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AN EXPOSITION OF THE APOCALYPSE
Section 1: 3
The New Testament Use of the Word "Apocalypse."
The word apokalupsis is used eighteen times in the New Testament. The first place where it occurs is that we have just been considering; the
last is in Apoc. 1:1; as the "Apocalypse of Jesus Christ which the Deity committed to him to show to his servants things which must come to pass speedily." Here the apocalypse is an exhibition of things to be transacted subsequently to the communication of it; and when we look into it we find its signs, scenes, and so forth, all tending to, or terminating in, the personal manifestation of Jesus Christ before the nations, the overthrow of their dominions, and the victory of his Brethren, the Saints, over the grave, and over the Satanism of "Christendom" in Church and State in whatever form they may be found. Hence the Apocalypse exhibits what the testimonies already adduced predict without a symbol, God has determined shall come to pass in the Anointed Jesus shining as "a Light for an apocalypse of nations."
The apostle Paul uses the noun apocalupsis thirteen times in his writings; and the verb apocalupto also thirteen. In Rom. 2:5, he uses it in relation to a manifestation of judgment, "in a day of wrath and apocalypse of God's righteous judgment." This is a day yet future; because in it, Paul says, the glory, honour, incorruptibility, and life of the Aion will be rendered to the righteous; and indignation and wrath to "those who obey not the truth." It is "a Day of Wrath and Apocalypse": hence, whatever constitutes the apocalypse, is to be looked for in a time of trouble," as Daniel terms it; or "a day of affliction," in the words of Jeremiah. They may cry "Peace and Safety;" but there will be neither in the Day of Apocalypse; but rather "sudden destruction as travail upon a woman with child (1 Thess. 5:3).
In Rom. 8:19, he uses the noun in reference to the disclosure of the Sons of God to the view of the nations, from which they are at present concealed. The Sons of God are to be apocalypsed, and glory is to be apocalypsed in them, as well as Jesus, their Elder Brother. "I reckon," says Paul, "that the sufferings of the present time are not comparable with the future glory to be apocalypsed in us. For the earnest hope of the creature is looking for the Apocalypse of the Sons of God." In the English version this is rendered by "the manifestation of the Sons of God." The meaning is this: Mankind are divided by Scripture in Two Classes -- the Serpent and his seed; and the Woman and her seed (Gen. 3:15). As early as the times before the flood, the former were styled simply "men;" the latter, "the Sons of God" (Gen. 6:9-12). By the flood, "men" were swept from the earth which they had filled with violence; and their apostasy was extinguished with them: that is, "the earth was corrupt; FOR all flesh had corrupted GOD'S WAY upon the earth" (Gen. 6:11,12). They had set up a corrupted way of worshipping God, which constituted an apostasy, or departure from the Original Way instituted in Eden. This did not suit their evil nature; therefore,
they altered it to please: and under its inspiration filled the habitable with their abominations. Only one small family protested against this apostasy; a family of eight persons, all that were left on earth of the Sons of God among the living. These were saved by the earth's baptism; while the apostasy, in all its ecclesiastical, civil, and social relations, was torn up by the roots, and swept away.
Sons of God is a title conferred upon certain descendants of Adam, which places them in the same class of intelligences as the Angels. These are also styled "Sons of God" and "Stars of the Dawn," or "Morning Stars" (Job 38:7). We do not mean to say that the Sons of God, called in Scripture angels, or messengers, and Gods, are now mortal and corruptible, and weak of mind and body as we are; they have passed through this state, and now occupy a state beyond it, in which they are incorruptible, immortal, glorious, powerful, wise, and of spirit-corporeality. In their former state they were Sons of God subject to evil as we; in their present, they are sons subject only to good. Men are invited to the same destiny. They are invited now to enter Jehovah's [Yahweh's] family, and to become his sons and daughters, with the promise of hereafter being promoted to a physical equality with the angels. Thus it is written, in 2 Cor. 6:.17, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my Sons and Daughters, saith the Jehovah [Yahweh] AIL-Shaddai Lord Almighty."
