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



Chapter 15

Section 1

1. The Sign in Heaven



"I saw another sign in the heaven, great and marvelous, Seven Angels having the Seven Last Plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of the Deity" - Verse 1.

This fifteenth chapter is introductory to the sixteenth and following chapters to the twentieth in part inclusive. It treats of the beginning and the ending of the Seventh Trumpet, which is "the last trumpet", the complete sounding of which finishes "the Mystery of the Deity as he hath declared the glad tidings to his servants the prophets" (ch. 10:7).

The chapter begins with the announcement of "another sign in the heaven". The former sign in the heaven was that of the "angel who came out of the Nave which is in the heaven, having a sharp sickle". The latter was seen first, but was not therefore first in execution. The mission of the Angel of the Sickle is the concluding scene of the Seventh Vial, which is itself a part of this "great and marvelous" sign. The first verse of this fifteenth chapter carries us back to events, which began to transpire at the expiration of "the Second Woe" (ch. 11:14): in other words, to the epoch of the First French Revolution, which broke out 1260 years after the Justinian Epoch, A.D. 529-'33: and signalized the termination of that long and sanguinary period.

The sign John saw was a sevenfold wonder, having a beginning and an ending, with "great and marvellous" intermediate developments. It was a sign that signified nothing but wrath to them who were the subjects of its plagues. These, as appears from the second verse, and from the whole of the sixteenth chapter, and so forth, are the worshippers of the Beast and his Image, and the people of the sign and number of his name, with the Mohammedans of the Dragon territory - the Catholic, Mohammedan, and Protestant peoples of Continental Europe.

John saw the Sign "in the heaven" - in the heaven of Antichristendom: for a portion of its wrath was poured out upon "the Sun," and a portion upon "the throne of the Beast," and a portion upon "the Air" (ch. 16:8,10,17). The governments of the world and their armies were to be primarily the subjects of its seven-fold sanguinary visitation; which, of course, would inflict much misery and oppression upon the peoples who had to bear the burdens of the wars.

The sevenfold apportionment of the judicial wrath of the sign, is symbolized by "Seven Angels" - "the Seven Spirits of the Deity sent forth into all the earth"; and therefore angels: and operating through human agents in the execution of the purpose of Him by whom they are sent forth and employed. Hence, the armies of a power inflicting wrath upon peoples are Yahweh's sword, or "angel" - a messenger for evil to those who are tormented by it. Thus the French armies under the first Napoleon, were an angel-power of this "sign in the heavens" - a vial out of which Divine wrath was poured upon "the earth," "the rivers and fountains of waters," "the sun," and upon "the throne of the beast," while the saints, when they appear upon the scene to execute their mission, are also angels pouring out their vial, the Seventh; but Apocalyptically contradistinguished from the others, as "the Holy Angels" (ch.14:10).

The seven angels of this great and marvelous sign - "great and marvelous" because of the magnitude, and extraordinary character of the events it prefigures - are said to have "the seven last plagues" The "plagues" are a series of calamities and disasters affecting those who are the enemies of Israel and the Saints, and Witnesses, with whose blood they have intoxicated themselves. The plagues are great, but they are not reformatory; for the Operation of them causes them to blaspheme the Name of the Deity, which hath power over them (ch. 16:9,21).

They are styled the last plagues, and the reason why they are so called is given in the words, "for in them is filled up the wrath of the Deity". This testimony shows us, that His wrath is not infinite, or end-less. It has its limits, and beyond them it will not pass. As far as premillennial peoples are concerned, it will not transcend the limit of the "thousand six hundred furlongs", the Aion of Judgment, or the end of Micah's forty years. This is the period of the wrath in its great and marvelous manifestation. It begins with the House of Jacob, and ends with the deliverance of Israel, and the destruction of the House of Esau, of which no remnant is left (Obad. 17,18,21). The House of Jacob is the House of the Deity; of which the Saints, whose head is Christ, are the imperial and sovereign order. In all the "times of the Gentiles" the saints are a mixed community, in which are found fish of all sorts, good, bad, and indifferent. The good are answerable to the "few who are chosen, 'and find eternal life (Matt. 20:16; 7:14): while the bad and indifferent are those who "begin in the Spirit" and end in the flesh - those who at the outset of their career seemed to "run well," but were hindered from a "patient continuance in well-doing," or "obeying the truth," in being "bewitched" by the sorcery of designing knaves, who "by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Gal. 3:1,3,7; Rom. 16:18). In our generation, as in that of the apostles, the ecciesia or general assembly of the many, who are called, is composed of these heterogeneous materials. It has been thus in all generations before and since Satan, in the days of Job, mingled with the Sons of the Deity when they presented themselves in the Divine presence (Job 1:6). The satanic element has ever been among them with its "depths as they speak" (ch 2:24), corrupting and perverting the weak. In the wisdom of the Deity Satan has been permitted to practice, and to deceive the hearts of the simple, who are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim 3:7) without judicial interference.  The Satanic element in an ecclesia is always prompt and vivacious for mischief. If it fears to attack openly the most prominent advocate of the truth, it has recourse to underhanded and secret influences. Handling the word of the Deity deceitfully, deceiving, and being deceived" are its characteristics. While inspired with personal hatreds, it affects zeal destroying it, or making it of none effect by the traditions of its monstrous ignorance and folly Yet the Judge of the living and the dead" is profoundly silent save in the word of his law and testimony. There are reasons for this The truth as it is in Jesus is entrusted to the ecclesia, or House of the Deity, which is the Pillar and foundation support of the truth . The members of this house are held responsible and accountable for their relations to this, as a treasure committed to them to be contended for earnestly, and to be upheld at all hazards in their day and generation. This house being furnished with vessels of' all sorts, some to honor and some to dishonor, the truth receives a characteristic treatment at  the hands of each sort The vessels fitted to capture and destruction set forth traditions, or heresies which nullify the Word  If men speak or write upon the things of the Spirit, they are commanded to do so as oracles of the Deity;" and if they disobey this injunction is because  "there is no light in them "  Nevertheless, they will give utterance to their folly. This cannot be helped,  Fools will be fools come what may.  From these premises it is inevitable that, as Paul says, "there must be heresies among you"  They are permitted to exist , though not approved. Their existence arouses the flagging energies of sterling and faithful men, "who are able to teach others" (2 Tim. 2:2). It sets them to contending more earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 2), which manifests them as the approved, who are grounded and settled in the faith, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel (1 Cor. 11:19; Col. 1:23).

