Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Quiet Talks on the Crowned Christ of Revelation
Author: Gordon, S. D. (Samuel Dickey), 1859-1936
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Quiet Talks on the Crowned Christ of Revelation" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



             QUIET TALKS
           ON THE CROWNED
        Christ of Revelation
                 BY
            S. D. GORDON

             Author of
      "Quiet Talks on Power",
      "Quiet Talks on Prayer",
"Quiet Talks about Our Lord's Return"



           [Illustration]

     CHICAGO  NEW YORK  TORONTO
     FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY
       LONDON AND EDINBURGH



         COPYRIGHT, 1914, BY
       FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY

     New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
     Chicago: 17 North Wabash Ave.
     London: 21 Paternoster Square
     Edinburgh: 75 Princes Street



PREFACE


Crowning the Christ is an intensely practical thing, whether taken in
the _personal_ sense or the _world_ sense. He has been crowned in the
upper world. With wondrous patience and graciousness He pleads for the
personal crowning in our lives. Some day--no one knows just when--He
will begin to _act_ as the crowned Christ _in all the affairs of our
earth_.

The initiative of all action to-day on the earth is in man's hands. Some
day the initiative of _governing_ action on the earth will be in the
hands of the crowned Christ, even while the personal initiative of each
man's life will still be in his own hands.

God is intensely practical. Jesus was never concerned about speculation
nor mere discussion; He was too intent on helping people. The Bible is
wholly a practical book. It is concerned only with helping us. It does
not tell us all the truth there is; we shall be constantly learning more
in the future life. But it does tell us all we need to know now. And its
purpose in telling us what it does is wholly practical,--to urge us to
right choice, and to lives that square with the choice. This is the
purpose that decided just what truth should be told in the Book.

There is one book of the sixty-six devoted wholly to this subject of the
crowned Christ,--"The Revelation of John." Every one of these books
touches Him at some angle, and finds its deepest meaning in what He was
to do and did do, and yields up its secrets only under the touch of His
hand. But this book, the closing and climax of all, the knot in the end
of the inspired thread, this deals wholly with the action of the crowned
Christ.

No book of the sixty-six has seemed so much like a riddle and set so
many a-guessing. And without doubt much of its meaning will be clear
only as events work themselves out. Events will prove the only expositor
of much. But it is with the deep conviction that this is wholly a
_practical book_, written wholly from a practical point of view, and
concerned wholly with our practical daily lives, that I have ventured to
take it up in this series of simple, wholly practical, Quiet Talks. And
it is only this side of its teachings that will be dealt with here. The
Book is a street leading into the true overcoming life the Master would
woo us to.

It is only after many years' study of this Book of the Revelation, and a
special study the past three years and a little more, that I have
ventured to put these talks together. And now they are sent out with the
earnest humble prayer that others may find some little practical help in
prayerfully reading, as I have found much in prayerfully studying, under
the Master's gracious faithful touch.



CONTENTS


I.   THE CHRIST CROWNED, THE FACT               9

II.  THE CROWN BOOK                            39

III. A SIGHT OF THE CROWNED CHRIST             63

IV.  A MESSAGE FROM THE CROWNED CHRIST         97

V.   AN ADVANCE STEP IN THE ROYAL PROGRAMME   127

VI. A CLEARING-UP STORM IN THE REALM          151

VII. THE CROWNED CHRIST REIGNING              215

VIII. WATCHING THE HORIZON                    235



I.--THE CHRIST CROWNED, THE FACT


 "When God sought a King for His people of old,
   He went to the fields to find him;
 A shepherd was he, with his crook and his lute
   And a following flock behind him.

 "O love of the sheep, O joy of the lute,
   And the sling and the stone for battle;
 A shepherd was King, the giant was naught,
   And the enemy driven like cattle.

 "When God looked to tell of His good will to men,
   And the Shepherd-King's son whom He gave them;
 To shepherds, made meek a-caring for sheep,
   He told of a Christ sent to save them.

 "O love of the sheep, O watch in the night,
   And the glory, the message, the choir;
 'Twas shepherds who saw their King in the straw,
   And returned with their hearts all on fire.

 "When Christ thought to tell of His love to the world
   He said to the throng before him,
 'The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep--'
   And away to the cross they bore Him.

 "O love of the sheep, O blood sweat of prayer,
   O man on the cross, God-forsaken;
 A shepherd has gone to defend all alone
   The sheepfold by death overtaken.

 "When God sought a King for His people, for aye,
   He went to the grave to find him;
 And a shepherd came back, Death dead in His grasp,
   And a following flock behind Him.

 "O love of the sheep, O life from the dead,
   O strength of the faint and the fearing;
 A shepherd is King, and His Kingdom will come.
   And the day of His coming is nearing."[1]


Coronation Gift.

Christ is crowned. Not in any vague far-fetched meaning, but in the
plain common-sense meaning of the word, He is _crowned_.

For crowned means put in the place of highest power, with full right to
exercise that power at will. And when the crucified Jesus went up that
Olivet day, before the astonished eyes of the disciples, into the
sightless blue, on the cloud, He was received in the upper world by the
Father. And He was lifted up into the place of highest honour and
greatest power. He sat down at the right hand of the Father.[2]

He had said it would be so. Breathing the air thick with bitter hate on
the night of His trial, He had quietly said to the Jewish rulers that
even so it would be, bringing at once about His person the bursting of
the storm of hate.[3] Now His unfaltering trust in His Father has its
sweet reward.

The Holy Spirit poured out on Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, was
the gift of the _crowned_ Christ. The rushing sound as of a mighty wind
that filled all the house, the tongues of flame plainly seen, the bold
talking to the crowds of foreign Jews of God's mighty power, the
faithful witnessing about the crucified Jesus in the city that hounded
Him to death, the convinced crowds openly declaring at the peril of
their lives their belief in the despised Jesus, the strangely rare
unselfishness even in money matters, and the winsome graciousness of
spirit that marked, not only the inner circle, but these greatly
increased crowds,--all this said one thing in clear unanswerable tones
of unmistakable power, _Christ is crowned_.[4] For the sending down of
the Holy Spirit was the act of the crowned Christ.

And every touch of the Holy Spirit's presence within trusting
hearts,--the sweet peace, the quiet assurance, the longing for purity,
the drawing away to prayer, the hunger for God's Word, the intense
desire to have others saved, the passion to please this wondrous God of
ours,--all these simple marks of the Holy Spirit's presence in our
hearts, all tell us, and each tells us, in unmistakable tones, that
Christ is crowned. For this wondrous Spirit within is the gift of the
crowned Christ.

When Jesus went up from the earth, holding as His sure captive the
captivity of suffering and death to which He had with such great
strength yielded, He received gifts, coronation gifts. The Father gave
Him all. He gave Him the disposal and control of all. This was the
crowning.

And in His great out-reaching love Christ received these gifts _on
behalf of men_, His blood brothers. And at once He gave to men, to His
trusting disciples, the all-inclusive gift, the Holy Spirit, His
coronation gift.[5] So God came anew to dwell with men as originally
planned.

This blessed Presence within tells me, by His mere presence, that Christ
is crowned.

The writers of the New Testament make a chorus of sweet music on this
chord, ringing out in clear tones the full notes of delight and joy.
Luke's simple narrative sounds the note four times. Paul swells it out
with a joyous fulness that grows in volume and intensity as his
narrowing prison walls shut out more and more the lower lights, and
centres his upward gaze upon Jesus, "far above all rule, and authority,
and power, and dominion, and every name that is named," with "all things
in subjection under His feet."[6] John's special companion and working
partner, Peter, makes this note blend with and dominate the minor chord
of suffering for Christ's sake.[7]

The Christian Hebrew who wrote so eloquently to his fellow-countrymen of
the immense superiority of Jesus and so modestly withheld his own name,
strikes this note five times with strong, clear touch.[8] He quotes
that Eighth Psalm, which so wonderfully gives God's own ideal for man's
mastery over all creation. And then he tells us that in Jesus the ideal
will yet be fully realized. And that while the whole plan has not yet
fully worked out as it will, yet _even now_ we see the Jesus who tasted
death for every one, crowned with glory and honour as part of the plan
which He carried out in suffering the extreme suffering of death.

And our Lord Jesus Himself, talking out of the glory to the man who was
His bosom companion on earth, reserves as His last tender plea to us to
live the overcoming life this--"he that overcometh I will give him to
sit down with me in my throne as I also overcame and _sat down with my
Father on His throne_."[9]

And so we find out just what this word crowned means. Jesus was received
in the upper world, exalted, glorified, made to sit down at the Father's
right hand, put far above all rule and authority, with a name greater in
the sweep of its power than any other, and with all things put in
absolute subjection under His feet. This is the simple, direct meaning
of the sentence--Christ is crowned.

What a contrast the two faces of that glory cloud saw! The face looking
down, and the face looking up! The one--the downward face--looked upon a
cross, a Man hanging there with a mocking crown of thorns without and a
breaking heart within, scowling priests, jeering crowds, deserting
disciples, sneering soldiers, weeping women, heart-broken friends, a
horror of darkness, a cave-tomb under imperial seal, and blackest night
settling down over all.

The other--the upward face--looked upon a great burst of the upper
glory, the countless angels singing swelling songs of worship, the
wondrous winged cherubim, the redeemed hosts from Eden days on
reverently bowing and exultantly singing, the exquisitely
soft-green-rainbow-circled throne, the Father's face, once hidden, but
to be hidden now never again, the _shared_ seat on the Father's
throne,--what a contrast!

Here crucified--there crowned. Crucified on earth, one of the smaller
globes of the universe. On the throne of the whole universe of
globes--crowned! From the lowest depth to the one extreme height. From
hate's worst to Love's best. From love poured out for men to love
enthroned for those same men; love triumphant each time, on cross and on
throne. What a contrast! What a coronation! What a welcome home to a
throne!


The Music of a Name.

It is most intensely interesting to recall that, of course, this is just
what the very word Christ means,--the Crowned One. We sometimes get so
used to a word that it is easy to forget its real meaning. The word
Christ has been used so generally for so many centuries as a _name_
that we forget that originally it was a title, and not a name.

And it still is a title, though used chiefly as a name. Some day the
title-meaning will overlap the name-meaning. We may never cease thinking
of it as a name, but there is a time coming when events will make the
title-meaning so big as to clear over-shadow our thought and use of it
as a name.

It helps to recall the distinctive meaning of the words we use for Him
who walked amongst, and was one of us. Jesus is His _name_. It belongs
to the _man_. It belongs peculiarly to the thirty-three years and a bit
more that He was here, even though not exclusively used in that way in
the Book.

There's a rare threefold sweetness of meaning in that five-lettered
name. There is the meaning of the old word lying within the name, before
it became a name, victory, victor, saviour-victor, Jehovah-victor. There
is the swing and rhythm and murmur of music, glad joyous music, in its
very beginnings as a common word.

Then it has come to stand wholly for a _personality_, the rarely gentle,
winsome, strong personality of the Man of Bethlehem and Nazareth, and of
those crowded service-days. And every memory of His personality sweetens
and enriches the music in the old word.

And then the deepest significance, the richest rhythm, the sweetest
melody, come from the meaning His experiences, His life, pressed into
it. The sympathy, the suffering, the wilderness, the Cross, the
Resurrection, all the experiences He went through, these give to this
victory-word, Jesus, a meaning unknown before. They put the name Jesus
actually above every name in the experiences of tense conflict and
sweeping victory it stands for. This threefold chording makes music
never to be broken nor forgotten.

 "There is no name so sweet on earth,
   No name so sweet in heaven,
 The name before His wondrous birth,
   To Christ the Saviour given."

Lord is a title, of course. It was used of one who was a proprietor, an
owner, or a master. It was commonly used as a title of honour for one in
superior position, as a leader or teacher. In speaking of Jesus it is
coupled with the title Christ as an interchangeable word,[10] as well as
an additional title. But peculiarly it is the _personal title_ given
Jesus by one who takes Him as his own personal Master,[11] while it
still retains its broader meaning.

But _Christ_ is peculiarly _the official title_ of Jesus. There is only
one Christ. Lord is used of men. It is used of both the Father and the
Holy Spirit, as well as of Jesus. But the name Christ is used of only
one person, and can mean only that one. There could be only one Christ.

The word or its equivalent was used occasionally in the Old Testament in
a narrowed sense for the King of Israel, who is reverently spoken of as
"the Lord's anointed," that is, God's Messiah or Christ.[12]

But the one common thought of it among the Hebrew people, growing ever
intenser as the Old Testament period merges into the time of the New,
was that there was one coming, _the_ Messiah, _the_ Christ, God's
chosen, the one anointed and empowered, to be their Deliverer. The one
question that sets all hearts a-flutter about the rugged John of the
deserts was this: "Is he _the_ Christ?"[13] In their thought there was
only one to whom the title belonged.

And even so it is. Christ is the official title of _the One_ Chosen and
anointed by God to be ruler over His Hebrew people, and over all the
race, and the earth, and the universe,--God's King, to reign until all
have been brought into full allegiance to the great loving Father.[14]
The Christ is the Crowned One, God's Crowned One. The very word Christ
tells that Christ is crowned.


Our Great Kinsman.

There is an intensely interesting question that crowds its way in here,
and it proves an immensely practical question, too. _Why_ was Christ
crowned? We can say at once that this was His due. He was given that
which belonged to Him in good right. He was reinstated in His former
position, with all the power and glory that were His before His errand
to the earth.[15]

Then too this was His vindication after the shameful treatment of earth.
Before the eyes of all the upper world, both loyal and disloyal eyes,
this man whom earth hounded so shamelessly is vindicated; He is set
right by the Father.[16]

But there is yet more than this. It is a more of a sort that concerns
_us_ very closely, and it sets one's heart a-beating a bit faster. This
crowning was part of a plan, a plan of which our earth is the centre. It
was the second great part of a plan of which the suffering and dying
were the first great part. Both were for the sake of us men and our
earth-home, and the lower creation.

This is the thing being emphasized in the second great paragraph of the
Hebrews.[17] Man was made the under-master of the earth and of the lower
creation, but lost, weakly surrendered, his place of mastery. The new
Man came to recover for man what had been lost and to realize this
original lost plan.

And so He became our brother, sharer of our flesh and blood, tempted
like as we, perfected in His human character by the experiences He went
through, then tasted to the bitter dregs the death that belongs to our
sin. And then following that, He was crowned with glory and honour. And
so He rises to the place of mastery over all that belongs to perfect
man. So He brings all creation into the glad subjection which is its
natural happy state. It is for earth's sake, for the race's sake, and
for the sake of our faithful companions and servants, the whole lower
creation, that Christ has been crowned.

We think more about the personal meaning to ourselves of His having died
and risen again. We need to remember, too, this broader meaning. The
dying and rising secures our salvation personally. The crowning and the
reigning will work out the redemption of all nature and of the lower
creation,[18] and this in turn will mean much for men living on the
earth in the Kingdom time, and for the race as a race.

This leads at once to another question that presses in. What is the
_domain_ of the crowned Christ? If we take the crowning in the common
meaning of that word, it means that there is some domain that Christ
rules over. What is it that He is crowned over?

And the answer is so sweeping as to seem far-away and dreamy to us who
are living on this sin-hurt earth. He is the crowned Ruler of the whole
created universe and all intelligent beings in it. He has been placed
over absolutely every "rule and authority and power and dominion, and
not only in this present age but in the coming age."[19] There is
simply no limit in extent to His domain. Everything has been placed in
subjection to Him and is now subject to His word, and His alone.

There is a striking passage in Philippians that fits in here.[20] In
speaking of the exaltation of Jesus Christ, Paul is careful to explain
particularly that every knee would bow, _in the heavens_, and, _on the
earth_, and _under_ the earth or in the _world below_.

This threefold division is very striking. The heaven things are
understood at once, and things of the earth sphere. But there is a third
world to be taken into account, that strange uncanny world of evil
spirit beings in rebellion against God's authority. It is spoken of
repeatedly as principalities and powers, indicating numbers and
organization, dignity, and power.[21] All of this is included in what
has been placed under Christ's authority.[22]


Is Christ Reigning Now?

But there is still another question that has been impatiently pushing
underneath for some time. And it also is an intensely practical one.
Does this mean that Christ is actually ruling now over this domain of
His? How about the affairs on the earth? Are all things here subject to
Him? Is this the way He would have things go? And some of us think the
evil spirits seem pretty free in their movements. This present order of
things that we are living in the thick of, is this the reign of the
crowned Christ? And some of us feel the stress of things so much that we
can scarce keep patient for a thoughtful poised answer to our questions.

There are those, and good earnest folk they are, too, who tell us that
Christ has come, and is constantly coming, more and more, into our
common life. The higher ideals that are crowding for expression, the
more spiritual conceptions of man and his brotherly relations, the
constant striving toward better civilization, the bettering of the
condition of the poor and less fortunate, the increased recognition of
men's rights in the complex industrial world, the increasing effort to
correct evils by legislation, the great moral reforms that are sweeping
aside the awful liquor curse, and loosening women's bonds, and
safeguarding young womanhood and children, the newer aggressiveness in
the missionary propaganda and in much of the activity of the Church,
even the attempt to humanize and civilize the warfare that in itself is
stupidly savage and utterly inhuman,--is not all this a coming of Christ
and of the Christ-spirit into our common life? many ask.

And there is only one answer to such questions, a strong emphatic "yes."
It surely is the Christ-spirit that moves in all of this. This is a
coming of Christ; and a blessed coming, too. There was nothing of this
sort before the Christ-spirit began to sweeten the world's life. And
there is none of it to-day except in those parts of the world where the
Christ-spirit influences life.

But--there's a "but"--it proves a blessed but; this is only a crumb or
two falling from a loaded table. And he who judges Christ by these
crumbs only, wholesome and toothsome as they are, will have a very
skimpy conception of Christ.

All of this sort of thing that has come has come very slowly. It has had
to fight through and in, every step of the way that it has come. Its
coming has been opposed stubbornly, maliciously, viciously every inch of
the road, as only those know who are in the thick of the struggle for
these reforms, panting for breath sometimes.

It is as though a few whiffs of wholesome life-giving air have breathed
through the cracks and crevices of the breastworks and fortifications of
evil in which all our common life seems entrenched. But the
fortifications are still there. If the sweet, wholesome breathing in
through cracks and crannies has been so blest, what would it be if the
forces of evil were clean removed from the scene, and the Christ-spirit
became the whole atmosphere breathed fully and freely without restraint,
with no bad draughts, and no counter currents to guard and fight
against?

It would seem like a strange sort of a kingdom if the present is even a
gradual coming in of the Kingdom. We would seem to be having a new,
strange sort of a Christ if the present is a sample of His sort of
reigning. For it may well be thoughtfully doubted if ever there was such
a condition of feverish unrest in all parts of the world as to-day.

It is most difficult to put your finger on a single spot of the
world-map that is not being torn and uptorn by unrest in one shape or
another. Either actual war, or constant studious preparation for war,
actually never ceases. And it is difficult to say which is the worse of
the two. The actual war reveals more terribly to our eyes and ears the
awful cost in treasure and in precious human blood spilled without
stint. The never-ceasing preparation for war seems actually to cost
more. In the immense treasure involved, and in blood too, given out, not
on an occasional battlefield, but in the continual battle of daily life
to meet the terrible drain of taxation, it costs immensely more. There
is less of the tragic for the news headings, but not a whit less, rather
much more, in the slow suffering, the pinched lives, and the awful
temptations to barter character for bread.

Then there is the continual seething unrest in the industrial world; the
protests sometimes so strange and startling against social and political
conditions; the feverish greed for gold, and land, and position; the
intense pace of all our modern life; the abandonment of home and home
ideals; the terrific attack against our young womanhood. The political
pot which gathers into itself all these things, never quits boiling or
boiling over, in some part of the world, now here, now there. And it
seems like the greatest achievement of diplomacy when here and there it
can be kept from boiling clean over, or at least made to boil over less.

It would seem indeed like a queer sort of kingdom if this is a sample.
Some of us would have less heart in repeating one petition of the old
daily prayer. And Christ would seem to have quite changed His spirit and
character if this is a result of His coming.


The Greatness of Patience.

And the great simple truth is this, the truth that in the strange mix-up
of life we easily lose sight of is this: _Christ has not yet taken
possession of all of His domain_; a part of it still remains to be
possessed. "We see _not yet_ all things subjected to Him."[23] We are
living in the "not-yet" interval between the crowning and the actual
reigning. We are living on the "not-yet" possessed part of His domain.

And the question that comes hot and quick from our lips, even though
with an attempt at subdued reverence, is this: "Why does He not take
possession, and untangle the snarl, and right the wrongs, and bring in
the true rational order of things?" And all the long waiting, the
soreness of hearts over the part that touches one's own life most
closely, the shortness of breath in the tensity of the struggle,
underscore that word "why?"

And the answer to the impatient question reveals all afresh the
greatness of the love of our Christ. His greatness is shown most in His
_patience_. But patience is one of the things we men on this old earth
don't know. It's one of the unknown quantities to us. It can be known
only by knowing God. For patience is love at its best. Patience is God
at His best. His is the patience that sees all, and feels all with the
tender heart that broke once under the load, and yet waits, steadily
waits, and then waits just a bit longer.

In this He runs the risk of being misunderstood. Men in their stupidity
constantly mistake strong patience for weakness or indifference or lack
of a gripping purpose. And God is misunderstood in this, even by His
trusting children. But, even so, the object to be gained is so great,
and so near Christ's heart that He waits, strongly waits with a patience
beyond our comprehension; waits just a bit longer, always just a bit
longer.

There are two parts to the answer. Jesus the Christ is giving man the
fullest opportunity. He never interferes with man's right of free
choice. Man is free to do as he chooses. Every possible means is used to
influence him to choose right, but the choice itself is always left to
the man. The present is man's opportunity. The initiative of action on
the earth is altogether in man's hand. All of God's power is at man's
disposal; but man must _reach out_ and _take_. This long stretched but
waiting time is for man's sake, that he may have fullest opportunity.
The longsuffering of God would woo men.[24]

When at length opportunity comes to its end it will be only because
things have gotten into such desperate shape, into such an awful fix,
that at length _for man's sake_ Christ will step into the direct action
of the earth once again. He will take the leadership of earth into His
own hands, even while still leaving each man free in his individual
choice. This is the first part of the answer. The waiting is that man
may have fullest opportunity.

Then Christ has a great hunger for _willing_ hearts. No words are strong
enough to tell His longing for a free, glad, joyous surrender to His
mastery. He could so easily end the present conflict, but He waits that
men may bring to Him the allegiance of their lives, given of their own
glad, gracious, voluntary accord. He was a volunteer Saviour. He longs
for that love that is the bubbling out of a free, full heart.

The best love is only given freely without any compulsion of any sort,
save only love's sweet compelling. He wants what He gives--the best. And
so He waits, patiently waits just a bit longer. This is the second bit
of the answer. The long delay spells out the hunger as well as the
patience of God's heart. The divine Husbandman is patiently waiting,
and sending warm sun and soft rains and fragrant dews while waiting.[25]

 "The Husbandman waiteth--
   The _Husbandman_? Why?
 For the heart of one servant
   Who hears not His cry.

 "The Husbandman waiteth--
   He _waiteth_? What for?
 For the heart of one servant
   To love Him yet more.

 "The Husbandman waiteth--
   Long patience hath He--
 But He waiteth in hunger--
   Oh! Is it for thee?"[26]


Taking with Your Life.

But--ah! listen, there's a wonderful "but" to put in here. But, while
waiting _He puts all His limitless power at our disposal_. If that
simple sentence could be put into letters of living flame, its
tremendous meaning might burn into our hearts. When Paul piled up phrase
on phrase in his eager attempt to have his Asiatic friends in and around
Ephesus take in the limitless power of the ascended Christ, he added the
significant words, "to the Church."[27] All that power is for the use,
and at the disposal, of the Church.

The Church was meant to be a unit in spirit in loyalty to her absent
Lord, wholly under the dominating touch of the Holy Spirit, not only in
her official actions, but in the lives of the individual members. If she
were so, no human imagination could take in the startling, revolutionary
power, softly, subtly, but with resistless sweep, flowing down from the
crowned Christ, among grateful men.

Not being such a unit it is not possible that that power shall be as
great in manifestation as was planned and meant. For no individual nor
group can ever take the place in action of the whole unified body of
believers, acting as a channel for the power of the crowned Christ. That
power shall be realized on the earth only when the Church is so unified,
and at work, under the reigning Christ, from the new headquarters up in
the heavens.

But meanwhile all of that power is _at the disposal of any disciple of
Christ_--the humblest--who will simply live in full-faced touch with
Christ, and who will _take_ of that power as the need comes, and as the
sovereign Holy Spirit leads.

It is of this, this _personal_ taking, that Paul is speaking when he
piles up that intense sentence: "able to do _exceeding abundantly above
all that we ask or think_ according to _the power that worketh in
us_."[28] The great bother in Paul's day and ever since, and now, is to
get people to _take_. The power is fairly a-tremble in the air at our
very finger-tips. And we go limping, crutching along both bodily and
mentally and in our spiritual leanness.

Those tremendous words of Jesus, "because I go unto the Father," with
the whole passage in which they occur,[29] must be read in _the light
shining from the throne_. Only so can they be understood. But then, so
read, they begin to grip us, and grip us hard, as we see what He really
meant and means.

He who has the warm, child-like touch of heart with Jesus, that the word
"believeth" stands for, shall--as the Holy Spirit has full control--do
the same works as Jesus did, same in kind and in degree, and then shall
do even greater than Jesus ever did. _Because_ it is now the glorified
crowned Christ who is doing them through some child of His,
simple-hearted enough to let Him have full control.

And the means through which He will do them is simple, child-like,
trusting, humble prayer. The man using the power is on his knees. The
lower down he gets the more and more freely the power flows down and out
among men.

As one learns to keep in touch--learns it slowly, stumblingly, with many
a stupid fall, and many a tremble and quiver--as he learns to keep in
simple touch with the crowned Christ he will find _all_ the power of
that Christ coming with a soft surging throb of life wherever needed.
_We may have all we can take._ But _the taking must be with one's very
life_. No mere earnest repeating of a creed in Church service will avail
here. The repeating must be, syllable by syllable, with feet and will,
with hands and life, in the daily tread where each step is stubbornly
contested.

This is the bit of truth for the waiting time. This is the song to be
singing in this present "not-yet" interval. And the song will help cut
down the length of that "not-yet," until the friction of our lived faith
shall wear off the "not" and wipe out the "yet," and we shall find the
crowned Christ a reigning Christ.

For some day this patient waiting crowned Man will rise up from His seat
at the Father's right hand. He will step directly into the action of
earth once again. Man will have had his fullest opportunity lengthened
out to the last notch of his possible use of it. Then we shall see the
crowned Christ quietly stepping in, taking matters wholly into His own
hands, and acting in all the affairs of earth as the Crowned One. Then
He shall reign from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates out to where the
ends of the earth become a common line on the other side. The Kingdom
will have come, for the King will be reigning.

The night will be gone. The day has come. The shadows flee. He has come,
whose presence puts the new day at dawn, with the East all aflame, and
the fragrant dew glistening gladly on every tender green blade. This
time of expectancy is over;[30] the time of making real has _come_. Then
comes the restoration of the old original love plan to earth and beast
and man.[31]

 "Thou art coming, O my Saviour!
   Thou art coming, O my King!
 In thy glory all-transcendent;
 In thy beauty all resplendent;
   Well may we rejoice and sing!
 Coming! In the opening east,
   Herald brightness slowly swells;
 Coming, O my glorious Priest,
   Hear we not thy golden bells?

 "Thou art coming, Thou art coming!
   We shall meet Thee on Thy way,
 We shall see Thee, we shall know Thee,
 We shall bless Thee, we shall show Thee
   All our hearts could never say!
 What an anthem that will be,
 Ringing out our love to Thee;
 Pouring out our rapture sweet
 At Thine own all-glorious feet!

 "Thou art coming! Rays of glory,
   Through the veil Thy death has rent,
 Touch the mountain and the river
 With a golden glowing quiver,
   Thrill of light and music blent.
 Earth is brightened when this gleam
 Falls on flower, rock, and stream;
 Life is brightened when this ray
 Falls upon its darkest day.

 "Not a cloud and not a shadow,
   Not a mist and not a tear,
 Not a sin and not a sorrow,
 Not a dim and veiled to-morrow,
   For that sunrise grand and clear!
 Jesus, Saviour, once with Thee,
   Nothing else seems worth a thought!
 Oh, how marvellous will be
   All the bliss Thy pain hath bought!

 "Thou art coming! At Thy table,
   We are witnesses of this,
 While remembering hearts Thou meetest,
 In communion clearest, sweetest,
   Earnest of our coming bliss.
 Showing not Thy death alone,
   And Thy love exceeding great,
 But Thy coming and Thy throne,
   All for which we long and wait.

 "Thou art coming! We are waiting
   With a hope that cannot fail;
 Asking not the day or hour,
 Resting on Thy word of power
   Anchored safe within the veil,
 Time appointed may be long,
   But the vision must be sure;
 Certainty shall make us strong,
   Joyful patience can endure!

 "O the joy to see Thee reigning,
   Thee, my own beloved Lord!
 Every tongue Thy name confessing,
 Worship, honor, glory, blessing,
   Brought to Thee with glad accord!
 Thee, my Master and my Friend,
   Vindicated and enthroned!
 Unto earth's remotest end
   Glorified, adored, and owned!"[32]


Working by the Light of the Throne.

But we are still in the "not-yet" interval. We see not yet all things
subject to Him. This is still the waiting time. It is the pleading time
for Him. He pleads for the _personal crowning_ of Himself in our lives,
that He may reign there and He alone. This is our great opportunity. We
shall never see its like again, nor anywhere else than on this earth.

In the reigning time that's coming this peculiar opportunity of crowning
Christ while He still is absent and despised, this will be gone. In the
upper world they have no such opportunity. There is no opposition there.
Now and here is the rarest opportunity to put this great waiting patient
Man on the throne of heart and life, with possessions and ambitions and
plans all in subjection under His feet.

Every woman knows the name of Brussels lace. The old capital of the low
countries of Europe has long been famous for its lace. It is of great
interest to note the conditions under which it is sometimes made. They
are conditions studiously prepared after long experience. In one of the
famous lace factories in Brussels there are a number of small rooms
devoted to the making of some of the most delicate patterns.

Each room is just large enough for a single worker, and is quite dark
except for one narrow window. The worker sits so that the stream of
light falls from above directly upon the threads, while he himself sits
in the darkness. The darkness aids the workman's eyes to see better, and
to work more skilfully in the narrow line of clear light centred on the
delicate task. He weaves in the upper light intensified by the
surrounding gloom, and does exquisite work.

There is a clear line of light _from a throne_ shining down into the
darkness in which we sit and move. It shines from the face of a crowned
Man. In the light of that light we can see clearly to do a difficult bit
of crowning work,--to crown the Christ in our lives and to keep Him
crowned.

As our eyes follow that line of upper light we may catch glimpses of His
wondrous Face up there in the glory. So we shall be steadied and cheered
in the darkness as we stick to our glad crowning work. And so we shall
move forward on the calendar the day when that thin line of light seen
now only by watching eyes shall become a burst of glory light seen by
all eyes.

And this is the thing the crowned Christ is asking of us during this
waiting time, this "not-yet" interval. He is counting on each of us
being faithful to Him, our absent Lord, in this.

 "He is counting on you.
   He has need of your life
   In the thick of the strife:
   For that weak one may fall
   If you fail at His call.
 He is counting on you,
 If you fail Him--
     What then?

 "He is counting on you.
   On your silver and gold,
   On that treasure you hold;
   On that treasure still kept,
   Though the doubt o'er you swept
   'Is this gold not _all_ mine?
   (Lord, I knew it was _Thine_.')
 He is counting on you,
 If you fail Him--
     What then?

 "He is counting on you.
   On a love that will share
   In His burden of prayer,
   For the souls He has bought
   With His life-blood; and sought
   Through His sorrow and pain
   To win 'Home' yet again.
 He is counting on you,
 If you fail Him--
     What then?

 "He is counting on you.
   On life, money, and prayer;
   And 'the day shall declare'
   If you let Him have _all_
   In response to His call;
   Or if He in that day
   To your sorrow must say,
 'I had counted on you,
 But you failed me'--
     What then?

 "He is counting on you.
   Oh! the wonder and grace,
   To look Christ in the face
   And not be ashamed;
   For you gave what He claimed,
   And you laid down your all
   For His sake--at His call.
 He had counted on you,
 And you failed not.
     What then?"[33]

Ah! Please God, by His grace, we shall not fail in _the ruling purpose_
of our lives. We may crown Him Lord of all. We _can_. He asks it. We
surely _will_.

 "With all my powers Him I greet,
   All subject to His call;
 And bowing low at His pierced feet
     _Now_ crown him Lord of all."



FOOTNOTES:

[1] Joseph Addison Richards.

[2] Mark xvi. 19.

[3] Matthew xxvi. 64.

[4] Acts ii. 33; iii. 13-16; v. 31-32; vii. 55, 56.

[5] Psalm lxviii. 18; Ephesians iv. 8; Acts ii. 33.

[6] Romans viii. 34; Ephesians i. 20-22; Philippians ii. 9-11;
Colossians iii. 1.

