What Saith the Scripture?


Phila delphia > The Coming Prince (6 of 8) by Sir Robert Anderson

The Coming Prince

Sir Robt. Anderson

Chapters 13-15

Sir Robert Anderson

A Voice from the Philadelphian Church Age

  Wisdom is Justified

by Sir Robert Anderson, K.C.B., LL.D.


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THE connecting link between the past and the future, between the fulfilled and the unfulfilled in prophecy, will be found in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

The chief Messianic promises are grouped in two great classes, connected respectively with the names of David and of Abraham, and the New Testament opens with the record of the birth and ministry of Messiah as "the Son of David, the son of Abraham;" (Matthew 1:1) for in one aspect of His work He was "a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers." (Romans 15:8) The question of the Magi, "Where is He that is born king of the Jews?" aroused a hope which was part of the national politics of Judah; and even the base Idumean who then usurped the throne was sensible of its significance: "Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. [1]

And when the proclamation afterwards was made, first by John the Baptist, and finally by the Lord and His apostles, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand," the Jews knew well its import. It was not "the Gospel," as we understand it now, but the announcement of the near fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy. [2] And the testimony had a twofold accompaniment. "The Sermon on the Mount" is recorded as embodying the great truths and principles which were associated with the Kingdom Gospel; and the attendant miracles gave proof that all was Divine. And in the earlier stages of the ministry of Christ, His miracles were not reserved for those whose faith responded to His words; the only qualification for the benefit was that the recipient should belong to the favored race. "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." [3] Such was the commission under which the twelve went forth through that little land, to0 every corner of which their Master's fame had gone before them. (Matthew 4:24, 25)

But the verdict of the nation, through its accredited and responsible leaders, was a rejection of His Messianic claims. [4] The acts and words of Christ recorded in the twelfth chapter of Matthew were an open and deliberate condemnation and defiance of the Pharisees, and their answer was to meet in solemn council and decree His death. (Matthew 12:1- 14) From that hour His ministry entered upon a new phase. The miracles continued, for He could not meet with suffering and refuse to relieve it; but those whom thus He blessed were charged "that they should not make Him known." (Matthew 12:16) The Gospel of the Kingdom ceased; His teaching became veiled in parables, [5] and the disciples were forbidden any
longer to testify to His Messiahship. (Matthew 16:20)

The thirteenth chapter is prophetic of the state of things which was to intervene between the time of His rejection and His return in glory to claim the place which in His humiliation was denied Him. Instead of the proclamation of the Kingdom, He taught them "the mysteries of the Kingdom." (Matthew 13:11) His mission changed its character, and instead of a King come to reign, He described Himself as a Sower sowing seed. Of the parables which follow, the first three, spoken to the multitude, described the outward results of the testimony in the world; the last three, addressed to the disciples, [6] speak of the hidden realities revealed to spiritual minds.

But these very parables, while they taught the disciples in the plainest terms that everything was postponed which the prophets had led them to look for in connection with the Kingdom, taught them no less clearly that the day would surely come when all should be fulfilled; when evil should be rooted out, and the Kingdom established in righteousness and peace. (Matthew 13:41-43) They thus learned that there was to be an "age" of which prophecy took no account, and another "Advent" at its close; and "the second Sermon on the Mount" was the Lord's reply to the inquiry, "What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age?" [7]

The twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew has been well described as "the anchor of apocalyptic interpretation," and "the touchstone of apocalyptic systems." [8] The fifteenth verse specifies an event and fixes an epoch, by which we are enabled to connect the words of the Lord with the visions of St. John, and both with the prophecies of Daniel. The entire passage is obviously prophetic, and its fulfillment clearly pertains to the time of the end. The fullest and most definite application of the words must therefore be to those who are to witness their accomplishment. To them it is that the warning is specially addressed, against being deceived through a false hope of the immediate return of Christ. [9]

A series of terrible events are yet to come; but "these are the beginning of sorrows;" "the end is not yet." How long these "sorrows" shall continue is not revealed. The first sure sign that the end is near will be the advent of the fiercest trial that the redeemed on earth have ever known. The fulfillment of Daniel's vision of the defilement of the Holy Place is to be the signal for immediate flight; "for then shall be the great tribulation," (Vers. 15-21. Compare Daniel 11:1.) unparalleled even in Judah's history. But, as already noticed, this last great persecution belongs to the latter half of Daniel's seventieth week, and therefore it affords a landmark by which we can determine the character and fix the order of the chief events which mark the closing scenes foretold in prophecy.

