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Ver. 13. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand : and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
A great earthquake, in such a connexion, is some great political catastrophe. Some tremendous scene will terrify the antichristian empire. A tenth part of it is said to fall. Some awful dismemberment may take place among its component parts. Seven thousand men are slain. In the original it is, “seven thousand names of men,”—perhaps men of naine, or leaders; which would imply an immense slaughter among their followers and people. It cannot mean, in this connexion, that simply 7000 people fell in the event. This would be but a small number indeed, in such a case. Seven, in this book, is a noted perfect number. It probably then means that multitudes innumerable were slaughtered. And the terrified infidels, beholding all this, were constrained to confess the land of God against them, and to make acknowledgments to his glory.
Ver. 14. The second wo is past; and behold, the third wo cometh quickly.
These scenes finish the period of the second wo. The period of the first wo trumpet continued till the blast of the second; and the various scenes of judgment intervening, though not the appropriate event of the first wo, yet were in the period of this wo. And the period of the second wo trumpet was to continue till the opening of the third. And these scenes upon the resurrection of the witnesses, are represented as finishing the period of the
pressed people of God at that time. Upon the passage, Scott says, “in this figurative resurrection, the deceased saints arise,” and quotes to Rev. xi. 7–12, and chap. xx. 4-6. He then adds, The last clause inay be rendered
the land of tyrants shalt thou cause to fall; or, she (the church) shall prevail against oppressors, and cast them down.” The original word (he says) is often translated giants: the church shall cast down the giants! I apprehend this to be the true sense; and that the allusion may be to 2 Sam. xxi. 15–22, where the last four giants that we read of were slain in Canaan. It has been said, Solomon's reign was a type of the Millennium, P3. 72: and David's reign a type of the terrors just antecedent to it. David bad but a bair’s breadth escape, from being slain by one of these giants. And the four were soon slain. The people of God thus “cast down the giants” of Canaan. And now in the antitype of that event, after the witnesses arise, they will soon “cast down the giants” of the beast and the false prophet; or God will do it in their behalf.
second wo trumpet. Here our question is decided, that the slaying of the witnesses is one of the last events before the blast of the third wo trumpet. But at the time of the descent of Christ, Rev. x., his oath decides that the seventh trumpet was then not yet, but was some distance future. Hence the slaying of the witnesses was, at the time of the revolution in France, at some distance future! When the witnesses shall have been slain, and raised, and the earthquake (within an hour of the event) shall have taken place; the period of the second wo closes, and the third comes quickly.
Ver. 15. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
16. And the four-and-twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
17. Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
18. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldst give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldst destroy them which destroy the earth.
The events of this passage are not given in their true order. The battle of the great day, in the true course of events, is first; and then the Millennium.
All the prophets, and the reason of the thing, unite in this. But in our text, after long and dismal scenes of judgments and darkness, the mind is relieved by being carried at once beyond the horrors of the great battle, into the midst of the millennial glory. The Christian is thus led to see that all the remaining nations and people of the world, after the battle, are graciously brought to constitute on earth, the visible kingdom of God and the Lamb. The commencement of the Millennium arrives. But the tremendous scene, which in fact precedes the Millennium, although in the rehearsal is here thrown behind it, is then given. And the mode of exhibiting it is most significant. The four-and-twenty elders (representatives of the church) prostrate themselves
before God, with souls overflowing with holy gratitude, praise, and adoration. They praise God both for his judgments and his mercies. They adore him as the Being “who is, and was, and is to come, the Almighty.” They praise him that he has taken to himself his great power to reign, to introduce his spiritual kingdom in the hearts of all men then remaining on earth. “And the nations were angry.”—-Nations have always been more or less angry. But now, in a most emphatical sense, they had been angry! and had cut each other off from the earth! The event long predicted of this very season, God will now have fulfilled; that “the fire of thine enemies shall devour them!” Restraints had now been taken off; and the antichristian nations, like wild furies, had devoured each other. The prediction, "each shall come down by the sword of his brother," had been fulfilled. “And thy wrath is come.” Long had God announced to the antichristian world, that the day of vengeance was in his heart. Jesus Christ had predicted “the day of vengeance of our God.” This had long been thundered in the ears of guilty nations, but in vain. The alarm had been sounded: “ Blow ye the trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm in my holy mountain; let all the inhabitants of the earth tremble, for the day of the Lord, for it is nigh at hand.” Now this warning is fulfilled; and the church hence adore God. “And the time of the dead that they should be judged." This cannot refer to the final judgment; for that event does not occur till after the Millennium, and the end of the world. But the judgment in the text is before the Millennium. Several things had now taken place, to each of which this clause might allude. It might be as though the elders had said, -and the time of the execution of thine antichristian enemies (now dead), whose guilty measure was filled, had arrived, and they were cut off, according to thy word, that their souls might be judged, and disposed of as thy justice and truth demanded. This accords with what we read of the same event in Isa. lxvi. 24; where, in the Millennium, from one Sabbath to another, all flesh (worshipping before God in their own earthly assemblies) are noted as “ going forth (in sermons and histories of the events), and looking upon the men who have transgressed (or the world of infidels who have fallen in that last battle); and their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” The time of these slaughtered infidels to be judged, and punished, had come. And this clause of the text may also mean, “the time of the dead” saints and martyrs, who had been tor
tured under the fury of antichristian powers, had come, "that they should be avenged." In Rev. vi. 10, under the fifth seal, where the souls of the martyrs under the altar cry, “How long, O Lord, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood ?” they use the same Greek word which is here used. And, in the battle of the great day, God does judge and avenge their blood. Such texts as the following are then fulfilled. “And in her (Babylon) was found the blood of prophets, and saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. 6. The earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no longer cover her slain.” “I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed; for the Lord dwelleth in Zion.' The battle of the great day is thus the time of the martyred saints, that they should be avenged. And the prophets, and saints, and all who fear God, are represented as now being rewarded. If this means the ambassadors of Christ, and saints on earth; these do indeed receive a rich reward, in the introduction of the glories of the Millennium. And if it means to include also the ancient prophets, and saints, then in heaven; they too receive now an additional reward, in the same event. For, if there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth; how vast must be the additional joy in heaven, when all the millions on earth shall become penitent;—and when the blessed cause of salvation, in which their hearts, living and dying, were bound up, shall now by them be known to fill the world? This must be an additional reward indeed. God grant it may be ours!“And shouldst destroy them that destroy the earth.” The violent enemies of the church, it may well be said, destroy the earth. Their wicked conduct actually produces great destruction. And it tends, in its nature, to universal destruction. And such destroyers, remaining impenitent, God will destroy. And the same will be matter of everlasting praise in the church of the redeemed.
Ver. 19. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
John seemed to behold the ancient temple of Jerusalem, now in heaven. He beholds it opened; and sees the ark of the covenant, as that used to be kept in the temple. This seems designed as a striking symbolical decision, that all these works of judgment, and of mercy, were performed only in the covenant faithfulness of God to
Christ, and to his seed. As though the King of glory had kept the ark of the covenant with him in his heavenly palace;—was ever mindful of it;—and would now make a clear exhibition of all this to his saints on earth. All is done on God's part, in fulfilment of his covenant with the second Adam, and with his posterity. And the ark of the testament, in the temple of heaven, seems to be the symbolic repository of this covenant. Figures most appropriate then follow, significant of the tremendous judgments, which pour down from the temple, and the ark of heaven, and at once finish the scene with antichristian nations:-"Lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail!" These are the same figures found under the seventh vial, in the second division of this book, as accomplishing the same event. It is a fact terrible to the enemies of the church, and happy for Zion, that the temple of God, his ark, and covenant, are defended, as though encircled with lightning, voices, thunders, earthquakes, and great hail! “I will be a wall of fire round about." All the elements of nature stand ready at God's direction, to defend the church. And the most terrible warrings of those elements are taken, as bright emblems of those desolating and fatal judgments, which shall, ere-long, sweep from the earth all the contending enemies of the church. The prophetic descriptions of those judgments are numerous, and of the most terrific kind. It would afford a solemn lesson of instruction if all these were presented in a dense form; but this, the length of the present lecture will not admit. We now arrive at the close of the first general division of the prophetic part of the Revelation.
Various practical reflections here crowd themselves upon the mind from the events of this chapter; but which can be but hinted. God measures his gospel temple by his word: and too many professedly in it are yet unmeasurable. The Romanists clearly are thus. And many others have the mark of the beast. True saints are God's witnesses; and they will, in heart and life, bear their testimony for God at every risk. And if death to individuals be the consequence, yet their cause will arise; and with despairing souls the enemy will behold it; while the triumphs of the wicked will be short. Let us then, take to ourselves the whole armor of God, and be able to stand in the evil day. Let us seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near. The Spirit directs, "Seek the Lord, all ye meek of the earth. Seek righteousness; seek meekness; it may be ye may be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.”