[7] I Peter iii. 22.

[8] Hebrews i. 3; ii. 8-9; viii. 1; x. 12; xii. 2.

[9] Revelation iii. 21.

[10] Acts ii. 36.

[11] Romans x. 9.

[12] I Samuel xvi. 6; xxiv. 6, 10; II Samuel i. 14-16; xix. 21, and
elsewhere; Psalm xviii. 50, and frequently in Psalms.

[13] John i. 20, 25; Luke iii. 15.

[14] Philippians ii. 10; I Corinthians xv. 24-26.

[15] John xvii. 5; i. 1-3; Colossians i. 15-17.

[16] Matthew xxvi. 64; Acts ii. 22-24, 32-36; Philippians ii. 9-11;
Hebrews ii. 9.

[17] Hebrews ii. 5-18.

[18] Romans vii. 19-22; Jeremiah ix. 10; xii. 4, 11; xxiii. 10; Genesis
iii. 17-19; Acts iii. 21.

[19] Ephesians i. 20-22; Hebrews ii. 6-8.

[20] Philippians ii. 9-11.

[21] Ephesians vi. 12; Colossians ii. 15.

[22] Colossians ii. 10; Ephesians iii. 10; iv. 8-10; I Corinthians xv.
24.

[23] Hebrews ii. 8.

[24] II Peter iii. 8-9; Romans ii. 4; ix. 22; Revelation ii. 21; I Peter
iii. 20; II Peter iii. 15; Exodus xxxiv. 6-7.

[25] James v. 7.

[26] F. M. N.

[27] Ephesians i. 20-22.

[28] Ephesians iii. 20.

[29] John xiv. 12-14.

[30] Hebrews x. 13.

[31] Acts iii. 21.

[32] Frances Ridley Havergal.

[33] Mrs. Bessie Porter Head.



II.--THE CROWN BOOK


 "All hail the power of Jesus' Name!
   Let angels prostrate fall:
 Bring forth the royal diadem,
   And crown Him Lord of all.

 "O that with yonder sacred throng
   We at His feet may fall,
 Join in the everlasting song
   And crown Him Lord of all!

 "With all my powers Him I greet,
   All subject to His call;
 And bowing low at His pierced feet,
   _Now_ crown Him Lord of all.

 "I hail the power of Jesus' Name,
   Before Him gladly fall,
 Bring Him my own heart's diadem
   And crown Him Lord of all!"


The Crowning Book.

There is a _crown book_ in this old Book of God,--the Revelation of
John. It is _the_ crown book, the only one. It is the crown book of the
sixty-six in two senses. It is the capping climax of the whole
revelation of God's Word. It gathers up into itself in a peculiar way
the dominant characteristics of both the Hebrew Old and the Greek New
Testaments.

And it is the book of the Crown. The King is in action. He Himself gives
the message of the book to John. He is seen stepping forward to take
possession of His realm. Then He takes possession. He dispossesses the
pretender. He reigns over the earth. The Revelation of John is the Crown
book.

This is the peculiarity of the Revelation in comparison with all the
other books. Only here is Christ seen exercising His crown rights. From
end to end of the Old Testament pages, His coming is looked forward to,
with an eager longing that grows in intensity as the national failure
grows ever worse.

In the Gospels He comes, but not as He was expected. He is heralded as
King, and claims to be King. He has all the graciousness of a King in
ministering to the needs of the people, and all the power of a King in
His personal touch. But He is rejected by the nation, and goes to the
Cross, yet still as a King,--a humiliated, crucified King.

In the Acts He is the risen, glorified King seated at the Father's right
hand in glory, and at work through His followers among men on the earth.
But it is always in the midst of sharp, bitter opposition. In the
Epistles He is seen crowned at the Father's right hand, guiding and
teaching His followers who are still suffering persecution.

But in the Revelation of John all this is changed. There's a sharp,
decided, advance step. Here He is not only crowned, but stepping
directly and decisively into the action of the earth in the full
exercise of His crowned rights and power. It is peculiarly the book of
the Crown, the royal book, the enthroned Christ exercising fully and
freely at will His crown rights.


Jesus' Bosom Friend.

The book was written by John the disciple and apostle. This is our same
old friend John, whom we met first that ever-memorable afternoon, down
by the Jordan River road, when he was introduced to Jesus by the John of
the deserts, and had his first long, quiet talk with Him.[34] The
friendship began that day, grew steadily, and never flagged. It was one
of the few friendships that Jesus had that never knew any lapse nor
eclipse.

He became, in an outstanding sense, the bosom friend of Jesus. Probably
it was not because of any special gentleness or amiability on John's
part, though he may have had something of these traits. It was more
likely because of the deep, intelligent sympathy between the two, a
sympathy not only of personality, but deeper and stronger because of a
mental and spirit likeness growing up between them. It would seem likely
that John developed a mental grasp, a spirit insight, a student
thoughtfulness, a steadiness of temperament, and with these, a growing
understanding of much--at the least--much of Jesus' spirit and ideals
and vision.

It may quite be that all this came slowly, and grew up out of the
constant contact with Jesus, and out of the warm personal love between
the two men; quite likely. Who could live so close to Jesus as he and
not bear the marks on mind and spirit? The fire that burned so fiercely
in early years[35] grew into a steady, unflickering flame under the
influence of that personal friendship.

It seems not unlikely that John belonged to a good family, and had his
home in Jerusalem. He was clearly on terms of easy intimacy at the
palace of the High Priest,[36] which in itself would suggest his social
standing in the city. It was to this man that Jesus, on the Cross,
committed the care of His mother. And John accepted the trust as a
tender token of friendship, and took Mary at once to his own home. And
as Mary remained in Jerusalem at least some time, and John clearly for a
long time, the home was likely there.

John was one of the chief leaders in Jerusalem during the Pentecost
days, and after. Peter was the chief spokesman, but John was always
close by his side. The friendship between the two seems to have been
close and of long standing. They were sent together by the Master to
arrange for the supper that memorable betrayal night,[37] and they are
seen together in the activities in Jerusalem for many years.[38]

It would seem that in later years John left Jerusalem, and made his home
for the remainder of his life in Ephesus. Doubtless he was led, after
the years of leadership in the mother Church, to leave the great Jew
centre, and devote his strength to missionary service in the outside
Gentile world.

Ephesus was the chief city of the province of Asia, and the natural
centre of the population and life of the province. John probably worked
out from Ephesus, preaching throughout the whole district; teaching,
advising, praying with, and visiting the groups of little Churches
scattered throughout the province, perhaps founding some, and
strengthening all. For his work seems to have been, not so much
evangelizing, but the much more difficult work of teaching, patiently,
carefully, teaching; a work so essential to the life of any Church. So
he would be quite familiar with the Churches to which the Revelation
letters are sent, and would be well known by these people and loved and
revered by them as a father in the faith.

This personal bit about John is of intensest interest in studying this
book of his. It was to this man that Jesus could entrust the writing of
this special message. John could take in what the Master was showing him
as few, if any others, could. The close, sympathetic friendship made him
able to take in what his old Friend and Master is now telling him in the
glory. And he could give it out too, simply, fully, clearly, just as it
was given to him.

Love can see and grasp, and can obey simply, where mere mental keenness
fails. There is no tonic for the brain like love in the heart. No brain
ever does its best work, nor can, until the heart is fired by some
tender, noble passion. It was to Mary Magdalene who had such reason to
love tenderly that Jesus showed Himself first after the
resurrection.[39]

And it is to John, the bosom friend, whose friendship stood the severest
test where all others failed, that He now shows Himself in glory, and
entrusts this pleading message, and vision of coming events, and of the
after glory. He that willeth to do the Master's will shall know surely
and clearly what that will is. And he that goeth farther yet, and
willeth to give the tenderest love of his heart, ever kept at summer
heat, shall know the Master Himself, in present personal touch, and in
clear and clearing understanding of His coming victorious action and
crowning glory.

John wrote a Gospel; one chief Epistle, besides the two very brief
personal letters; and this book of the Revelation. The Gospel and
Epistles were quite likely written while in Ephesus.

The Gospel was his plea to all men to whom it might come to accept Jesus
as their personal Saviour. Its characteristic word is "believe." And the
plan of it is a simple array of incidents about Jesus that would lead
men to a warm, intelligent belief in Him.

The chief Epistle is written to the little groups of believers scattered
throughout Asia Minor, and doubtless in the old home district of Judea,
too. Its characteristic word is "abide." It is an intense plea, by a
personal friend to abide, steadily, fully, in Christ, in spite of the
growing defections and difficulties pressing in so close.

The Revelation was written, quite likely, on the island of Patmos while
all was yet fresh in his mind; or possibly in Ephesus after his release
from his island prison; or perhaps begun in Patmos and put into its
final shape in Ephesus. It is written to the little groups of believers
in and near Ephesus. It is a most intense plea to be personally true to
the Lord Jesus in the midst of subtle compromise and of bitter
persecution.

Its characteristic word is "overcome." It speaks much of the opposition
to be encountered, and tells of greater opposition yet to come, the
greatest ever known. And it pleads, with every possible promise, and
every warning of danger, that the true believer set himself against the
evil tide, at every risk, and every possible personal loss, and so that
he "overcome" in the Name of the Lord Jesus.


Old and New Woven Together.

The language in which the book is written is of intense interest. It is
so unusual. It combines Hebrew thought and Greek speech. It is as though
a Hebrew soul were living in a Greek body, and the soul has so dominated
the body as to make decided changes in it. The thought and imagery, and
the very words are largely taken over from the Old Testament, much of it
not being found elsewhere in the New Testament. It is as though the Old
Testament reaches clear over the intervening space and writes the last
book of the New as an additional book of the Old, but with distinct
additions. But all these additions are outgrowths of what is already in
the Old.

But while the thought and imagery are Hebrew, the language is Greek. But
scholars note that John's Greek here is different from that of his
Gospel, and is indeed peculiar to itself, with new grammatical
adjustments, as though better to express his Hebrew thought. Yet, like
the Gospel, it is an easy Greek to learn and to understand. It is as
though the Old Testament were the warp of a new bit of fabric, with the
New as the shuttle-threads, and yet with such additions as makes the
pattern stand out much more definite and clear, and the colours in it
more pronounced. Thus this end-book is a weaving of both Old and New
into a new bit of fabric, but with a more distinct pattern than either.

This explains the use of the symbolism which is so marked here. The
picture language of John's Revelation has seemed very puzzling. It has
seemed like a new language, to which we had neither grammar nor
dictionary, and the intended meaning of which we could only guess at.
But this is because we are Westerners and a bit set in our western way.
And possibly, too, though we dislike to confess it, because we have not
gotten a clear, simple grasp of this old Book of God as a whole. The
Bible is an Oriental book, written in the characteristic picture
language of the Orient.

The truth is that the symbol or picture language is meant to make the
book _easier of understanding_. We simply need to learn how to read
picture language, not whimsically, but sensibly according to the laws of
picture language. The symbolism or picture sees things as they look at
the moment the picture is taken. The picture is meant to give one
general distinct impression of the thing being presented, the details of
the picture being of value only as they give coloring to that one
general impression. It is concerned, not at all, or only in the most
incidental way, with the process by which the thing came to the point
pictured.

There is a rare wisdom in the use of this picture language. It is really
the common language not of the Orient merely, but of all the world. In
our western half of the globe it is the language of the street, the
common crowd, the common exchange of life, and of children. It is the
language of the primitive peoples of all parts of the world. Everywhere
the conventionalized book-language is spoken by the few. The picture,
with its companion, the story, is the universal, the original, the
natural language of the race.

On the mere human side here is one secret of the freshness of the Bible.
It is the oldest book in some of its parts, but admitted to be the
freshest and most modern in its adaptation to modern life. And the
reason is simple. The pictures give _principles_. Principles don't
change with the changing of centuries. Rules change. Principles abide.
Details alter with every generation. Principles of action are as
unchangeable as human nature, which is ever the same, east and west,
below the equator, and above.

John's Revelation is naturally full of this picture language, for it is
a gathering up of the chief threads of the old Oriental Hebrew fabric.
It will help us understand the meaning if we keep in mind the simple
rules of this Hebrew picture language.

John, of course, was a Hebrew, born and bred in a Hebrew home, and
immersed in the old Hebrew Bible from the time of his mother's milk.
What Greek language and culture had come was a bit of the outer world
come into his Hebrew home and life. Now in his old age the early memory
is asserting itself.

Then too it is quite likely that in his imprisonment he had been
brooding anew over the old prophecies, reviewing afresh events since the
resurrection of Jesus,--the growth of the Church, and now the severe
persecution, with himself a prisoner. And while he in no way doubts the
unseen overruling Hand, yet he is seeking to get a fresh outlook into
the future from the old prophetic writings.

And through all of this without doubt the Holy Spirit was brooding in
unusual measure over this man, reviving early memory, bringing to his
remembrance all things of other days, deepening impressions, bringing
old facts into new perspective, giving clearer vision, mellowing and
maturing both mind and heart into fresh plastic openness to further
truth. And so we have this little book with its Hebrew soul and its
Greek body.

The meaning of all this is very simple, and yet a meaning of intense
significance. Here is summed up the whole of the revelation of God's
Word. Here all the lines of Revelation meet. Almost two thousand years
of inspiration come to a climax in this little end-book. Psalmist and
prophet, historian and law-giver, Gospel and Epistle come to a final
focus point in one simple intense message. The purpose of the book is
intensely and only practical. Here is the message of the whole Bible to
Christ's people _for this present interval_ between the Ascension and
the next great step in our Lord's world-plan.


Jesus' Plea to His Friends.

And the message is simply this: put to us with all the intensity of the
One who gave His very life for us, it is this,--_that we be personally
true to our Lord Jesus_ during His present absence. This comes as His
personal request, that, in sweet, stern purity of life, in full glad
obedience of spirit, in tender freshness of personal devotion, in
holding absolutely everything, of talents and position and possession,
subject to His call, and in keeping our eye ever open forward and upward
for His return, we be true to Him.

He is the Lamb slain. Only through His blood is there salvation for any
one. He is now allowing man fullest opportunity before He comes to set
things right. This is the in-between time, much lengthened out. In the
midst of formalism and subtle compromise, the tangling of ideas and
issues, and the blurring of vision within His Church, He calls to His
own blood-bought ones to be true to Himself.

There's a terrific moral storm coming. Wickedness will wax to a worst
never yet known. Evil will be so aggressive, compromise so radical,
temptations so subtle and coming with such a rush, and ideals of right
so blurred and dimmed in the glare of the lower lights, that even those
of the inner circle will be sorely tried, and many will be deceived.
Just at the bursting of the worst of the storm the crowned Christ will
appear. He will come on the clouds before all eyes, take away His own
out of the storm, then clear the storm by His own touch, and begin the
new order of things.

The test coming will be terrific. He knows it. And his knowledge makes
His plea intense that _we be true to Himself_, our beloved, crucified,
crowned Lord, utterly regardless of consequences to ourselves. So we
shall "overcome by the blood of the Lamb," and be joined with Him in
closest intimacy during His coming reign over the earth.

There is a striking thing told us at the very outset of the book;--it is
a revelation. That is, it is something revealed directly by God. It is
the only book of the Bible of which we are told plainly and directly
that it is a revelation.

It is not that the other books do not have the same inspirational
characteristic. But our attention is explicitly called to the fact that
this one is, in its entirety, a _direct_ revelation; and not only so,
but it is a revelation given directly by God to the Lord Jesus, and
given in person by Him to John. This is significant. It marks out the
message of the book as of the utmost meaning and importance.

This suggests a need. And the need of something of the sort is plain
enough, if one think into it. Already in John's day there was a distinct
break-away from the simplicity and purity of the Gospel, both in the
Church and in the lives of professed Christians. The messages to the
Churches of Pergamum and Thyatira and Sardis show clearly that there had
already begun a rubbing out of the sharp line of distinction between the
Church and the world. The world spirit was--not creeping in,
but--walking boldly into the life of the Church.

It is striking to note the thing that leads John to write his First
Epistle, that is, the alarming conditions among Christ's followers. The
spirit of compromise seems seeping in at every crevice. And worse yet,
the spirit of Antichrist, that makes such a savage attack on Jesus, on
the deity of His person, and the atoning significance of His death, this
was openly at work among them.[40] These conditions, so familiar to
those who first read his little Epistle, are the continual underscoring
of His intense plea for _abiding_.

It is most significant that Jude's intense flame-like Epistle talks
entirely about conditions within Church circles. Run through it again
with this fact fresh in mind, and the significance of it stands out in a
startling way. Peter's Second Epistle reveals the same sort of an
atmosphere seeping in among the groups of disciples to whom he writes.
Not only was there doubt and confusion about the meaning of the
prophetic teachings, but even a sneering and mocking at the teaching
about the second coming of our Lord.

These are a few indications of how things were in the Church generally
before the first century had closed. It was a time of confusion and
compromise. The air was tense. The need was critical. It would seem that
if ever our Lord would give a simple direct revelation afresh, to His
people, it would be in just such circumstances. And it reveals to us at
once how grave things looked to His eyes, and how much depended on His
followers having a clear understanding of how things would work out,
that our Lord Jesus does do just this thing,--send a direct revelation
that would meet just such a need.


More Alike than Different.

It is most striking that the conditions of the Church then and to-day
are so much alike. The line between Church and world is either badly
blurred, or quite wiped out. And this one fact throws a flood of light
upon Church conditions. Within the Church, when it comes to the matter
of what its real purpose of being is, and what the essentials of faith,
the lines are hopelessly crossed and tangled, even though the surface
shows so much striving toward at least a seeming unity, and so much
aggressiveness in action. The common absence of real spiritual power,
that unmistakable moving, like a breath, of the Spirit of God, is freely
admitted.

It is a painful fact that membership in a Church no longer gives any
clue to a man's vital belief, nor even to his moral conduct. There is
utter confusion about the practical meaning of God's prophetic Word, and
what the actual outcome of the present order will be; that is, where
such things are not quite dismissed from consideration. And, stranger
yet, indifference, or an actual repugnance, to any mention of the Lord's
return is the common thing. It is not surprising that earnest people are
bewildered as to just what should be the attitude of one who would ring
true to the absent Jesus. It hurts to remember that all this is the
freely admitted commonplace, where such things are seriously spoken of.

Indeed it is of intense interest to note that just this sort of thing
has marked the whole interval since these early Church days. Broadly the
same characteristics have marked both world movement and the Church
movement in this long interval. There is a unity characterizing the age
since our Lord ascended. There have been differences, very sharp and
marked, but always they have been differences in degree, now more
intense, now less. The general characteristics have been the same in
kind.

The need of the Church in the end of the first century is its need in
the beginning of the twentieth. Surely the thing of all things needed is
a simple, clear, understandable revelation direct from our Lord Jesus
Himself. It was needed then. Clearly it has been needed in every
generation since then. And one whose pulse is at all sensitive to spirit
conditions to-day feels that surely it is the thing needed now.

And here it is, a revelation of Himself, crowned in the upper world,
keeping in closest touch with things down in this world, telling us what
the outcome is to be, and especially speaking of our attitude toward
Himself in this present in-between interval.

Usually God's method with man is to give him enough of a revelation of
Himself in nature, and in His Word, to start him straight, and guide him
as he goes to school with himself as chief pupil, with all of nature to
find out and develop, and so to get mastery both of himself and of
nature and its forces. We recognize this as the best school-teacher
method for good self-development.

But here something more seems needed. The situation down on the earth
has gotten badly mixed up. Even though Jesus has been on the earth, and
has died, and has sent down the Holy Spirit in such irresistible power,
the situation in the world, and among His disciples, has gotten so
subtly tangled and intense, the enemy is so viciously and cunningly at
work, that only one thing will meet the need,--a revelation, a simple,
direct, warm revelation given us personally by the Lord Jesus Himself.
And here it is in this little end-book, with its vision of the glorified
Jesus, its pleading heart-cry to His followers, and its simple but
tremendous outlook into the future.

It would not be surprising if such a book should be made the subject of
special attack by the evil one. It is not surprising, though it is
deeply grievous, that the common idea about this book among Christian
people is that it is a sort of a puzzle, that it is impossible to get a
simple, clear, workable understanding of its message. Parts of it are
conned over tenderly and loved, a paragraph here, a verse there, and so
on, but a grasp of the one simple message of the book seems not common,
to put it mildly. No book of the sixty-six has seemed so much like a
riddle to which no one knew the answer. And without doubt the full
meaning of much will be quite clear only as events work themselves out.
Events will be the best exposition of certain parts. But these parts, be
it keenly noted, are not essential to the grasp of the whole message.
God is intensely practical. Jesus was too intent on helping people to be
otherwise than practical. He hasn't changed. He is too tremendously
wrapped up in the outworking of His plans. The Bible is wholly a
_practical_ book. And this crowning end of it is intensely and only
practical. It is with the clear conviction that it is entirely possible
to get the simple grasp of it that shall steady our steps, and clear our
understanding, and feed our personal devotion to the absent Jesus, our
blessed Lord, that these few simple quiet talks have been put together.


Doing Leads to Understanding.

The outline of the book is very simple. After the brief introduction[41]
and personal greeting,[42] there comes the wondrous vision of _the
glorified Jesus_, and His personal message to John.[43] He is the Living
One, who _became_ dead for a great purpose, and is now living, never to
die again. He is seen walking quietly among the groups of his followers,
with eyes of flame, and heart of love, keeping watch over these, His
empowered witnesses on earth.

And He tells John that he is to write to the groups of his followers a
threefold message, a description of Himself as just now seen by John, a
description of affairs in these Churches as seen by His own eyes, and an
account of the things that are going to happen on the earth.

Then follows this description of the Churches. It is in a sevenfold
personal message to His followers on the earth.[44] Then the vision of
Himself in heaven as He steps directly into the action of the earth to
take possession of His crown domain.[45] Then comes the account of
coming happenings. It is a sevenfold view of a terrific moral storm on
the earth, that will follow this advance step of His in the heavens. It
is so terrific and includes so much, that it is possible to get a clear
view of it and its sweep only by looking, now at this feature of it, and
now at this; now from this angle of vision, and now from this other.

It is the final contesting of Christ's crown claim as He steps forward
to assert it; the final outburst of evil unrestrainedly storming itself
out. And it is the clearing-up storm, too. There is ever the shining of
a clear light just beyond the outer rim of the terrible blackness of the
storm clouds. This takes up the greater part of the little book,
including chapter six, to the close of chapter eighteen.

And then there is given briefly the actual coming to earth in glory of
the crowned Christ;[46] the new order of things under His personal
reign;[47] a final crisis;[48] and then in a vision of wondrous
winsomeness, God and men are seen dwelling together as one reunited
family, though still with a sad burning reminder of the old
sin-rebellion as part of the picture.[49] And the book closes with
personal paragraphs to John and to the groups of Churches.[50]

Another of the striking things peculiar to this book is the personal
plea that it be read and lived up to. At the very front-door step as one
starts in he is met full in the face with this: "Blessed is _he_ that
_readeth_, and they that _hear_, (or give careful heed to) the words of
the prophecy, and _keep_ the things that are written therein."[51]

Here at the very outset is a plea, made to each one into whose hands the
little book may come, for a reading, and a careful thinking into, and
then, yet more, a bringing of the whole life up to the line of what is
found here. The blessing of God will rest peculiarly upon him who heeds
this threefold plea. That man is moving in the line of the plan of God.

A little past the midway line of the book, all at once, abruptly, in the
thick of terrible happenings being told, an unexpected voice comes.
Clearly it is the Lord Jesus Himself speaking. It is as though He were
standing by all the time throughout all these pages, watching with a
sleepless concern. Now He speaks out. Listen: "Blessed is he that
_watcheth_," that keepeth ever on the alert against the subtle
temptations, and the compromise that fills the very air, "and _keepeth
his garments_;"[52] sleeplessly, kneefully, takes care that no breath of
evil get into his heart, no taint of compromise stain his life, no
suspicion of lukewarmness cool his personal devotion to the absent
Jesus.

And again, doing sentinel duty at the rear-end, is the same plea.
"Blessed is he that _keepeth the words_ of the prophecy of this
book."[53] Reading, heeding, obeying, watching, living up to, this is
the earnest plea peculiar to this book. Clearly our Lord Jesus desires
earnestly that it be read. And He expects us to understand it. And He
pleads with us to live in the light of what He tells us here.

He that willeth to do shall know what he ought to do. He that doeth the
thing he does know will know more. And that more done will open the door
yet wider into all the fragrance of a strongly obedient life, and into a
clear and clearing understanding of the Lord Jesus Himself.

He that brings his life bit by bit up to the level of the earnest plea
of this special revelation, as bit by bit it opens to him, will find his
understanding of it wonderfully clearing. Obedience is the organ of
understanding. Through it there comes clear grasp of the truth.

A single recent illustration of this comes from Korea, that land that
gives us so much of the romance of missions, as well as so much of its
pathos. Dr. James S. Gale, of Seoul, tells of a Korean who had travelled
some hundred miles to confer with him about Christian things. He recited
to Dr. Gale the whole of the Sermon on the Mount without slip or error.
After this surprising feat of memory, the missionary said gently that
memorizing was not enough; the truth must be practised in daily life.

To his surprise the Korean quietly said: "That's the way I _learned_ to
memorize. I tried to memorize, but it wouldn't stick. So I hit upon this
plan; I would memorize a verse, then find a heathen neighbour and
practise the verse on him. Then I found it would stick."

That's the _rule for understanding_ this revelation of Jesus through
John, as well as all of this inspired Word of God. This rule simply,
faithfully, followed will open up this little end-book which to many has
seemed a sealed book. He that "keepeth the things" that are written here
will find these pages opening to his eyes. He that liveth the truth he
does understand will understand more and better, and so live in the
wondrous power of it, and in the sweet presence of Him who gives it to
us.


FOOTNOTES:

[34] John i. 35-42.

[35] Luke ix. 54.

[36] John xviii. 15-16.

[37] Luke xxii. 8.

[38] Acts iii. 1, 3, 4, 11; iv. 13, 19; viii. 14, 25; Galatians ii. 9.

[39] Mark xvi. 9; John xx. 1, 11-18.

[40] I John ii. 18-29; iv. 1-6.

[41] Revelation i. 1-3.

[42] Revelation i. 4-8.

[43] i. 9-20.

[44] Chapters ii. and iii.

[45] Chapters iv. and v.

[46] xix. i-xx. 3.

[47] xx. 4-6.

[48] xx. 7-15.

[49] xxi. i-xxii. 5.

[50] xxii. 6-21.

[51] i. 3.

[52] xvi. 15.

[53] xxii. 7.



III.--A SIGHT OF THE CROWNED CHRIST

(Revelation, Chapter i.)


 "Since mine eyes were fixed on Jesus,
   I've lost sight of all beside,
 So enchained my spirit's vision,
   Looking at the Crucified."


 "The Lord Christ passed my humble cot:
 I knew him, yet I knew him not;
 But as I oft had done before,
 I hurried through my narrow door
   To touch His garment's hem.

 "He drew me to a place apart
 From curious crowd and noisy mart;
 And as I sat there at His feet
 I caught the thrill of His heart-beat
   Beyond His garment's hem.

 "Rare was the bread He broke for me,
 As wine the words He spoke to me--
 New life surged in, the old life died....
 I cannot now be satisfied
   To touch His garment's hem."[54]


Transfigured by a Look.

No one ever had a sight of Christ's face and forgot. No one ever gets a
sight of Him and gets over it. He is never the same man after that. He
doesn't want to be the same.

A look into the face of Christ is transforming. You see Him; and you can
never be the man you have been and be content. A change comes. You want
a change. You must have it. This longing is the beginning of the deeper
change. You can never be content again with being the man you have been.

It has always been so. It always will be so. For this is the natural
thing. In the dawning twilight of Eden God looked into the face of the
man he had fashioned. He drew very close to him, close enough to breathe
his own breath into his face. And the man looked out into God's face,
and took on God's likeness. So he became his own real self, as
originally planned.

But while man was yet young, sin looked him in the face. And the man
looked at sin with an evil longing look. And in that look he took in
some of what he saw. He was marred. The God image was hurt. He was not
the same man. And he knew it. He felt it. His eyes were never the same
after that exchange of looks with sin.

But God helped him. He didn't go away. He came closer for the sake of
the sin-hurt eyes. And whenever man has looked into that wondrous
God-face, even though seeing dimly and indistinctly, something within
him makes a great bound. He recognizes the original of his own natural
self. And he catches fire at the sight. A holy discontent springs up
within.

 "Couldst thou in vision see
   Thyself the man God meant,
 Thou never more couldst be
   The man thou art--content."

But you have to see Jesus as He was in His humanity to see yourself the
man God meant. And you have to see Jesus as He is now to see the God who
meant you to be like Himself.

It has always been so. This has been God's simple method with men He
would use. He has wooed and then wooed more, and a bit longer, gently,
persistently, up and away and apart until at last the man's eyes were
trained away from the lower glare enough to see the real things.

Then in some vision of the night, whose darkness helped hold back the
lower earth lights, God has looked a man in the face once again. Or,
perhaps in open day there came to him that which he could not describe.
But in his inner spirit he knew there was One with him whom yet his
outer eyes could not see, but who _could_ not be more real if his outer
eyes did see.

And in that presence there was a mingling of exquisite tenderness and of
limitless power that was overawing. Inconceivable purity and yet such an
unspeakable graciousness seemed blended in this presence. And the man
seeing was melted in his innermost being with the sense of tenderness,
and bowed in awe to the lowest dust in the sense of overwhelming power.
Those who have seen will understand how poor the words are to tell the
story. And those who have not may wonder a bit until they, too, have
seen.


Some Transfigured Men.

This it was that transformed that man of the early dawnlight named
Enoch, the seventh from Adam. He was the head of the leading family of
the race, the racial leader. He had lived well on into the seventh
decade of his life.

Then the change came. He recognized a Presence with him, one day. That
One unseen by unseeing eyes became real to him and then more real. He
yielded to His wooing. He companioned with Him daily. This came to be
the realest thing. And he was transformed by it. He grew constantly less
like what he had been, and more like what he was originally meant to be,
like his Companion. Constant contact restored the original likeness. He
was transformed before men's eyes, changed over from within.

Then one day the transforming forces had gone so far that he was
transferred to the upper levels, where all _see His face_, and his
likeness shines out of all faces. He never got over the sight that came
to him that early day.

It was this that wooed the man of Ur away from his ancestral home to be
a lonely pilgrim, a stranger among strangers. Nothing less or else could
have broken the early attachments, the strongest of the East. That
winsome wooing Presence became to him stronger than the strongest human
attachments of his family and home land.

This it was that steadied him through the loneliness, the homelessness,
the disappointments, the long delays, until it was the image of a new
man, a transformed man, a faith-begotten man, that at length looked at
him out of the eyes of his only begotten. This it was that steadied him
through the hardest test of all with that only begotten, the fire test
on Moriah. And that made the transformation yet fuller. For so he grew
the liker him to whose presence he insisted on yielding as each test
came.

So it was with that rare student of Egypt and Arabia. Trained in the
best that man could give in the University of the Nile, and then further
trained by absence from man in the University of the Desert, alone with
sheep and stars, shifting sand and immovable rock, he wasn't ready for
his task yet. He was well trained but not yet transformed.

The fires had to be kindled, purifying, melting, fusing fires. And only
fire kindles fire. The fire of the unburnt bush told him first of a new
kind of fire, uncatalogued on the Nile. The fire of a Presence burned
daily, not consuming him, but only the dross _in_ him, as he led his
race from Egypt to Sinai, out from the slavery of men up to the freedom
of the presence of God. And then for six weeks, twice over, he was in
the Presence of Flame on the Mount.

This it was that utterly changed him into the strongly gentle, patient,
tender-hearted, wise man who taught and trained, lived with and led, the
immature men and women whom God would weld into a nation, a God-nation.
He never got over those two long visits to the Mount, nor has the world.

It was nothing else than this, long years later, that made the rugged
man of the deserts brave the traitorous Ahab in his luxurious,
licentious court. Without it, the sight obscured, the vision lost, he is
a coward fleeing like a whipped dog before a bad woman, thinking only of
saving his own skin. It showed himself, his weak, cowardly self, to
himself.

A fresh vision that early morning in the mouth of the desert cave made
the yet deeper more radical transformation. That unutterably gentle
sound of stillness, too exquisite to be told, only to be felt by a
spirit in tune, _that_ left him not a whit less willing to brave danger
than before, but made over now into another sort, like him whose
Presence in the cave so melted him down.

This new, gentled, mellowed, strengthened Elijah reappears in the man
who received the birthright portion of his spirit. We know the new
Elijah by the spirit that swayed Elisha. The old spirit, fiercely
denouncing, calling down fire, slaying the priests, but with no
grief-broken heart under these stern needful things,--this we think of
familiarly as the Elijah spirit.

The new spirit, healing, teaching, sympathizing, leading, feeding,
fathering, the greatness of gentleness and patience, these
characteristics of Elijah's prophetic heir tell of the deep radical
transformation by the wondrous unseen Presence that early morning in the
mouth of the cave. This is the birthright gift of Elijah to Elisha.
Elijah had a spirit-sight of God, and he never got over it. He became
like Him into whose face he looked.


Heart Stimulant for the Brain.