With the clew thus obtained from the Gospel of St. Matthew, we can turn with confidence to study the Apocalyptic visions of St. John. But first it must be clearly recognized that in the twenty-fourth of Matthew, as in the book of Daniel, Jerusalem is the center of the scene to which the prophecy relates; and this of necessity implies that the Jews shall have been restored to Palestine before the time of its fulfillment. [10]

Objections based on the supposed improbability of such an event are sufficiently answered by marking the connection between prophecy and miracle. The history of the Abrahamic race, to which prophecy is so closely related, is little else than a record of miraculous interpositions. "Their passage out of Egypt was miraculous. Their entrance into the promised land was miraculous. Their prosperous and their adverse fortunes in that land, their servitudes and their deliverances, their conquests and their captivities, were all miraculous. The entire history from the call of Abraham to the building of the sacred temple was a series of miracles. It is so much the object of the sacred historians to describe these that little else is recorded… There are no historians in the sacred volume of the period in which miraculous intervention was withdrawn. After the declaration by the mouth of Malachi that a messenger should be sent to prepare the way, the next event recorded by any inspired writer is the birth of that messenger. But of the interval of 400 years between the promise and the completion no account is given." [11]

The seventy years from Messiah's birth to the dispersion of the nation were fruitful in miracle and prophetic fulfillment. But the national existence of Israel is as it were the stage on which alone the drama of prophecy can, in its fullness, be displayed; and from the Apostolic age to the present hour, not a single public event can be appealed to as affording indisputable proof of immediate Divine intervention upon earth. [12] A silent heaven is a leading characteristic of the dispensation in which our lot is cast. But Israel's history has yet to be completed; and when that nation comes again upon the scene, the element of miraculous interpositions will mark once more the course of events on earth.

On the other hand, the analogy of the past would lead us to expect a merging of the one dispensation in the other, rather than an abrupt transition; and the question is one of peculiar interest on general grounds, whether passing events are not tending towards this very consummation, the restoration of the Jews to Palestine.

The decline of the Moslem power is one of the most patent of public facts; and if the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire be still delayed, it is due entirely to the jealousies of European nations, whose rival interests seem to render an amicable distribution of its territories impossible. But the crisis cannot be deferred indefinitely; and when it arrives, the question of greatest moment, next to the fate of Constantinople, will be, What is to become of Palestine? Its annexation by any one European state is in the highest degree improbable. The interests of several of the first-rate Powers forbid it. The way will thus be kept open to the Jews, whenever their inclinations or their destinies lead them back to the land of their fathers.

Not only would no hostile influence hinder their return, but the probabilities of the case (and it is with probabilities that we are here concerned) are in favor of the colonization of Palestine by that people to whom historically it belongs. There is some reason to believe that a movement of this kind has already begun; and if, whether by the Levant becoming a highway to India, or from some other cause, any measure of prosperity should return to those shores that were once the commercial center of the world, the Jews would migrate thither in thousands from every land.

True it is that to colonize a country is one thing, while to create a nation is another. But the testimony of Scripture is explicit that Judah's national independence is not to be regained by diplomacy or the sword. Jerusalem is to remain under Gentile supremacy until the day when Daniel's visions shall be realized. In the language of Scripture, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." [13] But long ere then the Cross must supplant the Crescent in Judea, else it is incredible that the Mosque of Omar should give place to the Jewish Temple on the Hill of Zion.

If the operation of causes such as those above indicated, conjointly with the decay of the Moslem power, should lead to the formation of a protected Jewish state in Palestine, possibly with a military occupation of Jerusalem by or on behalf of some European Power or Powers, nothing more need be supposed than a religious revival among the Jews, to prepare the way for the fulfillment of the prophecies. [14]

"God has not cast away His people;" and when the present dispensation closes, and the great purpose has been satisfied for which it was ordained, the dropped threads of prophecy and promise will again be taken up, and the dispensation historically broken off in the Acts of the Apostles, when Jerusalem was the appointed center for God's people on earth, [15] will be resumed. Judah shall again become a nation, Jerusalem shall be restored, and that temple shall be built in which the "abomination of desolation" is to stand. [16]


[1] Matthew 2:3. It must not be imagined that it was any religious emotion which disturbed the king. The announcement of the Magi was to him what the news of the birth of an heir is to an heir-presumptive. The Magi asked, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" Herod's inquiry, therefore, to the Sanhedrin was, "Where should Messiah be born?" and on being referred to the prophecy which so plainly designated Bethlehem, he determined to destroy every infant child in that city and district. Herod and the Sanhedrin had not learned to spiritualize the prophecies.

[2] Cf. Pusey, Daniel, p. 84

[3] Matthew 10:5-8. The chapter is prophetic, in keeping with the character of the book, and reaches on to the testimony of the latter days (see ex. gr., ver. 23).

[4] In our own time the Jews have had the temerity to publish a translation of the Mishna, and the reader who will peruse its treatises can judge with what contempt and loathing the Lord must have regarded the religion of those miserable men. The treatise Sabbath will afford an invaluable commentary on the twelfth of Matthew. The Mishna is a compilation of the oral traditions of the Rabbins, made in the second century, A. D., to prevent their being lost by the dispersion — the very traditions, many of them, which prevailed when the Lord was on earth, and which He so unsparingly condemned as undermining the Scriptures, for then as now the Jews regarded them as possessing a Divine sanction. (Cf Lindo's Jewish Cal., Introd.; Milman's Hist. Jews, Book 18.)

