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Now to understand the words of Christ and his apostles to the churches, the same rule must be observed; we must view the churches of the apostles' days as being a part of, and as being blended with the churches in Israel in the latter days which will be on the earth when Christ and his saints come to execute judgment and to reign on the earth. Therefore what Christ and his apostles said to the churches that was not fulfilled in the past, will all, to the last jot or tittle, be fulfilled in the future. These things we regard as of such importance that although we have already spoken of them, we deem it desirable to speak of them again in this place.
ARMAGEDDON (REV. 16:16) "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon.” One needs to be careful in this place to rightly divide these Scriptures, as there are two gatherings of peoples spoken of under the sixth vial, one consisting of Gentiles, the other of the people of Israel. The kings of the earth and the whole world and their armies are gathered for the last great battle through the agency and influence of the spirits of devils working miracles by the hand of false Christs, and false prophets. But there is also another gathering together of the people upon whom the seven vials are poured out, but who repent not, but continue to blaspheme the name of God which hath power over these plagues. This people is God's own rebellious people whose day is come when iniquity shall have an end. This evil family will be gathered together and will make their last stand against their destroyers in the fortified city of Jerusalem. They will go up and fall there, even as Josiah fell at Megiddo. The Book of the Lamentations speaks in strong and impressive language of the miseries and calamities of the people of God's curse, in the day when as the prophet saith, “ Jerusalem is ruined and Judah is fallen, because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory” (Isa. 3:8), — when as Amos testifies, “the virgin of Israel
3 is fallen, she shall no more rise; she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up" (5:2).
Touching their gathering together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon, it is said, “ He gathered them "; but we ask, Who is the person referred to by the word “he "? The prophets inform us who "he" is, as it is written in Ezekiel, “And the word of the Lord came unto me saying, Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Because ye are all become dross; behold, therefore, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem (that is, into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon, but in the English tongue it is called Jerusalem), as they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger, and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you: yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you" (22: 18-22).
Thus the Armageddon into which the children of Israel are to be gathered for punishment is Jerusalem. And he who gathers them there is the Lord, who doeth this by the hand of Jesus Christ and his brethren, for they are the persons that the Lord sends to and fro through the earth to execute the judgments written. And the manner in which they proceed to gather the children of evil into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon, is spoken of by the Prophet Jeremiah saying (4:5), “ Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem, and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land; cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves and let us go into the defenced cities; set up the standard toward Zion, retire, stay not."
But why this great haste, and why is the trumpet of alarm sounded throughout the land, warning the people to flee for safety into the defenced cities, and especially into Jerusalem? The Lord himself tells us the reason saying in continuance, “ For I will bring evil from the north and a great destruction. The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate, and thy cities shall be laid waste without an inhabitant. For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl for the fierce anger of the Lord is not turned back from us. And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the Lord, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes, and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder ” (Jer. 4:6-9).
Moreover, Moses speaks expressly of this gathering together of the rebellious house into their defenced cities for safety, and speaks of what shall befall them there, as the Lord testified by him saying, “And I will bring a sword upon you that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant, and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you, and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy, and when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight; and ye shall eat and not be satisfied. And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but will walk contrary unto me, then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury, and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat; and I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries into desolation. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you, and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste ” (Lev. 26:25-33).
THE SEVENTH ANGEL AND THE SEVENTH AND LAST VIAL (REV. 16:17-21)
“And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air, and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done."
The air is that element above the earth in which fowls fly, and hence they are called the fowls of the air. These fowls of the air, such as the eagle, the hawk, and many others both clean and unclean, are employed to represent kings, princes, great lords and renowned, great military commanders, and many others in high positions in the world. The Lord speaks of Cyrus as a ravenous bird, saying, “ Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country” (Isa. 46:11). Mystical Babylon, that is Jerusalem, at the time of her overthrow is described as a cage of every unclean and hateful bird (Rev. 18:2). It is into this air where these unclean birds fly, build their nests, and have their habitation, that the last vial of God's wrath is poured out, and the effect of this vial upon these unclean and hateful birds, – that is upon the kings, princes, priests, and prophets of Jerusalem, will be voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great.
These voices, thunders, and lightnings, and this mighty earthquake are powerful figures which will serve to show the mighty and sudden changes that will transpire among the chief rulers in Israel and among the people, when great noise, confusion, and consternation will reign, and when the former conditions and relations of the people will be broken off and rent asunder as with a great and mighty earthquake; and when Israel will suddenly break up her friendly relations with the nations who are called her lovers, who have mingled with her in her abominations and whose idols she has worshipped and served, for it is testified of her that her mind shall be alienated from them; therefore the Lord says of her, “I will raise up thy lovers, from whom thy mind is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side” (Ezek. 23:22).
AND THE GREAT CITY WAS DIVIDED INTO THREE PARTS (REV. 16:19)
This is Jerusalem when the day of her destruction has arrived, concerning which the Lord sware, saying, "Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord God, Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity.
