W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
VALLEYS AND SUMMITS
in the Biblical Book of Revelation
correlative coverage, more direct, in the later section, Rev. 12-20,
see Regal Rays of Revelation Ch. 8
chapter is orientative for the entire book,
to enable a better grasp of this divine gift, and its ways
A - FIRST OVERVIEW
There is, in the book of Revelation, an extraordinary procedure which especially after the commencing chapters, is a mode of expression, a formula for finding things. It is this. There are chapters of ACTION, and the events proceed; and then there are chapters of PERSPECTIVE, and the panorama is revealed.
Thus Chapters 1-3 are more of the Valley - or straight action - kind, while Chapters 4-5 are of the Summit or perspective variety.
Chapter 6 is Valley,
Chapter 7 is perspective or Summit;
Chapters 8-9 are Valley, with Summit continuing for a moment at the outset, from Ch. 7, but
Summit is found in Chapters 10-12.
Chapter 13 is Valley,
Chapter 14-15 are summit;
Chapters 16-19 are Valley (although Ch. 17, like Ch. 12, re-establishes a line - sees a thing in perspective so that it can continue WITH that perspective in mind).
That is to say, this is the general nature of it. There are slight variations. Thus in Ch. 17 you see the Babylon thing for itself, and then it can unwind. It has its own introduction, message, meat and place; and then it unfolds. It is not a summit without succession, but equipped with on-flow. So it is in Ch. 12, since here the perspective of the Lamb being prepared at birth, the Satan seeking to extirpate Him FROM birth, and His people after His ascension is shown: and it leads on and INTO the due actions of the devil as the time comes to the deadly eschatological rush, as the end comes into focus especially. It then reveals for Ch. 13, the specifics. Yes, there are such intimacies, but the general plan appears as above noted.
Again, Ch. 19 introduces you to the celestial and in that sense is a Summit, but it leads instantly on to the results in action. Perhaps it is best thought of as a Summit-Valley flash! It proceeds to the same sort of Chapter in 20, with celestial perspective prominent, but with the Valley of action on earth proceeding in sequence. Chapters 21-22 are the natural outworking of the power and plan of God, albeit in heaven, and hence partake simultaneously of both kinds, the Valley part being elevated into Action in Heaven itself. Those are some of the varieties, but it is time to consider the mainstream.
For the moment, let us look at this end section, Revelation Chs. 17-22.
Chapter 17 has been a Summit with quick descent to the Valley. IN that valley we have seen, its perspective established, the Babylon of 7 hills, Rome, gripped in the vice of the victory of the Lord. Her nature, her maturity, her end are all in view. After so long a time of testing and exposure, with her destiny determined from long ago, this bad lady is seen scheduled for action. From the first of the Chapter, she is shown as in a vast panoramic film, to the last. Daniel's last kingdom (Daniel 9, SMR pp. 886ff., 904ff.) is seen still striving for power in her final dismantling; for the harlot is tossed off the beast, which has other things in mind than a medieval majesty in a spiritually adulterous woman on his back. It is as if he literally says, Get off my back! And she … does, smitten.
The beast now manifests himself more freely. The beast ? the final assemblage of self-affirming power for mankind, that blast of hot air on this earth which is the finale for Babel, and the culmination of the religious promiscuity of Babylon that ancient city whose destruction has already for millenia typified what is to become of her successor, that metaphorical and typical 'mystery Babylon'. As to her, there she is, her base sitting not so pretty to the end on her seven hills. Now as we see in Revelation 16:19, 17:16-18), her day passes, and the beast in his liberated unloveliness, he has his little day.
The essence of sin becomes apparent in the beast’s final ordering.
Finance and religion alike are in his paw. A religious false prophet is by his side (Revelation 16:13ff.).
“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
“For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame. And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.
A second beast is in place, to amplify the false and frivolous vainglory of the first one, a sort of spiritual Dr Goebbels to the horror of Hitler, although anything less spiritual in reality, fraud apart, is most difficult to imagine, unless the devil himself, for whom this assemblage is but an arm (Revelation 13:11ff.,20:3). The structure of things is in place for the end.
Then, as a prelude to the final clash between Christ and Consummate Folly, there is the actual dismantling of Rome, with its 7 hills a memento and reference point. It is to be burnt. The false glory is exhibited in detail, the horror of its treatment of the children of man, in spiritual slavery and treatment as means to an end, is given the spotlight for its infamy. The size of the operation is emphasised with its ruin, and here comes the next after such precursors as Nineveh, Tyre, Babylon the type, the smitten city of polluted glory, yes and poor Alexander the Great, so short in his time. Here now comes the 4th kingdom of Daniel, the fourth beast, reaching its culminating time, like a heavily diseased bloom, with no perfume but a stink, like that largest of flowers, one metre across, parasitic bloom that befouls the air.
The harlot, displaced already, is destroyed. The beast in liberated focus in
Ch. 17, leaves us free to pursue the fate of the harlot in detail. This is
Thus Ch. 18 expounds the
harlot, with reference to her kith and kind (Rev. 18:2!);
With the froth of artifice and the art of the artificial, the harlot, the harridan of centuries, thoroughly exposed, purged and burnt up, well may the focus come to the bride of Christ, whose energies and purity have been tested to the uttermost point in the climacteric times as the pressure was on, in this earth; and her testimony has mounted to the heavens, for indeed its performance came from the power of heaven itself.
Of that feature, we have seen after the rapture in Revelation 11, COME UP HERE! the blessed nature, in the classic words of Revelation 12:11. There was that summit perspective, in a Chapter which like some others, reached on in its scope, in terms of its theme. Moving in 12:1ff., from Christ's arrival, it pulsed to the thrust of the finale, as the devil sought to extinguish the people of Christ, those whose heart desired and whose hands sought His commandments: His followers. In that setting, Revelation 12:11 is showing in place, the tenor and tenacity of the saints within a world in the grip of the culminating forces of corruption.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and
by the word of their testimony,
and they did not love their lives to the death.”
Now in Rev. 19, the blessed testimony given, we are seeing the wedding, that official, that open, that public, that universal acknowledgement of their troth with truth, of their fealty to Christ, of being bought by Him, and now brought to Him: that assemblage in unity with Him, of His people in heaven. From this, they are to surge together with Him, as He comes to His kingdom and returns to this earth.
The wedding over, the bride for the Lamb as in Ephesians 5, installed and typified with the fine linen, clean and bright, white and clean as the assemblage comes to this earth (Rev. 19:8,14), then comes the action of the WORD of God Himself, the everlasting Word, the One called Faithful and True. Here is the ultimate in that setting in contrast to the unfaithful and untrue which had spread like the waters over New Orleans, upon this earth. Here comes, surrounded by His saints (I Thessalonians 3:13, Zech. 14:5), the One who is in fact Lord of Lords (unlike the case with the fallen papacy, which had such claims, but had no such place*1A), and therefore God, for HE ALONE is thus (Daniel 4:34-35, Daniel 4:17).
It is He whom none aborts (Isaiah 14:27), and He alone; and it is He to whom none may be even compared (Isaiah 42:5-8, 44:8). Thus is the true and living God, God Almighty, and in the person of His Son, Faithful and True, the Eternal Word, the very WORD OF GOD, so marked, He proceeds, impervious in power, to bring inexorable wrath, unremitting ruin to the devils who have in human form (cf. John 6:69-70), so defiled this earth, and to enact a decisive end to the power structure which has elevated its pretension to the heavens themselves, and taken on the task of making WAR on the Almighty (Revelation 19:19)!
Long has the time been given for it all to show its nature, its heart, its powers and their puny polluting force, its hopes, its filthy dreams and its self-fascinated obloquy, its very words a poem of impurity, a paean of infamy and a pulse of fatal fever (Jude). The beast secular, the second beast religious, their various forms and formats, their essence energised in the flames of hell: with false fire they have come; and now they go.
Eternity is providing a fitting exhibit, for the one, in essence and in ultimacy, so long dwelt on in Rev.17-18, and now categorically and for ever shown in truth: it is an essence unspeakable of sin, longing for lordship, the ultimate enemy using flesh as a vehicle with no more care for its condition or destiny, than the dictators of yore (cf. Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 66:24).
Rather, with impeccable devilishness, has it sought the divine status itself, for the better occupation of pride (cf. II Thess. 2, cf. Ezekiel 28, Revelation 12).
Now it is over. The beast and the false prophet coming at last into the focus of the finale, reach their due destiny; and the devil himself, bereft of power, is put in restraint for a millenial period (Revelation 20). Concerning this in more detail, see Regal Rays of Revelation Ch. 8.
Whatever the duration of that in practical terms - since we have long dealt with symbolic and arithmetical figuring in Revelation (cf. News 87, End-note 1; Acme, Alpha and Omega Ch. 5, SMR pp. 959ff.): it is a period sufficient for the purpose of exposing the hearts of those who merely conform before power, so that at the end of this time, there is a sudden and short change. A final outlet brings the ultimate revolt, which leads to the filter-action, if you will, so that the pretence of giving glory is now removed from the reality of it, like grit on the filter paper.
So does Revelation 20 flow straight on, the SUMMIT of ultimate divine action arising above the VALLEY of Rev. 19. That Chapter held both the Summit and Valley to follow, moving from the wedding of the Lamb to the return to this earth of Christ to rule, leading to the restraint on the devil for the millenium, followed by the resurgence of the wicked as it ends, that hopeful but vain revolt, and the termination of the globe altogether.
That, as we see in II Peter 3, is a thorough work of divestiture (Rev. 20:11, 21:1), the universe departing with much energy, which is not unnatural, since much was put into it in the first place. Judgment then ensues on the nakedness of man without his bastion of self-aggrandisement, this present world, for it is gone! (Revelation 20:11).
The last grandeur of earthly wonder has gone; the last yields to the First and the Last, who proceeds to the judgment: the books are opened, the book of life with the names of the Lord's people inscribed from eternity (Ephesians 1:4), and the book of judgment, where sin without cancellation through the Cross, remains.
You remember Isaiah 26:10 ?
“Let grace be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn
In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly,
and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.”
So is the predicted case in Revelation: even in a millenium, man in great numbers, does not mellow! Enough remain plague-hearted, for the revolt (Rev. 20:8-10), even in such a time as this. It is so because it is neither poverty nor pain nor culture nor talent which is the criterion of man's failure: it is inveterate rebellion and chronic inflammation of the heart of sin. Revelation in 21-22 proceeds in a merger of uplifted valley and spiritual summit, for all the action now is celestial, but actual, so that there is a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1), and there New Jerusalem which descends from heaven, from God Himself.
