An Interlude - Rev. Herman Hoeksema
1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:
2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
It is plain even from a superficial reading of the text that in this part of the Book of Revelation a new portion is introduced in the form of an interlude.
Perhaps it is well that at this point we recall once more the general scheme of the Book of Revelation, so that we may not lose sight of the general significance and may gain a clear view of the whole. The book, as we have pointed out repeatedly, is covered by the seven seals which are broken by the Lion of Judah's tribe. When these seven seals shall all have been broken, and all that they reveal shall have been realized, the plan of God with a view to the completion of the kingdom shall also be completely fulfilled. But these seven seals do not maintain their form as seals, as we have also remarked several times. On the contrary, the seventh seal becomes revealed to us under the aspect of the seven trumpets, six of which we have now discussed. And the seventh trumpet again does not reveal itself in the form of a trumpet, but becomes manifest as the seven vials of wrath. Seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials, - such is the general plan of the book we are attempting to explain. And as to the relation between these seven seals and trumpets and vials, we also have remarked more than once that they are not strictly contemporaneous, neither entirely successive, so that the one seal always follows the other in strict succession or so that even the trumpets strictly follow in time upon the seals. But, as we have seen, they are both contemporaneous and successive. On the one hand, they are contemporaneous, so that in principle the vials begin at the same time that the seals are broken and are realized throughout the history of the present dispensation, side by side and at the same time. But on the other hand, they are also successive, so that there is an increase in the element of judgment. And as we study them, we feel that we are gradually led on to the time of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If with this in mind we now look back and once more glance over the material we have thus far discussed, the meaning and the truth of this interpretation will be rather clear. In connection with the first six seals we saw that the first four picture to us in general the history of the present dispensation with a view to the bringing of the kingdom of God from the four-fold point of view of the effect of the preaching of the gospel, of the influence of war, of social contrast and scarcity, and of death. The fifth seal revealed already an advance over the fourth in that at its breaking we heard the cry of the blood of those who were killed for the sake of Christ, calling for the day of judgment, while the sixth seal carried us face to face with the great day of judgment in that it revealed unto us the shakeup of the physical universe and the amazement and confusion of the wicked world. The same feature we discovered in connection with the six trumpets we have been discussing thus far. In themselves the trumpets are already an advance over the seals in that they speak of one-third, just a little increase in judgment every time. But also the relation between the six trumpets mutually is such that there is a gradual increase till again the sixth trumpet brings us immediately before the time of the coming of Christ Jesus. The first four trumpets, we saw, revealed the destruction upon the world of nature. The fifth trumpet brought an additional army of the Evil One into play upon the stage of the world. And the sixth trumpet spoke of the letting loose of the four angels who are bound by the river Euphrates, thus giving them the opportunity to influence the nations of Gog and Magog and causing that terrible plague of universal war and famine and pestilence, symbolized in the fire and the smoke and the brimstone.
To one more feature we must call your attention, namely, to that of the interludes, or episodes, portions which do not belong to the revelation of the seals or the trumpets or vials, but are thrown in between, and that too, for a definite purpose. One of these we already discussed in connection with the seventh chapter of the book. In that episode we found that in answer to the question, who shall stand, the Lord replies by revealing that His people are sealed and that they shall become heirs of the great and glorious salvation that is promised unto them. And the purpose of that interlude was naturally to comfort and strengthen the people of God in the midst of tribulation and days of judgment.
This same feature we meet once more in the chapter we are now discussing. Also here we have an interlude. The tenth chapter does not introduce as yet the blowing of the seventh trumpet. This is plain from the fifteenth verse of the eleventh chapter, where we find the definite indication that the seventh angel sounds. And on the other hand, this tenth chapter no more belongs to the sixth trumpet or to the second woe. For although the fourteenth verse of the next chapter would leave that impression, and actually proves this according to some interpreters, yet it is plain that this is not a mere continuation of the sixth trumpet. For, first of all, another angel appears. Secondly, the point of, view of John is changed from the heavens to the earth. And, thirdly, this tenth chapter no more speaks of woe and judgment directly, but of something different. Hence, we regard this chapter again as an interlude. Just as there was such an episode between the opening of the sixth and the seventh seals, so also here we have an interlude between the blowing of the sixth and of the seventh trumpets.
