THE book of Revelation is a great signal, pointing to the New Jerusalem and the earth made new. Growth in character is all that hastens one along the road that leads thither. Human history has been like the ebb and flow of the tide. The waves break, break, break, on the sands; but only an occasional one reaches beyond the level of its fellows. David had a good opportunity to watch the fluctuations in human progress, and the backward steps; the stumblings led to the writing of many psalms. Thus came the prayer "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." The Revelation of Jesus Christ is a double history; it shows the love of Jesus Christ which has met man, and the church, as it has pursued its zigzag course; and it portrays a character, that by the grace of God, made a straight path from earth to heaven.
The way which He trod, is the road to the New Jerusalem. The seven churches began where His life closed, and their work closes only where the gates of the city are open to receive them.
The seven seals portray the sufferings of the slain Lamb in the body of His people; and the seventh leaves heaven in silence while angels gather the redeemed from the earth. The seven trumpets are blown in the hearing of all nations; all the world records the story of the Son of man, and the seventh gives the kingdoms into the hands of Him who reigns as King of kings on the earth, with Jerusalem for His capital.
The birth of Christ, the crucifixion, and the work in heaven since the ascension, -- all point to the kingdom restored. The history of the beast, and of the image to the beast, both record the persecution of a people who will be loyal subjects of the King of earth. If the one hundred and forty-four thousand are studied, they are found to be the Remnant, snatched from the very pit of destruction, to reign in the earth as kings and priests, throughout eternity. The plagues are but the sign of the self-destruction of all forces opposed to the law of God; and they pave the way for the cleansing of the earth by fire, preparatory to the restoration of the paradise of God.
Christ prepares the capital city in heaven; while on earth He molds the character of His subjects. City and people meet on the new earth. The many paths traced in the book of Revelation, lead unto the thoroughfare which ends at the gates of that city. The last chapter of the book, -- a fitting close for such history as is revealed in the other chapters, gives a description of the earth rescued from all sin, -- the Eden restored.
The first Eden remained on earth one-fourth of the period of earth's history. With its closed gate, and an angel guard at the tree of life, it was a wonderful lesson to the inhabitants of the world before the flood. Before the destruction of the earth by water, the garden was transported to heaven, and the promise since has been, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
In Eden the tree of life grows on the banks of the river of life. As long as Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of that tree, life was eternal. The waters were life-giving. This virtue has been lost by the rivers of earth, through the curse of sin, yet every flowing river is a reminder to man, of the river of life which proceeds from the throne of God. The source of this river is God, -- the fountain, or head waters of all truth; and flowing from Him, who is infinite and eternal, it signifies the spread of truth through the earth. In Eden that water typified Christ; and there, they communed with Him as freely as they drank of the clear flowing waters. Rivulets from the throne have always watered the earth, but there never have been channels sufficiently strong for an over abundant flow. On the new earth, that river will be restored. Christ Himself will lead His people to the fountain of living waters. "Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures. For with Thee is the fountain of life." "Ho, every one that thirsteth."
"The Spirit and the bride say, Come. ... Let him that is athirst come." Jesus said: "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water."
John was fond of the figure, and seemed to catch the words uttered by his Master, as none of the other disciples caught them. Perhaps this was caused by the fact that before writing the gospel, he had seen such a clear portrayal of the new earth that certain sayings of Christ came vividly to his mind.
Every river is a type of the river of life; and every tree that grows will remind the one who listens for the voice of God, of that tree of life, which grows on either bank of the river. The real tree of Eden was transported to heaven; but its boughs are represented as hanging earthward, and its fruit, in type at least, has been plucked by those who had soul hunger and who reach upward for it. It will blossom in reality in the new earth, bearing its fruit every month, twelve manner of fruit which will supply every want of the spiritual being. There will be no lack. "The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations," and "the leaf thereof for medicine." All the war and strife of nations have come because man ate not of the fruit of the tree of life. The whole controversy of six thousand years originated when man ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That tree will not be found in the earth made new, and the fires of the last days will consume all nations who have continued to eat of its fruit.
