THE salvation of souls is the end of an infinite plan. The object of all creation was the pleasure of God, and enjoyment comes to Jehovah when He sees the harmonious working of all the laws of the universe. Through the prophets, God has, from time to time, made known as much of the plan as the human mind could grasp. Each generation has received new revealing of that infinite plan of salvation. At each new manifestation, angels have exclaimed in wonder, and bowed in adoration before the throne; for it was the opening to their view of a new phase of the divine character. Beginning in Eden, God manifested His love in the relationship He sustained to the holy pair.
The whole plan for peopling the earth with a race that could develop a spiritual nature like unto His own, was a revelation of His love.
The interest of heaven was centered upon humanity, and angels were commissioned to watch over them. This ministration of angels has linked heaven and earth by a tie which no power can sever. The enemy has offset each blessing of the Father by a hellish scheme; hence while some accept the workings of the Spirit of God, there are others who yield to the influence of the contrary spirit; and the earth has become a great battlefield. Every offering, from the first one at the gate of the Garden of Eden to the time of Christ, shadowed forth the one great sacrifice of the Saviour.
Many times, sin so blinded men's eyes that the form of the ceremony hid from them the real object of the service. Through Egyptian bondage, wilderness wanderings, prosperity, and captivity, the one hope buoyed up the spirits of the children of God. Their spiritual eyesight searched the future, every expecting the appearance of the long-promised seed of the woman, that would bruise the serpent's head.
True, they were often mistaken in their ideas of the Coming One; but in their individual need, they always pictured Him as their Deliverer. The self-righteous Jews, who had lost all the spiritual power in the sacrifices, while they multiplied forms, looked only for a mighty Prince who would deliver them from the Roman yoke. The prophecies concerning the meek and lowly One had no charm for them. These prophecies not only portrayed the character of the Messiah to come, but also revealed the time of His appearing. Satan is familiar with the Word of God, and trembles before its fulfillment. As the time drew near for the Son of man to appear, Satan used every art to absorb the children of men in the forms and ceremonies and sophistries of the world, in order that they might give no place for the lowly Jesus. But Satan was not permitted to bring confusion; for strange as it may seem, the whole world was at peace, when the Prince of Peace was born in a manger at Bethlehem.
True, the race which claimed to follow God, had lost the power of the Spirit, and the sway of evil was nearly universal. The connecting link, however, was not wholly severed; else the earth would have been destroyed, and neither Rome, with its boasted grandeur, nor Satan, with all his power, could have saved the wreck. Ministering at the altar in the temple in Jerusalem, was Zacharias, the priest. He and his wife Elizabeth prayed daily for the advent of the Son of God. Jehovah stopped to listen, and answered those prayers by giving to the aged priest and his wife a son, the forerunner of the Messiah.
In the town of Nazareth, noted for its wickedness, lived a young woman. Daily her heart was lifted to God, asking for the advent of the promised Saviour. Again Jehovah's ear was reached, and that prayer was answered. Gabriel came from the presence of God, and made known to Mary that she, a virgin in Israel, should become the mother of the Son of God. The spirituality of her life is shown in her response to the angel. Taking her God-given responsibility, with all the sorrow and shame it entailed, she said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord." Three had been found who were true to the God of Heaven. There were still others. Humble shepherds tending their flocks, heard the angels singing at the birth of Christ; wise men of the East, searching the prophecies, recognized the star as a herald of the Saviour.
On the day that the Babe was presented in the temple, Simeon, an aged man upon whom the Holy Ghost rested, and who saw with spiritual insight, recognized in the little One the Redeemer of men. And Anna, a prophetess, an aged widow, who lived in the temple, and who sought God day and night for the fulfillment of His promise, recognized divinity in the Babe, and giving thanks, "spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." This increased the number who in deed and in truth were waiting for the Messiah. They, while the world was in darkness and unconcern, travailed in birth for the world's Redeemer.