Thus we leave at last behind the inveterate pre-occupation with self-centred power, persistent even in the midst of the beauties of the millennium, unable to settle; and exposed to the end, it ends exposed. Its accretions of villainy of heart, are now given something more objective than even an X-ray! It is vile.
So we move to delightful creation of Revelation 21-22.
Here the Summit has the Valley elevated to its very presence, and we move to heaven itself, interpreted, its nature and wonder dwelt on: just as had been the infamy of the harlot, and the arrogations of the beast, yes and the delusive dynamics of the false prophet. Their lair has gone; our Lord has come, and has taken us who love Him, to be with Him where He is (as in John 14). We arrive in these last two Chapters where no valley is, for every valley shall be exalted (Isaiah 40).
Faith, philosophy, false fervour, pretence, pretension, arrogance, pride, vanity, courage, rest in the Lord, all have been tried, and the trials are accounted. Eternity has the evidence; and faith which has for its object Jesus the Christ, this has the victory (as in I John 5:4); and small wonder they are deemed victors, for HIS is the victory and HE has given it, which must be received; and small surprise is it that they cry, at the Extensive Summit of Revelation 15, as we see in its setting:
"And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire:
and them that had gotten the victory over the beast,
and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name,
stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
"And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
'Great and marvellous are Your works, Lord God Almighty;
just and true are Your ways, You King of saints.
'Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
for You only art holy:
for all nations shall come and worship before You;
for Your judgments are made manifest.' "
In all these things, one sees that the FREEDOM God has given to man is of a peculiarly potent quality.
It can take him to the worship of his own creations, such as a kingdom welded from several persons or bodies of power, looming in lordly atmosphere over the entire earth. It can lead him to having a church which is so far from virginal in its cleansed condition, that it is the very epitome of harlotry, of MISUSING its very POSITION, as if His elect, to damn and damage the denizens of this earth. It can seize the term 'Rock' despite Psalm 62, as if it were endemic to itself, or its imaginary appointee (cf. SMR pp. 98-99).
B - PONDERING THE PERSPECTIVE
Let us review it a little, in the perspective of who and what man is.
As Revelation 17-19 moved on to its climax, what in particular have we seen highlighted in the vexatious spirit of unbelieving mankind ? It was such a thrust of misled power, spilling its spirit onto the spillway, overflowing at the end: its accretions are many, and the harlot burnt, its follies are freed. This liberalisation of its evil is used for more ample disregard of deity, of lordship, while its head becomes like a tombstone and its ideas like hot coals. It takes the title of Lord, that is, it is to be WORSHIPPED on pain of death. The religious beast is bent on making the primary Beast the ultimate. Thus it is seen purveying its own false glory as a beast, a second beast, a dragon in lambswool (Rev. 13:11ff.), adulating flesh in political-financial-social-religious format, operates on its behalf. The harlot is gone at this stage; but the bestiality still seeks a duo, and what a duet they sing!
Bare of back now that the harlot is off, the rigors of the surrealism of the spirit of evil teems with seemingly delightful follies; yet these are almost as short lived as the spill over the precipice (cf. I Thessalonians 5:1-10), to which we turn.
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
"You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.
Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
"For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him."
Peace and safety ? Vain hope for what is at odds with its Creator. As to the spirit of rebelliousness, in man, buoyed by the devil, energised by culture, backed by misled academia most often: there is virtually no limit to its aspiration, no hold on its arrogance, no brake to its arrogations, no shame in its USE of political power to promote its wares, no point in its pretensions, and no end to its mischief except the destiny of damnation, where it quite simply belongs. It is for this reason, not least, that Christ quite distinctly indicated that HE DID NOT PRAY FOR THIS WORLD!
It was for those in it, not that diseased and soon to be deceased system, on whose account He gave prayer, focussing on those who should come and had come into the kingdom; while looking that any should believe and so receive the inimitable gifts of the grace and friendship of God Almighty, seen in the face, found in the person of Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever, immutable in glory: as becomes Him who is "I AM"!
There is the delicacy of delicacies, the Lord in whom His people have delighted, with the river of the water Life streaming in the midst, and the Lamb the Temple and the Light, eternal truth, gracious in disposition as in Revelation 7:13-17, illimitable in holiness, Creator of all (Revelation 21:22-23, 22:1). Here is the temple and here is the light (Revelation 21). As it is, so it will be; and as it has commenced, so will it be consummated, but let us pause to consider the delicacy of that tableau in Rev. 7:
"Then one of the elders answered, saying to me,
'Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?'
"And I said to him, 'Sir, you know.'
"So he said to me,
'These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation,
and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night
in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.
They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat;
for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them
and lead them to living fountains of waters.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.' "
Macho-man, super-man devotees and denizens in that depth - for it is no height at all, but imaginary flights, in fact zestfully zooming to the mines of malady - they have to assert themselves, their culture, their religious preference, their this or their that, but the objective and manifest living God, from Him they turn as sheep before the sheep dog, unwilling to find the desired gate, as if drugged, demented, sundered from their place. What to them is an awkwardness and perhaps a desire not to be herded, is in man an aweseom omission and desire not to know God! Gods who can be handled, manipulated, controlled are fine, an augmentation of life; but the God of creation brings fear to many a heart, and pride soars like a balloon in search of barbed wire, though it knows it not.
The spirit of unbelief, the travail of dis-faith, the renegacy from the royalty which is God's own, this has by this time had its day, with its Babylon, its Rome, its flush with the newly freed fervour of the beast, its false prophet to epitomise millenia of pretence, its systems of controls; and its devil, that Satan, that deceiver, receives at last, his just deserts, his desert where his aridity may burn.
His way of error, path of pride, discipline of deceit, delight in deviousness, it is gone as we move on in our raised Valley, to the Summit Divine, heaven itself. Gone is the gyration of evil gimmicks, and the whole dynamic of the devil.
We see then the last of the scope of its power, the duration of its derivative devilries, the sham of its shamelessness and the hold of its arresting force, which enslaved man, making of him a chattel for its aspirations, a prisoner for its puny dreams. Indeed, its great religious type, Rome, became a cage for every foul bird (Revelation 17). What a litany as the place is opened up preparatory to judgment, as seen in Rev. 18:2. It has become, the text declares,
"a dwelling place of demons,
a prison for every foul spirit,
and a cage for every unclean and hated bird."
To be sure it is mystery Babylon that is on the forehead of the 'harlot' (17:5), but it is centred at the time of Rev. 17, no less in Rome, for so it is specifically identified (Rev. 17:9); and this is the story of its own peculiar departure by fire, from the global scene of power and scurrying, hurrying, worrying and not tarrying for the truth. Let us expand on this situation a little.
This harlotry towards God has been settled as we have seen, in its death mask position, as ROME quite explicitly; but its MYSTERY aspect as in Revelation 17, this has been that admixture of faithless myths and dreams which came to a height in the city of Babylon, duly destroyed and humbled to the mounds, and proceeded to the Rome which went on, with its Romanism. Therefore the fourth and final empire predicted in Daniel 7, Daniel 2, has indeed proceeded in many forms, partly strong and partly broken, as Daniel equally prescribed from the mouth of the Lord (cf. SMR pp. 902 - 911).
Indeed, it is marvel of prophecy that this has been so, that that great city, that concept of Empire about it, that portion of Europe that the Roman Empire held, has so amazingly continued its thrust and lust. When you consider not only the Holy Roman Empire, and its unholy manipulation of kingdoms and papal decrees and directives concerning invasions and the like, not entirely missing even by World War I (cf. SMR pp. 921ff.), or for that matter in its own diplomatic but powerfully influential manner, in World War II (cf. SMR pp. 955, 968 - 969, *9, 921); and when you further consider the outreach of Europe in the Portugese, German, Spanish and Belgian hinterlands, not to mention that of Great Britain in its empire on which allegedly the sun never set, a Britain indubitably part of that former Empire, Daniel's fourth and final one; and when to this you look at the movement to aggregation and European Union, there is an awesome seeming appearance to this broken and yet continuing concept: the FOURTH. As it was to be, so it has been, and so it is, and as it is, it is becoming more and more the integral reality forecast FOR THE END of the AGE!
That Empire, or
beast, religious, secular, carnal, it has not ceased (cf. SMR pp.
886ff.. 924ff.); but it ceases
near the end, literally burnt up (Rev. 18) as Revelation unfolds what is to
be; and its cessation has phases, in the loss of the harlot, the presence of
the false prophet and the three frogs from
his mouth, which spread spiritual vanity and unreason (Revelation 16), and
their determinate end
( see TMR Ch. 8 at frogs).
The spirit of delusion and deceit, devilish, degraded, debased, debasing, it comes to go.
What then ? Let us rehearse what we have found and see it in the light of the entire word of God.
Rome took the sceptre of infamy, in the form of Romanism then, as Revelation 17-19 makes all too clear, and it moved towards its appointed end, its aggregations and spiritual companions in tune; and then on its demise, the vauntings of more direct tilts at the Lord, thrust on like demented Don Quixotes, to the Revelation 19:19 declaration! Alas, there is little that is jocular in this!
As to this evil dynamic, this harlotry, this unholy holiness and unreal religiosity, Rome received it, and in turn dallied with it, held hands, and participated in the very spirit of its illiberal liberalism.
In this, it has been vaunting itself above the word of God, both written and Eternal; for as John 1 tells us (On Bible Translations 17, n 34), GOD was the Word. The beginning and the end IS God (Revelation 1:8). What created ALL things, the whole category of creation, is UNCREATED of necessity! This is statedly the Lamb, in this book of Revelation. There is NONE OTHER received or acceptable for rule or mastery (Matthew 23:8-10), whether a beast dressed as a lamb, a false prophet or a kingdom of misrule where the beast's final form is revealed.
It is the LORD ALONE to whom man must come. Whether Rome, or beast, or false prophet, or spirit of delusion, that is all vain: there is ONE God, and ONE Lord and ONE faith (Ephesians 4:4). What is other, is alien.
It is not to Peter, not to a Pope, not to a False Prophet, not to a chewer and spitter out of the word of God, not to a tradition, not to an admixture, not to a regime, post-Rome but not post-4th kingdom: it is to none of these man is designed to come. It is to the Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh that man must come, and ANY other option is designed, destined and directed to the fiery finale which is the ultimate requisite for rubbish. What rubbishes the truth, alas, is rubbish. It has no truth in it.
There is no other God, from the beginning, nor is there any to compare in the presence of the Almighty (Psalm 89:6). NONE in the heavens can be compared to the Lord, nor share His name, nor be with Him at the beginning (John 1:1), when all creation was made, so that NOTHING was made without the Word (John 1:3), the inventor of the created category!