[5] Matthew 13:3, 13. "From the expression ardzato in Mark, compared with the question of the disciples in ver. 10, — and with ver. 34, — it appears that this was the first beginning of our Lord's teaching by parables, expressly so delivered, and properly so called. And the natural sequence of things here agrees with and confirms Matthew's arrangement against those who would place (as Ebrard) all this chapter before the Sermon on the Mount. He there spoke without parables, or mainly so; and continued to do so till the rejection and misunderstanding of His teaching led to His judicially adopting the course here indicated, choris par. ouden elalei autois." ALFORD, Gr. Test, Matthew 13:3.

[6] As were also the interpretations of the Parables of the Sower and of the Tares.

[7] Matthew 24:3. "As He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him." Compare Matthew 5:1" He went up into a mountain, and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him." The Sermon on the Mount unfolded the principles on which the Kingdom would be set up. The King having been rejected by the nation, the second Sermon on the Mount unfolded the events which must precede His return

[8] Alford, Gr. Test., vol. 4., Pt. 2. Proleg. Rev.

[9] Matthew 24:4, 6. That is, the final stage of the advent; not His coming as foretold in 1 Thessalonians 4 and elsewhere, which has no signs preceding.

To refer verse 5 to the times of Barcochab involves a glaring anachronism. The primary reference in vers. 15-20, and, therefore, of the earlier portion of the prophecy, was to the period ending with the destruction of Jerusalem.

[10] The question of their restoration to a place of blessing spiritually has already been discussed.

[11] Clinton, Fasti H., vol. 1., p. 243.

[12] There is, doubtless, what may be called the private miracle of individual conversion, and the believer has transcendental proof not only of the existence of God, but of His presence and power with men.

[13] Luke 21:24. That is, till the end of the period during which earthly sovereignty, entrusted to Nebuchadnezzar twenty-five centuries ago, is to remain with the Gentiles.

[14] The following extract from the Jewish Chronicle of 9th Nov., 1849, is quoted in Mr. Newton's Ten Kingdoms (2nd Ed., p. 401): "The European Powers will not need to put themselves to the trouble of restoring the Jews individually or collectively. Let them but confer upon Palestine a constitution like that of the United States…and the Jews will restore themselves. They would then go cheerfully and willingly, and would there piously bide their time for a heaven-inspired Messiah, who is to restore Mosaism to its original splendor."

[15] Gentiles were then admitted within the pale, not on an equality, but in some sense as proselytes had been received within the nation. The Church was essentially Jewish. The temple was their place of resort (Acts 2:46; 3:1, 5:42). Their testimony was in the line of the old prophecies to the nation (ibid. 3:19-26.), and even when scattered by persecution, the apostles remained in the metropolis, and those who were driven abroad evangelized only among the Jews (ibid. 8:1, 4, and 11:19). Peter refused to go among Gentiles save after a special revelation to him (ibid. 10.), and he was put on his defense before the Church for going at all (ibid. 11:2-18. Comp. chap. 15.)

[16] Scattered among the people will be a "remnant," who will "keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17); Jews, and yet Christians; Jews, but believers in the Messiah, whom the nation will continue to reject until the time of His appearing. It must be obvious to the thoughtful mind that such prophecies as the twenty-fourth of Matthew imply that there will be a believing people to be comforted and guided by them at the time and in the scene of their fulfillment.

CHAPTER XIV. Back to Top


NARROWNESS of interpretation is the bane of apocalyptic study. "The words of this prophecy," "Things which must shortly come to pass'" such is the Divine description of the Book of the Revelation and of its contents. No one, therefore, is justified in denying to any portion of it a future application. The Book in its entirety is prophetic. Even the seven epistles, though they were undoubtedly addressed to Churches then existing, and though their intermediate reference to the history of Christendom is also clear, may well have a special voice in days to come for those who are to enter the fierce trials that shall precede the end. [1]

In the fourth chapter the throne is set in heaven. Judgment now waits on grace; but when the day of grace is past, judgment must intervene ere the promises and covenants, with all their rich store of blessings, can be fulfilled. But who can unfold that scroll that lies on the open hand of Him who sits upon the throne? (Revelation 5:2) No creature in the universe [2] may dare to look on it, and God Himself will not break a single seal of it, for the Father has ceded the prerogative of judgment. The ministry of grace may be shared by all whom grace has blessed, but the Son of man is the only Being in the universe who can take the initiative in judgment; (John 5:22-27) and amid the anthems of the heavenly beings round the throne, and the swelling chorus of myriads of myriads of angels, echoed back by the whole creation of God, the Crucified of Calvary, "a Lamb, as it had been slain," takes up the book and prepares to break the seals. (Revelation 5:5-14)

