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BOOK OF REVELATION
A Study of
The Last Prophetic Book
of Holy Scripture
by Clarence Larkin
THE INTERVAL BETWEEN THE "SEVEN PERSONAGES" AND THE "SEVEN VIALS."
1. THE LAMB ON MOUNT ZION.
"And I looked, and, lo, a LAMB stood on MOUNT ZION, and with Him a Hundred Forty and Four Thousand, having His Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from Heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of HARPERS harping with their harps: and they sung as it were a NEW SONG before the Throne, and before the Four Beasts, and the Elders: and no man could learn that song but The Hundred and Forty and Four Thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women: for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These p. 131 were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the Throne of God."
The Lamb here is Christ, and the Mount Zion is not Mount Zion of the earthly Jerusalem but of the Heavenly of which Paul speaks in Heb. 12:22-23. "But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, 'THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM,' and to an innumerable company of angels, to the General Assembly and Church of the 'First Born' (New Born), which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just (justified) men made perfect."
The 144,000 standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, are the 144,000 "SEALED ONES," 12,000 from each Tribe of Israel, of chapter 7:3-8. There we are told they were sealed, here we are told why. In chapter seven we are told they were sealed in their foreheads, here we are told that that sealing was the writing on their foreheads of the name of the Lamb (R. V.) and of the Lamb's Father. As John looked at the Lamb and the 144,000 "Sealed Ones" who stood with Him, he heard a voice from Heaven, as the "voice of many waters," and as the voice of a "great thunder," which identifies the Speaker with the one who spoke from the midst of the "Lamp-Stands" of chapter 1:10, 15, or the Lamb Himself.
What the "voice" said is not told us, but it was followed with the voice or singing of "Harpers" accompanied by their harps. These "Harpers" sung a "NEW SONG" before the Throne, and the "Four Living Creatures," and the "Elders." As the "Elders" represent the Church, these "Harpers" are not the Church, for they sing before the "Elders." Who these "Harpers" are we are told in chapter 15:2-4. They are those who stand on the "Sea of Glass" before the Throne. Rev. 4:6. The "New Song" they sing is a "double song," the "SONG OF MOSES" and the "SONG OF THE LAMB," and we are told that no man could learn the Song but the 144,000 who were redeemed from the earth. This is further evidence that the 144,000 "Sealed Ones" are in Heaven, either having been translated or died a Martyr's death, and from Rev. 14:4 we learn that they are the "FIRST-FRUITS" of the restored nation of Israel, not the "First-Fruits" of the Church, for that is represented by the "Elders," and was gathered out long before.
These 144,000 "Sealed Ones" are called "VIRGINS"; and the fact that they are spoken of as not having been "defiled with women," shows that they are either all men of the character of the Apostle Paul, who did not marry, or, as is most likely, and as the word translated "virgins" means persons of either sex, they are "virgins" in the sense that they kept themselves clean of the crowning sin of that day--FORNICATION, for the crowning sin of the Tribulation Period will be fornication (Rev. 9:21; 14:8), or looseness and laxity of the marriage tie, of which "free-love," and the doctrine of "affinities," and multiplied divorce in these days are but the opening wedge to the looseness of morals of those Anti-Christian times.
The 144,000 "Sealed Ones" will be especially delivered from this sin, and so they, and they only, as a special class, can sing this "New Song" of redemption, not so much by the Blood, as from the sin of fornication. The teaching of "seducing spirits" mentioned in 1. Tim. 4:1-3, as belonging to those Anti-Christian times, of "forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats," has a deeper significance than that of the practice of the Church of Rome that requires the celibacy of the priesthood and clergy, and fasting of the laity. Such teaching comes from the "Pit," and belongs to Antichrist's religion, and its purpose is to weaken the body by fasting and make it more susceptible to the influence of evil angels and demons, and to cause it to gratify the desires of the flesh in other ways than by lawful means. These "Sealed Ones" are a chosen class who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, and they are without fault before the Throne of God.
2. THE THREE ANGEL MESSENGERS.
THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL.
"And I saw another angel fly, in the midst of heaven, having the 'EVERLASTING GOSPEL' to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people; saying with a loud voice 'FEAR GOD, AND GIVE GLORY TO HIM; FOR THE HOUR OF HIS JUDGMENT IS COME: AND WORSHIP HIM THAT MADE HEAVEN, AND EARTH, AND THE SEA, AND THE FOUNTAINS OF WATERS.">
In his vision of Apocalyptic Judgments John sees many angels at work. Here he sees one flying in "MID-HEAVEN." That is, in the heaven or atmosphere that surrounds our earth. The mission of this Angel is to preach the
unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people on the earth. Here is the first and only place in the Bible where an angel is commissioned to preach the Gospel. An angel could not tell Cornelius how to be saved, he could only tell him to send for Peter for that purpose. Acts 10:3-6. In this "Gospel Age" only redeemed men can preach the Gospel, but at the "End Time," just before the return of the Lord, an angel will go forth to preach the "EVERLASTING GOSPEL," or as the revised Version puts it, the "ETERNAL GOSPEL." The word "Gospel" means "Good News." Four forms of the Gospel are mentioned in the New Testament, and we must distinguish carefully between them.
