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9) From SPARKLING
LIFE IN JESUS CHRIST
Ch. 10, with Addition
OVERVIEW OF REVELATION 12-20
THE MILLENIUM IN REVELATION 20 IN CONTEXT
A. THE FOOTHILLS
Because this is a regal topic, we put it in royal purple.
Here is the time when the DEVIL IS DELIVERED FROM HIS INTERNATIONAL DECEPTIVE POWER. The one is severed from the other. You will note that this deliverance is not savoury to the devil. After all, in Rev. 12:10, we see the setting. Being cast out of heaven, where his undue prominence led to efforts to instal himself, though merely a comparatively remarkable created being, in the place of God, his heart lusting, and many angels following his abortive cavorting, he had yet more rebellion to accomplish. He was set to the task like a runaway steam-roller, except that down was the direction in which he was SENT!
Having the effrontery to seek to devour the Christ when the magnificence of His incarnation was wrought (Rev. 12:4-5), as was perpetrated through the instrumentality of King Herod (as in Matthew 2:16ff. 'the massacre of the innocents' as it is known), when the Lord came in the form of a babe, he sought unswervingly his own unruly eminence, while experiencing only the rebuffs to arrogance and the furies of the frustrated. As to Christ however, having been sent to Egypt and so escaping this murderous multiple infanticide, unharmed He proceeded on the way to the manhood in terms of which alone would He make Himself, as man for man, the focus of desolatory judgment to which man is just heir, so that He might justly forgive those who receive Him for the One who He is, with the work which He has done, with repentance and faith (as specified precisely in Romans 3:25-26).
Now it is true that in Revelation there are a number of themes which are duly announced and pursued. This one in Revelation 12, just noted, is an overview of Israel as the genetic site for the deliverance - all 12 tribes of it therefore (12:1) - of the Christ in the incarnation as in Micah 5:1-3's prediction. The text looks at the arrival of the babe, the diabolical fury to exterminate Him, the only Saviour sent from His everlasting Father, from whose eternal abode He came as Micah shows; likewise at the war in heaven where the devil was ousted in an inglorious flurry, at his humiliation on earth as at his fury in responding to this debasement in the usual motif of passionate self-assertion, for which likewise so many of his disciples are famous, as they seek to rule this earth, whether with a pope, a commune or a false prophet, Muhammad, as their inspiration (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms Ch. 30 and see Index on these topics) .
It is to be noted most carefully, that in accord with the utter stringency which the author back of Revelation puts on this text, there is NO liberty to add, insert from the invisibility of the human mind, ONE SLIGHTEST THING into the text. IF THE TEXT announces a topic, topic it is. If it creates a theme, and declares it, theme it is. We have the following liberty to announce a topic, where the book does not, the following to indulge in thoughtful reveries and dispose a text this way or that FROM NO INTERNAL EVIDENCE WITHIN IT: ZERO. It is what is known, in another trade, as ZERO TOLERANCE.
Very well: the case of the book being thus, we have looked at one relevant theme for our purpose, both as an example of a theme when it is as such announced, and as a prelude to related themes to come later in the book of Revelation.
The devil then persecutes others who obey the commands of Christ. It is like spewing out water; but the Lord protects His people, and the "earth swallowed up the flood". The evil urger, the devil, proceeds indeed beyond the persecution of Christian in Israel, to find a broader category, in those who "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." "The rest of her offspring" being distinguished from the woman herself, being seen as fleeing into the wilderness, very probably refer to those Gentiles who now have a spiritual affinity, in the testimony and love of truth which is emphasised in the text, to those of Israel who have recognised their real and duly arrived on time Messiah: that is Gentile Christians (cf. John 10:16).
Revelation 13-14 (See also Beauty ... Ch. 4)
Indeed in Revelation 13 at once we see a broader perspective, or rather a more specifically indicated one, in that one of the beasts comes out of the sea, as specified as to type in Daniel 7, 8 and 2, with some of the features of the Danielic beasts are noted in 13:2. He deals, in expectation from the end of Rev. 12 as just noted, with "every tribe, tongue and nation". His blasphemies, since he was "given a mouth" are heady enough to satiate the lust of Satan himself. His interwoven aspect, relative to Satan, is seen in this: "So they worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying 'Who is like the beast!' " (13:4); and indeed there is even an auxiliary beast, the propaganda specialist (13:11), who joins in the satanic throng.
His office, apart from diverse devious signs and expressions of some degree of supernatural power (13:12-13), is not least just this, so to act that "he deceives those who dwell on the earth" , using the authority of the first and more generic beast "in his presence" , "to cause the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast." For all the world, he is like Dr Goebbels to Hitler, except far more (spuriously and deceptively) religious, and in this case, it is not just Europe, but the world which is his dupe.
Not all follow him of course, despite the enormous sway exerted, for in Rev. 14 you find the "everlasting gospel" pronounced by angelic means (14:6), and the warning addressed to many who heed, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of judgment is come" (14:7), and it is "the patience of the saints" in such a scene and indeed scenario, which is commended, even of those who KEEP His commandments! (which includes the first commandment in Exodus 20)! We know well from Matthew 24:22, that so terrible will be these times that unless they were "shortened" , no flesh could be spared, but for the elect's sake, we find written, they will be shortened.
Thus we find the devil in a virtually insane paranoid fury, seeking to swallow up all resistance, with various agents and supernatural power and sinuous deception, flaming with his inglorious fiasco, without humour, and not to be humoured. As Ch. 14 ends, we come to the vast death toll not slow to arrive in the fury of the Lord (14:18-20).
Already, in Ch. 14, we have been advised that Babylon is fallen (14:8), and so to Ch. 15, where we see "another sign in heaven" . Amidst this tremulous scene of wrath, comes the announcement that "in them the wrath of God is complete", that is the specified seven angels whose terminator work is to proceed (15:1), shortly (16:1ff.). The scenario in its strict sequence and verbal finesse, proceeds ungarnished, uninterrupted, cohesive and constant. Now we look to heaven, which continues whatever happens on earth, following this completion announcement as just noted.
