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THE STORY OF THE SEER OF PATMOS
Haskell, Steven Nelson (1833-1922)
The Story of the Seer of Patmos
CHAPTER XII. THE THIRD WOE
The record contained in the three preceding chapters is the world's history from the stand point which could be best presented to the human mind by the symbol of the trumpet. The eighth chapter portrays the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The prophet, in the ninth chapter, follows events which occurred in connection with the downfall of the Greek Empire and the setting up of the Ottoman power, clearly portraying the four periods in Turkish history: first, its rise; second, the one hundred and fifty years, during which time its power was restricted; third, the three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days of supreme rule; fourth, its existence by sufferance, until driven from Europe. The tenth chapter of Revelation gives the loud cry of the first angel's message, which was proclaimed by believers in God just at the time of the ending of the second woe. It foretells also the greater work to follow in the form of another message, which is given in detail in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Revelation The eleventh chapter, the one now before us, goes back to the Western Empire, and shows what was going on in that part of the world during the time that the Turkish Empire was making history in the eastern division.
The barbarians in 476 left Rome in a divided state. The ten tribes, namely, the Ostrogoths, the Lombards, the Heruli, the Vandals, the Visigoths, the Suevi, the Saxons, the Huns, the Burgundians, and the Franks, were by that time, or a few years later, settled within the borders of the Western Empire True, the Vandals, Heruli, and Ostrogoths were of short duration, having been, before the year 538, "plucked up" to make way for the enthroning of the ecclesiastical power, according to the prophetic history of Dan. 7:8. But from the other seven developed the nations of Europe which are in existence to-day. The smoke from the "bottomless pit" beclouded the eastern sky, and the consideration of the Eastern Empire necessitates a study of Mohammedanism instead of Christianity. The condition was different in the western division, that portion of Europe still claimed to be ruled by the precepts of Christ. Mohammedanism in its attempt to conquer the western nations met with a telling defeat in the eighth century, and never renewed the attempt. So the West stood before the world as the representative of the Christian religion. Here the principles of civil and religious liberty, to-day held dear, were born: and here, likewise, was committed to these nations, in a special manner, the everlasting Gospel, with the commission to make it known to the world. God was preparing, from afar, for the spread of the last message to the world.
THE PROPHECY OF THE TWO WITNESSES
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. (2) But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. (3) And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. (4) These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. (5) And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. (6) These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
THE BEAST OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. (8) And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. (9) And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. (10) And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. (11) And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. (12) And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. (13) And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. (14) The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
To John was given a measuring reed, "and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein." Men have as many standards for measuring their fellow-beings as there are different individuals, but the one absolute rule by which men's actions are measured for eternity, is an infinitely perfect and unvarying standard. It cannot be comprehended by the finite mind; for it is infinite. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." The "reed like unto a rod," with which John was bidden to measure, was the commandments of God. With his angel guide, the prophet was shown the church of God and the world, and the wisdom of God was given to him that he might record the results of the measurements. God's law is but an expression of His own character, and John's mind was opened to an appreciation of the principles upon which the government of God is established. There was the temple where the Father sits enthroned, Himself the center of all law, all life, all love; His presence pervading all things, upholding all things, controlling all things. The temple was to be measured, and when measured, it told the story of absolute love, the power of the Creator, who made all beings to reflect His own perfection. Then John was to measure the altar. Here he saw the High Priest, with His censer, offering the prayers of His saints. Only the Infinite mind can grasp the breadth and length and depth and height, and know the love of Christ which "passeth knowledge"; but this theme will be man's study throughout eternity, for when it is known, it reveals the fullness of God. Again it is infinite love. And as it is measured, it must be measured in every direction; there is length and breadth and height and depth; and in it all, the measures read, Love! infinite, far-reaching love!