(1). THE GOSPEL OF "THE KINGDOM."
This is the "Good News" that God purposes to set up a Kingdom on this earth over which David's Son, JESUS, shall reign, as prophesied in Luke 1:32-33. Two preachings of this Gospel are mentioned, one past, beginning with the ministry of John the Baptist, and preached by Jesus and His Disciples, but it ended with the rejection of Jesus as King. This Gospel is to be preached again after the Church is taken out. It will be the fulfilment of Matt. 24:14, where it says: "This Gospel of 'THE KINGDOM' shall be preached in all the world for a WITNESS unto all nations: and then shall the end come." This has no reference to the Gospel that is now being preached. to the nations. It is the Gospel of SALVATION, but the "Gospel of the Kingdom" is not for "Salvation" but for a WITNESS, that is. it is the announcement that the time has come to SET UP THE KINGDOM. It will be preached first by Elijah the forerunner (Mal. 4:5-6): and by others who shall be commissioned to bear the news to all nations as a proclamation of the Coming of Christ as King to occupy the Throne of David, and for the purpose of regathering Israel to the Promised Land,
(2). THE GOSPEL OF THE "GRACE OF GOD."
This is the "Good News" that Jesus Christ the rejected King died on the Cross for our SALVATION. This form of the Gospel is described in many ways. It is called the "GOSPEL OF GOD" (Rom. 1:1), because it has its source in the LOVE OF GOD. John 3:16. Its Character is "GRACE." Acts 20:24. Its subject is CHRIST (Rom. 1:16; 2. Cor. 10:14), and it is the POWER OF GOD UNTIL SALVATION. It is also a "GLORIOUS GOSPEL" because it speaks of Him who is in the GLORY, and has been GLORIFIED, and who is bringing many sons to GLORY. 1. Tim. 1:11, 2. Cor. 4:4, Heb. 2:10. And it is the "GOSPEL OF PEACE," because it makes peace between the sinner and God, and brings peace to the soul. Eph. 6:15.
(3). MY GOSPEL.
Romans 2:16. (Acts 26:16-18.)
This is the same as the "Gospel of the Grace of God," or of Salvation, with the additional revelations that were made known to Paul as to the Church (Eph. 3:1-7), and as to Israel. Rom. 11:1-36.
(4) THE "EVERLASTING GOSPEL."
This is what the Angel preaches in this chapter. It is neither the "Gospel of the Kingdom," nor of "Grace." Its burden is not Salvation but JUDGMENT. "Fear God, and give glory to Him: for the HOUR OF HIS JUDGMENT IS COME." It is "Good News" to Israel, and all who are passing through the "fires of Judgment," because it declares that their troubles will soon end in the judgment and destruction of Antichrist. It calls on men to worship God as "Creator," and not as "Saviour," and so it is called in the Revised Version--"THE ETERNAL GOSPEL," the Gospel that has been proclaimed from Eden down by Patriarchs' and Prophets, and not an "Everlasting Gospel" in the sense that it saves men for all eternity.
There is "ANOTHER GOSPEL" (Gal. 1:6-12, 2. Cor. 11:4), which is not another, and which Paul repudiated. It is a perversion of the true Gospel and has many seductive forms, and in the main teaches that "faith" is not sufficient to Salvation, nor able to keep and perfect, and so emphasizes "Good Works." Col. 2:18-23, Heb. 6:1, 9:14. The Apostle pronounces a fearful "Anathema" upon its preachers and teachers. Gal. 1:8-9. Our message is: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Acts 16:31. The Angel's message is: "Fear God for the HOUR of His Judgment is come." Men reject the human messenger and they will also reject the Angelic message, they will not believe even though the ONE (Jesus) rose from the dead.
FALL OF BABYLON PROCLAIMED.
"And there followed another angel, saying BABYLON IS FALLEN, IS FALLEN, that great City, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."
Here is proof that the City of Babylon is to be rebuilt. For further proof see chapter eighteen. As to the fall and destruction of the literal City of Babylon this proclamation is anticipative, but as a declaration that Babylon had fallen to fearful depths of wickedness and apostasy, and had become "the habitation of demons, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird," as described in chapter 18:2, it was already true, for the City of Babylon will have been rebuilt at the time when this Angel utters his proclamation. The Angel's warning was that God's people might hear His voice saying: "Come out of her, MY PEOPLE, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Rev. 18:4.
THE DOOM OF ANTICHRIST'S FOLLOWERS.
"And the third Angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the Beast and his Image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the 'wrath of God,' which is poured out without mixture into the 'cup of His Indignation'; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Holy Angels, and in the presence of the LAMB: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night, who worship the Beast and his Image, and whosoever receiveth the 'Mark' of his name."