Here the judgments of God are acclaimed (for how many centuries has Babylonish wickedness as in 17:1ff., occurred, and how long have the saints seen satanic power do its strenuous blood-letting against many of the best and most beautiful souls - as in Revelation 6:9ff.), and vindication of the victorious love of God is sought. In love He has waited to seek the lost; in justice He acts (15:6-7 cf. 6:9-11), to vindicate the truth.
Thus, the earth which is the scene of the boiling vices of the devil, of the murder of the Messiah, is not at all to waft off on its delusions. It is to be JUDGED (as in Psalm 2) so that the Messiah is to "ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession" (Psalm 2:8), and this, it is not only a spiritual thrust to redeem SOME, but a sovereign majesty to subdue all, even the rebellious, though their liberty to find hell is not thereby annulled, as we shall shortly see!
Indeed, this being the stated scope of the operation, we further learn from Psalm 2 of a surely coming situation, as sure as God is, for He has spoken it, and His word is restrained by none (Isaiah 43:13). Thus "You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel."
As a result of this soon coming situation, the "judges of the earth" are to "be instructed", and such magnates are to "Kiss the Son lest He be angry and you perish in the way." Scene: the whole earth. Result: entire majesty, none exempted from conformity. Penalty: being broken into pieces. Compare and contrast this with the Gospel situation: being healed, with those rejected it having the wrath of God brooding over them, but ENTIRELY free to be rich, persecutory of Christians, murdering them, ruling in the world and despoiling the beauties and peace of it (as in Herod, Hitler et al.).
So is it in Micah 7:15 where the intervention of God is to reach such a climax that only the Exodus, redolent with miracle and immediate sovereign devastation of all resistance, to the point of being proverbial, can be used for comparison. It is just the same in Isaiah 66:15 where the martial power of God, wrought in anger, subdues the regimes of earth-ruling force, in dynamic action delivering the people of God from the woes of the assailants, in that case (see With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Chs. 4 ff.) Israel. With "anger and fury" His rebuke with flames of fire, leaves the desolatory dead the heavily apparent result.
This world ? It does just that, as far as it is able, to the people of God. With this, God is not satisfied; with it likewise, the saints in heaven are not satisfied, the clamour of prayer is not satisfied, the glory of His justice is not satisfied, and He acts to satisfy these things, to meet these just criteria, as in Psalm 2. It was this very Psalm which was cited in the book of Acts, in the midst of the slaying of many BY THE EARTHLY RULERS, which would mount to a climax. The precisely contrary and predicted vindication of the justice of God, is forecast to come TO THIS EARTH as in Psalm 2, Micah 7, Isaiah 32 showing the results of such power on this earth, as Isaiah 65:18.
The one is and was; the other is to be. That is what the word of God unabashedly declares, yes with passion and zealous promulgation.
Just one of the consequences of this is that people will NOT be able now to snatch the work of others, and take the fruits of their toils for themselves, in other words, a world crucially and most manifestly contrary to the present one, where such things are RIFE! (Isaiah 65:22ff.). It is not a question any more of patience pending harvest; it is observation of power before final judgment, which Revelation 20 likewise hastens to disclose without intermission, except this, the next announced step being the COMPLETION of the announced millenium, and the opening of the books, when heaven and earth flee, for no place is then to be found for them.
We are not dealing, in all these things, in shades and shadows, but in explicit contrasts with the cause assigned, the removal of deceptive power among nations from the devil, and his incarceration for the millenium, followed by this stark judgment!
The record advises us of these developments "when the thousand years have expired" not "some" 1000 years, but the one revealed, hence "the", and it notes that "then" ..."I saw a great white throne."
Allegorisers often try to make WAR mean peace, WORLD mean heaven, and even ignore such things as death being accursed (Isaiah 65:20), as if YES means NO. Interpretation however cannot say 'symbols' and then invent imagery, when the scene is stated, and contradict the import of the imagery. This is not licence. It is authorship!
Such should write their own works. They certainly do not interpret this one. Allegories may indeed be put, and any good writer makes it crystal clear what is what; and when it is an allegory, still does the meaning not depart from the central thrust, as if a writer could not manage to leave out things that were in the strictest, most substantial and emphatic contradiction to what he had in mind. For any author, such clumsy interpretation is intrusive. When the writer is ultimately through inspiration, the Lord Himself, however, the case is even clearer!
Such contradiction means confusion: not in the writer, but in the interpreter, who interprets text out of the text, and inputs imagination where the text forbids.
Alas*1, that is really all there is to it.
HERE WE ARE EXPLICITLY TRACING THE HISTORY OF THIS EARTH, WITH REFERENCES
TO HEAVEN FROM TIME TO TIME, AS EVENTS UNFOLD.
We were moving into Rev. 15, noting that the wrath of God complete, via the seven angelic visitants, and finding that purity of that heaven which suffers no intrusion, and vindicates righteousness to the uttermost. It is then that His will being done on earth as in heaven, despite the wonders of mercy and longsuffering in love and patience with faithfulness; for justice and righteousness are the foundation of His throne (Psalm 89:14), while mercy goes before His face.
Thus is His will done on earth as in heaven: for the millenia past (as in II Peter 3:8-9, who warned of the end just as he emphasised the length before the end came!), replete with the wonders of mercy and forbearance, sacrificial love in the many following the loving sacrifice of the One, come to the conclusion. Now, there is the millenium to come.
is now exposure. Justice and righteousness are the foundation of His throne
(Psalm 89:14), while mercy goes before His face. The judgment now
exposes the necessity of righteousness in the very air of earth, which
so long grew in pollution, while the tempests lashed increasingly, the
seas roaring as predicted by Christ, conveyed by Luke; and mercy is no
longer available for the critique of caricature.
