mourning. We learn right away that these are equivalent to the two olive trees and the two candlesticks “standing before the God of the earth (verse 4).”
Please peruse these next 13 verses of text, then consider our comments after that verse...
Rev 11:1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
Rev 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
Rev 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
Rev 11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
Rev 11:5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
Rev 11:6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
Rev 11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
Rev 11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
Rev 11:9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
Rev 11:10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
Rev 11:11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
Rev 11:12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
Rev 11:13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
Our summary of this momentous time must include a discussion of the Two Witnesses, especially. It is important to note that the Apocalypse is largely silent upon the details of this period, but that we may easily fill in the details from historical accounts in order to understand the events portrayed.
“In order to maintain the remarkably accurate character of the symbols, as hitherto disclosed,” writes Boulton (p. 111), “we should find a dual testimony in progress, and the witnessing carried on under conditions which will justify the parties being described as ‘prophesying clothed in sackcloth,’ the garb of mourning and suffering.”
But since they are not in agreement, both cannot be the saints of God; indeed, neither can be.
So what is their identity?
The two olive trees and the two candlesticks (light stands) standing before God remind one of a similar vision given to Zechariah. The difference between these visions, however, is remarkable. Both refer to two olive trees, but all other aspects are different.
Zechariah was shown one light stand with seven lights, connected with seven pipes to the branches of the olive trees.
John saw two light stands but says nothing about bowls or pipes.
In addition, these “stand before – actually, in the face of – ‘the God of the earth.’”
This is not the God of heaven (as verse 13); it is the God of the “earth,” or Western Third of the Empire: it is the papal-sponsored Trinity and those who propagate that doctrine – and is a witness against that doctrine as well as many others.
The God of the earth is the god that the earth worships!
But the witness against this system is two-fold: 1) religious, and 2) socio-political.
1. The first is represented by everyone who held a religious objection to the God of the earth – a term which applies “to the papal constitution, where the pope, seated in the (supposed) temple of God, declares himself to be a god” (2Thessalonians 2:4). Thus, Gregory II, writing to the emperor in Constantinople, in the eighth century, said, ‘All the lands of the west have their eyes directed toward our humility; by them we are considered as a God upon earth.’” [Ranke, History of the Popes, Vol. 1, p. 13]
The ministers of this “God” are supposed to be powerful enough to make a god out of a piece of bread over which they mumble some form of words whereby they profess to transform it (the Eucharist) into the actual body of Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity! (Boulton) Whenever and whatever body of religious resistance arose against the papacy (its “god”) has felt the persecuting power of that system.
2. The best representatives of the other Witness are those who prosecuted the Protestant Reformation, standing firmly against the Church in socio-political issues. It provoked a war which lasted thirty years, in which everyone involved suffered immensely. This is surely an example of what is recorded of the Witnesses: that … if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies; and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These also cannot refer to the true saints of God, for their Master commanded them: Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44). So one must realize that, apart from the testimony and the fighting of the witnessing people (the Protestants) the saints would have been entirely subdued by the Beast of the Sea and the Image of the Beast. The prevalence of this group of people, much like the Protestants of today, in a real sense, protected the true saints of God who stood in the shadows of that movement, agreeing with some of it and rejecting other parts of it.
The Two Witnesses therefore are recognized to have been the resistant forces of both religion and philosophy to the incursions and excesses of the Church of that time.
The account continues: the Witnesses are SLAIN.
“Western Latinity manifested intense opposition against the rebels against the papacy and their political allies,” says Boulton (p.113).
Factions in both France and Spain most notably stood against this system. In France, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, in 1572, decimated the resistance of the Protestants in that country. It is important that this was exactly 1,260 years after the accession of Constantine – 42 months of years!
Later on, some relief was given by “the Edict of Nantes, but when this was revoked in 1685, the churches of all protesting sects were demolished, all non-Catholic ministers had to leave France within 15 days, and a most terrible persecution was instituted against the people who refused to worship the Roman god.” (Boulton, p. 113)
Those who did not leave the country were forced to attend Mass “at the point of the sword, subjected to every indignity, horror and violence. Over a million emigrated. So far as France was concerned, the Witnesses were dead” (ibid.).
They were dead, but not buried – thus they lay exposed to general society for a time. Their isolated remnants exhibited no power to resist any longer.
Their bodies (remains) lay exposed in the street of the great city spiritually called Sodom (for its wickedness) and Egypt (for its persecution of God’s people).
