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



Chapter 12

Section 21

The Great Voice in the Heaven




"And I heard a great voice saying in the heaven. Now is come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our Deity, and the authority of His Anointed; for the prosecutor of our brethren who accused them in the presence of our Deity, day and night, has been cast down.

11. "And they overcame him, through the blood of the Lamb, and through the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life unto death. 12. On account of this let the heavens rejoice and those who tent in them."


"The heaven," in which John, in prophetic vision, heard this "great voice," was the same heaven as that in which the Woman, the Dragon, the Michael, and the war, had contemporary existence. I say contemporary existence; for, on the defeat of Maxentius, A.D. 313, the Catholic Church, or "Woman clothed with the Sun, and the Moon under her feet, and a stephan of Twelve Stars upon her head," was the established religion of Constantine's dominion; but not of the whole habitable, the rest thereof still rejoicing in the ascendancy of the Dragon and the gods of antiquity. Hence there were two contemporary established religions in the empire, each of them sustained by rival political factions. The Dragon had been cast out as the result of the recent war in the heaven. His "short time" was at an end. He had no longer any place in the heaven, nor his adherents. He who ruled there had no regard for the defeated gods of his ancestors. The heaven had been effectually cleared of all who rejoiced in them; so that there were now found therein only the Sun-clothed Woman and her Son.

This woman and her son constituted "the heavens and those who tent in them." In other words, they were the constituted authorities of the Church and State, who were now all real or pretended catholics. Their religious and political adversaries and oppressors had been turned out of place and power; and they had been turned into them by the wonderful revolution, with all the comforts and advantages accruing to those who by victory may claim the spoils. It was these in the heaven from whom the "Great Voice" ascended joyously. They had been long looking for "the salvation," "or deliverance," and "the power," which they now enjoyed without fear; and what could that constitution of things, exhibited in the Woman and her Son, be, but "the kingdom of our Deity and the authority of His Anointed?" So they thought; for Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian, who was one of the most prominent among those who then tented in the heaven, being one of the bishops of the Woman, and a companion of her Son, speaking of the new order of things in Church and State, says, "The event surpassed all words. Soldiers with naked swords kept watch round the palace-gate. But the men of God passed through the midst of them without fear, and entered the heart of the palace. And they sat down, some at the emperor's table, the rest at tables on either side of his. It looked like the very image of the kingdom of Christ; and was altogether more like a dream than a reality. And on the occasion of opening a new catholic temple at Tyre, he said to the multitude assembled, 'What so many of the Lord's saints and confessors before our time desired to see and saw not, and to hear and heard not, that behold now before our eyes! It was of us the prophet spake when he told how the wilderness and the solitary place should be glad, and the desert rejoice and blossom as the lily. Whereas the church was widowed and desolate, her children have now to exclaim to her, Make room, enlarge thy borders: the place is too strait for us. The promise is fulfilling to her, In righteousness shalt thou be established: all thy children shall be taught of God: and great shall be the peace of thy children'."

From these quotations which have reference to the real kingdom of Christ, Eusebius in his application of them to the Catholic Church, in the good fortune of which, he says, they were fulfilling; manifestly concluded that it was not only "the image", but the very kingdom of Christ itself! This was his Opinion, and that also of the clergy and people of his communion generally. Their belief was that "the salvation, power, and kingdom of the Deity, and the authority of His Anointed" had really come; and that now, all that remained was for professors to lead moral lives, or at all events to live at peace with, and in the favour of "Mother Church," which would secure to them an abundant entrance into the only other kingdom known to them, termed "the kingdom of glory," situated afar off from earth, "beyond the realms of time and space!" This opinion of Eusebius and his coreligionists, that the church is the kingdom of God, took deep hold of the catholic mind of his generation; and in the nineteenth century is a characteristic of those who know not the truth. Catholics, papists and protestants all believe that what they call church is the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven. Of course, Millennarians may claim exception from this rule. Still, few of them are free from the tradition; for while they expect the reign of Christ upon earth, they hold the church to be the kingdom in some sense; and send off disembodied "immortal souls" to transkyanal regions, there to await the terrestrial millennial reign!