But He not only gives men invitation to become His children, but He gives them power also. Thus the Jehovah [Yahweh]-Spirit came to his own land (ta idia) but his own people (hoi idioi) the Jews, received Him not. Nevertheless, as many as received him, to them gave he power to become children of God, to them believing into his name, who are born not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:11-13). Here the fleshly principle is repudiated. "The flesh profits nothing." No man is a Son of God, because he is descended from "Adam Son of God" (Luke 3:38) but Adam's sons become Sons of God by adoption through His Name. They must believe the promises covenanted; believe in Jesus, as the Jehovah [Yahweh]-Spirit manifested in flesh, made a sin-offering, justified in spirit for the justification of believers; and be immersed into the Name, that they may be the subject of the repentance and the remission of sins which are offered in that name; and communicable only to such in putting on the name according to divine prescription. The power of becoming a son of God consists in obeying the form of teaching apostolically delivered. In putting on Christ the Son of God by eminence, a man becomes a son of God. Addressing the sons of God in Galatia, Paul says: "In
Jesus anointed ye are all sons of God through the faith: for as many of you as were immersed into the Anointed have put on the Anointed. And if ye be the Anointed's, then ye are the seed of Abraham, and Heirs according to the promise" (ch. 3:26-29). When a son of Adam is thus adopted into Abraham's family, he is a son of Abraham because he is in Jesus who was his descendant according to the flesh. He is in God the Father, -- and in the Son, by constitution; and Christ dwells in him by faith that works by love, and purifies the heart (Eph. 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:1). This step being assured, what follows is of course. "IF children," says Paul, "then heirs, HEIRS OF GOD, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be GLORIFIED TOGETHER."
This contemporary glorification of Jesus and his brethren of the Abrahamic Family is the subject matter of their apocalypse; and points to their development as sons of God. This occurs "in the resurrection," an Aion-period in which the sons of God obtain their new nature, or materiality. Mentally, that is, as to mind, disposition, and character, or as we might say, spiritually, and constitutionally, they are sons of God; but as to the flesh, they are, on this side the resurrection, still the children of Adam. They are flesh and blood, but they do not walk after, or according to, its impulses; living a life of self-denial, being led by the spirit, in being led by the truth understood, believed, and affectionately obeyed, as it is written: "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." But, to be sons of God in the full import of the title, they must put off the Old Adam in respect to body as well as to conduct and intelligence. They must become sons of God bodily as well as spiritually. They are waiting for this, namely, "for the adoption, the redemption of their body." Jesus referred to this in his argument with the Sadducees, saying: "They who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that Aion, and the resurrection which is from among the dead, cannot die any more; for they are equal to angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection" (Luke 20:35, 36).
Now hear what John says upon this subject. "Behold," says he, "what great love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be styled sons of God! Because the world does not know him, therefore it does not know us. Beloved, we are now sons of God, though it doth not yet appear what we shall be: nevertheless we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one having this hope in him purifies himself as he is pure" (1 John 3:1, 2).
From this testimony, then, it is clear, that the Sons of God are not yet apocalypsed, or manifested. Therefore, the world does not know them;
though, if it have an opinion in the matter, and were invited to point them out, it would certainly judge, that if God had any sons among men, they were those whom it recognizes as the "Ambassadors of Jesus Christ," and the "Successors of the Apostles," together with the pious of their flocks. By the world, we mean what is called, or what rather is self-styled, "the Religious World," made up of all members and supporters of the ecclesiasticism of what they call "Christendom." But this world knows not the Father, how therefore can it know the sons? Neither can it know them before their apocalypse; for the testimonies by which they are defined they will not trouble themselves to understand. No man is led by the Spirit of God who is not led by an intelligent belief of the truth. This truth the world and its soul-merchants do not know. They are therefore not led by it; and are consequently according to Paul, not the Sons of God. "They are of the world; therefore speak they of the world; and the world heareth them." By this rule it is easy to perceive that the world's judgment is wrong. They whom the world hears are not of God. He never sent them, nor were they ever adopted into His Abrahamic Family. If they were God's sons the world would not listen to them; but would hate and persecute them. They profess to admit that the apostles were of God; but they pay no regard to what they teach. Their whole ministry is spent in falsifying and destroying their doctrine. "Be mindful," says Peter, "of the words which were spoken before by the Holy Prophets, and of the commandments of us the Apostles of the Lord and Saviour" (2 Pet. 3:2). But Peter may as well speak to a post as to the ecclesiastics of the world. They only care for him and his words so far as they can turn them into cash, or make them available for the preservation of vested interests. They have long ceased to hear both prophets and apostles, as any one may know who will take the trouble to compare their traditions and practices with the commandments and testimonies of God. "He that knoweth God heareth us," says John; "he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the Spirit of the Truth, and the Spirit of the Delusion."