The street is Plateia, in Greek, which means wide or broad – a broad way or a broad place, which is a suitable description of France in its relation to the territories of the Beast of the Sea, the Latin West.
Their fall resulted in the failure (fall) of a tenth part of the great city, which was Rome – not the actual city, but the symbolic possessions of that city as a state or empire.
A tenth part would be one of the ten kingdoms comprising Rome of the day – namely, France.
These events occurred in the French “street” of the Roman metropolis of ten streets, or ten nations.
Just to reinforce this fact, in Revelation 14: 8, 18, the Great City is referred to particularly in the ecclesiastical sphere. It is that Great Babylon, which will be found later to apply to the Romish Church, the Harlot riding upon the scarlet colored beast with seven heads.
The Huguenots were a prominent group among the Resistant Ones to the Church’s teachings and practices. These folk were effectively shut down as to any effective resistance, and could no longer exist as a state within France. But they remained intact, and lay “dead,” (inactive, but not “buried”) in the street of the city for three days and an half, or 105 days.
The determination of this length of time is based on the silence in heaven (Revelation 8:1) of a length of half an hour as being the 14 years that it lasted. On this basis, one hour would be 30 years.
John Thomas, following Dr. Bicheno, a Baptist minister of Newberry, wrote that the time should be considered as three and an half lunar “days” (or months). If so, three and an half lunar months of 30 days each would equal 105 days, or years.
The event of the Witnesses’ death may be taken as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1685. Add 105 years and one reaches 1790.
What event did that anniversary bring?
It eventuated in the resurrection of the Witnesses... their re-activation and revitalization.
“In the very year 1790 (105 years after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes) the civil constitution of the clergy (priesthood) was decreed, Church lands were sold for the benefit of the revolutionary state, and all clergy had to be elected. The orthodox clergy were looked upon as the enemies of the revolution; they (priests) were persecuted; and if a priest refused to take the oath prescribed by the revolutionaries, he was transported.” (Boulton, p. 116)
By this means, the Protestants were “resurrected” as the Protesters that they were supposed to be. Political resistance was also allowed to be rampant against the Church.
Both were effective.
This era came to a close with the disastrous French Revolution – an action in which the clergy was abolished, Church properties were sold for the benefit of the people of the realm, and any supporter of the Church was subject to Dr. Guillotine’s instrument of retribution.
The Church was decimated, its properties confiscated, its priests defrocked. The Reign of Terror ravaged the established “religion” and dismantled it nearly completely for a season.
Although little was accomplished in the fact, in the midst of all this turmoil, a decree was passed in which belief in “a Supreme Being” was voiced publicly.
They “gave glory to God,” but little came of it beyond that affirmation.
The events of this era are certainly consistent with “woe” in every sense of the word. The French Revolution and its sequential events set out “liberte, egalite, fraternite” as a way of life for the people of France, a status of utter freedom in opposition to the oppression which it had endured from centuries of papal dominance.
The last two verses of the Second Woe describe the newly refurbished image of the Protesters against Catholicism – their elevation to great heights of effectiveness.
At this time Napoleon Bonaparte emerged as Emperor of France. He persecuted the Church and its pope unmercifully, signally ignoring the pope’s self-appointed authority; on one occasion he imprisoned the pope, who in turn ex-communicated Napoleon. But he cared not for the fiery barbs of the Vatican and forged ahead with the plans he had made for the Continent.
Rev 11:14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
The Seventh Trumpet & Third Woe
Rev 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are (have) become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
This represents the event of the Ages – the return to earth of the LORD Jesus Christ, and His summary handling of the affairs with which He is then concerned.
Rev 11:16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
Rev 11:17 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.
Rev 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
Rev 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
This action is clearly that of the resurrection of the responsible dead, and the brief chronicle of their rewards – to the prophets, the saints, and all who fear God’s name, both small and great, and the destruction of those who destroy the earth – that is, the progressive but final judgments of the tribes of men who have always resisted His will and teachings.
As such, it represents that period when there should be “time no more” as attributed to the ages of man, and the certain advent of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Another feature of the Seventh Trumpet is that it transports certain apocalyptic events to the time of the end.
But at the same time, it pours forth a series of events which foretell historical events from earlier times and brings them also to the time of the end, at the Seventh Vial, the series of which begins in Revelation 16. <>HEL
Constantine enters the scene: a brief outline of what is to come may be helpful: (cf., Boulton, p. 37).