Those who want to have Him a mere creature, therefore would have Him make Himself, before He is even there to do it, a mere beginning of the figments of folly which arrest the declining hearts of many. Such is the way of many of the sects. Those who want Him to be conceived as God, and yet to share the mastery, are merely inventing what is not God, and worshipping their own creation, using a name above every name as an adjunct to themselves, their wares and their presumptuous prescriptions. Those who would have new gospels begotten from a church, call them traditions or revelations or whatever other term appeals, accretions, additions, even a spirit or whatever: they but deceive themselves.
It is HE or nothing.
The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10), and it is not an inventory of invented Jesus creations to which this refers, but to the One whom the apostles saw and heard (Acts 1), and to His immutable Gospel, everlasting and sure (Galatians 1, Revelation 14:6).
All these things come to pass as prescribed, that many may wrestle vainly to find rest, restless in their shame, agile in spiritual necrosis, joining in the harlotry of Babylon in its mystery form; and also that many may rest in their Lord, who IS Lord, the Lord of glory who took the cross of shame: whose name stands alone from all innovation of form, format or formula.
Such deceptions have had a long history and long in history has been the occupancy of "mystery Babylon" by Rome. This however is merely a matrix for the finale! As it unwinds, it is not alone; for the quota of the saints, the cleavage of the Christians, the church of the living God, not in idolatrous confusions or pretentious profusions, but in faith, where it is, by His word, where it is received (John 17:8-12): this continues like clouds above the earth. Inseparable until its call comes (Revelation 11:12), and having obeyed the call to leave the Babylonish battalions (Revelation 18:4, cf. Romans 16:17), the body of Christ, called for its mission to be complete, continues till its time comes, saying, Come, Lord Jesus! Come! (Revelation 22:17-21, I Corinthians 16:22).
The stakes mount at the time left grows smaller, like the sand in an hour-glass, reluctantly passing on the last grains, below. We have found that Rome, at last rejected, is surpassed with the false prophet and the beast with its now bare back; yet its ways have been an ultimate essence.
Yes, we have seen that: But consider man, so pathologically twisted, so sadly arrested, so chained! What a creation he is and has been!
God did not make a series of robots. He did not so clamp the wings of the flight power of man to his side that he could neither invent nor mimic, if he had the mind for it, or that he must fail to ridicule, mock or disregard the Lord Himself, like children miming in offensive derogation, their teachers, hunching and huffing and rolling the eyes in ridicule, or smugly ignoring their presentations.
He made people in His own image, as stated from the FIRST, and shown to the LAST. That is, mankind CAN, is so constructed that he MAY, elect
God in a ludicrous imposture if he will;
to run the earth as though he himself with his puny beginnings of
comprehension tickling his vanity,
to seize in the arms of adulation, his own person as if it were in some way understood and
However, on the WAY to that nothing, which is in fact anything but nothing, but rather devastating judgment, there is something so specious and hideous, so unenlightened, so stricken with the suavity of the sophist while striking with the thrust of an adder, that the end is looming like a bomb, to which the sizzling lead is now so near that you sense the tension!
IS IT SURPRISING that this is precisely where man is coming ? in injustice,
While all this transpires, in the more directly arena of confrontation with God, there is the play with magic, as in organic evolution and its many earthy companions, religious or other, with what is misnamed, mismatched with fact (cf. Aviary of Idolatry, the Highway to Hell); and there is the flirtation with folly, as miseducation adds to the follies of the fathers, in the ears of the children, who, misformed and misshapen duly come, to be corrupted by vacuity. It is here that wildness roams and nothing gives place to ANYTHING! whether in name or reality. As in the days of Elijah, they call on a power, on an idol, on what is simply not there, and ignore the One who has caused man to be, so that in liberty he might deny if he will, all he is; or do something far better.
What then ? Not content with inviting doom, they pre-dispose their children.
There are tirades and there is tyranny, there is imprisonment, of which the efforts of the Inquisition with its dungeons and torture irons is merely an illustration; for the souls of men are put in prison, and that either willingly or through weakness under duress of the clammy cultures which they invent and esteem.
There has been imperious
imperialism in Romanism,
Babylon, though clearly sited, enlarges itself into space. It moves on many sides, this vamping of the souls of men, carried out with many who are in the mystery expansion section of the matter, performing the same thing in their 'independent' streams, actually no less forlorn that the city itself, since their presumption against the power, purity and purpose of God is no less in the end. In that climate, indeed, you either COME as you are asked, BELIEVE as you see at last the truth, and FOLLOW the Lord and therefore His word as His own, which is written and immovable (cf. Matthew 5:17ff., Galatians 1): or you invent and combine and synthesise and enjoy yourself with all the liberty of those oppressed, though the life of the Lord Himself was given to deliver you.
The book of Revelation, in its constant recourse to the SUMMITS, keeps all things in perspective, in their ultimate simplicity. This gives meaning to man and to his earnest worries about the earth and the climate and the wars and the psychological conundrums which follow from the pretence that God did not make him: so that in a large, involved, convoluted and corrupted mass he awaits the final controls of the infamous, which having chewed up what it may of mankind, then seeks a consummation in corruption, as if itself Lord.
From the FIRST, this was the character of the deception of the devil (Rev. 20:2-3, Genesis 3), and to the last, it is the pre-occupation of mankind, to BE what it is not, to KNOW what it cannot: to act as God, beside Him, and to RULE as he cannot, since misrule knows no rule; and that in fact, it is the prescription of the devil for the current, the contemporary generation, which degenerates before our eyes, into a ruin which is to be rubble. This is to be seen in the light of Romans 1:17ff., and its tracing of the regression of the rebellious, who do not care to retain God in their knowledge, and whose ways become so like those of today, that it is like a millenium in advance news item. It does not make pleasant reading ? But then, neither do the newspapers which report what fulfils it all.
Who would not understand such simplicity! Who cannot see the prescribed symptoms of this pandemic as they force themselves with violence onto the realm of one's sight! IT IS IN ESSENCE AS ONE WOULD EXPECT, AND AGAIN, IT IS PRECISELY AS FORETOLD*1, REASON AND REVELATION, CONSCIENCE AND COMMAND ALIKE IN THEIR TESTIMONY.
Excuse there is none; ESCAPE however there is, in returning with humility and horror at sin, to the Lord, in seeking and finding His mercy which is in Christ, the One who of the time before Abraham, could say, I AM! It is to the Lord who as man has provided that divine elevator, free and sure, to heaven, by taking in His own self, the sin, and rising in His own self to His former eternal estate, the Redeemer, taking the resurrected body with Him, to be glorified, the very vanquisher of death, by removing its ground, for faith to receive, from His account!
That may receive relatively few in percentage terms (Matthew 7:15ff.); but it does receive many in absolute terms (Matthew 26:28). Thus, as in the book of Revelation, He receives at last His own bride, the believers, and comes with them, duly identified as in Revelation 19, in judgment. They are no small crew!
It is all clear. Metaphors there may be; but all this means is that there is no symbolism about the meaning of those metaphors. If you say, I have an iron hand! to be sure it does not mean that your hand is made of metal; but then again, it does not mean that you lack a hand, that is power, or that it lacks force!
It is necessary occasionally at least, to think thoughts that are real, not surreal, and not to take a trip with erratic irrelevance, but to face the word of God. It is indeed, in the end, necessary, not only to tune in to what it is saying, but to FOLLOW Him whose it is, and to find IN HIM, what God has for you, and what you are to do for Him.
He did not make man to be an otiose oddity, but an effectual servant and even a clear-hearted friend, like Abraham. You cannot be friends with Him whom you detest, whose word you divest, whose ways you suggest are but for a moment, to be torn from His breast, and still in His name, act on some innovatory conception, the faith altered irremediably.
The current Babylonian battering of truth has only one end. The book of Revelation shows what it is, in some detail, both in those of the Valleys which are in the end, never to be elevated, and in the fields borne aloft, where are to be found heroism and courage, where there is faith which works because life acts, where there is heard testimony that is truth, because the word of God IS truth (what would you expect, that a creation could contrive to find it, outside the mind of his own Maker!).
There are those who if need be, are even slain for the testimony of truth and for the blood of the Lamb, and who in any case keep to it, since they KNOW their Shepherd, and false ones are plainly ludicrous, lacking power, purity and commission! (Revelation 12:11). Their time comes, for the world has had long to show every option, every of them one faced by THIS ONLY alternative, one at a time falling down before it: but wounded, seeking to rise. Is it any wonder this world shudders ?
What is to be envisaged from the principles of the Bible, is what is to be seen; and what is found is what is written, as men walk this globe, wilfully avoiding its purpose, to strive in vain and to see it rot.
What does not rot is reality, and where it is to be found is where it has SHOWN itself to be, verifying with passion, in deeds of compassion, operating in precision, with deeds of power, always fulfilling to the uttermost what is written, right to the landslides of lordliness, by which man at the end, makes a minting of false prophets, with the coin of corruption, amid fears and terrestrial devastations, always trusting characteristically in himself, always worrying, increasingly hurrying, flurrying like snow flakes falling in the wind, melting as the sun rises. And it both does and will rise!
This frantic erraticism is no place for man, and he knows it; but if he WILL not repent, then made in the image of God, that is both his glory and his shame. He may so act; but if he does, it is an illusion which, like imagining you lack cancer when its thrusting tendrils colonise in brain and vital organs, unheeding your illusion, has the tang of death.
This then is the final operation, and it is available, this being born of God ( I John 3). It is then that the cancers are thrust to one side, and health is given its full scope, not in ignorant dream, but proceeds with the intensity of acuity and actuality; for the test is sure, and faith is not left to be idle, but meets its challenges. The exposure of what man is, the testing of his life, this is not a formality, but a final function of life.
Thus does Peter make it clear (I Peter 1:3-12):
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled
and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
who are kept by the power of God
through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be,
you have been grieved by various trials,
that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes,
though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory
at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
whom having not seen you love.
"Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith - the salvation of your souls.
“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully,
who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,
searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them
was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ
and the glories that would follow.
"To them it was revealed that, not to themselves,
but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you
through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit
sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into."
We have, then, looked at the later chapters of Revelation in terms of Valleys and Summits, Action and Perspective, and seen the merging at times of the latter into the former, as it is applied; and found that there may even be action which has its immediate outcome in the Valley. We have seen that the Valley is in the end, not more; but its work was done in time, before its results, its fruits were to be seen in Eternity, where the Lamb is both Light and Temple.
Let us now revert to the earlier parts of the book of Revelation, with Valleys and Summits in mind.