It is at the fifth seal that the vision crosses the lines of the chronology of prophecy. [3] Of the earlier seals, therefore, it is unnecessary to speak in detail. They are evidently descriptive of the events to which the Lord referred in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, as preceding the great final persecution; — wars and unceasing threats of war, kingdoms in arms rushing on one another to destruction; and then famine, to be followed again by pestilence, hunger and the sword still claiming their victims, and others being seized by strange and nameless deaths in the ever-gathering horrors of these cumulative woes. (Revelation 6:2-8)

According to the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, the tribulation is to be followed immediately by the signs and portents which the old prophets have declared will herald "the great and terrible day of the Lord." So in the Apocalypse the martyrs of the tribulation are seen in the fifth seal, (Revelation 9) and in the sixth, the advent of the great day of wrath is proclaimed, the precise events being named which the Lord had spoken of on the Mount of Olives, and Joel and Isaiah had foretold long centuries before. [4]

Like the dull, oppressive calm which precedes the fiercest storms, there is silence in heaven when the last seal is broken, (Revelation 8:1) for the day of vengeance has dawned. The events of the earlier seals were Divine judgments, doubtless, but of a providential character, and such as men can account for by secondary causes. But God has at length declared Himself, and as it has been in the past, so now, the occasion is an outrage committed on His people. The cry of martyrs is come up in remembrance before God, (Revelation 3) and it is the signal for the trumpet blasts which herald the outpouring of the long-pent-up wrath. (Revelation 6)

To write a commentary on the Apocalypse within the limits of a chapter would be impossible, and the attempt would involve a departure from the special purpose and subject of these pages. But it is essential to notice and keep in view the character and method of the Apocalyptic visions. The seer, be it remembered, was not privileged to read a single line of what was written "within and on the back side" of the sealed scroll of the fifth chapter; but as each seal was broken, some prominent characteristic of a portion of its contents was communicated to him in a vision. The main series of the visions, therefore, represent events in their chronological sequence. But their course is occasionally interrupted by parenthetical or episodical visions; sometimes, as between the sixth and seventh seals, reaching on to the time of the end, and more frequently, as between the sixth and seventh trumpets, representing details chronologically within the earlier visions. The first and most important step, therefore, towards a right understanding of the Apocalypse is to distinguish between the serial and the episodical visions of the Book, and the following analysis is offered to promote and assist inquiry upon the subject. [5]

Chap. 6. — The visions of the first six seals; representing events in their chronological order.

[Chap. 7. — Parenthetical; the first vision relating either to the faithful remnant of the fifth seal, or to an election in view of the judgments of the seventh seal; the second, reaching on to the final deliverance.]

Chaps. 8, 9. — The opening of the seventh seal. The visions of the first six trumpets; consecutive judgments, in their chronological order.

[Chaps. 10. -11. 13. — Parenthetical, containing the hidden mystery of the seven thunders (10:3, 4) and the testimony of the witnesses (the latter being probably within the era of the fifth seal.)]

Chap. 11:15-19. — The seventh trumpet; the third and last woe (comp. 8:13; 9:12; 11:14), preceding the establishment of the kingdom (comp. 10:7; 11:15).

[Chaps. 12. -18. — Parenthetical]

Chap. 13. — The rise and career of the two great blasphemers and persecutors of the last days.

Chap. 14. — The remnant of chap. 7. seen in blessedness. The everlasting Gospel (vers. 6, 7). The fall of Babylon (ver. 8). The doom of the worshippers of the Beast (vers. 9-11). The revelation of Christ, and final judgments, (vers. 14-20).

Chap. 15. — A vision of events chronologically within chapter 8., the opening the seventh seal. (This appears from the fact that the faithful of the fifth seal are here represented as praising God in view of the judgments impending, — see vers. 2-4; which judgments are within the seventh seal.)

Chap. 16. —
The seven vials; a second series of visions of the events of the seven trumpets. This appears —

First, because the seventh trumpet and the seventh vial both relate to the final catastrophe. Under the seventh trumpet, the mystery of God is finished (10:7), and the temple of God is opened, and there are lightnings, voices, thunders, and an earthquake (11:19). Under the seventh vial, "It is done!" is heard from the temple, and there are voices, thunders, lightnings, and an earthquake (16:17, 18).

Second, because the sphere of the judgments is the same in the correlative visions of both series:

1, The earth.

2, The sea.

3, The rivers.

4, The sun.

5, The pit, the seat of the beast.

6, Euphrates.

7, Heaven, the air.

[Chaps. 17., 18. — Detailed visions of the development and doom of Babylon, "the harlot," whose fall has been within the seventh trumpet and seventh vial; the last series of judgments of the seventh seal (11:18; 16:19).]

