« PreviousContinue »
away the filth of the daughters of Zion and to purge the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, the city of which it is said (Isa. 1:21), “ How is the faithful city become an harlot; it was full of judgment, righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers."
Therefore, John describes his position and his appearance when he takes the book out of his Father's hand to enter upon his work, as follows (Rev. 5:6-10), saying, “And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne, and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth; and he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.” In this was manifested the fact that all men must honor the Son as they honor the Father; for when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints, and they sang a new song, saying, “ Thou art worthy to take the book, and open the seals thereof, for thou wast slain, and thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation, and hast made us unto our God, kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.”
These are the persons who constitute the seven horns and seven eyes of the Lamb, and are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth under the command and direction of the Lamb of God, who sends them forth to walk to and fro through the north and south country to quiet God's spirit in these quarters by the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and the beasts of the earth which are the instruments of death that God hath prepared for the wicked that repent not.
The angels of God also mingle with the saints in ascribing honor to the Lamb, as John continues, saying, “And I beheld, and heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts and the elders, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying, with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever, and the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever."
THE OPENING OF THE SEALS
Zechariah's vision of four chariots - First seal - A cruel king who "does according to his will ”– Great red dragon - Second seal — Civil war — Past judgments on Israel — Third seal — Famine — Fourth seal — Pestilence Beasts” Nations instructed — Fifth seal Souls under altar"
Tabernacle representing body of Christ Sixth seal —"Heaven Fleeing to mountains — Content of sixth seal — Sealing of hundred forty and four thousand - - Multitude which no man could number Seventh seal — Summary of seals, and trumpets — Prayers offered through Christ, priest of Melchisedec order.
A COMPARISON WITH ZECHARIAH (REV. 6-8) Before proceeding to interpret the things announced on the opening of the first four seals, we wish to call attention to this important fact, that Zechariah saw in vision the same things that John saw in part in this vision. The four beasts, or cherubims, that John and Ezekiel saw Zechariah saw under the symbol of four chariots coming forth from between two mountains of brass. The horses in Zechariah's vision were of the same colors as those that John saw, which indicates the same manner and the same judgments in both visions. The first horse that John saw go forth was white, and the red, black, and pale horses go after, but the first horse that Zechariah saw go forth was black, and the one that followed after was white. This would indicate that the order of their going forth is not a material point in the prophecy. The four grand divisions of the body of Christ represented by these various symbols will go forth together to execute upon the rebellious houses of Israel, the various forms of judgments that God has devised and spoken of by his servants the prophets, to bring to nothing the transgressors and to eradicate the old rebellious element from among the people of Israel.
The horses in these visions are not literal horses, but they are symbols of the spirit, for as a natural man rides upon a fleet horse to go forth in battle, so the immortal ride upon, or move by, the power of the Spirit of God. This is proved as follows: The strength and success of Israel's armies did not lie in the multitude of their fighting men, but in the power of the angel of the Lord who went before them and fought their battles and overthrew their enemies from before them by the power of the Spirit. Therefore in all cases where the children of Israel sought help from the nations, as they often did, the God of Israel was very angry with them for so doing, even as the Lord said to them by the Prophet Isaiah (31) saying, “Woe to them which go down to Egypt for help, and stay on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are strong. Yet he also is wise and will bring evil, and will not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evil-doers, and against the help of them which work iniquity. Now the Egyptians are men, and not God, and their horses flesh, and not spirit." Here is the difference, the kings, princes, and great captains among the nations are simply mortal men, and not gods like the God of Israel, and their horses are flesh, and not spirit like the “horses " of Israel.
The angels of God are spoken of as “ horses of fire and chariots of fire." When Elisha's servant was afraid of the Syrians and said to Elisha, “ Alas, my master, what shall we do?” the prophèt answered him, “ Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. . . . And Elisha prayed and said, Lord I pray thee open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man and he saw, and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha,” that is, the mountain was full of angels round about Elisha (II Kings 6:17). Even so in the latter days will the land of Israel be full of horses of fire and chariots of fire, that is of the saints, who will then be as the angels, employed in the work of judgment, but the eyes of the children of men will need to be opened to see them.
Again, when Elijah was translated to heaven in the presence of Elisha (II Kings 2:11), it is said, And it came to pass, as they still went on and talked, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, and Elijah went up into heaven by a whirlwind, and Elisha saw it, and he cried and said, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.'” Thus Elijah was translated by the spirit in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and caught away by the angels, and was seen no more.