C - SOME EARLIER REVIEW
PERSPECTIVE, PERFORMANCE ALTERNATION
At the first, in the book of Revelation, we move from the Valley to the Summit, as we meet John and then find his revelation from the Lord, who manifests Himself to Him, with depiction of what is to be given, the things to come. These are to take place quickly, without delay, the Greek phrase indicates. It must of course be read in the biblical perspective, as in II Peter 3:8-10, where developments that to us may seem slow, in fact have a powerful meaning and majesty, which is displayed; for beside eternity, this is a ripple.
It will also be but short in retrospect, no doubt, to those who at last find so great a work done, as the testimony to the coming of the Son of God, from eternal domain, to the life of man, in order to bring the latter to the place where his life should be lived, in the manifest presence of God; yet not without trial, for there is no insincerity there! It may indeed be that it will not seem too long to those who despite the nearly two millenia, a mirror image very nearly of the time from Abraham to Christ, the epoch of Israel as the standard bearer of the faith, have not closed with Christ, rebellious to the end.
In Revelation 1, then, we find that the revelation of the source of the deposition to John is this: it is from the First and the Last who as in Isaiah 44:6 is God, besides whom, it declares, there is no other.
Then we see the source particularised as the Son of Man, a name for Christ which He gave to Himself, one found in Daniel 7 as the recipient of honour and majesty and power and dominion for ever. There is NO OTHER NAME given to man by which he must be saved (Acts 4:11-12), and the ONLY Saviour being God (Isaiah 43:10-11), this is that person of the trinity with whom we have at the outset to do. He is the way out for the revelation of God, as His Word, and the way in for the salvation of man, as His door (John 10:9), and that salvation is final (John 10:27-28), finished and unduplicable by any man, means or spirit (Galatians 1). It needs no human fulcrum: for like the first creation, so the creation of a clean and a new heart, this too is a work of God Himself (II Corinthians 5:17ff., John 3), wrought by His Spirit (cf. I Cor. 12:13, John 3).
The Alpha and Omega has already spoken in 1:8, and is now seen in His Declarative Word (Rev. 1:11 and for those a little hard of hearing, 1:17): one God, and it is He, God the Son who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth of which there is ONE, in the presence of His Father, robed in the majesty of the triune, definitively God from the language, the position, the power. We reach not to the foothills, but to the mountain head, not to the emissaries, but to the Lord God Himself (cf. John 20:27-29, where this realisation is a cardinal principle for Christianity, at the mouth of Christ).
Then this Son having again declared Himself the First and the Last (Rev. 1:17, as in 2:8), the divine signature from Isaiah, in the most exclusive possible context in that prophet (Isaiah 44:6), makes the matter divinely simple, declaring,
"I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.
And I have the keys of hell and death."
Here is He who can open and none shut, whom none restrains, and here, then is God Himself, in His definitive expression, in authority over the destiny of life (Isaiah 14:27).
WRITE! He says, to the apostle John.
In terms of Valleys and Summits, then, here we have started in the Valley, by which one refers to the realm of normal action in this world: we do it with John on the Lord's Day, the Sunday, John in the Spirit on that blessed day, commemoration of the resurrection and acme of rest: and we find this commission, this authority, this authentication of the deity of Christ and this transmission of His testimony to the apostle.
Chapters 2-3 are in the Valley of Church life ON THIS EARTH, quite simply, while yet they arise to the concept of judgment and diagnosis with destiny. Hence they are a valley kind of chapters, but the Summit looms like a vast cloud with the sun shining, or the gloom unabated, as the case may be, above. Again, by the Summit one means that whisking to the celestial, where perspective is granted concerning the earthly scene, or action impending is forecast.
Chapters 4-5 take us most specifically to the Celestial Summit, the reality of worship of the Creator of ALL THINGS (as in John 1) and the Initiating Heavenly Process, by which the Lamb takes the scroll in which lie depicted the coming events of which He spoke in Ch. 1. Such is the dramatic scene in Ch. 5.
Such however is the finality and drama attached to this unrolling of the history to come, as if one were to see the results of a laboratory work of many years, or the new work of some great author, while here it concerns the immoveable work of the sovereign God, that there is at first no one found who could unscroll it. It is too profound, judgments in it too deep, it is so final that who would DARE to take hold of it, or to handle the things of eternity!
Who but God the Son, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), just as He is Himself the very Purchaser of eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12)! Operating as the eternal word of the eternal God, increate (John 1:3), yet having humbled Himself literally to the dirt for love, HE opens it. Let us consider this one moment.
History is too pregnant, the ultimates too exalted, too gruesome or too wonderful, to be finally exposed to every eye. Thus the delay to show the eminence and authority of the Son (cf. John 5:19ff.). It is as in the transition from Isaiah 41 to 42, or from 51:16 to 52, that there is NO ONE capable of handling the ultimates of history, the necessities of sublime and infinite counsel, the axes of humanity, to show it turning to its last. NONE, says Isaiah, NONE can be found; but it is only when the eye turns to the Messiah in whom is the Father's delight, only then that someone is found. NO MAN is found; but the incarnate God AS man, He is found (cf. I Timothy 3:16).
Is it forever, this scroll, then, to lie unopened ? Is the fire too hot, the end too calamitous, the thing too awesome ? Not at all, as in Isaiah 51:16, God has the answer, one prepared before He so much as made the earth (cf. with Isaiah, see Revelation 13:8, Ephesians 1:4). It is the LAMB who is found, the sacrificial offering of God by God to man as man, the ONLY name as Saviour that there is. Just as the Messiah, the Servant, was found in Isaiah 42:1ff., after the lack amongst men, of such one, so the provision of God comes, as it was symbolised and typified to Abraham, at the potential sacrifice of Isaac, when GOD HIMSELF provided a lamb! (Genesis 22:8-13).
The "lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29) had to come, though many are they who avoid His offer, and do not use His glorious function.
He had to come where no one has had his home from eternity, from the Creator Himself, who is the ONLY GOD THERE IS (cf. Isaiah 44:24, 45:18ff., Colossians 1:15ff., John 1:3). Having created, He now paid for the re-creation, the salvation.
Like a solar flare, in one respect, moving from the interstices of the great orb, so is this finger of God, this expression with all His incandescence and power (Hebrews 1:3), laden with His power, moved in His expression, showing Him forth. HOW did He show Him forth ? It was in compassion, in companionship, in correction, in concern, in healing, in helping, in answering, in resolving mysteries, in confuting false shepherds, in paying for sin, in disrupting death on time, in three days as pre-announced for centuries (cf. SMR Ch. 6), and constantly affirmed by Himself when on earth. It was not enough to be resurrected, just as it was not deemed sufficient for all practical purposes, to come; but the announcement was made both of the time He would be in the grave, as to body, and the date at which it would occur, as to history (More Marvels Ch. 4).
Thus, in Revelation 5, we see acclaim when HE comes to take the scroll which will undo history and let it flow to its fateful, but in much, glorious destinies.
Praise comes quickly as this ultimate sacrifice comes with ultimate sovereignty in the ultimate deity that is His, and blessing, honour, glory and power come to Him in association both in the throne and in the reception of the unique accolades reserved for deity (Rev. 5:13). Praise mounts to the heavens, as this Lamb who shares the very glory of God (Rev. 5:13), who REFUSES to give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8), but rejoices to load it on this His Son, who though He was in the form of God, yet took in humiliation out of love, the form of a man (Philippians 2). His worthiness is unlimited (Rev. 5:12).
From this SUMMIT, to give meaning and understanding and perspective: at once we move to the VALLEY of Ch. 6.
Here seals in sequence are opened, seals laden with rebuke for mankind, as in multitudinous multiplicity, making himself foreign to God. Piece by piece the information is to come, and so the movements of the dynamic called history, are released. It is to mankind; and what a crowd is this, and what pathos that man should so adroitly, led by deception, so lower himself, when the heights call from the voice of his Maker, and the grace of his Redeemer. So the seals come, and some will respond, but they are few (cf. Matthew 7:15, Rev. 9:20ff.)
The first seal (Rev. 6:2) is of special significance as its whiteness and conquest in the light of the symbolism suggest the immediate spread of Christianity as in fact happened, with rapid force and grand zeal in the civilised world. Amidst calamity to come, there is the cry of the martyrs, in the 5th seal (6:9ff.), who learn that there is more yet, and that the cone of history is not about to be truncated, however 'speedily', and however much 'without delay', its terminal events are to transpire.
Then back to the SUMMIT we go, in Ch. 7, where we see both the symbolic depiction of the chosen Jews, 12 times 12 of them in super-abundance, and this a thousand times, and then the statedly innumerable Gentile hordes of Christians, exposed to view from their celestial heights and resting place, like a harvest of holiness, crying with a LOUD voice,
"Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb."
It is a joint operation of those two persons of the trinity, who alone is Saviour, whose alone is salvation, who applies it by the Spirit (as in John 16:8ff.). We remember again, from Isaiah 43:10-11, that ONLY God is saviour, just as there is no other name by which men must be saved (Acts 4:11-12). From all sides, and in all directions, the scripture says one thing from one God, and its mouth is most clear (cf. Proverbs 8:8).
The pastoral felicity in the Lamb in the Celestial Summit is shown with great tenderness in Rev. 7:16-17, as one would expect from the GOOD SHEPHERD, whom God promised PERSONALLY to be and to become (Ezekiel 34) and as whom Christ identified Himself (John 10).
In Ch. 8, we move, first on in the summit for a moment, with the 7th seal, which occasions half a holy hour of silence in heaven, such is its pregnancy with the child of coming events. Then jarringly to earth we go, to the valley which is low indeed! Then we see the power of effectual prayer like incense poured forth (Rev. 8:3), and then ... ACTION!
Then trumpets sound, associated with vast and systematic judgment on a macro, or even giga-scale, upon the earth.
Ch. 9 simply continues this scene of terrestrial judgment, very much in the VALLEY. Spiritual evils take on dynamic forms, and the non-repentance of man in the valley is most conspicuous despite this augmentation, this amplification of the curse into its full complement (Rev. 9:20-21). Impenitence is impenetrable, but some will be saved, as we see as we progress, and saw in that glorious SUMMIT scene in Ch. 7 before.
Now we move to SUMMIT TRIAD in Chs. 10-12. While awaiting the seventh trumpet of desolation, we come to the celestial scene of an angel clothed in a cloud, obscuring somewhat his power and task, but with a rainbow set on his head, to remind us that mercy is the ultimate, and love is the context and that though judgment is to come (despite any apparently excessive period, as in II Peter 3:9), it is as a long-delayed finale. It is one reached only where mercy first has paid ALL for deliverance, and that one which was free and loving (cf. Rev. 21:6), compassionate and wonderful, and performed by this same Lamb who is Ultimate Lord. The judgment is executed by the very One sent for salvation, and none can find it except this is disregarded (John 3:19).