After so plain a declaration as the foregoing, is it possible to admit that the religious World and its rulers are of God; and worship Him in spirit and in truth? That the Spirit of the Truth is formative of their systems? Or that its worshippers are his sons? Nay, verily, its formative spirit is that of Antichrist, which is discerned in their love of the world, and of the things which are in the world"; a love, which is earnestly deprecated by the apostles of Christ. "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him"; but are not the people's spiritual guides devoted to the world? Are they not the world's hired
servants? Are they not those whom the world delights to honour? Are not their flocks perfect incarnations of all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life"? All of which the apostle testifies "is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:15,16). The affirmative to these inquiries is alone admissible; and the apostolic principles clearly determine that the ecclesiastical system, in its totality of names, denominations, churches, reverend orders, institutions, worshippers, is of the Devil, and not of God. We therefore verily believe, that when the reality of things is vindicated in the apocalypse of the Sons of God; when his glory shall be apocalypsed in them; and when the Captain of their salvation as "a Light for an apocalypse of nations," shall appear -- we believe that when this shall come to pass, he will say to the flocks and shepherds of the religious world, as he said to the same class in Judea, "Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father ye will to do. He was a manslayer from the beginning, and stood not in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own things; for he is a liar and the father of it." "He that is of God heareth God's words; but because ye are not of God, therefore ye hear them not." If we are to judge a tree by its fruits, what other conclusion is it possible to come to? The pious of the world are adepts in all the lusts of the flesh; they do not stand in the truth, which is an offence to them; when they speak, they lie against the truth, and speak of their own conceits; they do not hear, or believe and obey, the words of God; and therefore the conclusion is inevitable that they are not of God; and therefore of necessity of the Devil.
This is also manifest from another consideration. If the ecclesiasticism of Christendom were the worship of God in spirit and in truth, the poor in this world, rich in faith, would be the notables, revered and beloved by the rich; who would rejoice in emptying themselves of their glory and honour, that they might be exalted in due time. But the reverse of this is the fact. Mammon reigns in Church as well as State; and the members of the one are the ambitious and brawling politicians of the other. All this is of the flesh, or Sin Incarnate, which is the Devil. Now the mission of Jesus is to destroy the Devil, and the works of the Devil (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8) and we have already seen, that the Gentiles are to come to him after his apocalypse, and to confess that what they now cherish is only lies, vanity, and unprofitable. They will then acknowledge that their denominations are works of the Devil; and as such they will rejoice in their abolition, and glorify their destroyer. The whole system now existing is a monster iniquity, which only awaits the "apocalypse of the Sons of God" for its disruption, and utter annihilation.
Another place in Paul's writings where he uses this noun in a notable manner is in 2 Thess.1:7. He there tells his persecuted brethren that God will recompense to them "a rest with us (Paul, Sylvanus, and Timothy) in the apocalypse of the Lord Jesus from heaven, with angels of his power, in fire and flame, inflicting vengeance on those who know not God, and who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Anointed; who shall suffer punishment, Aion-destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his might, when he shall come to be glorified with his Saints, and to be admired with all the believers in that day."
In the next chapter, ver. 8, he informs the reader that a certain power would exist, contemporary with the apocalypse of that day, which should be wasted and destroyed. He styled it THE LAWLESS ONE,"whom," says he,"the Lord shall consume by the spirit of his mouth, and destroy by the manifestation of his presence."
In writing to the faithful, Peter also directs their attention to "the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ" as the time when their faith should be "found unto praise and honour and glory." He exhorts them to "hope to the end for the grace that is brought in the apocalypse of Jesus Christ"; and in a third place of the same epistle he says, "Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that in the apocalypse of his glory, ye may be glad also, leaping for joy" (1 Pet. 1:7, 13: 4:13).
It must be evident, then, to all who have examined the testimonies adduced, that apocalypse, in the New Testament use of the word, is not used indefinitely or vaguely, importing merely a disclosure or uncovering of ideas previously concealed: but that it has a special and appropriated signification-a doctrinal meaning peculiar to itself; teaching,
1. The introduction of A DAY, styled the Day of Apocalypse;
2. The manifestation in that day of A LIGHT for the Apocalypse of Nations;
3. The inflicting of vengeance and punishment on the lawless and disobedient in that day;
4. The personal appearance of Jesus Christ, as the Light of the Day of Wrath and Apocalypse;
5. The manifestations of the Sons of God by resurrection from among the dead, and glorification with Jesus Christ - - the Apocalypse of Salvation in the last time.
For the things indicated in these points, the believers who received their enlightenment through the personal labours of the apostles, waited and earnestly longed; as they also have who in succeeding ages and generations have been instructed in the truth by their writings in connexion
with those of Moses and the Prophets. With believers of this class the question uppermost in their minds has ever been, "O Lord, how long? How long, O Elohim, shall the adversary reproach? Shall the enemy despise thy name for ever"? "How long O Jehovah [Yahweh]; wilt thou hide thyself for ever"? "Return, O Jehovah [Yahweh], how long? How long are thy servants to wait for thy return"? "How long, O Jehovah [Yahweh], how long shall the wicked exult"? (Psal. 74:10; 89:46; 90:13; 94:3). Isaiah had a vision of the Adon, the I SHALL BE of armies, sitting upon his throne, at a time when the whole earth shall be full of his glory. "Mine eyes," says he, "have seen the King, the Jehovah [Yahweh] of armies!" At the same time he heard a declaration announcing a punishment to be inflicted upon the tribes of Israel, because they would not understand and perceive the truth in the day of the King's visitation. Fatness of heart, heaviness of ears, and blindness were to come upon them, as at this day. So long as it continued, the earth's fulness of glory would be deferred. The prophet was greatly afflicted at this, and exclaimed,"Woe is me! For I am cut off; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips ... Then, said I, Adon, how long?" (Isai. 6).