To Revelation 16 we come, to find the order to the angels, the seven noted in 15 above, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth." It is not heaven. It is not a new earth. It is the same old one, the one the works of which are to be burnt up (II Peter 3:10-12). We are not in fairy land, in fey land: we are statedly on this earth. It is getting what justice requires. What gets judgment is what asked for it; this is its come-uppance!
That of course is part of what is coming, that not only is the evil to gain its due recognition with power, its own power AT LAST abased with its lies and fraud, for that is but one part of that righteousness which GOD INSISTS on making clear, as He judges; the other is its MANIFESTATION POSITIVELY when as in Psalm 72, the Lord rules, yes as in Isaiah 11 and 32, as implied in I Thessalonians 3:13 and stated as we shall see, in this work also.
Psalm 2 reeks with this righteous fury, and manifest judgment; the apostles cited it, and the case is clamorous in scripture, unable to be either subdued or seduced. Here it is, and it is to come.
It is not to our present purpose to investigate the details of these furies poured out by the 7 angels, for they can readily be read, and our task is the cohesion and continuity, to perceive it relative to our major purpose and thrust.
Suffice that the very extremities of wrath greet the ungrateful world, whose turmoils in physical dimensions begin to resemble ever more closely, the passionate hostilities of spirit which so long have imbued its passionate tyrants and tedious dictators, whether of larger or smaller dimensions, composed of few or many, in their seats of power.
In this, one is reminded of what happened to Israel, MOST unallegorically, when being told that the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed, the temple dismantled, the nation found it true to the very stone! (Luke 19:42ff.). Christ did not weep over an allegory, but over the city of the Lord, Jerusalem! So now it is not the land of Israel - one which now is predicted to have its vast evangelical awakening (cf. Romans 11, The Biblical Workman Chs. 1 and 3, SMR Appendix A): it is not this which is in view.
No longer is it the land which was FIRST to suffer what might have seemed an ordinate judgment - had not the preliminaries of the centuries, and the murder of the incarnate King been in view: it is the WORLD!
The scale is far larger; but the theme is exceedingly similar!
The entire world now is the target of the devil, for a unit force control; and it is, in turn, the scene of judgment before the Messiah, exhibited in Matthew 25, which is bent on arriving. How like the warnings to ancient Israel, both the punishment and the restoration, is the word now to the world (cf. Jeremiah 30:12-17, 25:8-10, 31:15-17, Ezekiel 5:7-13, 6:9ff. with Matthew 24:17-31). The earth it is which is to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea, and in the meantime, as Revelation in enormous details exhibits, it is getting the judgments of rebuke, the ledgers reeling with red ink as the pen of history comes to the last chapter (Habakkuk 2:14).
It is the earth in Habakkuk which is the burden (1:2ff.), and it is on the earth that the promise is made as to reference point (Hab. 2:14), remedial situation and judgment post. More is to follow, to be sure; but the world is not to escape like rumpled paper. Its judgments are all written. Let us pursue them then, in Revelation 17.
THEN, we read in 17:1, one of the seven angels (already defined, detailed and recognised in their former pursuits) shows to John the apostle (cf. Chapter 1, *2, above), more data on Babylon, its mystery (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 2) and its end, which proceeds with all the punitive purgations of divine judgment in Ch. 18 of this inspired revelation, the Revelation through the apostle John. That, in the succeding chapter 18, is the detail, of which this is the announcement; just as in Ch. 15, we saw the seven angels who should as shown in Ch. 16, act in fulfilment of the judiciously announced commission of the earlier chapter.
dealt often enough with this topic of the predicted devastation of the
Roman religious centre, we merely here note its emission in our environment,
and proceed it.
It is not in some strange terrestrial orb that this occurs; it is in this one, where the seven hills do not roam! God is no more mocked than is His word invaded, be the impetus what it may be!
Meanwhile, pending the harlot, Rome's overthrow, there was in this intensely cohesive narrative, her demission from her regal status in this world, by decision of the executive conglomerate that make up the new imperial power to rule this world (Rev. 17:16-18). Thence follows her conflagration, who caused so many individual conflagrations, like that of lovable John Huss, the term meaning 'goose', on which the jollity of the day played, when Rome slew him, by fire. Fire went out; and now it comes in. "Rejoice … God has avenged you on her!" is heard amid the lamentations of those falsely in her train. It is no more.
It is vain to pretend that divine justice is not a major theme throughout! The book overflows with it like lava from a volcano. The volcano, held long in contempt, was nevertheless, there; and if its long restraint is the delay of judgment in the interests of mercy for the world, so is the unbinding of judgment, the eventual and CLEARLY PREDICTED ACTION! Scene: the world in general, Rome in particular.
This done, and Rev. 18's detailed statements complete, on the Roman end (and it is 'mystery Babylon' as expounded in Biblical Blessings Ch. 2 noted above), with a longer history than its death mask possessor at the end, this being in turn the end of the 4th Empire as predicted by Daniel (cf. Highway of Holiness), we are told this: "AFTER THESE THINGS".
What then is to occur after these things so dramatically and sequentially exposed to our view through the prophet ?
It is this. John hears a voice contemplating the RESULT of what has JUST happened! (Rev. 19:2): "True and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and He has avenged on her the blood of His saints shed by her." The harlot despatched, the topic of marriage arises, and the wedding of the Lamb proceeds (Rev. 19:8).
Cautioned that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" and not to fall to worship at the feet of the angel, John sees heaven opened, and the same Jesus coming in the ultimacy of judgment in the white horse, and the dress of those specified for the wedding is precisely the same as that of those seen to accompany Him (just as all the saints do, as declared in I Thess. 3:13). Indeed, the birds are invited to prepare for the final feast in the consummation of judgment, for the armies of heaven accompany the Lamb (as in 19:9), who is "King of kings and Lord of lords", and "the Word of God" (Rev. 19:13,16).