It is therefore judgment which appropriately BELONGS to the Lord, as Jonah also saw! (in his own private preliminary version of judgment, swallowed up IN the sea, but not BY the sea - Jonah 2). It is not,
"this hurts me more than you!",
but it is almost as if instead this were being said:
"I have already borne all needed to deliver you, and since to you heaven is hell, because of your pride, folly, rejection slip syndrome, alas, truth cannot die that you may live, and you must face judgment; for the very love of God is immutable, and His purity is bliss, and there is no other way but this."
That is the scriptural tenor of it.
No more delay! At last, and it now seems fast, events are to proceed (Rev. 10:6). Indeed TIME ITSELF in our terms, is soon to be dispersed! John EATS the book, so that it is assimilated within (Rev. 10:9), and it is sweet in his mouth as is the word of God to the believer, but its bitterness, that of the cross of Christ refused, and so suffered by unrepentant sinners, is to be felt also! MORE is to be prophesied, and so John proceeds on the expansive task, so swift, and yet with much to perform for in this setting, a thousand years are as a day!
Chs. 11-12 are super-summits, in which the whole epoch of Gentile dominion over Jerusalem is sketched in, using the arithmetical symbolism derived from Daniel *2, and this of course fortifies greatly the understanding of Christ's prediction that Jerusalem would in fact be trampled under the foot of the Gentiles UNTIL their day, their phase in the Jew-Gentile two-step, was over. It is now over, as you see, and could see with some clarity since 1967, and the writhing of this earth with false prophets and foolish misuse of atomic powers since that time is becoming not a thing of control, but uproar! The terminus of this phase is like a craze!
The further SUMMIT depiction of perspective proceeds, as the two witnesses to the truth are killed, those who have held forth for the same arithmetically indicated period as that of the entire Gentile dominion over Jerusalem! It is the church of the living God which is indicated by these, as was the entirety of the princely, priestly structure of Jerusalem and Israel in the original of this olive tree symbolism, in Zechariah 4.
This in our time of course signifies the falling of the major denominations, the arising of the sects of folly, the rebels who use the name and at times the very uniform of Christ in order to attack Him, and the chief is Rome as we have already seen (cf. SMR pp. 729ff., 946ff., Biblical Blessings Ch. 2); but hers is not the ultimate in this scenario of the fallen, as she is statedly to be displaced Rev. 17:14-16: and the false prophet is to have his more MODERN FLING (in process, and awaiting its consummation shortly! cf. News 121, 122, 82, SMR pp. 684ff., 857ff.).
These witnesses (cf. News 87, End-note 1; Acme, Alpha and Omega Ch. 5 ) are the actual Church, the two as required for testimony (John 8:17ff.), as we see from Zechariah, where the olive tree terminology is placed, now deployed in action!
Thus the formal power of the British (Protestant) Empire is gone, the name of the game on all sides of the power is delusion (cf. The gods of naturalism have no go!), and folly froths at the mouth in its hurry to intimate, intimidate and mislead the children of mankind. Error plays with sex in its offices, same sex couples co-ordinate in massive effrontery against the Maker of all things, and disaffection from morality brings its inevitable shame, which becomes a mockery, and a means of massed murder, as in Zimbabwe, as it was in Cambodia, in Vietnam, as it is in China, as it has been in the Sudan, and growingly in the murder fields of Africa, and the drug clashes in South America; and this proceeds, while typhoons rush and waves perform their appointed tasks (Luke 21:11,25), the predicted era of horrid sights coming with them, as TV expresses the inglorious default in our globe, through sin.
Before the end, when it seems almost as if it is possible to deride the 'fundamentalist' (an unfortunate but useful term for the devil), and divide the churches until they are in the main fallen, when death seems assured for the Two Witness, the Church, yet that people of the Lord arises, fearless and triumphant. This it does despite the galling and even gruesome things to come, which we shall see in Rev. 13, before called aloft, it departs, in the Rapture of Matthew 24, I Thessalonians 4.
COME UP HERE! is the cry, and they go as foretold (Rev. 11:12).
Now we see the importance of recognising the SUMMITS and the VALLEYS especially; for this summit, Rev. 11-12, is giving a cardinal perspective, and to that extent is not limited entirely to the particular valley about it. We see a THEME and pursue it in its integrity, either because it is apt for the current understanding of the valleys before us, or for later valleys, or for themes associated with valleys or future summits. It is exposition, in situ. This type of thing, this species of event is given a tracing here.
At last, now the 7th trumpet sounds, this orientation being now concluded, so that we as reading of it, can understand.
At its sounding, and it is in a sense like a reveille, for the camp is in a new situation, and it is almost like a departure blast, a song of the redeemed and for them and of them, something beautiful occurs. There is the glorious statement of what has now been accomplished. It is this:
"The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ,
and He shall reign forever and ever!"
There is only one whose reign is eternal, and that is God, who with and through His Word, does so rule (Isaiah 14:27). If you do not grasp this, or will not, it is then NOTHING to do with Christianity, or being or becoming a Christian, since this is its centre and meaning, that God is with us, and thus is He with us, through the DEFINITIVE Christ, the express image of His person, of Him who does not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8), and whom none so much as resembles for comparison (Ps. 89)!
Thanks come from the elders as this vast harvest is taken in and this consummation of so much for so long is now safely in hand. The people of God are OUT. It is like the opening of the death camps of the Nazis by the invading Allies in this, that the persecution for them is now over and the endurance test is concluded, the Lord they served is now with them manifestly, as they with Him. Thus have we proceeded in this phase and aspect of the whole, to its very conclusion, seeing it as we look down from the summit to the entire scope of history. As our eyes linger on this consummation, thus surging into the scene for the completion of our understanding at this phase, another field comes before us.
The SUMMIT of Ch. 11, continues with another view, that of Rev. 12, as if a rocket ship now on the one side of the moon, looks down and beams to earth its messages, and then does something similar from the other side of it! Again, it is a vast perspective, going right back to the time of Jesus Christ on earth, in this rather like Ch. 11, and it proceeds in the midst of the topic of persecution, till our eyes see the distance scene receding into finality at last, as Ch. 12 ends.
Now as this Ch. 12 opens, we see the part in this of the devil: himself a most active and acrid personality who is interested in numbers and revolt and rebellion and challenge to the very heart of the throne of God, a substitute for Christ, who would INVADE GOD and seize His goods and persons and people, rather than EXPRESS Him and honour the salvation He provided in His love. Like many too fond of him, he sees no need for salvation: it is for others. As to him, it all depends on him, his is the role, and his is the mscreancy, this non-creator who would control the works of Him who created.
This devilishness is force instead of faith, and riot instead of regality. As to this disastrous personality, the Satan, the adversary, the king of rioters and potentate of rebels, he is thrown out from the very precincts of heaven, with many angels, excluded as "the accuser of our brethren", one who fiercely, and often in virtual frenzy, seeks to overthrow all that is of grace before the face of God, with his revilings and slanders.
Thrown out (cf. Luke 10:18-20), he is however by no means inactive. His diabolical power is countered entirely by that of the salvation of Christ (cf. I John 4:4,3:8, Hebrews 2:14-15), but it is operative where it finds place; which is in much of this unhappy because so afflicted globe, one afflicted in the abuse of liberty and the misuse of love, leading to the judgments arising, and now being enforced.
Angry at his humiliation and lowering, this evil devil, he continues his lustful efforts, like a virus waiting for those not inoculated against him, or not seeking such deliverance.
Like a spewer of floods (Rev. 12:15), the devil sends out from t he power of evil after those who love the Lord; but the earth, in the Lord's mercy, is able to swallow up this disagreeable swamp! Just as we saw in the beginning of this summit, the 12-fold woman, Israel (Rev. 12:1), give birth to Christ on this earth, herself chosen for the repository of such a wonder, so we see the devil seek to kill the child, and later as we read to the end of the Chapter, the persecution that which follows from her (Rev. 12:17). This relates not to her rebellious phase, but to her participation as a twelve-tribed nation in providing the scriptures (as in Romans 9:1-6 precisely) and being the human source place for Christ, to whom now all must come from Israel or any other place, for salvation.
So it is that now we see in continuity (in terms of Romans 11, as in the same olive tree, from which temporarily only, 'Israel' has been lopped off), her 'children' being persecuted by the swamping endeavours of the devil.
As to these, they are currently swamping many a university, college and school, and where this has proved (amazingly) inadequate, then they swamp the media in news and TV in radio and wherever else it can be hammered. They thrust, they labour, they produce noise with this banging of the belittlement of the Bible, of the only and living God, with this riot of reductionism, this Nature Bashing spree (which is the substitute for 'Bible bashing', and a substitution now in full and indeed flood flow - but the earth swallows it up still).
This, it is because God is still available, livingly available, enabling the script to proceed; and His history is unfolding just as Revelation depicted, and how it unfolds. The cyclotron, if you will, is finding its fund of evil dynamics amid its resources, as the most deadly accelerations of folly mount to the skies, as if to mock heaven itself: but God is not mocked! He knows and ACTS, and delay there shall be no longer. We may recall that Rev. 10:6 announced this in the midst of that far-ranging summit, looking forward to the seventh trumpet with its glorious result as noted. It is so, for the time is near (as in Luke 21 with 21:24, in this pattern of history, with the Jews now safely back in Jerusalem, and this no longer under the Gentile heel! though how the Gentiles whine and growl about it!).
We should not, in retrospect, and here is a timely moment, forget that the two witnesses were KILLED (as in China, as for so long in Russia, have so many persons, some by guile and spiritually as by sect and by other seduction, like so much mould and fungus, so many parasites, seeking to take over the power of the word and work of the Lord). Yet you CANNOT really kill them, those who are the people of the Lord; and so they arise! as in Revelation 11:11, before the rapture. Like Master, like servant in this, for HE is the first-fruits, and we who are left are the harvest when His dead body, shall we arise (Isaiah 26:19), the dead in Christ first, and then those Christians who remain yet alive on this earth (I Thessalonians 4, cf. I Corinthians 15:50ff.).
Now we reach the point where the celestial SUMMIT of 10-12 is past, and the VALLEY is increasingly full of water!
