THE SEVEN SEALS.
That the seven seals belong to this time of trouble, the time in which Christ is conquering the nations, and are, therefore, as yet in the future, I think can be clearly proven. Not a few Bible students place the first five, and even a part, of the sixth, in the past; and will doubtless, start back from this new position. But "to the law and the testimony;" if we do not prove our position, it will not weaken the other. But if the Scriptures do teach that they all belong to the day of wrath, the truth is better than even old and cherished ideas opposed to Scripture.
The fifth chapter is an introduction to the opening of the seals, and this song is sung before the first seal is opened — "Thou art worthy to take the book and open the seals thereof, (verse 9). 1 think the connection is such that no one can question this. John had wept, because no one was found worthy, or able to open the book. But the Lion of the tribe of Judah, was found worthy; and they sing the above song, "Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us 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." Although events are not always recorded in the order of their fulfilment, still it is an attack on the truth of a prophecy to represent it in a way in which it cannot possibly be fulfilled. Hence, to represent a class as saying that something is to be done, which they never can say until after it is done, is a false representation. Therefore, that song must be sung after Matt. 24 : 14, is fulfilled. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, as a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come." If the gospel of the kingdom was preached as a witness to all nations in the early days of the church, then the end came at that time. If not, the above song was not sung either one, two, or five hundred years ago; and the first seal is yet to be opened.
Again: The events of the opening of the first seal, are identical with those of Rev. 19:, which occur after the marriage of the Lamb. The first seal is, "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," (Rev. 6: 2). Now compare chapter 10: "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True; and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies,
gathered together, to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, and both these were cast alive into the lake of fire." This is certainly in the future. Notice verse 15: He not only smites the nations, but he rules them with a rod of iron, and treads the winepress of the wrath of Almighty God. In applying the first seal in the past, it becomes necessary to make the horse, the rider, the war, the conquering, &c., mean conversion under gospel preaching; and yet no one does or can make this claim for the 19th chapter; and to apply the same symbols to events of an entirely different nature is unwarranted.
The fifth seal is the only apparent difficulty in the way of all these seals having an easy and natural application to this time of trouble and conquest of the nations. But all difficulty even here disappears when we consider the fact that there are two classes of christians; one to have "an abundant entrance;" the other to suffer loss and they themselves saved "so as by fire." The one, to escape all these things which are coming on the earth, and to stand before the Son of man." The other class to be left in the midst of these troubles, and "In the day when the Son of man is revealed, in that day he which shall be upon the house-top, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away; and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it." (Luke 17: 30). The former class to "go in to the marriage;" this latter class to be ready to open to him "when he shall return from the wedding." The former class to stand on the "sea of glass, having the harps of God," before the seven last plagues are fulfilled, (see Rev. 15: 1 to the end). The other class are recommended even under the sixth plague, to watch and keep their garments, least they walk naked, (chapter 16: 15, 16). And the "coming" of their Lord, there referred to, is "when he shall return from the wedding."
With this view, that there is a large class of christians who are to be left in the midst of these troubles, during which they will lose their lives, "in the day when the Son of man is revealed," &c., "he that shall lose his life shall save it," and many seeming conflicting Scriptures can be reconciled; and the loss of life under the fifth seal is all in character.
The having their works burned and themselves saved "so as by fire," while others "have an abundant entrance," is one text which seems to demand two classes. If all are to have the same
entrance, changed in the same moment, and meet Christ as his bride, the above would have but little force; and if it is a little flock who inherit the kingdom, the "great company which no man could number," appears out of character. The seven last plagues make the two classes still more apparent as we shall see.
The conquest of the nations is completed under the first six seals, (see chapter 10), and the seventh is a time of silence. This synchronizes with Ps. 46, where, after the desolations God makes in the earth, by which war is made to cease, he says: "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the earth; 1 will be exalted among the heathen." And again: "Let all the earth keep silent before the Lord." "And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour, (chap. 8: 1). A prophetic hour, is fifteen days; hence, "about the space of half an hour," might be seven days.