This manifestation of the approved after this process is one reason why Yahweh keeps silence, and permits Satan  to continue their Operations among the Sons of the Deity, without any present judicial interference. There is also another very good reason for present non-intervention, and this is, because He has appointed a set time, styled by that in-fallible and incomparable exponent of the truth the Lord Jesus, "a Day of Judgment," hemera kriseos (Matt. 12:36); and by the no less accurate Paul, "THE DAY when the Deity shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to the gospel" Paul preached: "therefore," saith he, "judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come; who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness' and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts;" and "who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and kingdom" (Rom. 2:16; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Tim. 4:1) and styled by the earnest and faithful Peter, "the Day of Inspection", hemera episkopes (1 Pet. 2:12) "the time that the judgment begins at the house of the Deity" (ch. 4:17); when, as James testifies, the saints shall be judged by the law of liberty (ch 2:12)

These are two all-sufficient reasons why the Satan should be Providentially tolerated among the sons of the Deity, until the Ancient of Days come. Now is the day of salvation," says Paul; but this, in effect, the Satan denies. He turns it into a day of judgment, saying, that there is no other day of judgment for the saints than this. Satan, of course, exceedingly dislikes the idea of being judged, and rewarded according to his works. He does not approve of the doctrine of eternal life based upon an inspection of faith and practice after resurrection. He demands resurrection with immortality, not resurrection unto eternal life. He wants to spring out of the dust immortal, and no questions asked; for he knows very well, that neither his faith rior his practice will bear the light. Be this, however, as it may, his pleasure and satisfaction will not be consulted. Inspection and its consequences begin at the house of the Christ: and Satan, who had received the one talent, and was afraid of the truth, and hid it in the earth, is purged Out as a wicked and slothful servant from among the sons of the Deity; and cast into the darkness of the outer world, where weeping and gnashing of teeth are the order of both day and night (Matt. 25:14-30; Apoc. 14:11).

This day of inspection is "the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of the Deity; who will render to every one according to his deeds" (Rom. 2:5,6). It is a day in which He will separate the satanic goats from the sheep who have heard his voice, and done the Father's will. Those slothful, unprofitable, and wicked professors are "cast into the lake of fire burning with brimstone," in which are destroyed the beast and the false prophet, by that portion of the last plagues which is executed by the Second and Third Angels, who have power over fire. In other words, the judgment given to the approved, who enter into the joy of their Lord, affords scope in the execution of it upon the Diabolos and Satan of the world, for the punishment also of the unprofitable servants of the house of the Deity; who are "condemned with the world" to the calamities of the last plagues, which to them will be "a sorer punishment" than to the adversaries at large (Heb.10:26-30).

The judgment predetermined for the Diabolos and his angels, or for the slaying and destroying of Daniel's Fourth Beast, is all comprehended in the Seven Last Plagues, styled in the seventh verse of this chapter, "seven golden vials full of the wrath of the Deity." The territory of the Fourth Beast's dominion, upon which is developed the "fiery indignation which devours the adversaries," is the symbolical "lake of fire;" and when an actual wrathful conflagration, burning with the Divine anger, it is to pur to ajonion, the Aion-Fire, "prepared for the Diabolos and his angels," into which the unprofitable and slothful of the Ecclesia, or One Body, are ordered to depart, and into which, therefore, they "go away" to suffer Aion-torments in the symbolic period of 'a thousand six hundred furlongs". By the end of these forty years, "the tormentors" will have exacted all that is due (Matt. 18:34; Apoc. 14:10). In paying this their carcasses will have fallen in the wilderness, the victims of death a second time. "This is the Second Death: and whosoever" upon inspection, is "not found written in the Book of Life is cast into the lake of fire" (Apoc. 20:14,15): and thus "his name is blotted out" and unconfessed before the Father and the angels" (Apoc. 3:5).

Thus the satanic element of the One Body is purged out, or separated and destroyed. Its separation precedes the reaping of the harvest of the earth; and its tormentation and destruction are synchronous with the infliction of "torment and sorrow" upon Babylon the Great, and the treading of the winepress in the vintage of the earth. Their torment is eis ajonas aionon, and therefore aionian. It does not transcend this limit, because the wrath of the Deity is then all exhausted. Nevertheless, its effects abide upon them - "they shall not see life; but the wrath of the Deity abideth on them" (John 3:36).




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