Let us put it mechanically: Rev. 13 shows the screw being turned in this new inquisition, for the harlot does not stay (Rev. 17:16-17, in a forthcoming valley), and the beast, the fourth in its culmination, of Daniel, although undergoing some transformation, like a snake shedding a skin, is taking over from the harlot, asserting its internal and intrinsic power, for she was but an episode, however damning, and proceeds without her (cf. Rev. 17:13-14). In Rev. 13, we find this, that finance is to be controlled to the uttermost, meretricious marvels are to be performed, astonishing those capable of deception, and the beast gives breath to the image of the beast (13:15), in a sort of devilish attempted parallel to the Lord giving breath to MAN, as in His own IMAGE.
Here is the copy-cat aspect of the devil, the imitative aspect, as E.J. Young liked to stress in his often delightful presentations! What however can he do, this beast, this political-social-financial complex of dominating authority and dehumanised deadness of spirit ? What sort of 'life' is to be found in the image of the beast (cf. News 5).
It cannot have morality, it cannot have life which is genuine, only a falsetto copy, a fabricated deception, along with the other deceptions just noted (Revelation 13:14).
whether cybernetic, an implant, an export of force
whether through personality programmatics, which never reach liberty or
whether through a
man with access, or
via an instrument with erzatz pseudo-humanity:
it is all one in the milieu of deception and self-aggrandisement, which is involved.
WORSHIP OR DIE! comes the same call as occurred in the Roman Empire days, as in the Roman Catholic Inquisition days, within the day of the Holy Romans Empire, when people NOT in the service of the truth, or in its interests, appallingly mocked it by their misuse of force to enhance a useless heresy, to worship bread: as if Christ had committed suicide in the last Supper, being true man with one body accordingly (Hebrews 2), and no one ... noticed! (cf. SMR pp. 1088Dff., John 6:62ff.)
As it has been, so it is and if possible, because of its universality and cutting off of apparent escape routes: it is worse! No wonder those rescued, as seen in Rev. 14:4ff. are referred to as "virgins"; for the power of the harlot to pimp for slaves is vast! So the beast has its own version of CONFORM OR BE KILLED! This is entirely correlative to Rev. 20:4, in its stress on the absence of culpable pollution, so that the physical word "virgin" gives the sense of unspoilt.
How beautiful the reality of Rev. 20:4, where it moves specifically to resurrection itself, that it is not only those "beheaded" as some translations wrongly have it, but quite clearly "and those who not worshipped the beast"! That is indeed the first resurrection, to mercy, of those who meet the Lord, that of I Corinthians 15:50ff.. Both Gospel and the evil stamp have not changed: the essentials remain. On this translation (cf. the NASA, American and English Revised Versions) - see On Biblical Translations, Ch. 4, number 52.
There is a broadness in God's mercy, though it comes, like all good answers, with the stringency of reality, as to where it may be found.
Meanwhile, from this partial parallel, we revert to our present passage in Rev. 13-14.
From this dire VALLEY in Rev. 13, we proceed to the SUMMIT in Rev. 14, where in parallel to the designation of the 144,000 as symbolic of the Jewish segment of the redeemed in Rev. 7, we now have another 144,000, obviously symbolic of something else and parallel. What is it then that it is ? In terms of the 'harlot' (cf. Ezekiel 16, 23) as designated an unfaithful 'wife' (cf. Hosea - where the prophet, by divine command, married an ACTUAL harlot to make the point unmissable, ineludable and in another sense, ineluctable), these are they who have NOT moved to embrace other 'options'. Not for them have been those delirious fragments of the philosophy of man (cf. SMR Ch. 3 in contrast to Ch. 5), nor have these been surreptitiously embroiled in a vicious form and distortion of religion, one used to infect a Christian testimony, so defiling from within, what cannot fail when it moves in its own integrity with the Lord!
These are they who are moved out of the times of almost unspeakable suffering, and come in the adornment of the innocence of the Lord, their Saviour, to heaven, out of the morass, the mess, the myths and the deaths just imposed, as we saw in Ch. 13 preceding.
The everlasting Gospel is then sighted and sited (14:6), going inexorably, indefatigably, unmitigated, untruncated, unintimidated, relentless from love, indomitable from sovereignty of the Lord, sent in its glory from Him who IS glorious; and the message to FEAR GOD and GIVE GLORY TO HIM, is out, for the time of judgment is come! This is like a submersion, and one needs to batten down that hatch, and await with faith, the washings and bursting about one, save in the depths of the controlling power of Christ. History after all is His, and its rigours are within His grasp (Ephesians 1:11).
Babylon is noted as going, for her hour has come at last! (Rev. 14:8). She is fallen! Here is the precursor to what we learn in Rev. 16:19, with 18-19, to come. The beast mixture is doubly intoxicating now, and so be reminded, it proceeds, that if any drink of it, the result is appalling, for there is no remission to this guilt, and the truth shames the shambles that result, unendingly (14:9ff.). Patience is needed, not to capitulate (Rev. 14:12): it is gained from God, and those who are His will not submit, since His law, it is written in their hearts, and He whose they are, He sustains them; and they do not need to explore folly to find its end, or be its butt! Peter himself slipped, but how he repented, and with what bitterness, and how soon was he found on fire (Acts 2), in confrontations (Acts 4-5), in prison for Christ, and brought out of it (Acts 5, 12).
The SUMMIT provides a new phase, as we se the reaping of the earth (Rev. 14:14ff.), and so from this celestial perspective post, we see these grand movements in the spiritual history of man. It must always be remembered that apart from sequenced events in their own outfit, like seals or trumpets or thunders (too horrible ? to be annotated - 10:3-4), perspectives are not by any notation LIMITED to a particular phase. You see this in Ch. 12 for example, when we go BACK to the birth of Christ, and then ON to the endeavours until the END, of the Satan to engulf the church! However, just as we saw earlier the 144,000 symbol of the reaped saints, so now at this ultimate climate, we see the reaping of the other harvest as in Matthew 13;39ff., 24:31). The way with weeds is ever one ... No weed was ever given more scope, more opportunity ...
Vast is the result!
Ch. 15 continues the SUMMIT conferments and conference, as it were, and now in additional perspective, we see symbolically depicted, the holiness of God, the praise where it is found in heaven, by His saints. We observe their marvelling at His marshalling of all history and bringing in its consummation, the acme of information, the culmination of meaning and the visitation of judgment of One SLOW to wrath (Nahum 1:1-9).
Indeed, let us hear Nahum, who sees so much so briefly:
"The Lord avenges and is furious.
The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries,
And He reserves wrath for His enemies;
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.
"The Lord has His way
In the whirlwind and in the storm,
And the clouds are the dust of His feet.
He rebukes the sea and makes it dry,
And dries up all the rivers.
Bashan and Carmel wither,
And the flower of Lebanon wilts.
The mountains quake before Him,
The hills melt,
And the earth heaves at His presence,
Yes, the world and all who dwell in it.
"Who can stand before His indignation?
And who can endure the fierceness of His anger?
His fury is poured out like fire,
And the rocks are thrown down by Him.
"The Lord is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.
"But with an overflowing flood
He will make an utter end of its place,
And darkness will pursue His enemies.
"What do you conspire against the Lord?
He will make an utter end of it."
There has been a long warning, a long working and a long day of mercy! Millenia have known it, with the one message of the one God in its one and only way, fulfilled constantly, applied continually to the hearts of the children of men, and now for over two millenia, in the very midst of the Gentiles, its word spreading over the globe like a torrential rain.
What then do we find ? It is that the Lord is One who, though merciful to profundity, yet when once aroused, is not declining to deal where mercy is rejected, and where truth, for so long mocked, will not be received. We see what is the result where the EVERLASTING GOSPEL (Rev. 14:6 cf. Barbs 17, TMR Ch. 3), being despised, is like a raft neglected in the surging torrent: where following HIS OWN refusal to omit salvation, gained and provided at His own infinite expense, the case moves to man refusing to include it, so freely given, to take to his safety (cf. Hebrews 1:1-3, 2:1-3).
Thus, if man should then omit it at His own folly to receive this provision, there is no more opportunity, but only a certain fiery looking forward (Hebrews 10). Now the FORWARD look in the prophetic eye, this has become the PRESENT for the light of common day! This is it. Now those who said, God cannot do evil or good! find that their mockery of this His mercy and patience, after so long a time, is but mockery of themselves (cf. Proverbs 1, Zephaniah 1:12).
Then the time taken, the few millenia, becomes beautiful, sacred ... and in itself, a further sign of mercy as II Peter 3:8-10 expressly indicates.
D - COMING BACK
TO THE END,
WHICH IS WITH HIM WHO WAS FROM THE BEGINNING
Ch. 16 takes us, as it were, with a bump back to earth. We land amidst the judgments symbolised by pouring out the contents of bowls - bowls of wrath. This Valley is deep!
These vast undertakings are systematic, just as in Ch. 6 we saw the very heavens in turmoil. At this, one should note that in Ch. 6, in terms of what has just been declared, there is a THEME being pursued, and although it comes as a VALLEY, yet the theme proceeds in Ch. 7 to heaven where we see results of a final kind in SUMMIT overview.
Thus it is not to be excluded from thought, that the latter part of Ch. 6 is the pursuit of what the astronomical heavens, so vexed, will do as one follows them to the end, just as one follows a plane's course, with the eye, to where they are in fact going. This is not necessary, but it is an option; for the thematic is certainly most forceful in this inspired and majestic book of Revelation, and it is unwise to assume that in transition from valley to summit, some of the very air of the summit cannot explode onto the scene, so that we see beyond to the ultimate in the nature of these disturbances, when they reach their end.
It is rather as if a teacher should be talking to a boy, in grade 12, and yet see in his eye, the eye of his mind, where he is going, and savour it a moment, before returning to the present, and this the more especially, if they are about to discuss Degree courses (that is, a summit!), and what follows from that.
Accordingly, in Ch. 16, we find Armageddon (16:16) as the terminal events proceed, the three unclean spirits (cf. TMR Ch. 8 at frogs and snorkelling! ) moving like frogs on the earth, seducing many with their odd movements and ceaseless enterprise. We proceed from this valley to the destruction of Babylon, already mentioned (16:19), and with the exposition of Chs. 17-18 on this theme, finally we reach the point at which we began this, our present Chapter; and to be sure, Armageddon's battle, which is seen in its ultimate in Rev. 19:19, is a good place at which to turn away from the appalling scene.
It is one, however, which culminates in the return of the Lord; and this as in Zechariah 14:5, involves His investment of that Jerusalem after which the earth has for so long lusted, slavering and slobbering, the place of His crucifixion and resurrection, that site special to God in a most personal manner! It is shown in these prophets, such as Micah 4, Isaiah 11, with Isaiah 65, that there is a time to come when the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 11:9).