Chap. 19: The doom of the harlot being accomplished (ver. 2), the glory of the bride follows (ver. 7); the glorious revelation of Christ, and the destruction consequent thereon of the beast and false prophet (ver. 20).

Chap. 20. — Satan is bound. The millennial reign of the saints (vers. 1-4). After the millennial reign, Satan is loosed, and once more deceives the nations. Satan is cast into the lake of fire. The judgment of the Great White Throne.

Chaps. 21., 22:1-5. — The new heaven and new earth

Chap. 22:6-21.
— Conclusion. [6]

As the last trumpet and the last vial embrace the final judgments of the day of vengeance, which precede the advent of the glorious kingdom, they necessarily include the doom of the two great antichristian powers of the last days, — the imperial represented by the ten-horned beast, and the ecclesiastical typified by the scarlet woman. The visions of the thirteenth and seventeenth chapters, therefore, are interposed, descriptive of the rise and development of these powers. These accordingly give us details which relate to events within the earlier seals, for the martyrs of the fifth seal are the victims of the great persecutor of the thirteenth chapter.

If the foregoing scheme be correct in the main, the eras included in the Revelation may be divided thus:

1. The seven Churches; the transitional period following the close of the Christian dispensation." [7]

2. The seven seals; the period during which all that prophecy has foretold shall precede the kingdom will be fulfilled.

3. The kingdom; to be followed, after a final interval of apostasy, by —

4. T
he eternal state; the new heaven and new earth.

It is manifestly within the period of the seals that the prophecies of Daniel have their fulfillment, and the next inquiry should be directed to ascertain the points of contact between the visions of St. John and the earlier prophecies.

As already noticed, it is only in so far as prophecy falls within the seventy weeks that it comes within the range of human chronology. And further, the seventieth week will be a definite period, of which the epoch of the middle and the end are definitely marked. The epoch of the first week, that is, of the prophetic period as a whole, was not the return of the Jews from Babylon, nor yet the rebuilding of their temple, but the signing of the Persian decree which restored their national position. So also the beginning of the last week will date, not from their restoration to Judea, nor yet from the future rebuilding of their shrine, but from the signing of the treaty by "the coming Prince," which probably will once more recognize them as a nation. [8]

But it is obvious that this personage must have attained to power before the date of that event; and it is expressly stated (Daniel 7:24) that his rise is to be after that of the ten kingdoms which are hereafter to divide the Roman earth. It follows, therefore, that the development of these kingdoms, and the rise of the great Kaiser who is to wield the imperial scepter in the last days, must be prior to the beginning of the seventieth week. [9]

And within certain limits, we can also fix the order of the subsequent events. The violation of the treaty by the defilement of the Holy Place is to occur "in the midst of the week." (Daniel 9:27) That event, again, is to be the epoch of the great persecution by Antichrist, (Matthew 24:15- 21) which is to last precisely three and a half years; for his power to persecute the Jews is to be limited to that definite period. (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5) "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light." (Matthew 24:29) Such is the statement of the twenty-fourth of Matthew; and the sixth of Revelation exactly coincides with it, for the vision of the fifth seal embraced the period of "the tribulation"; and when the sixth seal was opened, "the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood," and the cry went forth, "The great day of His wrath is come." (Revelation 6:12, 17) In keeping with this, again, is the prophecy of Joel. "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come." (Joel 2:31) The events of this day of vengeance are the burden of the vision of the seventh seal, including the judgment of Babylon, the scarlet woman — or the religious apostasy — by the agency of the imperial power (Revelation 17:16, 17) the beast, whose fearful end is to bring the awful drama to a close. (Revelation 19:20) We have definite grounds, therefore, for assigning the following order to the events of the last days:

1. The development of the ten kingdoms.

2. The appearance within the territorial limits of these kingdoms of an eleventh "king," who will subdue three of the ten, and will ultimately be accepted as Suzerain by all.

3. The making of a treaty by this king with, or in favor of, the Jews. The epoch of the seventieth week.

4. The violation of the treaty by this king after three and a half years.

5. "The great tribulation" of Scripture, the awful persecution of the last days, which shall continue three and a half years.

6. The deliverance of the Jews from their great enemy, to be followed by their final establishment in blessing. The close of the seventieth week.

7. "The great and
terrible day of the Lord," the period of the seventh seal, beginning with a revelation of Christ to His people in Jerusalem, accompanied by appalling manifestations of Divine power and ending with His last glorious advent.

That the seventieth week will be the last seven years of the dispensation, and the term of the reign of Antichrist, is a belief as old as the writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. But a careful examination of the statements of Scripture will lead to some modification of this view. The fulfillment to Judah of the blessings specified in Daniel 9:24 is all that Scripture expressly states will mark the close of the seventieth week. Antichrist will then be driven out of Judea; but there is no reason whatever to suppose he will otherwise lose his power. As already shown, the seventieth week ends with the period of the fifth seal, whereas the fall of Babylon is within the era of the seventh seal. No one may assert that that era will be of long duration, and it will probably be brief; but the only certain indication of its length is that it will be within a single lifetime, for at its close the Antichrist is to be seized alive, and hurled to his awful doom (Revelation 19:20).