The prophet was told to measure them that worship in the temple; for the creatures of His hand reflect His image, and are measured by the same standard. Angels worship in that temple, and they reflect the character of Him who is love. There were also men in that temple as worshipers; saints, who, while still on earth, were by faith within the inner veil; and they too were measured by the same reed of His law. Not an outward measure of stature, nor an external weighing of motives, as viewed by the human eye, but character was the test, with the rule of heaven for a standard. The character which is rewarded with a place near the throne is not shallow, but deep; it is not narrow, but broad; and in length it must measure with the life of God. A long experience, a deep experience, a broad experience in divine things, even while living here on earth; this is the life which develops a character that will stand the test of the "measuring reed."
Under the third seal was revealed a power on the earth which carried a pair of balances, to weigh the deeds of men. While a self-righteous standard was being erected on the earth, God was measuring according to the rule of heaven; and when character was measured by the divine rod, eternal life was often given to those, who according to the balances in the hands of man, were accounted worthy of death.
It would seem that the attention of the prophet was called to the measuring in the outer court, which the loosened seals had revealed to him; and he is told to leave out "the court which is without the temple, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles," those who know not God; and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. This locates the scene definitely in what was the Western Empire, for the same period of time is given by Daniel. In the seventh chapter of that prophecy, the power which plucked up the three barbarian tribes before referred to, "shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they (times, laws, and saints) shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time."
In prophecy one day stands for a year, and time is reckoned thirty days to the month. Forty-two months is equivalent to twelve hundred and sixty days of prophetic time, or twelve hundred and sixty years of literal time. The "time and times, and the dividing of time," is the same period as the "forty and two months," or twelve hundred and sixty years. The power which trod the people of God under foot for twelve hundred and sixty years was the papacy. This power was established in Rome in 538 a. d. on the ruins of the Western Empire, and continued until 1798 a. d. This was the period known as the Dark Ages for Europe. During this period the smoke of Mohammedanism hid the light of the sun in the East. Mohammedanism in the East, and the "man of sin" in the West, both brought darkness and despair. Mohammedanism tormented men like the sting of a scorpion; the "man of sin" held men's minds in such subjection that they saw nothing above the exalted man on the throne.
In the East, the Koran and a false prophet bore sway; in the West, precisely the same thraldom existed; for while there was no Koran, the Word of God was suppressed just as effectually.
As Mohammedanism substituted the sixth day of the week for the Sabbath, and accepted a false prophet instead of Christ, so the "man of sin" thought to change the law of God, and attempted to change the times which were created by the Word of Jehovah, as surely as man himself was so created. In the East, the Koran wholly replaced the Bible; in the West, God said, "I will give power unto my two witnesses, that they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three-score days, clothed in sackcloth." For twelve hundred and sixty years [days] the light of God was hidden as beneath a covering, of sackcloth. Men think that with the advanced knowledge of the twentieth century, human reason has outgrown the Word of God; but history proves, without the shadow of a doubt, that when the Word is replaced by the products of man's mind, both moral and intellectual darkness are brought upon the world. In this darkness the balances were held by those who believed that man was above God, that reason was the ultimate standard for judgment; but at that very time God was measuring character by the measuring reed of heaven,-the law which man in his blindness had set aside.
The "two witnesses" are the Old and the New Testaments. In the mouth of two witnesses every word is established. The Old Testament told of the God, who strove to live in man; the New Testament told of the God, who had lived in the human form, and the two agree. The same mystery is revealed to each individual heart in the providences of God. Christ, the God-man, sat on the curbing of Jacob's well at the hour of noon, when the Samaritan woman came to draw water. Likewise the Divine Spirit drew the woman of Samaria to the well at the very hour when the Son of man was there. These two witnesses agree. They agree in lives to-day. When the spiritual eye is opened, the testimony of the two witnesses will be accepted.
For they are the "two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves." By the prophet Zechariah, the church is represented as a golden candlestick having seven branches, each bearing aloft a light for the world. These seven branches receive their oil from a single bowl, and the oil for this bowl is supplied by two olive trees, one on either side. The purity of the oil they burn is represented by the close connection with living, growing trees. This oil is the oil of grace, the truth of God. The unity of the seven candlesticks is typified by the common bowl from which each gains its supply of oil. How beautiful a picture of the work of God's Word in ministering to the needs of the church on earth.