The Word of God,
victor, personal, but infinitely capable of presenting in propositions
the thoughts and desires, commands and expositions He desires (as we are,
but in a limited fashion, in our own words),
express likeness and fellow of the Almighty,
glory has already been glimpsed at the transfiguration (Matthew 17),
|with judgment flowing like light from an arc in its brilliance, for where mercy is ignored, justice is inevitable:|
The words that He HAS spoken ring like an orchestra in the sublimity of its crescendos, and not one is failing (cf. John 12:47-50). He or she who has rejected His words, finds that they are as nails to the heart. Alas, alas for the world which shall mourn at His coming, for its wickedness of heart, obfuscations and obliterations of reality and particularly of His word, acting as if a magic world had come for its express pleasure, in order that it might be dauntless in deviation from the word of God!
for those who mourn fruitlessly in judgment, as John was inspired to write
in Revelation 1:7-8: "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will
see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will
mourn because of Him. Even so. Amen" ! Is this, such a mourning by all
the tribes of the earth at His coming, precisely what Christ on earth predicted?
(Matthew 24:29-31). Judgment bared is a mournful topic when hearts have
no comfort in Christ; but the elect, as it is written, are gathered
to Him in safety.
Beast and kings of the earth, their armies, all are gathered to make war on Him. The beast is captured, the leader lost, the false prophet is moved by a mouth stronger than his, and their end is as fiery as their misspent force in life. Meanwhile, death awaits the vagrantly arrogant multitude (19:21).
B. THE PEAK REVEALED
"THEN," we are told, there is a result for the dragon, alias for the serpent, alias for the devil, who in Ch. 16 in the continuous narrative preceding, was he who not only thought to destroy the incarnate, the Lord as babe at the Gospel outset into flesh, but from whose very mouth came some of the deadly dynamic of deception as noted in Rev. 16:13-15. THEN an angel came down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit.
This result ? It is this: "He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years." There is no possibility of ADDING a new theme, a new topic, a new phase, or a new stage here. The climax is reached; the evil powers are translated from high dudgeon to low dungeon. We are told explicitly what is the next step. It completes the devastation of the enumerated powers past; and it does so with a glissade of terms, covering the devil not only in person, but in any verbal software which may be used. He is taken in his steps, his names and his power and incarcerated. You can add if you want to write the book; but not justly otherwise!
We are in a heavily sequential narrative, with its own introductions before, for any new phase (as in Rev. 11, for its part, in Rev. 12 for its part), and there is nothing to do but to accept this, or reject the prohibitions on invention, on intervention, always present in any sober exegesis, and here commanded to the uttermost.
What then must be urged ? It is this. Disobey if you have a mind to; but it is NOT, emphatically not interpretation. If however any such act could be called interpretation at all, it is interpretation of one's own mind, which has nothing whatever to do with the mind of God, in such matters: for His thoughts are above our thoughts as the heaven is above the earth, and the One who says so, it is Himself! (Isaiah 55:8-13). You can take it or leave it: there is simply no other option. It is however a beautiful option, to be instructed by God only, as in Isaiah 54:13, I John 2:27).
THERE IS A MILLENIUM. There is not here a legitimate question for anyone exegeting the word of God as such, and the more emphatically so for anyone following the directions at the end of it (22:18-19). You do not generalise and find that you have some theory, for example, about cyclical coverage, by someone carelessly, casually or traditionalistically thrown together from some cases of various points of departure SPECIFICALLY ANNOUNCED in the book of Revelation, and here INSERTED into the text, as if it were a mere place for a Midsummer Night's Dream quartered in one's own mind, one having some mild relationship to things not stated or present, or available for generalisation, even if generalisation of such a kind were exact in any case.
Insert is add.
Ignore is subtract.
IN THE MILLENIUM, THEN, WHAT ?
What however is IN the millenium ?
That, it is a just question, and God is just.
We do not, properly, decide what is 'the millenium' and then make up a theory, and then dogmatise, and then form parties, camps and the like about it. That is philosophy, not theology; and to the extent it claims to be biblical, it is false and misleading philosophy.
rather SEE what is TOLD about it, first and foremost, and then present
what this is and necessarily implies (if so be, anything is so implied).
We may then find other scriptures, comparing spiritual things with spiritual,
and if their criteria are unique, and fit the unique features of 'the millenium',
and the scripture tells of no other such period, then it is justifiable
to collect them for this period as their heir apparent.
The sure and first thing about 'the millenium' here specifically used of what the book of Revelation calls the millenium, is this, that the power of Satan, in the starkest and most absolute way, is deprived of deceptive outlet to the nations in this world. The driving force attested in the preceding chapters of Revelation in the ways shown, and paralleled in approach to the same confrontation with the burning judgment of the incoming Christ in II Thessalonians 2:8 (cf. Isaiah 11:4), is the devil, the dragon, whose various names are listed in Rev. 20:2: he is attested as one arrested whose various aliases no longer will cover him. HE is now confined, abased, humiliated, arrested, imprisoned, without effectual outlet for his cunning conniving.
Thus this is a specific TEACHING about THE MILLENIUM depicted and sited, as set forth in the continuous narrative which has led from Ch. 12 right on to Ch. 20 of the prophecy.
It is the OPPOSITE, both in II Thess. 2 and Revelation, as in Matthew 24, of the criteria which relate to the period of the approaching return of Christ. It is characterisably opposite, assuredly sited, dramatically culminative, procedurally cumulative, avenue to blessedness of a type unexampled since Eden, and beyond it, in that redemption is greater than probation.
Thus not only is it categorically forbidden to ADD to the text of the book of Revelation, to present some new theme, contrary to the continuous narrative, and conspicuous in the text here by its notable absence, or in any other way so to act as to elide the time or the reality of what is written, or even to try to suppress this phrase, ‘THE MILLENIUM’ as what follows the incendiary assault of CHRIST. It is indeed He who as the word of God, King of kings devastates the assemblages, the exemplars of satanically empowered rebellion who have failed to heed the warning of Psalm 2:9-12.