"The scars and bruises" [Ez. 47:12, [margin.] caused by eating its fruit will be healed by the leaves of the tree of life.
Christ is the tree of life, the bread of life and the water of life: man will live in Him; and yet in the new earth as in this world, nature will, in all its features, symbolize what Christ really is to man. As the redeemed partake of the fruit of the tree of life, to their souls, will come redemption's story. By individuals, and through nations, God has attempted to demonstrate the possibility of living under the shadow of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and yet eating of the fruit from the tree of life. This is the life of faith, and those who gather about the real tree in the new earth, will be those who have partaken of that fruit when the other was near, and was held out as a tempting morsel.
In Israel, as a nation, God wished to illustrate the truths of heaven; and had they followed where He led, He would, through them, have shown to all other nations that the tree of life could blossom on earth, and that a nation could be healed by its leaves. Israel, not willing to eat only of the food of God, mingled the good with the evil, and became like all other nations. In the earth restored, all nationalities, all tribes, and peoples will, for the first time, gather together and with one common language worship our God. The fruit and the leaves of the tree of life bring all together. Christ came "to seek and to save that which was lost." In the river of life and the tree of life, together with the blessing each insures, much is restored that was lost by the entrance of sin.
The angel said to John, "There shall be no more curse." "Former [things] shall not be remembered, nor come upon the heart. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy." The presence of joy implies the restoration of families; and in this, is one of the most beautiful promises of the new earth. Sin has marred family relations: the curse has entered all families, if not in one form, it has come in another. The family has been the closest tie between heaven and earth. In the midst of sin and deep degradation, the unselfish devotion of mothers for their offspring, has spoken of the love of Christ in a language which has reached all hearts, from that of God on the throne to the infidel who scorns the name of God. The truth that "We love Him, because He first loved us," still remains; and when a touch of love has been born in the mire of sin, it is the reflection of Heaven's love. In the new earth such love will meet its reward; for He "setteth the solitary in families: He bringeth out those which are bound with chains."
"Oh, Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come." To-day many families are divided. Some members wish to eat of the spiritual bread, and others prefer the food which nourishes the nations of the earth. This makes a line of separation; for those who are spiritual stand on one plain, and the physical man stands on another. "He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." When the separation comes, as it will at the end of time, God sets the spiritual souls in families, -- families of which they would have been members had sin never existed.
Love of parents for their children is a type of the Father's love for humanity; and to comfort the hearts of mothers, there is the promise that little children lost on earth, will be restored to their parents in the new earth. The promise was made to Israel: it will be fulfilled to those who are Israelites indeed. The sorrow of a mother over her dying child is felt in heaven. "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachael weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not." "Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord, and they shall come again from the land of the enemy." This prophecy of the weeping mothers was fulfilled in the mothers of Bethlehem, weeping for their children in the days of Herod, and was a type of every mother in Israel called to mourn the death of her infant. In it is also a pledge of the resurrection of children.
When the Son of righteousness arises with healing in His wings, these "shall grow up as calves of the stall." "There shall be no more thence [in the new earth] an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days;" for the curse is removed, and there shall be no more death. The child shall grow as a "calf of the stall." and no man in that land of life will ever die. Before the earth is renewed, the child of a hundred years shall die, and the sinner will be accursed. Over there, they have access to the tree of life, and they drink of the water of life, and live throughout eternity. In place of the curse of death, there will be the throne of God and the Lamb. God's throne is a living throne.
For the first time since creation, God can be seen face to face. Man was created inferior to the angels for a little time. While on earth we pray, "Cause Thy face to shine; and we shall be saved." Then the full light of His countenance will be open to the gaze of man, "and His name shall be in their foreheads."
Genesis is the first unfolding, in human language, of the plan of salvation. Each following book of the Bible is a further explanation of the truths stated in Genesis. Revelation is the Omega, -- the gathering together of all the threads of truth, - a meeting of all the ways. The twenty-second chapter is a summary of the book of Revelation. As if John found it difficult to comprehend the scenes he beheld, Gabriel repeats, "These sayings are true and faithful." To all appearances, the earth was not ready for paradise when it was spread out in panoramic view before John: likewise, as the human eye measures circumstances, the world seems further from that time to-day; but "The Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show unto His servants the things which must shortly be done.