The faithful ones, the church of the living God, -- few as their numbers may be, are represented as the "woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars."
It is the closing of one era, the age of types and shadows, which, like the moon, reflect the light of the true. The moon is under the feet of the church, and the glorious sunrising of a new day is ushered in. The paler light of the moon seems dim in that more glorious day. The types and ceremonies of the sanctuary service, which had been a shadow of the real, were passing away; for type met antitype in the Child that was born. Every sacrifice from the Garden of Eden to the cross, shadowed forth the great Sacrifice, and taught the everlasting Gospel. By faith, the sinner confessing his sins over the head of the innocent lamb, saw the real Sacrifice, and the light from Calvary reflected from the sacrifice shone into his heart. This service typified the Gospel in its fullness. This is the foundation upon which the church stands. It is not a stone slipping away, a sliding foundation, but a solid foundation upon which the living church rests. To-day the record of that typical service, emits light to the one who will search it. True, it does not have the full blaze of sunlight like the record of the antitypical Offering, but there is a mild and gentle light emitted from it that well repays the searcher after truth.
Around the head of the church clustered twelve stars, representing the twelve apostles, who became the fathers of the Christian church, their names are also on the twelve foundation stones of the New Jerusalem.
The followers of Christ are the special objects of care in the courts of heaven, and there never was a time when the interest was more intense than when the fullness of time was at hand, and the Son laid aside His God form, and clothed Himself in human flesh, -- flesh subject to all the weakness of the frailest child on earth.
Into the territory of Satan, into the nation which was the very essence of all untruth and deceit, the deepest, strongest compound of error, Christ came as a helpless child to show the power of truth and love.
"There appeared another wonder in heaven;" it was the opposing power of Satan embodied in the ruling monarchy of earth -- the empire of Rome, with Caesar Augustus at its head. It is plainly stated in Rev. 12:9 that the great red dragon is the devil; and the seven heads with the ten horns represent the Roman Empire, in which the devil dwelt. This power during the reign of paganism, crucified the Saviour; and in its modified form, known as the papacy, held the church of God in bondage for twelve hundred and sixty years.
Rome, at the time of the first advent, had, in her conquest about the Mediterranean, gained control of Palestine, the home of the Jews. Herod sat as king, but only by consent of the emperor, to whom he paid tribute. Herod was the last king who ruled over the Jews. "In his first will, he [Herod] appointed Antipas his successor; in his last, Archelaus. The people were ready to receive Archelaus, but afterwards revolted. Both he and Antipas went to Rome, each to present his claim to Caesar for decision. Caesar confirmed neither, but sent Archelaus back to Judea with the title of ethnarch; also with the promise of the crown, if he deserved it.
But his conduct was such that he never obtained it." This was the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning the Christ-child. Over seven hundred and fifty years before the Saviour's birth, Isaiah wrote: "Before the Child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings." The death of Herod occurred when the Jewish nation was ruled by its king, aided by the Sanhedrin and the priests; and in the removing of the kings, the "dragon," through Rome, cast the third part of the stars of heaven to the earth. The divine hand which wrote this history cannot be hidden; for the very language which was literally fulfilled in Jerusalem, describes, with equal accuracy, the great fall in heaven, when Satan was cast out together with one-third of the angels, -- those who adhered to his principles.
Satan knew the time for the advent of the Son of man, and he determined to slay Him at birth. The history of the decree of Herod, who caused the slaying of "all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof," may be read in the Gospel of Matthew and in the prophecy of Jeremiah. The Child was guarded by an angel band, and He escaped the sword of the angry king. Throughout the lifetime of Christ, repeated attempts were made to take His life; and failing to do this, Satan haunted His every step, seeking to entrap Him through the weakness of human flesh, or cause Him to exercise His divine power for His own protection.
"Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Of Judah it had been said in the days of Jacob, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be." This was fulfilled in the birth of Christ. Of Him alone, Jehovah, the Father, said, "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy kingdom." To this Child King, and to Him alone, has been given the right to rule with a rod of iron. "I have set My King upon My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron."
The Saviour lived among men for thirty-three years, an example in childhood, youth, and manhood, of the possibilities of a life with God. He was crucified, yet He triumphed over death. Satan thought that he held Christ securely, but the moment of exultation was a signal for his eternal defeat. Even then, a shout rang through heaven as the victory over death was seen. He broke the fetters of the tomb, and "her Child was caught up unto God and to His throne." Again heaven resounded with praise for the triumph was seen, and the terrors of evil were recognized as never before.
Only the mountain peaks, in the history of the Christian church, are revealed in this view. There is the glorious rising of the sun; then, a lapse of over five hundred years. The days of papal tyranny and persecution are shown when the "woman" was in the wilderness for twelve hundred and sixty years; and the last peak is when the sun again shines upon the Remnant church in all its splendor. There are three steps from the moonlight of the typical sanctuary service until the day of triumph and salvation is completed; but oh, what those steps imply! The emptying of heaven in the gift of its Prince; the crushing of the light under the feet of him who thought to exalt his throne above that of the Most High, and lastly, the gathering of a little company with whom the dragon is still wroth, but who keep the commandments of God and cherish the light of His Spirit.
It may, at first, seem strange that this far-reaching view of the church, should at once bring before the prophet's mind the whole history of Satan, -- the power behind the throne of Rome in its evil doings toward the Christ. And yet, when the spirit of heaven is caught, this is the most natural view. Before the creation of our world, "there was war in heaven." Christ and the Father covenanted together; and Lucifer, the covering cherub, grew jealous because he was not admitted into the eternal councils of the Two who sat upon the throne. He, the light-bearer, standing so close to God that he reflected the glory of the throne, allowed jealousy to rankle in his heart.
For the first time, the harmony of heaven was broken. The discord spread; and when love failed to win, Lucifer and his followers were cast beyond the gates of heaven, and Satan was permitted to make the earth his abiding place. Justice called for death; but Mercy pleaded for a testing of the principles upon which the divine government was founded. The rainbow about the throne promised long-suffering. The charge was made that God ruled with an arbitrary hand. The controversy was begun. Satan claimed that if permitted to do so, he could establish a government where tyranny would be forever absent. Heaven granted him the earth in which to test his principles. So true is God to the law of love, so sure are the foundations of His throne, that, although it cost the life of His Son, He yet gave permission for the trial.
The governments of earth became the instruments through which Satan worked. Our little planet became the center of interest among the angels, and the beings of unfallen worlds. According to the government of heaven, representatives from each world meet in council at the gate of heaven as the men of earth, for centuries after Adam was driven from the Garden, brought their offerings to the gate of Paradise. Among the sons of God who gathered there, Satan came also. Satan was a son of God by creation, and likewise, because of the earth over which he had usurped power, and bore sway. As a representative of the earth, he claimed the right to meet at the gate. There, in the midst of the heavenly assembly, he stood an accuser of the brethren. The case of Job and that of Joshua are examples of the complaints which he brought against the government of God.
Over and over again, angels had listened to the accusations made against the men of earth. When Christ was living here as a man, the heavenly host watched the deep-laid plots for His overthrow; they saw the jealousy among Jewish rulers, the cruelty of the Romans; and as the cross as approached, the pain which pierced them was akin to that of their suffering Master.
Jesus, sitting in the temple court but a few days before the end, looked forward to the cross, and with feelings too deep for human heart to sense, said, "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out." At the cross, the fate of Satan was forever sealed. "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all unto Me." Darkness covered Calvary on that awful day, but the eye of faith could pierce the cloud; for the hour that seemed the darkest, was, for the universe, the hour of greatest victory. "At the cross of Calvary love and selfishness stood face to face. Here was their crowning manifestation. Christ had lived only to comfort and bless, and in putting Him to death, Satan manifested the malignity of his hatred against God. He made it evident that the real purpose of his rebellion was to dethrone God and to destroy Him through whom the love of God was shown."