The Apostle Paul summed it up in his statement in 1Corinthians 2:4: And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
C. Effects of the Constantinian Triumph
(All three of the above heading groups from Apocalypse and History, W.H. Boulton, p.37)
At this time we insert a quotation from Boulton (p. 75) as a summary for the next considerations: “In order to simplify the subject matter of this section, it is proposed first of all to trace the rise of the papacy and the method by which the Church carried over to the barbarians the traditions of Rome: and secondly, to consider the rise to supremacy of the Franks over the other Germanic tribes. It will then be necessary to see how the spiritual authority of the Pope, in conjunction with the military power of the Franks, resulted in the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire noting the rivalry of Emperor and Pope and the claims made by each.”
The fall of Constantinople in 1453 brought to an end the series of events which effectively dismantled all three parts of the empire of Augustus.
But the West maintained a certain permanence, passing through multiple permutations, which will need to be explained by bringing the reader up to date on the events which brought the barbarians to the West and overthrew the Empire – the Great Red Dragon being representative of Pagan Rome.
This task will be complex, but will be elucidated as we come into contact with many of the symbols of that period, such as that now following.
The reader should expect narrative of some uneven progress in this discussion …
The Woman Clothed with the Sun;
and The Great Red Dragon
Rev 12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
Rev 12:2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
Rev 12:3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
Rev 12:4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
Rev 12:5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
Rev 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
Rev 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
Rev 12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
[Editor: what is the rationale for Michael the Archangel here combating Roman paganism if his main charge is to guide and lead Israel? Do the closing words of Isaiah 54 relate to Michael, leading to the events of Isaiah 55:4 which might refer to Michael?]
This narrative is a complex picture of what happened at the initial entry of Constantine into the “Christian” mixture. His mother is symbolized as a Woman (the Church) clothed with the sun (i.e., in flashy and tawdry attire, representing her doctrines and practices, but yet refined above the level of the pagans which she had come to displace), and with twelve stars surrounding her head.
These twelve stars will be seen in much later displays of symbols of Europa, the goddess which was abducted by Zeus and later gave birth to Apollo
The display of twelve stars has been appropriated by the Church to symbolize the virgin Mary, and is seen prominently today in the logo of the European Community, the successor to the Holy Roman Empire.
The infant that is being born of the Woman (the Church) is Constantine, founder of the nascent Church of Rome, which he was about to establish as the State Religion and which began at that time to displace and replace the Great Red Dragon.
The Great Red Dragon (Pagan Rome) was ready to destroy (devour) the Church because of the adverse decrees of recent emperors against the Church; but the Woman’s Son (the Church’s son, Constantine) who, as emperor, prevailed against the Great Red Dragon, replacing it with the establishment of “Christianity” as the State Religion of Rome!
Thus Pagan Rome, later defined as, that old Serpent, which is the Devil and Satan in Revelation 20:2, was “bound” during this period of time, with a term stated in that passage as being “a thousand years.”
This period of time would nominally be, it would seem, from 312 AD until about 1300 AD. But are these dates in accord with history?
In other words, a better question is, Was paganism truly bound at this time? It would appear not to be so for some two hundred years or so.
Indeed, we may more closely determine the span of the period by considering that the pagan powers were “loosed" again by Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral in 1517.
This would indicate the beginning of the period as being around AD517, which more nearly accords with the historical fulfilment.
Much further elaboration of this historical sequence will be seen when we reach the 20th chapter of Revelation.
The Great Red Dragon displayed seven heads and ten horns.
These seven heads were representative of the seven forms of government which it had featured, the Gothic being the seventh (as above). But with the passing of the Gothic phase it reverted to the Sixth Head – the Imperial – which became the Eighth Head.
Its ten horns were ten regional and ethnic powers into which the empire was already metamorphosing, and which resulted in the ten parts of the Holy Roman Empire some time later.
The Man Child in another figure was Constantine who rose up into “heaven” as he became Emperor of Rome – supreme ruler of the political heavens.
His ascendancy to the emperorship represented the conquest of Pagan Rome, thus there was found no place for that institution in “heaven,” which symbolized secular power and prestige.
The Woman actually consisted of (in the sense of she contained) the True saints of God, and those who had at that time not apostatized.
In a sense, the Pure Woman had brought Constantine to the pinnacle of power, but due to the Church’s corruption, was required to withdraw from it and separate herself from it (fled into the wilderness – or the netherworld) for survival. There she was protected and fed by the Almighty for a thousand, two hundred and threescore days – 1,260 years in prophetic time. Please refer to further discussion ahead in Revelation 20./
The Dragon Cast Out
Rev 12:9 And the great dragon (Pagan Rome) was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan (note this particularly detailed descriptive name of Pagan Rome and cf. Revelation 20), which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Paganism was “officially” dethroned at this time, by decree of the new emperor, Constantine. But the result of its downfall did not immediately take effect as Constantine and his regime was “soft” on its enforcement at this time.
Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
The term “accuser” as used here is extremely important. The term “Satanas” (Strong, G1567) in Greek means “false accuser.” Note that emphasis here is given to the accusations of the TRUE believers, although by this time they were in an extreme minority within the greater Church of Rome. These would be called upon to have faith in the face of all sorts of temptations and adversity, and to preserve and uphold steadfastly the Truth of God’s word. Many of them would be horribly martyred. Their destiny was preserved by their exhibited faith – but not in every case were their natural lives preserved.
Rev 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Rev 12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
Rev 12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
Historically, the Church was persecuted by the remnants of paganism, but was eventually accepted as supreme authority. Hurlbut and others reveal that paganism was not immediately put down, but that it persisted for approximately another 200 years as a nettlesome thorn in the side of the Church. Again, refer to discussion on Revelation 20.
However, the adherents to the core Truth of God’s word, the un-adulterated Ecclesia of Christ which was enfolded within the garments of the mother Church, continued to be persecuted by both paganism and the Church. Thus the “persecuted woman” was the true Ecclesia of Christ as persecuted by both Paganism and Christianity, as it was then defined!
It was a convoluted paradox of suspicion, persecution, and hatred.
Rev 12:14 And to the woman (i.e., now representing the true Believers) were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
This process of the Ecclesia’s finding nourishment occurred over a period of some time, extending to more than a millennium. It effectually ended in this context, with the Protestant Reformation as begun by Martin Luther in 1517AD.
Rev 12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
Rev 12:16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
This is a depiction of the true remnant of the Ecclesia disappearing into the nether parts of the society of Rome as it had now been established under Constantine.
When the true Believers tried to express their (true) understanding of God’s word, they were epressed and persecuted – for their gospel was not that now being taught by the corrupted Church! Their lot was to be labeled “heretics” by the Church authorities, and to be increasingly persecuted for their adherence to God’s testimony.
Rev 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Editor’s Note: We certainly admit that ALL THE ABOVE NEEDS MORE INVESTIGATION, which will be attempted, God willing, in future days. Meanwhile, these posted notes are offered as valid commentary on this chapter. <HEL 3O> ~1700 words – chapter 12.
(Appendix to the Trumpet Period)
Beast of the Sea: Ecclesiastical Rome
Rev 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
Rev 13:2 And the beast (Rome) which I saw was like unto a leopard (Greece), and his feet were as the feet of a bear (Medo- Persia), and his mouth as the mouth of a lion (Babylon): and the dragon (paganism) gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
This fourth beast incorporated all the elements of its predecessors.
Rev 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
Rev 13:4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
Rev 13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
Rev 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
Rev 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
Rev 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Rev 13:9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
This powerful, vital message is pivotal for those who seek salvation!
We note one difference in the description between the Great Dragon and this Beast of the Sea: the Dragon had crowns upon its HEADS. The Beast of the Sea has crowns upon its HORNS.
Boulton (p. 86) writes, “We must, therefore, apply the symbol to the time when horn kingdoms had arisen on the body of the beast, that is to say, after the ending of the sway of the seventh (Gothic) head and the establishment of the barbarians as independent sovereignties on the territory of the Empire.”
The “sea” is the peoples of Europe of the time – the western third of the Empire.
The powerful Beast of the Sea is Ecclesiastical Rome, which rose up against the true Ecclesia of Christ. We see in his makeup great similarity (verse 2) to the beasts seen by Daniel, which were parallel to the phases of the metallic Image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of Daniel 2, but more particularly of the graphic description of the beasts of Daniel 7.
Thus the continuity of Rome is seen to pervade the apocalyptic events depicted, and to thread passionately through all its future history.
In it is embodied all the heritage of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome, all purely pagan civilizations and all idolaters. Such was Pagan Rome – the Great Red Dragon.
Its name of blasphemy was written prominently upon its heads. They reflected the Dragon’s principles and constitution – qualities which transferred seamlessly to the Holy Roman Empire which replaced it – the Beast of the Sea to which the Dragon gave its power when “converted” by Constantine.