If Eusebius had restrained his fancy, and contented himself with saying, that the New Order of things was the shadow, type, or pattern, of the kingdom of Christ, there would have been little ground for objection. But "the very image of the kingdom of Christ", is that kingdom it-self; "the very image," being used by Paul in Heb. 10:1, for the reality of things shadowed forth, or typified. The kingdom of "the Michael and his angels" shadowed forth the kingdom of Christ, the real Michael, and his angels, the Saints. Constantine, like Cyrus, in his military career, and in his ecclesiastical relation to the Catholic Church, was a type of Christ. The typical hero established his kingdom in its fullest extent on the ejection of the pagan dragon from the heaven; Christ will establish his by binding the Catholic Dragon, and shutting him down in the abyss (Apoc. 20:2,3). The typical hero attained "to Deity and his throne;" Christ will sit down with Deity upon his throne (Apoc. 3:21). The typical hero acquired all the kingdoms of the Roman earth; Christ will acquire all the kingdoms of the globe (Apoc. 11:15). The typical hero ruled all the Roman nations with an iron sceptre; Christ will rule all the nations of the globe with an iron sceptre (Apoc. 19:15). The catholic clergy shared with the typical Michael the glory, honor, and power of his kingdom; the Saints will share with Christ the glory, honor, and power of his (Apoc. 2:26,27; 3:21). After his birth of the unprivileged and persecuted woman, the sun-clothed catholic church became the Spouse of the typical Michael; the glorified Saints become the married wife, or bride adorned for her husband, Christ (Apoc. 19:7,8; 21:2,9). The power of the Deity was with Constantine in measure; Christ is the great power of Deity without measure. Constantine established a new religion, the catholic; founded a new administration of affairs; and built a new capital, called Constantinople, or New Rome: Christ will establish a new system of worship for all nations, the Millennial; will organize a new government of the world; and establish a new capital for the throne of the Deity, Jerusalem rebuilt, in the midst of which he will be the glory (Isa. 56:7; Zeph. 3:9; Acts 17:31; Eph. 1:10; Jer. 3:17; Zech. 2:5; 8:21-23).

Now, I take it, that these parallels are not accidental, but designed. Michael and the Dragon was literally enacted as previously explained. Its performance is the history of the last twenty-five years of the life of Constantine. This history in its most striking particulars was like much of the history of the Jews. Jewish history is not like common history - a story of the past unprophetic of the future. The things that happened to Israel as narrated in their history, happened unto them for types (tupoi); and they were written for our admonition, "upon whom," says Paul, "the end of the aeons is come" (1 Cor. 10:11). Typical history is the past representative of the future. This is the character of Michael and the Dragon. It is a past series of events. typical of a future contest between the Michael of Dan. 12:1 and the Dragon of Apoc. 20. This view of the prophecy imparts to it an interest for us which it would be devoid of if it were regarded merely as belonging to a past epoch over fifteen hundred years remote. There was war in the heaven then; and when the door shall be opened in the heaven, and the throne shall be set therein (Apoc. 4:1,2) there will be a war in the heaven again, "the war of that great day of AIL.Shaddai, "which will terminate in similar, but grander results; for "the very image" is always greater and more magnificent than the type. The great voice in the heaven, celebrative of the victory over the great red dragon, partakes of this typical character. It not only expresses what then obtained in shadow; but by anticipation celebrates the greater realities of the victory of Christ and the Saints over all the apocalyptic beasts; when the great salvation, and power; and kingdom of Yahweh, consisting of the kingdoms of the world, and the authority of His Anointed, the One Body of which Jesus is the head, shall have actually come. Then there will be in the heaven a great voice indeed  "a voice as the sound of many waters; and as the voice of a great thunder; the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Praise ye Yah: for Yahweh Elohim omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor unto him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made her-self ready" (Apoc. 1:15; 14:2; 19:6,7).

But to return to the "great voice" of the Constantinian period. The things spoken were uttered in the heaven: namely, by those appointed to the vacancies created by the ejection from the heaven of the adherents and worshippers of the gods. In other words, the voice proceeded from the officials in church and state, who all professed the catholic religion, and said they were now "rich, and increased with goods, and had need of nothing:" but "they knew not that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Apoc. 3:17). Such was the choir which sang:


"Salvation now, and pow'r, are come,
The kingdom also of our God,
 And the dominion of His Christ:
For he who did our brethren try,
And night and day 'fore God accus'd,
Hath from the heaven been cast down.
And they through th' Lamb's blood him o'ercame,
And also through the word they taught:
Nor yet their life lov'd they till death.
Because of this, 0 heavens, rejoice,
And all ye who sojourn therein!"