But time fails, and words fail immensely more, to tell this thing. Let
him who would know that transforming sight get quietly alone with Isaiah
in the temple, and on bent knees linger unhurriedly, and listen, and
watch, and breathe out his prayer, and strongly wait until something of
the same brooding Presence be discerned that transformed this young
Hebrew messenger of God.

Then let him get alone with the Moses of the New Testament. For there
is no man who was so utterly transformed, and so quickly, as the man on
the Damascus road. The whole course of his character and life was
radically changed as by a lightning touch. This is the most striking
illustration of all. No man so reveals in himself the tremendous
transforming power there is in the sight of the Christ as does this
high-strung son of the Hebrew race.

But--words are such lame things. They cannot tell the story here. They
are all one has to use. Yet they'll never be understood except as the
light of experience shines upon them. When any one attempts to talk of
such a thing as this of seeing God or Christ, his words seem so poor and
lame and under the mark by the man who has had something of the vision.
And they either are meaningless and uninteresting, or else they seem
overstated, and quite beyond the mark to one who has had no inkling in
experience of the thing itself.

I recall distinctly the experience of a Danish friend in Copenhagen. She
had been trying to read in English a certain devotional book, but said
she couldn't seem to grasp the meaning of the English words. They eluded
her, and so the book didn't help her much.

Then she went through a time of sore stress of spirit in the sickness
and death of her mother. A new experience of the nearness of God came to
her. And then happening--as it seemed--to pick up the English book again
she was amazed and delighted to find how much better and more quickly
she knew the words and sensed the meaning.

It is only as the heart is fired that the brain awakens. Experience
gives the meaning to language. Without experience it is a dead language
in meaning even though it be one's own mother tongue. Only the man who
has caught something of the vision of Christ's face can understand the
strong words used in talking of such a vision.

It is most striking to notice that even when the glory of God's presence
was hidden beneath human wrappings in Jesus it still could be _felt_.
Men felt that presence though they knew not just what it was they felt,
nor why. When the glory came yet closer in the coming of Jesus, it must
be well covered up for the sake of men's eyes, that they might not go
blind at once; but its power of attraction could not be wholly hid.

So really human was Jesus in the outer circumstance of His life that His
brothers of the home couldn't believe he was essentially different from
themselves. But the attraction of that presence was felt constantly even
through the human hiding of it.

John of the Wilderness instinctively recognized that here was more than
the man he saw, and so obeyed His word. The crowds gathered eagerly in
the Jordan bottoms in even greater numbers than to hear John, drawn by a
power they felt they must yield to, and did yield to gladly.

From the first the crowds gathered thick about Him, Jewish aristocrat,
Samaritan half-breed and sinful outcast jostling elbows in their
eagerness to hear, drawn by a power they could feel, but could not
understand any more than they could withstand it. The children loved his
presence and touch.

The bad in life were as resistlessly drawn up to a new life as the
Greeks were drawn from clear beyond the blue waters of the Hellespont
into His presence. The crowds were irresistibly drawn to follow on that
last eventful journey to Jerusalem even while they felt "afraid."

It was the sight of the glory on the Mount that drew faithful John in
_with_ Jesus, and held him steady that awful night in palace and
courtyard, and that later brought poor blasphemous Peter back for
forgiveness. The two walking to Emmaus found their hearts all aflame,
though they supposed it was only the chance stranger of the roadway they
listened to.

Even those who hated Him were compelled to recognize the wondrous power
of His presence. The Nazareth hands that itched to seize Him were
restrained by His presence as He passed through their midst. Ten times
did the Jerusalem crowds attempt his life, and ten times were they
restrained by a power in Him that they could neither understand nor
withstand.

The men officially empowered to arrest Him return empty-handed,
confessing the overawing power of His words. That last week the leaders
that were hotly plotting His death felt the strange restraint of His
presence while He quietly sat in their very midst, and swayed the
crowds.

In the garden soldiers and priests alike were felled to the ground by
the power of His presence. So it always has been. No one has ever had a
sight of that Face, and gotten used to it, or gotten over it.


A Fresh Vision Needed.

But the thing we are specially needing to-day is a sight of Christ _as
He is now_. It seems a bit strange that we don't get this more. One
historic Church has Him fastened to a cross, never freed from the old
fastenings. Another has Him set in picture frame, behind glass. And the
multitudes prostrate themselves and reverently kiss the glass.

In widely differing Churches He seems quite covered up out of sight by
classical ritual, beautiful music, and impressive stately service. The
crowds gather and listen and bow low in hushed stillness. But,
apparently, _Him they see not_, else how different their conduct as they
come out, and their lives.

And yet as I have mingled with the worshippers in Catholic Churches in
the south of Europe, in Greek Churches in Russia, and in congregations
of the Church of England classed as "high," I have been caught by faces
here and there in the crowd that clearly were reaching out hungrily for
_Him_, and were having some sort, some real sort, of touch with Him,
too. Yet it seemed to be in spite of surroundings. The insistence of
their hunger pierces through these to Him. He seems hidden from the
crowd by them.

Scholarly orthodox theologians talk learnedly about Him, but Himself as
He walked among us and as He is now, Him it would seem that they see
not, at least not enough to burn through and burn out and burn up and
send men out aflame with the Jesus-passion. Philosophies about Him that
are classed as "liberal" and put attractively, yet have nothing of the
burn in them that reveals Himself.

The more modern Church of the more western world seems to have gotten a
new lease of aggressiveness in service, a new intensity in activities so
numerous as to be a bit bewildering sometimes. The wheels whir busily
and noisily. You feel them. But Him, the unseen presence that makes you
reverently wrap your face up out of sight, and stand with awed heart to
listen, _Him_ we seem not to see.

The wondrous quiet Voice that makes your heart burn within you with a
burning that cleanses and mellows and melts down, _that_ we seem to hear
only by getting away from the noise of the whirring wheels into some
quiet corner.

There are in every Church and nation those who seem to have the close
personal touch with Himself. Their faces and daily lives show the marks.
Their lips may not say so much, for they who see most can say least of
what they see. But the marks in the life are unmistakable.

Yet even here the sight of Christ emphasizes chiefly the personal side,
what He is personally to them. And what a blessed side that is only they
who know it know. They think of Him as a personal Saviour, and the heart
glows. They see Him at the Father's right hand interceding, and
gratefully remember that He will forget no name where there is a
trusting heart. They think of the Holy Spirit, the other Jesus, Jesus'
other self, always "alongside to help," alongside _in_side. And they
practise letting Him work out the Christ-likeness within themselves.

And all this is blessed, only blessed. They see Him in His personal
relation to themselves. But there's something more than this. No one
knew more of this blessed personal part than John. But John saw more
than this on Patmos. He saw Christ _as He is now_.

This is clearly a new sight of Christ. It was new to John. It would seem
to be new to us. It is new in the pages of this book. It is something
different from any sight seen before. In the Gospels we see Jesus the
_Man_. In carpenter shop and little whitewashed stone cottage, in the
ministering life clear from the Jordan bottoms to the healing touch at
Gethsemane's gate, and in the suffering clear up to the ninth hour of
that fateful day He is the _Man_, one of ourselves, though clearly more
even in His humanity than the humanity we are.

On the Transfiguration Mount the favoured inner three, the leaders, see
the glory within shining out through the Man. So bewildered are they
that the chief impression that remains is of a blinding brightness. Yet
this is up on a high mountain far away from the crowd, and from the
haunts of men.

As Stephen is being stoned his eyes are opened to see the Son of Man
standing in glory up at the Father's right hand. The Damascus traveller
sees an overpowering burst of glory out of the blue and hears a voice
speaking. In the epistles Paul pictures Him seated at the Father's right
hand with an authority greater than any other. All the power He has is
placed at the disposal of His followers on the earth. He Himself is
above in the glory.[55]

But in this very end of the Book John is given a _new sight of Christ_.
He sees Him _as He is now_. That is to say, this is the sight of Christ
as He is now _characteristically_. It is the distinctive sight that
stands out above all these others.

He _is_ at one's right hand in closest personal relation, through His
Holy Spirit. He _is_ at the Father's right hand in glory waiting
expectantly till the time is ripe for the next direct move on the earth.
But there's more than these. There's a sight of Him that overshadows
these. It is the characteristic sight that lets us see Him as He is
peculiarly _now_ in His relation to _affairs on the earth_.


Christ as He Is Now.

This new sight of Christ is the heart and soul of this crowning book,
this end-book of the Book.

It was out of this sight that this end-book grew. It is written wholly
under the spell of this new sight of Christ. It is a revelation both
_of_ Jesus Christ and _by_ Jesus Christ; first of, then by.

John begins his story by telling that he had gotten such a revelation,
and of the special blessing attached to reading and fitting one's life
to it.[56] Then follows his salutation to those for whom the revelation
was given, and the book written.[57] It is peculiarly a _Church_ book.
Its message is not peculiarly for individual followers, but for groups
of believers gathered together as Churches.

The salutation is absorbed with the One whom he has seen in the vision,
what He has done for us in shedding His blood, and that He is actually
coming again. "Behold He cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see
Him, and they that pierced Him." The Jew is specifically designated: the
coming has special significance for the Jewish nation. And all the
people of the earth shall penitently mourn as they see Him. And then
like an endorsing signature from the One of whom he is writing comes the
sentence: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and
who was, and who cometh, the Almighty One."

Then comes the new sight of the crowned Christ.[58] It was on a Lord's
day. John was on the lonely sea-girt isle of Patmos. He was alone,
brooding probably over some bit of the Word of God, and about the Jesus
of whom he had been so earnestly testifying. It was these that had
brought him to his lonely island prison. These ever burned within him,
the wondrous written Word, the immensely more wondrous Word made flesh,
of whom he had written, the Word that was God and became a Man and
walked the will of God.

And as he brooded he became conscious of the Spirit of God overshadowing
him, gentle as the soft breeze, noiseless as the fragrant dew, mighty as
an enveloping presence that filled his being and had possession of him.

Then a voice spake and the tone of authority in it was unmistakable.
"What thou seest, write." He was to see something. He was to tell what
he saw. There's a delightful touch of the simplicity of natural speech
here. He turned to _see_ the _voice_. And he saw Him who was the voice
of God to him. Then the sight is told in the same simplicity of speech.

There is a group of candlesticks, light-holders, made of gold. And in
the midst of the group there is some One standing. He is in outer form
like a _man_. But there is such an overpowering sense of divine glory
that John falls on his face as one dead. Yet through all this
overwhelming experience the impression of a man stands unmistakably out.

With keen, quick glance John takes in head and hair, eyes and feet,
voice and hands, mouth and face. A simple, natural man in every outer
particular like himself, a brother man, wearing man's garb and girdle.
This is the first impression indelibly stamped on John's mind.

But there's more, ah, much more than a man in this man! This is the
stupendous part. There is some One, other than man, and more than man,
possessing this man. The divine fills the human. It is this sense of the
glory filling the man that is so overpowering to John.

A glorious presence overshadows the man and shines out of Him, but never
obliterates nor makes the man less. That indescribable glory within
shining out through the man magnifies every part of His human being. The
head and hair are white, not like a pale or painted white, but a
transparent whiteness, an intense searching, glowing light shining out
from Him through the human head and hair.

The eyes are as a flame of pure fire, the feet like melting metal
glowing in fire. And the whole countenance was as the sun in its
noontime strength shining out of a rainless, cloudless sky. Humanity
enveloped in deity, yet remaining true, full humanity. God within man
immeasurably more than man, yet not overwhelming, not disturbing nor
obliterating, any part of his humanity, rather making every part stand
out more distinctly.

Is this incidentally a kind of parable? Is it something like this on an
immensely humbler scale that was meant for us men? God the Holy Spirit
dwelling in a man. He the chief one, the divine one, yet expressing
Himself _through_ the man, and doing it fully to meet the need of the
hour. His presence magnifying, vitalizing, and using every human power,
yet Himself the dominant personality.

It is most striking to note that this is the same in principle as every
appearance of God in the Old Testament pages. Sometimes He talked with
men when there is no suggestion made of any appearance or of what the
appearance was like. But wherever the appearance is spoken of it is
always either fire or some touch of the human kind or both.

In Eden He waits and speaks, two human things. He talks with Abraham as
a man talks, and ratified the covenant by passing fire through the
pieces of the covenant sacrifice.[59] It is as a simple, natural man
appearing at Abraham's tent door that He talks about Sodom. It is a
human voice speaking about Isaac, though no appearance is mentioned.
Moses sees a flaming bush, and hears a voice in the desert, and sees a
whole mount aflame while a voice speaks at Sinai.

And so it was always: the fiery presence-cloud in the Wilderness,
Joshua's Captain taking command, Manoah's angel ascending in the flame
of the altar, the voice in the night heard by Samuel, the flooding of
Tabernacle and Temple with the glory-presence, Carmel's fire descending,
Elijah's "still small voice," Isaiah's vision of glory and the voice,
Ezekiel's man of flame speaking, and Daniel's, both of the latter two
akin to this Revelation appearance.

But there is a distinctness and a fulness of description here greater
than at any previous time, yet the same essential thing as at every
appearance of God in Old Testament pages. The coming of Jesus among us
has brought God closer to us and made Him mean more. Jesus was God
coming closer and in a way that we could understand better and take hold
of more easily.


The Identifying Mark.

But let us reverently look a little closer that we may understand yet
better. There are certain characteristics of this Man of Fire that are
allowed to stand sharply out here. We are meant to look at them. This is
part of the purpose in the heart of Christ in letting us see Him as He
is here.

The sense of _purity_ is intenser than can be put into words. Fire is
pure. There is nothing so pure. It resists impurity. It burns it up. It
is most significant that this is the one thing familiar to us that
always accompanies the presence of God as He appears to men. It is
always in fire whether to speak His message of peace and love or to
remove the impurity of evil.

Our God is a consuming fire. Yet fire only consumes what can't stand its
flame. The fire reveals purity and makes pure. God is pure. The presence
within the man looked out in eyes of flame, in a countenance like the
sun, and feet like molten brass glowing in a furnace. There could be no
stronger statement of purity than this.

Then there is an overwhelming sense of _authority_. That seems the human
word to use, though the word seems to tell so much less than John felt.
John feels it more than he can tell it. He cannot tell it in words. His
limp figure lying flat on the earth tells what words never can. He had
seen the glory outshining in the Transfiguration Mount, but this is
unspeakably beyond that.

There was a voice like a trumpet. It commanded John to write. It says:
"I _became_ dead, and, behold! I _am_ alive forever more." It is an
authority over life to yield it up, and over death to put it to death,
and call life back, never again to be touched by the finger of death. No
such authority is known among men to-day. And this is further emphasized
in the quiet words: "I have the _keys_--- the control--of death and of
the whole spirit world."

But immensely more than all this to John was the intense feeling of
majesty which completely overpowered him. The sense of authority was
overwhelming. The items in the description can thus be catalogued, but
it is impossible to get the overwhelming sense of majestic authority
that came to John, except as he got it,--by a _sight_, something of a
sight of this great crowned Christ.

But _who_ is this? Is this not merely Ezekiel's vision repeated?[60] He
saw just such a vision, one in the likeness of a man, enveloped in fire,
and sitting on a throne. And the effect was the same as Ezekiel lies
flat on his face. Is it not the same as Daniel saw?[61] A _man_ clothed
in linen, aflame with inner fire, and the same authoritative voice, and
Daniel in a deep sleep of awe-stricken stupor with face on the ground?
He does indeed seem to be the same. The descriptions tally remarkably.

But listen. He speaks. And the sense of terrifying authority in the
voice that spake is gentled to John's tense ear in the quiet words that
come. Like the loving words that came to Daniel's quaking heart is the
personal message that came to John,--"Fear not." And with the words, as
ever, come the new sense of stilling peace within. "I am the First and
the Last, and the Living One."

Still it may be Ezekiel's Man even yet, or Daniel's. But listen: "and I
_became dead_." Ah! this identifies Him. Now we know for the first time
that this Man of Flame is Jesus our Brother-man. The cross becomes the
mark of identification. The form of the words as spoken fits in with the
sense of authority. With great strength of heart in carrying out a great
purpose He "_became_ dead."

This is Ezekiel's Man and Daniel's and _more_, unspeakably more. The Man
they saw has lived amongst us for a generation of time, and then given
His life clear out for us. He has become more in coming as Jesus. He
has taken human experience and suffering up into Himself. He was
Creator. He has become more--Saviour.

There is the same purity and authority speaking out here as there. But
here is _love_ speaking out as never was spoken out before. Here is love
_lived_ out; aye, here love is _died_ out, and never living so much as
when dying. Here is love putting death to death for us. Purity and
authority fastened on a cross! This is love such as man had never known,
and God never shown before. Calvary lets us see the love that burned in
the purity and controlled in the authority.

John's Man is Ezekiel's and Daniel's, but with the love shining out
through purity and authority, and outshining both. Yet that love is the
purity and authority combined in action. We don't know love only as we
know God. And we don't know God only as we know Jesus not living merely
but pouring out His life for men. This is love--that Man, that God-man,
but with the God-glory hidden within, using all His authority over His
life to fasten His purity on a cross with the thorns of our sin, and
then throttling death and bringing up a new sort of deathless life for
us. This--He--is love.


The Outstanding Characteristic.

But we haven't gotten to the heart of this yet. There is immensely more
here than even this. The distinctive thing, the characteristic thing in
this sight of Christ, is yet to be noticed. All of this can be gotten
from other sights of Christ. But notice now keenly _where this Man of
Fire is_. For this is the distinctive thing. He is not up in the
heavens, as in Ezekiel. He has not come on a special errand, as in
Daniel's experience.[62] He is walking _down on the earth_. His whole
concern is about affairs on the earth.

But note where He is on earth: not in Jerusalem, the Jew centre; not in
Rome, the world's ruling centre, nor in Athens or Corinth, the world's
culture centres. He is seen walking among a small group of candlesticks.
This is the centre of earth action for Him. This is _the significant
thing_ of this new sight of Christ. Let us look at it a moment to get at
the simple significance of the scene.

The candlesticks, we are told, are the Churches, the little groups of
followers banded together here and there. These small groups of Christ's
followers are called _candlesticks_ or lampstands.

There is no suggestion yet of their giving any light. No lighted candles
nor oily wicks are burning and shining. They are only candle_sticks_.
They are of gold, the most precious metal, but they can give no light,
they can only hold the light some one else supplies. The Man standing
amongst them is the light. The whole effect of the sight of Christ here
is that He is the light. The presence within the man shines out through
head and eyes and limbs, as light, intense dazzling light, even as the
sun in his strength.

Here is the distinctive thing. Christ's whole interest centres in the
earth. All heaven is bending over watching the run of events down here.
The intensity of His suffering and death tell the intensity of Christ's
interest in the movement of things on the earth. He has a plan. He has
put His very life into it. It centres wholly in the affairs of us men
down here. And it centres in His Church.

This quite upsets our common ideas about the centre of things down here.
We class London and New York as the great financial centres; Paris and
Berlin as the great fashion and military centres. Rome is the centre of
authority of the Catholic Church, and St. Petersburg of the Greek
Orthodox. The Man who holds all power in His hands, and on whose word
everything depends, quietly brushes all this aside with scarce a move of
His hand. The earth-centre of things is the Church. That is, the groups
of his followers banded together in various parts of the world.

Sometimes it is seen as a magnificent organization intimately connected
with the machinery of government. Sometimes as very small groups of
persons with no social standing, despised and reckoned as not worth
reckoning with. But this is the thing He is depending on for getting out
to His world. All His plans centre here.

He is the light. The light He gave and gives through nature, and within
every man's breast, has been awfully darkened through refusal and
neglect to use it, through stubborn self-will. It is so darkened that
ofttimes it seems to have been quite put out. His coming amongst us as
one of ourselves, living our life, dying on our behalf to free us from
sin, rising again victorious over death, sending His Holy Spirit to make
all this real and living to each of us,--this is the light at its full
shining, the flood-light.

He has made a plan for sending this flood-light to every one in every
part of the earth. That plan centres in His followers. He is the light.
The Church is the light-bearer, the candlestick. It is to hold _Him_ up
in such a way that men everywhere can get in direct touch with Him. When
He is held up, the darkness goes. The darkness can't stand the light.
This is the immensely significant thing here. This is the sight of
Christ needed to-day, a sight of Him as He stands _waiting_ on the
Church to carry out His plan for the earth.

The faithfulness of the Church is not measured by compact organization,
costly houses of worship, impressive services, eloquent scholarly
preaching, and a ceaseless round of organized activities. It can be told
only by how much of the spirit of the Christ who died is carried, in the
daily life of its individual members, into home and social and
commercial circles until men are compelled to feel its power in
conviction of the sin of their own lives.

Nor yet is it told by transplanting the western type of civilization to
far-away lands, with schools and hospitals and innumerable humanizing
influences. All this may be blessed. And it will be blessed and blest.
But it is the incidental thing. It is sure to follow where the Jesus
light is allowed to shine clearly through and out. It is quite possible
to have these good things without getting the real Christ. It is quite
impossible to have Christ Himself without such influences coming, too.

The emphasis must be not on these things, but on Him, Christ. Men need
Him. He answers the heart longing, and only He can. He changes the
nature, and nothing else is enough. The Church is to take the loving,
healing, personal Christ to men in the fulness of His power, and to all
men. This is the measure of its faithfulness.


What Christ Sees.

The tremendous question that crowds in here is this, What does this Man
of Fire see as He stands among His followers? And He tells us. This is
why the vision is given. He wants us to see things as they look to His
eyes of flame.

The Man and His message are one thing here. Chapters one, two, and three
belong together, and should be held together in our minds. We have put
the Man and His message as separate talks to get a clearer grasp of
each. But they are _one_.

Now we recall enough of the message to note this. Five-sevenths of the
light-holders are in bad shape. The lamps are smoky, badly smoked, and
cobwebbed. The light is dimmed. It can't get out through the lamp. The
crowds are standing in the darkness and falling into the ditch by the
side of the road.

Two-sevenths let the light clearly out. The others are an intermingling
of light and light obscured, but with the obscurity overcoming the
other. The net result is an irritating smokiness. And the movement
unhindered would naturally be toward a steady increase of smoky
irritation and obscurity until no light can get through. This is what He
lets us see that He sees.

Now the instinctive thing to do with a smoky lamp irritating nostrils
and eyes is to put it out. That is the first instinct. The second is to
trim the wick and do whatever else it needs to correct the smokiness.
_Yet He waits._ That first natural instinct is restrained. The
candlesticks are not yet moved out of their place. The light still tries
to get out through them. The human candlestick may yet do the needful
trimming and cleaning. With marvellous restraint He _waits_.

It is a tremendous scene that is stretched out here before us,--purity
and authority combined in One who is standing in the midst of impurity
and failure. The purity is more intense than we can grasp. The authority
is greater than any one can realize. The impurity, the failure, are bad
clear beyond what we can take in. The whole natural instinct here would
be a _cleansing_, instant and radical, a correcting of the evil. Yet He
waits. The purity would act through the authority; the authority
restrains the purity. Love quietly, strongly holds both in check. This
restraint, this inaction is tremendous.

Why this inaction? this restraint? And the answer is simple, and as
sweeping as simple. His plan at this stage shall have fullest
opportunity. His followers will be given full opportunity to the last
notch of time and the latest possibility of their being yet true.

All the intensity of His love, all the eagerness of His expectancy,[63]
all the fulness of His plan for the earth, yes all the millions of the
race, all the misery and ignorance, the sin and darkness, the millions
of babies being born into wretchedness, and the millions of
non-Christian women being held in slavery, and the countless numbers in
every land groping along in a darkness that not only can be felt, but
that is felt to the hurting point and then past that to the insensitive
stupor,--all this waits.

With a heart that feels all that any man is feeling and that breaks
under it, He waits that fullest opportunity shall be given His followers
to be true. If His Church is set aside it will be only at the last
moment when her failure is utterly hopeless. If the candlestick is
removed out of its place, it will be only after it has completely
removed itself out of all touch with the Light. A candlestick holding
out no light is an utterly useless thing to the man in the dark.

It is possible for the Church to be a magnificent organization, an
honoured institution, exerting immense influence in national politics,
enormously rich in gold and in scholarship and in traditions, and even
in carrying forward an aggressive missionary propaganda, and yet be
faithless to its one mission. If the Church should fail in this its one
mission, then the waiting time is over. The way is clear for the next
step in the world plan. And a momentous step that would be, beyond our
power to grasp. But the waiting time still holds out.

This is the simple, tremendous plea of this new sight of the crowned
Christ as He is shown here. The centre of the universe to Him is this
earth. The centre of things on the earth is His Church. The centre of
things in the Church is its giving Jesus the Light out to all the earth.

And if this be the way things looked to His eye at the close of the
first century, how, think you, do they look at this beginning of the
twentieth? Has that momentum of movement toward increasing smokiness
slacked? Is the waiting time nearly run out?

The present is a momentous time. Even men of the world speak of the
world-wide restlessness as pointing to some impending event of world
size. And he who is in some sort of simple touch with the spirit world
can feel the air a-thrill with the possibility of world events
impending, even while he wonders just what and when.


One in the Midst.

It is most striking how it came about that John got this sight of
Christ. The change was not in Christ's presence, but in John's eyes.
Christ did not come. He was there. John's eyes were opened. Then he saw
Him who stands watching and waiting. _Christ is here._ The Man of Fire
and of restraining love is here on the earth in the midst of His Church
looking and longing, listening, and feeling.

If only our eyes were opened to see! There standeth One in our midst
whom we recognize not. Wherever any company of believers banded together
as a Church to worship and pray and break holy bread are gathered, under
whatever local name or in connection with whatever Church communion, _He
stands in the midst_, this crowned Christ of the Patmos Revelation.

Our eyes need treatment. The hinge of the eyelid is in the will and in
the heart. A bended or bending will opens the eye. A brooding heart
opens it yet more in spirit vision. Then we shall see Him, _as He is
now_ in our midst, waiting our obedience.

Those forty days between the resurrection and the ascension are seen to
be illustrations of this. One can see through this Revelation sight that
this is one of the chief things the Master is teaching as He still
lingers on earth in His resurrection body.

Along the old Emmaus road, gathered about the evening meal in the
twilight, twice in the upper room at Jerusalem, He appears to little
groups of His faithful followers. Their hearts are burning with the
thought of Him, they are talking with both tongue and eyes about Him.
But that He is in their midst is the last thing to come into their
minds. Then their eyes are opened to see Him in their midst. It was a
forty-days' session in their training school. Then He said quietly as
His bodily presence goes up into the blue: "Lo! _I am with you all the
days until the end._" Their mission and His presence are inseparably
linked.

And it is striking again to note how John's Gospel ends. The others
describe the Ascension. John begins his Gospel with Jesus in the bosom
of the Father before the world was, and ends with Him walking and
talking with a little group of fishermen along the shore of the waters
of Galilee's Lake.

This is what the Church needs to-day, a sight of Christ _as He is now_.
Nothing else can save its life. And nothing less can save its mission
from utter impending failure.

And yet while the distinctive message here is for the Church, it is an
individual message, too. It is for each of us. I am the Church, as much
of it as I am, counted as one. You are the Church. The Church is made up
of you and me and the rest of us. I must take this message for as much
of the Church as I am. The Man of Fire is depending on me to be a
candlestick for His light. It is on me He is patiently waiting to obey
as fully as He means I should.

And on you.

A recent incident is told of a man whose name is a familiar one in the
financial world, who died a few years ago. He was the executive head of
one of our country's great railways. And a man of remarkable largeness
of insight and grasp, and of unusual power of execution. He dealt in
hundreds of millions as easily as most of us deal in dollars, and his
rugged honesty has never been brought into question. His greatest
achievement bulks big in the material structure of one of our great
eastern cities.

But his gigantic tasks ran his strength to ebb tide, and then it was
seen that the tide was running out. As he lay in the sick chamber a
minister called, whose ministry had touched large numbers of the men in
the railroad of which the sick man was head, and in the course of
conversation tactfully asked:

"Are you a Christian, Mr. Blank?"

"Yes," was the quiet, prompt reply that rather surprised the minister.

"How long have you been a Christian, Mr. Blank?"

"Two days," came the answer as promptly and quietly.

Feeling that there was an interesting story under these answers, the
minister gently pressed the question. Then the story came out.

"You know William, who handles freight out here at ----?" the sick man
asked.

"Yes."

"He showed me the way."

"William" had been a worthless, drunken man of the "down and out" sort.
He had been converted at some mission and been radically changed. He had
gotten employment at one of the freight-handling stations of this
railroad system. It was rough, hard work, but he had gone at it
earnestly in his purpose to live an honest life. And in his quiet,
earnest way he was always seeking a chance to speak to men of Christ as
a personal Saviour, until he became known throughout that part of the
system for his simple, earnest piety.

As the sick man realized the seriousness of things for him he had sent
for this William. The president of the road whose capitalization ran
into hundreds of millions sent for the rough-handed freight handler. And
William in his simple, earnest way had pointed the sick man to Christ.
And the man of millions had made a new sort of transaction. Christ and
he had an understanding.

And as the sick man told the minister the story he paused, and then
added, "_I have given my strength to the secondary things._"

This was the judgment of this shrewd man of big affairs as the new light
had come into his life at its close. Happily he had gotten the
readjustment of values in time for readjustment of personal
relationships. But his life's strength was gone.

If we might get the readjustment that would put secondary things in
second place, and put wrong and useless things clear out, _in time to be
of some use to our blessed Lord_.


FOOTNOTES:

[54] William Norris Burr.

[55] Notably Ephesians i. 20-23.

[56] Revelation i. 1-3.

[57] Revelation i. 4-8.

[58] Revelation i. 9-20.

[59] Genesis xv.

[60] Ezekiel i. 26-28.

[61] Daniel x. 5-9.

[62] Daniel x. 20.

[63] Hebrews x. 13.



IV.--A MESSAGE FROM THE CROWNED CHRIST

(Revelation, Chapters ii and iii)


 "The glory of love is brightest when the glory of self is dim,
 And they have the most compelled me who most have pointed to Him.
 They have held me, stirred me, swayed me,--I have hung on their
   every word,
 Till I fain would arise and follow, not them, not them,--but their
   Lord!"[64]


Patmos Spells Patience.

Patience is strength at its strongest, using all its strength in holding
back from doing something. Patience is love at flood pleading with
strength to hold steady in holding back.

The love in the strength insists on waiting a bit longer for the sake of
the one being waited for. The strength in the love obeys the love
passion and takes fresh hold in holding back.

Patmos spells out the patience of our Lord Jesus. It tells the strength
and tenderness of His love. Olivet spelled out His _plan_, His great
sweeping plan, _through His followers_, for a race. Calvary spelled out
His _passion_, passion of love, passion of suffering, in dying for a
race.

Calvary, Olivet, and Patmos are inseparably linked, the gentle slope of
the Jerusalem hillside, the little mount to its east, and the little
rocky isle in the far Ægean. Calvary was the passion of love pouring out
a life for a race. Olivet was the plan of love for telling a race, till
every one would know the love by the feel. Patmos is the patience of
love pleading with the should-be tellers of the story to carry out the
plan, and waiting, and then waiting just a little longer.

Olivet had heard the last word. There the Master had told the disciples
the plan. All the race was to be told and taught, bit by bit, earnestly,
repeatedly, patiently, tirelessly, by word and act and life. He Himself
unseen by outer eyes would always be with them, His supernatural power
making real and living what they told and taught. This was the plan.
Olivet was to be the executive of Calvary, bringing home to men and
making vital to them what had been done there.

Then Jesus went up on the Cloud. And they went out everywhere. And His
power convincingly went with them just as He had said. Within a
generation the news and the power had gone together to the outermost rim
of the world they knew.

They were expecting Him to return as a result of this witnessing of
theirs. The next time they see His face and hear His voice will be as He
comes on the Cloud out of the blue. So they understand and believe. This
is their constant expectancy.

Now that generation has moved off the scene of action. Another
generation has come in its place, and has almost run its course and
moved off the scene. And still they are looking forward to and talking
about His return.

But now to this new generation of His followers something quite
different comes. Instead of Himself coming in glory there comes another
last message to them. It fits perfectly into the Olivet message, but
goes further and says something more.

The Olivet message is about taking the light of the Gospel message out
everywhere. The Patmos message in its pictured setting of candlesticks
and Man of Fire and blazing light recognized this as the one thing to be
done, but says there's something the matter with the candlesticks.

The Olivet word is about taking the message. This Patmos word is about
the messengers. That one is about the _service_ of His followers; this
other about their _life_. The life underlies the service. Nothing can so
hinder and hurt the service as a life not true in itself. Here something
in the life of the Church is hindering its service. The Master's plan at
this stage is in danger.

His broader plan extends beyond this Church movement. This is one great
step to be followed by another. That broader plan had been outlined at
the first Church Conference, held in Jerusalem. James, the presiding
officer, said that the carrying of the Gospel to all men was to be
followed by a national regeneration of the Jews; and then through a
regenerated Jewish nation there would be a new era of world-wide
evangelization,[65] and with this the Conference was in agreement.

The leaders among these early disciples are eagerly anticipating Jesus'
return to carry on the next stage. They understand that what they are
doing is preparing the way for this next step.

But now instead of returning to carry forward the broader plan here
comes another message. Apparently things are not going satisfactorily.
The plan at this stage is in danger, while the Calvary passion back of
it still burns. Failure is impending. The Master _might_ sweep aside the
men that are failing, and press on Himself into the next step of His
plan. For the case is urgent. A race is waiting. The darkness thickens.