What do we know about the head that was wounded unto death, but was healed? It is a peculiar feature which we easily see fulfilled in the demise of the Sixth head by the ascendancy of the Gothic head which subdued the empire under the fourth trumpet blast. But it was not destined to last very long, and was in turn displaced by the Imperial Head’s return, or HEALING, when the Gothic was overturned by Justinian; thus its deadly wound was healed. (Boulton, p. 87.)
It is significant that the Beast was given power to make war against the saints, and to overcome them, i.e., to persecute and kill them. It is in these phrases (to make war with the saints) that we see the substance of the statements later that the Whore was drunk with the blood of the saints – i.e., by her satisfaction at persecuting them to the death for “heresy” against her utterly false teachings and practices.
It is this Beast that the entire Western world of the time came to worship – that is, all except those whose names are written in the Book of Life; those names are blessed and precious … destined for eternal security in the Kingdom of God on the earth, for they have “come out of her” in reality (cf., Revelation 18:4).
Verses 4 and 5 above seem to give equivalency of the Beast to the papal power, for it is HE who is indicated: … there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
This time period of 42 months is equivalent to 1260 days/years; how is this realized?
It will be noted that the period is exactly equivalent to the Woman’s being sheltered and nourished in the wilderness – 42 months.
It was during this period that the Church wielded its greatest strength and influence against the Plan of God, much as it claimed to preach salvation. Its “salvation” was that dreamy, demanding, man-made system of pagan Rome, not of God-fearing Jerusalem; its mortal enemy was those (who were represented by the Woman) who professed the faith of Christ (considered by them “heretics”).
This period of persecution is considered to have been preceded by the decree of Justinian, that “We ordain that the most holy priest of the elder Rome be the first of all Priests,” a decree which assured Rome’s papal primacy to increase, even as the power of Imperial Rome decreased.
How did it decrease? It did so by the removal of the capital to Constantinople by Constantine; Rome’s authority was thus decreased politically: but was increased as to its “moral” authority by this decree.
“It was by creating the position that caused this development, ‘that the Dragon – the power (now) enthroned in Constantinople – gave him (the Beast of the Sea) his power, and his seat, and great authority.’” (Boulton, p. 87)
The impetus was carried further by the later decree of Phocas (termed by Gibbon, “the brutal ruffian”) issued the decree making the pope the “Universal Bishop” of the Church. Note carefully that the Dragon (now Constantinople) was the giver of this boon.
“Thus the deadly wound was healed by the revival of Rome in the hands of its ecclesiastical -political head, the Pope,” as Boulton has written.
Because Rome had now re-attained its position of supremacy in the West, Rome again dominated the Western world and all the world wondered after the Beast.
The period of forty-two months (1,260 years in prophetic terms) is defined as beginning at the time when Phocas decreed the primacy of the Bishop of Rome: Phocas reigned from AD602 to AD610. Add 1260 years to the latter figure and we arrive at AD1870 – the signally important year when the power of the papacy to exert any penalty upon the True saints ceased.
It is thus proven to be an exact prophecy of the ascendancy of the papacy and its later decline.
After this date of 1870, the papacy has been subdued as to its secular power. It is destined again to increase this area of influence in the end-time – a factor which we believe we can discern as we consider the influence of the papacy upon world affairs in the 21st century.
That series of events is preamble – is precursor – to the prominence of Rome as the Harlot sitting astride the Beast (Europe) as, in our opinion, we shall soon see.
Meanwhile, the normal course of affairs of that early day was to continue for a great while:
Rev 13:10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
The Beast of the Earth
Eastern” Roman Empire
Now we consider the Beast of the Earth. Note carefully that it comes up out of the earth; this is a territory different from that of the Sea Beast. It is an indication that the primacy of Rome was moved to Constantinople by Constantine – styled “the earth.” We shall note that its characteristics were different from the Beast of the Sea.
Rev 13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
Rev 13:12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
Rev 13:13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,fu;;
The next verses illustrate that that power was issued thunderously from the throne upon its domains, enforcing arbitrary authority upon all.
This Beast of the Earth (Constantinople) assumed the power of the Beast of the Sea (Rome), especially in its oral authority (it spake as a dragon). But it still appeared to be a lamb, masking its conduct as (claiming it to mimic) that of the Lamb of God, but was instead a wolf – in sheep’s clothing.
This is the deceptive mien of the Man of Sin.
The authority of Rome still resided at this time with the Eastern emperors, but decisively gave enhancement to the Beast of the Sea, causing the earth and them who dwell therein to worship that Beast! And it still spoke with the authority of Rome.
These unique symbols lead us now to consider the Image of the Beast. An image is a copy of something previously in existence. We shall see that the Image of the Beast shall be a “religious” copy of pagan Rome as embodied in the pope/emperor of the successive governments to Rome.