It is not only this: it is even more than this when the millenium is gratuitously and contra-contextually shifted out. Such a fault is aggravated by the rupture of reality involved. It fleeces the foothills to this return of Christ of one of their specified main ingredients, exposed in its wily, and supernatural fury of assault on the people of God, to deceive. Indeed, it is worse again, if this phrase, the millenium, be misplaced, or scooped out with a heading not present, and the narrative ruptured, contradicted and denied.
It is worse yet, because it contradicts all the parallel scriptures at the same time. Further it is like a piece of music, which long building to its highly specific climax, in which a repetitive theme is prominent, is suddenly 'interpreted' by some fabulous 'critic' who ignores the theme if not dominant, then prominent as one of the prongs of development, in the entire preliminaries to the end! He concocts thereby a critique of some music never written, divorced from the score! Literally, he does not know the score. That is the sad result of such switches, shifts or effectual deletions of dynamic and detail.
This however leads on to what inexorably has great apologetic significance.
Instead of adding to scripture, and subtracting from it, in such ways, as specifically forbidden, and improper in any case, if one takes it as it comes, and interprets it as it interprets itself with the words it provides for the purpose (just as Christ interpreted the parables), then you find a coherence and harmony, instead of a contradiction and a chaos of confused ideas, which naturally lead to many 'schools' of interpretation, which are not really so, but schools of intrusion or denial, which refuse what is written, and insert here from this pundit, there from that, what is not written.
In fact, however, there is a period, specified in the book of Revelation, which is to have unique characteristics, since Eden began in this world. Satan is crushed, not merely in spirit and in the sublimity of the provision to faith of the Gospel, but in this, that HE CANNOT DECEIVE THE PEOPLES for the period in question. Now deceit is his NORMAL tool of trade! THIS is now denied him. In II Cor. 4:4, cf. John 14:30, you see that the god of this world, its preferred prince, is he who, with whatever aliases, 'blinds' the eyes of those 'who do not believe', just as we find in I Peter 5 he goes as a roaring lion, and as one who sent, in Rev. 16, the false prophetic dynamisms hopping, hopping.
THIS HAS NOW STOPPED for the first time, as to type, since the Fall of Man. It is a unique period, not merely immiscible with the time when Satan is the adversary opposing the work of God, the Church Age, but the entire contradiction of one of its main ingredients!
Indeed, it is contrary to the inception of the evil and the curse, when it started, and how much so is it in the terminus with the flamboyant furies of the one who knows his time is but short! and these things are divinely declared in principle, and illustrated in practice.
It does not fit. It becomes a comedy of errors, where comedy has no place.
This becomes of importance for Christian apologetics, immediately.
Why is this so ? It is because when anything is intricate, realistic, true, covering all the cases and wise in the uttermost degree, then to ALTER IT is to invite the same sort of disaster as would occur if a non-engineer were to substitute one of the engines in a Boeing, with one of his own diffuse choice! The better is the original design, and the more brilliant and individual its construction, the more immiscible is it with any significant mutation whatever; just as in biology, there are limits, beyond which mutation merely kills, drains, de-energises, renders inefficient, dead or bordering upon it.
The scripture, to be interpreted as the Westminster confession so justly affirms, by ITSELF as the doctrinal basis, and not by any text of man, has the heavenly beauty of a harbour of many ships, just like the picture you may have noticed at the start of this chapter, with all the yachts of ocean-going revelation, clustered in one place.
Harmoniously and safely, that nautical library that covers the deep, and yet is composed in one place is at peace with its self, in a setting both prodigiously inspiring and unsparingly delectable in its symmetry and empathy, one part with another.
What then ? It is as it is, and its composition is in its own harbour, unbetrayed by alien vessels, without place, right or call. The word of God is the word of GOD: beware those who betray His cause by their own ideas, inventions and contentions, thrust vigorously if not indeed vehemently, where they have no place.
You CANNOT so invade Revelation (which forbids it), seducing some part of it to put it elsewhere by some spontaneous insertion not in the least provided by the text, so adding; nor can you subtract by removing such a declaration of the unique properties of an assigned period. IF you do, you end in philosophic chaos. If you do not, you end in a harmony so intense, a combination of terms from this and other scriptures so enduring, so delicate, so perfect, that it is like some wonderful painting, in which all parts conspire to produce the aura of authenticity. This is what you would expect of the word of GOD: this is what you find. Hence this very fact of the virtually autonomous misuse of the text, shows the proliferation of error which in fact has proceeded from that, and contrasts the succinct graces of the truth, AS IT IS WRITTEN, without ornament, addition or omission.
That is the apologetic point. There is no problem when you follow the text. What could you expect ? Does a Rolls Royce purr with bicycle parts !
The mounting climax to the expressions of the divine justice as in Rev. 15, 17, 18 (1), and culminating in Rev. 19, are met in the abasement of the agents of this deceptive series of declivities in man which produce the judgments of God (2), and the final agent is himself despoiled, humiliated, disembowelled spiritually! so that HE CANNOT DECEIVE any more. The first happens, "THEN" the action proceeds, so that his most tirelessly wicked agency is exposed by what happens in its absence.
In this way not least, is God's righteous government so swelling and continuous that "the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Currently there is the underlying glory, and the goodness, but also the curse, also the satanic enterprises, also many millions of murders, billions of lies, fraud and rapacity rampant like young lions, not yet poisoned. Their day comes. THE EARTH, states the divine One, is not to stay like that. It is to receive a final warrant of another kind. It is to be filled as the waters cover the sea (as in Micah 4, Isaiah 2, Psalm 73, Psalm 2, Isaiah 65, and paralleled in Micah 7 and Revelation 20), with the KNOWLEDGE OF THE GLORY OF THE LORD.