But instead He waits. With patience and strength and love beyond our
power to grasp He waits. This is the setting of the Patmos message, to
which we now turn.


The Unity of the Message.

We must keep our eyes on the Man who is talking. His overawing presence
gives tremendous meaning to His words. That gentle touch of the right
hand has no doubt strengthened John even as Daniel was strengthened. And
he is standing and looking as he listens. But the sight of that wondrous
Man walking among the candlesticks floods his face and his whole being
indescribably as he listens to the message spoken.

The overpowering sense of awe, of reality and power, and of the
tremendous meaning of what is being said never leaves. So he listens.
So we must listen. So only can we get into the meaning of these words.
The words will mean only as much as the Man means in the intensity of
His presence. You must keep your eye on this crowned Christ as you
listen.

The seven-fold description given us of Christ is the key to these seven
messages. The partial description beginning each message is seen to fit
into the particular condition of the Church spoken to. Yet all these
bits of description must be put together to get the full description. It
is a seven-fold description of one person.

And so all the messages must be taken together to see the Church as He
sees it, and to get His message to it. It is one message. A look at the
seven promises made to the overcomers makes it clear that all seven are
one promise. It is not that one overcomer receives one thing, and
another another, but each one gets all of what is mentioned in the
seven. A rather careful, swift look at these promises makes this clear
enough.

It is spoken to one Church in seven groups in seven different cities.
There is one call to repentance, one warning of what will happen to the
unpenitent at five successive stages, one plea to hear seven times
repeated, and one blessed result to the overcomer, in a seven-fold
statement.

And there is just one evil to be recognized and fought. That evil is
seen to grow from one degree to another, from bad to worse and worst.
Its emphasis changes from one phase to another. It has shown itself
differently in different parts of the world, and in different ages
since, but it is the one evil power, always the same behind the
different manifestations.

There is rare combination and adaptation in this message. It was meant
for the Church of that day, and of every day since, and for some future
day. For it stands as the one message from Christ to His Church between
Olivet and His return. It is meant distinctively for the Church as a
whole, and yet it makes an intense personal appeal to each one in the
Church.

It is spoken to the little groups of Churches in Asia Minor grouping
about the city of Ephesus, which had been founded by Paul and ministered
to by John. And without doubt it fitted into the conditions and
tendencies of those particular seven Churches.

But these are representative of all. Probably any group of seven would
be representative of all in varying degree. The mother Church at
Jerusalem is not named, nor the great Gentile missionary Church at
Antioch. But these messages with their approval and criticism, their
warning and promise, were meant for all the Church in Asia and Europe
and Africa at that time.

They are found to fit into the need of the Church scattered throughout
the world in every generation since then. Always there have been little
groups that were faithful and true, always some suffering because of
their faithfulness and remaining faithful in spite of suffering. And
always those who have been formal, who have companioned with evil, who
have been swamped by the evil with which they companioned, and those
practically asleep or dead.

This Patmos message will be found to fit the Church of to-day with
remarkable accuracy and faithfulness. And the whole probability is in
favor of finding that it will fit peculiarly the future Church, the
Church at the end of this present period.

This whole book of the Revelation is peculiarly a Church book. While it
is full of instruction and plea for our individual lives, yet it is
distinctively _the_ Church book. It stands out among the books of the
New Testament as the one book addressed to the Church and to the whole
Church.

It gives the great bulk of its space to an awful time of persecution
that is coming to the Church at some future time. This is spoken of
elsewhere, notably by Jesus in His talk with the disciples on Mount
Olivet, but it is the chief subject treated here. And it is treated with
great detail. The name commonly applied to this coming persecution is
the great tribulation.

It is significant that the book that clearly is distinctively a Church
book is taken up chiefly with a description of that future persecution.
It leads to the deep conviction that this book of the Revelation so
fitted to the need of the Church when spoken, and in every generation
since, will be found to be peculiarly fitted to that generation of the
Church that is to pass through this great coming persecution; that is,
to the Tribulation Church.

It will probably be the mainstay and comfort of those who will insist on
being true during those awful days, regardless of the suffering
involved. No book has been more slighted and ignored. It has been called
by some within the Church of our own generation "the joke of the Bible."
It will likely come to be the book most studied and loved for its light
and help in the terribly troublous times ahead. There will be an eager,
hungry searching for every scrap of information, and for any fresh ray
of light on its meaning.


The Seven-fold Message.

Now this seven-fold message lets us see things through Christ's eyes. He
is letting them and us see what He sees. The Scottish poet's thoughtful
lines might well be changed to get the yet better look: "Oh! wad some
power the giftie gie us, to see oursel's as" _God_ sees us. It would do
more than free us from blunders and notions. And we are needing more.

Each one of these seven messages begins by our Lord drawing their eyes
to Himself. This is the thing needed most. And this will give meaning
and force to the message. They are to be looking at Him as they listen.
Then He speaks of all the good things He sees. Then of the faulty, weak,
bad things, in a few simple but unmistakably plain words. No one could
doubt what He meant.

Then is the pleading call to repent, with the faithful warning of what
will surely happen if they don't. Then the earnest plea that His words
be listened to and taken to heart, and the wondrously gracious promise
held out to those who steadily set themselves against the evil, and who
get the victory.

Let us look for a moment at each of these Churches as seen by those
searching eyes of flame.

_Ephesus_ is the centre of the group, the natural leader, the largest
and most influential, perhaps the mother Church of the group, where Paul
and John had put in so much time and strength, and whence they reached
out to these others.

Christ reminds them of His presence in their midst and His control of
the angel messengers that minister to them. Then he speaks of their good
deeds, their tireless activity, steadfast endurance, intense zeal for
the true faith, with special emphasis upon their unwearying
steadfastness even under sore difficulties, and their hatred of those
who made compromise with evil so hateful to Himself.

But there is something lacking, the tender personal love for Himself.
There's intense loyalty to Church and to the faith, but a lack of
personal love for Himself. And the startling thing is that this is said
to quite outweight all these good things. They may have these things
without the love, but they cannot have the love without having these
things, and at a finer temperature.

And this defect is crucial. If persisted in it is fatal. It will
actually mean their _rejection as His messenger_. This is the critical
thing which we seem to have such a hard time getting hold of. The
essential qualification for true service is the personal attachment to
our Lord Jesus Himself, that warm heart love which the human heart longs
for and gives to some one. He longs for this. This is _the_ essential;
not Church organization nor creed, not zeal for orthodoxy, but warm love
for a person. Service, witnessing, all the rest, are valuable to Him in
reaching His world only as they grow out of a tender love for Himself.

And the startling thing is that this privilege and opportunity of
service is to be taken away _not_ because displeasing to Him, but
because it fails of the end in view. The candlestick is only removed
because it is no longer serviceable; it is not giving out the light.
This earnest, aggressive, orthodox, patiently-enduring Church is to be
rejected as a light-holder, because it is not holding out the light.
This is tremendous!

The group in _Smyrna_ is tenderly reminded of the suffering of their
Lord, for they are filling up what is left behind of His suffering. This
tells at once the depth of their personal love for Him, nothing could
tell it more.

They are poor in money and so despised, but rich in faith and so
precious to Him. They are suffering at the hands of the Jews, who were
the outspoken, intense, fanatical enemy of the Christians. There is no
reproach, only earnest encouragement to keep steady even through
fiercer fires yet to come.

The description of Himself to the _Pergamum_ group is startling. He is
the one with a sharp two-edged sword. There is something here He must
fight against. They are frankly told that they have had a hard place to
witness in, and earnestly commended for being true even in the midst of
persecution.

But there's something wrong, and it is very serious. It is as wrong and
bad as it can be. There is actually compromise with evil, partnership
with the world in its wickedness. The thing is put in the intensest way
possible by characterizing it as adultery. No stronger language could be
used to tell how He sees the evil they are guilty of. And they are
plainly told that He will fight against them. They have made themselves
His enemy by joining His enemies.

The _Thyatira_ group is reminded of the purity of their Lord, who cannot
stand impurity but searches it relentlessly out, and pursues it to the
death. There's a faithful minority here. Their activity and love and
faith and patience and increasing activity in service are all counted
carefully over and warmly commended.

But the evil here is much worse. It is put into the gravest language.
"Thou sufferest the woman _Jezebel_." This is most significant. There is
no worse character named in the whole Old Testament. She not only
represented the worst adulterous uncleanness in herself, but she was
the national leader energetically fostering unclean idolatrous practices
among the people. Jezebel pulled God's light-holder nation down to the
lowest moral level it ever reached. She brazenly dominated king and
people, and remained stubbornly obstinate to the terrible end.

Christ brings _her_ name in here. Again this is tremendous. No more
terrific parallel could have been made. Here evil characterized as
adulterous has actually come to a place of leadership in the Church.
With great longsuffering time has been given that all this might be
changed, but with Jezebel-like obstinacy it was determined that there
would be no change. And the inevitable result that will surely follow
continued obstinacy will be a great tribulation or deadly persecution.

The _Sardis_ group is told that Christ is the centre of all life and
help, in the control of the Holy Spirit and of the angel messengers.
There is nothing to commend here. There are some who insist on living
true lives, but they are a scanty scattered few, not enough to count.

There are some ragged remnants of good, but even these are sickly and
nearly dead. The Church is well organized, energetic, standing high
among men, but with an utter absence of spiritual life. The personal
lives of most are like dirty garments. And the warning is this: He will
come as a thief, that is unexpectedly, disagreeably, to take away what
they prize most and leave them stripped and naked.

The longest message is to the group in _Philadelphia_. Christ reminds
them that He is holy in character, faithful to His promises, having full
control, and giving opportunity of service as the highest reward of
faithfulness. This candlestick is giving out light, for it is given yet
further opportunity of shining.

The chief characteristic of this group is its steady plodding
faithfulness. They are not spoken of as brilliant or talented, but
faithful in the midst of opposition. He loves them with the sort of deep
love drawn out by love freely given. And a special promise is given, a
significant promise. A great persecution is coming, an awful testing
time to all the earth. But He will keep them _through_ this unhurt
because they have been keeping His word so faithfully.

The common reading here is, "I will keep thee _from_ the hour of trial."
It is quite as accurate to read "through" in place of "from." And there
is good reason for taking this as the sense here. The word underneath
here is translated by several different words in other passages.

Where a word in one language may be translated by any one of several
words the general sense of the passage must decide which one correctly
expresses the meaning. Here the meaning must be gotten from the whole
trend of New Testament teaching. Like the Israelites during the plagues
that came to Egypt these faithful ones will be kept untouched through
this terrible time that is to come.

The _Laodicea_ group is to be talked to plainly by one who is a true,
faithful witness in dealing with His people's faults, and who has all
the authority of God in doing so. This is the second group that actually
has not one good thing to be commended. There is no false teaching, no
compromise with evil; they are simply _asleep_. Rich, influential,
self-satisfied, grown fat and sleek,--so they seem to their neighbours
and themselves. Wretched, poor, blind, naked,--so they are. And the
chastening threatened will be of the severe radical sort that strong
love insists upon.


A Heart-breaking Sight.

Here then is the picture of the whole Church as seen by the eyes of
searching flame. There is a mixture of bad and good, active bad, active
good, and sleepy indifference. There is a Church within the Church. But
the bad is bad enough and big enough to endanger seriously the
usefulness of the whole as a light-bearer.

The glass of the lantern is so smoked and cobwebby that it is more
useless than useful to the light inside, and the crowd outside in the
dark. The uselessness threatens what usefulness is left. Smokiness is
contagious. Cobwebs grow thicker and hold more dust.

Two Churches are true and pure in the midst of sore opposition. Two are
corrupt in the very worst way. Three, including the leader, are orthodox
in form, but indifferent to Jesus Himself, or asleep, or dead; three
degrees of the same thing,--indifference, sleep, death.

In all of these five there are those who, like Ezekiel's companions,
"sigh and cry over the abominations that are going on," but they are
helpless to stay the sweep of the tide. They are the salt that is saving
the lump so far. Even Sodom would have been saved by ten righteous.

It is plainly said to the leader Church that it is no longer of use as a
candlestick, except a change come. It fails to give out the light. It is
being carried along, patiently borne with _for its own sake_. It is
failing at this point in the mission. The smoking flax sending out its
irritating smoke in place of clear light is not yet quenched. The Holy
Spirit life within is being sorely grieved, but is not yet put entirely
out.

And this is only one. Four others are plainly in much worse fix.
Five-sevenths are failing. That bit of preservative salt would seem to
be working to its full capacity.

This is the picture given us here by our Lord Himself. John would never
have dared make such a terrific arraignment of his own accord. It is a
picture of the whole Church at the beginning of the First century.

How is it at the beginning of the Twentieth? A thousand million people,
two-thirds of the race, pretty freely supplied with the light of western
oil and of gunpowder, with the help of the western sewing machine, and
with the guidance of western learning and skill, but to whom with minor
exceptions no scant ray of this light has yet gotten, these make answer.
That smokiness would seem to be rather dense.

The non-Christian crowds in so-called Christian lands, the overwhelming
majority, to whom the name of Jesus has no more practical meaning than
other foreign names, Shanghai, or Tokyo, or Calcutta,--these make
answer. The light doesn't seem to have been able to get through and out
much, even near the candlestick.

The Church itself, when it has sometimes forgotten its statistical
tables long enough to look thoughtfully into this old Patmos
looking-glass, has now and then made answer, in a few of its thoughtful
leaders, while the rank and file push on absorbed in their Ephesian or
Sardisian or Thyatiran way.

There's a striking companion bit to this in Ezekiel's vision.[66] That
messenger to the exiled colony by the Chebar had first of all the vision
of God that completely overwhelmed him. Then he is taken in spirit to
Jerusalem, and shown things as they were, through God's eyes. The
heathen idols were set up in the very temple of God, so actually
stimulating among the people the horribly gross, unnamable impurities
connected with their worship. This was done in the open, with no
pretence at concealment.

Then in the vision he digs "into the wall" to see the hidden things that
are being done. There he sees every sort of creeping, crawling, slimy,
repulsive animal pictured on the walls of this secret chamber, and the
leaders of the people burning incense and worshipping.

This he is told is a picture of the _inner hearts_ of the men who are
the leaders of the nation. For dramatic intensity it would be hard to
equal this. The imaginations of their hearts are as the unclean snakes
and beasts that are found only in the damp, unwholesome slime and ooze
of swamp and stagnant pond.

And this is God's light-bearing nation to all the earth. And these are
the leaders! But there's yet worse. The mothers and wives and daughters
of the nation, the real moulders of the nation's life and character, are
seen pouring out their very hearts over a heathen idol, with all the
horrible evil practices included in its worship. And then a group of men
are shown in the holy temple standing with their backs to God and His
temple and worshipping the sun.

Under these four items are pointed out the impurity and violence, the
injustice and oppression, that mark the people. It is the inner heart
life of the nation that is being pictured so vividly. But in the midst
of all this are those who are broken-hearted over these conditions. And
as the time of judgment comes in the vision these are marked and spared,
though they see the work of judgment on every hand.

Such is the tremendous scene depicted by Ezekiel. It will be seen at
once what a striking parallel it presents to the scene in this
Revelation book with the new light-bearer to the nations of the earth.
One would never dare make such an arraignment of his own accord. It is
humbling and heart-breaking to the last degree simply to repeat what is
spoken here by our Lord Himself.

Clearly the Patmos picture is not only of the Church then, but ever
since, and now. And the simple law of momentum in sliding down hill will
make it an accurate picture of the Church at the end, the future Church.

The colouring changes at different times in different places, the black
getting intenser, pot black, and the light shining out more brightly by
contrast. But the picture remains essentially as painted on Patmos.

The warnings so faithfully given run a sliding scale outward and
downward in five degrees. If the Church continue as it is, it is told
here that it will be rejected as a light-holder. Its privilege and
opportunity as God's messenger will be taken away.[67]

Then Christ will fight against it as an enemy,[68] it will be given over
to a time of terrible tribulation,[69] it will be treated as prey to be
robbed and plundered,[70] and it will be rejected, spewed out of the
mouth, as personally disgusting.[71]

Yet in all this plain speech there is no bitterness, only grief, only
tender pleading. The plain bluntness is the language of love that yearns
to save even yet, and that waits with untold patience hoping for a
change.


Wooing Promises.

But it is noticeable that, while the warning is to the corporate Church,
the plea and promise that persists throughout is to the individual. He
that is _willing_ to, let him hear and heed and be controlled by the
Spirit's message.

There are two groups that have remained faithful. There are scattered
through the other five those who are faithful. And there are no doubt
many who feel the pull to be true but are yielding to the strong
undertow of the rising tide by which they are being carried.

The coupled promise and plea that call out so pleadingly to these at the
close of each message are, "to him that overcometh." This word
"overcometh" is very significant. It is one of the characteristic notes
of these messages and indeed of this entire book. It is one of that sort
of word that sums up a whole situation in itself.

There is opposition. There is conflict because some won't yield to the
opposition. And the result of the conflict varies. Some are overcome by
the evil; they go over to the enemy, body and soul. Some wabble. They
slip along the line of least resistance, secretly holding on to some few
ragged remnants of convictions, but not letting these affect their
standing or comfort or particularly their profits.

Some overcome evil. There is struggle tense and continued, quickened
breath, moist brow, tightened nerves, the stain of blood, a scar here
and there, and heart-breaking experiences. But they fight on, and
victory comes. And the evil is less, weakened in its hold on this
companion and that neighbour. They get the victory over evil.

There's a wondrous promise to these. It is as though the treasure box is
placed at their disposal. It is a seven-fold promise. Every overcomer
will receive all that is contained in these seven promises. Note this
seven-fold promise: He that overcometh will have everlasting life,[72]
and this is emphasized by the reverse statement, "will not be hurt of
the second death."[73]

He will be admitted into the sweets of intimate fellowship with his
Lord, hidden from all save those in this inner circle. And will receive
a new name, the family name, that is an inheritance in the family of
God, joint heir with Jesus Christ.[74] He will have the privilege of
serving with the King in the blessed Kingdom time coming.

And with this goes the word, "I will give him _the morning star_."[75]
Jesus calls Himself "the bright, the morning star."[76] The morning star
rises in the dark of night after midnight and ushers in the new day. He
who is in touch of heart with Jesus as the night deepens to the dawn
will (probably) have an intimation in his inner spirit of the glad
coming of the Morning Star that ushers in earth's new day.

The overcomer will be made perfect in character, and find his name not
only in the family book, but mentioned by Christ personally to His
Father before the angels.[77] He will be admitted into the innermost
circle of the King and be reckoned among the dependables.[78] And he
will have closest fellowship with Christ in the administration of the
wondrous kingdom.[79]

It will be seen that these promises overlap, the same thing being put
now positively, now negatively, and being repeated in differing words to
different groups. Each promise touches the characteristic trait of the
group spoken of. The Ephesians, who had many things but lacked the vital
thing, are wooed with the promise of life itself, which is only through
touch with Jesus Himself.

Smyrna in its suffering is cheered with the prospect of suffering no
more. The Pergamum overcomer is wooed away from intimacy of friendship
with evil to intimacy of friendship with the coming King. They who
resist the evil Jezebel rule in Thyatira will have the privilege of
ruling with the King. Those in Sardis who hunger and thirst after a pure
heart will have the longing fully satisfied.

Those who have proven dependable in the trying days in Philadelphia will
have the exquisite pleasure of being depended upon in the inner circle
as wholly trustworthy. Those in Laodicea who resist the current and
insist on letting the knocking pilgrim in for heart fellowship[80] will
find themselves in fellowship with Him on the throne.

It should be noticed that these promises are one promise, and that that
is the promise of everlasting life, of a purified perfected character,
and of the privilege of closest fellowship with the King Himself in the
coming Kingdom time.

These promises do not take up the matter of rewards for faithfulness in
service, such as our Lord speaks of in the twin parables of the pounds
and talents. The things promised here are the results of being saved by
the blood of Christ. The privilege of fellowship with the King during
the Kingdom time is included in salvation. All the redeemed will reign
over the earth.[81]

This is significant. Overcoming would seem to be the decisive evidence
of faith in Jesus Christ, the faith that receives everlasting life. It
takes opposition to let you know whether you are willing to accept
Christ. A man does not know whether he really believes Christ until he
is opposed in his believing, and opposed to the real hurting point. He
has just as much faith in Christ as he is willing to declare, and stand
by, and insist upon, _when he is under fire_. Opposition is the fire
test. Faith isn't faith unless it can stand the fire test.


The Decisive Trait of Faith.

The plain inference here is that he who doesn't overcome shows that he
really doesn't believe in his heart. And the natural result is that he
does not receive these things promised. That is, he is not saved because
he won't accept the Lord Jesus as his Saviour _when it comes to the fire
test_.

There are without doubt thousands in the Church who will be left behind
on the earth when our Lord Jesus catches up His own. This does not mean
necessarily that they will be lost. There will be another opportunity of
being saved for those living on the earth at that time. The Kingdom will
be a wonderful time of salvation. There will be a continuous revival of
the realest sort going on everywhere all the time.

But these would not have the blessed privilege of fellowship with the
King in the Kingdom, nor the blessedness of fuller resurrection life _at
this time_. That is reserved for those who by grace have believed on the
Lord Jesus, during His absence and continued rejection, in spite of the
fire of opposition.

It is notable that the Thyatiran message speaks of _great tribulation_
coming to that Church if it continue unchanged. And that the
Philadelphia Church is to be kept through "the hour of trial, that which
is to come upon the whole earth." Throughout the Scriptures mention is
made of a time of persecution coming at the end. The common term for it
is tribulation. It is called _the great tribulation_. There will be more
to be said about this again.

It is possible that it will be found that this Patmos message will have
special significance during that trying time at the end. But it should
be noted that it fits into the _spirit of opposition_ that is _always_
found where there is true, faithful witnessing.

The tribulation itself will be the time of intensest opposition carried
to the extreme of violent persecution. It will be the climax of
conditions always present, wherever there is faithful witnessing.
Faithfulness to Christ always arouses opposition.

The test of whether we really accept Christ and believe Him is not in
anything we say. It is not even in what we are in our lives when all
goes smoothly. It is in what we are in our lives _when opposed_, when it
costs criticism, ostracism, petty persecution, or more outright
persecution. This is our Lord's test of acceptance of Himself.

We have had many definitions of what it means to believe on the Lord
Jesus Christ. And these have been helpful in clearing the air and
helping us to a simple acceptance of Him. These definitions have touched
chiefly the _inner_ part of faith, the part we are conscious of.

Here is another definition. Here is the last word on the subject, the
authoritative word, from our Lord Jesus Himself. It tells what faith is
in its outward working, the part the _crowd_ sees. The faith that
accepts Jesus as Saviour accepts Him also as Lord.

That faith naturally rings true to Him under all circumstances. It rings
truest and clearest whenever opposition to Him is aroused, whether the
opposition of indifference, of criticism and sneer, or of persecution.

There are certain commonly accepted things that are in themselves only
good, but which are not _conclusive_ evidence that we really have saving
faith in the Saviour. The act of coming into Church membership whether
by confirmation, by an assent to questions regarding one's personal
faith, or by being baptized, the fact of membership in the Church, the
partaking of the Lord's supper, serving as an official of the Church in
pulpit or pew, faithful attendance, liberal support,--these things are
only good.

But they do not furnish conclusive evidence of one's acceptance of
Christ. It is quite possible to be carried along on the common current
in such things. There is clear evidence that many are. The decisive
thing, the test thing is this: _how we stand opposition_, the polite,
sneering sort, the more aggressive sort, or--if it come to that--the
violent sort. The _fire_ reveals every man's faith if there be any
there.

There are two fire tests. One is of our faith in Christ, as revealed in
the frictional fires of opposition. Whoever stands that test is caught
up into His presence when He comes, or goes at once into His presence if
our going precede His coming.

The second is of the love-spirit, how far it has been the very breath of
our life as revealed by the fire of His presence. For the love-spirit
means personal loyalty to Jesus, purity of heart, holiness of life,
steadiness of purpose, and the exquisite gentleness of patience in our
conduct toward all others.

These words of our Lord Jesus are very searching. This Patmos message
must have been a painful one for Him to give John, and painful for John
to repeat. It is painful for any one to repeat when its meaning is
understood. It should send one off into some quiet corner alone on his
knees with that great "search me" prayer of the Psalmist.[82]

Recently I was told a simple incident of one of the truly great
Christian men of our generation. He was at the head of one of the
largest concerns of our country employing thousands of men, but never
knowing any labor troubles. I remember the impression made on me a few
years ago at the time of his death, by the remark made to me by two
different men of this man's city, men that I think did not know each
other, or maybe very slightly. As I spoke of him each man said in a
subdued voice, "Oh, everybody in ---- loved Mr. ----!"

This incident was told by his son. The two were on a train together. The
father rose and went forward to another part of the train. As he went
out a man sitting opposite came over and spoke to the son. His flashy
manner of dress and the fact that he seemed to have been drinking
suggested the sort of man he was. He said to the son:

"Wasn't that Mr. So-and-so?"

"Yes," the son replied.

"Well," the man said, as though talking half to himself, "if there were
more men like him, there'd be fewer like me."

And he turned to his seat and sat as though absorbed in his thought. The
son, in speaking of it after his father's death, said it was one of the
tenderest memories he had of his father.

The common crowd on the street and our Lord Jesus are united in one
thing: they want _more men like Him_, Jesus our Saviour. Then there'd be
fewer of the other sort.



FOOTNOTES:

[64] Ruby T. Weyburn.

[65] Acts xv. 14-18.

[66] Ezekiel viii and ix.

[67] Rev. ii. 5.

[68] Rev. ii. 12-16.

[69] Rev. ii. 22, 23.

[70] Rev. iii. 3.

[71] Rev. iii. 16.

[72] Rev. ii. 7.

[73] Rev. ii. 11.

[74] Rev. ii. 17.

[75] Rev. ii. 26-28.

[76] Rev. xxii. 16.

[77] Rev. iii. 5.

[78] Rev. iii. 12.

[79] Rev. iii. 21.

[80] Rev. iii. 20, 21, with Jeremiah xiv. 8.

[81] Rev. v. 10.

[82] Psalm cxxxix.



V.--AN ADVANCE STEP IN THE ROYAL PROGRAMME

(Revelation, Chapters iv. and v.)


 "We are watching, we are waiting,
   For the bright prophetic day;
 When the shadows, weary shadows,
   From the world shall roll away.

 "We are watching, we are waiting,
   For the star that brings the day;
 When the night of sin shall vanish,
   And the shadows melt away.

 "We are watching, we are waiting,
   For the beauteous King of day;
 For the chiefest of ten thousand,
   For the Light, the Truth, the Way.

 "We are waiting for the morning,
   When the beauteous day is dawning,
 We are waiting for the morning,
   For the golden spires of day."[83]


A Look into Heaven.

Heaven is a place of intensest and tenderest interest to every one. It
is true that there is less emphasis on getting to heaven as a result of
being saved than there was a generation ago. Indeed, no emphasis at all.
The whole thought now is about our life here on the earth. We think less
about dying and more about living.

This is true. Yet every one of us has loved ones who have slipped from
our grasp, and gone from our midst. We think of them. The tenderest
memories brood over us, and come like a flood sometimes.

We may have the sweet sense of assurance that these loved ones are
saved. But there is an intense longing at times to know more about them,
where they are, what they are doing, how much they know of things down
here. These thoughts _will_ come crowding in upon us.

Now here is some light. _All_ the questions are not answered. But there
comes clear, sweet light to comfort our hearts during the waiting time
until we shall be joined with them again. We are given here in John's
Revelation the first clear, definite glimpse into the upper world. It is
told us in the language of earth of course. It must be, else we would
not understand. But clearly there is a glory and happiness clear beyond
what earthly words can tell.

This is the first glimpse into heaven given us in this old Book of God.
Jacob wakes up in his dream and sees a ladder set up connecting earth
and heaven, and the angels going up and returning again while God talks
with him. It means much to him, but gives us no answer to our questions,
except to make plain that there is a very real and wondrous world up
there where our loved ones go.

Moses is up in the mount with God for six weeks nearly, twice over, but
there is no suggestion of what he may have seen; only the transfiguring
change in his face, and the strongly gentling change in his character.

Ezekiel finds the heavens opening and sees the vision, so like John's,
of the wondrous Man. Stephen looks up steadfastly into heaven and sees
the resplendent glory of God, and the crucified Jesus standing at the
right hand of God. Paul is caught up into heaven, not improbably at the
time that his body lay bruised and bleeding and apparently lifeless
outside Lystra. But the sights he sees and the over-awing glory are too
much to be told. But here John is taken up in vision into the heavens,
into the presence of God, and sees much, and tells us what he sees.

It was after the vision of the glorified Man and His message. John is
sitting thinking on all he has seen and heard, thinking back to Ephesus
and the other Churches he knew so well. He is wondering perhaps _how_ he
_can_ tell them what, whom, he has seen; and wondering too how he can
tell them this message entrusted to him.

The holy spell is still strong upon him, when all at once he noticed
what looks like a door, a door opened above him in the blue. And as he
is looking, astonished, that same voice that had been speaking with him
before speaks again. He is bidden to "come up hither," and he will be
shown the things that are to happen some time in the future. At once he
is conscious of that same gentle, enveloping presence of the Holy Spirit
as before. At once He is up in heaven. And he tells us the scene that
opens to his eyes.

There is a throne set. What a comfort! There is a _throne_. There is a
centre of authority and power to our world. This Revelation is
peculiarly the book of a _throne_. Up yonder above the moral tangle and
confusion of earth is a reigning throne.

There is One sitting on the throne. That throne is occupied. It has not
been vacated. Men down here may push God off the throne of their lives,
and try to push Him out of the affairs of the earth. But He sits on the
throne above. And that throne dominates the life of the earth. Nothing
can be done without permission.

John can't describe this one sitting on the throne. The sight is too
much for his eyes. When the seventy elders of Israel see God, all that
they can remember is the dazzle of glory in the wonderful pavement under
His feet. It seems like a pavement of precious stones of sapphire, but
as clear as crystal. So now all that John can see is some One who seems
to his eyes like transparent precious stones blazing with light. This is
the only thing he can think of to tell of what he sees.


Rest in the Midst of Unrest.

There is a rainbow around the throne. The radiance of light shining out
from this One on the throne makes a rainbow. If one wonders how God can
look down on the misery and sin, the rebellion and wretchedness that
dominate most of the earth, here is the answer. His finger is never off
the pulse. He knows all as we never can. And he feels as we never do the
pain of life, and the discord of earth. The unceasing cry of earth comes
up in his ears.

But He is controlled by a purpose. It is a purpose of strong patient
love. _He has made a promise_ that man shall have fullest opportunity
unchecked by the natural sweeping judgment, that invariable working out
of sin and wrong. That throne keeps the order of nature working smoothly
and faithfully for man's sake, holding in restraint the forces that
would hinder and destroy. The rainbow is the signature to His promise.
That rainbow is always before His face. That promise has never been
forgotten. This explains the quietness of the One on the throne, looking
down on the moral confusion of the race.

But this rainbow is not like the common rainbows that we know. It
completely encircles the throne. Our rainbows are broken up. They are
never seen in their completeness. Our lookout on things sees only a
part; it never sees all. It is never complete. The view of things up
there is complete. Everything is seen and is seen in its true relation
to everything else. The throne is the one place of perfect perspective
and poise.

And this rainbow is all of one colour, a clear, soft emerald-green. We
know that green is the most restful of all colours. Some colours are
irritating. Some persons of very sensitive, nervous temperament are even
made sick by certain colours. And we are all affected more than we know
in a hurtful way by certain colours. But green is the colour of rest. It
soothes the eyes and nerves and even the spirit. The rainbow round about
the throne looked like a quiet, quieting emerald-green. The One on the
throne is at perfect rest regarding things down here. He knows all. His
ears hear all, the cry of distress and despair, the defiance and
arrogance and blasphemy. His eyes see His children down here, creative
children all of them, prodigal children so many of them, and trusting
children walking in the shadows. He sees all. And He feels all with His
great feeling heart.

Yet He is at rest. Do you wonder how He can be? When Jesus saw the
multitudes He was moved with compassion; He suffered in heart with them,
for they were as shepherdless sheep, torn and distressed. And the heart
beating in rhythm with His has as hard a time as He. If He lead you in
service to some foreign mission land, you see and know and feel as no
tourist party hurried through the outer fringes ever does or can.

And in Christian lands of the West, and the homeland, in slum as in
polite circles, in commercial quarters as in the university world, the
heart that is in touch with Jesus' heart sees and hears and feels and
senses things as they are under the surface or sticking boldly out
through the surface. And feels at times as though it can never again be
at rest.

How can He, on the throne, be so quiet, and be at rest? And there is an
answer to our burning question, a simple, real answer. _He knows the
end._ He has a purpose and a plan. The present is only one stage in His
great plan. This is man's opportunity, and possibly some one's else
opportunity, too. It is to be followed by something else radically
different down on this earth.

He is held steady during this time by a great purpose. It is a purpose
of great, tender love. To His eye looking sleeplessly down there is rest
even as of emerald-green. And so there will be rest for him who looks
sleeplessly _up_ to the _throne_ of control, encircled in the emerald
rainbow of perfect peace. And we can be of best service to Him by
resting in our hearts, resting in Him, even while working in the thick
of things as they are down here.