This is a most awful warning. Any man who worships the Beast, and receives his 'Mark' in forehead or hand, his doom is fixed FOREVER, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Holy Angels and of the Lamb, and the smoke of his torment shall ascend for ever and ever, and they shall have no rest day or night. That means during the 3½ years of Antichrist's reign, after they have received the "Mark," for there is no day or night in eternity. If "Eternal Punishment" is taught nowhere else in the Bible it is taught here, and if here, why is it not true as to other classes of sinners? Just think of the horror of remorse in the "Lake of Fire," as these worshippers of the Beast shall recall the "Mark of the Beast" as it was imprinted on their forehead or right hand with their own consent because of their desire to enrich themselves in the markets of their day.
3. THE BLESSED DEAD.
"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the Commandments of God, and the Faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from Heaven saying unto me, Write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord FROM HENCEFORTH: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors: and their works do follow them."
This is blessedly true of all saints but refers here to those who die after the False Prophet has issued the command that all who will not worship the "Image of the Beast shall be killed." Rev. 13:15. This is settled by the word HENCEFORTH. This warning is given for the benefit of those who in that day shall be tempted to compromise with evil in order to preserve their lives. Better to live and reign with Christ a 1000 years, than with Antichrist 3½ years. This special class of dead who "DIE IN THE LORD" will be blessed because they will be delivered from the trials and sufferings of the Great Tribulation, and will receive the "MARTYR'S CROWN" (Rev. 2:10), and they shall rest from their labors of stemming the tide of iniquity of those days, and their works follow with them (R. V.). During the "Great Tribulation" they that are loyal to God have no prospect before them but martyrdom, hence the need at this time of a special message of blessing to those who are faithful until death. What a contrast between the "Blessed Dead," and those who have the "Mark of the Beast." The former will rest from their labors, while the latter shall not rest day or night.
4. THE HARVEST AND VINTAGE.
"And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the SON OF MAN, having on His head a Golden Crown, and in His hand a sharp Sickle. And another angel came out of the Temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Thy SICKLE, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap: for the 'Harvest of the Earth' IS RIPE. And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His Sickle on the earth: and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the Temple which is in Heaven, he also having a sharp Sickle. And another angel came out from the Altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp Sickle, saying Thrust in thy sharp Sickle, p. 137 and gather the clusters of the 'VINE OF THE EARTH'; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his Sickle into the earth, and gathered the 'VINE OF THE EARTH,' and cast it into the great WINEPRESS of the 'Wrath of God.' And the WINEPRESS was trodden without the city, and BLOOD came out of the WINEPRESS, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs."
There can be no question as to who is the "Reaper" of the "HARVEST OF THE EARTH." It is the "SON OF MAN," Christ Himself. He was the "Sower" and He shall be the "Reaper." This is not the "Harvest of the Church." That was harvested in chapters four and five, and the "Reapers" were the angels. Matt. 13:39. This is the "Harvest" of the Gentile Nations'. In Joel 3:9-17 we have a description of this "Harvest and Vintage." The "Harvest and Vintage" are JUDICIAL. That is, they are for the purpose of Judgment. The account here is anticipative. It looks forward to chapter 16:13-16, which speaks of how the armies of the world are to be gathered together by "THREE UNCLEAN SPIRITS" to the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty at Armageddon. This Battle takes place after the "Fall of Babylon," and is more fully described in chapter 19:17-19.
Here we are told that the Harvest is RIPE, and the "Son of Man" is commanded to thrust in His Sickle, which He does, and while the pouring out of the "Vials" is a part of the reaping, the Harvest is not finished until the end of the "Battle of Armageddon."
The difference between the "Harvest and the Vintage" is, that the "harvest" in the natural world precedes the "vintage," but often, as in this case, continues until they become one.
The "Vintage" is of the "VINE OF THE EARTH." Israel was a "VINE" brought out of Egypt (Psa. 80:8) and planted in Canaan, but when God looked for it to bring forth "good grapes" it brought forth "WILD GRAPES" (Isa. 5:1-7), and fruit unto itself. Hosea 10:1. When the Lord of the "Vineyard" sent His servants for the "Fruit of the Vineyard," the husbandmen beat one, killed another, and stoned another. At last He sent His Son, Him they took and cast out of the Vineyard and slew. Matt. 21:33-43. Then Jesus Himself became the "TRUE VINE," of which His disciples are the branches. John 15:5. The "VINE OF THE EARTH" is Antichrist and all who belong to his pernicious system.
The "WINEPRESS" is the winepress of the "FIERCENESS AND WRATH OF ALMIGHTY GOD." Rev. 19:15. The Prophet Isaiah (Isa. 63:1-6) describes Christ's share in it. It will cover the whole Land of Palestine, and extend as far south as Edom and Bozrah. So great shall be the slaughter that the blood shall be up to the horses' bridles in the valleys over the whole of Palestine for 1600 furlongs, or 200 miles. It will be the time of which the Prophet Isaiah speaks, when the land shall be DRUNK WITH BLOOD. Isa.. 34:7-8. We will consider it more in detail when we study the Battle of Armageddon in chapter nineteen.