It will not be possible to hide. Works of mercy and grace will abound (Psalm 72, Isaiah 11) in this transformed and wholly diverse world, where injustice and grabbing are stopped, as by power brakes. Indeed, in Psalm 72 we learn of the divine Ruler, "His enemies will lick the dust", and "yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him; for He will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor also, and him who has no helper. He will spare the poor and needy, and will save the souls of the needy. He will redeem their life from oppression and violence, and precious shall be their blood in His sight." It is He who as in Psalm 89 has these inimitable criteria and characteristics, precisely as in His first coming (cf. Luke 24:25-26 where Christ spells it out). There we see of the seed of David, the covenanted one of whom Christ spoke in terms of Himself, as noted in Matthew 22:44, "I will set his hand over the sea, and his right hand over the rivers" (Psalm 89:25). Sufferings first, glory later, Christ indicated (Luke 24:25-26).
God will indeed rule the nations in might and with glory (Psalm 2, 117, 66:4, 67:4). It will be done through the Messiah (Psalm 2:6-12 , 89:20). Further, as in Isaiah 2:4, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." Anything further from anything post-Eden, it is virtually impossible to imagine. It is diametric structural anithesis. It is however to come, for as Micah 4:4 declares in a cognate passage, "The mouth of the LORD has spoken."
Indeed, the Lord is to govern the nations on earth righteously, and "Your enemies will submit themselves to You" (66:3), so that "all the earth shall worship You". Sin is not absent, merely the devilish dash of its dynamic; further, the wonder of the way of righteousness is demarcated with a distinctness of wonder, past all confusion, abuse or decline. Indeed, many may give feigned acceptance in this millenium specified by Revelation, with criteria paralleled in its unique and defined state as shown in Rev. 20:3. We know that because at the end of the time, there is to be a revolt, an uprising.
the TIME IS PAST and the devil is given liberty, the devilish heart is
no more abased, the rebellious no more conform, and now it is demonstrated
specifically that it is not environment (for He has redeemed the poor as
in Psalm 73 and been tender and just) that counts in the count-down to
heaven or hell; it is grace, it is salvation, it is knowing the Lord IN
YOUR HEART, by His cleansing regenerative dynamic and personal presence.
One no more wishes to 'condemn' those who may have caught such a toxic dose, than those who suffer from influenza. This said, however, one is without the slightest codification, compelled and constrained to say these things about the quality of the illicit thing itself!
Again, to be sure, there are dispensational horrors which are probably far worse (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 3 esp. pp. 35ff. and 45ff. incl. *2). These, for example, omit the key which turns the door of interpretation, the clearly defined biblical principles which, like a map, allow the unfading certainties of what are the markers of the track of understanding. Ignoring the standing guidelines, many have failed to realise that orders are orders, and human principles of interpretation from philosophy, must give way to explicit statement from God as to what He is about, will insist upon and where He is going. This relates to what happens in the millenium.
The trackless wastes of covenantal confusion, as if God had forgotten the lines which He Himself has drawn, or meant symbols to signify something other than what He has laid down with all the emphasis of heaven itself, become a place of prey for the unwary. However, as Justin Martyr so beautifully stressed, the Christ is the new law and the new covenant, and as Ignatius put it, the charters ARE Jesus Christ: in Him the symbols in vast numbers coalesce and have their completion (Hebrews 10:1ff., 7:25-28). His messianic presence is dominant and not merely prominent, the pith of the presentation, the acme of the acuity, the flame of the fire which like some vast solar flare, has reached out to illumine and to warn all.
Moreover, there are insistences that II Peter 3:8-9, is dealing with admittedly eschatological criteria, and these therefore are here far from irrelevant. They may apply assuredly, though this could not be proved. Though some indeed might wish to insist that this word of Peter is so wedded to this end period that to ignore it here is to be silent where God has not been so, and to ignore what God has divulged, and there is ground for some sympathy in such a position: yet such a position, though appealing, has no sure mandate. It merely prevents our ‘knowing’ the length.
one does not know the chronological length of the Revelation millenium
for the very simple reason that the highly pertinent II Peter 3:8-9 in
this whole context of the longsuffering of the Lord and the end, may well
be a pointer. Since it may not be one, specifically however for the immediately
following phase, though it bids fair to be an index, we simply DO NOT KNOW.
There is scriptural ground for RESERVATION on the topic. We know the actual
duration may be far short of a thousand years, though it is certain to
be adequate for all pronounced to be done in this.
in extent , or unsymbolical, however, the point is but trivial, unless
more be asserted in God’s name, than can be proved from the Bible. That
in itself, is never trivial! (Proverbs 30:6, SMR Appendix
D, and the earlier chapters of this volume). We simply announce
that the length is not known, but as in other matters in symbolism in this
work, where the key is apparent, the substance is there, and it will last
as long as GOD MAKES IT TAKE to fulfil all He has said concerning this
exhibition of His justice and mercy.
the last jot and tittle, Christ declared, all the law and the prophets
will be fulfilled. You do not fulfil an earth flowing with righteousness
under the just and merciful rule of God, in all nations, one where the
wicked are dashed, by having one in which these criteria disappear. You
do not fulfil the word of God by excising Revelation 20. You do not have
the knowledge of the glory of the Lord cover the earth, and the righteous
unmolested when the righteous are systematically murdered, goods rifled
and powers of satanic dynamic flourish like giant weeds, covering the deserts
of desolation PREDICTED to reach their climax at His return, coming somewhat
earlier in order to prevent the earth becoming WHOLLY UNINHABITABLE.
Thin does not mean fat, nor fat thin.
do not avoid the context by dismissing it to some sanctuary invented by
your own mind.
You continue with the word of God, neither adding nor subtracting, interpreting what is there, not disenchanted from some philosophy, deciding it really is better put away, like some 19th century relative who is not fit for society, and so is placed in a country mental asylum. It is man not God who is in mental danger; it is the word of man and not of God which is to be put away.
