THE prophet John watched the sounding of the sixth trumpet, and saw the woes and terrors of national strife, and the darkening of the earth by the smoke from the "bottomless pit." He saw men buried beneath the weight of their own sins, and although the Son of God was waiting, like the father of the prodigal son, for the return of the sinful, yet they repented not of their murders and sorceries, their fornications and thefts. Justice and mercy are inseparably mingled in the dealings of God with man, and great woes call forth from Jehovah a great overflowing of His love. So when the world lay in darkness, unmindful of the voice of God which they might have heard in the very din of battle or the councils of nations, there came to the world a most thrilling message. John heard this message before seeing the further events of the third woe.
There came from heaven a mighty angel clothed with a cloud. He was an ambassador from the courts of Jehovah, and his might corresponded with the court which he represented and the power and extent of the message which he bore.
He was resplendent with the glory of the King, from whose presence he came. His face shone with the brightness of the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. Here is a description of creative power; and the King's message which he came to deliver had in it the power, the brilliancy, and the light of Him who spake, and worlds stood forth, but the glory, lest it should dazzle men's eyes, was veiled with a cloud. As God covered Himself with a cloud, lest Israel beholding His brightness should be slain, so the glory of the message of the mighty angel was softened for mortal eyes by the cloud which clothed his form. Men living in harmony with their Maker are permitted at times to see the cloud withdrawn, and to behold more and more of His grandeur. In eternity only, the fullness of the message will be comprehended. Breadth of experience in the things of God, measures the ability of each individual to penetrate the cloud.
"And a rainbow was upon his head." A rainbow encircles the throne of God, but the carnal eye will see little significance in the fact. To the one from whose eyes the veil has dropped, there is an infinite depth of meaning in the rainbow about the angel's head, and the appearance of the bow in our own heavens is, to the spiritual soul, a reminder of the everlasting covenant made in heaven. The divine historian gives the story of the rainbow as it appears in our heavens. Back in eternity, God and Christ covenanted for the redemption of the race, if man should sin after his creation, and so separate from his Maker, and the bow about the throne was made the token of the covenant.
Ever since, it has had its place about the throne, and it became an eternal token of the redemption of man. Angels and beings of unfallen worlds behold the bow, and bow in reverence to the One on the throne. But the human eye cannot look into heaven, so when the Lord saved Noah and his family from the flood, He placed this same sign in the clouds of earth as a token of redemption. Like a little piece of heaven transported to the earth the bow is a reminder to man that God has toward him constant thoughts of righteousness. But the story is yet more wonderful; for God not only looks upon the bow about the throne, and is reminded of man; but He looks upon the bow in the clouds, and is drawn in heart toward the earth. Every cloud that floats in the sky contains a bow. The cloud may appear dark and threatening to us; but the sun shining upon the other side forms the bow, and God looks upon it, and "remembers the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature," the covenant that makes "you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ." Every cloud should be a reminder to us that God is willing to help and strengthen us. If sunshine floods the path of mortals, its glory is God's smile. If through tears we look heavenward, the light, shining through the drops on our eyelashes, forms the colors of the rainbow of promise.
So near is God to man. The rainbow about the mighty angel's head, shows the loving kindness of the Father, and pledges redemption in the message that he brings. The insignia of earthly potentates sink into insignificance before those worn by the messenger of the King of kings. Jehovah was in the burning bush by the wayside; the same God, with ten thousand of His saints, proclaimed His fiery law from Sinai. God revealed Himself to the prophets and writers of the Old Testament, and the same Father of us all spoke through Christ to the apostles, and opened the eyes of the prophet of Patmos. And in order that men may see the oneness of the divine word, the mighty angel binds together the Old and New Testaments. The one prophet, who, before Christ, gave the date of His first advent, and who also gave the time of His second coming and of the end, was Daniel. Daniel's prophecy was preeminently a time message, and when he sought to understand the times, which had been revealed to him, he was told to "shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end." The message was not for Daniel to comprehend, but in the time of the end, many would "run to and fro," knowledge would increase, and the wise, instructed of the Lord, would understand what had for ages been sealed. The period of time which Daniel sought to understand, was the two thousand three hundred days, at the end of which time, the sanctuary would be cleansed. This is the only sealed message of the Word, and yet the last promise made to Daniel, was that he should stand in his lot "at the end of the days."