The Identity Of The Mighty Angel
John introduces this chapter by informing us that he saw another strong angel come down from heaven. From this it is evident that the point of view in the vision is again changed. For the fact that John beholds the angel come down from heaven clearly shows that in the vision he is again upon the earth. Chapter 4, verse 1, spoke of a door opened in heaven and of a voice beckoning John to come up hither. Many interpreters have explained that portion as being indicative of the church's being called to heaven before the time of the great tribulation. Here I wish to remark that consistency would compel these interpreters to admit that here John is again upon the earth, and that therefore the church has also come down again. All of this is, of course, absurd. It is not the church, nor the person of the apostle John that was called to heaven in the fourth chapter, but only John as he appears in the vision. And therefore, not the church, neither John comes down from heaven, but only the viewpoint of the vision is changed in the words of our text.
As to the identity of the angel who here comes down from heaven, I wish to remark from the outset that I fully agree with those interpreters who find in the appearance of this angel none less than the figure of Jesus Christ in glory Himself. True, it has been remarked that there is no direct mention of Him and that the text speaks of an angel, and that the manner in which John addresses Him would suggest that it was not the Savior Himself, but a mere glorious angel. But all these objections count but little in the face of the description that here is given of this angel, of its similarity in many respects with the description given in the first chapter of this book, and also of the resemblance of this entire scene offered in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Daniel.
First of all, then, let us attend to the description which is given of this angel in the text. We are told of Him that He is arrayed in a cloud. And the cloud, as we have had occasion to remark before, is the symbol of divine majesty, especially of that divine majesty as it is coming for judgment. And who can read this description of the angel's being arrayed in a cloud without thinking of the so often repeated assertion that Christ shall come with the clouds of heaven to judge the quick and the dead? In the second place, we read that a rainbow was upon His head. In other words, the rainbow is His crown. A rainbow we found thus far only above the throne of God Almighty in heaven. It is the symbol of the grace and the faithfulness of God in keeping His covenant, especially with a view to all creation. And therefore also this detail of the description could hardly be fitted in with the picture of a common angel. It makes us think of the Angel of the Covenant, of Jesus Christ Himself. In the third place, we read that His face was as the sun, and therefore is so glorious and majestic that it is impossible to look upon. And, in the fourth place, we read that His feet were like pillars of fire. And, as we have seen before, the fire in Scripture indicates war and judgment. Here it indicates the war of the Almighty upon the wicked world. But this judgment upon the wicked world, still more emphasized by the fact that it is the feet that appear under this symbol, cannot be attributed to anyone else in the world than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. And therefore, the description itself already causes us to think immediately of the Lord, and of no one else.
Secondly, let us consider the similarity between this description and that in the first chapter of the book. There, so we found, we certainly have a picture of the mighty Lord Jesus. For He was the one that was dead and is alive, and lives forevermore, and holds the key of death and of hades. And how was He described there? First of all, He came in the form of the Son of man. The description here in Chapter 10 indicates the same form. For although the text speaks of an angel, nevertheless the details of the hands and feet and face plainly picture the form of a Son of man. And, in the second place, notice that there He was described as having eyes of flames of fire and that His face was as the sun shineth in his strength. So also here, in Chapter 10, we read that His face was as the sun. In the third place, notice that there, in Chapter 1, we read that His feet were as burnished brass, indicating that they were like fire. So also here, in Chapter 10, we read in a somewhat different symbol that His feet were like pillars of fire. The chief difference between the description in our passage and that in the first chapter is that there He wears the long priestly garb, while of it we read nothing in the words of our text. But this difference is, as we shall see, in harmony with the entire occasion of the appearance of this angel. In this vision the Lord does not mean to reveal Himself as priest; and therefore the priestly garb is lacking. But if we consider the similarity in both descriptions, there can be but little doubt that here, as in Chapter 1, we have a vision of the glorified Lord, Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, we cannot help noticing a striking resemblance between this passage and the last part of the Book of Daniel. We read there that at the river Hiddekel a man appeared unto Daniel, clothed in linen. His "loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude," (Daniel 10:5, 6). That in this passage we have a description of Christ in His glory there can be no doubt. But what is of special interest is that of this man clothed in linen we read that as he stood above the river he lifted up his hands to heaven and sware by Him that liveth forever and ever that it shall be for a time and times and a half time (Daniel 12:7). There He performs somewhat the same act that is ascribed to Him in the words of our passage. There, in the passage from Daniel, He swears that the time is appointed, and that after the appointed time His words shall surely be fulfilled. Here, in the passage of Revelation, He swears that the time of the end is approaching, that there shall be no delay any more. And therefore, if in that portion we have a description of the Christ, as undoubtedly we do have, then there can be no doubt that here too we have the same Son of Man performing a similar act.