It is not to be wondered at that such a people who imagined that "they had need of nothing," should mistake the shadow for the substance; and rejoice in what then existed as the full accomplishment of the Divine purpose. Salvation, or deliverance, had indeed come from the tyranny of the Public Prosecutor (ho kategoros) who continually accused them falsely, and punished them with torture unto death. But the "great salvation," preached by Christ and his apostles, has not come yet. A new power, and a new kingdom, and a new dominion, had taken possession of the Roman Heaven, to the exclusion of the old order of things; and to the generation witnessing so wonderful a revolution, it seemed "more like a dream than reality." The prophecy attributes it all to the power of Deity, as symbolized in the apocalyptic name Michael  The salvation, power, kingdom and dominion, therefore, are very properly predicated of the Deity and Christ; for assuredly, if they had stood by Licinius instead of by Constantine, this epinikon, or song of victory, would never have been heard in the heaven. But we must be careful not to fall into the error of Eusebius and his Laodicean Catholic companions, who had need of nothing more, and to take the type for "the very image of the things." The typical "kingdom of the Deity and dominion of His Christ" had come; and therefore it was, that the Woman's Son, when he had fought his way up, by the providence of Deity, to supreme power in the heaven, is said to have been "carried up by force to Deity and his throne." The power of the Deity was enthroned in the New Capital, Constantinople. But the shadowy representation of the kingdom of the Deity and the dominion of His Christ, passed away with the death of the typical hero, Constantine. The reigns of David and Solomon were prefigurative of the reign of Christ; but the typical character of their reigns was not transferred on their decease to their successors. And thus it was in relation to Constantine and those who came after him. His career of conquest, and "half-hour's" peaceful reign (Apoc. 8:1), typified the future career of Christ in the conquest of the world, and the succeeding tranquillity of his times. But all this typical manifestation was dissolved when his three sons succeeded him, and divided the empire between them. The Heaven was still catholic; but, as the Spirit had "spued them out of his mouth" on their indifference to his "counsel" (Apoc. 3:16,18), he left them to their delusions; and "the Serpent" by whom they were beguiled; that is the Sin-power of the flesh, in a catholic instead of a pagan, political manifestation was enthroned; and became the future antagonist of the ANTI CATHOLIC WOMAN and her seed (vers. 14-17).

The Laodicean officials in their victorious declaration refer to those they style "our brethren, whom the public prosecutor accused day and night before the Deity." All passed for brethren untl'l the Spirit formally spued the state party out of his mouth. Politically, they might truly claim all the saints who had, for two hundred and eighty years previous, been engaged in the conflict with the pagans. They were all "brethren and fellow servants," as all democrats are brethren politically; while, religiously, they are scattered among sects of the most perverse and contradictory opinions. This is true of all other political factions in all ages; and it was true of those who uttered this great 'voice of triumph over the fallen adversary of their party. As anti-pagans, they belonged to a common brotherhood; but, when it became a question of religious doctrine, this political brotherhood resolved itself into two great hostile parties, between which no fellowship obtained.

In this great voice, the whole brotherhood might to some extent concur. It was a deliverance to them all from the Great Red Dragon; but to many of them, it was only a change from his oppression to that of a new form of tyranny. They allude to the fallen power as the kategoros. This signifies one who speaks against another, especially before judges; one who appears as a prosecutor. The fallen power is said to have spoken against them as prosecutor "before the Deity, " enopion, in the sight of the Deity. This was literally true; for during the first five seals, which, at the end of the fifth, brings us down to the birth of the Woman's Son, A.D. 312-313, the Seven Eyes of the Deity, which are his Seven Spirits (Apoc. 5:6) were present in the ecclesias. In the first four seals, their presence is symbolized by the Four Living Ones full of eyes; and their absence from the scenery of the fifth is supplied by the phrase "and it was said unto them." The Deity dwelt in the encampment of the saints; and by His spirit, or power, "dwelt in them, and walked in them" (2 Cor. 6:16). Whatever, therefore, was transacted against them was done "in his sight," or "before his eyes. "He was therefore the Judge before whom the Dragon unconsciously displayed his malignity. He seemed to prevail for a time; but when the end of the "little season," or ten years persecution of Diocletian arrived, the Deity stepped into the arena, and judicially vindicated his elect.