John saw the might angel descend to earth, having in his hand a little book open. Not closed, not sealed, but open. It was at the close of the second woe, in 1840, that this angel with the open book of Daniel, set one foot on the land and one on the sea. Men were busy with their idolatry, they were heaping gold together, rushing to and fro, neither seeing nor hearing anything, save that which ministered to their earthly desires. Nations were busy with their own schemes, unmindful of the overruling hand of Providence. But the angel's message embraced the whole earth: standing with one foot on the earth and the other on the sea, "he cried with a loud voice" like the roar of a lion in the forest, and this cry awoke men from their slumber, and startled nations. No man was too humble, no place too secluded; that voice penetrated everywhere. It echoed, and re-echoed through the world. Men might think themselves secure, but the sound shook the very earth, causing many a heart to quake with fear. Though the voice was so penetrating, those who turned their faces toward the divine messenger, saw on his brow, the rainbow of promise.
Nature herself seemed to respond to the cry; for as the sound rolled through the earth, seven thunders uttered their voices as if in response. It is useless to speculate on the meaning of the thunderings; for while John understood, he was bidden not to write the things which he had heard.
The mighty angel, having the little book open in one hand, lifted up the other hand to heaven and "sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever, ... that there should be time no longer."
Jewish history was divided into distinct periods by the prophetic writers. The bondage in Egypt was revealed to Abraham; it was also plainly prophesied that the Babylonish captivity would continue seventy years. The birth of Christ was foretold by the prophets, the very year of His baptism was foretold by the prophet Daniel; His crucifixion and rejection by the Jewish nation was also given in an unmistakable way. Christians have taunted the Jews with blindness because they did not see and understand, but the dates which cluster about the life of Christ are a part of the time prophecy to which the mighty angel pointed the world; they are a part of the same two thousand three hundred days which Daniel sought to understand, but which were sealed until the time of the end.
A few years previous to 1840, men began the study of the prophecies of Daniel, and came to the conclusion that the two thousand three hundred days of the eighth chapter must end in 1844. Thinking that the cleansing of the sanctuary, spoken of in Daniel 8:14, referred to the cleansing of the earth at the advent of Christ, the second coming of the Saviour was, in 1840, and onward, preached with wonderful power throughout the world. In America the movement was led by William Miller, in England, by Edward Irving; in Asia, by Joseph Wolff, a Christian Jew; in Sweden, where the laws prohibited adults from giving the message, children preached. The Spirit of God took possession of the little ones, and their words sank deep into the hearts of men as they proclaimed "the hour of His judgment is come." "Prepare to meet your Lord."
In 1838 the termination of the second woe of Rev. 9:13-21 was interpreted to end in 1840. Said those who were proclaiming the second advent: "If the Turkish power ceases in 1840, that may be considered a sign that the correct interpretation has been placed upon the prophetic periods of Daniel, and we may look for the Lord in 1844." Therefore, in 1840, when the world realized that the Turks had fulfilled the prophecy to the very day, (see chapter 10), men of wealth, education, and position, were startled to find that they were nearing events which seemed to foretell the immediate closing up of earth's history. It was at this time, 1840, that the voice of the mighty angel awoke the earth with the message, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come." This was a message from the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the sea and all living creatures. And he swore "that there should be time no longer." The close of the long prophetic period was near at hand. The feet of the messenger were like pillars of fire, and his message burned its way into the hearts of even the most worldly. The sunlight of his countenance lighted up the page of the open book which he held out to the world; men read a new and living meaning in these prophecies. To scoff was to defy God Himself. To remain indifferent was impossible; for men seemed on the brink of eternity. Earthly possessions lost their value; homes were sold and men went forth to proclaim everywhere the coming of the Son of man. Books and papers were scattered broadcast like the leaves of autumn. As Elisha was called from his oxen, so farmers at the plow were greeted by strangers with the words, "Prepare to meet your Lord."