Behold, I come quickly." And John seeing and hearing these things, again fell at the feet of Gabriel to worship him; and again the angel said, "See thou do it not."
Gabriel professes himself a fellow servant of John, and of all who keep the prophecies of this book. Angels, as well as men, obey the obey the word of God revealed to the prophets, for the prophecies are an unfolding of the law of God.
Reference has been made more than once to the prophecies of Daniel, which Gabriel commanded that prophet to seal until the time of the end. The Revelation prophesies the unsealing of that book, and Gabriel distinctly tells John that the words which he had written were not to be sealed; for the time of their fulfillment was at hand. The expression is both literal and prophetic, for the record began with the life of John, and extended into eternity. The coming of Christ is near; the signs preceding His coming have already appeared.
In 1844 prophetic time closed; this was the end of the twenty-three hundred days of Dan. 8:14. It was the beginning of a new work; and when the judgment then begun is finished, which event the prophecies say is near at hand, Christ will rise from His judgment throne, with the words, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." When these words are spoken, the heavens prepare for His second coming. "Behold, I come quickly." While mercy lingers, man, by turning to Christ, may have his heart purified; his mind made a channel for divine thoughts. Only those who are His servants to this extent, can be said to have received His name in the forehead.
All others are filthy, and are numbered with the family of Satan who is the father of lies.
At the close of prophetic time Christ came in judgment. To-day the message is going to the earth; and it is swelling into the loud cry, "Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be." He who has been sowing to his flesh, will reap his reward which is death. He who has submitted himself to the ruling power of the Spirit, will of the Spirit, reap life everlasting. The subjects of the judgment of the world, the reward of the righteous, and the punishment of the wicked, are threads in the web woven in eternity's loom.
Eden and the new earth clasp hands in the expression so oft repeated in the book of Revelation, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work ... will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." The work, planned before the foundations of the earth were laid, is accomplished without an alteration, notwithstanding the introduction of sin. The only difference there will be, is in the strength of character which is developed during the journey through the valley of the shadow of death.
In Eden, God's word was made known to man by angels at the tree of life. Upon obedience, rested the right to eat of the fruit of that tree. Satan made it appear that obedience to the commandments was a tyrannical request, and at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, proclaimed that man should be as gods.
The error of all time, -- the hope of eternal life by some other means than obedience to the commandments, -- is the subject of the controversy. In Eden, at the beginning, the commandments and the tree of life were placed together. Christ in His personal teaching and in His life, linked them again, saying, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life"; and John, writing for those who stand at the gateway of the New Jerusalem, says, "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."
Jehovah's law is a law of life; those who are sealed, are commandments keepers; and the last struggle of earth, will be over the question of the immutability of the law. This then, is another thread, so often miserably twisted and knotted, which is woven into its proper place, in this closing chapter. Without are dogs and sorcerers, false prophets, murderers, and all, who, in word, bear false witness, or by life, belie the name of Christ; but to the church He says, "I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things." "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." As the offspring of David, He speaks with the authority of the rightful ruler of the earth. There, His commandments are the foundation of His throne and the law of His kingdom. He is the bright and morning star, and leads the universe; He heralds a new day, when time will be no more, and eternity will be unbroken.
The new day is about to begin; it is ushered in by the marriage supper of the Lamb. The invitation to that feast is given by the Spirit, the Bridegroom, and the bride. There is power in the word, "Come"; for the Spirit breathes it, and whatever is God-breathed is. Here is the same experience that Peter had on the stormy sea. The Master said, "Come," and while the disciple believed the waves formed a solid footing. When he doubted he began to sink. To-day the Spirit says, "Come"; and he who believes in the power of God unto salvation, will be carried through by the one word, "come." It is a living word, like the word spoken during creation week. As the trees have continued to grow year after year, each oak bearing acorns, so the word "come" has been repeated by those who heeded the sound, and whosoever will, has drunk of the fountain of life. Those in whom the Word lives, become living voices who repeat the invitation, "Come," "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come."
