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



Chapter 12 SECTION 2

The End, Though Last In Development,

First Revealed.




In studying the Apocalypse, the student cannot fail being impressed with a notable peculiarity, frequently illustrated, of its structural arrangement. The peculiarity is that of stating in the beginning first, that which is to be executed last. Thus, in the first chapter, the coming of Yahweh in clouds is announced; and his presence is symbolically exhibited: but it is not until the preterminal epoch of the sixth vial that He actually appears. So that it takes all "the things that shall be hereafter" exhibited in all the six seats, and so much of the seventh seal as is contained in the six trumpets; and so much of the seventh trumpet as is contained in all the five vials, and at least half the sixth, to develop the Advent. The apocalypse of the Ancient of Days, or his manifestation in his kingdom, is the end proposed in the prophecy. It is therefore first announced. It is the grand proposition to be illustrated and proved by the logic of events. The end divinely purposed is not stated first because it is to be first established, as the first thing to come to pass, after John had the vision; and because all "the things that shall be here-after" are to happen after it. The logical order of a prophecy in statement or fulfilment is first state, then illustrate, and afterwards prove. "Behold, he comes, and every eye shall see him." This is a proposition, or purpose, stated; but after eighteen hundred years, not yet proved by its coming to pass. By what course of events will that coming be developed? By the events coursed out in the seals, trumpets, and vials, which are the illustration of how the end proposed is to be made identical with the proof. Hence, the end, though first in purpose, and therefore first verbally stated in the prophecy, is the last in development; and consequently not to be looked for as the first event of a prophetic series. The Son of Man in the midst of the lightstand-embodiment of the Spirit is the symbolical prefix to the prophecy of the seven epistles; but the actual manifestation of the Spirit's presence in the midst of the redeemed is not revealed until he occupies the throne in the time of the ending of the Laodicean state (ch. 3:20-21). Again; this peculiarity is exhibited in the fourth chapter. Here the whole is occupied with a symbolical exhibition of the Spirit in covenantmanifestation. The throne and kingdom of David, termed Yahweh's by the prophets, have been covenanted to Jesus and his Brethren, who are to possess them when "glorified together." This purpose, or end proposed, is first represented to John; not because it existed then or since; but because all to be shown him, called "the things which shall be hereafter", are to result in the development of that revealed purpose. It would be a great mistake to look for the subject-matter of the fourth chapter as extant in heaven or upon earth while John was in Patmos. There was no counterpart to them. The figuration was simply a symbolic vision, showing, that at some future time not specified in the chapter, there should be a throne established in the air, or firmament, of the Romano-Dragonic Universe, which should be possessed by an Omnipotent Theocracy, from which should "burst forth lightnings, and thunderings and voices;" and having thereby established its sovereignty, should rule with universal dominion. But, though so early exhibited in the scroll, it is not until the seventh trumpet period that the announcement is made of its actual development, saying, "The kingdoms of this world are become Yahweh's and His Anointed's" (Ch. 11: 15). Thus the end, though first in purpose is in development the last; and we are taught that to establish this throne of omnipotence will require, according to the divine predetermination, the full development of all the events prefigured in the seals, trumpets, vials, and thunders.

Another notable instance of this structural characteristic of the apocalypse is found in the eleventh chapter. It occurs in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth verses. In these is announced the end purposed in the complete sounding of the trumpet, and therefore the consummation of the seventh seal; or, as it is expressed in ch. 10:7, the finishing of the mystery of the Deity, as he hath declared the glad tidings to his servants the prophets., This is finished en tais hemerais hotan melle salpizein, in the days when he (the Seventh Angel) shall sound; not "when he shall begin to sound," as in the Common Version; nor while he is sounding; but when he shall have finished sounding, then the mystery shall be finished in the kingdoms of this kosmos or constitution of things, the unmeasured court of the G entiles becoming Yahweh's and his Anointed's. The sounding being over, and the wrath of Deity, consequently, all expended, the mission of the FOUR LIVING ONES FULL OF EYES is completed: the "lightnings" flash no more, the "voices" are hushed, the "thunderings" burst forth no more from the throne, the vibrations of the "earthquake" have ceased, and the "hail" falls no more out of the heaven upon men. In other words, the "judgment given to the saints" has accomplished its work in putting them in possession of "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven" (Dan. 7:27). For this cause, therefore, in the ascription of thanks to YAHWEH AIL Shaddai, the four belligerent Living Ones are withdrawn from the figuration; and the four and twenty elders only are in prostration before the Everliving One. The reader is aware that the saints are symbolized both by the Four Living Ones and the Elders, only in different relations. The Four represent them in their militant antagonism to the powers that rule the nations; while "the elders" represent them as victorious kings and priests in the glorious and peaceful possession of their conquests. When "the war of the great day of AIL Shaddai" is over, and peace obtains in all the earth, there is no more premillennial work for the saints to do as the "Four Living Ones full of eyes." As militants they have "gotten the victory," and their community is wreathed with the coronals which "they cast before the throne." These are cast there when the cause of thanksgiving, rejoicing, and prostration has been developed. Hence, ch. 4:10, is parallel with ch. 11: 16. The saints, no longer belligerent, give thanks because YAHWEH AIL-Shaddai has acquired great power on the earth and reigned. When this thanksgiving was dictated to John in Patmos, it was the revelation of a purpose - an end which Deity had predetermined. The "great power" had not been taken, nor the reign commenced, when the apocalypse was given to John. Nor have they yet; nor will they be till the end of the seventh trumpet. Hence, the eighteenth verse of the eleventh chapter does not treat of what is to ensue after the reign mentioned in the seventeenth verse has commenced. "The nations are angry," not when the divine wrath is fulfilled, but when it comes. "The nations were made angry, and thy wrath came. " This arrival of the divine wrath is synchronous with the advent of Christ, and with the operation of the Frog-Power in the final development of its working upon the Papal False Prophet, as prefigured in the sixth vial (ch. 16:14-15). The arrival of the divine wrath in the advent of the YAHWEH-NAME from far with anger burning (Isaiah 30:27) is at the epoch of the resurrection of the saints. It is from this epoch that ch. 11: 18 originates a series of events, which ultimate in the destruction of the destroyers of the earth, and in the conquest and appropriation of their kingdoms by the Four Living Ones constituted of the prophets, the saints, and the venerators of the divine name, small and great. So that the order of the prophecy according to its succession of events is first verse 18, then 19, and after this verses 15,16,17: but, as a verbal revelation, the last event which crowns the whole series is first indicated; and then an outline is given of the series which ultimates in the victorious consummation.

