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



Chapter 14

Section 10.

A Voice From the Heaven




"And I heard a voice from the heaven, saying to me, Write! Blessed the dead dying in the Lord from this time. Yea, saith the Spirit, in order that they may take rest from their labors; and their works he goeth in aid of with them" - Verse 13.

The principal emendation of this verse is the rendering of the word akolouthei, which in the common version is incorrectly translated in the plural, as if "their works" were the nominative to the verb. The "Bible Union" Version, and all its "authorities," have fallen into the same grammatical error. In their attempted exposition of the words "their works follow with them" they add, "as an attendant train; so speedy is their recognition and reward". They then call Milton's poetry to their aid, saying:

"Thy works and alms, and all thy good endeavor,

 Stay'd not behind, nor in the grave were trod,"

or as it originally stood in MS.:

"Straight followed thee the path that saints have trod

But, as Faith pointed with her golden rod,

Follow'd thee up to joy and bliss for ever."

This is the heathen fiction, poetically expressed, of "immortal souls" going up at corporeal death to joy and bliss; and their works and alms, and good endeavor, as an attendant train of witnesses, bespeaking for them a glorious welcome in the skies.

The Anglo-American Harlot in the United States, has omitted the words, "and their works do follow them," in its service for the burial of the dead; and it makes the blessedness of these to consist in resting from their labors in the grave! This idea is expressed by the word "for" instead of  that" - Blessed are the dead;  for they rest from their labors. Hence, as the grave was the horizon of their imagination, her bishops saw the impropriety of sending their "works and alms, and all their good endeavor" after them into the grave: they therefore cut the knot of difficulty by ignoring the words altogether!

The error in the translation is not for want of a grammatical knowledge of Greek; but because the translators when they render it correctly, can see no sense in it. In order, therefore, to make what they regarded sense, they repudiated the grammar, and gave to the verb in the singular, a noun plural for its nominative: by which process they are enabled to transmute it, as by the philosopher's stone, into "divinity" more Sound and precious than the gold that perishes!

But, let us turn from this theological trickery, and examine the difficulty by the light of the original. This is faithfully rendered in the words at the head of this section, to the exposition of which we shall now proceed in the order it suggests.

John, who was contemplating the smoking torment, which had now reached the period of its extinction at the commencement of the ajons of aions, commonly called "the Millennium" - "heard a voice from the heaven". We must bear in mind this particular time in connection with its events, when he heard the voice; for the hearing of it at this crisis was indicative of the time when the subjects referred to in the voice shall be blessed and rest from their labors.

It was a voice from the heaven; and considering that it respects the blessed of the Father, it is doubtless the voice of the Son of Man, sitting upon the throne of his glory after he had punished the Goats, and established the kingdom upon the ruin of theirs - "Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom which has been prepared for you from the foundation of the State" (Matt. 25:34). When they do this, they rest from their judicial labors, and enjoy the blessing promised to the Saints.

John says, that this voice from the heaven was addressed to him -"saying unto me”. This does not please "the recent editors," nor the Bible Union annotators. They advise the omission. We would do better in rejecting the advice. For myself, I prefer to retain it; for John being by the voice told to write, and what to write, the voice said to him what he has written. And it was spoken to him as the representative of the "blessed" - of "them dying in the Lord;" for what is said to John is said also to his brethren in "the patience and faith of the Saints".

It was said to him, "Write!" He obeyed the command, and we have before us what he was told to write. "Blessed the dead dying in the Lord". These words specify a particular class of dead ones - a class of people, who while living believed the gospel of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ; and having been immersed into the Lord, were in the Lord;" and thenceforth continued to walk in him until death. When death Overshadowed them, they fell asleep in Jesus, or "died in the Lord". Hence, "the dead dying in the Lord" are the saints of all the ages and generations preceding the future advent of the Ancient of Days. The "justified by faith" before "the faith" came, are included among these (Luke 13:28). These are all "blessed" in inheriting the kingdom and glory to which they are called, or invited, by the gospel of their salvation.

But, when is Yahweh's body of dead ones "blessed?" Is it, as "theologians" teach, when they are deposited in graves? - when the worm is feeding upon them, and they are seeing corruption? Is this the time of blessedness? It may be to the worshippers of the Beast and his Image, but certainly not to the Saints. John, dramatically contemporary with the end of the third angel's mission, gives us a different reply. Referring to that crisis, he writes, aparti, "from now," or "from this time"
It is the time indicated by Jesus in Matt. 16:27, saying, "The Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then (topte, that is, afterwards) he shall reward every man according to his works". The time of blessedness is when the smoke has all cleared out of the temple; and the Saints have fully executed the judgment committed to them. The wrath of the Deity being all "filled up", "all the families of the earth are blessed in Abraham and his Seed" (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Gal. 3:8). "From this time", the resurrected brethren of Jesus are blessed in the possession of the kingdom in abundant peace. The "war of the great day of God Almighty," with all its lightnings and "Seven Thunders" proceeding from the throne (ch. 4:5) will be hushed in millennial peace, when

"No strife shall rage, nor hostile feuds Disturb those peaceful years;

To ploughshares men shall beat their swords, To pruning-hooks their spears.

No longer hosts encount'ring hosts, Shall crowds of slain deplore;

They hang the trumpet in the hall, And practise war no more".

'Yea, saith the Spirit." These words are an endorsement of what "the voice from the heaven" said to John; as if the Spirit had said, "Yea; the First fruits unto the Deity and the Lamb, in whose mouth was found no guile, and who had died in the Lord in ages and generations passed, are 'blessed from this time,' when the Seventh Vial of wrath shall have been completely emptied, and the smoke of its judgments entirely cleared away". But, why is the Spirit thus specially introduced in this place? In the first place, to inform the reader what will result to the saints in their blessedness at this time - "in order that they may take rest from their labors;" and in the second place, to explain to him how it comes to pass, that these who come forth from among the dead "in the nether parts of the earth," where all are weak (Isa. 14:10) should prove so omnipotent in all their operations  "and their works He goeth in aid of with them".