As to God, His glorious justice and righteous word is undivorceable, intractable, retroactive in judgment on this world, bringing its deeds of the past to contemporary exposure, just as was the case with the Jewish nation of Jesus' own day, when He said:
As the evil is purged, so the entry of light is urged. For this millenium, then, you go not to heaven, to hell, or to Mars, and further, neither to fiction nor to fantasy for the place where His righteousness will erupt in glory, teem in wonder, be brilliant with force and strength, to govern all nations, and tender in compassion from the Redeemer, to heal all wounds: no, for all this in its defined ensemble of substance, is statedly on this earth.
was not in Jupiter, in some fabrication of the human mind, in a scalloped
work of the mind of man that Christ was to come. He was to born on this
earth; and it was not in some purée of thought that His crucifixion
was to occur, moving this to the garden of Eden perhaps, or to some other
Not at all! It was in Jerusalem, on this earth.
Redemption cost the earth and the earth will behold the majesty of the Lord, nor will He neglect any, for ...
"with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth: He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked... the nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain" (Isaiah 11:4ff.).
You observe this ? Then let us hear about the site, and the REASON for these events as dictated by the lip of the Lord:
The ministry ? This is an aid which does not rule the truth, but is there for helping joy, not dominion over faith.
Wise is he, is she who receives what according to Biblical specifications is given from those who help, and yet finds in the Lord alone the help which for the helpless is ever overwhelmingly strong, incalculably pure, marvellously kind.
you do not know all things (I Cor. 13), at least always know this, that
the word of God is truth, and blessed is he, is she who abides in it (John
*1 Alas! that is, for the turmoil needlessly produced; but praise the Lord for the clarity which is present when awe at His authorship and restraint of compiling one's own with His, lead to that famed clarity which is endemic in the word of God, inescapable, sometimes blatantly manifest, sometimes subtle like the different shades of green, the hues on the hillsides as Spring quietly turns to Summer, of gold, as only traces of green are left and various cool golds, gleaming ones, shimmering, robust and even yellow beauties, adorn the earth.
appreciate the artistry, it is necessary to take these in; for they need
*2 ERUPTIONS INTO THE TEXT THROUGH DEEP MISUNDERSTANDINGS
As with many things, people often tend to be unhappy because they turn, being either taught, drifting or deceived, from a clear presentation of the text. Something they thought to be associated with what is written, or implied, is not really there; and so troubles are invented in simply not following the text. Again and again, because of extremes which some take, parties hatch, schism erupts, divergencies arise; tangents thus create cleavages through the people, like the aeroplanes on the Twin Towers, making havoc. (On this, see examples and solutions in Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2, and in particular, News, Facts and Forecasts 124, Part 2 and esp. section 3 of it, where the millenial matter is constructively investigated - as likewise in Galloping Events Ch. 8, esp. *2.)
Thus Rev. 20:4 is amazingly mistranslated in some versions, including the AV and the NKJV, which at times seems simply to follow the AV.
Better is the rendering in the New American Standard Bible which follows a literal translation of the Greek:
"And I saw thrones and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead, and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed..."
The Berkeley version does aptly in this point:
"I also saw thrones that were occupied by such as received power to pass sentence.
I also saw the souls of those who had been slain for their testimony to Jesus and for
God’s message; also the souls of those who had not worshipped either the beast or its statue…"
The English Revised
version also improves on the AV, saying:
"I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast …", likewise making clear the two categories. The American Standard version of 1901 has the same "and such as worshipped" also.
This matter is dealt with under translations, in The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 9, at Item 16.
John saw two categories:
1) the souls of those who had been beheaded
2) non-receivers of the mark, non-worshippers of the beast.
This is not some super-select category but a simple summation of the people of God who specifically rise at call, and that simultaneously, both the living children of God and those dead in Christ, as in I Thess. 4, which very expressly itemises the matter!
It is that which John saw, all scripture being read as one: firstly, the souls of those ... and secondly, those who had not mis-worshipped in the way described.
The grammatical structure is different for the first group, and for the second. The first is simple accusative of the noun - the souls, that is what he saw. The second is plural, this time pronominal, those who ... They are related by the word 'and'. There are two groups.
The occasion is of course the drama of the end, when the final crunching of the thumbs is being executed, to be figurative, when the stress is maximal, when heroism is a flame of fire, and horror takes its toll. At once, this past and the Lord having come in Person, seen on a White Horse, as the Word of God (Rev. 19): we see in Rev. 20, the presence in heaven of Christ's people. The action is now past, the people have come and they repose, their labours past, in Him.
WHO then is to be with them ? Worshippers of the beast ? So then idolaters are in heaven ? Not according to Paul in I Cor. 6:9! Far from it indeed. Such do NOT inherit the kingdom of heaven, and in telling the Corinthians this fact, Paul is expostulating "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God ? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals ..."
The Lord knows how to keep His own, and who are His own (II Tim 2:19, John 10:27-28). You do not live in fear, but in the Lord; you do not worry HOW He will do it. He is on record that He will do it. Whom He called, He justified, whom He justified He glorified (cf. Romans 8:17, 29-30). Those whom He justified likewise, we there read, He predestined in the first place. THAT IS WHAT IS WRITTEN. Stay with that. Trust in God and in His word: HE knows what He is doing. The tour guide in this case is NEVER negligent!
I Thess. 5:9-10 tells us who are Christians that God has NOT appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation.
Very well: even when you take the 'worship the beast' situation in the broadest sense, for after all the beasts of Daniel 8 and 9, not to say 7, are empires from BABYLON on, they are all 'beasts' so that the phenomenon is really present when the friends of Daniel are led to furnace; and the matter is to be found not only in our own generation - it is still the same in times past, though the fruit was not then so ripe!
ALL God's people from all generations have not compounded their sins by worshipping the substitute for spirituality which is the ruling and dominant cultural theme which mixes religions for convenience and has power as puppet master for the inert, for those simply not inhabited by the Lord Himself. Indeed, as we see in Biblical Blessings Ch. 2, the whole phenomenon goes back to Babel and it is a generic. The spirit of the thing is rebellion from the word of God and the usage of some other system, theme, desire, dynamic, ultimately that of the devil.
These then are all the saints in Rev. 20:4 as shown elsewhere in scripture, as attested in references above.