The Three Parts “A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee; and a third part shall fall by the sword
a round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them” (Ezek. 5: 11-12).
AND THE CITIES OF THE NATIONS FELL (REV. 16:19) These great nations that the Lord has brought into his land to execute judgment upon his people in that day, are here called cities. The Prophet Isaiah groups them together and speaks of them as "the city of the terrible nations" (25:3). The meaning of the saying, “The cities of the nations fell,” may be seen by what was said when the kingdom of Israel was broken up and divided into two separate nations. When the ten tribes revolted from the house of David, it is testified as contained in the marginal reading saying, “So Israel fell away (margin) from the house of David unto this day” (I Kings 12: 19).
As the ten tribes fell away from the house of David, so will the nations fall away from the house of Israel and suddenly break their covenant and their connection and friendly relations with Jerusalem and her people, who in this prophecy are called Babylon, and will afterwards turn upon her for her destruction; for one-third of Jerusalem and her people will perish by the sword, one-third will fall by famine and pestilence in their besieged cities, and one-third will be sent away into captivity among the nations of the earth which neither they nor their fathers have known.
THE PUNISHMENT OF BABYLON (REV. 16:19) When the cities of the nations fall away and stand aloof from Babylon, then it is added, “And great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” The time now draws nigh for treading the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, when the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be loosed which are prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men. Moreover, as the nations fall away and withdraw from the doomed city, it will afford a good opportunity for the rebellious house to flee and take refuge in their defenced cities from impending judgment. But alas, this is but a snare, for then the enemy will besiege them in all their gates until their high and fenced walls come down wherein they trusted. When their food fails them, then will be witnessed that terrible spectacle when the fathers will eat their sons, and sons will eat their fathers, and the tender and pitiful women will kill and eat their own children in the straitness wherewith their enemies shall distress them in all their gates; and to add to their miseries, the Lord says, “When ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you, and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy” (Lev. 26:25).
Thus one-third will fall by the sword, and one-third by famine and the pestilence, but where under this last vial shall we look for the last third, which are to go into captivity and who are to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth, and a sword drawn out against them? and under what figure of speech under this vial is this captivity referred to and set forth?
AND EVERY ISLAND FLED AWAY, AND THE MOUNTAINS WERE NOT FOUND"
(REV. 16:20) This departure of the islands and mountains is also set forth under the sixth seal, saying, “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal and lo, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (Rev. 6: 12-14). These very impressive words, this highly figurative language, is here employed to show the terrible downfall of the kingdom of Israel, as it will exist in the latter days under the old covenant in its second manifestation, as it will be under the second law as it is written in the Book of Deuteronomy, a word which signifies "second law." The sun, moon, and stars in this prophecy are
“ the kings, priests, prophets, and princes of the house of Israel; the heavens which are to be rolled up as a scroll, are the heavens or government of the
kingdom of Israel. And " every mountain and island” which were moved out of their places, as it is said under the opening of the sixth seal, and "every island” that fled away, and the mountains that were not found, as it is said under the pouring out of the seventh vial of the wrath of God, are the third part that is to go into captivity. They will be moved out of their places and transferred into heathen countries, and the mountains will not be found because they will have been removed to other lands, and the places they occupied in Israel will be desolate.
Now mountains and islands are terms used in symbolical prophecy to signify persons; therefore the Lord addresses his people in one place saying, “Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel and prophesy against them, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God, Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers and to the valleys, Behold I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places” (Ezek. 6:2-3). These mountains, hills, rivers, and valleys are to be understood in the same manner as those which are spoken of in connection with the ministry of John the Baptist, saying, “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places shall be made smooth” (Luke 3:1-6). Mountains, hills, and valleys here refer to persons in high and low positions in Israel who were all brought to a common level by the preaching of John the Baptist.
The islands which Aed away are groups of people of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah who are taken under escort by detachments of soldiers and transported to all parts of the earth, even as the Lord spake to them by the hand of Moses, saying, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even to the other; there thou shalt serve other gods which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.”
With reference to groups of Israelites being called islands in figurative language, this is shown as follows. The tribes of Israel are spoken of in the prophets as rivers and fountains of waters, and also in the Revelation the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters. Again the Lord says in the prophets that he will convert these rivers into islands, saying, “I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs, and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools ” (Isa. 42: 15-17). These are the islands that flee away in the time of judgment.
The Lord says, "Moreover the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee; thou shalt see it no more again (Deut. 28:68). Now as ships do not sail and convey passengers and do business on dry land, therefore these ships mean military escorts, detachments of soldiers from the ranks of the great Assyrian army, who convey these captives under guard and under the power of the sword to the countries to which they are destined to go, and where they must dwell. Israel came out of Egypt on foot and on dry land, and as they are to return the same way on ships, it is plainly to be seen that what we have said of these ships is true. Therefore as ships do business in great waters and transport their passengers to different parts of the earth, so will the military ships of the Assyrian con