But, so we ask, how, in what capacity, does the Lord here appear to us? And also then there can be no doubt but that we see the Lord in glory as the King-Judge, and that with the emphasis on His being the Judge of heaven and earth.
That He appears as the King is indicated, in the first place, by the general glory of His appearance. His face shineth as the sun, and the rainbow is His crown, while the feet are pillars of fire. In the second place, this is indicated also by what He does. He places His feet on the earth and on the sea, by which He indicates that all is in subjection to Him, as we hope to see presently. He is the King, to Whom all power is given in heaven and on earth.
But it is especially the appearance of the Judge which is very prominent. The brightness of His face, the raiment of the cloud, and especially the fiery feet, ready to consume the enemies of His kingdom, all reveal to us that here the Lord appears especially as the Judge of heaven and earth, come to wreak vengeance upon all the host of His enemies. And this is emphasized all the more by the fact that there is no mention of the priestly garb of reconciliation. The time for the priestly work of reconciliation is drawing to an end. At any rate, the purpose of this in that particular capacity of reconciliation. The interlude is especially connected with the last part of the preceding chapter, and it is at the same time preparing for what is still to come. In the last part of Chapter 9 we found that in spite of all the judgments that had already come upon the world, yet they did not repent, but continued in their sin of devil-worship, idolatry, murder, fornication, and theft, continued to trample under foot the blood of reconciliation that cried against them. The purpose of this vision, therefore, is not to appearance is not to reveal the Christ reveal the Christ in His atoning power, as the Priest, but exclusively as the almighty Judge Who is on the verge of wreaking final vengeance upon the world of sin and corruption. The entire purpose of this vision is to announce that judgment, terrible and final judgment, shall presently and speedily come upon the world, and that the enemies of the kingdom are about to be destroyed. But although this is true, there is no reason to fear: for still He carries the rainbow, the symbol of the grace of God with regard to His creation and to all His people. It is through these final judgments that creation shall be completely redeemed, that the covenant shall be realized and perfected, and that all the world shall be subjected to the Triune God in glory. When all the judgments of this mighty King shall be realized, so the rainbow informs us, then shall also the new heavens and the new earth, in which righteousness shall dwell, be completed. In conclusion, therefore, we may say that the appearance of this angel reveals to us the Christ, reveals Him to us as the King-Judge, reveals to us that judgment is to come upon the world speedily, but reveals also at the same time that through these judgments the kingdom of our God shall be permanently established and perfected in all creation.
The Action Of The Mighty Angel
With this interpretation of the description of the angel is also in harmony the act which He performs. We read of this mighty angel that He set His right foot upon the sea and His left foot upon the earth. We must not belittle the interpretation of this passage by saying, as some of the historical interpreters have it, that the earth is the Roman Empire and that the sea is the peoples of that time. For there is nothing that indicates anything of the kind in the words of our text. No, but the earth and the sea are here to be taken as symbolic of all the world and of all that it contains. It indicates the sea and all its creatures and powers, as well as the dry land and all its inhabitants and wealth. It is symbolic of the kingdom as we have pictured it to you more than once, as God originally created it, the kingdom of the world, over which He placed man as His viceroy. That kingdom of the world, the earth and the sea and all their fulness, was surrendered into the power of the devil through the sin of man. But upon that kingdom the Lord, this mighty angel, now sets His feet as pillars of fire.
This indicates, first of all, that this King has all things subjected under Him. The placing of one's feet upon anything is symbolic of subjection and possession. In Joshua 10:24 we read that Joshua calls the chiefs of his army together and bids them place their feet upon the necks of the five kings who have tried to escape in the cave, but which cave became their prison. And then we read that Joshua pledges that Jehovah shall thus do unto all their enemies, against whom they are fighting to conquer the land. In other words, Jehovah shall subdue their enemies and put them in complete subjection. Still more clearly, we have the direct statement in Psalm 110:1: "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Again, the idea of absolute subjection is expressed here. Thus also we read in I Corinthians 15:25: "For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet." And in Ephesians 1:22 we read: "And hath put all things under his feet." When this mighty angel, therefore, places his feet upon the earth and upon the sea, upon all the world, He thereby expresses plainly that, in the first place, He is their Lord and possessor. To Him belong the heaven and the earth, also in this present dispensation. He is their rightful Sovereign. But still more, He also expresses symbolically that all the world is actually subject unto Him. It may not seem so. It may seem as if the power of sin is lord and possessor in actual fact. The truth, nevertheless, is different. Christ has His feet upon the earth and upon the sea, and He has all things under His absolute control. With majestic calm He may descend out of heaven; and without any fear that He shall be opposed, He may indeed place His feet upon all things. For all things are subject unto Him even now.