It is then the exclusion in Rev. 20:4 which counts. As to the second category, as listed above, those who are NOT there are those who HAVE worshipped ... the wrong one. What would one expect ? Does not John in Revelation 21:27, which follows, tell us what is not there in the end, likewise ? Let us hear it: "But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life."
It is the Lamb's book of life, that inscription which attests the status given by faith through grace, as we find in Romans 3, Galatians 3 and 5, Ephesians 2, Isaiah 61:10 and so on. It is still salvation by GRACE through FAITH as in Ephesians 2:1-10, but it is also, as always SALVATION through faith by grace, so that the faith is not the dead substitute but the living variety which, as with a good tree, acts as it is, imperfect but effective, based in the Lord who ACTS for those who wait for Him (Isaiah 64:4-5), and who meets him who is His, on the way as the prophet declares so beautifully as testimony to the practical love of the Lord.
"Those who had not worshipped" being one of the two groupings, these are pervasive over time and generic as to type. There is no designation of limit, merely an exclusion zone. The ones NOT there are noted. The WIFE of the Lamb has already been installed, and accompanied Him, and now we are seeing His people with special emphasis on recent events, but with no exclusion except of falsity in idolatry (worship of what is NOT GOD cf. Deuteronomy 32:21).
Nevertheless, this provides a ground of exhortation to all who are called by the name of Christ. WORSHIP Him! Be aware in an acute manner that the disposition of your heart and spirit is to HIM. The spirit of prophecy is the TESTIMONY OF JESUS (Rev. 19:10). It is in HIM that all things are to be gathered (Ephesians 3:10), and on account of His cross that one should glory, yes, so glory IN IT! (Gal. 6:14). One well remembers a gentleman orating with singular amplitude to attack this sort of thing, as though one could in great purity of heart CONDEMN the cross of Christ, the very 'cross' being in some way shanghaied into evil. To be sure, some have misused it grossly; but does one amputate a foot because it trod on a rabbit!
The fact is that though the symbol is grossly misused by some idolaters, just as the brass serpent of Moses became later an object of idolatry, this does not remove the legitimacy of what God has ordained. The call to the cross of Christ is universal and continual, not idolatrous or iniquitous, but ubiquitous and spiritual.
It is in the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord we glory: that is, in the whole plan of salvation which culminated in it, the love which drove to it, the Person who accomplished it, the fortitude it displayed, the efficacy of its provision in providing just ground for the cancellation of sin for everyone who receives Him (Galatians 3:10-13, Romans 3:23-27), the just for the unjust to bring us to God (I Peter 3:18).
Thus the worship which is involved in this Messiah, whose goings are from eternity (Micah 5:1-3), whose throne is that of God, and who is addressed as God, in whom one is to TRUST whereas in no created being is one to trust (Psalm 45, Hebrews 1, Psalm 2, Jeremiah 17), this one who is the SAVIOUR whereas GOD ONLY is the Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11), who is with His Father the Creator, one triune God, where ONLY GOD is the Creator (Col. 1:15ff., Isaiah 45:18), whom Thomas worshipped, declaring "My Lord and My God" - lit. 'the God of me' (John 20:28): this worship of Christ is basic.
It is exclusive, and it is through Him the Son, by the Holy Spirit, worship of God, the triune God, and NO ONE ELSE and NOTHING ELSE can share it. This is the constraint of the heart, the testimony of love, the object of faith, the dynamic of godliness, the motif of the life. Those excluded worshipped elsewhere! What is the first commandment ? It is not merely some format (though one is involved in the last case of the beast), but the spirit of the thing, for GOD IS A SPIRIT and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. When you ARE His, this is the natural testimony and triumph in the heart, for it is like saying 'dad' to your father at the table. It is IN YOU, for you are OF IT! (cf. Romans 8:16).
in review, note that John in Rev. 20:4 is shown a culmination in world
history, specialising in it like an on the spot reporter. Even then,
his language does not say WHO IS included in "those who..." but those NOT
included. Naturally the bride is not going to be separated from her 'husband'
of so short a time ago, in the celestial wedding service! (Rev. 19:8ff.).
Indeed, WHAT shall separate us from the love of God ? neither things present
nor things future, nor powers, nor nakedness nor sword (Romans 8:38-39).
The desire to 'make it simple' evidently involves a failure, here, to see the moral brilliance of the exhibition of the Lord's justice, judgment and mercy. If God wants to deploy on earth the vigour of righteousness as expressly indicated for example in Psalm 2 and 110, in Isaiah 2 and Micah 4, in Isaiah 59 and 65, so be it. Is it for man to tell Him that His moral zeal is unnecessary, that - to use a figure - an ANZAC service at Gallipoli is not really necessary ?
Did man suffer on the cross for sin, or GOD-AS-MAN ? Does it not then matter than Christ as King rules the nations as He declared WOULD HAPPEN (as distinct from already happening) through the Psalmist, repeatedly ? Is God then to be taught ? or man!
It is necessary to worship God, not instruct Him, and to learn of Him, not to teach. What is written, is written. It does not back off because of misconstruction!
But consider the beauty of His peace, who is not a poem, merely, or a symbol, a suggestion or a motif. He states most explicitly that this earth is going to get it, first the filth of its doings, and then the purgative brilliance of His own majesty, being filled with His knowledge, the curse in abeyance, and the wonder of it all in full flow. Does wisdom say, 'No!' or if French, 'But no!'
The stupendous vigour of the Lord is not cutting any corners. All will be manifest in life, in judgment and in such steps and implementations as He brings to charge. All is accounted for and nothing in the word of God is annullable, nor any symbol dismissed, like some dirty urchin, not fit for the dining room. He made physical things; they will be shown the power of God. He made the body; it will be shown the blessedness of the Lord. He handles history as we handle our houses. He has His program and will not depart from it. Those who are His, they come to Him at the time of his coming for them, and resurrected, they partake, participate, spectate or witness as He will. Mighty is He who executes His word, to the jot and the tittle.
You see, He KNOWS what He is talking about, so it is wise to CONTINUE
in His word! It is truth.