When from the depths of anguish, the dying Son of man exclaimed, "It is finished," in spite of the sympathy which could scarcely bear restraint, a shout of victory rang through heaven. Christ's "ear caught the distant music and the shouts of victory in the heavenly courts.
He knew that the death knell of Satan's empire had sounded, and the name of Christ would be heralded from world to world throughout the universe." "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." Wonderful triumph! One loses much of the force of Christ's life, unless he sees the actual triumph at the cross. He who had given up His power and his strength, taking human weakness instead, and "trodden the winepress alone" regained all at the cross.
The life of Christ as a man, formed the strongest bonds between angels and human beings, so that in heaven, men are spoken of as "our brethren." "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, "and in their love for Christ, they willingly sacrificed life itself." "Rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them." This was a dark hour for the disciples, who stood blinded by grief beside a sealed sepulcher; but angels, who knew the power of eternal life, witnessing the exaltation of the Son of God and the final casting out of Satan, sang halleluiahs. No longer would Satan, "the prince of this world," be admitted to their councils. No longer could he accuse the brethren in their presence. "Rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them."
This was at the time of the crucifixion; and while joy rang through heaven, and the strains echoed and re-echoed again at His ascension, the world was not yet free from the wiles of the devil.
Having been cast to the earth, he put forth redoubled efforts to overthrow the truth, as it was heralded by followers of the Man of Nazareth. Through the various governments he had worked, only to meet with defeat in the end. Subtlety took the place of opposition. Paganism melted away before the increasing light of the Gospel; but pagan principles were accepted by Christians, and clothed in the garb of Christianity. Here again is the story of the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira and the fourth seal. "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." With the intensity of despair he pushed his destructive plans. "And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child." The papacy was established at Rome in 538 A.D. for twelve hundred and sixty years, -- the "thousand two hundred and three score days" of Rev. 12:6, the "time, and times, and half a time" of Rev. 12:14. It was the period during which the "two witnesses" of the eleventh chapter of Revelation prophesied in sackcloth. It is the period called the Dark Ages. Hidden from sight in mountain fastnesses, and obscure corners of the earth, some secretly, through the long night, held fast to the Word of God. From the mouth of the "dragon" was cast out a flood of iniquity, of false doctrines, of false teachings, of persecutions, in the hope of forever drowning the truth. In the East, this flood was "smoke" from the "bottomless pit" in the form of Mohammedanism; in the West, it was the papacy.
At last the earth itself grew weary of the evil. God broke the power of the tyranny. He raised up rulers who opposed the power of the papacy, and who espoused the cause of the reformers, and sheltered them from the anathemas hurled after them. This was especially true among the German princes at the Diet of Spires, and the same spirit characterized William of Orange in the Netherlands, and some of the English rulers; and the help which the earth gave, was seen especially in the refuge offered to the persecuted souls on the shores of America. The power of the Reformation is still felt in the earth; and the nations of Western Europe, together with the people of the United States, have the privilege of giving the last messages of the Gospel of Christ to the world. The mighty angel of the tenth chapter of Revelation had a message for the Remnant church, and the fourteenth chapter brings to light more fully the last work of the "woman" with whom the "dragon" is wroth. The purity and power of the sunlight characterized the Apostolic Church. There are two characteristics of the Remnant; they keep the commandments of God, -- the law which forms the foundation of the eternal throne, and which Lucifer considered an arbitrary code. In the midst of this law, is the seal which the "dragon" sought to destroy, but which is restored to the last true church. The second distinguishing mark of the Remnant is that they have the testimony of Jesus Christ, which is the Spirit of Prophecy. As time grows short, the anger of the devil increases, and his deceptions assume their most subtle forms. He finally personates the Son of man, and appears on earth as an angel of light.