They See His Face.

Then John sees twenty-four other thrones round about the central throne.
And on these there are twenty-four men sitting. These men are wearing
white garments, and have crowns of gold upon their heads. This is the
part of intense interest. Who are these? And what does this mean?

What has been said before about picture language, the language of the
Orient, of childhood, of the common crowd, the universal language, will
help us here. The Bible is an Oriental book. It talks in picture
language. This is humanly what gives it such freshness and peculiar
adaptation. The radical change of circumstances and speech and mode of
thought in different centuries makes all books antiquated after a
certain time. This book has the freshness of youth, for in its simple
picture language it deals in principles. But picture language must be
held to its simplicity. And something of familiarity with the whole
range of the Scripture is needful to use the key to the simple picture
language.

Let us look a bit at the simple scene here. These men are elders, that
is they are leaders. They represent multitudes of others. Throughout the
Bible twelve is the number of completeness, both in things and people. A
complete gathering or throng of people is represented by the number
twelve. There are twelve tribes of Israel, and so on. This is so
familiar that it need only be named without further illustration.

There are two great divisions of this Bible, the Old Testament and the
New. These stand naturally for the two great divisions of time, before
Christ and after. This division is strongly marked in the Bible, and
sharply marked in our Christian consciousness. It has been a common
thing to wonder about the salvation and spiritual knowledge and
privileges of people who lived before Christ came and died.

Twice twelve make twenty-four. These twenty-four elders represent the
redeemed ones from both of these great divisions of time. That is to
say, the picture tells us this. All the people from creation's earliest
morn up to the present, including the one who went out last from some
sorrowing family circle, all who have had the touch of heart with God,
are gathered in the presence of Him who sits on the throne. That is one
simple thing that stands out clear and sure.

These are represented as _sitting_. The slave or servant never sat in
his master's presence. Friends sit together. Angels are never spoken of
as sitting in the presence of God. When our Lord Jesus was received up
He sat down at the Father's right hand. We are spoken of as seated in
the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Sitting together means being on
terms of intimacy and fellowship. Through the precious blood of our
Lord Jesus we are all accepted in the Beloved and received and trusted
as He is.

These elders are clad in white garments. That is one of the familiar
things spoken of much in this end-book. Part of the promise to those of
overcoming faith is that they shall be arrayed in white garments, and
walk with Christ in white.[84] Those who are faulty in the Church are
urged to get white garments.[85] The martyrs waiting their
vindication,[86] and the great multitudes who come up out of the
tribulation are given white raiment.[87] The bride at the joyous
marriage supper, and the armies following the conquering Christ, are
clad in fine linen, bright and pure.[88]

We are told that this white linen means a pure life.[89] These garments
have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.[90] These multitudes have
been cleansed in the blood of Christ and purified by the Holy Spirit and
made perfect in purity and holiness as they came up into the presence of
the Father on the throne.

These elders are wearing golden crowns. This language, too, is familiar.
The acknowledgment and reward of faithfulness and of service is spoken
of commonly under this bit of picture talk.[91] The angels are never
spoken of as being crowned. Christ was crowned, that is received into
the presence of the Father, as the full recognition of His worthiness
and of what He had done, and in vindication after the shameful rejection
by men.

These men and women and children in the Father's presence have been
rewarded and are being rewarded for their faithfulness in obedience and
in life. All the struggles and difficulties, the hard road, the
endurance, the patient suffering for His name's sake, the faithfulness
in doing the allotted tasks, all these have been noted and acknowledged.
There is the sweet peace of the Father's approval in all of these before
the throne.


Going to School to God.

And these are sitting on _thrones_. When Jesus was teaching His
disciples, in the dark days of bitter opposition He wooed them with
this: "Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones."[92] And a bit later as they
sat round the supper table on the night of His betrayal, when things are
getting to the darkest, again He woos them: "Ye may eat and drink at my
table in my Kingdom; and ye shall sit on thrones."[93] He that
overcometh is assured of sitting with Christ on His throne.[94]

All the redeemed ones of earth are to have part with Christ in the
coming Kingdom time. They reign with Him.[95] During this present time
the countless hosts of angels have a part in ministering to man on the
earth.[96] Even so during the Kingdom time to come the countless hosts
of the redeemed will have the sweet privilege of service with Christ and
on behalf of those on the earth. And it is quite possible that they
already have a part in such a ministry.

A little farther in the description it is seen that these elders have
"each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the
prayers of the saints." Heaven is a place of wonderful music. Its very
atmosphere must be tuned to the rarest rhythmic harmonies. And each one
has part in the music being made.

And yet more, they are continuing the sweet ministry of intercession
learned down on earth. This means that they are in touch with earth.
They know the needs of loved ones and of all, and they have the
privilege of fellowship in this with Him who ever liveth to make
intercession.

And there is one other thing we know here at once without being told. If
a friend tells me that he has a rose garden under the care of a skilled
gardener, I know without being told that the roses are growing. I at
once look through my friend's words and see bushes full of roses of all
colours, some full blown, some half blown, some bursting buds, and some
just budding. For there is a garden, and a gardener, and sun and rain
and dew. I know there must be growth and beauty.

Even so we know that the loved ones who have parted from us, are
growing. They are in the Father's presence, in intimate fellowship. That
tells me of their growth. That little one who slipped away so young,
years ago, has been growing in mental powers, in character as well as in
what down here we call stature, and growing most of all in love. And so
at the meeting time, in the air or up there, there will be instant
recognition, as well as instant delight over the growth under such
wondrous tutorage.

This is the glimpse into the upper world which John sees and is allowed
to give us here. The redeemed ones of earth of all the ages are in the
presence of the Father and of the Lord Jesus and of the angels, on terms
of intimate fellowship, made pure and perfect in character, but always
growing from more to more, and having a share in blessed ministry. And
they listen to and have share in making music more exquisite than our
earthly language can describe.

They understand the wondrous plans for the earth, for now they see all
things through the Lord Jesus' eyes. They have some part without doubt
in welcoming those who come to join them, even as they will have part in
receiving those who are caught up at our Lord's return. And they look
forward eagerly to the glad time of righting that will come then.

But let us look a bit more at what John sees. Out of the throne are seen
proceeding lightnings and voices and thunders. Three other times in
this book it speaks of lightning and voices and thunder.[97] These
things of course are the familiar accompaniments of a storm. It is
noticeable that each other time they are named in the book it is in
connection with some direct action being taken by God in the affairs of
the earth. And each time there is some added item intensifying the
scene.

A physical storm is caused by two areas of unequal temperature coming
together. The storm is the process of coming together and equalizing of
the atmospheric conditions. The inference here would seem to be that the
time of action has come to straighten out matters on the earth. The two
moral atmospheres of heaven and earth seem to be coming into contact,
and a storm is resulting before clear weather comes. It suggests that
our Lord Jesus is taking the next direct step in His broader plan.


God's Ideal of Creation.

But let us look a little further. In the book's picture language there
are "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne." These we are
plainly told "are the seven spirits of God." That is a Hebrew way of
saying "the perfect spirit of God." This is of intense interest. The
Holy Spirit is represented as being before the throne.

In the confidential talk with the inner group of disciples on the
betrayal night, in John's Gospel,[98] Jesus promises that when He has
ascended up to the Father He will send down the Holy Spirit to them.
When the Spirit has come down to the disciples He will begin a new
ministry of witnessing to the world through them.

In the Book of Acts that promise is fulfilled. The Spirit comes down
with remarkable manifestations on the day of Pentecost. The distinctive
thing He does is to take possession of a group of men and form them into
a new witnessing body called the Church. He had dwelt in the nation of
Israel as a nation, and had been withdrawn from that nation when it
proved finally faithless to its mission. He had dwelt in individual men
before and during and after that time.

At Pentecost He is sent down on a new mission. He is to do in men all
that Jesus has done for them in His life and death and resurrection. But
the distinctive thing of Pentecost is His forming this new body called
the Church, through which He begins a new ministry of witnessing to the
world.

All through the Acts and Epistles He is constantly spoken of as here on
the earth working in the Church and through it. He in the Church is a
powerful restraint upon the powers of evil in the world. In
Thessalonians,[99] Paul has spoken of a day coming when that restraint
would be withdrawn. The Holy Spirit, the "One that restraineth now," is
to be taken away.

Now here the Holy Spirit is represented as being, not in the Church, as
always in the Acts and Epistles, but as being "before the throne." This
is the second significant thing to note in this scene. This also would
seem to suggest the beginning of a new order of things.

John goes quietly on with his description. Before the throne he sees a
great expanse that looks like a sea of clear, bright, beautiful crystal.
Before the throne and around about the throne are four living creatures
or creatures of life. These living creatures are of intensest interest.
They appear throughout the Scriptures from the Garden of Eden in Genesis
to the very close of this Book of Revelation.

They are also called cherubim and seraphim, that is, cherubs and
seraphs. They are always associated directly with the immediate presence
of God,[100] and with His presence-chamber, in the tabernacle,[101] in
the temple,[102] and in Ezekiel's vision of a new temple,[103] and in
the thought of the people.[104] There is one possible exception to this,
where they are seen at the entrance to the Garden of Eden.[105] The
description of them is most full in Ezekiel. It varies in details, but
with the essentials always the same.

The general appearance is that of a man, but there are four faces as of
a man, a lion, an ox or calf, a flying eagle, and sometimes a cherub
face. They are full of eyes everywhere, and they seem enveloped in the
pure fire which everywhere is associated with God's own presence. These
descriptions combined suggest perfection of purity, of intelligence, of
obedience, and of power.

In this book of the Revelation they are spoken of seven times,[106] that
is, more frequently than in any other book, though not so fully as in
Ezekiel. Five times they are leading or joining in the worship of God,
by men and angels, and twice they are coöperating with the Lamb or the
angels in what is being done on the earth.

These beautiful, intelligent beings seem to represent the whole animate
creation, man, the animals intimately associated in service with man,
those that roam at will, and the birds, and the angels. It would seem as
though they stand for _God's ideal of creation_, as it was before the
hurt of sin came, as He holds it in His heart, and as it will be after
sin has gone. His ideal of a perfect and perfected creation is always in
His presence and before His face, intelligently and gladly carrying out
His will, reverently and joyously sounding His praise.

It suggests that He will not rest content until His ideal for the
creation shall be a sweet, full realization, all sin and rebellion
removed and all His works uniting in joyous, continuous worship, and
glad, harmonious obedience.


The Significant Book.

All this is interesting; some of it intense in interest. But it is only
a setting. It is incidental. The chief thing is yet to be told. John had
been told that he would be shown the things that would come to pass some
time in the future. We come now to the beginnings of these "things."

The One who is sitting on the throne has a carefully sealed book or
document in his hand. An angel calls out loudly for any one who is
qualified to do so to step forward and take the document and break its
seals. And as John watches intently no one comes forward. No one can be
found, either in the heaven, in earth, or in the region spoken of as
under the earth.

At this John is greatly distressed, and weeps much, so he must have
understood at once just what this meant. And one of the elders comforts
him with the assurance that there is One who has "_overcome_ to open the
book, and the seven seals thereof," "the lion of the tribe of Judah."
This word "overcome" suggests that this one has been in some great
conflict and has gotten the victory and overcome all opposition. And
this qualifies Him to take and open the document. He is the only one
among untold numbers so qualified.

And now John sees this One. He is standing in the very midst of the
throne surrounded by creatures and elders. We easily recognize this as
our Lord Jesus. He is a lion in leadership and strength. He is a lamb in
gentleness of character, and in the sacrificial experience He has been
through. The marks of death are plainly seen on His person.

As He comes forward He reaches and takes the book out of the hand of the
One on the throne. He is allowed to take it. His qualification to take
the document and break its seals is acceptable to the One on the throne.

And as He takes the book there is a remarkable burst of praise and
adoration that must have made all heaven ring. And those on earth in
touch of spirit with the scene and its purpose and the Chief Actor would
surely feel some thrill in the spirit currents of earth.

The outburst of worship is led by the four living creatures and the
twenty-four elders who fall down before the Lamb and sing a song. What
music that must be when the untold thousands sing as only redeemed ones
can sing. Then countless hosts of angels join in and lift the chorus.
And then there is the creation chorus, every created thing in heaven and
earth, under the earth, in the sea, absolutely everything seems to join
in this indescribable music. And the four living creatures say, "Amen."
And again the elders fall down and worship.

John's distress at the beginning, and now this indescribable outburst of
praise, tell us that this is something thrilling and significant beyond
expression. What does this mean, our Lord Jesus taking the sealed
document preparatory to breaking its seals?

It has been said in a previous talk that every thread woven into the
fabric of the Old Testament can be found in the fabric of this
Revelation book. So that if one goes to work patiently he can trace
every allusion here to something back in these older leaves. This gives
us the clue to the significance of this remarkable scene.

That clue seems in this case to be found in the book of Jeremiah,
chapter thirty-two. There is found an allusion to a simple primitive
custom of the Hebrew people in the exchange of real estate and in taking
possession of property to which one is entitled.

The old Hebrew custom seems to have been as follows: When property was
purchased the deed to the new owner was made out in duplicate, an open
copy and a sealed copy. The open copy was clearly for public
information, open to all. The sealed copy as clearly belonged only to
the owner of the property as his evidence of ownership. So it identified
him as the one named in the open copy.

If a new heir comes to take possession of an estate, or in case of a
dispute over ownership, the claimant who was adjudged the rightful heir
or owner would be given the possession of the sealed document or deed.
And as so attested by the judge or court, he only would be properly
qualified to "take" the sealed roll, break its seals, read its
contents, and so formally take possession of the estate, or property.

Now under the symbolism of this old bit of Hebrew custom, our Lord Jesus
is represented here as stepping forward to take possession of the earth,
and begin His reign over it. A Hebrew immersed in the old primitive
customs of his people in Palestine would understand this allusion at
once, however startled or sceptical he might be as to its significance
in this connection.


Taking Possession.

The language used in the song of praise when our Lord Jesus takes the
sealed book is significant. They say, "thou art _worthy_," that is, thou
art _qualified_; thou art the duly attested one with the right to take
possession. "For thou wast _slain_, and didst purchase unto God with thy
blood men of every tribe," and so on.

Man had been given the dominion of the earth. He had by obedience to the
evil one transferred his right to Him who is repeatedly called "the
prince of this world." Our Lord Jesus _purchased_ men out of their
slavery back to their original Lord,--with all that was rightfully
theirs. He has allowed fullest opportunity for all who will to accept
His Lordship. Now He is about to take possession of the earth on behalf
of men, and for them.

This is the tremendous significance of what John is shown here as
something that will take place hereafter. In the scene of the
candlesticks He is patiently waiting, holding Himself in restraint. Now
the waiting time is over. He is making the next move in His broader plan
for the earth.

There is no hint as to the length of interval between the two scenes,
how long He will wait. There is no suggestion as to when this next move
will be made. But we are here plainly told that at some time that
candlestick waiting time will end, and He will take a forward step in
connection with His plans for the earth. And it should be keenly noticed
that what follows now in this book of Revelation is the run of events
that will immediately follow that next step of His.

Yet this step is taken up _in heaven_. The first action of the new move
will be there. There will be nothing to be seen on the earth to indicate
the change. Things there will go on as before, eating and drinking,
buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage, all unconscious of
the tremendous events being worked out.

But now the waiting time still waits. Our opportunity is still open. If
we might only be simple enough to be true to our absent Lord Jesus
during this waiting time.

A bishop of the American Episcopal Church, widely known for his saintly
character, his culture, and long years of tireless service, was visiting
in the South. In the town there lived a judge of wide repute for his
scholarly learning as well as for his culture and uprightness. Now he
was seriously ill, and had requested an interview with the bishop.

He asked the bishop to talk to him about personal religion. And the
clergyman talked to this thoughtful, scholarly judge in choice
philosophical language about the fatherhood of God, the character of
Christ, and the essential harmony of man's true nature with God. The
judge listened attentively for some time.

Then he apologetically interrupted his visitor, and said:

"Bishop, I'm dying. Won't you please talk to me just like you'd talk to
my black boy, Jim?"

And the bishop could, and did. He told him in simplest talk that he was
a sinner. Jesus died to save sinners. His blood washes away our sins. We
must take Christ as a Saviour, just trust Him, as simply as a child
trusts its mother.

So he talked. And the judge listened. And the tears came, and the peace.
He came as a child, and trusted, and he knew the peace that passeth
understanding. It was the simple telling of the simple story of the
Saviour who died, and the simple, child-like acceptance of that Saviour.
The scholarly bishop helped the learned judge best, in the crisis of his
life, by talking as simply as to a child.

If we might only be simple enough to be true to this Jesus who died,
during the remnant of waiting time that remains.


FOOTNOTES:

[83] W. O. Cushing.

[84] Rev. iii. 4-5.

[85] Rev. iii. 18.

[86] Rev. vi. 11.

[87] Rev. vii. 9.

[88] Rev. xix. 8, 14.

[89] Rev. xix. 8.

[90] Rev. vii. 14; xxii. 14.

[91] Rev. ii. 10; iii. 11; I Corinthians ix. 25; II Timothy iv. 8; James
i. 12; I Peter v. 4.

[92] Matthew xix. 28.

[93] Luke xxii. 30.

[94] Rev. iii. 21.

[95] Rev. v. 10; xx. 4, 6.

[96] Hebrews i. 14 with Daniel vii. 10 and Psalm ciii. 20-21.

[97] Rev. viii. 5; xi. 19; xvi. 18, 21.

[98] John xiv.-xvi.

[99] II Thessalonians ii. 6-7.

[100] Ezekiel i. 4-28; x. 1-22.

[101] Exodus xxv. 17-22; xxxvii. 6-9.

[102] I Kings vi. 23-26; viii. 6-7; II Chronicles iii. 10-14; v. 7-8.

[103] Ezekiel xli. 15-26.

[104] I Samuel iv. 4; II Samuel vi. 2; xxii. 11; I Chronicles xiii. 6;
Psalm xviii. 10; lxxx. 1; xcix. 1; Isaiah vi. 1-3; xxxvii. 16.

[105] Genesis iii. 24.

[106] iv. 6-9; v. 6, 8, 14; vi. 1, 3, 5, 7; vii. 11; xiv. 3; xv. 7; xix.
4.



VI.--A CLEARING-UP STORM IN THE REALM

(Revelation, Chapters vi.-viii.)


 "God Almighty! King of nations! earth Thy footstool, heaven Thy throne!
 Thine the greatness, power, and glory, Thine the kingdom, Lord, alone!
 Life and death are in Thy keeping, and Thy will ordaineth all:
 From the armies of Thy heavens to an unseen insect's fall.

 "Reigning, guiding, all-commanding, ruling myriad worlds of light;
 Now exalting, now abasing, none can stay Thy hand of might!
 Working all things by Thy power, by the counsel of Thy will.
 Thou art God! enough to know it, and to hear Thy word: 'Be still!'

 "In Thy sovereignty rejoicing, we Thy children bow and praise,
 For we know that kind and loving, just and true, are all Thy ways.
 While Thy heart of sovereign mercy, and Thy arm of sovereign might,
 For our great and strong salvation in Thy sovereign grace unite."

    --FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL.


The Area of the Storm.

Goodness arouses evil. Faithfulness to Christ stirs opposition. This is
a commonplace. A piece of white-hot metal plunged into cold water makes
a great fuss. Two areas of sharply different temperatures in the
atmosphere above us coming suddenly together make a storm.

Purity entering an atmosphere of impurity and insisting on staying, and
on keeping pure, creates a lively disturbance. The tempter was aroused
to his subtlest effort when Jesus appeared. There is no such demoniac
activity recorded as when Jesus walked among men.

So crowning a king arouses opposition, if there be opposition. And the
active taking of the reins of government has intensified the opposition
when it was strong enough to make a stand. The striking illustration of
this in the Bible is King David. After Saul's death the men of Judah
anointed David king. That was the signal for an immediate attack by the
chief of the forces of Saul's house. And this was succeeded by a long
war, before David was acknowledged as king over all Israel. The
clearing-up storm in his realm lasted a good while before good weather
came.

Here in this Revelation scene we have been looking at our Lord Jesus is
represented as stepping forward to take possession of His realm. It is
natural to expect a storm. This will be a signal to the opposition to
rally all its power. But there can be no question about the outcome of
such a set-to. That storm proves to be a clearing-up storm in the realm.
It is to be followed by such fine moral weather as has not been known
before. But the storm itself proves to be a terrific one for the earth
while it lasts.

The greater part of this little end-book is taken up with a description
of that storm. But before we turn to this book itself and its storm, we
want to get our bearings a bit, so as to understand better what is here.
Revelation is the knot in the end of a big bunch of threads. We shall
understand the knot better by knowing more about the threads before they
are tied into the knot.

The storm area proves to be very large. It takes in the whole earth. The
Bible is a big book in its outlook and grasp. It deals with the whole
earth, and the whole race. The thoughtful Bible student comes to have a
broad outlook, as well as a close lookout about his own front and back
doors.

It is fascinating to study the geography of the Bible. We talk about the
world growing smaller. That refers of course to the rapidity of
transit. It is only within a few hundred years that we have learned of
the earth being round. The Bible map includes practically the whole
world as we have come to know it.

The centre of the world as seen on this map may seem a little
surprising. We Americans _feel_ that the centre of things is here. The
Englishman _knows_ that it is in London; and lately the Germans have had
the same exclusive sort of knowledge about Berlin. The Chinese has long
called his country "the Middle Kingdom," in the sense of its being the
central kingdom about which the rest of the world revolves. But here the
centre is seen to be on the boundary line, practically, between Orient
and Occident, reaching out an embracing arm to each.

We have a broad division of the earth into East and West. The
differences between the two, in civilization, mode of thought, religion,
language, and so on, are so radical as to make it seem that there was no
point of contact. At least this has been emphasized much by western
writers on the East. We are disturbed just now here in the far West over
the Oriental, Chinese Japanese and Indian crossing the _far_ boundary
line between Orient and Occident and coming into the United States and
Canada.

Yet East and West have always overlapped at the _middle_ boundary line.
There is a great mixture of races in the strip where the eastern edge of
the West and the western edge of the East come together. It is the strip
running roughly north and south where Russia's western border and
Turkey's touch Germany and Austria and Greece, including the
never-at-rest Balkan Peninsula. Constantinople sits on the dividing line
between East and West, with the worst of both civilizations within her
confines. Here the hemispheres touch and their life currents intermingle
and flow together.

Scientific research seems to find good evidence that all our European
civilization, which of course means American too, may have been brought
over by Eastern immigrants from central Asia long ages ago, Asia coming
into Europe. Perhaps we Westerners would not despise the Easterners so
contemptuously and patronizingly if we knew how much we are probably
indebted to them for our civilization as well as for our Hebrew and
Christian faith, our Bible, and the Christian restraining bulwarks of
our common life.

The old common point of contact between Orient and Occident was the
strip of land forming the western edge of the Orient at the eastern end
of the Mediterranean. Palestine has been for centuries the common
roadway of all nations, East and West. No bit of earth has been so
tramped and trampled by the feet of all nations and races. This has been
the battlefield of the nations through long centuries. The ends of the
earth have met here. It is interesting that the waters that wash its
western shore are called the Mediterranean Sea, that is, the
_middle-of-the-earth_ sea.

Here then is the centre of the map. It is the centre of all things in
the Bible. And it has proven to be at the centre of human action through
history, attested by the very name given to the chief body of water
there.

Jerusalem, the capital city of this Palestine strip, was the centre of a
world power in the early ages. It has been the world capital. And it has
in turn been fought over and conquered by every world power. No city has
been a world centre of action during as long a stretch of time, and to
as many different nations.

Out from this centre the action of the Bible reaches north to Russia,
south to Africa (Ethiopia), east to China (Sinim, Isaiah xlix. 12), and
west to Spain. That practically includes the world of our day. America
is of course merely a transplanted seedling of Europe.

Those great Hebrew leaders called prophets had a world outlook. They
were world messengers. It is intensely interesting to take a piece of
paper, and pencil a rough map of the nations named in their messages,
notably Isaiah,[107] Jeremiah,[108] Ezekiel,[109] and Daniel.[110]
Beginning at Jerusalem and Israel they reach first this way, then that,
up and down, back and forth, until the whole world of action of that day
has been touched. They were men of world size. They had a world outlook
and a world message.

But then God's man always has. The world outlook of Jesus was
tremendous. And every true disciple of Jesus Christ has the world
outlook. Grace broadens as well as refining. It is one of the endless
outworkings of sin that tends toward that narrowing provincialism which
everywhere hinders so much, and so intensely.

Now in this world map in the Bible geography two cities stand out beyond
all others, Jerusalem and Babylon; Jerusalem the centre of God's people
and of God's plans, Babylon the centre of the opposing worldly power.
These are the two outstanding cities of the Bible world.

Between these two there is an enmity and warfare that is practically
continuous. Jerusalem comes to be the typical of God's people and power
and kingdom. Babylon stands out likewise as typical of the power and
kingdom always and innately opposed to God and to His people. The
conflict between the two seems irrepressible and irreconcilable. It is
never out of view.

Babylon has been the centre, under successive dynasties, of a world
empire, including not only part of Asia, but reaching west to Europe and
south to Africa. It sat practically in the connecting strip of Orient
and Occident, ruling over both. In the dim dawn of history a
God-ignoring, and so really a God-defying and man-exalting movement,
centred in the city called Babel. And from that time on that city, and
its successor Babylon, have seemed as though possessed with a spirit of
antagonism to God and His people. It is as though it were the earthly
headquarters of the blasphemous unseen evil forces.

This is a simple bit of geography lesson in the Old Testament. This is
the map that lies ever open in these older pages, with its two capital
cities marked large. And this indicates the area of the storm, and the
two central points where its outburst will centre.


Studying the Weather Forecast.

It is interesting to find a weather forecast of this storm. The old
Hebrew prophets were close students of national and world-wide weather
conditions, and much given to making forecasts of impending storms. Even
in the New Testament there is this distinct prophetic or foretelling
strain running throughout. The father of John the Baptist is told of his
son's birth; and Mary, of the unusual birth of her divine Son. The
disciples are told of the coming of the Holy Spirit. And Agabus tells of
a great famine coming. In these instances the fulfilment follows soon
after the event is foretold.

The destruction of Jerusalem, foretold by Christ, had at least a part of
its fulfilment in the terrible Titus siege of 70 A.D. Our Lord said that
He would return to earth in great glory, and that there would come a
great tribulation to all the earth, and repeated the old prophecy of a
restoration of the Hebrew kingdom. These have not yet occurred.

But the book of the Revelation is distinctively the prophetic book of
the New Testament. It deals almost entirely with events that are yet to
come. It would be natural that it would fit into the prophetic parts of
the Old Testament. So that one who is somewhat familiar with the
prophetic books of the Old naturally comes more intelligently to this
prophetic book of the New.

It is true that most of us have a sense of bewilderment about prophecy.
We seem to feel that it requires great scholarship and profound study,
and that an understanding of it is not possible to the common run of
Christians. And so we largely leave it out as not understandable.

Yet prophecy is simply God's plans for the future, together with a
revelation of other events which are not in His plan, but which He sees
will happen in the future. In it He tells us what He means us to
understand. And more than this, our understanding will have practical
bearing on our attitude toward evil and compromise. It will affect our
faith, making it steadier, especially when evil seems triumphant and
overbearing. It will make our prayer more intelligent and confident.

There are certain things we all know. As we read back into these pages
we know that the break-up of the Jewish nation, which began with the
Babylonian Captivity, came to a terrible climax in a complete break-up
after the rejection of Christ. We know that the other nations commonly
called Gentiles (_i.e._, the nations) have had supremacy in the earth.
Israel was at one time acknowledged as the great world power, with many
subject nations, in Solomon's time.

But Gentile supremacy begins back in the time of these Old Testament
pages. There is to-day practically no belief that this will ever be
changed, except perhaps by a stray Jew here and there, who still holds
to his old Bible, and except by those Christians who discern God's plan,
and believe both in Him and in it.

In the absence of an understanding of that plan of God, it has been
common to apply all the glowing prophetic Hebrew promises to the Church.
The result has been that Israel and the Kingdom have been confused in
our minds with the Church. And this has become the commonplace in the
common Church consciousness.

It is quite possible for the person of average good sense to get
something of a simple, broad grasp of the prophetic books. It involves
reading _repeatedly_ so as to get familiar with the contents, and
_rapidly_ so as not to get too much absorbed in details.

It is needful to use a common-sense interpretation in getting at the
meaning. It is a simple law that one principle of interpretation should
be applied uniformly and consistently to all parts of any one document.
If I say arbitrarily, "this part is rhetorical; it doesn't mean just
what it says, but something else; and this _other_ part means just what
it says," clearly I am reading my own ideas and prejudices into the
book.

It is much slower, and takes more pains and patience, to keep at it
until all parts gradually clear up to us, first this bit, then that,
until part fits part, and all hang together. But there is great
fascination in it, and one's reverence for this revelation of God's Word
grows deeper.

Of course there is rhetorical language here as everywhere. "The Lord is
my shepherd" is clearly rhetorical. For God is not a shepherd, and I am
not a sheep, but a man. But under this simple, clearly rhetorical
language the tender, personal relationship God bears to me is
beautifully expressed. That such language _is_ rhetorical is clear to
every mind alike.

And there is a picture language here, such as speaking of purity of
character as "white garments." The honest, earnest, unprejudiced seeker
after truth quickly recognizes these, and learns to become skilled in
discerning what is meant. We come to see that Israel means Israel, not
the Church. Jerusalem means that city in Judea, and so on.

Of course it is needful that there be an _openmindedness_, a _humble,
teachable spirit_, willing to accept the real truth, no matter how it
may shake up one's prejudices and prearranged schemes of thought. And,
above all, there should be a constant _prayerfulness_ of spirit, to
learn just what our God is seeking to have us know. Of course there are
depths here for the scholarly, profound minds. But we ordinary folk can
get a simple, clear grasp of God's plan and revealed insight into the
future if we go at it in this thoughtful, prayerful way. And it will be
a great help to us to do so.


Three Great Unfulfilled Events.

Let us take a swift glance at these prophetic books of the Old
Testament. It helps to remember the natural way in which these prophetic
books grew up. These prophets were preachers and teachers. Here are some
people going up to the temple service one day in Jerusalem. As they get
near the temple they notice a little knot of people standing yonder at a
corner listening to a man talking earnestly. Isaiah, fresh from the
presence of God, is talking out of a burning heart to the crowd.

A visitor from another part of the land says curiously to his companion,
"What's that?" The other replies: "Oh, it's only Isaiah talking to the
people. He is a good man, that Isaiah, a well-meaning, earnest man, but
a little too intense, I fear." And they pass on to the temple service.
By and by Isaiah stops. The moving congregation scatters. He slips
quietly down to his house, and under the Spirit's holy, brooding
presence writes down a part of what he has been saying. So there grew up
the rolls to which his name is attached.

In some such simple, natural way these prophetic books grew up, always
under the Holy Spirit's guidance and control. They are full of intense
fire, and of the homely talk of street and market and fireside. There
are two sorts of these prophets, the preachers like Elijah and Elisha
and those who wrote as well as spoke, and whose names are preserved in
these books.

There are seventeen of these little books. They fall easily into four
groups. The _first group_ contains those belonging in the time before
the nation was exiled. It is a period of about one hundred and fifty
years, roughly, beginning in the prosperous reign of Uzziah and running
up to the time when the nation was taken captive to Babylon. Isaiah is
the most prominent prophet of this period, and with him are Hosea,
Micah, and Amos, all of whom may have been personally acquainted; and
also Zephaniah and Habakkuk.

The _second_ is _the exile group_, Jeremiah preaching in Judah, before
and during the siege, and to the remnant left behind in the land; and
Ezekiel and Daniel bearing their witness among the exiles in the foreign
land.

The _third group_ is made up of those who witnessed after the people are
allowed to return to their own land again. The writer of the second part
of Isaiah probably preached to the people as the opportunity came to
return to Jerusalem.[111] Haggai and Zachariah stirred up the returned
people to rebuild the temple. Joel and Malachi witnessed probably a
little later in the same period.

The _fourth_ is the _foreign group_. Obadiah sends a message to the
neighbouring nation of Edom; and Jonah and Nahum are sent with messages
to Nineveh. If one will try to make a picture of these people and events
by reading the historical books, and then watch and listen as the
prophets talk, it will do much to make these prophetic books full of the
native atmosphere in which they grew up.

Now there are three things that gradually come to stand out in these
prophetic books. Much of what is being said is of immediate application.
It refers plainly to affairs being lived out then. Then certain things
are plainly fulfilled in the coming of Christ. And again there is a
great deal that clearly has never been fulfilled but is still future. It
is the latter part that naturally is of intensest interest.

Now in this latter part, dealing with the future, _three things_ stand
out clear and sharp above the rest. There is to be judgment upon Israel
for their iniquities. The changes on this are rung again and again. And
this stands out as much in the preaching of the Captivity time, and of
the Return, as before the Captivity. But in the midst of severest
judgment there will be a _remnant spared_. The tree is cut down, but
the stump is spared; and there is life in the stump. But above these
there stand out these three things.