The Apocalypse, therefore, pictures for us the metamorphosis of Empire into Church.
We can easily see in this description the character which is universally exhibited by the ecclesiastical head of this Roman system.
He is a unique ruler of both a political realm as well as its religious system (is king and priest of Romanism).
Thus he (the pope) is a false copy (a pretender) of the previous Roman Emperors (who considered themselves as gods) and moreover, a pretender of Jesus Christ, the King/Priest of the universe to come!
The Image of the Beast
The Roman Church
Rev 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
Rev 13:15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
Rev 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
Rev 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Rev 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
This narrative contains all the marks of identity of the Roman Catholic system which had been developing, had gained authenticity (credibility in the eyes of the population) and authority from those able to confer it.
In verse 14, reference is made to the miracles which it was able to perform or claim: our thoughts go to the shrines of Lourdes, for example, and the millions of prayers offered to Mary in complete contradiction to the commandments of Christ (that HE is their only intercessor with His Father), and the hundreds of “apparitions” seen by children and the simple folk of Christendom upon which so much superstition is based in the Catholic world of “religion.”
Note firstly, that this institution (the Image of the Beast) is a copy of the beast which was wounded to the death but revived – the Imperial head.
No term could better describe the papacy! His actions are certainly imperious, haughty, authoritarian, and overbearing.
Verse 15 foretells the perpetuation of the superstitions of the previous legacy of Babylon/Rome Pagan. Those who would not conform were to be slain!
The narrative forecasts precisely what occurred in history.
The “mark” which the Beast conferred upon men of that world refers, in our opinion, to the number of the man – the Vicar of Christ – which in many different permutations results in the number 666 – the number of his name.
In the numerology of scripture, the number six is that of man; here that implication is tripled! It is the immutable mark of humanism and sectarianism in its purest form – the three categories of sin, in effect, namely the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Those characteristics mark every follower of the pope and his crowd.
That mark, displayed prominently in either the forehead or hand, identified the pope’s followers with the false system of Christianity; the “sign of the cross” which is universally a symbol of papal following, is notably made with the hand from the forehead.
The official name of the pope of Rome is in Greek, LATEINOS, and the numerical value of the letters of that word (the gematria) is 666 – a fact which was recognized in this very early time, and stated by Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, who was contemporary with the Apostle John!
It is significant that in past time, it was necessary for one to prove that he was a faithful adherent to Catholicism before he could buy or sell anything. But the merchandise that is really indicated is the comprehensive list of “spiritual” commodities (including the souls of men) in which the Church traded – listed in great detail in Revelation 18: 11-13 as the bill of goods traded by the Harlot and the Merchants of the Earth: after the destruction of which no man BUYETH “her MERCHANDISE” any more! (verse 11)
Even today, we use the same figure of speech as to dubious claims or doctrines: “I can’t buy that!”
The newly gained status of papal primacy (primus inter pares, or ‘first among equals’) conferred by Justinian and Phocas, assured the pope of great weight in the affairs of the Western Empire.
A consideration of the intricate, complex details of his further rise to power would require scores of pages of discussion, and is outside the purview of this consideration; suffice it to say that the pope became the de facto head of the empire, followed by becoming its de jure leader, by the authority of others who had power to confer these offices upon him (Constantinople).
These historical events set the stage for the reckless, profligate, and despicable reign of the Harlot over the Beast for 1,260 years, and brought about the conditions which would result in the remainder of the Apocalyptic story of the inevitable conquest of Zion over Rome. <HEL>
The Lamb on Mt. Zion
Rev 14:1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.
Rev 14:2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
Rev 14:3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
Rev 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
Rev 14:5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
The voice from heaven is that of a multitude. It is the voice of many waters, of thunder, and the strains of an harp in addition to a great chorus of voices.
The new song is the refrain of the Redeemed from the earth – those chosen from all ages and tongues, now enjoying resurrection glory – immortality in the nascent kingdom of God on the earth. It is a “new song” because its possibility of having been sung has never occurred until now. The immortalization of the Saints is a singular occurrence to this date in history, only to be repeated upon still other recipients at the end of the thousand year reign of Jesus on earth.
This feature is the basis for their nomination as the firstfruits unto God and the Lamb; they are precedent to the final harvest of a presumably far greater number of souls who are to be redeemed from the much diminished tribes of mankind inhabiting the earth during the thousand year reign of Christ, who have successfully assimilated the message of salvation which shall at that coming time be preached universally.