This structural characteristic of the primordial statement of the end, is illustrated also in ch. 14. In this the primordial statement is contained in the first verse. It specifies a great predetermined end-the occupation of Mount Zion by the son of the Divine Father, together with those upon whom he has previously written the name of his Deity (Ch. 3:12). But this predetermined end is not the first thing executed. On the contrary, it is the last. The redeemed get possession of Mount Zion consequent upon the effect of the "voice out of the heaven" indicated in verse 2 the voice of a belligerent multitude, even the roaring voice of the Rainbowed and Cloud-invested Angel, who takes victorious possession of the City where David dwelt.

Thus, the end, first in purpose, is the last developed, but first revealed in the prophecy. Not attending to, or ignorant of, this structural peculiarity, some have committed grievous errors in their efforts at interpretation and exposition. It has led them to affirm, that the apocalypse is all to be fulfilled after the advent of Christ; while others declare that its revelation has been fulfilled long ago. Both these extremes meet in absurdity, where they embrace and kiss each other. They are mere assumptions, and too ridiculous for a serious refutation. The former theory is very convenient for the ignorant and the indolent; for if the apocalypse as yet is none of it fulfilled, nor even to begin to be fulfilled till after the advent of Christ, all are upon one low, common level respecting it. He that knows much of doctrine and history is at equal disadvantage with him who knows nothing of either, and thus ignorance is strengthened and consoled.

There are others again who think that much of the apocalypse is fulfilled but have not discernment enough in things past and present to draw the line between the future and the past. Some of these have taken up a notion that all the vials are poured out after the advent of Christ! This imagination has been conceived in a misunderstanding of the fifteenth chapter. They have not perceived that the whole chapter is declarative of the end purposed to result from the outpouring of the vials. It is declarative of the victory of the saints over the constituted authorities of the nations; and the subjection of these to the King of Kings because of manifested national judgment. They err also in supposing, that "the seven last plagues" are identical with "the seven vials." The seven vials contain "the seven last plagues;" but the plagues and the vials are not severally synchronical. On the contrary, the seven last plagues are synchronical only with the seventh vial; and so much of the sixth as obtains between the advent of Christ and the opening of the judgments of the seventh, is the epoch when One of the Four Living Ones gives the plagues to the angels. The seven last plagues are identical with the Seven Thunders; and as they are comprehended in the seventh vial, the giving of the plagues is represented in the presentation of the "seven golden vials." These vials contain much more than the "seven last plagues." They contain first plagues, styled "these plagues" in ch. 16:9, as well as last plagues. The plagues of the vials exhibited in this chapter are separated by the thief-like advent of Christ. "Last plagues" imply others that are not the last. The former plagues precede the advent; and all developed after it are "the seven last plagues." What extraordinary blindness to affirm that none of the vials are poured out till after Christ comes, while his coming is predicted under the sixth! This sixth-vial prophecy is subversive of the notion. The position it occupies as a speaking hieroglyphic shows, that five of the vials, and a considerable part of the sixth, were to be poured out before the advent. It is impossible therefore for the outpouring of all the vials to be delayed till that event. When it takes place, then in giving judgment to the saints recently raised, judged, and chosen, as signified by the "golden girdles" and "pure and white linen," the golden vials are given to them; and they consummate in their seventh vial mission the work of the whole seven vials, which without their intervention would never ultimate in victory over the beast, his image, his mark, and the number of his name.

This structural feature appears in the prophecy of the seventh vial itself. This is given in the last five verses of the sixteenth chapter; while the result of the whole is briefly stated in three words of the first of them "it is done!" It is done consequent upon the pouring out of the vial into the air. The mystery is finished. But this finishing results only when there is no more wrath to pour out upon the air. Before the end thus primordially stated is developed, the voices, thunders, lightnings, earthquake, and hail,must do their work upon the Great City, the cities of the nations, and their political islands and mountains. When these are all disposed of judicially, then, and not till then, will the consummation, primarily announced in the words "it is done" be established.






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