Again it is said (II Kings 13: 14), “Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died, and Joash, the king of Israel, came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." Thus a prophet in whom was the spirit of inspiration to lead and guide Israel in the right way is likened to a chariot and horsemen. Moreover, it is written in the sixty-eighth Psalm (verse 17), “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels, the Lord is among them as in Sinai in the holy place." Also the Prophet Isaiah testifies saying (Isa. 66: 15), "Behold, the Lord will come with fire and with his chariots, like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.” These chariots will consist of his saints, as well as of the angels of
These instances will suffice to show that immortal men that are born of the Spirit, and that fly by means of the spirit, are symbolized by horses of fire, horsemen, and chariots of fire, who walk to and fro throughout the earth to do God's pleasure and to pour out the vials of his wrath upon the children of disobedience, and to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Therefore the horses that Zechariah saw in the chariots, and the horses that John saw go forth upon the opening of the first four seals, symbolize the Spirit, by which immortal men go forth under the command of the Lamb of God to do his bidding in the earth. The saints are the riders, and the colors of the horses indicate the manner of the judgment
that they go forth to execute in the north and south countries of the land of Israel, to quiet his spirit in those quarters; and as the Lord's spirit will not be quieted until the seven last plagues are inflicted (for it is said, “In them is filled up the wrath of God”), therefore it follows that the things that are written in the little book under these seals cover the whole range of the judgment, until the Lord is comforted and is no more angry.
As concerning the riders on horses of different colors that John saw go forth, we might say in this place that the four horses and their four riders that John saw, represent the same things that the four chariots and horses represent that Zechariah saw. The horses in each case symbolize the Spirit, and the four riders and the four chariots represent the four divisions of the body of Christ. Therefore the four riders upon horses of different colors that go forth to walk to and fro through the earth are not simply individual men, but each of them represents a multitude, as do the four beasts. Each of the four beasts symbolizes not four persons, but many, each one standing for one of the four divisions of the armies of heaven, and so does each of the four riders upon horses, as it is clearly seen by comparing together the different visions and the things contained in them. And therefore there is no ground for men to speculate upon, as to who the individual persons are who ride upon these horses, as some do who imagine that Christ may be the first rider upon the first horse, but then they are thrown into doubt as to the persons that ride the three remaining horses. Christ in the principal or first sense rides all of these horses, because it is his brethren that he sends forth by the power of the Spirit to execute under his command the judgments written. Therefore it is written of him in the forty-fifth Psalm, “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most Mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty, and in thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth and meekness and righteousness, and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies, whereby the people fall under thee.”
The use that Paul makes of the following passage proves that these words are spoken of Christ. He is therefore the chief rider, because he sends his loyal and faithful brethren to do the work for him. Even this Book of the Revelation he did not himself communicate to John, but sent his angel to do it for him, as it is said, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass, and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” He did not show these things to John by these wonderful signs and similitudes himself, but he sent his angel to do it for him, and what a man does by his agent, he himself does. In the end of this wonderful book Jesus says again, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches "; and it is worthy of special attention that this angel was one of the prophets, as he himself said to John, “I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets."
Therefore we conclude that as this brother of John, and therefore this brother of Christ according to the flesh and according to the Spirit, is an angel, and so called by Jesus Christ himself, so will all of the brethren of Jesus Christ be in the resurrection, not equal to the angels, but angels in every sense of the
word. And as Jesus sent his angel to communicate this revelation to John, so will he send his angels, his brethren, to execute the judgments and to pour out the vials of wrath that are written in this book.
The seven angels that pour out the seven vials of the wrath of God upon the earth are said to be clothed in pure and white linen, which signifies the righteousness of saints (Rev. 19:8), and the angel that showed John these things is one of the seven, as John says (Rev. 21:9), “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me saying, Come up hither and I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.” In speaking of the things brought to view by the opening of the seals, we are free to admit that we enter upon the most difficult portions of the great prophecy of Christ to interpret, - a prophecy which relates to the acts and doings of a people that are not yet born, and who will flourish in an era of human history which is as yet far away in the future, consequently profane history throws no light upon this subject. Prophetic history alone must be consulted, after Paul's method of comparing Scripture with Scripture, to understand these mysteries. The gifts of the Spirit have long been withdrawn, so that there are now no inspired men to expound these things to us.
THE OPENING OF THE FIRST SEAL (REV. 6:1-2) “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse, and he that sat on him had a bow, and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer.” As each of the seals are opened one of the four beasts says, Come and see." But what is it that they ask John to come and see? Now as this saying is a quotation from the Psalms, we may there learn what is to be seen, for it is written (Ps. 66:5), “Come and see the works of God, he is terrible in his doings toward the children of men ”; and again (Ps. 46:8), “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.” Therefore the things which John was called to see, and the things which we are asked to consider, are the desolations that will be manifested in the earth when the Lamb opens the seals and the saints are sent forth by the Spirit to execute the judgments written under the seals.
A FIERCE KING OF ISRAEL From the Scriptures we learn that some of the righteous judgments to be visited upon the rebellious house will be done through the instrumentality of a fierce king and a cruel lord that will be raised up to punish them, and therefore it is said of this rider, “A crown was given him, and he had a bow,” which betokens a warrior. A white horse is a symbol of victory and triumph, for it is said, “ He went forth conquering and to conquer.”
Now the Scriptures speak expressly of a king that the Lord will raise up in Israel in the latter days, that he will clothe with such irresistible power and such excellent wisdom that he will astonish and terrify not only the people of Israel, but also the nations. The affront that the children of Israel put upon their king in the days of Samuel, when they said to him, “Give us a king like unto the nations," when the Lord their God was their king, - this affront