Over 200 years afterwards the same inquiry was made in the hearing of Daniel, and in effect by Daniel himself. The long night of Israel's darkness foreseen by Isaiah to come upon them after the rejection of Jehovah's [Yahweh's] Messenger, who was to go and say to them, "Ye hear in hearing, but do not understand; and ye see in seeing, but do not perceive" (Mat. 13:13) is characterized in Daniel by the absence of sacrifice, the desolation of the land, and the dispersion and oppression of the nation (8:11-13, 24; 9:26, 27; 12:7). It had been revealed to Daniel, that a powerful and indestructible kingdom should be set up by the God of heaven, which should consume and destroy every thing that stood up against it; that the Son of man and the Saints should possess it, with dominion over the whole earth; and that then power should be restored to the Hebrew nation, which should never again be broken: but before all this could begin to come to pass, he saw a long period of affliction would obtain. It was therefore desired to know when it should terminate; as terminate it must before the glory can be apocalypsed or revealed. "How long," then it was asked, "shall the Little Horn of the Goat practise and prosper against the Holy Land and the Host of Israel?" for this in effect is the question of the thirteenth verse. How long till the arrival of the period when the Holy shall be avenged?
The answer to this question only bringing the inquirer to the period in which the vengeance is to be developed, it was still desired to know
further "How long to the end of the wonders" to be developed in "the time of the end"? The answer was by the specification of a period, and an event. "For a time, times, and a half." This is the duration of the period, constituting the latter portion of what Jesus Christ terms "the Times of the Gentiles," during which Jerusalem and the Saints were to be trodden under foot (Luke 21:24) and symbolized in the Apocalypse by "the Court which is without the Temple, given to the Gentiles for forty and two months" (11:2). The event that marks the end of the period is THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL, which is thus expressed, "When he (Michael the Great Prince that liveth for the Aion) shall have finished the scattering of the power of the Holy People, all these times shall be finished."
But still the question admitted of repetition. True, in the time of the end, and at that crisis of it when the King of the North, as the Imperial Horn of the Grecian Goat, shall be broken with an end of power, by Michael in standing up to deliver Israel, "the time, times, and a half" shall conclude: but then,"How long," said Daniel, "to the end of these?" They shall end at the delivering of Israel; but how many years from Daniel's time shall it be to that redemption?
The rejoinder which Daniel received to the question, "How long to the end of these?" is remarkable. He was not informed how long. He was told instead to "go": and the reason given for telling him to depart in ignorance of the end of the times, was that "the words were sealed up and closed till the time of the end." The words of a book sealed up and closed could not be read. Daniel declares that he did not understand. He did not understand the times of the winding up of the visions he had seen. He did not understand when the Stone would smite Nebuchadnezzar's Image; nor when the Saints would break the power of the Little Horn, and take the dominion under the whole heaven; he did not understand when, or in what year of the world's age, Michael should deliver Israel, and raise the dead. "I heard," says he, "but I understood not:" the answer to the question, "how long?" was still deferred.
Daniel, however, did not depart in despair. He was told that the Daily Sacrifice should be taken away to make room for a desolating abomination, or power, which should prosper for 1290 years; and that 45 years after that period should close, "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth should awake to the life of the Olahm or Aion;" and that then he should arise to his inheritance.
The Apocalypse revives this ancient question in ch. 6:10. In this place, those in Christ slain for the word of God, and for the testimony they held, being many, are represented as crying with a loud voice, saying, "how long, O Despotes, holy and true, dost thou not judge and
avenge our blood on them that dwell upon the earth?" In answer to this appeal, they were told that they must "rest yet a little while"; and in the eighteenth chapter we find the little while, in its allegorical allusion, fulfilled in the avenging of the Saints upon the Apostasy in the judgment of the Great Harlot by whom all the nations have been intoxicated and deceived.
From what has been hitherto presented, we presume that the reader will have discerned that the great question generated in the minds of those who believed the gospel preached by the apostles, was, "What are the times and the seasons; and what the signs indicative of the appearing of Jesus Christ in his kingdom and glory?" The Apocalypse, we would remark, was communicated for the purpose of imparting information to the servants of God in relation to the times, seasons, and signs, which till then were reserved with the Father. Being herein revealed, they are expected to study it, that they may be able to discern the signs of the times as they arrive, that when the great crisis comes, they may not be taken by surprise. To assist them in this is the object of this volume, which we commend to their scriptural and critical examination as we proceed.