So widespread was this truth that school children could be heard repeating the familiar quotation from the prophecy, "Unto two thousand three hundred days then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
The exactness with which the time is given is noted in the seventh verse. After proclaiming that there should be time no longer, the angel said, "But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to his servants the prophets." The seventh trumpet, as is the case with the seventh church and the seventh seal, begins in time, and extends into eternity. It bridges, as it were, the gulf between this world and the next: but when the seventh trumpet shall begin to sound, "the mystery of God should be finished," as declared by the prophets. The sixth trumpet ended in 1840. Between the sixth and seventh trumpets is a short interval, designated by the word "quickly' in Rev. 11:14, and it is in this interval that the loud cry of the mighty angel was given. The close of the prophetic period was 1844, so that the "quickly" would be the time between 1840 and 1844, and the seventh trumpet began to sound when prophetic time was at an end, that is, in 1844. The mystery of God is the Gospel of Jesus Christ; the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.
When the prophecy was more fully comprehended than it was between 1840 and 1844, in other words, when the cloud was pierced by eyes which searched for Christ, the truth in regard to the heavenly sanctuary was discovered.
In 1844 the antitypical work of the day of atonement was begun in the heavenly sanctuary. That is, Christ at that time passed within the veil, to make up the subjects of His kingdom from those who had accepted of the Divine Offering. The investigative judgment was opened, and in the first case decided before the throne, the work of finishing the Gospel was begun, which will be completed when the last name has passed the heavenly court. These events were veiled by the cloud between 1840 and 1844, that men's hearts might be tested. This period was a testing time, and when it passed, many were shaken out. The sixth and seventh verses of the tenth chapter of Revelation are parallel with the sixth and seventh versions of the fourteenth chapter.
With joy the advent message that time should be no more went to the world. It was preached to high and low, and the churches throughout the world opened their doors to receive it. But there came a voice from heaven saying, "Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth." The mighty angel did not close the open book when he had once cried, but still stood upon the earth and the sea with the pages open in his hand, and John, symbolizing God's people, was bidden to take it out of the angel's hand. John approached the angel with the words, "Give me the book," and he said, "Take it, and eat it up." Eating the Word of God implies a careful study until the meaning is fully comprehended. Jesus often used the figure in a spiritual sense, referring to His body and the "bread of life." Now was the time to penetrate deeper into the cloud that overshadowed the message.
As the time for what was supposed to be the second advent, but which in reality meant the beginning of the investigative judgment, drew near, there was a searching of the prophecies such as had never been before. Then, when the spring of 1844 came and passed, and no Saviour had appeared, there was not only heart searching, but deeper, more intense study of the Word. The delay could not at first be understood; but soon it was seen that the decree of Artaxerxes, in 457 B.C., from which the two thousand three hundred days were reckoned, did not take effect until the year was half gone. This extended the prophetic period from the spring to the autumn of 1844. The joy of those who longed to see their Lord increased.
The message was, "It shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey." They had tasted the sweetness of the message. The world never before witnessed such manifestations of brotherly love, such sacrifice and such devotion. The autumn of 1844 came and went, and the intensity of the disappointment was beyond description. No earthly inducement ever seemed so sweet as the message of His coming; no disappointment was ever so bitter as that experienced by the believers in the second coming of Christ. The disciples, weeping at the tomb over a crucified Saviour, seemed to drain the cup of bitterness, but a potion no less galling was drunk by the disciples in 1844. "We thought that it was He that would save Israel," was echoed eighteen hundred years later in the words, "We looked for Him to save us, but He has not come." In this period of anguish and disappointment, the churches that had opened their doors for the message, now turned away from those who still clung to the belief in the prophecies and the second coming of the Lord.
This closing of the doors, and the rejection of further light, caused the second message of Rev. 14:8 to be proclaimed.
Many expected that those who passed through the disappointment, would forever sink out of sight, but the angel said, "Thou must prophesy again, before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings." this foretells the third message of Rev. 14:9-12, which will go to all the world, increasing as it goes, until it swells into a loud cry.
