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AN EXPOSITION OF THE APOCALYPSE
27. "The Woe.
"The song of victory acclaimed by the privileged adherents of the MAN-CHILD OF SIN, in which they are made to ascribe their triumph over "the Great Fiery-Red Dragon" of Pagan Rome, not to themselves, but to the self-sacrificing devotion of their brethren, and to the faithfulness of their testimony even unto death; this epinikion, as it is styled by some, is contained, as we have seen, in the tenth, eleventh, and first clause of the twelfth verse of this chapter. The whole of the twelfth verse does not belong to the song. This verse should have begun at the word "Woe!". The address to "the inhabiters of the earth and sea" is continuous of the subject of the ninth verse, and in place would read thus: "the Dragon was cast out INTO THE EARTH, and his angels were cast out with him. WOE to the inhabiters OF THE EARTH and sea! for the DIABOLOS is come down unto you having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the Dragon saw that he was cast INTO THE EARTH, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the Man-Child" - Verses 12-13.
It is evident from this connection, that the casting out of the Dragon into the earth, and the beginning of the "woe" to the earth, were synchronous, or contemporaneous events. Though cast out of the heaven, he still retained power as the Diabolos to persecute the woman. He had lost position in the heaven. The Supreme Dragon-power and authority was located apocalyptically upon the "Seven Mountains," the area of the "Seven Heads" - ch. 17:9,10. To be excluded from the exercise of dominion in ROME, the Queen City, over Italy and the African Wing of the Great Eagle, was to be cast out of the heaven; but this might obtain without the entire deprivation of authority and power. "The earth and sea," or all the Roman Habitable not included in Italy and Africa, still remained to be governed by emperors enthroned in other capitals. To lose authority in Rome, but yet to retain it in the earth and sea habitable, was to fall from the one "into" the other.
This was the fate of the Pagan-Roman Power, the subject of the
prophecy. As we have seen elsewhere, it was "cast down" from
supreme authority, and "cast out" from the "Seven
Mountains into the earth," when Maxentius was dethroned
and superseded in the government by Constantine, A.D. 312.
But the dominion of the idols was not thereby abolished: the
situation, or relative position of parties, had only been
changed. The imperial ascendancy of the idols had been destroyed
in Italy, Africa, Spain, Gaul and Britain; but they were still
sovereign in the lower, or less dignified and important countries
of Illyricum, Dacia, Macedonia, Thrace, Grecia, Asia Minor,
Armenia, Syria, and Egypt. Of these countries, Illyricum,
comprehending the region south and west of the Danube, north
of Macedonia, northeast of the Adriatic, and north of Lombardy
and Venetia; DACIA, including Hungary and the region between
the lower Danube and the Balkan Mountains; GREECE, MACEDONIA,
and THRACE; these constituted "the inhabiters of the
earth": while Asia Minor, Egypt, Syria, and the East,
were occupied by "the inhabiters of the sea." Before
the idols lost their ascendancy, all these countries were
ruled by the great political firm "Dragon Serpent
Diabolos and Satan." But these partners in iniquity quarreler, though all brethren of the same church. Dragon and Serpent lost caste, having fallen deeply into debt with nothing to pay. Their creditors therefore pronounced against them: and caused two other parties of the same name (and as after experience proved, of characters no less iniquitous) to take their place in the establishment. It was now "a house divided against itself," consisting of Catholic and Pagan parties in the State -Dragon and Serpent catholic; and Diabolos and Satan zealous worshipers of the gods of their ancestors. The situation being thus changed, the administration of affairs was changed also. DIABOLOS was allowed to retain the direction and supervision of things spiritual and temporal in "the earth and sea;" while the catholic members of the firm rejoiced in the greater dignity and authority of the Italian Heaven.
But DIABOLOS saw clearly that this arrangement could not stand. He not only knew that the house of the kingdom was divided against it-self; but that such a house must fall. The administrative elements were too incompatible to work in harmony together; for, though essentially there is no difference between Catholicism and Paganism, yet the intense lust of the former for universal empire would inevitably bring on a collision that would ultimate in the destruction of the weaker of the firm. Diabolos therefore knew that "he had but a short time. "He was determined, then, to make the most of his present opportunities, and to pour out the "great wrath" of idol worship upon the sympathizers with Dragon and Serpent, the catholic partners of the West, whom he might find among his subjects of "the earth and sea.
DIABOLOS represented the interests of "the Great Fiery-Red Dragon" in "the earth and sea" after his supersession by the Man-Child of Sin upon the "Seven Mountains." His principal agents after the fall of Maxentius, were Maximin and Licinius; the former the ruler of "the sea;" and the latter, of "the earth," as already defined. The "short time" Providentially allotted to him to exhaust his "great wrath" upon the woman-inhabiters of the earth and sea, was a period of twenty years from A.D. 312 to A.D. 324. This great wrath constituted the "WOE" upon them; and consisted in the persecution of Maximin, "the most implacable enemy" of anti-pagans; his war with Licinius; the persecution of Licinius; and Licinius' war with Constantine, when he led the forces of "the earth and sea" in the great and final conflict between the Michael and the Dragon - verses 7,8.
Thus, the great wrath of Diabolos expended itself in the complete bankruptcy of the old concern. But this house had been so long established, that it was deemed expedient to continue it under the ancient style of "Dragon, Old Serpent, Diabolos, and Satan;" the essential difference between the old house and the new being, that the former did business in the interest of Jupiter and the Idols; while the sharp practice of the latter is in the name of an imaginary Peter and fictitious saints. The foundations of the two houses are the same. They are based solely in the flesh and the speculations of the fleshly mind so that their normal condition is "enmity against Deity," and hatred of those who "keep his commandments, and hold the testimony of the anointed Jesus."