_The first thing_ stands out big. It is the thing the nation never
forgot. The believing Hebrew still clings to it. The wailers at the wall
of Jerusalem to-day never forget it. It is this: there is to be a
_future time of great glory for the nation of Israel in their own loved
land_.[112] The kingdom is to be restored, but with a glory
indescribably greater than ever known. This is the bright golden thread,
thick and strong, running through from end to end.

It will come through that spared remnant. The old stump will put out a
new shoot. It will be through the coming of a great king, who will prove
to be their greatest king,[113] and will reign not only over Israel, but
over all nations as tributary to Israel, with Jerusalem as the capital
city both of Israel and of the whole earth.[114] At its beginning there
will be a gathering of Israel from among all the nations where they have
been scattered.[115] To assist these scattered pilgrims to get to their
own land, the tongue of the Egyptian sea on the southwest is to be
destroyed; and the waters of the Euphrates on the extreme east are to be
so scattered or dried up that men can walk over dry-shod.

When the great king comes there will be genuine penitence among the
people over their past sins,[116] and they will become a wholly changed
people.[117] Israel will be a nation converted by the power of the Holy
Spirit through the conversion of the people individually. There will be
at this time a resurrection of God's people who have died.[118]

The new reign and kingdom is to be one of great spiritual enlightenment
to all nations.[119] There will be everywhere a new, remarkable
openmindedness to God and His truth.[120] And there will be the same
visible evidence of the presence of God at Jerusalem as when the pillar
of fire and cloud was with them in the wilderness. That wondrous
presence-cloud is to be always in view.[121]

This sounds to our ears like the highly coloured visionary dream of some
over-enthusiastic Hebrew. Yet this is a calm statement of what is found
here. And be it keenly marked, it is a picture which the godly Hebrew of
the old time never lost sight of. _This is the first thing_ that stands
out in these prophetic pages.

_The second thing_ stands out distinctly. Preceding this wondrous
kingdom _the earth will be visited by terrible judgments_.[122] There is
an awfully dark shadow before the blaze of light breaks out. A terrific
storm will come before the sun shines out in its new strength. All
nations will combine to make war against the Jew. Their forces will be
gathered at Jerusalem.[123] At the head of the coalition will be a power
called Babylon.[124] There will come a terrific battle, victory for the
coalition will seem assured. The sufferings of the Jews will be
indescribable.

Then there will come a day never after to be forgotten. In the midst of
the indescribable horrors of that battle, when things are at their worst
for the Jew, then comes the deliverance. Suddenly Jehovah will appear
out of the heavens, with a great company of holy ones. His feet will
stand upon Mount Olivet to the east of Jerusalem. There will be a
terrible earthquake, and an equally terrific shake-up of the heavenly
bodies. The luminaries, sun, moon, and stars, will be darkened.[125]
There will be terrible judgments visited not only upon the earth, but
upon the evil spirit powers.[126] Repeated emphasis is put upon the
judgment to be visited upon Babylon.

All this will sound like a veritable fairy tale to many who are not
familiar with this Book of God; the unlikeliest thing imaginable. Yet
this is the thing seriously set forth throughout these old prophetic
pages. I have given a few references in footnotes. But these few
scattered passages of themselves will not give an adequate conception of
what these pages hold.

There is all the fascination of a novel, and immensely more and deeper
fascination than any novel, in reading these prophetic pages repeatedly
in the way already spoken of till their mere contents become somewhat
familiar. Then taking paper and pencil, running through again, and
drawing off patiently and carefully, item after item of these prophecies
plainly not yet fulfilled, and then slowly and painstakingly put them
together in what would be a simple, logical order.

It will be helpful, in reading, to remember that it is a common thing
with these writers to speak of a future thing as already past. It is a
bit of the intensity that sees the thing that is yet to come as already
accomplished. And one should discern between the immediate thing that
may likely occur in that generation and the far-distant thing. A careful
noting of the language will make the difference clear.

This is the second thing that stands out, the visitation of judgments.

Then there is _a third thing_. This terrible visitation of judgments
comes in connection with, and at the close of, _a time of great
persecution of the Jew_ by the nations. Jeremiah speaks of it as the
time of Jacob's trouble,[127] and the Man of Fire tells Daniel that
there will be a time of trouble _such as never was since there was a
nation even to that same time_.[128] This persecution of the Jew, and
the visitation of judgments on the earth as a deliverance from it, are
connected with the setting up of the Kingdom.

These are the three things that stand dominantly out in these prophetic
pages as distinctly-future, the great Jew persecution unprecedented in
intensity, the visitation of terrible judgments on the earth, and the
coming of a glorious kingdom. And the three are connected. We know that
no events have yet taken place that at all satisfy the language used of
these three connected events.

This is the simple outline of expected coming events with which the
thoughtful reader of God's Word is supposed to be familiar. The reverent
student of God's promises and plans and revelations would naturally have
all this clear and fresh in his mind as he turns to open the pages of
the prophetic book of the New Testament.


Forecast of the Great Storm.

Now it is _of intense interest_ to note that our Lord Jesus speaks of
these same three things, at much length, and with much emphasis; the
persecution, the visitation of judgments, and the kingdom. It came to me
as a great surprise and with startling force when I realized, after
gathering out this summary from the Old Testament, that the three things
that stand out so sharply there are the very things Jesus speaks of here
with such fulness and emphasis.

He puts special emphasis on the time of persecution as of unprecedented
horror and ferocity. He plainly indicates that this will be directed
not only against the Jew, but against His own followers. Three times
this talk of His on Olivet just before His death is given at much
length.[129] That talk is given to a little group of Jewish disciples
who have broken with the Jewish leaders, and who become the great
leaders of the Church formed at Pentecost.

He speaks of that terrible experience as "great tribulation,"[130] "such
as there hath not been the like from the beginning of the creation which
God created until now, nor ever shall be."[131] We shall find it spoken
of in this book of Revelation as "the tribulation, the great one."[132]
It has come to be spoken of commonly as "the tribulation" and "the great
tribulation."

With all this fresh in mind, a run back through the Old Testament brings
out that it is spoken of there much more than we may have realized. The
warning to Israel, at Sinai, as they made the covenant of allegiance
with God, of the bitter punishment that would come if they were untrue,
has seemed many times as though couched in very intense, almost extreme
language.[133] But it is found to fit into these later descriptions of
this great tribulation to come. That warning is repeated, in as intense
words and with a greater fulness, by Moses in his series of farewell
talks in the Plains of Moab,[134] and it runs through the song he left
for their use.[135]

The experiences of the people of Israel in Egypt are found to be an
illustration of the coming experience at the end, great persecution and
suffering, then great deliverance through a visitation of judgment upon
their persecutors, and great revelation of God's glory following. And
the experience of the three young Hebrew exiles in Babylon comes to
mind. They went through the fire, seven times heated, and they had a
marvellous deliverance, and then high promotion.[136]

Certain Psalms shine with new light in the light of this terrible truth.
Chief among these is the Ninety-first. Quite likely it grew up out of
the experience of Israel at the last before leaving Egypt. It, of
course, has its practical use in one's daily life. But the vividness and
intensity of its meaning will probably never be realized as during the
coming tribulation days. Nor will the exultant note running through the
nine Psalms immediately following it be appreciated as by those
experiencing deliverance when the tribulation is over. The Forty-sixth
Psalm, and the Psalms of praise immediately following it, likewise seem
to get new light.

It is quite probable that very much, all through this Book of Psalms,
will be understood and appreciated fully only by the generation of God's
people that go through the tribulation and know the deliverance
following. Much of the old Book of God is quite meaningless to the
Christian who has had no tribulation _experience_. That is, I mean who
has never known opposition in his Christian faith, or who has slipped
easily along when there is opposition.

The outstanding features in the Old Testament of this great experience
are terrible persecution of the Jew, deliverance at the very worst pitch
of extremity, by a visitation of judgment on their enemies, and by
Jehovah coming in person for their deliverance; and then the great
Kingdom following.

The outstanding features spoken of by our Lord Jesus in His Olivet talk
agree with this, but go much more into detail, especially about the
tribulation. The tribulation will be _preceded_ by wars, rumors of wars,
famines, earthquakes, and persecution. There will be many false
religious teachers, many Christians untrue to their faith, and a great
increase of wickedness. This is a sort of foreshadowing.

The tribulation itself will find all this enormously intensified. It
will _begin_ with some astonishing act of blasphemy in the temple in
Jerusalem, run its terrible course, and close with a series of
judgment-events, earthquake, heavens shaken, and great distress, ending
in the visible appearance of the Lord Jesus Himself, out of heaven on
the clouds. And this will be a signal for great penitential mourning
among the people on the earth.

This, then, is the simple, broad outline with which the thoughtful
reader of God's Word would naturally be familiar as he turns to this
prophetic book at the end to get our Lord's last message to His
followers.


Getting a Broad, Clear Outlook.

As we turn now again to the book of Revelation it will help us to
remember the general plan followed in its writing. It is like a series
of dissolving views of the same scene, each of which lets us see the
same thing from a different point of view.

This is a simple teaching rule for getting a clear grasp of what is
being taught. We are familiar with it in the Bible. The story of
creation is told in the first chapter of Genesis, and then told again in
the second chapter with details not given in the first, the two together
presenting the complete story. The historical books of Chronicles
present one view of the kingdom of Israel, the official. The books of
the Kings give another look at the same period; and the prophetic books
a wholly different view as seen by these rarely spiritually minded men
of God. Daniel is shown four visions of future events, all covering the
same general stretch of events, but with a fuller description, here of
one part and there of another. The four Gospels are a familiar
illustration of the same principle in teaching and story-telling. This
is the plan followed here.

I was impressed anew with the practical value of this method one day in
St. Petersburg. We had gone to look at the panorama of the siege of
Sebastopol, then on exhibition in a huge, round building. It will be
remembered that the British and French allied themselves with Turkey and
Sardinia in an attempt to restrain the encroachments of Russia on
Turkish territory. The famous charge of Balaklava, immortalized by
Tennyson, is remembered as the most stirring event of that war. Its
chief event was the siege of Sebastopol on the Crimea peninsula, in the
Black Sea.

At the panorama we stood as though on a high central point in the city
of Sebastopol, with the view spreading out in all directions. To the
north lay the harbour with the Russian ships securely bottled in by the
attacking fleets. To the west a body of French soldiers were retreating,
hotly pursued by Russian troops, while in the distance British troops
are hurrying to the relief of the French.

Then we looked east, where the fighting was going on at close range, the
wounded being carried away and the reserves hastening up to take their
places. And again we turned to the south, where the battle raged
fiercest. The face of the commanding officer stood out so vividly. And
we almost shrank from the fierceness of the fire. And the smell of
powder almost seemed stifling.

And as I stood brooding afresh on the horrors of inhuman war, I was
tremendously impressed that only by such successive views could I get
such a grasp of that memorable siege. I had a more intelligent and
vivid understanding of it than ever before.

And so it is that we may get a simple, clear, and real grasp of the
tremendous tribulation time that is coming, that it is presented to us
in this fashion, first one distinct view, then another, and another,
till some understanding of the whole begins to get hold of us.

We have seen the Lord Jesus, in the vision in chapters four and five, as
He comes forward to take an advance step. We have seen the tremendous
outburst of praise in heaven as He steps forward. This step and scene
are in heaven. The earth is wholly unaware of it _at that moment_.

Now all that follows is connected directly with that advance step. This
is the significant thing to get clearly fixed in mind. At the present
time our Lord Jesus is still walking among the candlestick Churches
watching and waiting. We are still in that waiting time. The Holy Spirit
still dwells in the Church on earth.

At some time in the future, no one knows, nor can know, just when, the
Lord Jesus will rise up in readiness for an advance move. He will
withdraw the Holy Spirit from the Church up into His presence again
"before the throne." _Then in connection with this advance step_ there
will occur on the earth the things spoken of in these pages following.
This is the tremendous fact to keep clear, the immediate connection
between these happenings on earth and His new move in heaven.

We come now to these happenings on earth. There are seven distinct views
given here in this section, chapters six to the end of the book. There
is a great detail in description which it would be both instructive and
interesting to study out. But we want to get at the essential things.
And so we will give our time and thought to these essentials.

Our Lord Jesus is represented as about to take possession of His realm.
The first step is a dispossessing of the claimants in possession. This
furnishes the key to what follows. The descriptions are of the process
of cleaning out the evil forces. At the close of this we find Him taking
possession (in chapter twenty) and reigning over the earth.

These descriptions make it clear at once that this is the tribulation so
much spoken of in these preceding pages. What follows fits so into what
has been spoken of that the identification seems complete. The thing our
Lord Jesus is revealing here tallies with what He had told John before
on Olivet.

There comes first a general description of the whole period (chapters
vi.-vii.). Then follows a description of _how_ these happenings will
come. It will be through the withdrawal of restraint and so the
loosening out of evil (chapters viii.-ix.). During this whole period
there will be a special faithful witnessing on earth, in the midst of
the riot of evil, to God and His truth (chapter xi.).

A detailed outline of the run of events follows, giving much additional
information, picturing the rise and characteristics of the leader of the
tribulation time, and the manner of its close (chapters xii.-xiv.).
There follows this a description of the judgments and the supreme
contest with which the period closes (chapters xv.-xvi.). There is a
description of the organized system of evil, and then of the fall of the
capital of the system (chapters xvii.-xviii.) And then follows the
actual coming of our Lord Jesus, the setting up of the kingdom, and
subsequent events (chapters xix.-xxii.).


A General Look at the Storm and Its Close.

We turn now to _the first_ of these.[137] It begins with a crowned One
seated on a white horse going forth conquering and to conquer. This
description agrees with the much fuller description of the Lord Jesus
near the end of the book, as he goes to the earth for the decisive close
of the tribulation.[138]

This gives fresh emphasis to the fact that what follows is the direct
result of His advance step. At once there follows on earth a time of
war, famine, death, and of persecution to the death of God's people.
There is no hint as to how long this goes on. It is brought to a close
with an earthquake and an equally terrific disturbance of the heavens,
the sun, moon, and stars, something unknown before.

The utmost consternation is created on earth. All conditions of men,
crowned kings, merchant princes, men of autocratic power financially and
politically and socially, join with the humblest in hiding themselves in
the great holes made by the earthquake. They feel that the time of
judgment has come, and they are not ready for it.

The description of their terror tallies remarkably with the prophetic
language used by Isaiah,[139] even as the whole description fits into
our Lord's Olivet talk. This is seen to be a general, rapid vision of
the whole tribulation period.

Then there follows what clearly seems to be a parenthesis fitting in
just before the great earthquake. The earth and sea have been terribly
torn up by the earthquake. This parenthesis begins with a command that
the earth and sea be not hurt until certain things have taken place.

This fits the two events of the parenthesis in just before the ruinous
earthquake takes place. The two events are of a radically different sort
from what has just been told. They are thus put by themselves, and the
run of evil and of judgment upon it, put by itself, so keeping these two
quite clear, following the general plan of the book.

There are two events in this parenthesis. There is what is called the
"sealing" of a certain number of the Hebrew tribes _on the earth_.
Twelve thousand of each tribe are sealed, making a total of one hundred
and forty-four thousand. The word "seal" is used in two senses in the
Bible, as a means of fastening up a writing or roll, and, in the New
Testament, commonly for the presence of the Holy Spirit in a human life.

The seal in this second sense was a mark of ownership. Paul tells us
that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit,[140] so indicating that we
belong to the Lord Jesus, who gives us this evidence of His ownership.
If this simple, natural meaning be taken here, it would mean that at
this time the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon the Jew. The
spiritual regeneration spoken of so frequently in the prophetic pages
takes place at this time.

The significance of the numbers should be noticed. Twelve is the number
commonly used in the Bible, for corporate completeness, to indicate that
a group is complete. Twelve times twelve would simply represent a fully
completed corporate number. That is to say, upon the entire body of Jews
then living on the earth the Holy Spirit is poured out, thus marking
them once again as God's peculiar people, restored fully to favour after
the long national rejection.

The second event is of equally intense interest, indeed to us of
non-Jewish birth it has yet greater interest. John is up in heaven. It
is from that point of view that he sees. Now he is suddenly startled.
All at once there appears before his eyes a group he had not seen
before. He describes it as a great multitude, actually countless, out of
all the peoples of the whole earth, a great polyglot polyracial world
company.

They are clothed in white, holding the conqueror's palm in their hands,
and singing, making wondrous music. John is getting another taste of the
music of heaven. And their singing is a signal for a fresh outburst of
praise by the angels, the elders, and the living creatures. All this
seems to occur suddenly, this appearance of this new company before the
throne.

John gazes spellbound, wondering who these are, and where they come
from, and what this means. And he is told that these are they that come
out of the tribulation, the great one, down on the earth. Then in a few
exquisitely tender, heart-touching words their happiness is described.

These two events occur just before the terrible earthquake and the
shake-up of the earth's heavenly bodies. Just before the judgment that
closes the tribulation this double event takes place, the conversion of
the Jews, and the catching away out of the tribulation distress on
earth, up into the presence of the throne, of the followers of our Lord
Jesus.

We remember that that great Jew, Paul, was converted by the appearance
of Jesus in the heavens above him. We remember that in the Olivet talk
Jesus says that His followers will so be gathered up to Himself at the
time of His second coming. These two events, taking place here, tell us
what has happened down on the earth. In his vision John, being in
heaven, sees these things as they appear from above.

This is the first view of the tribulation. It begins with the moment
when our Lord Jesus up in heaven begins action, describes the
characteristics of the tribulation on earth, and closes with the
national regeneration of Israel, and the catching up from earth of
Christ's true followers.


Evil Let Loose.

The _second view_ runs through chapters eight and nine. Chapters ten and
eleven to the close of verse thirteen make a distinct parenthesis. And
then this view is picked up again at eleven, fourteen, and runs to the
close of that chapter. But this final bit in chapter eleven is merely a
connecting link with what comes later. Practically the whole of this
view is in chapters eight and nine.

It closes with an earthquake, so connecting it with the final event in
the first view. It begins with a period of prolonged silence, which
would seem to answer to the hush in the great volume of praise in the
first view, when the Lamb takes the sealed roll. So it carries us back
to the same starting-point as there.

There is first a striking scene before the throne, where John sees a
golden altar. On this there is being offered incense, which is said to
be added to the prayers of all the saints. Incense and prayers rise
together before God. Then an angel pours some of the fire of this
prayer-altar into the earth, and a storm follows. So these two views,
first and second, have another common starting-point, the beginning of a
storm.

This is a very suggestive scene. The prayers of all the saints, both in
earth and heaven, have a decided restraining influence over evil down on
earth at the present time. At the close they will become a decisive
influence in the cleaning-up process on earth, and the bringing in of
the new order.

Then follows a fourfold description of distressing events on earth,
which are caused by fiery influences coming out of the heavens. The
language used seems to make clear that it is through a loosening out of
the powers of evil that the tribulation comes.

In the picture language of the vision, "a great mountain burning with
fire was cast into the sea," with injurious results to water, to life,
and to shipping. A mountain is a common figure in the Bible for a great
ruling power. So Israel is called by Isaiah.[141] The seventeenth
chapter of Revelation speaks of seven kingdoms as seven mountains.[142]
In Jeremiah, Babylon, which is spoken of repeatedly and typically as
being the embodiment of evil and of opposition to God, is called: "O
destroying mountain ... which destroyest all the earth, (I) will make of
thee a burnt mountain."[143] It speaks here also of "a great star,[144]
burning as a torch," that fell upon the rivers and makes them bitter as
wormwood. These two things seem to suggest clearly that the great hurt
done to sea and vegetation, to all life, and through the obscuring of
the heavenly lights, is a result directly of the powers of evil having
been loosened out.

The long restraint upon evil through the presence of the Holy Spirit in
the Church is now withdrawn in the withdrawal of the Spirit. His
withdrawal is practically an answer to the tacit prayer both of world
and Church. That prayer is being answered. The "One" who restraineth has
been withdrawn. This it is that makes the tribulation on its negative
side. The awful character of the demons from the pit is so utterly
beyond human experience up to that time that there seem no adequate
words to describe them.

The Gospels are full of the awful activity of demons on earth in
possessing men. In our own land there is not wanting plenty of evidence
of men horribly possessed by demons. In the older countries of Europe
this experience is much more marked. But it is in heathen lands that it
is most marked, where even the very air seems charged with evil forces,
as though these unseen demons swarmed about.

Yet all this sort of thing is now under restraint. What it will mean to
have that restraint withdrawn, and the horrid hordes here described free
to do as they will, no imagination can depict. This is well called the
first _woe_, and an awful woe it will be. Mercifully there is a time
limit set on this demon activity.

Following this comes the loosing out of another horde of demons, as
difficult of description, and yet more terrible. They seem countless,
yet there is a limit to their numbers. The supreme Hand is never wholly
withdrawn. These have power to kill as well as to torment. This is the
second woe. It is most strikingly noticeable that neither of these
things has influence to make men penitent.

The last item of this view is given in chapter xi. 14-19. The
announcement is made that the sovereignty of the world is transferred to
our Lord and His Christ. The temple of God is seen open, and some
further action takes place, but the detail of it is reserved for another
view. Such is the terrible sight in the second view of the tribulation
time. Evil is loosened out, apparently unrestrained, and yet under
restraint. This it is that makes the tribulation on its positive side.

The parenthesis in the description of this view has been spoken of. It
runs through chapters ten and eleven to the close of verse thirteen, and
contains two chief things. The first is a little group of three items.
There is a fresh description of our Lord Jesus as He is seen standing
with one foot on the sea and the other upon the earth, and holding a
little open book. Then seven thunders roar out. John is about to write,
but is told not to. That terrific storm coming is far greater than can
be told. Then comes the solemn declaration that there will be no
further delay, but that at once shall be finished up this terrible time
of judgment. Then follows a personal word to John. These three items
make up chapter ten.


God's Faithful Witnesses.

Then comes the second thing, in chapter eleven on to verse thirteen,
which proves to be _the third view_ of the tribulation. It shows that
during the whole of this tribulation time there will be a special
faithful witness being borne to God and His truth. As the Holy Spirit is
being withdrawn from the Church, these two men begin their special
ministry of witnessing.

The place of that witness will be Jerusalem. But recent events will have
brought a greatly diversified population to that city from all parts of
the world. So that the witness becomes world-wide in its immediate
reach, and probably in the reports of it that go out.

While there is good reason for thinking that these two witnesses may be
Enoch and Elijah, the two men of Bible record, one before the Flood and
one after, who were distinctively God's witnesses, and were taken away
without death, yet it is best not to stop over a matter that has been
and is apt to be a matter of mere idle speculative talk.[145] The thing
worthy of note is that as the Holy Spirit's distinctive witness is
withdrawn there will be these two special witnesses sent to Jerusalem
for a witness that will be world-wide in its extent and influence. Such
is God's gracious patience and longsuffering.

These two men are clothed in mourning as a part of their witness. They
have miraculous power in protecting themselves against attack, and in
withholding rain, and sending plagues among the people, and in turning
water into blood, to give force and effect to their testimony. Their
witness continues through twelve hundred and sixty days.

John had already been told that Jerusalem would be trodden under foot by
the nations for forty-two months. We are apt to think that it has been
trodden under foot or desecrated by the nations for an immensely longer
period. But prophecy never gives any reckoning of time for Israel,
except when Israel is an organized nation. It is concerned with telling
Jewish _national_ events.

At this time the Jews have their national organization again in
Palestine. For forty-two months after the nation has been newly set up
the city will be so trodden under the desecrating feet of the nations.
This is the first hint of time we have had. The witnessing and the
desecration of the holy city will continue side by side for three and a
half years.

At the end of this period evil will be given full swing over these
witnesses. They are killed and their bodies left lying in the streets,
while the international crowds make merry because their tormentors, as
these two are called, are gone. Then before the terror-stricken gaze of
these crowds the two men come to life, and are caught up into the
heavens. Is this the moment when all are caught up? Quite possibly. Then
comes the terrible earthquake as at the end of the other two views.

The one distinctive thing told here is that during the tribulation, in
the midst of all the blasphemous reign of unrestrained wickedness, there
will be the unbroken, faithful witnessing. This seems to explain why the
account comes as a parenthesis in the account of the awful riot of evil.
During the worst of the evil there will go on unbroken the faithful,
gracious testimony of God's truth and love.


The Lawless Leader.

_The fourth view_ takes the longest sweep of any, thus far, goes into
much more detail, and gives much fresh information. It runs through
chapters twelve to fourteen. In the intensely picturesque language of a
woman arrayed in the most glorious splendour and dignity and power
imaginable the nation of Israel is depicted.

This woman is with child. In more intensely dramatic language Satan is
pictured as standing before the woman waiting to destroy her child as
soon as born. The child is born, a man-child, who is to rule all the
nations with autocratic sway. He is caught up to heaven, and his mother
flees into the wilderness from the serpent. This is the opening action
of this view.

The meaning lies open on the face. Israel gave birth to the man Jesus,
who foiled all the attacks of Satan and ascended to heaven. The old
prophetic characteristic of connecting events far apart without
reference to intervening time is marked here. The long interval between
the break-up of the Jew nation and its taking shape again as a nation,
which has lasted nineteen hundred years roughly, comes between the last
word of verse five and the first word of verse six.

The prophetic writing takes no reckoning of Israel, except as a nation.
The woman fleeing into the wilderness is Israel organized again as a
nation suffering persecution. She is so persecuted for twelve hundred
and sixty days, but divinely protected and preserved. Such is the first
act of the drama pictured here.[146]

Then we are told _why_ the woman flees, that is, the explanation of this
special persecution of the Jew this time.[147] Satan has had his
headquarters somewhere in the heavens, below God's throne, but above the
earth. Now, after a conflict, he is cast out of heaven, down to the
earth. Here is a third event that comes approximately at the beginning
of the tribulation time, Satan is cast down to the earth.

The Holy Spirit is withdrawn from the Church up to heaven, so removing
the restraint upon evil. Satan is cast out of heaven and comes down to
earth. Thus there is a double intensifying of evil on the earth, the
withdrawal of restraint, and the presence of the evil one himself. And
as the witness of the Holy Spirit is withdrawn the special witness of
the two men in Jerusalem begins.

The defeat of Satan in this heavenly conflict draws out a burst of
praise from the upper hosts. It is because of the great victory of our
Lord Jesus in His death that this victory is gotten. They overcome
because of the blood of the Lamb, _and_ the word of their testimony,
_and_ they loved not their lives unto death,--a threefold cord that
could never, and can never, be broken or successfully resisted.

This explains the special persecution at this time of the reshaped
Jewish nation. It is the outburst of the rage of the freshly defeated
Satan. But the Jew is protected. The armies that would swallow the Jew
up are swallowed up by the great earthquake that closes the tribulation
time.

The length of this persecution is put in two different ways, twelve
hundred and sixty days, and "time, times, and half a time." This latter
phrase seems to be an old Oriental or Hebrew way of saying a year, two
years, and half a year. The same length of time is expressed in yet
another way in the eleventh chapter, forty and two months. The time is
thus put in three different ways, that we may know surely that it means
just plain three and a half years of our common time. It is significant
that the dragon makes war with "the rest" of the woman's seed. This can
only mean the Church, which of course was born in the Jewish nation.
This is the first run of events in this view.[148]

Then follows a description of the awful leader of evil during the
tribulation time.[149] It is significant that, as Satan is cast out of
heaven down to the earth, this leader appears among men. He has great
intelligence and power and is the very embodiment of blasphemy. He is
described as a strange mixture of wild beasts, having the chief
characteristic strength of each, the cunning of the leopard, the feet of
the bear, and the mouth of the lion.

He is the personal representative on earth among men of Satan. There is
something strangely uncanny in the suggestion that he is some former
leader, who died, and is now raised from the dead. There seems to be
nothing too daring for Satan to attempt in his impious opposition to
God. This leader comes into great prominence and power. All the world
wonders after him. And they worship Satan, who is recognized as giving
his power to this notorious leader.

He comes to be accepted as the world ruler, and is commonly worshipped
by the people. And he not only persecutes God's people, but overcomes
them. A limit of time is set to his sway. It is the same as already
noted for Jerusalem being desecrated, for God's two witnesses, and for
the persecution of the Jew, _i.e._, forty and two months, three and a
half years.

It is striking that in the midst of the description of his terrible
reign there comes a word that sounds like an echo from those messages to
the Churches. "If any man hath an ear, let him hear."[150] Then the word
goes on warning, pleading, and encouraging. In the midst of these
blasphemous conditions every man must do as he personally decides. He
may yield to this evil and become a captive of evil, bound hand and
foot. He may try to use the world's weapons in fighting God's battle,
but will find himself outmatched in their use. He may rise to the true
level, and steadfastly cling to his faith, and endure, and by faith be
victorious in the end.

The description goes on to tell of the blasphemous worship demanded of
all. This leader has an assistant or lieutenant to whom he deputizes
great power. He makes an image to his chief, and demands all to worship
at this shrine. He has supernatural power, that is, devilishly
supernatural. He performs great miracles, even calling down fire from
heaven. He gives breath to the image and makes it speak. And he punishes
with death any one who refuses this blasphemous worship to the leader
and his image. And every one is required to have a mark on his hand or
his forehead as indicating his loyalty to the leader. Whoever refuses is
unable to buy or sell. It is the boycott principle carried to the last
extreme.

While God's two witnesses are doing miracles by divine power this
lieutenant is doing them by devilish power. So the fearful account goes
on. One can easily imagine the vast crowds swayed by the idolatrous
worship, and the intense suffering and distress among those who insist
on being steadfast and true in their faith.

Now in the midst of all this terrible scene John is suddenly and
tremendously startled by something else.[151]

In the vision John is in heaven looking down on these scenes on the
earth. Now his attention is attracted by a scene that suddenly takes
place before his eyes in heaven. It is a scene of wondrous winsomeness
and beauty. It stands out in sharpest contrast with what is going on on
the earth.

There's a great company standing around the Lord Jesus, before the
throne. They are singing a wonderful song to the accompaniment of harps,
which they have. The volume of music is like the voice of many waters,
or like great thunder. There is a simple, fine description of the
character of these singers. They are _pure_, and they are _obedient_. In
their purity they are as undefiled virgins, the highest possible
statement of purity. And they follow the Lamb unquestioningly
whithersoever He goeth with fullest obedience.

Who are these, and where have they come from so suddenly, at this
moment, into the presence of the One on the throne? The description
tells just what has happened. When things are at their devilish worst
down on the earth the Lord Jesus has caught up His own from the earth.
And they have become like Him in character, for now they see Him face to
face as He is.

This recalls the scene, essentially the same, back in the first view, in
chapter seven, where the great multitudes are suddenly seen before the
throne with palm branches, songs, and white garments. It is the same
company as there. But there is a difference in telling the numbers.
_There_ they are too many to be counted. _Here_ they are said to be a
hundred and forty-four thousand. It is symbolical, a picture number,
the number of full corporate completeness as with the Spirit-baptized
Jews in chapter seven.

The believers caught up out of the great tribulation have been joined by
the trusting hearts of all time who have been waiting in the Father's
presence for this glad day. The number is now complete of all from
creation's earliest dawn, who by grace have followed fully, regardless
of hindrance or opposition. This great climax is thus seen by John in
sudden and sharp contrast with the climax of hellish evil on the earth.

Then John is shown the steps by which this climax is reached.[152]
Verses six to the close of this chapter seem clearly to be a detail of
what has gone before, describing the steps by which this climax is
reached, and then reaching further to the judgment upon the evil. During
the iniquitous scenes being enacted on earth an angel is seen flying in
mid-heavens calling to the people on earth, in warning, to give their
worship and reverence to God only. The gracious wooing of God never
ceases.

Another angel follows, calling out that the great system of iniquity, in
which they are enmeshed, is doomed. A third gives solemn warning that
those who yield to the terrible pressure, and engage in the blasphemous
worship, will be surely and terribly punished. Again there comes another
echo of the strain of pleading in the Church messages. In the midst of
just such conditions as prevail then, the saints can be steady in
keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

And down into the awful persecution being waged comes an encouraging
voice from heaven. There is special blessing from God on all those who
remain true, even unto death. There will be sweetest rest for them, and
their faithful witnessing and suffering shall be all noted and
acknowledged and rewarded as they come up into the Father's presence.

And then follows the blessed harvest of the righteous whose wonderful
arrival in heaven has already been told in the opening scene of this
chapter. And then follows the awful harvest of evil down on the earth,
the visitation of judgments coming at the very end of the persecution.

So closes this long remarkable view of the tribulation. It connects back
with the nation of Israel. Its beginning is connected practically with
the casting of Satan down to earth. It gives a description of the leader
and the nature of the persecution, and a brief statement of the steps
with which it ends. And it states in three different ways that the
length of time involved is three and a half years.


A Bitter Cup to Its Dregs.

_The fifth view_[153] is, not of the whole tribulation time as with
these others, but of only a part, the closing part. It speaks of the
visitation of judgments, the great climactic battle, and the
earthquake, with which the period is brought to its end.

It connects at the point in the fourth view[154] where those who have
been suffering in the tribulation are seen standing before the throne
singing with harps. It is said that they are singing the song of Moses,
who had the experience of tribulation and deliverance in Egypt, and the
song of the Lamb, who went through the worst tribulation experience in
His contest with Satan and sin on our behalf.