Although John records these visions, not in consecutive order, but begins a subject and runs it through to its end, and then begins back with another subject; still there are occasionally subjects introduced, which seem to break this order. The 6th seal ends with the 6th chapter; then the 7th chapter, relating to the sealing of the twelve tribes of Israel, is introduced; and the 7th seal follows; and, in the division of chapters, it has been placed at the head of the 8th chapter. This, at first sight may, appear like confusion; but it is far from that. The 144 thousand out of the twelve tribes of Israel, are sealed during the conquest of the nations, and therefore, in this time of trouble, and while the first six seals are being opened. "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince that standeth for the children of thy [Daniel's] people, and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time; and at that time thy people [the twelve tribes] shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book; [the writing of the house of Israel, Ezek. 13: 9], and many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake," (Dan. 12: 1, 2). Let it be noticed, here are two classes, "thy people, and many that sleep."
If the 144 thousand out of the twelve tribes of Israel are delivered in the midst of this time of trouble, as they certainly will be, it may be asked, how then are the winds held that they "hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees," until the servants of God are sealed? I answer, whatever is meant by the earth, the sea, and the trees, may be protected, and the sealing of the Jews be accomplished, even should the "seven last plagues"
be in course of fulfilment on the christian nations; for it is on the "waters of the Euphrates," or christian nations, who have supported mystic Babylon, the judgments are first to come. It must be remembered that with the "time of trouble" on the nations, Michael, that great prince, is to stand up for the Jews; "and at that time thy people shall be delivered" Therefore, "the winds" will be held from blowing in certain directions, until "the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads."
The servants of God, and the bride of Christ, are evidently not the same. "Moses was faithful as a servant in his house; and Christ as a Son over his house, whose house are ye," &c. The service of God is good; but to be "heirs" of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, is better. The "bride," becomes a part of the Deity; begotten and born of the Spirit; and with Christ, inherits all things; they put on Christ, by being "baptized into his name," and are the class represented in Rev. 14:, as following the Lamb "whithersoever he goeth, being the first fruits unto God and the Lamb."
Then it may be asked, who are the great multitude? "And after this, I saw a great multitude," &c., (verse 9). The "many" of Dan. 12; 2, I answer. "At that time thy people shall be delivered; . . . and many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." Under the law, every jot of which is to have a fulfilment, there were two harvests; the first was of the kind of grain from which the first fruits were taken to wave before the Lord at the passover, and this was in the spring, (see Josh. 3: 15, and 5: 10). This harvest with its "first fruits," represents "Christ, and they that are Christ's at his coming." The other, and great harvest or feast of ingathering, was in "the end of the year," (Exo. 23: 16).
This "great multitude which no man could number," are certainly not "the little flock" who inherit the kingdom; nor those who have found the "narrow way," for "few" there be that find it." Nor yet are they the class who are "with the Lamb;" for they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful," (Rev. 17: 14). And although "many are called, few are chosen." They must be reckoned with the other class, who are to be ready "when he shall return from the wedding;" and are gathered after the return of the Jews. If there are two classes of the living generation, when these things are fulfilled, there must also be the same two classes in their graves; and every one is to be raised, "but every man in his own order;. . . they that are Christ's at his parousia, presence," but not at the same moment.
"THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES."
"And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them is filled up the wrath of God," —Rev. 15: 1.
There is a day of wrath in which men are to call for mountains and rocks to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb; "for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand," (chap. 6: 16); and that these plagues, "in which is filled up the wrath of God," belong to that day, is self-evident. The wrath of the Lamb, and the gospel of grace cannot be mixed. Hence, until the day of salvation under the gospel, shall end, the day of wrath cannot begin; and that wrath is complete in the seven plagues, "for in them," not in one of them, but in the seven, "is filled up the wrath of God." Hence, like the seals, they all belong under the latter half of the seventh trumpet, the "time of trouble;" and are therefore, future. For it is under the seventh trumpet, "the nations are angry, and thy wrath is come."
By reading the fifteenth chapter you may notice that before the plagues are fulfilled, a select company are represented as on "a sea of glass, mingled with fire;" and they sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, and say, "who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest." Here is a company gathered out, who foretell what the nations are going to do. We also learn that before the plagues are fulfilled, the temple is filled with the glory of God, "and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven last plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled," (verse 8).