Life flows from the Old as well as the New Testament to those whose hearts are open channels for the Spirit. When connection with the living trees is severed, spiritual death is the result. The lights may burn for a time, but they soon exhaust the supply in the bowl, and gradually the flame dies out. Extinguishing a light does not affect the olive trees. Indeed they are trees of life, guarded by flaming swords, like the tree of life in the garden of Eden after the fall; and the flashes of light destroy the life of those who lift a hand against the witnesses. Men may claim to receive light, independently of these witnesses; but there are no channels for the communication of the spirit of wisdom and knowledge, except these two trees, or some of their branches, through which the life, the golden oil, is constantly flowing. It is thus that they have power to stay the heavens that it rain not. It is for this reason that the three and a half years of drought in the days of Elijah are used by the divine historian to illustrate the three and one-half prophetic years, the twelve hundred and sixty years of darkness, brought about by severing the connection between the church and the two witnesses. When the connection was broken the restraining power of God was withdrawn; and as in the natural world, so in the spiritual, there was nothing to prevent bloodshed, famine, and persecution. The time of great persecution was the period during which the witnesses prophesied covered with sackcloth. The Reformation removed the sackcloth from the two witnesses.
From the close of the fourteenth century, when Wycliffe's translation placed the Word of God in the hands of the common people of England, until the full dawn of the Reformation, the restraint which had long been placed upon the Scriptures was gradually removed. The light was spread largely through the schools. In Germany, the University of Wittenberg made the study of the Word its most prominent feature, and at the educational centers in England, Germany, and France the heralds of truth received their inspiration and their training. In the preparation of laborers; the Scriptures formed the basis of all instruction; and as the classics and false sciences of the Dark Ages gave way to the Bible as a textbook, so the formal, lifeless methods of theological instruction were exchanged for teaching which fed the souls of the students.
The remarkable swiftness with which society was remolded when the Word of God was restored is witnessed to by all historians. The historian, Ranke, states that in the short period of forty years the darkness had been broken from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, and Germany sat at the feet of Protestant teachers. Error trembled before a few teachers armed with the invincible Word of God. At this juncture the speedy overthrow of the false system was prevented by a counter educational movement.
The organization of the order of Jesuits, in reality a papacy of the papacy, sent into the world a body of active workers, shrewd, well educated, and armed with a double-faced conscience, which enabled them to penetrate anywhere and assume any role. One of their most efficient methods of procedure was in the schools. They founded new schools in the very shadow of the Protestant institutions, and drew from their patronage; or when this was impossible, they entered Protestant schools under the guise of Protestant teachers. Everywhere they gained the children and the youth. They were more zealous, more ambitious than the Protestants, consequently the succeeding generation surprised the Reformers by turning a large part of Europe back under papal control. Their work was most fully developed in France. That country had received the light of the Reformation, but on this ground the Jesuits found excellent material. The universities of France clung to their old methods, and they likewise clung to the subjects taught during the Dark Ages. Under the forms and ceremonies of Mediævalism, papal principles of government lurked, ready to spring into active service at the first opportunity. The renewal of these teachings wrought the same effect in the sixteenth century that the false teachings of the Alexandrian philosophers did in the church of the early Christians.
One cannot condemn the Jesuit teaching as wholly evil. It was as subtile a mixture of the good and evil as the devil ever compounded. It was when the two witnesses were escaping from the bondage of the Dark Ages, where they had finished their testimony in sackcloth, that the beast, which ascended out of the bottomless pit, made war against them and overcame them, and killed them.