Many peoples, the nations of earth, representatives from every tongue, rich and poor, even kings on their thrones, will hear this last message of mercy which goes to the earth in the beginning of the sounding of the seventh trumpet. The angel's face was like the sun, and a rainbow was upon his head. The message is one of peace and joy, of mercy and triumph, which begins with the glory veiled, but increases in grandeur until what is begun on earth, mingles with the song of the redeemed] on the other shore. As the people of God, by faith followed their Lord into the heavenly sanctuary, the bitter disappointment passed, and they realized that "Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold."
Page 180; Joel 2:1; Isa. 8:21, 22; Luke 15:11-22; Rev. 16:9; Psa. 89:14; Hab. 3:2; Rev. 14:6, 7; Rom. 10:15; Isa. 52:7.
Page 181; Rev. 10:1; Matt. 10:40; Dan. 10:6; Psa. 33:6, 9; Gen. 1:1-3; Ex. 24:18; 1John 2:20, 27; Matt. 17:1-5; John 1:16; Eph. 1:7, 8; Col. 2:9, 10; 1Cor. 2:14-16; Eze. 1:28; Acts 9:18; Gen. 9:12-17; Gen. 6:18-20; Isa. 57:15; Rev.13:8.
Page 182; Psa. 103:19, 20; Isa. 54:9, 10; Gen. 9:14, 15; Jer. 29:11-13; Heb. 13:20, 21.
Page 183; Jer. 31:3; Isa. 63:7; Psa. 92:2; Ex. 3:2; 1Pet.1:11, 12; Dan. 9:25-27; Dan. 8:13, 14; Dan. 12:4; Dan. 12:10; Dan. 12:13.
Page 184; Rev. 10:2; Jas. 5:1-5; 1Kings 20:40; Rev. 10:3; Eph. 5:14; Isa. 5:29, 30; Rev. 14:6, 7; Mark 16:15; Jer. 25:15, 16; Jer. 15:16; Rev. 10:4; Rev. 10:5, 6.
Page 185; Time of bondage in Egypt. Gen. 15:13-16; Ex. 12:40, 41; Baptism of Christ foretold. Dan. 9:25; John 1:41 [margin.] Acts 10:38; Matt. 3:13-16; The year of Christ's crucifixion. Dan. 9:26, 27; Acts 2:22, 23; John 5:39; Isa. 34:16; 2Pet. 3:7-10; Eze. 12:25-28; Matt. 21:15; Luke 9:44; Rev. 14:6, 7; Amos 4:12.
Page 186; Hab. 2:2, 3; Eccl. 12:3; Zeph. 1:14-18; Rev. 14:6, 7; Rev. 10:6; 1Pet. 4:4, 12, 15; 1Pet. 1:7; Mal. 3:1, 2; Jer. 17:15; 2Pet. 3:3, 4; Joel 2:6-11; Isa. 2:20; Psa. 68:11; 1Kings 19:19-21.
Page 187; Psa. 8:2; Dan. 8:14; Dan. 7:27, 28; Dan. 7:17; Dan. 2:44, 45; Rev. 10:7; Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3-9; Heb. 9:2, 3, 7, 23; Heb. 9:2, 3, 7, 23; Heb. 9:24.
Page 188; Matt. 22:11-13; Luke 19:12; Dan. 7:9, 10; Rev. 20:12; Eccl. 7:27; Luke 21:36; Rom. 9:28 [margin.]; Luke 22:31, 32; Amos 9:9; 1Cor. 16:9; 2Cor. 2:12; Rev. 10:8, 9; Jer. 15:16; Eze. 3:1, 2; Luke 24:45; John 6:48-51.
Page 189; 1Pet. 4:17, 18; Prov. 2:2-7; Jer. 15:17, 18; The decree of Artaxerxes. Ezra 7:11-26; Ezra 7:9; Acts 2:44-47; Rev. 10:10; Heb. 10:34-37; Ruth 1:20; 2Kings 14:26; Luke 24:19-21; Isa. 26:17, 18.
Page 190; Matt. 25:10; Rev. 14:8; Rev. 10:11; Rev. 18:1; Jer. 15:19, 20; Isa. 57:18, 19; Isa. 66:5; Psa. 68:13.