In all of this, as Isaiah 11:10 remarks, the resting place of the Lord is found to be marvellous, yes even by the Gentiles, who having taken part, for a time, in replacement mode for a fallen nation of Israel (as in Romans 11), now find the end does not singularise them as the ultimate repositories, like some sort of aristocrats (take heed you who boast, lest you also be pruned off from the tree to which you would have only formalistic adherence! - Romans 11:18-20).
It is the LORD who is this, the centre, the prince, the Ruler; and it is His GOSPEL which is the ultimate way, and in terms of Romans 11 in its symbolic depiction, it is ONE tree with ONE Gospel of ONE God whose ways do NOT change, not even for democracy, demography or dictatorship: His principles are the same (Habakkuk 3:6), who will fulfil all His word to jot and tittle, who needs no education from the frivols and flitters of man (Matthew 5:17-20), who savours the trusting obedience of the loving saint (cf. Matthew 5:20, Isaiah 66:2). You do not love a dog just because he is servile; but you do tend to love one who adores you and whose desire is your will, even if his own personality has its trials and his tempers at time might be less than desirable, whose earnestness is seen in his face, and whose tail is an instrument signifying the delight which you share in his company.
It is He who is God and not another; there IS no other, and the Lord's Christ is the ULTIMATE EXPRESSION of the status of God (Philippians 2, John 8:58), timeless and source of ANYTHING which could be called created (John 1:3). FOUND in ONLY ONE WAY, as ONLY ONE GOD, with ONLY ONE GOSPEL, He is the ONLY ONE to mind in the end. It is HIS mind, after all, who gave us our own!
See SMR pp. 912ff..
*1 See Answers to Questions Ch. 5, which details the scope of the predictions for the end, and at the same time, shows the historical place to which we have come in those ever-fulfilled terms of the word of the Lord. It is in some ways as if in a fever prognosis, the actual temperature has just been measured at 106° F.
See also in this perspective arena, SMR Chs. 8 - 9.
From News 87, End-note *1, a selection is noted below. It is better to read the whole, however, to gain a more ample spread, with the SMR reference given.
The point to remember is that the Lord is very determined NOT to make a date match for these finalities, for it then becomes relatively easy to ‘read’ what is kept hidden, since there is a TEST and the conditions preclude the pre-announcement of the times for it. TIME is PART of it! (cf. Acts 1:1-7). Just as the date of HIS OWN death was made specific, since it was HIS TEST, and its scope was without limit in its horror to be borne, so does the date of our final test not come to our minds, lest this as part of our test, be compromised. BE READY! He specifies.
HE knew precisely all that He had to face, and it was the FACING of it which was crucial, since bearing sin when you are the infinite God who loves, is beyond all comparison. Again, the death date of the Messiah was foretold centuries beforehand to demonstrate that only God could have given it, together with all the other criteria predicted, some in themselves requiring miraculous power WITHOUT ANY INTERMISSION, for the Messianic work. Hence this would duly encourage those who sought God, to find Him beyond question, even in this also.
We, for our part, however, we must NOT know the time of the arrival of His kingdom in its final magnificence, since it is not given to us, in our far lesser domain, to have to bear sin in penalty, as He did, nor could we. It was and is for us merely to participate in the finalities of the scenario, where we witness in word and deed, to Him, and for Him, and meet this or that evil, outrage or assault, as it may come. HIS work HAD to be finished in its innumerable summit, bearing the sins of many, through the shedding of His blood, together with all of what provided for that climax. Ours as members of His redeemed body, this needs to be met, in our unspecified circumstances. Our tasks are specialised, individual, those of many.
Two things however are given to us. We are told the SORT of conditions to come, with details enough to make the approximate generic area of time of the end determinable; and it is in this era we now find ourselves (Answers to Questions Ch. 5); and beyond this, the mere awareness that His coming is NEAR (Luke 21), we see the unspooling of the detailed data, depicted now in history itself. We notice that the last station on the line is systematically being approached! We do not know the time between stops!
In another sense, it is like those equipped with programs at an opera. The gist is so clear that as it unfolds, it gives a certain aesthetic delight. Here, it is a nobler response to the very hand of God!
To be sure, this in no way limits our suffering; but it does increase our joy.
Thus we turn to some of the arithmetical coverage of Daniel, with main reference to our own times. For the earlier ones, concerning the death of Christ and its date, the references are given below, on line 2. As Christ's time was precise, so unwise indeed is he who seeks to unravel what is not given, and to use symbols clearly of a style and type, to grab data not intended for our hands! WATCH and PRAY, and be faithful, is Christ's word in Matthew 24, and this is wisdom. You do not know at what hour (of the 'night'), your master comes!
Remember, if you are not familiar with Daniel's 70 7s, then start with pp. 886ff., but if you are, then what follows fits at once. This is not least to show that arithmetic of this kind is not now to the point, though it was crucial for the Messiah. In Acts 1, God has denied the knowledge of the date of His kingdom’s arrival, although He has given the knowledge when it is near: and He will not be moved. A major focus in the Daniel prediction, applied in different ways in the book of Revelation, is the Saviour’s death date, and after that, the granting of perspective, sequence and development, understanding of the meaning of the end channels, and of what flows in them as they move to their end.
The 1260 days assigned them (Revelation 11:2-3) are of course the 42 months and the three and a half times or years, in the nomenclature used. It is dealt with in SMR pp. 886ff., 959 , and refers to the arithmetic of Daniel, whose system turned the 70 years of exile of the Jews in Babylon leading into the 6th century B.C. - after which they returned to Jerusalem by predicted decree of Cyrus - into a 70 7's device, which would cover the prophetic future, including the Messianic death and triumph (see Daniel 9:24ff., and references noted above). The first magnificently accurate prediction of the Jewish exile, became the source book for the next and final stage of prophecy, one incorporating a precise foretelling of the death date of the Messiah. Let us now see its phases.
The death of the Messiah after 69
of the 7's, and involving action into the first half of the last one, left just
one half seven, literally 3.5 years, to go (SMR pp.
As previously shown (cf. SMR pp.
this period has been symbolised, following the affront to and assault on Christ
the King; and it is awaiting His pleasure. The Messianic seven, HIS OWN, is
first fulfilled to the midst, and He dies, and then rises, as predicted in Psalm
16 and elsewhere (cf. Joyful Jottings
25 ), and then administers the rest.
Thus He remains in control (cf. Matthew 28:18ff., Psalm 2:7-12) with His Father, sending forth His Spirit, as the One who determines and dispenses. This control is manifested in Daniel 9 when it states that He shall make firm the covenant with many (cf. Matthew 26:28 cf. SMR pp. 894ff.), and then cause the authorised sacrifice to cease (as predicted - cf. Isaiah 52-53, 66:1-4, Jeremiah 3:16), while making the temple desolate (as He indicated and indeed predicted would occur, as He foretold His rejection and execution - Luke 19:40ff., Mark 11:28-12:12).
God does not OMIT the MAIN point of the Gospel, the vast emphasis made so often in His word, on the sacrificial potency for everlasting righteousness of His Son's death. Instead, He focusses it with that same economy of expression, pungency of clarity and yet, with that, lustre of determined mercy and gravity that moves in such brilliant divine action amid such murderous human folly. That folly is then shown proceeding to its climax, and His judgment, watchful and sure, proceeds to its height in its time. There is nothing rushed; there is nothing omitted. It is all sure.
Thus Daniel's prediction in Daniel 9 is not of an evil in control, but of God in authority; not of some creaturely facet in glittering array, but of the divine Lord, resurrected, asserting His authority in the midst of it all, and dispensing history with sovereign hand, yes UNTIL everlasting righteousness is brought in.
It is not brought in as if by some evil majesty, but DESPITE THIS with His own firm control, authority being given to Him, yes ALL power in heaven and on earth while He pours the desolation due onto the unrepentant dynamisms of controlled evil, even upon the whole desolate apparatus. There is 'one making desolate', there is 'that determined' which is poured duly on the sickening site of such a pretender (in parallel with II Thess.2:4-8), such insolence, upon the whole foolish scenario of arrogance and presumption, misuse and failure to realise the Messiah who IN HIMSELF is now the focus, not some site. Indeed how drastic in the end is that outpouring (Daniel 9:27) on the desolate.
There is a certain dueness, justice, proportion, appointment: it is DETERMINED because God has resolved. In material things, there is a a determinacy because God made the laws and procedures, the material protocols, being the lawgiver of all law. But in man's events the personal Lord makes personal provisions which, wrought with judgment and mercy, are nonetheless sure. Thus in this case: The LORD acts, the desolator enters, the Lord acts again, the end is on the desolation. What is determined is done! It is in this way that the divine conduct proceeds as from the first with the 70 year exile, to the last, with the sure conducting of the manner of salvation, so that it is indeed brought into the world, predicted, performed and paid for; and here it is duly and truly shown to be so, while its adversary is focussed only in his desolating and desolate end.
That is the way of things as they come to their forlorn conclusion after much bluster and ballyhoo; this is the way and place of deceit and theft, as if to steal the universe from its Maker and take a name, when only pretence and duplicity is there: the desolator acts, the desolation proceeds with divine apportionment of the woes on the way and the finale which manifests the impotence posturing of the evil incumbent. Such is the way of evil: as to God however, His is justice, even in salvation, the Messiah being brought to desolation (Daniel 9:26), cut off, and there is nothing for Him; but He is raised, and for Him are all things.
It is indeed His covenant (Daniel 9:27) which, already in existence, is ratified, confirmed (Hebrews 9:13-14), and as in Psalm 40, Psalm 22 His resurrection is pre-supposed; and indeed declared as in Psalms 2 and 16 (cf. Joyful Jottings25). It is thus that in Daniel 9, the requirements for everlasting righteousnessness are not omitted, as if overshadowed, indeed eclipsed into darkness by the power of darkness; or as if present in principle (9:24) but excused in practice, a sort of contradictory parody of James.
Nothing could be further from the emphasis of Psalm 2 as also Psalm 16. Alive, active, transcendent, and in judgment, the commanding centre of attention, the Messiah, the Prince, makes His people members of His covenant (Daniel 9:27) and voids the now fulfilled Old Testament sacrifices ( cf. Isaiah 66:2-3) which He confirms by fulfilling them, in Himself duly replacing them (as in Psalm 40:1ff., Isaiah 53)), so rendering sacrifices irrelevant. Meanwhile, an unbelieving (Jewish) nation (cf. Isaiah 49:7) has a different result. Excluding Christ, it excludes thereby its own mercy, and so suffers generations of desolation (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:1-2, Luke 19:42ff.). Thus the Messiah at work as such, after the 69 sevens, and later cut off, in the midst of the 70th week, by dying, annuls animal sacrifices, and fulfilling the 1st covenant of Moses with the 2nd in Himself, covers His 'many' (as in Matthew 26:28) till the end, with its vile, violent desolations.