An hundred and forty four thousand is a perfect symbolic number indicating the totality of the redeemed, as if 12,000 had been selected from each Tribe of Israel. For these redeemed ones have become adopted Sons of God if called from the Gentiles, or Israeli Sons of God if Hebrew folk. All have become “Israel” in the truest symbolic sense – the Israel of God.
These were not defiled with women – a clear reference to the Harlot and her daughters of like mien and deportment. They are those who have, in response to His command, come out of her My people – Revelation 18:4. Such are “virgins” in the spiritual sense.
It is the blessed, terminal condition of salvation that is referred to by the Apostle Paul when he wrote, in Galatians 6:15, For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
This scene is that of the victorious Lamb of God and His Saints standing triumphantly upon Mt. Zion – the place of the restored Throne of David, which He shall occupy. The Lamb of God is blessing His followers with glory – these redeemed from among men. Their lives and beings have supernaturally been brought up to the full measure of the stature of their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, and they are now perfectly aligned in nature and purpose with Him.
That much-coveted, perfected condition is that which is celebrated by Paul, in Ephesians4:13: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
The great company, being victorious over the untold enemies of not only the Ecclesia of Christ, but more lately readily assisting the Christ to bring order to the Restored Nation of Israel, are now preparing to send forth the Gospel message of salvation to the peoples of the outer world – that world beyond the boundaries of the First Dominion of His Kingdom (Micah 4: 8) who have never heard the true Gospel message, but have for all ages been fed the lies and deception of the Church of Rome.
It shall be a momentous occasion, and one pregnant with great implications for the human race yet in darkness – an incontrovertible fact judging from the words of the angel flying in mid-heaven, his being commissioned to preach … the everlasting gospel unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
The instruction is to preach it to ALL nations, kindred, tongues and people – an injunction which tells the reader that those folk have never been exposed to the TRUE Gospel of Christ!
The world of Catholicism is most greatly affected by this message. The Pope has learned, taught, or presupposed nothing that shall have happened within the past several months of history at that time. The Lord Jesus Christ shall have appeared from virtually nowhere with a vast company of True Saints, and has made physical war upon the enemies of Israel and has defeated them summarily in the Land of Abraham’s Promise.
An horde of outsiders headed by Gog shall then have invaded, intending to destroy the nascent Kingdom and its King, and these were defeated in one day by the fury of the Almighty. The King and His people survived unscathed, and are advancing their agenda of the New Order of things to be established throughout the earth.
And now He is bringing this message of salvation to the peoples of the Harlot – a message which is not recognized by the Pope or his priests.
Obviously, in their eyes, this intruder is “the Antichrist” of Jesuit fame (a myth initiated by Ignatius Loyola and Francisco Ribera to take attention away from the Church’s culpability in this matter of gross deception and falsehood).
In their estimation, He must therefore be resisted and rejected.
It shall be a singularly fatal error made by the Vicar of Christ!
The remainder of the Apocalypse reveals many of the key episodes and facets of this struggle, which we continue with great anticipation.
This final consideration occupies nearly half the apocalyptic Revelation.
It begins post-Gogian in our opinion, and represents Christ’s progressive intention to convert the entire world to His way – and now Israel’s way – of Truth.
Its details are striking, definitive, and conclusive; the end of the process shall be seen to elevate the name of God in pure, unadulterated truth, and to result in the unabashed admission of the entire world that to Him belongs the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever. Matthew 6:13.
The Everlasting Gospel Proclaimed
Rev 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Rev 14:7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
This precursory announcement comes from the “heaven” of Christ’s kingdom. It comes from the most elevated, capital Member of that polity. It is advice of the highest order and refinement, and shall result in the salvation of many who shall heed it. It is sent to all the world’s peoples –to preach unto them that dwell on the earth – to every one without exception.
Its content reflects the only worthwhile initiative of the time: Fear God, and give glory to Him! For the “hour” of His judgment has arrived – the moment of truth in the most meaningful sense – and bids ALL recognize and worship the Creator of all things.
That injunction is closely allied with the reiteration of the fall of Great Babylon, and surely draws into fine focus the difference between His ways and her ways, that difference being the difference between life and death, between the fame and the shame of their respective followers.
The infamy of Great Babylon is recalled – her pervasive corruption of all the peoples of all the nations, who were induced to drink of the filthy dregs of her Cup of fornication.
