SUMMARY.--The Temple Measured. The Holy City Trodden Down by the Gentiles. The Two Witnesses. Prophesying in Sackcloth. The Forty-Two Months. The Witnesses Slain. The Witnesses Exalted. The Fall of the Wicked World. The Seventh Trumpet Blown. The Final Triumph.
"War was made upon them." Near the close of the last century the most determined attack ever known was made upon the Bible. Voltaire and Rousseau led in France; Frederick the Great in Germany; Tom Paine, Hume, Gibbon and Bolingbroke in England; Thomas Jefferson and Paine in America. At last the culmination was reached in France. The nation rose in a crusade against all religion. The Convention, composed of the representatives of the mightiest nation then upon the earth, by national law abolished not only the Bible but God. They decreed that France would worship no gods but Reason and Liberty. Atheism became the law of the State.
This is the only instance known to all history of a deliberate enactment abolishing all religion. Most fitly might such an event be styled the slaying of the witnesses who testify of the Lord. For 1260 years the testimony of the witnesses had been in part suppressed; in 1793 it was enacted that they should testify no more, or henceforth should be silent as death. It was decreed that time should date no more from the Christian era, and that the week itself should be abolished because it was a Bible division of time. Let it be borne in mind: 1. That the war was waged by the power from the bottomless pit; an infidel power. 2. The witnesses were slain by the state which has done more than all others to build up and uphold the temporal power of the Pope. They lie in the street of the great city. 3. It is just 1260 years, the prophetic period, from the time when the Pope was styled Lord of the Church by imperial authority, until the state of the abolition of the Bible and of God by "the eldest son of the Church," or from A. D. 533 to A. D. 1793.
After three days and a half the witnesses came to life. This implies that they regain their power and influence. The French "Convention," which inaugurated the Reign of Terror, guillotined all the royal family and many thousand citizens, decreed the dethronement of God, and made itself a terror to mankind, continued in existence for a little more than three years, and in about three and a half years the French nation began to recover from its madness. Its atheistic laws were repealed, and Christianity was acknowledged as the religion of the State. This was not all. The resurrected witnesses were in sackcloth no longer. The age of religious toleration had come. With the beginning of the present century a movement began to sweep over the civilized land in favor of religious liberty.
The exaltation of the witnesses has followed. With the nineteenth century began a mighty movement to extend the circulation of the Bible. It is now translated into every written tongue of the earth, and the Bible societies have made it the cheapest book in the world. To all who are not able to buy it is freely given. All are free to study it for themselves. Ours is also the age of missions. At the same time began a movement to preach the truths of the Bible to all nations. The result of this exaltation is that in our age we feel the heaving of a great moral earthquake. It is stated that a tenth part of the city shall be shaken down. Already Rome has lost its hold upon the governments of Italy and France. The trend of events is now towards the falling of the wicked city, the overthrow of its confirmed supporters, and the repentance of the others. These results are in the future; their fulfillment may yet require generations. We cannot name times and seasons, but the result will come.
14, 15. And the seventh angel sounded. This is the seventh trumpet of the seventh seal. It should bring the end, the final victory, the grand consummation. That is what the apostle now beholds in the vision. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ. Here is the final triumph. It is the brightness of Zion's glad morning, the long deferred day of victory, the ushering in of the conquering reign of Christ. The Agency by which this conquest is effected is the exaltation of the witnesses, or the diffusion of the Word of God. This exaltation causes the earthquake, the fall of a part of the Great City, the destruction of a part of its inhabitants, and the repentance of the remnant. These events are followed by the seventh trumpet and the proclamation of the universal reign of Christ. Then the heavenly inhabitants join in pæans of victory and songs of praise and thanksgiving.
16-18. The four and twenty elders, which sat before God. These heavenly princes, in some way identified with the work of redemption, join in worship and praises. "The mystery of God has been finished in the days of the voice of the seventh angel" ( 10:7 ). The eighteenth verse will sufficiently explain why this also should be called a woe trumpet. It is the trumpet of judgment.
19. I believe this verse ought to belong to chapter 12, and will there consider it. If it is connected in meaning with verse 18 it signifies that heaven is opened at the close of the seventh trumpet, and that from thence come judgments as well as blessings.
With Rev. 11:18 closes the first great division of the Book. It brings one series of visions which reaches from the time of John to the end of the world to a close. It will aid those who have studied the preceding chapters to study the results in a condensed analysis.
The first four chapters are not prophecy, except as the history of the Seven Churches is outlined. The future history of the world and the Church is symbolized by a sealed book. It has seven seals. These are seven epochs that reach into the future until the end of time.
THE FIRST SEAL.--The White Horse. The Era of Triumph. The Glorious Period of Roman History; Revelation 6:1 Revelation 6:2 . A. D. 96 to A. D. 180
THE SECOND SEAL.--The Red Horse. The Era of Blood and of Civil Discord; Revelation 6:3 Revelation 6:4 . Beginning A. D. 193.
THE THIRD SEAL.--The Black Horse. The Seal of Calamity, and of National Distress; Revelation 6:5 Revelation 6:6 . Beginning about A. D. 200.
THE FOURTH SEAL.--The Pale Horse. The Era of Famine, Pestilence and Death; Revelation 6:7 Revelation 6:8 . About A. D. 240 to A. D. 270.
THE FIFTH SEAL.--The Era of Persecution. The last effort of Paganism to blot out the Christian name; Revelation 6:9 Revelation 6:10 . A. D. 303.
THE SIXTH SEAL.--The Seal of Revolution. The Era of the Overthrow of Pagan Civilization; 6:12-17 . Beginning about A. D. 310 and extending to A. D. 350.
THE FOUR WINDS.--A vision of destructive forces that shall destroy the Roman Empire, but held back until it shall be Christianized. The Four Winds represent Four Northern Invasions, also indicated by Four Trumpets; 9:1-17 . Fulfilled from A. D. 340 to A. D. 395.
THE FIRST TRUMPET under the Seventh Seal.--The Gothic Invasion fulfilled by the Invasion of Alaric; 8:7 . A. D. 409.
THE SECOND TRUMPET.--The Vandal Invasion. The Conquest of the Seas; Revelation 8:8 Revelation 8:9 . A. D. 422
THE THIRD TRUMPET.--The Invasion of Attila the Hun. The Scourge of the Rivers; Revelation 8:10 Revelation 8:11 . A. D. 440.
THE FOURTH TRUMPET.--The Final Overthrow of Rome by Odoacer. The End of Ancient History; 8:12 . A. D. 476. These Four Trumpet Invasions are the Four Winds which were withheld.
THE FIFTH TRUMPET SOUNDED.--The Mohammedan Uprising. The Saracen Empire; 9:1-12 . A. D. 632 to A. D. 782.
THE SIXTH TRUMPET.--The Euphratean Angels Loosed. The Rise of Turkish Power; 9:13-21 . A. D. 1057 to A. D. 1453.
THE LITTLE BOOK and the Seven Thunders.--Symbols of the Reformation of Luther; 10:1-11 . A. D. 1518.
THE OLD PATHS SOUGHT.--The Church Measured; Revelation 11:1 Revelation 11:2 . From A. D. 1516 to the present time.
THE TWO WITNESSES.--The Two Books of the Word of God. In Sackcloth for twelve hundred and sixty years. Slain in 1793. Resurrected near the beginning of this century; 11:3-12 .