The Counter-Reformation, known as such by all historians, was felt throughout Europe; but France was unfortunate enough to have sown an abundance of seed, and consequently reaped a bountiful harvest. France is the only nation that ever openly denied the existence of the Deity, and set up a worship recognizing no other ruler than the "Goddess of Reason." A woman, a profligate opera singer, was set up in Paris as a personification of reason, the god which France acknowledged. No other government ever made so base a movement. Men and women danced and sang in honor of the base idolatry. Other parts of France imitated the example set by Paris. The woman, veiled and worshiped in form, was but a type of what men will do when reason is enthroned above God. The decree prohibiting the Bible, changing the week, and establishing the worship of the "Goddess of Reason," was issued in 1793. For three years and a half, the two witnesses,-the two olive trees, which alone bring life to man or nation,-lay dead in the streets of Paris. The licentiousness of Sodom in the days of Lot, was repeated in France, especially in her capital The gross idolatry of Egypt, with its proverbial darkness, was to be found again in modern France. As the Jews, by rejecting the Word of God sent by the prophets, severed their connection with heaven and crucified their Lord, so France repeated the sin, and crucified again the Son of God.
The Reign of Terror had established itself in France. Whoever was suspected of hostility toward the tyranny, was immediately hurried to the scaffold; to be lukewarm was no protection. Old age and youth alike suffered. Wild license was given to divorce and to profligacy. "There were seen, even in the hall of the convention, throngs of coarse and fierce men, and coarser and fiercer women with their songs and wild outcries and gestures." "Crowds escorted the batch of victims carried on carts each day to the place of execution, and insulted them with their brutal shouts." Men of other nations looked on in utter astonishment. The worship of reason was abolished, and the convention passed a resolution acknowledging the existence of God, but denouncing Christianity as a base superstition. Thus the Reign of Terror went on. "The deaths from want," says one historian, "much exceeded a million. France was on the brink of a great famine on the Asiatic scale." But men grew weary of bloodshed, and "great fear fell upon them which saw" these things. The God of heaven called a halt. Nations of the earth had seen the consequences of rejecting the Word of Jehovah; they had had before them, in the Reign of Terror, a most terrible example of the rejection of the principles of the Reformation. The Spirit of God was again recognized as residing in the "two witnesses," and before all nations the Scriptures have since been exalted. Those nations, which adhered most closely to the truths developed in the withdrawal from Roman tyranny, have taken the lead in the work of education, in invention, in judiciary matters, and in all lines of progress. Copies of the Word of God have been multiplied until the poorest are without excuse, if they remain unsupplied. Before the terrors in France, little attention was given to foreign missions; but in 1804 the British Bible Society was organized. Thirteen years later, the American Bible Society came into existence, and millions of copies of the Word have been printed. Its translation into hundreds of different languages has placed ignorance of the Scriptures entirely out of the question.
The restoration of the Christian religion in France, marked the beginning of its modern history. The Revolution of 1798 is spoken of as "a great earthquake," in which the "tenth part of the city fell." The "beast" received its deadly wound. Not only was the reign of papal tyranny at an end, but the power of the monarchy was shaken; and the vast army of nobles, which some historians give as seven thousand, lost their titles. The government was in the hands of the middle classes, or the common people. The exaltation of the Scriptures is always followed by a government which recognizes the equal rights of all men, and by a religion which grants the privilege to every man to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience. Men who advocate a system of government that rejects the atoning blood of Christ, or an educational system which exalts reason above faith, place themselves on the very verge of a precipice, and the next step will produce a repetition of the Terrors of France. The blindness with which men repeat the experiences of the past is amazing. The Jesuits may not be responsible to-day for the trend which many public institutions are taking, but, without doubt, the methods the Jesuits used, are repeated in the twentieth century. Education which leaves out God, is putting the government into the hands of statesmen who will eventually exalt the Goddess of Reason.
The second woe, as already seen, ended in 1840. The close was marked by the transfer of Turkish power into the hands of the western nations. In heaven is witnessed the sending forth of the mighty angel of Rev. 10:1-11. The earth responded to his loud cry, and men, thinking that time was about to close, prepared to meet their God. But the seventh angel had not yet sounded. He was held in heaven for a little space, that men might be prepared for the events about to come in connection with the completion of the earth's history. "The second woe is past; and behold, the third woe cometh quickly."