The victory of the souls weltering at the altar base is attributed by the "great voice" "to the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. "These brethren, "who were slain for the word of the Deity, and for the testimony which they held" (Apoc. 6:9) were brethren, of whom those in place and power giving utterance to the great voice, were not worthy. "They loved not their life until death" laid them at the altar base. "The word of the Deity," in the prophecy of the fifth seal, is parallel to "the blood of the Lamb," in the great voice. The official utterers of this voice did not venture to say, "WE have overcome the fallen power by the word of the Deity concerning the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony." They knew very well that they had overcome him by hard fighting. No; the honor and glory of the victory was not due to them who drew the sword; but to those faithful brethren, who had so leavened the Roman world with the truth, as to make the strongholds of paganism no longer tenable. "The blood of the Lamb," as opposed to the blood of idol-sacrifices, was the great theme  of "the word of the Deity." The word of their testimony demonstrated the efficacy of the one; and the inutility and utter worthlessness of the other. Every pagan convinced by the word and their reasoning in exposition of it, was alienated from the party of the Dragon, and added to the faithful. The threatenings and torments unto death, inflicted upon them by the pagan authorities, could not put their testimony to silence. Where one fell others stepped in and stopped the breach; so that, "the blood of the witnesses became the seed of the church." Thus, the power of the word accumulated, until society, but superficially acquainted with "the deep things of Deity," had become too much enlightened any longer to tolerate the licentiousness and absurdity of the old superstition. Therefore, having no conscientious scruples as to war, they repudiated the passivity of the faithful; and having found in Constantine an ambitious politician and skillful general suited to their purpose, they unsheathed the sword against the idols, and cried, "Victory or Death." As we have seen, they gained the victory; and in the great voice of triumph, clothed the memory of their non-resisting predecessors in the conflict with the "white robes of purity and truth" (Apoc. 6:11). The victims slain by the fallen power had borne the heat and burden of the conflict; and the catholic church entered into their labors. The "great voice" called upon all catholics in power to rejoice at this result; saying, "Rejoice, 0 heavens, and ye that tent therein!" They are addressed as hoi skenountes, dwellers, or rather, sojourners in a tent. This is a very temporary indwelling. They were not permanently established there. There tenantcy was transitory: the mere shadow of the holding to which the slain victors shall attain in "the time of the dead, when they shall be judged, and the reward shall be given to them," with the "white robes" of incorruption and eternal life. These will not then merely "tent" in the heavens of the conquered world. When they enter there, they become the pillars of the Divine temple, and go out no more (Apoc. 3:12): they possess the king-dom for the Olahm, even for the Olahm, and Beyond (Dan. 7:18). Then, not only will the heavens rejoice, but all the earth will be glad. This was not the case in the time of the "great voice;" for, while it called upon the heavens to rejoice, and those that tented in them, it gave no invitation to the inhabiters of the earth and sea to join in the joyousness of the time. But when the great salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of the Deity, and the dominion of His Christ, shall exist in the very image, then "every creature which is in the heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, shall say, Blessing and honor and glory and power, unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb for the aeons of the aeons (Apoc. 5:13), for all will then be blessed in Abraham and his seed.

Such was the "great voice," and the interpretation of it. Did the character of the time, consequent upon the victory over Licinius, correspond to my exposition? Unquestionably it did. Eusebius, who lived at the time, testifies to this. "On the fall of Licinius," says he, "the great conqueror Constantine and his son Crispus the Caesar, received the East as theirs, established one government as formerly over the Romans, and swayed the whole in peace from east to west, and from north to south. The people therefore being freed from all fear of the Court by which they had before been overwhelmed, held festal days of great splendor. There were everywhere illuminations. They who were before dejected, looked on one another with joyful aspects and smiles, and with choirs and hymns through the cities and country, gave honor, first to God the Supreme Ruler of all, as they were taught, and then to the pious emperor and his children. The miseries and impiety of the past were forgotten; joy and exultation prevailed at the blessings now prom-ised, and happy anticipations of the future. Philanthropic edicts were everywhere published by the emperor, and laws that displayed his munificence and piety." And Lactantius also, a contemporary and friend of Constantine writes; "Let us celebrate the triumph of God with gladness; let us commemorate His victory with praise; let us make mention in our prayers day and night of the peace which, after ten years of persecution, He has conferred on his people." Eusebius narrates very fully how, at the same time, there was solemn remembrance of the witnesses and confessors that had illustrated the past persecution, and praise and honor rendered them: he tells how public notice was taken of those who had suffered unto death, as of heroes that had conquered by the doctrine of the cross in their conflict of witnessing unto death; and how, as a further tribute to their innocence and worth, the property con-iscated from them was reclaimed and restored to their surviving relatives, or to the catholic church.




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