Rev 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
These dire words speak of an entity which is in every sense the continuation of the ancient constitution of Babylon of old, the persistent apostasy of men toward their Creator, and substitution of fleshly desires for spiritual aspirations. These qualities are surely the heart and soul of the beast and his image – and embodied in his “mark” of identity.
Rev 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
Rev 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented (i.e., destroyed) with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
We readily recognize this “pouring out” of the contents of His Cup of indignation as being a consistent continuation of such previous initiatives – such as when the same Cup was given to the Proximal Islamic nations for their enforced consumption after the Almighty’s having withdrawn that Cup from Israel, His People.
That important occasion is marked by the words of the prophet: Isaiah 51:22 : Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again:
Now it is given forcibly to yet another long time enemy of His Plan and Purpose ... and the “torment” quickly consumes the victims, reducing them to nothing – erasing any possibility of more rebellion from that quarter!
Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever (its effects never to be erased or forgiven or reversed; permanence is evoked in these words): and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
The contrast between the adherents of God’s way and those of the Harlot’s way is drawn clearly. If they have partaken of her Cup of fornication, they must also drink of His Cup of wrath.
This condemnatory phrase, “the cup of wrath” of the Lord was drunk by Israel for ages nearly without end. But in 1948, at the moment of the establishment of the State of Israel, that Cup, in our opinion, was withdrawn from Israel, as discussed briefly above – a factor which now began to exhibit the behavior that He desired of His People (a return to Him as manifested first by their return to His Land).
At that moment in history the Cup of His wrath was taken from the hand of the Jewish people and given to their most immediate enemies – the Proximal Islamic States surrounding them completely, and being so vehemently hostile to them at that time.
These were made to “drink” of the LORD’s Cup of Fury during all the years of the Second Restoration of Israel, culminating with their being destroyed by His fury at His Second Coming.
It was then transferred to the vast Gogian Host which then threatened Israel in the beginning days of Christ’s Commonwealth – and that cohort was completely destroyed by the descending furies of God’s wrath, probably in one day (? Cf., Ezekiel 38: 14, 19), upon the mountains of Israel.
Thus was His Kingdom solidified and secured for all the world to see and accept – whether they like what they saw or not. The fact of His appearance and His Kingdom was thus made firm among the nations of the earth.
And now the Cup of Fury is handed to the Harlot and the Beast nations for their “swallowing down” – their utter consumption. This Cup of Fury now works its work upon still others who have incessantly resisted the commandments of Christ and His Father in matters of conduct and salvation!
Their destiny is the certainty of destruction from before His face, as symbolized by fire and brimstone, the smoke of their torment ascending up forever, for His judgments shall not be rescinded nor reversed.
Why is fire and brimstone used as a symbol here? Because it is realized by men and women as the most destructive agent known to men. The “fire” likely means lightening; the brimstone is burning sulfur – an agent nearly impossible to extinguish in its extreme combustibility.
But in actuality, death is fully as destructive. It merely appears and seems more benign.
It has long been realized that combustion is quite similar to the much slower, natural bodily decomposition of death. The uniquely repugnant, unique scent of the death of human tissue is largely due to the decomposition of the amino acids composing it.
But both combustion and decomposition may be described in medical terms as complete chemical oxidation of the tissues – both bringing the body of flesh back to the elemental components of its composition. It is the final, irreversible end of the process known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Entropy.
The symbol of fire is much more rapid and impressive than “mere” death.
Great Babylon’s devotees are entirely separate from Christ’s adherents, their destinies being the opposite poles of corruption and incorruption.
The worshippers of the Beast and his Image are turned aside unto the everlasting destruction of their flesh. But those of the Lamb are blessed with life everlasting and with His favor forever.
The Great Reward of Patience
Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
Rev 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
Rev 14:14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
Rev 14:15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
Rev 14:16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
Rev 14:17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
Rev 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
Rev 14:19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
Rev 14:20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
These powerful words are a harbinger of the victory over sin in the earth – over sin, embodied in the transgressors and resisters to righteousness among men, and especially to the traders in lies and deception. The Beast, his Image, his Mark and his Number are signally defeated forever.
The symbolism of a thousand and six hundred furlongs is peculiar – the dimension of depth (to the horse bridles) being expressed by that of length (1600 furlongs) – two dissimilar measures.
The Lamb on Mt. Zion
Rev 14:1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.
Rev 14:2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
Rev 14:3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
Rev 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
Rev 14:5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
The voice from heaven is that of a multitude. It is the voice of many waters, of thunder, and the strains of a harp in addition to a great chorus of voices.
The new song is the refrain of the Redeemed from the earth