But although this is true, fact is also that His dominion is still disputed and that the prince of this world still rises in rebellion against Him. And thus it shall actually appear more and more. As the judgments of Christ shall come over this world, it shall appear more and more plainly as if the power of evil is actually reigning and ruling supreme. But when that fifth trumpet shall sound and the special army of Satan out of the abyss shall be let loose and men shall follow their sinful inclinations and ambitions to the full, it shall seem as if the power of sin actually reigns and as if hell has free play on the stage of human history. When that sixth trumpet shall blow and the four angels at the river Euphrates shall instigate the nations of Gog and Magog and thus cause a universal war, it shall again appear as if the devil does as he pleases and as if hell reigns sovereignly over all the world, especially since all the while men do not repent of their wickedness but continue to defy the blood of atonement. And yet this shall not actually be the case. And therefore we must notice, in the second place, that the Lord holds His feet of fire upon the wicked world, thereby indicating that not only does He possess and control all things, but also that through it all He is executing His judgments upon the world of rebellion against Him.
But He does more. The Lord does not come only to perform a symbolic act and thereby to assure His people that He is in control and that presently He shall come for judgment upon the wicked world. But He also gives a most solemn assurance. He makes an oath. Lifting His right hand to heaven, - for in the left hand He held the book, - He swears by the name of God, in order thereby to add to the certainty and the truth of the statement which He makes. He calls God "him that liveth for ever, and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things that therein are." In the first place, therefore, He swears by the Eternal One, thereby assuring His people that as long as the name of God endures, - and this is, of course, for ever, - the truth of His statement shall also stand and shall certainly be fulfilled. In the second place, however, He also swears by the Creator of all, Who is at the same time the sovereign possessor of all things unto all eternity. He, the Almighty Sovereign of the heavens and of the earth, stands for the truth and the certainty of this statement.
Proper this oath certainly is. For the contents of this statement are closely related to its form. The main idea of it is that the mystery of God shall be realized. The mystery of God in this case is nothing less than the ultimate outcome of the entire plan of God as it was contained in the book with its seven seals. At this stage six seals have already been broken, and six trumpets are already blown. But the mystery of God has not yet been fulfilled. It is still waiting. Of that mystery His servants the prophets had already spoken: for they had repeatedly made mention of the great day of the Lord, of the dominion of the Lord God Almighty, of the new heavens and the new earth. But still the world is as before. Still the wicked world exists. Still the blood of the witnesses of Christ flows as ever. Still the world serves its idols and demons, and commits the most terrible sins. But now the time is near.
For the Lord says, "There shall be no more time." This does not mean that presently eternity shall set in, - although this is true in itself, - but that there shall be no more delay. For this "no more time" must evidently be taken in direct contrast with what follows. There shall be no more time; but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, shall the mystery of God be finished. The meaning is: presently the seventh trumpet shall sound, and there shall be no more delay at that time. The time for delay is drawing to a close. They have been chastised, and they repented not. They have trampled under foot the blood of atonement. The measure of their iniquity is full. There shall be no more delay. And when that seventh trumpet shall sound, then shall the entire plan of God be finished. The world of sin shall have been judged. The enemy of God shall have been destroyed. The kingdom shall have been established in glory. And the people of God shall have entered into their eternal inheritance, beautiful and fair, where they shall glorify their God forevermore.
The Accompanying Seven Thunders
A moment we must call your attention to the strange event which accompanies this outcry of the Lion of Judah's tribe. As this mighty angel cries with a voice as of a roaring lion, which makes us think of the voice of many waters and of the Lion Who stood as the Lamb that was slain, John hears at the same time the voice of seven thunders.
Three things we may notice in regard to these seven thunders.