At that time his exceeding great wrath will be manifested toward those who keep the commandments of God, and who have the testimony of Jesus Christ. These two tests, and these alone, distinguish between those who are accepted of God and those who are not.
John, to whom was made known the Revelation of Jesus Christ, was bidden by the Son of God to take the opened prophecies of Daniel. The testimony of Jesus Christ is added to the testimony of these two great prophets through a chosen prophet in the Remnant church. Though the gift of prophecy was long silent, it is in the Remnant church though the law of God was long degraded and suppressed, it is again obeyed by the Remnant.
The wrath of Satan may be great, but He who preserved Christ will preserve His people till the end. The book of Revelation reveals the fact that the Remnant church is now in existence and that the time is short.
Page 209; Eze. 18:23, 31, 32; Rev. 4:11; Col. 1:15, 16; 2Pet. 1:20, 21; ANGELS BOWED IN ADORATION. 1st. At the birth of Christ. Luke 2:9-14; Heb. 1;6; 2nd. At the death of Christ. John 12:31-33; Rev. 12:10. 3rd. At the resurrection of Christ. Matt. 27:51-53; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 4:8 [margin.]; 1Cor. 15:20; 4th. When the seventy angel sounded. Rev. 11:15; Dan. 7:13.
Page 210; Isa. 57:15; 1Cor. 6:19, 20; Psa. 34:7; Psa. 91:11, 12; Gen. 28:12; Rev. 13:8; Gen. 3:1-6; Matt. 12:7.
Page 211; Gen. 3:15; Acts 1:16; Isa. 9:6, 7; Dan. 9:25; Luke 2:8-12; 1Cor. 1:26-29; 1Pet. 3:3-5; Rom. 3:10-18; Rom. 9:29; Luke 1:5, 6, 13, 17.
Page 212; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:26-32; Luke 2:36-38.
Page 213; Rev. 12:1, 2; Heb. 9:8-11; Eph. 2:20, 21.
Page 214; Luke 4:6; Rev. 12:3; Luke 2:1; Eph. 2:2; Rev. 13:1; Dan. 7:25; John 5:39.
Page 215; Matt. 2:22; Isa. 7:16; Rev. 12:3; Matt. 2:16-18; Jer. 31:15, 16; Luke 4:29; Isa. 9:6.
Page 216; Eph. 2:14; Gen. 49:10; Heb. 1:8; Psa. 2:6-9; Heb. 2:9; Psa. 149:5-9; 1Pet. 2:21; Acts 2:24; Rev. 12:5; Heb. 12:2.
Page 217; Rev. 12:6; Isa. 14:13, 14; Luke 10:18; Rev. 12:7, 8; Eze. 28:14.
Page 218; Rev. 12:9; Job 1:9-11; Job 1:6; Luke 3:38; Rom. 6:16; 1Tim. 22:19-23; 2Chron. 18:18-21; Job 1:7; Rev. 12:10; Job 1;9-10; Job 2:1-5.
Page 219; Zech. 3:1-3; John 12:31, 32; Matt. 27:45; Mark 15:34; John 19:30.
Page 220; Psa. 85:10, 11; Rev. 12:10; John 3:14, 15; Rev. 12:11; Matt. 12:37; Jas. 2:12; Rev. 12;12.
Page 221; John 12:31-33; Acts 20:29, 30; Rev. 12:13; Dan. 12:7; Rev. 12:14, 15; Lam. 3:45, 46; Mark 7:7-9.
Page 222; Rev. 12:16; Psa. 68:6; Psa. 68:11, 12; Rev. 10:2, 3; Rev. 12:17; Rev. 14:12; Psa. 29:4, 5; Eze. 20:20; Rev. 19:10; Rev. 22:7; 2Cor. 11:14, 15.
Page 223; 2Thess. 2:9, 10; Rev. 10:8, 9; Lam. 2:9; Lam. 3:31-33.