The saints are blessed at the time indicated, not simply because they rest, but to the end that they may take rest (hina anapausontai) from their labors. They are blessed in the inscription of the Father's Name upon their foreheads, by which they were "clothed upon by their house from heaven". This makes the earthy bodies with which they emerged from the nether parts of the earth, incorruptible, immortal, almighty, and spiritual. They are blessed in the possession of this "New Name" or Divine nature; and in having conferred upon them the honor and glory of "following the Lamb (or Spirit) whithersoever he goeth" in

the evolution of all the works exhibited in this fourteenth chapter. They are thus "the blessed of the Father," being like what Jesus is now, and as the angels (1 John 3:2; Luke 20:36). They are thus made omnipotent, and like him, imbued with "an energy whereby they are able to subdue all things". They are blessed with these attributes of omnipotence that they may be able to create the sabbatism, and to take rest in "the sabbatism, that remains for the people of the Deity" (Heb. 4:9). This is the end set before them who are blessed; an end to the development of which vast and mighty "labors" will be required.

The labors of the Saints are world-wide. Mankind has no conception of them. They are labors whereby "every island shall flee away, and the mountains shall not be found" (Apoc. 16:20). These are the islands and mountains of the political earth - the kingdoms and empires of the world. All these are to become the kingdoms of the Eternal Spirit, and of his Anointed Body consisting of Jesus and his Brethren (ch. 11:15). Let the reader figure out for himself the work to be performed in render-ing them powerless, and bringing them into absolute subjection to "the King of the Jews," and he will be enabled to form a faint idea of "the works and labors of the Saints," to be performed before they take rest in the kingdom of the Deity. These islands and mountains, of which Great Britain, Russia, France, and such like, are examples, are maintained in political existence by vast naval and military power and resources; and the Continental Powers are so constituted, that they can conscript "the last man" for conflict in "the last ditch," before they will yield to temporal and spiritual annihilation. But the decree has gone forth, and is here Apocalyptically recorded against them. They must succumb, and "wait for his law". Their fleets must be surrendered, and their armies routed, slaughtered, and dispersed. Their hearts will be hardened like the heart of Pharaoh. "Yahweh hath made all things for Himself; yea, even the wicked for the Day of Evil" (Prov. 16:4). Hence, He hath made the Powers that be for the day of evil, as "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction", in which He will make His power known (Rom. 9:22). Their hardened hearts will cause them to stand and resist, till they are broken to shivers as the vessels of a potter (Apoc. 2:27). It is Jesus and his brethren who have the glory of giving them this terrific overthrow, in the execution of their judicial labors upon Babylon, and the world-wide worshippers of the Beast and his Image. To reduce these islands and mountains to a submarine level - to overflow them with an unruffled and glassy sea; to make them as "a plain before Zerubbabel," and to develop "a great mountain thereon that shall fill the whole earth" (Dan. 2:35), these are the labors of the Saints, which will leave their mark upon the world for a thousand years; nor will they ever be forgotten, as long as the sun and moon shall shine upon the earth.

But their prowess is not exclusively of themselves. "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise;" "The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works" (John 5:19; 14:10). Upon this principle "their works" are performed likewise. The Saints can do nothing of themselves; for it is "not by might nor by power," originating from men; "but by My Spirit, saith Yahweh Tz'vaoth". The prowess of the saints is all attributable to the Spirit, which they will have become in being "justified by Spirit" after their appearance at "the tribunal of Christ" - "that which hath been born of spirit is Spirit" (John 3:6). The antithesis in Zech. 6:6, is between flesh and spirit. The "great mountain," which before Zerubbabel is to "become a plain," is the power of the old Adam, organized and concentrated in the powers represented in Nebuchadnezzar's Image. This is to be broken to pieces, and scattered as chaff, "not by the might and power" of mortal men, however effectively armed and disciplined; but by the Spirit incorporate in the Saints; and energizing the armies of Israel under their command; so that five Israelites, as so many Samsons, may chase a hundred, and a hundred put ten thousand to flight (Lev. 26:8).

In this exposition the reader will see in what sense it is said, "their works He goeth in aid of with them;" and he will also perceive, who it is that goeth in aid with them, and what noun likewise is the singular nominative to the verb akolouthei, in the third person singular of the present indicative. The Spirit goeth with them in aid of their works. Without the Spirit they could do nothing; but aided by the Spirit, there is nothing too difficult f6r them to accomplish. The Spirit is their akolouthos or "attendant", in whatever capacity the circumstances of the situation may require them to act. "He goeth with them," akolouthei met' auton, so that, as Ezekiel saw in his visions of the Elohim, "whither-soever the Spirit was to go, they went" without being turned aside from the execution of their purpose (ch. 1:12,20). Thus, it is not the works of piety and "supererogation" performed by "professors of religion," and the charitable of no profession, which "follow them up to joy and bliss for ever," and obtain for them "a speedy recognition and reward". This is a vain conceit of the carnal mind, which, in all its thinkings, is at variance with the truth. Nor does it mean, that they who die in the Lord in the Millennium are blessed in an especial sense, as compared with those who die in the Lord in the times of the Gentiles. Such is not the fact. More blessed are they who die in the Lord during his absence from earth; for though their tribulations are greater while living, the glory and honor will be greater in the kingdom; when their post-resurrectional labors, aided by the Spirit, shall have conquered for them therein, "the rest that remaineth for the people of God."




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