In the first place, we must remember that the thunder in the Word of God, and especially also in the Book of Revelation, is indicative of judgment, the judgment of God. In Psalm 18:13, in the midst of that wonderful description of Jehovah's coming against the enemies of His servant David to destroy them, we read: "The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave His voice." As you will recall in connection with the prayers of the saints which are offered upon the altar of gold before the throne, we read that the answer to these prayers came in the form of thunders and voices and an earthquake. Whether John refers to these same thunders, so that we must think here of the specific judgments which shall come in answer to the prayers of the saints, or whether he has in mind other seven thunders, we know not. Certain it is that he speaks of a definite, well-known number of thunders. For he does not say "seven thunders" but uses the definite article, "The seven thunders uttered their voices." They are, therefore, symbols of judgments upon the wicked world. And as such they well fit in with this entire passage. The mighty angel, the Lord Jesus Christ, in this portion sets His feet as pillars of fire upon the entire dominion to express that He is about to subdue and destroy all His enemies. At the same time He swears that there shall be no more delay, but that presently the mystery of God shall be fulfilled. And .therefore, even as the entire scene speaks of a speedy judgment, so also these thunders are symbols of the same thing.
In the second place, we may notice their number, which also is in harmony with this scene, as well as with the form of the entire book. In harmony with this portion it is, for it tells us of a finished mystery of God; and that is exactly indicated by the number seven. Seven is the number of the completed kingdom, as we have had occasion to remark before. And therefore the inference is perfectly legitimate, that these seven thunders are the symbols of judgments which must come for the completion and for the final perfection of the kingdom of God. And in harmony with the entire book this number seven is: for the book is based on this number throughout. There are seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials. And when all of these seven are realized, the kingdom has come.
In the third place, we may also notice that these thunders speak, that they utter their voices. And they speak in plain human language, - so plain that John is immediately ready to write down what they speak. And the inference is again that they revealed in plain and direct language just what judgments would come upon the world till the completion of the kingdom.
Many are the conjectures as to the contents of the speech of these seven thunders. And the question has often been asked, and answered in many different ways: what did these thunders say, and what did they reveal of the mystery of God? There are those who assure us that here the devil appeared as an angel of light and that he imitated the Lord, that he tried to deceive John and have him write down as belonging to the mystery of the kingdom what was nothing but a lie of Satan. And hence, John, when he is about to write down what they said, receives the command to seal up their revelation and to write them not. There are others who assure us that the seven thunders contained the oracles of all the prophets who had spoken of the coming of the kingdom. Still others have it that they revealed the blessed mystery of the kingdom in its completion and spoke of the glory of the new world. Others have it that they revealed merely the sad contents of the little book without the sweet element which John tasted when he swallowed it. There are even interpreters who have been bold enough to find in them the symbols of the seven crusades for the Holy Land. All these, and other conjectures, have been made. But all of them, and as many as there still may be made in the future, are absolutely wrong, for the simple reason that Scripture does not tell us anything about the contents of the speech of these thunders. It tells us that they were thunders and therefore symbols of judgment. It tells us too that there were seven thunders, and therefore symbols of the judgment which must come for the completion of the kingdom. It tells us that they spoke in plain human language, so that John could just write down what was dictated to him. But for the rest, it is simply presumptuous to ask exactly what they spoke, for the simple reason that the command came to John not to write, but to seal up what he heard. The only answer possible, therefore, is that it was not the Lord's will that the voices of these seven thunders should be revealed.
But then we come to another question: has then this portion no significance at all? If the contents of these seven thunders might not be revealed, why then did they speak at all, and why is it revealed to us that they did speak? Why did not John simply proceed with that which we may know, instead of first telling us that something was revealed to him which must remain sealed to us forever?
I find the answer to this question in this, that the seven thunders spoke directly and in plain language of the judgments to come, perhaps so plainly that we could all follow them in the history of the world and know exactly what was happening and how far we had proceeded on the way of that history, so that not only the church, enlightened by the Spirit, but even the world, without faith, could feel that these things were clearly being realized. But that is not the purpose of the Book of Revelation. In this book the history of the world is not outlined before us, so that we can plainly recognize period after period that God's program is being realized. But according to the first chapter, the things revealed are "signified." That means that they come to us in symbolic garb. And because of this symbolic garb it is possible that the church, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, can recognize the coming Christ, while the world, which trarriples under foot the blood of Christ, is blind for this truth. Just as Jesus spoke in parables with the avowed purpose that His people might understand, but that the blind and deaf might not see nor hear and understand, so it is also in the Book of Revelation. The mystery of God must surely be revealed, but only in such a way that the church may receive the proper comfort at the proper time, while its contents remain hidden for the world of sin. Hence, as we shall see in the next chapter, it is not in this form that John may receive the revelation of the mystery of God, but in a far different form. The contents of the seven thunders, therefore, as such must forever remain hidden. And he who would understand the mystery of God must labor with its revelation under the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit.