The analogy of the past might lead us to expect that the events foretold to occur at the end of the seventieth week would follow immediately at its close. But the Book of Daniel expressly teaches that there will be an interval. Whatever view be taken of the earlier portion of the eleventh of Daniel, it is clear that "the king" of the thirty-sixth and following verses is the great enemy of the last days. His wars and conquests are predicted, [10] and the twelfth chapter opens with the mention of the predicted time of trouble, "the great tribulation" of Matthew and Revelation. The seventh verse specifies the duration of the "time of trouble" as "a time, times, and a half," which, as already shown, is the half week, or 1, 260 days. But the eleventh verse expressly declares that from the date of the event which is to divide the week, and which, according to Matthew 24., is to be the signal of persecution, there shall be 1, 290 days; and the twelfth verse postpones the blessing to 1, 335 days, or seventy-five days beyond the close of the prophetic weeks.

If therefore "the day of the Lord" follows immediately upon the close of the seventieth week, it seems that Judah's complete deliverance is not to take place until after that final period has begun. And this is expressly confirmed by the fourteenth chapter of Zechariah. It is a prophecy than which none is more definite, and the difficulties which beset the interpretation of it are in no degree overcome by refusing to read it literally. It seems to teach that at that time Jerusalem is to be taken by the allied armies of the nations, and that at the moment when a host of prisoners are being led away, God will intervene in some miraculous way, as when He destroyed the army of Pharaoh at the Exodus [11]

Comparison with the prophecy of the twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew is the surest and strictest test which can be applied to these conclusions. After fixing the epoch and describing the character of the great persecution of the last days, the Lord thus enumerates the events which are to follow at its close:— First the great natural phenomena predicted; then the appearance of the sign of the Son of man in heaven; then the mourning of the tribes of the land; [12] and finally the glorious advent.

That there will be no interval between the persecution and the "great signs from heaven" (Luke 21:11) which are to follow it, is expressly stated; they are to occur "immediately after the tribulation." That an interval shall separate the other events of the series is equally clear. From the defilement of the Holy Place, to the day when the tribulation shall end, and the "fearful sights" and "great signs" from heaven shall strike terror into men's hearts, shall be a definite period of 1,260 days; [13] and yet when He goes on to speak of the Advent, the Lord declares that that day is known to the Father only: it should be His people's part to watch and wait. He had already warned them against being deceived by expecting His Advent before the fulfillment of all that must come to pass (Matthew 24:4-28). Now He warns them against apostasy after the accomplishment of all things, because of the delay which even then shall still mark His coming. [14]

The words of Christ are unequivocally true, and He never enjoins upon His people to live in expectation of His coming, save at a time when nothing intervenes to bar the fulfillment of the hope. Fatalism is as popular among Christians as with the worshippers of Mahomet; and it is forgotten that though the dispensation has run its course these eighteen centuries, it might have been brought to a close at any moment. Hence the Christian is taught to live, "looking for that blessed hope." (Titus 2:12, 13) It will be otherwise in days to come, when the present dispensation shall have closed with the first stage of the Advent. Then the word will be, not "Watch, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come," (Matthew 24:42) — that belongs to the time when all shall have been fulfilled, — but "Take heed that no man deceive you, all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." (Matthew 4:6)


[1] The Bible is not intended for the present dispensation only, but for the people of God in every age; and it is incredible that they who are to be so severely tried shall fail to find in it words specially fitted and intended to counsel and comfort them in view of what they are to endure. "This prophecy" is the Divine description of the Apocalypse as a whole (Revelation 1:3). Compare the "must shortly come to pass" of Revelation 1:1 with the "must shortly be done" of 22:6. The salutation (1:4, 5) seems to fix the dispensational place of the Book as future. It is not the Father, but Jehovah; not the Lord Jesus Christ, but "Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the Prince of the kings of the earth;" and the Book speaks from a time when the Holy Spirit, as a person, will again be in heaven, to join in the salutation, which He never does in the Epistles of the New Testament. Revelation 1:19 is frequently quoted to prove that the Book is divided, and that the latter part only is prophetic. In refutation of this, I appeal to the most candid of apocalyptic commentators, Dean Alford, who thus translates the verse: "Write therefore the things which thou sawest, and what things they signify, and the things which are about to happen after these." He explains "the things which thou sawest" to be "the vision which was but now vouchsafed thee," and the closing words as "the things which shall succeed these, i. e., a future vision" (Greek Test., in loco).