For all this the seventy sevens are now seen in Daniel 9, to be prophetically unleashed. It is stated in 9:24, and we have now traced its detail as in Daniel 9:25-27.
THE VERSATILITY WITH CLARITY
The magnificent brilliance of the initial depiction of the besevened 70 of Daniel 9, inspired by God, is now seen. While the initial impact cannot rationally be distanced from its abundantly clear base in an actual 70 year exile, in precise and powerful focus in the actual context (Daniel 9:1ff.), yet the manner, the unusual manner of its statement, a seven-ing of the 70, and indeed, the emphatic word order (NOT seventy sevened, but 'sevened - seventy', i.e. with respect to the seventy it is a sevening that is to the forefront), not to mention the simple fact that it is 'seven' that is the literal term: all this means that the sevening is under jurisdiction. Its meaning is clear, but equally clear and emphatic is this: its meaning can be redefined at will, should circumstances arise to make this appropriate.
What however could make
its unit length, or time, extend ? What would be appropriate ?
one might ask. What might in some way on some day lead to an alteration of its eminently clear initial context ?
Why this: precisely such a thing as the crucifixion of the Prince. Here was the new impact, the novel dawning of a drastic day, one to end in darkness before its hours were up (Matthew 27:45). Here, with the very Prince of glory sacrificed, could come indeed an employment of the SEVEN concept to FIT with His dignity and glory and power. How deftly the Lord provides: it is clear, it is adequate, its arithmetical aspect is emphasised from the start, and it is significant to the end.
And what then might be the new dimension of the seven, when this extraordinary and infinitely insulting but gloriously effective thing, the crucifixion of Christ, happened ? Why a functional one to suit the Messiah! And what would better suit Him, one might ponder, than one which brought about by His death, would then allow its full significance, VIA THE GOSPEL, to be brought to all men! HENCE HE WOULD NOT RETURN, as Christ Himself stated, till the Gospel had gone throughout the earth (Matthew 24:14). It is THEN, He there declares, that the end will come.
It is this '3.5' notation of time which appears several times in the Book of Revelation. It circles as 42 months, 1260 days, times, times and half a time, 3 and one half days, and moves to the ultimate crisis as in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13:5, or to the overall period from Christ to Christ, virtually death to return as in Revelation 11. It jets, skis, cavorts like a swallow, reminding us constantly of Christ's words in Acts 1, that the TIME of the end is not available arithmetically, and in fact must await the WORK of the Christian Ministry to the world, being fulfilled. Details may even involve a fuller consummation in the final application (as in Daniel 12:7, with 12:11-12, in parallel with Daniel 2:35). Just as surely as the historic 69.5 7's of the 70 had to come to the Messiah, the remaining half-seven has to go till its work is finished.
We need thus to look at the two aspects of this thing.
If you were a Jew in the time of Daniel, dispossessed but blessed by continuing revelation from God, and about to be restored from disciplinary exile, you would see the tremendous focus that there would be on this figure of 70. In it has been incorporated much grief, much chastening, much soul searching. THAT was the number of your exile. From it would come deliverance, at its end: physical, national and personal. Its besevening to cover residual time in view, this would not pose any initial problem, proceeding till the very face of the Son of God was brutalised, and then at His pleasure till His will should be accomplished, to whom it had all pointed, and through whom, now that He had arrived and done His work, it would now be mediated.
Indeed, it would be inconceivable that the days and weeks and months and years of the exile endured - and this not merely emotionally, but endured with the realisation that the work of the Jewish testimony in Israel was for this time suspended in disgrace - would become merely surreal. It would not be simply used as a basis for what was not quite as real and sure, defined and definitive indeed as its base in Babylon.
WHEN however THIS grace and mercy and reciprocity of time, in augmentation by 7 reached the NEXT vast contribution of the Jewish nation (not the race) in crucifixion of the Messiah, at 69.5 sevens on the scale of prophesied history, then the WORK committed to the church would take precedence and this NEW folly, one of regicide, again would change the consummation prospects into desolation reality, long to be endured. Our eyes in 9:26-27 pass from this much predicted desolation (cf. Luke 19:42ff.) for the Jews to that evil eminence who would afflict the world till the time determined was complete. The Jews themselves would endure till the the mercies of Abraham again should intervene (SMR Appendix A, pp. 755ff.), and until, as in Zechariah 12:10 (and Romans 11:25f.) many would come to embrace the forsaken Messiah, and hence their own mercy once more.
THE TIME AND POWER OF THE WITNESSES
For our part, then, in our generation, we are as just shown - with the earlier references added, to be dealing only with the last half of the last seven. It may be expressed as 1260 days or 42 months, for example. Things have moved along... since then, since those former days and this is the donation of time for our Age.
We are approaching, in fact, the
end. Let us look at the picture which gives attention to the entire Gentile
period and see the ending motions in the light of their Biblical perspective.
It is in Revelation
11:1-3, that this half-seven number is used to refer to the entire period in
which the JERUSALEM would be under Gentile control (an historical phase
which would in fact end, as noted in the words of Christ, in Luke 21:44; and of
course since 1967 with increasing clarity, it HAS ended). Here the dual use of
the significant number with its historical significance, and its relation to the
time of the Temple's subduing under Gentile control, make the powerful point
that history is turning. Drama has come. Time is coming up to its climax.
This is important.
This Gentile period of domination of Jerusalem relates rather closely to what
might be (and often is) called the Church Age, or better the Christian Church
Age, since (Acts 7:38) the Church had existed for millenia: the assembly of
those called to worship and professing to do the same, in the name of the ONLY
GOD (the One who is, and not some imagined one!).
· Now the TWO WITNESSES noted in the same chapter of Revelation (11), are at once focussed, in Revelation 11:3-12. THEIRS IS CLOSE TO THAT SAME TIME as that HERE signalled for the subjugation of Jerusalem, for its rule by aliens, conquerors. It is after this period that they go - with the 3.5 days of their apparent 'death' on the streets (q.v., and see Revelation 11:8-9) still to come. After all this, this ministry of power is then gone (cf. John 14:12). A desolate earth awaiting judgment excites itself to its inglorious final crusade (Revelation 16:13-16, 19:19). Jerusalem under Gentile control, meanwhile, and the work of the two witnesses are one and the same in time.
these have a ministry during that period just found, namely the Messianic
Residue of history till Christ the Lord comes for His people - and of course,
then He is to come WITH them. It is indeed then, as Paul states, that that which
restrains shall be moved out of the way (II Thess. 2:7):
COME UP HERE! is the call (cf. I Thess. 4:15ff.). It all has a time and the time ends, as the END itself approaches.
· What then has been this time of the witnesses ?
This has been around 2000 years so far, and there is only one body which relates to such a testimony for such a period - and it is the Christian Church. The TWO testimonial witnesses of Rev. 11, refer quite inescapably back to Zechariah 4, where they expressly represent the High Priest and the Prince in the rebuilding program for Jerusalem, which was active in the 5th and 4th century B.C.. In Zechariah 3:6ff., we have just seen the High Priest symbolised, and made to be a prototype for the coming Lord, the well-known and often noted Branch, the One to bear the sin (Zechariah 3:9 and Isaiah 49, 52:10-53:12), who is the Lord Himself in human format (Micah 5:1-3, Zechariah 12;10, Psalm 45, 72, 2).
· Thus these two witnesses in Revelation 11 symbolise the organised overall testimony to the faith in God which is ministered through covenants, first the old and then the new, but here specifically the New, and reaches its culmination in Christ crucified, yes, rather risen, as Paul declares.
It is interesting that Jerusalem STILL has the temple site, or that near it, in Islamic use, so that the liberation of Jerusalem is in one sense not quite complete. In Revelation 11 where the temple is measured and the site is paramount, this terminus clearly is not yet reached. Moslem mosque is at least intruding into this liberty. The impact however is clear. Authority is available, and the site is available: it is a political tension which induces waiting. WE, meanwhile, are warned. As far as the city PER SE is concerned, it is delivered (Luke 21:44); but when the terms of reference as here, are critically focussed on the temple, that fulfilment is merely near, not here. Thus, in Revelation 11:1-2, the temple is expressly focussed, so here must be given full weight to its non-release. Matters of fine definition enter in. At a moment, however, there can be an end even of that.
But what of their powers ? James 5 indicates in terms of Elijah's faith what may be done in the Lord's name for His work, and the Bible is full of such things. The church not only suffers but testifies, and this mightily (cf. Luke 21;14-15), and Fox's Book of Martyrs has much testimony on this almost stunning testimony! Indeed, it would be less than frank if one did not acknowledge most clearly that the Lord has helped this present writer in ways which to him have appeared quite spectacular, in such matters; for where there was no help but in HIM, there He was! (cf. Isaiah 58:9). The Lord so helps millions who rely on Him. The joint effects of this total thrust from the presence of the Lord are vast.
The witnesses, the two, to represent the testimonial and ruling aspects of the church (cf. Zechariah 3:6-4:14), and embodying as a pair, the concept of a sure and safe report (cf. Deuteronomy 17:6, John 8:17): these are that great body of Christ, the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23), which has existed from His calling of it into existence, and in prototype, long before that.
WHEN THEREFORE these two witnesses are called: "COME UP HERE!" in Revelation 11:12, it fills what otherwise is a missing element in this testimonial of God's coming dealings with His people (Revelation 1). It does so as is very usual in this book, in symbols; and again, as is customary here, it is done in well-known and striking, well-attested Biblical symbols, thus tying together many things, which is one reason why the book of Revelation is like the best wine, very challenging to the palate, but well worth it!
Their lying 'dead' in appearance for 31/2 days (Rev. 11:8-11) is one more play on the half-week, or 3.5 theme, which not merely indicates the sense of GOVERNED TIME, but reminds of what was lost in the crucifixion of Christ. It is now HIS time, and the half-week is to be fulfilled at HIS discretion when HE is ready and HIS program is complete, and when the requirement that the gospel be preached to all the world, is deemed done! (cf. Acts 1:7-8,11). The components of preparation for the ending of their testimony are nearly complete. Pauses can occur in heaven (cf. Rev. 8:1, Daniel 12:7-12), but the structure of things is both clear and determinate. As for the Lord's return, that is the way it is intended to be (cf. Acts 1:7ff., Luke 21:28).