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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 11

Section 2 Subsection 1

3. The Altar



The altar in the text is the altar of sacrifice. Had it been the altar of incense it would have been specified, as in ch. viii. 3, "the golden altar before the throne." The altar John measured was the altar under which the saints lie, who are slain for the word of the Deity, as in ch. vi. 9. In this place, the symbolic souls are represented as "crying with a loud voice, saying, How long?" But the measurement of this was not revealed. They were told that it was "for a little season;" but the number of days contained in this short period was not measured off for their information. Not so, however, in John’s measuring. He gives in symbolic days the period of altar-worshipping; that is, the period during which the saints would be liable to death at the hand of their enemies because of their testimony. In all "their days of the prophecy they were an afflicted people. As the Spirit had foretold in Dan. vii. 21, the Little Horn with Eyes and a Mouth of blasphemy was to make war upon the saints, and to prevail against them till the Ancient of Days came. The saints being in Christ Jesus, the altar, they "worship therein," and are "partakers with the altar" in altar-sufferings; in other words, "they are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, they may be also partakers of that, and be glad with exceeding joy" (1 Pet. iv. 13; v. 1).

But, was this altar to be deluged with the blood of victims in all the period elapsing from A.D. 70 to the coming of the Ancient of Days? John’s measuring answers this question in the negative. The worshippers in the altar were to be slain, and to rise again, and to ascend to power, and to strike terror into their enemies; and, though not free from tribulation because of the word, their sufferings are not represented as unto death as aforetime. They are prevailed against till the Ancient of Days comes, but not under the same sanguinary conditions.




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