The little period between 1840 and 1844, during which the message of Rev. 10:1-11 was delivered, was the time between the close of the sixth trumpet and the sounding of the seventh. In the tenth chapter of Revelation John was told that "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished."
THE SEVENTH TRUMPET
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (16) And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, (17) Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. (18) And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. (19) And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
When the seventh angel "begins to sound," in the first part of the period of time set apart for his work, the mystery of God would be finished. "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever." A kingdom can never be truly said to pass into the hands of another power, while either the territory, the capital, or the subjects, are beyond its control. It takes the three: subjects, capital, and territory, to make the full kingdom. The work of the investigative judgment, is Christ making up the number of the subjects, or in other words, taking one-third part of His kingdom; when the judgment is ended, then is given to Him the Holy City, the capital of the kingdom,-the second third part. When He comes to the earth, He takes possession of the territory, and possesses the kingdom in all its fullness forever. The enrollment for the new kingdom is made by Christ in the presence of the Father, while angels are watching. The books are open, the judgment begins; the measuring reed is applied to character. Christ offers the prayers of all His saints,-those whose names are written in the book of life,-together with the fragrant incense of His own righteous life; in this way the heirs of the kingdom are enrolled.
Again the prophet sees the work completed; and the four and twenty elders, who have long waited for the redemption of their fellow beings, fall before the throne, and worship Him who is crowned King of Kings. These are the beings who, with the host of the redeemed, will finally have the renewed earth for their home. A part of their song before the Father is, "Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth," showing that in the midst of heavenly glory, they yet look forward to the restoration of the earth at the end of the thousand years, during which time, the cases of the wicked are tried.
In 1844 the third woe began. It extends into eternity, covering all the corruption of the last days,-the anger or distress among nations, which was one sign of the second advent, as given by the Saviour. During the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the seven last plagues are poured out; men, having rejected God, drink of the wine of His wrath. During this sounding, the righteous and wicked pass through the last great time of trouble, in comparison with which the Reign of Terror in France was a. light affliction. During this woe, the saints of God welcome the Lord in the clouds of heaven, for He comes to give reward unto the faithful. This period continues over the one thousand years following the second coming of Christ, and ends when Satan and all the wicked are reduced to ashes upon the surface of the new earth, and all sorrow and sin are forever vanquished.
As foretold in the Scriptures, the ministration of Christ in the most holy place began at the termination of the prophetic days in 1844. The words of the revelator apply to this time. "The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament." At the beginning of the work of the investigative judgment, when Christ entered the most holy place, the door in heaven was opened, and the law of God was seen as the foundation of His throne. It was immediately after the bitter disappointment of 1844, when earnest souls were still searching the Scriptures, that the sacredness of the law was revealed. As the decalogue was presented, a special glory shone about the Fourth Commandment. The seal of the law stood out as if written in letters of fire, and a new significance was given to the measuring reed which the angel offered.
The Law of God
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.
fuller significance of the trampling under foot of the law, and of the thinking to change the times and laws of Jehovah by an earthly power, filled the people of God with reverential awe; and again the two witnesses were exalted to heaven. The sealing work began at this very time, and those who were looking heavenward, saw the light streaming from that open door. Upon those to whom these rays are shining, the sealing angel places the mark of God. This sealed company make up the one hundred and forty-four thousand, who are a part of the host for whom the "four and twenty elders" are now waiting.
As the proclamation is made in heaven that the work is over, the commandments are again seen; this time written on the clouds of the sky in the eyes of all men,-a sign of the near approach of Christ.
Under the sounding of the seventh trumpet are the thunderings, lightnings, voices, earthquake, and hail, which will shake the very foundations of the earth. With the close of the third woe, the earth is freed forever from the least taint of sorrow and sin. The Lord has pledged His word that affliction shall not rise up the second time, but joy and peace will reign forever in the redeemed earth.
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: Sun, 11 August 2019 18:06]
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