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THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION
General theme Preface To what age does Revelation refer? - Salutation from the Father Doctrines contained in his names — From the seven spirits — From Jesus Christ — Source of his power and honor — Seven churches of Asia — Coming of Jesus Christ - The Lord's day - John's vision of Son of man — Description thereof — Mystery of stars and candlesticks - Twofold application of prophecy - Remoteness of Christ's coming.
We now enter upon the interpretation of one of the most remarkable, most important, and most difficult books of the Holy Scriptures to explain, a book which has baffled many who have attempted its interpretation. Writers who do not correctly know and understand the foregoing Scriptures, historical, doctrinal, and prophetic, cannot understand and expound the oracles of this book. A man must needs know correctly the age of the world wherein these marvellous works of God are to be manifested, and especially the people to whom they chiefly relate, and the country upon whose territory these things are to be enacted. Not understanding these things has been the fruitful cause of wresting and making void the sayings of this book.
The great central nation of the earth in the olden time, since the children of Israel were brought up out of Egypt and planted in the land which the Lord had espied for them, which is the glory of all lands, was the nation of Israel, of whom the Lord said, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth”; not because they were more in number than other nations, but because they were the seed of Abraham, the friend of God, and because the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob was their God. The God of Israel is the true God, who made the earth and the heavens, and all their hosts hath he commanded, whereas the gods of the nations, even the greatest and mightiest of them, are all of them vanity, the work of errors, and we are assured that in the time of their visitation they shall perish, even as it is written of them again saying, “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens ” (Jer. 10).
The nation of Israel, therefore, was the great central nation of the earth in the former days, and when they displeased God and sought to the gods of the nations, the Lord employed the nations as a rod wherewith to chastise his own erring and rebellious people. In the days of the judges he frequently delivered them into the hand of the surrounding nations, who oppressed them until the Lord was grieved for the miseries of Israel. And in the days of the kings of Israel and Judah also, he employed the nations to punish them and finally to carry them away captive out of their own land.
A notable example of the manner of God's dealing with his wayward people occurred in the days of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, king of Judah, who, when he had strengthened himself in his kingdom, forsook the Lord and all Israel with him, who became vain and sought to idols. Then the Lord brought up against him Shishak king of Egypt with twelve hundred chariots, and three score thousand horsemen, and people without number that came with him out of Egypt, the Lubims, the Sukkims, and the Ethiopians. And they ravished Judah and came to Jerusalem, and the Lord sent a prophet to Rehoboam saying, "Thus saith the Lord, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.” Then the king and the princes humbled themselves, and said, “The Lord is righteous." And when they repented, the Lord sent word again saying, “My wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.” So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house; he took all, he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made. By such means as these the Lord punished his people in these days when they had sinned and rebelled against him; and as he did in the former days, so he will do in the latter days. For speaking of what God will do to Israel because of their idolatries and abominations in the latter days, the Lord speaks by the hand of the prophet Isaiah, saying, “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down as the mire of the streets.”
Now this work that the Assyrian will yet do in Jerusalem and upon Mount Zion in the time to come, is set forth in the Book of the Revelation by visions, similitudes, and dark sayings. Therefore the prominent characters brought to view in that book of symbols are Israelitish, save the beast which rises out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns; in the different forms in which the people, nations, kindreds and tongues to which he is guard are employed as the rod of God's anger to execute judgment upon the house of Israel. After their work is finished upon Mount Zion and Jerusalem and the people of Israel, they begin to boast saying, “ By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am prudent, and I have removed the bounds of the people and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man, and my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people; and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth, and there was none that moved the wing or opened the mouth or peeped " (Isa. 10:13-14).
This is the manner after which the Lord says the enemy will vaunt himself when his work is accomplished, after the Lord has employed him as a man employs an axe or a saw upon wood. But then the Lord takes the cup out of the hand of his people, and puts it into the hand of their enemies, as he spake by the hand of the prophet Isaiah, saying, "Therefore hear thou this, thou afflicted and drunken, but not with wine. Thus saith the Lord, the Lord and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken