|THE STORY OF THE SEER OF PATMOS (Part 8) [message #2801]
||Tue, 30 July 2019 05:46
Registered: September 2015
THE STORY OF THE SEER OF PATMOS
Haskell, Steven Nelson (1833-1922)
The Story of the Seer of Patmos
CHAPTER IX. THE TRUMPETS
The closing work of the earth is the sealing of the servants of God. The universe is now waiting for that work to be completed. The only thing in heaven or earth that can hinder the work of God, is a lack of spirituality on the part of His chosen people. The kingdom over which Christ will reign will be a spiritual kingdom, and while many serve God in the mind, the subjects for whom Christ is now waiting, are those who serve with the whole heart. When it is fully demonstrated that the Spirit of the Eternal Father can dwell in man, then those who have overcome as Christ overcame, will inherit the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. The one hundred and forty-four thousand, together with the multitude of the saved, gathered about the throne and the Lamb on Mount Zion, were shown to the prophetic eye of John. The sixth seal closes when the one hundred and forty-four thousand have received the seal of God, and are waiting for the appearance of Christ in the clouds of heaven.
THE SEVENTH SEAL OPENED
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. (2) And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
The opening of the seventh seal is the ushering in of eternity. "And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour." God's dwelling place is the center of life and the scene of constant activity. Music ever echoes from the vaults of heaven, and choruses composed of ten thousand times ten thousand of angel voices, sing the praises of the Lamb and of Him who sitteth on the throne. When the little company on earth are prepared, the sealing angel speeds back to heaven with the message that the work is done. Christ in the sanctuary above, lays aside His priestly robes, and the Lamb appears as the King of kings. Angel leaders marshal the hosts of heaven. The throne of Omnipotence is moved. God accompanies His Son to earth. Attended by myriads of angels, the Rulers of heaven and earth leave heaven empty, drawn earthward by the faithful ones whose hearts have become the abiding place of His eternal Spirit. The time for the fulfillment of the promise of the Saviour, has come. He said, "It is expedient for you that I go away." "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." Never before has there been such a scene.
This is the cause of the silence in heaven. Those who have been torn asunder by the ruthless hand of death, meet in the air around their Deliverer. Some had been burned at the stake; others had perished in dungeons; others had been buried in the sea. Happy families, rent asunder by the cruel hand of death, are now united around Christ. Husbands and wives, parted in this life, who slept in Jesus, meet at the voice of Him who died for them. Oh, what a meeting that will be! Friends will recognize friends. All will unite in thanksgiving and praise to Him who died and rose again, and has now come to give them everlasting rest and peace. The cruel monster death has no power over them. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." This is heavenly reunion. Together, for seven successive days, they are traveling to their glorious home. They are a company of Sabbath-keepers, and the first Sabbath in their redeemed state will be spent on the way to the city of God. This is the company that sing the response given in the twenty-fourth Psalm; and it is the same company, who, as they gather about the throne with white robes and palms of victory, join in the chorus which John heard.
The giving of the law on Mount Sinai may be considered as a symbol of Christ's coming for the redeemed. Moses, an eyewitness of the giving of the law, says, "The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; He shined forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints: from His right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea, He loved the people; all His saints are in Thy hand: and they sat down at Thy feet; every one shall receive of Thy words." Then it was that His law, the guide of life, was spoken in the hearing of all the people. Only those who have known this same fiery law, the righteousness of Jehovah, and have had its seal implanted in their foreheads, will hear the law spoken, again, by Jehovah.
The prophet on Patmos was given a threefold view of events which would take place between the time in which he lived, and the time when the redeemed gather about the throne. The messages to the seven churches are ecclesiastical history, showing the spread of the religion of Jesus Christ, and the errors which crept in. The seven seals reveal the inner workings of the church,-the individual experience-and foretell the signs of Christ's coming. In the messages to the churches, Christ was seen as the Light walking in their midst: in the seals, He is the Lamb who was slain that man might live. Another phase of history, not wholly national, but having to do with nations, is revealed in the sounding of the trumpets. The sounding of the seven trumpets extends to the close of the eleventh chapter, the seventh trumpet carrying history into eternity, like the seventh church and the seventh seal. The work of the trumpets is first introduced to John in the second verse of chapter eight. Seven angels stood before God, "and to them were given seven trumpets." The trumpet, or bugle sound, is the call to war; and the history of the trumpets is one long story of war and bloodshed, but in order that men might learn that the hand of God is overruling in every army, and that He guides in every war, the story of the trumpets is left on record.
Lest men, in following the details of national history, should, in the chronicle of all the distress of nations, lose sight of the work in heaven, a most precious phase of the Redeemer's work, is revealed, before the work of the trumpeters is described. Instead of introducing Christ as a sacrifice, bleeding in the presence of the heavenly beings, He is here shown as our great High Priest, ministering in the presence of the Father.
AN ANGEL OFFERS INCENSE
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. (4) And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. (5) And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. (6) And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
John saw Him standing at the altar, having a golden censer. In the shadowy service of the earthly tabernacle, the altar of incense burned continually before the inner veil. The smoke ascended before the glory of the shekinah, which shone above the mercy seat. On the Day of Atonement, when the high priest entered into the Most Holy place, he carried with him a censer filled with precious odors, the fragrance of which was wafted by the breezes far beyond the tabernacle court. The priest entered the presence of Jehovah, bearing the sins of the people, and carrying with him their prayers. These prayers were acceptable with God because offered by faith in the righteousness of Christ. So in the heavenly court, God is enthroned and Christ stands before Him in behalf of His people. He pleads His own righteousness which is acceptable with God. There is an inexhaustible fund of perfect obedience, which is the "much incense" which He offers. This "perfect obedience," or righteousness, meets every need, covers every case. As He was tempted in all points, yet yielded in none, so where sin abounds grace more than meets the need.
The offering which the High Priest makes, is the prayers of all saints. From the time of the fall, heart yearnings have been felt in heaven. Every prayer has been recorded in the record books; never has one soul-longing been passed by unheeded. Parents have prayed for the conversion of their children, and children have pleaded for their parents. The burden for souls in distant lands, has often rested heavily on some faithful follower of God; and although the ones prayed for may never have been conscious of the fact, a connection was made between heaven and earth, and the needy ones were within the circuit. Heaven always responds to the call of a soul; it is pledged to do so, and will fulfill the promise. So the prayers which are ascending daily are as sure to be answered as the truth is sure that God's throne is eternal. Angels are rearranging environments, changing circumstances, weaving about disinterested souls a network of influences which will some day lead to a surrender. God never forces Himself upon a single life, but there is one way to connect a man with heaven in spite of himself, and that way is through prayer.
Will none who are prayed for reject light?-Certainly they will; but when those upon whom the light has shone, do reject, they will be broken off like the dead branch of a tree, and some one else will be grafted in. Those who offered the prayers may be quiet in death, but the prayers are lodged on heaven's altar, and will be answered before the censer is thrown down.
Thus John sees Christ pleading for sinners, while the sealing work is going on in the earth. When the angel returns to heaven with the message that all are sealed, Christ casts the censer to the earth, and the thunderings, the lightnings, and the earthquake, proclaim that the end is at hand. Having seen Christ as man's intercessor, John follows the work of the seven angels which had the seven trumpets.
Belief in the imputed righteousness of Christ, is the only means of salvation for man. Self-righteousness was the cause of Satan's fall, and it has ever been the studied plan of his satanic majesty to lead men from faith in the righteousness of Christ to a faith in their own works. When this is accomplished, destruction is inevitable. To an individual this means the loss of eternal life; to a church, it means the withdrawing of the Spirit of God; to a nation, it means subjugation by some stronger nation. This lesson was taught by Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian monarch. When he walked in his palace, saying with lordly pride, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built?" destruction waited at the door. The same truth has been taught in the downfall of every nation which has risen to prominence in past ages. God, in the voice of the first four trumpets, taught this lesson to the Roman Empire.
Rome, the universal kingdom at the time of Christ's first advent, was wonderfully blessed with a knowledge of the truth, but in proportion to the greatness of her privileges, so her fall was terrible.
In the days of Constantine the empire was divided, Rome being the western capital, and Constantinople the eastern. At the death of Constantine, three divisions were made in order to seat each one of his three sons on a throne; this triple division is recognized throughout the trumpet history. Of these divisions, Italy, or the Western Roman Empire, was known as one third. While the three divisions are referred to, the first division into an eastern and western empire, is also preserved, until the capture of Constantinople by the Turks.
THE FIRST TRUMPET
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
"The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth." This is a most concise statement of a long series of terrible events; but brief as it is, the most forcible language is chosen; hail and fire are mingled with blood and cast upon the earth. As early as the days of Constantine, hordes of barbarians pressed upon the frontiers of the Roman territory. Europe had, from prehistoric times, been subject to an influx of barbarians, and a spirit of emigration periodically swept like an undulating wave, over all the continent. When pressure came on the eastern frontier from the Scythians of northern Asia, the more western tribes were forced to seek broader fields in the populous southern countries. Largely because of this pressure, Constantine divided the empire, in order that there might be greater strength to resist invasions. The time came when all the resources which Rome could muster, were insufficient to repel the invaders.
In the year 395, the Goths, with their renowned leader, Alaric, invaded the Eastern Roman Empire. As they crossed the Danube, the dividing line between the territory of the Romans and the wilds of Germany, in the middle of a winter of uncommon severity, they came like the hail from the north, and one of the Roman poets has said, "They rolled their ponderous wagons over the broad and icy back of the indignant river." Alaric was no mean leader; but bold, artful, and more than a match for any general in the degenerate Roman army. For a number of years, the Goths remained in the eastern division of the empire; part of the time at peace, at other times, at variance with the emperor. In the year 408 Alaric descended upon Italy. He hastily passed the Alps and the Po, pillaged the cities of northern Italy, and advanced a constantly increasing army to the city of Ravenna, where the pusillanimous emperor had his capital. Without meeting any resistance, he proceeded along the Adriatic until he came near Rome. Alaric took Ostia, the port of Rome at the mouth of the Tiber, and demanded unconditional surrender of the city itself. The senate yielded without reluctance, and Alaric placed the purple robe of the emperor on Attalus, the prefect of the city. Rome, the proud monarchy, was in the hands of a barbarian army, which could crown its emperor at will and insult its senate at pleasure. Later, Attalus, the tool of Alaric, was degraded in the presence of the people; his diadem was taken from him, and as if to offer insult to injury, the haughty barbarian sent the ensigns of royalty to Honorius, the real emperor, who was trembling behind the fortifications of Ravenna. Folly and imprudence provoked the Goths, and the city of Rome was awakened one night in the year 410 by the tremendous trumpet of the barbarian soldiers. Rome was ravaged. The gold and the silver, the silver plate and costly furniture from Roman palaces, were loaded on the Gothic wagons. Fire and bloodshed filled the city with terror. For six days the city was in the hands of the invaders. At the end of that time, "at the head of an army, encumbered with rich and weighty spoils, their intrepid leader advanced along the Appian Way into the southern provinces of Italy, destroying whatever dared to oppose his passage, and contenting himself with the plunder of the unresisting country." On the death of Alaric, in 410, he was succeeded by his brother-in-law, Adolphus, who allied himself with the Romans; he assumed the character of a Roman general, and later, married the sister of Honorius, the emperor. Thus, the conquest of the Goths over the weakened Roman Empire, was complete.
THE SECOND TRUMPET
And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; (9) And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
"The second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood." The power here brought to view is distinguished from the Goths by the fact that its force was felt upon the sea instead of on the land. While Honorius, who had experienced the invasion of the Goths, was still nominally the emperor of Rome, the Vandals were making their presence felt in Spain. They were a horde of barbarians who had come from the northeast and for a time halted in the western provinces of Rome. In 428 the terrible Genseric became their leader, and at once the Vandals assumed the aggressive. Of Genseric it is said, "His slow and cautious speech seldom declared the deep purposes of his soul; he disdained to imitate the luxury of the vanquished; but he indulged the sterner passions of anger and revenge. The ambition of Genseric was without bounds and without scruples." "The experience of navigation, and perhaps, the prospect of Africa" placed the Vandals on the sea. They were at first invited into Africa by Count Boniface, one of the Roman generals. The fatal step had been taken. The enemy once in Africa, Rome was confronted by a most formidable foe. It was in 431 that the Vandals crossed the Straits of Gibraltar. A few years later, they were sole possessors of Carthage and northern Africa. Rome could ill afford to lose her African possessions; for they furnished both wealth and food to the cities of Italy. Nevertheless Genseric and the Vandals grew strong on the southern shore of the Mediterranean. Soon their borders were too narrow, and the success of their fleet added Sicily and other places to the barbarians. In June of the year 455, a. d., Genseric and his Vandals disembarked at the mouth of the Tiber, and Rome was again at the mercy of the barbarians. The pillage lasted fourteen days and nights; and all that yet remained of public or private wealth, of sacred or profane treasure, was diligently transported to the vessels of Genseric The Empress Eudoxia, with her two daughters, was compelled as captive to follow the haughty Vandal. Thousands of Romans were likewise transported as slaves to the capital of the Vandal empire. "Their distress," says Gibbon, "was aggravated by the unfeeling barbarians, who, in the division of the booty, separated the wives from their husbands, and the children from their parents." The sack of Rome by the Goths had been a terrible calamity; but that by the Vandals, forty-five years later, was still worse. However, the devastation of the city itself was but a small part of the destructive work of these barbarians. The prophet was shown a great mountain, burning with fire, cast into the sea. It was like a mighty stone cast into the waters, causing wave after wave to beat against the defenseless shores; or like an active volcano in the midst of the sea which periodically caused the waters to boil. This agrees with the description of the inroads of the Vandals. "In the spring of each year [between 461 and 467] they equipped a formidable navy in the port of Carthage; and Genseric himself, though in a very advanced age, still commanded in person the most important expeditions. . . . The Vandals repeatedly visited the coasts of Spain, Liguria, Tuscany, Campania, Lucania, Bruttium, Apulia, Calabria, Venetia, Dalmatia, Epirus, Greece, and Sicily. . . . Their arms spread desolation and terror, from the columns of Hercules to the mouth of the Nile." They took with them horses, so that their terror spread inland from the port at which the fleet landed the savage warriors. So hidden were the designs of Genseric that the Roman world never knew where to look for the next attack. As wealth and an abundance of plunder were the objects of their greed, the Vandals usually avoided fortified cities.
Rome was at last aroused to take active measures against her constant and most persistent enemy. She spent months in preparation of a fleet. The forces of the East and the West united in invading Africa. The Roman army stood under the walls of Carthage. Genseric asked and obtained a five days' truce. The wind became favorable to the warrior of the Mediterranean. His vessels were manned with the bravest of the Vandals and Moors, who in the darkness of the night, towed a large number of ships loaded with combustibles, into the very midst of the Roman fleet. The fire spread from vessel to vessel. "The noise of the wind, the crackling of the flames, the dissonant cries of the soldiers and mariners, who could neither command nor obey, increased the horror of the nocturnal tumult." Many who might have escaped the flames, met death at the hands of the Vandal warriors. Historians state that eleven hundred Roman vessels were destroyed. The burning mountain had fallen upon the sea.
Genseric was again recognized as the tyrant of the sea. He lived to see the final extinction of the Roman Empire of the West in 476. His was the work which was permitted to be done at the sounding of the second trumpet, in that nation where apostasy replaced the true worship of God, and where the mystery of iniquity was fast coming into power.
THE THIRD TRUMPET
And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; (11) And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
But the end was not yet. "The third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp." For nearly one hundred years previous to the final downfall of Rome, the Huns, one of the wildest of the Scythian tribes, had pressed upon the empire, spreading themselves from the Volga to the Danube. For a time they commanded the alternative of peace or war, with both the eastern and western divisions of the empire. In the days of Ætius, a general of the West, sixty thousand Huns marched to the confines of Italy; but retreated when paid the sum which they cared to demand. Theodosius, the emperor of the East, bought peace by paying an annual tribute of three hundred and fifty pounds of gold, and bestowing the title of general upon the king of the Huns. There was still a senate at Rome, and it purchased peace of the Huns. This was a part of the "wormwood" which Rome was caused to drink. In 433 Attila and his brother became joint rulers of the barbarians, and in a treaty with the emperor, the Huns "dictated the conditions of peace; each condition was an insult on the majesty of the empire. Besides the freedom of a safe and plentiful market on the banks of the Danube, they required that the annual contribution should be augmented from three hundred and fifty pounds of gold to seven hundred pounds of gold; that a fine, or ransom, of eight pieces of gold should be paid for every Roman captive who had escaped from his barbarian master; that the emperor should renounce all treaties and engagements with the enemies of the Huns; and that all the fugitives who had taken refuge in the court, or provinces of Theodosius, should be delivered to the justice of their offended sovereign." Thus was the Roman Empire made to realize that its power was gone, and that the proud Romans were subject to the most cruel of all barbarians. This was "wormwood" indeed.
After concluding such a treaty with the emperor of the East, Attila gathered his hordes and marched into Gaul. Here he was defeated by the Visigoths, and the Huns retreated to northern Italy. One barbarian horde might repel another, but there was little danger of defeat when once within the confines of Italy. Attila crossed the Alps, "the fountain of waters." Aquileia, the richest and most populous city of the Adriatic, fell, and the succeeding generation could scarcely discover the ruins, so complete was the overthrow. Many cities were reduced to heaps of stones and ashes. Milan, the city of the royal palace, submitted. Rome was the next point of attack, but the city escaped the hand of Attila, its salvation being purchased by the gift of the princess Honoria, with an immense dowry. The bitterness of the portion which Rome drank is well described as wormwood. The "star" which fell upon the fountains of waters, retreated to his home in Hungary, where his light was extinguished.
Attila, king of the Huns, died in 453. His light went out like the snuffing of a candle. He was a lamp burning on the earth. But Rome was not delivered from her enemies. The Vandal king, Genseric, was in the height of his power, and continued to ravage the southern coasts until the final overthrow, about twelve years later.
Roman power was lost, although in name the Western Empire still existed. A Roman, Attalus, was seated on the throne by Alaric, the Goth, and recognized as sovereign by the rightful heir to the throne. The Vandals tormented the government until life was a burden. In order to complete the overthrow, nothing remained to be done, except to seat a barbarian on the throne in the place of the royal family.
THE FOURTH TRUMPET
And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. (13) And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
"The fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars." The prophetic history given under the fourth trumpet, represents the dense darkness that would exist if the sun, moon, and stars all refused to emit light. Its fulfillment was the extinction of the light of Western Rome.
During the last twenty years of the existence of the Western Empire, nine emperors had successively disappeared. The third from the last was murdered, and his successor, Nepos, was expelled. Orestes was a Pannonian by birth, and for years a faithful follower of Attila, the Hun. On the death of Attila he entered the service of the Roman princes. Step by step he advanced in the army until he was granted the title of patrician by Nepos, and made master-general of the troops. On the expulsion of Nepos, Orestes was offered the purple, but refused it; consenting, however, that his son, Augustulus, should become emperor of the West. Augustulus was a mere tool in the hands of the numerous barbarians who were now in Italy and upon her borders. The confederate tribes demanded one-third of the land of Italy, and when the request was refused, they united their forces under the leadership of Odoacer, the son of a barbarian, who had himself followed the great leader of the Huns, and then accepted a position in the Roman army. He was noted among the barbarians for his courage and ability. By the confederate tribes, he was saluted as the king of Italy. Augustulus offered his resignation, which was accepted by the Senate. This was its last act of obedience to its prince. Zeno, ruler of the East, was recognized as sole emperor, and he awarded to Odoacer the title of "Patrician of the Diocese of Italy."
"Odoacer was the first barbarian who reigned in Italy over a people who had once asserted their just superiority above the rest of mankind." He reigned fourteen years, from 476 to 490, a. d., but the Roman Empire of the West was a thing of the past. The territory once held by the ruling kingdom of the world, was divided among the barbarians who had assisted in its overthrow.
Rome was now broken into fragments, and the ten divisions presented to the prophet Daniel were each given power. As iron and miry clay refuse to unite, so the fragments of the Western Roman Empire will remain separate until the end of time. With the year 476, which marks the fall of Rome, begins the history of the Middle Ages. Within the next few years every obstacle was cleared away, and the papacy had a clear road to the throne. Odoacer was by faith an Arian, and his kingdom, that of the Heruli, was the first of the horns, according to Daniel 7:8, to be plucked up by the little horn, which exalted itself, and spoke great words against the Most High.
In the distress caused by the numerous invasions of the barbarians, the bishop of the Roman diocese had acted well his part. When nations fell, and emperors ceased to grant protection, men sought safety in the shadow of the church. Daily the power of the bishop increased, and from the decaying ruins of ancient Rome, the papacy arose. The church had the name of life, but it was dead. To the one who followed the Saviour, He appeared as the High Priest in the heavenly court, offering His own righteousness to all of every nationality who would accept.
The fall of Rome was a mighty shaking up of nations, divinely symbolized by the trumpets blown by angels who stand in the presence of God. Its fall is a type of the time of trouble, preceding the final destruction of the world. God loved His people then, and through the darkness, His hand was leading. So it will be at the sounding of the seventh trumpet. The history of the fourth trumpet evidently covers the events of a number of years; for the next time the Roman Empire is brought to view, it is presented as the persecuting power which bore sway a thousand two hundred and three score years.
When the fourth angel had sounded, John beheld another "angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!"
Barbarian warfare is terrible; the crushing of a nation calls out the armory of heaven, and angels veil their faces from the scenes of cruelty and bloodshed. But the false doctrines which crush the sons of God, and the errors which hide the righteousness of Christ, are especially designated as woes. To these woes the student of prophecy is next introduced.
Although the author explains a great many of the prophetic symbols, I highly recommend using these study helps to get a broader and deeper understanding of the symbols used in prophecy as well as prophecy itself.
Your brother in Christ
[Updated on: Tue, 30 July 2019 05:57]
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