The Comfort Of The Mighty Angel's Appearance
And now the final question: what is the purpose of this part of the interlude?
In general, we may say that it aims at the peace and the comfort of the people of God in times of persecution and tribulation. Thus it was with the episode in Chapter 7. There we were told how, in the midst of the severest trials and tribulations, the people of Christ are sealed by the Spirit, so that they need not be afraid, while the glory that was pictured there before their eyes might incite them to be faithful even unto the end. So also here the passage is rich in comfort for the people of Christ Jesus, - a comfort which they surely need.
Just imagine the condition. Already terrible things have been revealed. In the days of the fifth trumpet, when that infernal army of locusts shall be liberated to seduce men, there shall be an increase in sin and iniquity; and a wave of transgression shall sweep the sinful world that shall end in the gloomiest pessimism. Do not think that this wave of iniquity shall touch only the avowedly wicked world. It shall sweep over the established church, and many in the church shall follow in the way of the world. That this is true you may behold in our own day. Thus also in the days of the sixth trumpet, when the four angels who are bound at the river Euphrates are let loose, there shall follow terrible days. All the world shall be at war and in misery, and it shall seem as if the coming of the kingdom were more remote than ever. It shall appear as if the forces of hell are reigning supreme. Iniquity as never before, the worship of devils and idolatry, murders, and thefts, and sorceries, and fornication shall abound. And the world shall not repent. They shall be days of extreme tribulation, days in which the faithful must stand strong and firm, in which many even out of the church shall fall away into the world.
And what do you imagine shall be the spiritual condition of the people of God in those days? Of course, they shall undoubtedly receive special strength and grace; for otherwise they would never be able to stand. Yet even so, I think that in those days the condition of the people of God shall often be that of gloom and doubt. Does it after all not seem, so they will think, that the cause of Christ in this world is a lost cause when iniquity abounds, when judgment is not followed by repentance, and when even many of the church shall fall away? It also shall be often a condition of fear and anxiety and small faith. Also they fear tribulation. Also against their nature it is to suffer and to be subjected to reproach and shame. Yet these shall come in those days, and are coming now more and more. And the result will be that they will sometimes lose sight of their King and His revelation, and experience moments of fear and doubt and anxiety. But it shall also be a condition of longing for the completion of all things and for the final coming of the Lord. When faith is strong and fears are dispelled, this faith shall in those days reveal itself especially as hope and longing for the coming of the kingdom and of the King in His glory. And the prayer of the Bride shall become more and more urgent in the midst of judgment and tribulation, "Come, Lord Jesus, yea, come quickly."
And now note how comforting for such conditions is the revelation of the powerful Lord in this passage. It assures us once more that the Lord is possessor, and that He is the only Lord of all, and that in reality all things are subjected unto Him. When it should seem different, nevertheless it is true that He only rules over all. He has His feet upon the earth and upon the sea, and all things are in subjection. Nothing happens against His will. And Satan and hell and the wicked world cannot stir if He does not will them to move. In the second place, it tells us that He rules as Judge, and that all these things are directly realized through Him. If it would seem to us that the kingdom is more remote than ever and that iniquity and trouble, yea, that the forces of hell prevail, never you fear; but fasten your eyes upon that mighty Lord with feet as pillars of fire. And then you may know that war and famine and pestilence and tribulation come from Him alone. It tells you by the rainbow that in the midst of mighty judgments He will not forget His covenant, but through it all realize it. And finally, in the. midst of these judgments and tribulation your hearts go out with longing for the end of it all. And then you know that the hour is near. Fasten your eye upon that mighty figure of the Judge with His feet upon all the world and with His right hand lifted to heaven, swearing by Him that liveth forever and ever that there shall be no more delay.
"Behold, I come, and come quickly." That, above all, is the message that comes to us from this revelation of the powerful Lord in the midst of judgments and tribulations.
And therefore this vision ought, in the first place, to dispel all the fears and doubts and anxieties of the people of God, no matter how things may develop. But, in the second place, it ought to strike terror in the hearts of those who still love iniquity and who with the world indulge in their sin. It may seem as if His coming is far off. Long may seem the delay. Nevertheless He comes quickly. And the times in which we live declare more than ever that He sware by Him that liveth forever that there shall be no more delay.