"What thing soever I command you, observe to do it." This is the divine voice speaking. "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God."
God's Word is pure; every word contains eternal life; and he who crushes one word to earth, will find that it will rise against him, to blot out his name from the Book of Life.
The whole of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, by the angel Gabriel to the prophet John, tells of the unspeakable love of our Father and our Brother; and of longing in the courts of heaven, for the completion of the conflict with sin; and of the restoration of man to his place around the throne. Christ's parting words are concerning His coming. He speaks them Himself, as if to make them doubly impressive. "Surely I come quickly." "Lo, I am with you alway," fell as a parting blessing as the cloud received the risen Saviour; "Surely I come quickly" is the personal message sent to us who are to-day waiting for the consummation. and our hearts respond, as with John we say, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
Page 349; Jer. 31:21; 2Pet. 3:18; Eccl. 1:5-8; Psa. 55:8; Hosea 4:9; Hosea 11:7; Hosea 4:16; Psa. 45:1; Psa. 51:10.
Page 350; Rev. 1:19; Psa. 5:8; Heb. 12:13; Isa. 35:8, 9; Matt. 10:40; Rev. 8:13; Rev. 11:15; Eze. 37:22; Matt. 12:29; Rev. 14:9, 10; Isa. 51:1; Rev. 5:9, 10; 2Pet. 3:7, 13; John 14:1, 2; Rev. 20:9, 10.
Page 351; Isa. 51:3; Rev. 21:1-27; Gen. 3:24 [margin.]; Gen. 7:11 [margin.]; 2Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7; Eze. 47:12; Gen. 2:8, 9; Dan. 12:5, 6; Dan. 8:2; John 1:4, 9; Rev. 22:17; Gen. 3:8; Eze. 47:2; Psa. 23:2 [margin.].
Page 352; Psa. 36:8; Isa. 55:1; Isa. 44:3; John 4:10, 14; The gospel of John was written one year after the Revelation.; Eze. 47:7, 8; Rev. 22:1, 2; Rev. 22:2; Mal. 4:2.
Page 353; Eze. 47:12 [margin.]; Prov. 3:18; Prov. 11:30; John 6:51; John 7:37, 38; John 6:35, 47; John 11:25, 26; Joel 2:32; Jer. 2:36; Zeph. 3:9; Luke 19:10.
Page 354; Rev. 22:3; Isa. 65:17, 18; Psa. 68:6; Eph. 5:23; Matt. 7:11; Isa. 49:15-17; John 3:16; 1John 4:19; 1John 4:8; Mal. 3:17; Psa. 65:2; Mark 3:21 [margin.]
Page 355; Gal. 5:17; Gal. 6:7, 8; Jer. 31:16, 17; Mal. 4:2.
Page 356; Isa. 65:17-20; Psa. 8:4, 5; Psa. 80:7; Rev. 22:4-6; Heb. 2:8.
Page 357; Rev. 22:6, 7; Rev. 1:1, 2; Eze. 3:27; Eze. 2:7; Jer. 1:17.
Page 358; Psa. 103:20; Dan. 12:4; Isa. 29:9-12; 1Pet. 4:17; Rev. 22:11; Rev. 22:7-10.
Page 359; Rev. 14:6, 7; 1Sam 2:3; Rev. 22:11-13; Isa. 55:12; 2Tim. 1:12; Rev. 1:4, 8, 11; Rev. 21:6; Rev. 22:13; Phil. 1:6; Jude 24; 1John 2:8; Titus 1:2; Rom. 16:25, 26; Eph. 3:9; Matt. 19:17.
Page 360; Rev. 22:14-17; Rev. 22:14; Prov. 7:2; Prov. 6:23; Matt. 5:18; Rev. 22;16; Rev. 14:12; Rev. 22:18-21.
Page 361; Matt. 14:28-31; Prov. 30:6.
Page 362; Psa. 37:3; Psa. 12:6; 1John 3:1-3.