The temple is the church, "know ye not that ye are the temple of God," (1 Cor. 3: 16). Then the church is to be "filled with the glory of God," or glorified, before these plagues are fulfilled; and not until these plagues, in which is filled up the wrath of God are fulfilled, and the day of wrath ended, can any more enter that temple. "For I say unto you, many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able, when once the Master of the house has risen up and shut too the door." But it may be asked, how do you know the door will be opened again? I answer, the very language implies it; no man was able to enter, until the plagues were fulfilled, certainly implies that when the day of wrath is passed, the door will again he opened, so that men can enter. I know this teaches probation after the resurrection: for
the resurrection occurs in this time of wrath under the seventh trumpet; and not only do "many that sleep in the dust of the earth, awake during this time of trouble; but "the nations were angry and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged." And under the 7th and last plague, that door is opened again, and, thank God, a false theology can not close it. "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; and there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake . . . and there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven," (verses 18 to 21). Now read the closing of the 7th trumpet, under which the wrath of God comes, (chap. 11: 18, 19): "The nations were angry, thy wrath is come, the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest reward thy servants the prophets, and the saints, and them that fear thy name small and great, and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth; and the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail." The voices, and lightnings, and thunders, and earthquake, and hail, at the ending of the seventh trumpet, and also during the seventh and last plague, are clearly the same. And the fact that the temple was shut prior to the first plague, and not again to be opened until the seven plagues were fulfilled; and the statement at the ending of the seventh trumpet and day of wrath, that it was opened, synchronize in time and place, too closely not to have reference to the same events. Hence, there is a day of wrath unmixed with mercy; a time when men will call, and God will not answer. And all the world are to pass through this "hour of temptation," while a class are to escape. "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." This is said to the Philadelphia church, but of course is true to those who "escape all those things which are coming on the earth, and stand before the Son of man."
In "heaven," may cause some to stumble; hence, I remark, Every thing on the spiritual plane is said to be in heaven. "There was war in heaven, Michael and his angels fought, and the dragon fought, and his angels." This is a spiritual warfare; not necessarily a warfare of spirits. "We war not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers in heavenly places," (see margin). And "the temple of God in heaven," means his spiritual
temple; and the kingdom of heaven, means his spiritual kingdom, which under his saints is soon to be established over all. "For to the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come."
Some of our fellow servants have attempted to locate these plagues, or the most of them, in the past, but here is a fatal difficulty to such an application; for nothing can be more certain than that no man can enter the temple of God, during the pouring out of the seven last plagues. Hence, they cannot begin until "the door is shut."
The nature, and somewhat of the magnitude of these plagues may be gathered from what is known of the trumpets, they being mainly in the past. Let the reader begin with the first trumpet, chapter 8: 7, find the first plague, chapter 16: 2, and compare them, from the first to the seventh; and knowing something of the terrible scourges on the world under those trumpets, you may multiply the scourge of the corresponding plague by three. For where a third part of men, were slain, tormented. &., under a trumpet, the plague is upon all.
It will be seen, from chap. 16: 15, that under the 6th plague, just before the temple is again to be opened, the class who have to pass through this time of trouble, and who are to be ready, when "their Lord shall return from the wedding," are encouraged to keep their garments, least they walk naked. But I can imagine some asking, Does he come more than once? Yes, I answer; a dozen times. At the first advent, the prophecy "Behold, thy king cometh, meek and lowly, riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass," was fulfilled after he had come, in many different ways. And now, at his second advent, "The Bridegroom came and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut," (Matt. 25: 10), And he comes again when he "returns from the wedding." And he comes for his saints, and he comes with his saints. But let us, my brethren, "Watch and pray always, that we may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."
I can see his coming judgments, as they circle all the earth,
The signs and groanings promised, to precede a second birth;
I read his righteous sentence, in the crumbling thrones of earth:
Our God is marching on! Glory! glory! hallelujah.
Glory! glory! hallelujah; glory! glory! hallelujah,
Our God is marching on.