In ch. 4:1, Alford inclines to give to the second meta tauta the general meaning of "hereafter." But the presumption is; that the words are used at the end of the verse in the same sense as at the beginning, i. e., "after these things." The words imply that the fulfillment of the subsequent visions should be future, relatively to the fulfillment of the preceding vision, and not relatively merely to the time when the vision was given, which was a matter of course.

[2] Revelation 3. It is not, as in English Version, "no man," but oudeis. The Revised Version properly reads "no one."

[3] Because the fifth seal relates to the great persecution of the future, which, as already noticed, is within the seventieth week. The first four seals relate to the events preceding in time the fulfillment of the fifteenth verse of the twenty-fourth of Matthew. Compare the sixth and seventh verses of that chapter with Revelation 6:1-8.

[4] "The day of the Lord cometh…The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come" (Joel 2:1-31). "The day of the Lord cometh…The sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine" (Isaiah 13:9, 10). "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven" (Matthew 24:29). "There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars" (Luke 21:25). "The sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood" (compare Joel 2:31), "and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth" (Revelation 6:12, 13).

I entirely agree with the following note of Dean Alford's (Greek Test., Matthew 24:29): "Such prophecies are to be understood literally, and indeed, without such understanding would lose their truth and significance. The physical signs shall happen as accompaniments and intensification's of the awful state of things which the description typifies." Not of course that the moon will really become blood, any more than that the stars will fall. The words describe phenomena which men will witness, and which will strike terror into their hearts.

[5] The passages containing the parenthetical visions are marked in square brackets.

[6] I purposely pass over chap. 12, because of the exceptional difficulties which attend the interpretation of it. "Anything within reasonable regard for the analogies and symbolism of the text seems better that the now too commonly received historical interpretation, with its wild fancies and arbitrary assignments of words and figures" (Alford, Greek Test., Revelation 12:15, 16). The only reasonable interpretation I have seen is that which regards the "man-child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron," and who "was caught up to God and His throne," as being the Lord Jesus Christ, and the woman as representing that people of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came" (Romans 9:5). But the objections to this are considerable. First, past historical facts are thus introduced into a vision relating to the future. I am not aware of any other instance of this in Scripture. Secondly, the main features of the vision after ver. 5 are not accounted for by the facts.

The following remarks are offered merely to assist inquiry and not at all as expressing a formed opinion on the matter. The 1, 260 days during which the woman is persecuted is precisely the period of "the great tribulation." Ver. 7 declares that during the woman's flight, Michael the Archangel fought on her behalf. Daniel 12:1, referring to the time of Antichrist's power, states that "at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of the people; and there shall be a time of trouble," etc., describing "the great tribulation" which is to continue 1, 260 days.

Again, the Old Scriptures clearly point to the career of a future David, a deliverer of the Jews, who will become their earthly leader at that time, and reign over them in Jerusalem afterwards. See, e. g., Ezekiel 22-25, about David the Prince, who is certainly not Christ, seeing he is to have a palace in Jerusalem and a definite inheritance in the land, and who, moreover, is to offer burnt-offerings, etc. (Ezekiel 45:17). I suppose this is the great military conqueror of Isaiah 43:1-3. May not the Revelation 12 refer to this personage, who is to be Christ's vicegerent on earth, and who will, in fact, rule over all nations.

[7] That is, assuming that this portion of the Book has a prophetical aspect.

[8] I do not assert that he will have reached the zenith of his power before that date. On the contrary, it seems extremely probable that the treaty with the Jews will be one of the steps by which he will raise himself to the place he is destined to hold, and that as soon as he has attained his end, he will throw off the mask and declare himself a persecutor. So Irenaeus teaches, and he possibly gives what was the tradition of the apostolic age.

[9] He is neither king of the north nor of the south, for both these kings shall invade his territory (ver. 40), i. e., the powers which shall then respectively possess Syria and Egypt.

[10] The day of battle" (Zechariah 14:3). The prophet adds: "And His feet shall stand on that day upon the Mount of Olives." I cannot conceive how any one can suppose this to be the great: and final advent in glory as described in Matthew 24:30 and other Scriptures. "The prophecy (Zechariah 14) seems literal. If Antichrist be the leader of the nations, it seems inconsistent with the statement that he will at this time be sitting in the temple as God at Jerusalem; thus Antichrist outside would be made to besiege Antichrist within the city. But difficulties do not set aside revelations; the event will clear up seeming difficulties" (Fausset's Commentary, in loco). It is idle to speculate on such a matter, but I presume the city will have revolted against the great enemy during his absence at the head of the armies of the empire, and that thereupon he will turn back to reconquer it. History repeats itself. Moreover, there is no reason to believe that he will reside in Jerusalem, though presumably he will have a palace there, and as part of a blasphemous pageant, will sit enthroned in the temple. That Jerusalem should be captured by a hostile army at such a time will seem less strange if it be remembered first that the true people of God therein shall have warning to leave the city at the beginning of these troubles (Matthew 24:15, 16.), and secondly, that the deliverance of the capital is to be tile last act in the deliverance of Judah (See Zechariah 12:7).