It connects also with the close of the second view,[155] where the
temple is seen opened and the ark of the covenant is seen. That covenant
is now to receive further fulfilment. God never forgets His promises and
agreements. Seven angels have seven golden bowls full of the wrath of
God. In this way is told the visitation of judgments now described as
taking place at this time.

In the first view the picture is of _seals_ being broken or opened,
which indicates the execution of a document. The _trumpets_ of the next
view indicate a commanding call to action; the seven _thunders_, not
written, a great storm. These _bowls_ or vials indicate the
administration of a dose of bitter-tasting medicine. The visitation of
judgments by God is commonly spoken of in Scripture in this
language.[156]

Then follows the description of the judgments upon men's persons, and
everything concerning their life. Men's bodies are diseased, the water
is unfit to drink, the food supply cut short; they suffer with terrible
heat, and then darkness. But there is no penitence. The Euphrates is
said to be dried up, suggesting that it is the great river at or near
the world's centre of action. So, it is said, the way is prepared for
the kings that come from the east.

And the prophetic bit in Isaiah comes to mind about men passing over the
Euphrates at the time of the great gathering of the Jews.[157] As though
aroused by all this to bitterest opposition there is increased demon
activity, and through it a great gathering of all nations, at a place
named in Palestine, for a great battle.

Then a terrible climax comes in the earthquake, with which the first,
second, and third views closed. It is the worst earthquake ever
experienced. It centres in "_the_ great city," Babylon, the capital of
the whole system of wickedness. With the storm is a terrible hail. The
description tallies with that in the close of the first view,[158] and
with the vivid prophetic bit in Isaiah ii. 10-22.

There's no suggestion of how much time all this takes. The judgments
visited on Egypt at the deliverance of Israel are described at much
greater length, running into ten items. Yet all could have occurred
within five weeks, allowing for brief intervals. Whether these
judgments occur in succession, or all at once, or partly in both ways,
they could all come within a very short time. This fifth view depicts
the final scene. It gives the visitation of judgments ending the
tribulation period, describes a great pitched battle, in which all
nations are involved, and ends with the earthquake. This is the third of
the three great woes.[159]

_The sixth view_ is of the great system of wickedness in the world,
through which the tribulation comes, and which is judged at its
close.[160] The description is full of details of great interest and
instructiveness, but we can only have time at present for the essential
thing being taught. The Spirit takes John into a wilderness. To the
Spirit's eye wherever wickedness has sway, whether vulgar or polished,
political or commercial, cunning or brazen, it is a wilderness.

Here is shown a woman gorgeously clothed, prodigally bedecked with
jewels, and having a cup in her hand, made of gold, but full of vile
filth. Upon her forehead appears a description: "Mystery [or explanation
of mystery], Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the
abominations of the earth." This woman is riding upon a strange beast;
it is scarlet-colored, with seven heads and ten horns, and full of
blasphemous names. This is the startlingly suggestive picture.

Who is this woman? And what is this beast upon which she is seated? The
whole description taken together suggests that she is meant to stand
for the whole system of wickedness which has had such sway in the world
from earliest time until the end. And the beast represents typically the
dominant governmental powers. The two have always worked together. There
has been a consistent unity of spirit and of characteristic, and a
persistent devilishness marking the wickedness in the world throughout
the ages.

It has been as though there were an unseen spirit power tirelessly at
work _behind_ all the varied manifestations of evil. The dominant
characteristic always has been blasphemy of God. It has controlled
thrones and royal power, and has had unlimited gold at its command. And
it has always been an enemy, subtle or open, cunning or violent, of God
and His people.

That system or genius of evil is represented in the Old Testament as
finding expression in one great political power after another, but
chiefly in the power of Babylon. Babylon stands typically in these older
pages, not merely for the great empire of the Euphrates, but for the
unseen spirit of evil lying behind that power, and making use of it to
carry through its own foul purposes.

But that unseen evil spirit power has found more than one agency to
dominate and use. Babylon long since passed off the stage as a political
factor. But the power of evil has not ceased. It is distressing to note
another great organization behind and through which the power of evil
has worked. What is the system that has, for the past sixteen
centuries, been supported by the various great civil governments?

There is only one answer. It is the organization known as "the Christian
Church." And the term Church must be taken here in its fullest, broadest
meaning. Its great main stem historically is the Roman Catholic Church.
The first great split-off was the Greek Orthodox Church. The Church of
England was a later break-off. These, with the various government-ally
supported Churches, and those free of such support, and various ancient
primitive bodies,--these all together make up the organization known as
"the Church."

The two symbolical characteristics of this woman and the two dominant
characteristics of this historical Church are the same. The Church has
been and is supported almost wholly by the civil governments, and used
by them in furthering their policies. And it has been active in
persecuting to death the people of God who would not yield to its
domination. It has been marked by intolerance of all not yielding to its
wishes, and especially of the Jew. That intolerance has been carried not
only to the extreme of blood, but a riot of bloodshed. This is utterly
heart-breaking to realize and to repeat.

The woman is said to be "drunken (1) with the blood of the saints, and
(2) with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." The twofold statement is
seen to cover the two great periods, before Christ and since. And it
covers also the two great powers through which the spirit of evil has
chiefly worked in those two periods. But the name given first in the
plains of Shinar, and used characteristically of the God-defying power
of evil, is given here, Babylon. It will be Babylon again at the very
end after the Church system is overthrown.

It is plainly said that the beast represents the great civil or
governmental power in its final stage, the shape it will be in at the
end when these events occur.[161] The chief dominating political power
of the world will have passed through a succession of changes, seven
kingdoms successively following each other. At the end there will be a
combination of some sort, with ten great subdivisions, and one great
head over all.

But at the last, the civil power will discard the Church, and persecute
it. The spirit of evil thus gets embodiment typically in the great
Babylon power, then in the Church, and at the very last, in a coalition
of civil powers heading up in a new Babylon.

Then follows announcement of the fall of Babylon. The city is regarded
here as the earthly capital of the organized system of unseen evil
spirit power at work in the world. The city and the system are
inseparably allied. The name Babylon is used in the Bible for both
system and city.

If the question be asked what city is meant here, there can be but one
answer. From the twelfth of Genesis on the Bible never touches history,
except as history touches Israel as a nation. A thoughtful review of the
book makes this clear. And this book of Revelation is a gathering-up of
Bible threads, and only these. There is only one city in the Bible
record that answers to the description here, "the great city which
reigneth over the kings of the earth." "Babylon _the_ great."

But the old Babylon lies in ruins. And its ruined condition has been
quoted as the fulfilment of the famous passage in Isaiah xiii. 19-22. It
should be carefully noted that the present conditions at the site of old
Babylon do not seem to satisfy fully the language of that passage. It
would seem to be another illustration of the rare use of language in the
Bible, which adapts a passage accurately to one event, and then to a
second event, a long time afterward.

This would, of course, involve the rebuilding of the old capital of the
Euphrates. The reverent student quietly notes the movements taking place
in that part of the world, but restrains mere curious speculation, as he
continues fervently to pray, "Thy kingdom come."

This eighteenth chapter of Revelation seems like an echo of that intense
twenty-first of Isaiah, and indeed of a strain sounding all through the
prophetic books. One familiar with the old writings is not surprised to
find this echo; he expects it. No echo of God's voice or purpose is ever
lost. God never loses any of the threads out of His hand.


Hallelujah! He Comes.

_The seventh view_ presents the climax. It includes from chapter
nineteen to chapter twenty-two, verse five. It presents in full the
great scene that closes this tribulation period; touches the kingdom in
a bare word so as to fit it into its place in the scheme of events being
outlined; and then gives the final wind-up after the Kingdom time is
over. We want to look now at the portion connected immediately with what
has just gone before, the description of the wondrous close of the
tribulation, in chapters nineteen, verse one, to twenty, verse three.

John hears a great outburst of worship and praise in heaven. It
resembles the outburst back in chapter five, when the Lamb took the
book. But it is seen to be yet greater than that. Its joy and delight
seem wholly unbounded. Again the living creatures and the four and
twenty elders lead the song that bursts out.

John tries to tell how great was the volume of adoring song that fills
all heaven. It is like the voice of a great multitude, like the waters
that he had heard many a time breaking in deafening roar on the rocky
coast of Patmos, like the mighty thunders which he had heard so much in
these visions.

And the song they sang explains the exuberance of their singing,
"Hallelujah: for the Lord our God, the Almighty _reigneth_." At last He
_reigneth_. In the earlier parts of the book God is spoken of as "He
who is and who was, and _who cometh_."[162] As later events are
described that last part "who cometh" is significantly dropped.[163]
Clearly at these points being described He has come. Now the great
realization bursts out from countless voices, the Lord, our God, the
Almighty _reigneth_!

And John is bidden to write the words whose refrain has filled such a
place in hymns and devout speech, "Blessed are they that are bidden to
the marriage supper of the Lamb." And the one who seems to be serving as
John's guide puts peculiar emphasis on all that is being revealed by
saying, "these are true words of God."

John is so overwhelmed that he falls down to worship this one. And then
he finds that this is one of his own redeemed brothers of the earth. And
as He quietly bids John give his worship to One only, He adds very
significant words: "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
The whole genius and soul of all this wealth of prophecy is to point men
to our Lord Jesus Christ, God to us.

And now comes the event toward which the ages have looked. _The heavens
open._ And _our Lord Jesus appears_ coming in glory to earth. At last He
comes. There's a wonderful description. He comes as a conqueror, riding
forth to judge the earth righteously, and to make war on evil. His eyes
are as a flame of fire, and upon His head many diadems. He has a name
indicating that He is all alone in the experiences He has been through,
and in His character. He comes as King of kings and Lord of lords, to
rule all the earth with a new absolutism, to right all wrongs, and visit
the indignant wrath of God upon all sin.

As He appears an angel gives warning of what is coming. In words that
are an echo of Ezekiel's, long centuries before, he calls to all the
scavenger birds of the earth that haunt battlefields to come to a great
feasting time.[164] And John sees the vast armies of the nations of the
earth all gathered together for a last mighty battle, under the
leadership of the great leader of lawlessness and his lieutenant.

And the utter impotence of their struggle against God is revealed in the
quietness and brevity with which their defeat and capture are told.
Satan's great earth leader and his chief who deceived the people with
his miraculous power, both are taken and forever put away. And then
Satan himself is chained and fastened securely in the abyss. Such is the
tremendous consummation quietly told in a few lines. And then follows
the setting up of the glorious kingdom on earth.

Whatever the immediate circumstances under which the Second Psalm was
penned, it will be readily seen how it fits into this situation at the
end.

 "Why do the nations tumultuously assemble,
 And the peoples meditate a vain thing?
 The kings of the earth set themselves,
 And the rulers take counsel together,
 Against Jehovah and against His Anointed, saying,
 'Let us break their bonds asunder,
 And cast away their cords from us.'"

But their efforts seem so puny, and the result so one-sided, that

 "He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh:
 The Lord will have them in derision."

And we remember that, in these Revelation pages, it is always with the
sword of His mouth that the Lord Jesus is said to fight, as we read on:

 "Then will He _speak_ unto them in His wrath,
 And vex [or trouble] them in His sore displeasure; [saying]
 'Yet I have set _my_ King
 Upon my holy hill of Zion.'"

Then the Son speaks:

 "I will tell of the decree:
 Jehovah said unto me, 'thou art my Son;
 This day have I begotten thee.
 Ask of me and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance,
 And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
 Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.'"

And the writer of the Psalms closed with a word of earnest counsel to
the kings of earth:

 "Now therefore be wise, O ye kings:
 Be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
 Serve Jehovah with fear,
 And rejoice with trembling [awe],
 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish in the way,
 For His wrath will soon be kindled.
 Blessed are all they that take refuge in Him."

Thus it is seen that these seven views describe (1) the general
characteristics of the tribulation time; (2) the way in which it comes,
that is, by the withdrawal of restraint and so the loosing of evil; (3)
the faithful witness being borne throughout the period; (4) the great
evil leader and the character of the persecution he wages; (5) the
visitation of judgments upon earth with the great gathering of nations
to battle against God; (6) the world system of evil; and (7) the coming
of our Lord Jesus to judge evil and set up the kingdom.


Still He Waits.

It will at once be noted that these things group up, naturally and
easily, under _three headings_. First, there is a terrible _persecution_
of God's people. This will end in a _visitation_ of _judgments_,
including great plagues. There will be a gathering of the armies of all
nations, and a great battle. It will end in a decisive defeat for them
by the personal coming of the Lord Jesus, and will be accompanied by a
terrific earthquake and an equally terrific shake-up of the heavenly
bodies connected with the earth, sun, moon, and stars. Then comes the
establishment of the _Kingdom of God_ upon earth. These three things
stand dominantly out.

It comes as a surprise to one who has not been thinking especially about
it, to find how these three things are the same three that stood out so
prominently at the close of the study of future items in the old
prophetic books. It is natural that it should be so, of course, since
the Book of God is one in its essential unity.

But there is a great fascination in finding the parts to come together
so simply and naturally. As we gather up the Old Testament pages these
three things sift out and group together as distinctly not yet
fulfilled, and so future. As we listen to our Lord Jesus talking, again
these same three items are emphasized by Him. And now the same three are
found here.

Dr. A. F. Schauffler tells of a striking experience he had in connection
with his mission work in New York City. A letter came to him from a
stranger in Germany. It said: "I know you are a city missionary. I am
sending a trunk in your care. Inclosed in this letter you will find a
piece of paper cut. A man will come and present to you a piece of paper
matching this piece. Please give him the trunk." And enclosed in the
letter was a piece of paper cut in zigzags.

Letter and paper were laid away to await developments. Some weeks later
a stranger came in and presented a queerly cut piece of paper, saying:
"I think you have a piece that matches this." Dr. Schauffler got out his
piece of paper, laid the two side by side, found that they matched, and
said to his visitor: "There's your trunk."

Even so these prophetic pages of the New Testament are found to fit
exactly the pages of the Old, written centuries before. It is not
surprising, however. One hand cut the paper into two pieces in Germany,
and naturally they fitted when put together in New York. One Hand has
guided the men writing in both Old and New.

When Jeremiah was first called to his work as God's messenger he was
shown in vision the branch of an almond tree. The almond tree is the
earliest of all trees to wake from its winter's sleep at the first hint
of spring warmth coming. And so it was called the "watching" or
"watcher" tree. Then God said to Jeremiah: "Even so, I eagerly watch
over my word to bring it to life and fruitage at the very earliest
opportunity."[165] And so the word of this watching God and its
fulfilment match, regardless of the thing we call time, even running
into centuries.

And it is very helpful for those of us who have had a sort of dread of
prophecy as of a vague something that we can't understand, to find after
all how simple it is. Just three great items stand out of these
prophetic pages that are waiting fulfilment.

Such is the seven-fold view, which is taken up almost wholly with the
clearing-up storm in the King's realm. But all this is still future. We
are still in that waiting time. Our Lord Jesus still stands among the
candlesticks. Still He is waiting for His Church to be faithful. He
still waits for each of us who is a bit of His Church. He is depending
on us to be faithful, by His grace, day by day, during this waiting
time. And while He waits _all His limitless power is at our disposal_,
as we follow His leading. We may take as much as we need. But the taking
must be with the life.

A dear missionary friend told of a simple experience that meant much to
him. We were walking together in the town in Korea where his mission
work is. His school was the centre of the recent troublous times in
Korea, and the storm seemed to rage about his own person at its
outburst. As we talked all his native teachers and several of his older
students were in prison. The experience he told me was of earlier days
in this country, but had come back to his memory as a great refreshment
during the troublous times.

He was a professor in a small college in our Middle West. Special funds
were being raised, for extension. He was to ask a certain man of wealth
for a large donation. He planned and prayed much, and at last went to
see the man in another city by appointment. He had a keen sense of the
responsibility of his task.

As he entered the building where the man's office was he was greeted
cordially by a young man whom he remembered as a former student, to whom
he had been friendly in some time of minor need. But he had not
connected him in his mind with this wealthy man, whose son he was. Now
as the former student learned of his professor friend's errand, he said
with all the confidence of a son on good terms with his father:

"Come right in; father's here."

As they stepped into the man's office the son said, simply:

"Father, this is an old friend of mine. He's all right. Give him
whatever he wants."

And the father, busy at his desk, with barely a look at the appointed
visitor, reached one hand over for his checkbook, and simply said:

"How much do you want?"

My friend, taken completely by surprise at the unexpected turn of
events, managed to name the large sum he had been thinking and praying
over so much. And before he could quite recover from his surprise, he
found himself outside walking up the street with the coveted check in
his pocket, praising God for such an answer to his prayers. It had been
years before, but as we walked and talked it all came back with a fresh
flush of feeling.

The present is a waiting time. It may seem to some as though they are in
the wilderness. Clear and distinct comes a quiet voice:

"What'll you have? Whatever you choose to ask, for My Son's sake."

May we reach out to take as much as He is reaching down to give. But the
taking must be with the life.


FOOTNOTES:

[107] Isaiah xiii.-xxiv.

[108] Jeremiah xlvi.-li.

[109] Ezekiel xxv.-xxxii., xxxviii.-xxxix.

[110] Daniel, throughout, notably vii.-xii.

[111] The book of Isaiah falls naturally into two parts, chapters
i.-xl., and xli.-lxvi. The historical allusions in each make it quite
clear that these two parts belong in two periods far apart. One hundred
and eighty years intervene between the close of the time stated in
Isaiah's first chapter as the period of his ministry and the beginning
of the return from exile into which the second part fits.

But the full inspiration of the second part is in no wise affected. This
rarely Spirit-controlled man modestly or unconsciously withholds his
name from his writings. And they are grouped by the old Hebrew compilers
with those of Isaiah.

[112] Isaiah ii. 2-4.

[113] Isaiah xi. 1-9; xxxii. 1-6.

[114] Micah iv. 1-8.

[115] Isaiah xi. 11-16; xxvii. 12-13.

[116] Zechariah xii. 10-14.

[117] Jeremiah xxxi. 8-19, 33, 34.

[118] Isaiah xxvi. 19; Daniel xii. 2.

[119] Micah iv. 1-2.

[120] Isaiah xxv. 7

[121] Isaiah iv. 2-5.

[122] Isaiah xxiv. 1-13, 17-20; ii. 12-19; Micah vii. 15-17.

[123] Zechariah xii. 1-9; xiv. 1-2.

[124] Isaiah xiii. 1-13.

[125] Zechariah xiv. 1-8.

[126] Isaiah xxiv. 21-22; xxvii. 1.

[127] Jeremiah xxx. 7-8.

[128] Daniel xii. 1.

[129] Matthew xxiv.-xxv; Mark xiii; Luke xxi.

[130] Matthew xxiv. 21, 29.

[131] Mark xiii. 19.

[132] Revelation vii. 14 literally.

[133] Leviticus xxvi. 14-39.

[134] Deuteronomy xxviii. 15-68.

[135] Deuteronomy xxxii.

[136] Daniel iii.

[137] Chapters vi.-vii.

[138] Chapter xix.

[139] Isaiah ii. 10-22.

[140] II Corinthians i. 22; Ephesians i. 13; iv. 30.

[141] Isaiah ii. 2.

[142] Revelation xvii. 9-10.

[143] Jeremiah li. 25.

[144] Revelation viii. 10, see also ix. 1; Isaiah xiv. 12-15.

[145] In regard to Elijah, see Malachi iv. 5-6. John the Baptist came in
the spirit and power of Elijah, and of him our Lord said, "this is he
who was to come."

Yet the events of judgment spoken of in Malachi did not take place when
John the Baptist and Jesus came. The events spoken of prophetically in
connection with His coming are divided into two groups, those of
graciousness, finding fulfilment at the first coming, those of judgment
followed by graciousness, at the second coming. So John the Baptist
fulfils the Elijah part at the first of these two; in all probability
Elijah himself at the second part, _i.e._, "before the great and
_terrible_ day of Jehovah come."

In regard to Enoch, the passage in Jude, verse 14, is of significance.
The language, "Enoch prophesied, ... the Lord _came_, etc.," is probably
spoken in the sense, familiar in the Bible, of a future action seen as
already done. Here Enoch is spoken of as prophesying or preaching, _not_
to the people before the Flood, but to a certain class of men belonging
to Jude's generation, that is to the Church generation. The likeliest
meaning of the words is that Enoch, the seventh and so on, _will_
prophesy, saying, "behold the Lord _cometh_," and so on to close of
verse 15.

[146] Revelation xii. 1-6.

[147] Revelation xii. 7-17.

[148] Revelation xii.

[149] Revelation xiii.

[150] Chapter xiii. 9-10.

[151] Revelation xiv. 1-5.

[152] Revelation xiv. 6-20.

[153] Revelation xv.-xvi.

[154] Revelation xiv. 1-5.

[155] Revelation xi. 19.

[156] Psalm xi. 6; lx. 3; lxxv. 8; Job xxi. 20; Isaiah li. 17, 22, 23;
Jeremiah xxv. 15-17; Ezekiel xxiii. 31-33; Habakkuk ii. 16; Zechariah
xii. 2.

[157] Isaiah xi. 15-16.

[158] Revelation vi. 15-17.

[159] Revelation xi. 14.

[160] Chapters xvii. and xviii.

[161] Revelation xvii. 8-12.

[162] Revelation i. 4, 8; iv. 8.

[163] Revelation xi. 17; xvi. 5.

[164] Ezekiel xxxix. 17-20.

[165] Jeremiah i. 11-12.



VII.--THE CROWNED CHRIST REIGNING

(Revelation, Chapters xx: 4-xxii.)


      "On this side of the river and on that was the tree of life,
      bearing twelve fruits."

 "A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!
         Rose plot,
         Fringed pool,
         Ferned grot--
   The veriest school
 Of peace; and yet the fool
   Contends that God is not--
 Not God! in gardens! when the eve is cool?
   Nay, but I have a sign;
 'Tis very sure God walks in mine."


Day Is Coming.

It's a long lane that has no turning. Every valley leads up a hillside
to a hilltop. Every storm ends in sunshine at the last. Every night runs
out; the dawn _will_ break; the new day comes; the shadows flee before
the new shining. The battle for right will end in victory, and in a
decisive victory. There'll be no draw here. Faith wins at last. It's
been a long night of fighting. Sometimes it seems endless.

The man in the thick of the fight, with moist brow, and clenched hand,
and quick breath and throbbing heart, sometimes sobs out the prayer, "O
Lord, how long before the night is over, and the dawn breaks?" And
quietly through the smoke and din of the conflict a still, small voice
says, "Steady, my child, steady; the day is surely coming, and with day
victory; steady, steady a bit longer."

Now here in vision the fight is over, the victory won. And God's visions
always become realities. The vision is yet for the appointed time, and
it panteth breathlessly toward the realization, and will not fail nor
delay. Though it tarry, wait for it; it will certainly come on time; it
will not be late.[166]

In the seventh view the kingdom follows immediately that decisive
conflict and the putting of Satan out of the way for the time being. The
redeemed ones at once begin their blessed service of fellowship with the
King in reigning over the kingdom. Emphasis is placed on the fact that
at this time there has been a resurrection of believers. And these
resurrected ones join with those caught up without death in
administering the kingdom. This kingdom is said to last for a thousand
years, that length of time being named only here, and here six times.

There is much talk in our day about the kingdom. All Christendom has
been repeating for nineteen centuries the petition, "Thy kingdom come."
It will be of intense and practical interest to see just what the
kingdom is, as pictured in the Bible. It is barely mentioned in this
place in Revelation, to fit it into its place in the scheme of future
events being outlined.

But it is the chief theme in these old prophetic pages, around which all
others group. Immediate historical events furnish the setting, but there
is a continual swinging to the coming future greatness. The yellow
glory-light of the coming kingdom is never out of the prophetic sky.
Jeremiah is the one most absorbed in the boiling of the political pot of
his own strenuous time, but even he, at times, lifts his head and gets
such a glimpse of the coming kingdom as causes him to mix some rose
tincture with the jet black ink he habitually uses.


The Kingdom Picture.

Let us look briefly at the kingdom picture of these older pages. Its
capital is Jerusalem, which becomes the world capital. It will be the
joy of the whole earth. Israel will be the first nation of the earth, to
which all others will be tributary. But it will be not the Israel of
these old pages, nor the Jew as he is known characteristically
throughout history. Israel will be a new nation, made new in character
by the power of the Holy Spirit. The winsome picture of the baptized
crowds at Pentecost gives an inkling of the spirit that will sway the
new nation.[167] They will be a nation of radiant faces and thrilled
hearts.

The effect of this upon all other nations is marked. Through Israel's
regeneration and new leadership, every other nation is to know a new
spirit life. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Israel is to be
followed by an outpouring upon _all_ flesh. Pentecost is merely a
beginning of what is to be universal. There will be a widespread
voluntary coming to Israel for religious instruction. She becomes the
world's teacher until the knowledge of God covers the whole earth as the
waters cover the sea. But all this will be purely a voluntary movement
among the nations. There will be war no longer, but universal peace.

There's one part of the picture specially comforting. That vast
majority, _the poor_, will be specially guarded and cared for. There
will be no hungry people, nor cold, nor poorly clad; no unemployed
begging for a chance to earn a dry crust, and no workers fighting for a
fair share of the fruit of their toil. But there are yet tenderer
touches on the canvas. Broken hearts will be healed, prison doors
unhung, broken family circles complete again.

A recent issue of The Sunday School Times tells a simple, touching
incident of a mission hall in Korea. A Korean woman living in the
country heard of the wonderful things happening there, and came to town
to find out for herself, and get some help. But she didn't know where
the hall was, nor what name it was called. So she inquired on the
streets for the place where they _cured the broken heart_. And at once
she was directed to the mission hall. That sort of thing will become a
blessed commonplace in the beginning of the kingdom time.

Then there are certain radical changes in _nature_. Splendid rivers of
waters are to flow through or by Jerusalem, suggesting radical changes
in the formation of the land there. That fortress city, on the hilltop,
Jerusalem, becomes as the world's metropolis, a mighty city, with rivers
floating a world's commerce. The light of sun and moon will be greatly
intensified, so influencing the fertility of the earth. Before their
healing light and heat, in the newly tempered atmosphere, all poisonous
growths, the blight of drought, and suffering of untempered heat, will
disappear.

And with this goes a change in the _animal_ creation. Hate will be gone.
And so beasts that are dreaded because of their ferocity and treachery
and poisonous power will be wholly changed. There will be mutual
cessation of cruelty to animals by man, and of danger to man by animals,
for all hate and violence will be gone.

And some one raises his eyebrows sceptically and says, ironically, "What
fairy tale, what skipper's yarn, is this?" Well, I frankly confess that
I don't know anything about this matter, except what I find in this old
Book of God. But I confess, too, that I try studiously to get a
common-sense, poised, Spirit-enlightened understanding of what this Book
does tell. And then I accept it, and go by it, regardless of
probabilities or improbabilities. It may seem like a fairy tale, yet it
is only the picture of the coming kingdom soberly set forth in these old
pages.

As we turn to the Gospel pages we find the kingdom to be the chief thing
Jesus is talking about. The Gospel days are sample days of the kingdom
in the personal blessings bestowed. Read through these accounts of blind
eyes opened, the lame walking, the maimed made whole, the dumb singing,
the distressed in whatever way relieved, the ignorant instructed, the
sinful wooed, and the bad of heart and life being blessedly changed.

All this is a taste of the kingdom. Jesus was wooing men to accept King
and kingdom. To-day, as in all Church time, bodily healing is a
privilege for those who can take it, and a gift for the rare few who can
be entrusted with it. In these Gospel pages it was freely bestowed on
multitudes, and the gift exercised with power by many. Even so it will
be in the kingdom time.

Most of the parables are found to be connected in their first meaning
with explaining about the kingdom. The kingdom will follow the law of
growth that is common in nature, sowing, waiting, cultivating, and
reaping.[168] Its influence will spread gradually until all feel its
presence and power.[169] It must meet and deal with the obstacles
presented by different men's temperaments and dispositions and
temptations.[170] There will be opposition, gradually overcome, but
never fully.[171] Many will be carried along by the current of the day.
It will be a good current, for righteousness will be the common thing
then. But in their hearts many will long for something else, something
different.[172]

But to many, the new blessed kingdom message will come as a treasure
accidentally stumbled upon, not being looked for, but now valued as very
precious.[173] To others it will come as _the_ thing they have been
eagerly seeking for, and which satisfies the deepest yearnings.[174] One
who has had any touch with the pathetic yearning of years found in
non-Christian lands can better appreciate the results of this kind in
these glad coming days.

The _characteristic spirit_ of the kingdom stands sharply out in
contrast with the dominant spirit of our own time. The kingdom is said
to belong peculiarly to those who are "poor in spirit," in whom
self-assertion and pride have quite gone out, leaving them humble and
lowly in heart. The meek will inherit the earth, and will take down all
the walls and fences, for all conditions of life are radically changed.
The penitent man or woman will be freely received regardless of their
past, while the proud will find the doorway too low for their unbending
heads.[175]

Rewards in the kingdom will not be given as a matter of merit, as in our
present endless cutting and rivalry, but will be thought of wholly as
evidence of the graciousness of the King.[176] And yet more striking,
the rewards given will be the privilege of serving, some more, some
less, according as they have become skilled in serving.[177] He who
serves most truly will be given preferment.[178] The thing prized above
all else will be glad obedience to the King.

It will be seen that the kingdom is to be a time of world-wide
evangelization. Indeed this is _the purpose_ of the kingdom. There are
two periods of world-wide evangelization in our Lord's planning. The
present is the Church time of such evangelizing. This is, of course, the
true main objective of the Church. This is the reason for the Church's
existence, to take the message of a crucified risen Christ to all men,
that so the way may be prepared for His return, and through that for the
next period of evangelizing.

The kingdom period of world-wide evangelization is under radically
different conditions. Then the evil one will be removed from the scene
of action, the Holy Spirit will have been poured out upon all flesh, and
so the moral veil now upon men's eyes will be removed. The Jews, with
all their characteristic aggressiveness and perseverance, now
intensified by the Holy Spirit's presence, will be a nation of
missionaries to all the earth. The redeemed ones in their resurrection
bodies will have the blessed privilege of helping. And over all will be
the presence and supervision of the King, our Lord Jesus Himself. That
will be world-wide evangelization in earnest.

Such is a faint glimpse given in both Old and New Testaments of the
kingdom spoken of in these Revelation pages in such few words. Almost
the whole Bible lies back of those few words. What a time it will be for
this old earth! With renewed fervour our hearts repeat, "Thy kingdom
come."


The Final Crisis of Choice.

But it is made clear at once to John that the kingdom is not an end in
itself. It is a means to an end, a wonderful means to a blessed end. It
is startling to find that after that long blessed reign the evil one is
to be loosed out of his prison-abyss. This seems at first flush too
startling to be credible. But on reflection the reason becomes plain,
and reveals the strength as well as the tenderness of God's love.

All through the kingdom time there are those who are in heart opposed to
this new order of things. They long for the leeks and onions and garlic
of the old eating. There will be some yielding only a feigned allegiance
to the King.[179] That dragnet of the parable has gathered some fish
that didn't want to be caught, and want a chance to get away to their
own native waters again.[180] The tares of another parable are left in
with the wheat until the end reveals which is real wheat and which
really tares.[181]

The one thing God longs for is love. And that only is love which is the
free outpouring of the heart. He longs for love as our free choice. This
is the image of God in which we have all been made. We are most like God
in _power_, in the right of free choice. We are most like Him in
_character_ when we use our power as He uses His; when we choose what
He chooses for us. And so there must be a final time of sifting and
choosing.

Here is the strength of love, that dares loose Satan out that so we must
choose in the face of opposition. For faith isn't faith except it can
stand the fire test, the friction fire test of opposition. Here is the
tenderness of love, that longs to have a return love as pure and free as
its own, and so gives fullest opportunity for it to be revealed and to
grow.

So Satan is loosed out for his tempting work. And another great world
crisis comes, and another great settlement; this the final one. The
devil, his beastly Antichrist and false prophet, are put out of the way
forever.

A great dazzling throne is set. And One sits on it with a face of
indescribable glory. Then comes the second resurrection, of all those
not included in the first resurrection a thousand years before. This is
a judgment of _all who have died_, with the exception already noted. The
judgment of the living spoken of in Matthew, twenty-five, probably is in
connection with the closing scene of the great crisis, just before this
judgment of the resurrected dead, or possibly in connection with this
judgment. This is the final judgment.

Gladness and distress mingle in reading the account: gladness that the
contest, age long, is over; distress to find that for some there is what
is described briefly but with terrible intensity, in the words, "the
lake of fire." Yet there is still comfort in noting the language used
of these,--"_if any_."[182] It is not the language of a great
multitude, but rather of an incorrigible scattered and scant minority.


Home at Last.

And now for the seventh time in this last vision John says, "I saw." Bit
by bit the view opens up before his eyes, from the coming of the Lord
Jesus out of the opened heavens, on and on, until now the final view of
all bursts in a winsome glory before his astonished, delighted eyes.

God's own ideal, that He has been carrying in His heart, is pictured.
That ideal is that He and man shall dwell together as a family. The
ideal is not a Church nor a Kingdom. These are merely great means to a
greater end. The ideal is the family, all dwelling together in sweetest
harmony and content, with a common board, and a common fireside in the
twilight of the day, and all the sweet fellowship that these stand for.

John sees a new heaven and a new earth, the old heaven and earth gone,
and with them the separation of the wide sea gone forever, too. He sees
the holy city, Jerusalem, made over new, coming down out of the new
heavens to man's new dwelling-place, the new earth. It presents a
wondrous, joyous appearance as of a bride adorned for her husband.

Then a great voice out of the throne speaks of this ideal in the heart
of God for Himself and His friend, man. "Look! God has pitched His tent
down amongst men, and they shall be His peoples, and He will be their
God." He will live with them as a Father-mother-God, personally caring
for each one, Himself wiping away every tear from every eye. A single
tear and a single pair of eyes will be enough to claim His personal
attention at once.

His presence insures the absence forever of death, and mourning, and
pain, and crying. The dirge music has sung its last song. The minor
chords are gone. All the old things of a sorrowful sort are quite gone.
And as John looks He that sitteth on the throne makes the glad
announcement, "_Behold, I make all things new._" And John is bidden to
write all this, for "_these words are faithful and true_."

And again the One on the throne seems to look eagerly forward to His
ideal as already actually accomplished: "They are come to pass." And to
let John feel the certainty of it all He says, "I am the Alpha and the
Omega, the beginning and the end." The power that has done all from
creation's morn will complete all clear to the end.

And then the tenderness of that highest love which finds expression in
the personal touch comes out in the next words: "I will give unto him
that is athirst of the fountain of life freely." The smallest need of
any one will have His personal thought and attention, and they shall
have the best there is, and have it in abundance.

And the old pleading that runs like a strain of music throughout these
pages comes again: "He that _overcometh_ shall inherit these things. I
will be His God, and he shall be my son," and so entitled to the
inheritance.

Then plainly, clearly, with all the honesty of love, comes the warning
of the terrible outcome for those who refuse His tender love. It is most
significant that this most winsome picture at the end of the book
contains the dark, black shadows, which remain in the picture at the
end.

All this is spoken directly to John by God Himself. It is not sent by an
angel, or by a redeemed human messenger. It comes to John direct with
all the force and tenderness of a word spoken to him out of the very
heart of God.

And now an angel carries John off to let him see this that is called
both a bride and a city. And from the top of a high mountain John looks
out and sees a most wonderful city, coming down out of heaven from God,
filled and flooded with the glory of God.

And the best language that earth knows anything about is used in the
attempt to describe this city ideal. Its dimensions are perfect in
proportion and in their outer relations. Its foundations are adorned
with the costliest, most precious stones, the walls are built of jasper,
and each gate is one immense pearl; but the city itself is builded of a
gold as transparent as pure glass. Israel and the Church are as sweet
memories of past days, recalled now by gates and foundations.

But these are passed by in noting the outshining glory of the presence
of God. In the simple language which has become so imbedded in the heart
and imagination of the Church, "the city hath no need of the sun,
neither of the moon, to shine on it; for the glory of God did lighten
it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." And the winsome description goes
on. The nations walk in this wondrous light of God's presence, and the
kings of earth bring glad tribute of their glory into it. "And the gates
thereof shall in no wise be shut by day, for there shall be no night
there." "And there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or
he that doeth an abomination and a lie, but only they that are written
in the Lamb's book of life."

In the midst of the city is a river of water of life clear as sparkling
crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb. On each
side of the river is the tree of life yielding continual fruitage. And
the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

And the heart never fails to respond with a quickened beat to the lines:
"His servants shall serve Him; and _they shall see His face_; and His
name shall be in their foreheads;"--that is, His character shall shine
out of their faces. "And there shall be no night there; and they need no
candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light.
And they shall reign forever and ever."

Such is the heart-touching, heart-gripping tale of God's ideal for man,
His creature and companion and friend. All the best that the city
stands for of human life, and all the best that the country, typified in
the garden, stands for, are forever blessedly joined. And in the
midst--_Himself_, and gathered about Him His redeemed ones, as children
about a father, in a union and fellowship cemented by the heart's blood
of God, never more to be put asunder.


The Master's Last Words.

And John closes the book with a few personal paragraphs. The vision is
complete. Now come the closing words. For the third time John is
solemnly assured, "these words are faithful and true." And again comes
the voice as of some One always standing by as John is being shown,
"Behold, I come quickly." And again the words with which the book begins
come to seal all its impressions,--blessed is he that reads, and
prayerfully seeks to understand the simple message, and who sets himself
to live his life in the light of this simple tremendous message.

And John is significantly told _not_ to _seal up_ the message. Daniel
had been told to seal up the message given him, for it would not come to
pass until the latter days after great intervening events had taken
place.[183] But there are no intervening events before this message is
to come true. It has been possible for the fulfilment to come in any
generation since John saw and wrote. It is yet more possible, growing
distinctly toward the probable, that these things shall come in our
generation. The words remain open, waiting an expectant fulfilment. They
are not to be sealed up but openly proclaimed, for the time when it is
possible for these things to work out is at hand. This is a present
practical issue.

And meanwhile, during these days of the waiting time each one who reads
or listens, however reluctantly, to the message, will follow the bent of
his own deliberate choice, but with ever increasing intensity. The pure
will become more pure; the bad yet worse. There's no standing still as
we listen.

And again come the solemnly repeated words: "Behold, I come quickly."
His coming is the next step in the great plan. There were then, and
there are now, no great intervening events to be worked out, and waited
for. His coming is imminent. It is a thing to be expected. And He brings
with Him the wages due each one.

And like the signature of certification at the book's beginning,[184]
comes now the personal signature at its close: "I am the Alpha and the
Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." So He
personally certifies to us the absolute accuracy and reliability of this
message.

And with the signature come again the gracious pleading and warning
intermingled. Any one who will may wash his robes in the fountain
provided, and may eat of the life-giving tree, and come unto the
God-lit city. And equally clear it is that any who insist on doing so
may remain outside unwashed. Each one is free to do as he wills.

And once again comes the emphatic, solemn announcement of the accuracy
and dependability of this message of John's Revelation: "_I, Jesus_,
have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the Churches."
It is distinctively a Church message, and comes with all the direct
authority of our Lord Jesus Himself. And He patiently reminds us of His
authority,--I am both root and offspring of David, both before him and
after him. I am the bright, the morning star, that rises while it is yet
night and brings in the new day.

And again the spirit of winsome pleading breaks out to those unwashed
ones who insist on staying outside the gate. Both the Spirit and the
whole company of washed ones say "come." And let him that heareth that
sweet word pass it out to those farther away until the last man hears
and feels. And let them know that anybody at all who is thirsty may come
freely and drink of the river of the water of life.

And yet once again comes the peculiar certifying of the contents of this
Revelation message, and a solemn warning against any interfering with
its meaning. Jesus says,--I hereby certify unto every man that hears the
words of the prophecy of this book: if any man add to them, making them
mean something else than I intend, God shall add unto him the plagues
that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away, or
lessen the meaning, God shall take away his part from the tree of life
and out of the holy city. It comes as a very solemn warning.

And yet once more comes the emphatic assurance both of the reliability
of the book itself, and of the certainty of its great central
message,--"He who testifieth these things saith, '_yea, I come
quickly_.'"

And John fervently adds, "Amen; come, Lord Jesus." And so says every
heart in tune with His heart who is coming.


FOOTNOTES:

[166] Habakkuk ii. 3.

[167] Acts ii. 44-47; iv. 32-34.

[168] Mark iv. 26-29. Matthew xiii. 31-32.

[169] Matthew xiii. 33.

[170] Matthew xiii. 3-9, 18-23.

[171] Matthew xiii. 24-30.

[172] Matthew xiii. 47-50.

[173] Matthew xiii. 44.

[174] Matthew xiii. 45-46.

[175] Matthew xxi. 31.

[176] Matthew xx. 1-16.

[177] Luke xix. 11-27.

[178] Matthew xx. 25-28.

[179] Psalm xviii. 44; lxvi. 3; lxxxi. 15; note marginal readings.

[180] Matthew xiii. 47-50.

[181] Matthew xiii. 24-30, 36-43.

[182] Revelation xx. 15.

[183] Daniel xii. 4, 9.

[184] Revelation i. 8.



VIII.--WATCHING THE HORIZON


 "Thy Kingdom Come."

 "Thou art coming! We are waiting
   With a hope that cannot fail;
 Asking not the day or hour,
 Resting on Thy word of power,
   Anchored safe within the veil.
 Time appointed may be long,
   But the vision must be sure:
 Certainty shall make us strong,
   Joyful patience must endure.

 "O the joy to see Thee reigning,
   Thee, my own beloved Lord!
 Every tongue Thy name confessing,
 Worship, honour, glory, blessing,
   Brought to Thee with glad accord!
 Thee, my Master and my Friend,
   Vindicated and enthroned!
 Unto earth's remotest end
   Glorified, adored, and owned."

     --FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL.


The Thrill of Expectancy.

Watching reveals character and makes it. It means wakefulness, an ideal,
a purpose, and a hopeful expectancy. Some people only look. Their
eyelids are not shut. Something passes before the eye. They look, but
they rarely see.

It takes a soul to see. It needs a spirit awake to see out through the
eye, and see into persons and events passing by, and see forward to what
is coming to-morrow. Some sleep. The body is awake in daytime. They walk
and talk and eat, buy and sell, count money and hoard it. But their eyes
are never lifted to the outer horizon. They are settled in an even,
contented round. Their spirits sleep.

A wakefulness of spirit to the time and its need, an ideal clear and
high of what should be, a purpose strong and masterful that holds the
life up toward the ideal, an expectancy eager, brave, steady; an eye
fixed intently on some One unseen,--this is what watching means. It
reveals character. It makes character. It reaches out strong spirit
hands, and brings nearer and sooner the thing watched for.

Watching has always been a characteristic of the men God has used. He
used them because He could. They were of use. Their spirit made them
serviceable. Their watching opened the way for fellowship of spirit and
partnership in action. It put them in tune with Him who never slumbers
nor sleeps, and who watches over His pledged word, to bring it to pass
at the earliest possible hour.

The watcher sings. His favourite song is "I will lift up mine eyes." He
sees what is coming. He sees _Him_ who sits beyond the horizon of our
common outlook. And seeing Him grows this sort of expectancy, and the
expectancy becomes the controlling thing.

It was this sort of expectancy that made Abraham a pilgrim at
seventy-five, and that grew deep the pilgrim trait of patient endurance
through the weary twilight years till the promised heir came, and even
beyond that, wove the finest texture into his character when the
severest test came.

It was this expectancy that drew Moses away from the court life of
Egypt, and the possible prospect of wearing imperial purple, to become
the leader of a straggling crowd of slaves. And it held him steady on
through long years, wilderness travel, criticism, and non-appreciation,
on and on, till Nebo's top was climbed. He endured as seeing Him who was
invisible to the unseeing eyes of the crowds at His side.

Such expectancy has steadied every leader for God, in these old pages
from first to last, young Joseph in the dungeon, Joshua in the glare of
the limelight, into which he was suddenly thrust, and ruddy-faced
singing David fleeing and hiding for his life from the javelin of Saul.
It was the clear-seeing eye of Isaiah and Jeremiah in the homeland, and
of Ezekiel and Daniel among the weeping exiles, that kept the heart of
the nation warm with the vision of what was surely coming. The thrill of
expectancy runs through the pages of this old Hebrew classic. Its light
is never out of the eye, nor its alluring out of earshot.

When Jesus walked among men expectation ran high. When He was killed the
gloom of the three days was the gloom of a bright light suddenly put
out. The darkness was intensified by the light that had been shining.
Then there came a new sort of expectancy, higher, finer, of the inner
spirit. This Jesus was coming back, in all the glory of the old
prophetic vision, made realer by the personal touch these men knew, and
this new expectancy puts all the paper of the New Testament a-tremble
with delight. It is the light that lighteth every page and epistle,
every contested path of witness, and every hour of suffering because of
faith.

The Church of these New Testament pages is _a watching Church_. The
expectancy of the Lord Jesus' return is the north star of their sky. It
never swerves. All the rest revolves around it. They see everything else
in relation to this. Their going into all the world and preaching to
every creature was not simply for men's conversion: that surely: but
beyond that, it was to bring the Christ back for the next step in His
world programme. He would come and set up His kingdom, and then through
the kingdom would come a yet wider, farther-reaching world
evangelizing.[185] This expectancy controlled their life and activity.
Through their faithful world witnessing He would come.

And as the knot is put on the end of the thread of revelation the very
knotted thread seems aglow with the glory of what is coming. The Bible
from end to end is a-thrill with expectancy, a hopeful watching for
something, aye, _for some One_.


A Calendar of Events.

We have been looking a bit closely at this knot in the end, the threads
composing it. Now we want to gather up all that we have been going over
with the light that comes from the other pages, so as to have some sort
of a simple, clear grasp of the truth. This will help our eyesight. We
can watch the horizon better. Our eyes will be steadier in the glare of
the lower lights, and sharper to see in the spells of darkness that get
thicker now and then.

It is interesting to notice that this book of the Revelation is a
calendar book. That is to say, it is not a calendar of dates but of
events. It gives coming events in the order in which they will occur.
Its table of contents becomes an outline of coming events. There is the
Man of Fire standing among the candlesticks. Then comes an hour when He
advances to the next step in His programme. Then, step by step, there
follow the occurrences until the kingdom is actually here. And then the
after events, when the kingdom's work is done.

It turns out that this thing of our Lord's return cuts a wider swath
than we are apt to think, if we don't stop to think. That is because of
_Who it is_ that is coming. An event takes on the size of the chief
person concerned. This Lord Jesus is the One through whom our world was
made in the early time, when there were no calendars. So His coming
naturally concerns the whole world. It concerns the system of evil in
which the world is entangled, and the evil spirit world so closely
interlocked with our own.

Then our Lord Jesus came amongst us as a man. He came as a Jewish man,
and to the Jewish nation. So His coming concerns the Jew and the Jewish
capital, Jerusalem. When He sent down His executive, the Holy Spirit, a
new organization was formed, the Church. So His coming concerns the
Church, and concerns it very intimately, for it is spoken of as a body
of which He is the head. When Jesus came it was to die for a world and
to redeem a world. And so His coming concerns the future plans of the
earth and the race.

Yet though His coming has such a broad sweep, it is quite possible to
get a grasp of the few essential items in the programme. And this will
make our footing steadier, our vision clearer, our praying more
confident, and our soul-winning and witnessing warmer and truer. We turn
now to try to get this simple, helpful understanding.

The present is the time of the candlesticks. The Man of Fire is in our
midst unperceived. The unseen Eyes of Flame see. Our Lord Jesus still
waits, and depends on the faithfulness of His Church. The light is still
shining out. The dark places are getting some light. The light has not
yet wholly failed to get out through the human lantern to the crowd in
the dark.

The characteristics of this waiting time, so long prolonged, are plainly
put. In the outer world there will be an increasing lawlessness and
disregard of every sort of restraint, and an increasing power of
organization and centralization. There will be an increasing getting
together for more effective action.

In the Church world there will be an increasing formalism, a compromise
with evil and with the world spirit. There will be a decrease of warm
personal devotion to the Lord Jesus as the controlling motive power. And
there will be a growing inclination to make light of, or ignore, or jeer
at, the idea of the Lord Jesus' return.

As this period wears on toward its close, and so on toward the events to
follow, there will be a coming together of the Jews scattered throughout
the world in an attempt to regain Palestine and reconstitute the Hebrew
nation there with its temple and old sacrificial ritual. These are the
three chief tendencies that will characterize the present waiting time
preceding the group of coming events.

The decisive index-finger, that this present period is actually coming
to its close, will be this movement among the Jews. The movement to
regain control of Palestine may rise and fall back, gain and lose again.
But some day it will come to its head. By some arrangement with the
nations concerned the Jewish nation will actually be set up again in
Palestine, and the building of the temple in Jerusalem begun. This will
be the decisive indication. This is an unfailing index-finger. The hands
of the clock are moving then toward the striking of the hour. Soon the
sands will be run out and the hour-glass turned.


The Beginning of the End.

At some time soon after that point is reached _two unseen events will
occur_, that is, unseen on earth. Roughly, it will be three and a half
years after, though the whole tendency of the Scripture is to discourage
the figuring of _exact_ time. Yet information is given that the outlook
may be intelligent. These events are unseen on the earth. They take
place in heaven.

The Holy Spirit will be withdrawn from the Church. He will not be
withdrawn from individuals. He abode in men before the Church was
formed, and will after the Church has cast Him out. He is withdrawn only
because He has been practically and wholly cast out.

The Lord Jesus, who sent Him down to form the Church and witness through
it, will withdraw Him from the Church. The candlestick has moved out of
all touch with the light. And now the light is withdrawn, and so the
candlestick moved out of its place as the light-bearer. This is probably
the advance step taken by our Lord Jesus that marks the beginning of the
end.

At the same time there occurs a conflict of spirit forces up in the
heavens. While the earth seems to be Satan's chief place of activity,
yet his headquarters are up in the heavens, that is, somewhere below the
throne of God and above the earth. This conflict is against him and his
spirit forces. It is led by Michael, the archangel. It results in Satan
and his host being cast out of the heavens and down to the earth.

It is significant that as the Holy Spirit goes up, this conflict
follows, and Satan is cast out and down. Is it the Holy Spirit's return
there that precipitates this conflict, and defeat for Satan? It would
seem not improbable. So the moral situation on the earth is intensified
doubly. The blessed Holy Spirit, with all His power of restraint over
evil, is withdrawn. The evil spirit, with all his power of intensifying
evil, is cast down in person to the earth. These are the two unseen
events marking the advance move of the end time.

There will be nothing on earth _at the moment_ to indicate that these
tremendous events have happened. There is no suggestion of how much time
is involved. Time is a matter of earth's calculation. Quite possibly
_we_ would speak of these events as occurring in a very brief time,
perhaps an instant of our reckoning. These are the two events unseen on
the earth.

At the same time there will begin _two events seen taking place on
earth_. The first is the coming to the front of a man, a terrible leader
of the forces of unrighteousness. Paul speaks of him as "the Lawless
One." John's name for him is "the Antichrist." He becomes the human
representative or incarnation of Satan. As Satan is cast down out of the
heavens this leader comes to the front on earth.

He seems to have official position at the head of some great coalition
of nations, with a wide area of authority. He seems to be some former
notable leader known in history, who died, but is now brought back to
life again by Satan's supernatural power.

As he forges to the front there follows on earth a horrible time of war,
famine, pestilence, death, and persecution. He arbitrarily breaks the
agreement with the Jews under which they have re-established their
nation, and begins a terrible persecution of them. He sets up in the
temple a blasphemous image, and requires that all people shall worship
it. This strikes not only at the Jew, but at the Christian as well.

At one stroke of genius he compels absolutely universal attention to his
command by forbidding the doing of any business except by those willing
to worship the image. Those refusing the worship are killed. He will
have an assistant doing wonderful miracles by Satanic power to deceive
and persuade the people. During this time there is a loosing out on the
earth of countless hordes of unseen demons to torment men.

All this continues for three and a half years. The time is stated in
three different ways to make quite clear just how long is meant. This is
the first of the two seen events. It centres at Jerusalem and seems to
reach out practically to all the earth.

The second event is significant. During all this terrible time of
persecution and blasphemy and the riot of evil, there will be two men in
Jerusalem preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, and calling on men to
repent. As an emphasis of their witness against the awful wickedness
current they will be clothed in mourning. They will have miraculous
power to attest their witness, and to protect themselves against attacks
upon their lives. The great crowds of many nationalities in Jerusalem
will make their witness practically world-wide in its direct as well as
its indirect influence.

This also continues for three and a half years. As the Holy Spirit is
withdrawn from the Church as the witness of the Lord Jesus, these two
special witnesses appear. In His great faithfulness and patience God
never leaves Himself without a witness. This is the second event seen on
earth. These two, evil at its worst, and God's special witnesses, run
along side by side, both centring in Jerusalem.


The Climax--He Comes.

Then there comes _a group of four events_. And these four are very
closely associated together in point of time. They occur at the close of
the period of persecution and wickedness. Indeed, it is their occurrence
that brings the close. Yet the exact time when they happen is left quite
uncertain.

And this clearly is another bit of the tendency in the record to keep
our thought on the main events, and not on figuring out time. We are to
keep to the essentials and be wary of mere speculation. For the sake of
clearness I am putting these four events separately, but this does not
mean that some of them may not be occurring at the same moment, or that
all may not come within a very brief time. We simply do not know. It
looks as though we are not meant to know.

There is _a Jew event_. The Holy Spirit comes down upon the nation of
Jews in simple, tremendous, converting power. This is put in connection
with the coming down out of the heavens on a cloud of the Lord Jesus. It
seems to be this sight of their great Kinsman, Jesus, whom they
crucified, that is used by the Holy Spirit to strike penitence to their
stubborn hearts. Literally a nation is born again in a day. It will be
with the whole nation as it was with Saul on the Damascus road, as
sudden and unexpected, as startling and as radical; as sudden and
unexpected an appearance of Jesus, as startling to the Jews, as radical
in the absolute spirit transformation.

There is _a Church event_. And here the word Church is used to describe
all believers in the Lord Jesus. That will be a much sifted and
chastened company of people. This event is also connected with the open,
visible coming of the Lord Jesus, out of the upper blue, before all
eyes. It affects two separate companies of believers. The bodies of all
believers who have died will be raised out of their graves, inhabited
again by those who lived in them. Then the living believers shall have a
transforming touch upon their bodies. And the two companies shall be
caught up into the air into the presence of the Lord Jesus.

As they come into His presence there will be a purifying and perfecting
of character, and an adjustment of relations with Him. There is no
suggestion of how much time is involved. We naturally think of things as
taking place through so much time. Our limitations in this regard will
be gone then. It may be what we now call instantaneous.

There is _a world event_. There will come to the earth and to men a
visitation of terrible judgments, affecting men's bodies, the sea and
rivers, vegetation, an intensifying of the sun's heat, and possibly a
terrible darkness--in short, affecting everything concerning man and
life on the earth. There will be a great gathering of the armies of the
nations at a place in Palestine. Again there is no suggestion of how
much time this visitation of judgments runs through, nor this gathering
for battle.

Then there is _the_ event, _the great climax event_, the actual coming
of the Lord Jesus, out of the heavens, down to the earth. At the moment
when He comes the Jews will be in the midst of a terrible siege in
Jerusalem. Against the city will be assembled the armies of the nations.
The city will be taken, the looting and ravaging already begun.

Then suddenly, out of the blue above, the Lord Jesus comes in a great
blaze of blinding light, accompanied by great numbers. He will come to
Olivet. With the coming will be a terrible earthquake, such as the earth
has never known.

It is a striking geological fact that the greatest "fault," or break in
the earth's surface, is found in Palestine, running north and south from
Antioch on the Orontes down even into Africa. But this earthquake will
affect very wide areas, including the city of Babylon, which will be
shaken to utter destruction. That earthquake will make radical changes
in the formation of the earth's surface in Palestine.

At the same time there will be an equally terrific shake-up in the
heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars. The effect of both these upon
the vast panic-stricken multitudes will be most pitiable. They will call
upon the upheaved rocks to hide them from the wrath of God.

These are the four events occurring at this time. They are grouped
together. It seems impossible to say first this, then that. They are
grouped. The great essential thing standing out is that our Lord Jesus'
coming will be at a terrible climax of evil. There will be partial
judgment visited on the earth. The system of evil will be wholly
overthrown. The Jews will be converted as a nation by the Holy Spirit.
The Church will be caught away out of the distress, and will have part
with our Lord Jesus in His coming.

It should again be noticed that in all this there are no time notes,
except as to the length of this tribulation time. The persecution of the
Jew and desecration of Jerusalem, the time of the two witnesses, and the
sway of the Antichrist, each runs through three and a half years. There
are no time notes whatever for the present waiting-time. And though the
length of the tribulation itself is stated, yet it should be noted that
the exact time of the Lord Jesus' actual return still remains quite
undetermined.

In Daniel's prophecy there are four events spoken of as occurring at
this time, and each is measured from the time when the sacrifices are
stopped and the chief desecrating act in the temple begins. The
tribulation runs for three and a half years. Thirty days later comes
some glad event not specified further. Seventy-five days later there
comes another glad event, and two years ten months and twenty days later
the complete cleansing of the temple. Each of these portions of time is
measured from the same starting point. This would suggest a period of
readjustment after the Antichrist is slain, running through almost three
years. All these time notes are of a year of three hundred and sixty
days, not our common calendar year of three hundred and sixty-five and a
fraction days.

There comes the period called the kingdom. Its capital is Jerusalem. The
regenerated nation of Israel becomes the first nation of the earth, with
all other nations tributary. Israel's leadership is a blessed one in its
spiritual influence over all others. The Jews are a missionary nation,
whose one passion is to make the knowledge of God known throughout the
earth.

The redeemed ones of all the earth through all times will reign _over_
the earth in fellowship with the King, the Lord Jesus. In their
resurrection bodies, with all present bodily restrictions and
limitations gone, they will have a blessed share in the new earth
ministry.

The purpose of the kingdom is world-wide evangelization, but with all
the conditions radically changed. Satan, with all evil spirits, is
removed from the scene of action. The nation of Jews, baptized by the
Holy Spirit, is the missionary force, under the direction and help of
the Church. The Holy Spirit will have been poured out upon all flesh,
making all peculiarly open to the truth.

What a wonderful time of continual revival it will be! But that much
abused word "revival" will have its sweet, original meaning restored. It
will mean a re-living, a new life of the Spirit coming, that will
naturally include the body, too.


Intelligent Watching.

Such are the events, near and far, which some day will come up over the
horizon of our common life, ushering in a new day. And we are bidden by
our Lord Jesus to _watch_. We watch for Him, and for anything that tells
us His coming is nearing.

Watching means wakefulness, an ideal, a purpose, an expectancy, and a
daily life under the control of wakefulness, ideal, purpose, and
expectancy. That our Lord Jesus will actually come to this old earth and
reign, this is the ideal. That we shall, by grace, be true to Him in
everything, day by day, during this waiting-time, this is the purpose.
That _we_ shall indeed see Him come, and be caught up into His presence
without death, this is the expectancy.

That this shall all be a real thing to us, _controlling_ all our
relationships, our gold, and our life, and that we shall reverently,
thoughtfully seek to understand what He has told us about it, this is
the wakefulness. This is what watching means. Our bodies may be asleep,
our brains and hands absorbed in the day's task, but our hearts can be
awake for the sound ahead of the coming of His feet.

"But how can you watch for Him if there are intervening events?" So the
question came to me this summer by a thoughtful, godly minister who
looks for His coming. And I said: "Because His coming is one of a little
group of events which cluster about His coming."

The crowd stands watching at the railway station in England to see the
king's train come in. Yet they know that before it comes the
pilot-engine will come, running ahead about so many minutes to insure
the safety of the way. The coming of the pilot-engine heightens the
intensity of watching, for now soon the king will come.

The watcher in the sick-chamber, weary with the long night's anxious
vigil, goes to the east window to see if day is coming. There comes a
bare lighting-up in the east, just a slight lessening of the darkness
that is everywhere. But even this much brings a sigh of relief. The sun
itself may not be seen for two hours or more. But you know without
looking at the clock that the sun is coming and is near. Its presence
near sends the light far ahead.

When the trees begin to send out swelling bud and tender green leaf and
catkin, we know summer is coming, even though the chill is in the air,
and the night may even now bring a touch of the white of frost. "Even so
ye also _when ye see these things_ know that _He_ is nigh, even at the
doors."[186]

There's something intensely practical about this thing of watching. I
mean the intelligent watching that a thoughtful study of God's Word
promotes. There is a striking sentence used in describing some of the
men that rallied to David during the clearing-up storm that preceded his
reign. It is said of certain of the tribe of Issachar that they "_had
understanding of the times_ to know what Israel ought to do" in the
matter of making David the accepted king over the realm.[187] Their
thoughtful study and judgment of the time made them wise leaders of
action.

There is a similar significant word spoken to Daniel in the final vision
in which these end events are being disclosed. And we recall that the
speaker is He for whose coming we look. He says, "They that are _wise_
shall _understand_."[188] Daniel had prayerfully set himself to
understand God's will for his people.[189] When the wonderful vision was
given him in answer to his patient study and continued prayer, the Man
of Fire who came to him said, "Now I am come to make thee _understand_."

It is wise, by thoughtful, prayerful study of God's Word, to try to
understand what He has told us. Not to do so is not wise. And more, it
will become increasingly needful that others be taught as these events
draw on. Daniel is told in this same connection that "They that are wise
shall instruct many."[190]

The opening words of the Revelation, and especially the closing
paragraphs, emphasize this same thing. The revelation is given that we
may read and understand and hold our lives true to this vision. This
thing is intensely practical. Indeed, it is _the_ practical thing for
our day. We _can_ understand the simple essentials revealed here. Our
Lord Jesus earnestly desires us to do so. Surely we will, for His sake.


A Spirit Sensitiveness.

The thoughtful watching that grows out of an understanding of our Lord's
plans influences subtly and mightily one's whole life. It deepens
wondering reverence for the Lord Jesus Himself, His present power and
personal glory sitting up yonder in the indescribable glory of the
Father's presence, and His patience and strength in this waiting-time.
It draws out a depth and tenderness of personal love for Himself and of
devotion to Him.

There comes to be a keenly acute conscience about evil, and about
compromise with evil; and yet with it a sanity of judgment on particular
questions arising, and a gentle consideration for others who see
otherwise, or think they do. Evil grows in subtlety and in
aggressiveness in our day, and probably will yet more. It seeks
especially to make inroads among God's professing people. Yet evil is
evil. Its true inwardness is quickly revealed by adding a "d" at the
beginning of the word. And it grows increasingly repugnant in whatever
guise, as we come to study more its inner spirit as revealed in these
disclosures of the end times.

Then, too, this watching affects one's judgment of, and attitude toward,
Christian service, and toward movements in the Christian world. The
getting-together spirit is getting more and more into Church circles.
The fervent heart repeats constantly our Lord's prayer, "that they may
all be one." Yet it becomes clear that there may be movements toward
union that are not of the Holy Spirit's initiation, and that cannot have
his approval.

It is not enough to do good. That may prove to be a low level of action.
_The_ thing is to find out what God has planned, and fit into that, with
all the warmth of one's being. His will is always good, and better, and
best. The good thing may not be the thing He has planned and wants done.

It becomes increasingly clear that our Lord Jesus is a great general. He
has the whole campaign of action mapped out, and every detail of it
thought into and thought out. As one comes to learn more of His plans,
and Himself as a planner, there comes to be _a passion for doing His
will_. One moves from the old position of working for God up to the
position of so fitting in that _God works through us_.

And there comes to be a consciousness that He is doing immensely more
through the things we do than we are conscious of. So in all Church
activity there comes to be a reaching out in spirit to discern what _He_
wants done, and putting all the strength into that.

Then, too, one's thought of foreign missionary service undergoes a
change. The actual taking of the message of Christ to those who haven't
heard comes to have first place. Educational work and medical and
humanitarian, and the like, in missionary service, are seen to be wisely
used when held strictly in place as a means to a direct end. And their
value is judged wholly by their being a means of bringing those whom
they touch face to face with the Christ that died.

It seems to be possible to spend fifty years and more establishing
mission work in the city centres of a foreign-mission country, and all
good, blessed work; and yet have the great mass of that country's
population in utter ignorance of the Gospel message and its power.

As the Holy Spirit is allowed control increasingly, there comes to be a
better understanding of God's purposes and of His plans, an earnest
coöperation in the Church movement for making Christ known to all men
everywhere, a faithfulness in all the circle of one's own home Church,
and a warm personal winning of men to know the Lord Jesus as their
Saviour.

So it is seen that watching for our Lord's return affects one's whole
life in an intensely practical way. It deepens faith in _Him_. It leads
to an _intelligent detachment_ in social and commercial and even Church
circles, while making an increase of thoughtful regard for others. It
purifies the personal life. It chastens and deepens and gentles the
personal character.

It seems very striking and very strange that when Jesus was born there
are just two persons named, outside the immediate circle, who seemed to
have the spirit instinct that recognized who He was. There was a man
living in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. Who was he? rich? poor?
cultured? of lowly station? No one knows. But whoever he was, he had
cultivated close walk with God. That's clear. And into his inner spirit
came the conviction that the Christ promised for ages, so long waited
for, the Christ was now coming, and _he would see Him_.

And a similar story is told of the woman called Anna. These two were in
that simple touch of heart with God that could in spirit sense the
coming of the Christ. There may have been others. We are not told. But
the emphasis remains on the fact that few seemed to discern the working
out of God's tremendous plan.

Will it be so again? It would surely seem that intelligent watching
would make one sensitive in spirit to coming events. Yet there would
ever be a mingling of deepest reverence, and a thoughtful caution
regarding mere speculation, while the fervent prayer that Jesus taught
is daily repeated, "Thy kingdom come."

And John's closing Revelation prayer constantly breathes out, "Even so,
come, Lord Jesus."


FOOTNOTES:

[185] Acts iii. 20-21; xv. 14-18.

[186] Matthew xxiv. 33.

[187] 1 Chronicles xii. 32.

[188] Daniel xii. 10.

[189] Daniel viii. 15-17; ix. 1-2; x. 1-3, 11-14.

[190] Daniel xi. 33.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Quiet Talks on the Crowned Christ of Revelation" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home