[11] Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall "the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:29, 30).

[12] kopsontai pasai ai phulai tas gas. Comp. Zechariah 12:12 (LXX), kopsetai ha ga kata phulas phulas.

[13] Therefore if the Advent synchronized with these events, any one then living would be able to fix the date of it, once the epoch of the tribulation were known; whereas the chapter clearly shows that an interval will follow after all has been fulfilled, long enough to weed out mere professors, who, tired of waiting, will apostatize (Matthew 24:48), and to lull, even true disciples to a sleep from which their Lord's return will rouse them (Ibid. 25:5).

[14] Matthew 24:42-51, and 25:10-13: "THEN shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins." tote, "at the period spoken of at the end of the last chapter, viz., the coming of the Lord to His personal reign" (Alford, Gr. Test., in loco.)] Though applicable to every age in which there is a waiting people on earth, the parable will have its full and special application in the last days to those who shall be looking back on the complete page of prophecy fulfilled. The entire passage from chap. 24:31, to chap. 25:30, is parenthetical, relating especially to that time.

CHAPTER XV. Back to Top


"WHAT is it that all Europe is looking for?" — the words are quoted from a leading article in the Times newspaper, on the recent finding of Agamemnon's tomb. [1] "What is it that all Europe is looking for? It is the KING OF MEN, the great head of the Hellenic race, the man whom a thousand galleys and a hundred thousand men submitted to on a simple recognition of his personal qualities, and obeyed for ten long years…The man who can challenge for his own the shield of Agamemnon, now waiting for the challenge, is the true Emperor of the East, and the easiest escape from our present difficulties."

The realization of this dream will be the fulfillment of prophecy.

True it is that popular movements characterize the age, rather than the power of individual minds. It is an age of mobs. Democracy, not despotism, is the goal towards which civilization is tending. But democracy in its full development is one of the surest roads to despotism. First, the revolution; then, the plebiscites; then, the despot. The Caesar often owes his scepter to the mob. A man of transcendent greatness, moreover, never fails to leave his mark upon his times. And the true King of Men must have an extraordinary combination of great qualities. He must be "a scholar, a statesman, a man of unflinching courage and irrepressible enterprise, full of resources, and ready to look in the face a rival or a foe." [2] The opportunity too must synchronize with his advent. But the voice of prophecy is clear, that the HOUR is coming, and the MAN.

In connection with this dream or legend of the reappearance of Agamemnon, it is remarkable that the language of Daniel's second vision has led some to fix on Greece as the very place in which the Man of prophecy shall have his rise; [3] and it leaves no doubt whatever that he will appear within the territorial limits of the old Grecian empire.

Having predicted the formation of the four kingdoms into which Alexander's conquests became divided at his death, the angel Gabriel — the divinely-appointed interpreter of the vision — proceeded thus to speak of events which must take place in days to come. "In the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also, he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many. He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand." [4]

In the vision of the seventh chapter, the last great monarch of the Gentiles was represented only as a blasphemer and a persecutor: "He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High;" but here he is described as being also a general and a diplomatist. Having thus obtained a recognized place in prophecy, he is alluded to in the vision which follows as "the Prince who is coming," (Daniel 9:26) — a well-known personage, whose advent had already been foretold; and the mention of him in Daniel's fourth and final vision is so explicit, that having regard to the vital importance of establishing the personality of this "King," the passage is here set forth at length.

"And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished. for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate he shall honor the God of forces; and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain. And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time. and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." [5]

The burden of Daniel's prophecies is Judah and Jerusalem, but the Apocalyptic visions of the beloved disciple have a wider scope. The same scenes are sometimes presented, but they are displayed upon a grander scale. The same actors appear, but in relation to larger interests and events of greater magnitude. In Daniel, the Messiah is mentioned only in relation to the earthly people, and it is in the same connection also that the false Messiah comes upon the stage. In the Apocalypse the Lamb appears as the Savior of an innumerable multitude "out of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues," (Revelation 7:9) and the Beast is seen as the persecutor of all who name the name of Christ on earth. The visions of St. John, moreover, include an opened heaven, while the glimpses Daniel was vouchsafed of "things to come" are limited to earth.

The attempt to fix the meaning of every detail of these visions is to ignore the lessons to be derived from the Messianic prophecies fulfilled at the first advent. [6] The old Scriptures taught the pious Jew to look for a personal Christ — not a system or a dynasty, but a person. They enabled him, moreover, to anticipate the leading facts of His appearing. Herod's question, for example, "Where should Christ be born?" admitted of a definite and unhesitating answer, "In Bethlehem of Judea." (Matthew 2:4; Cf. Micah 5:2) But to assign its place and meaning to every part of the mingled vision of suffering and glory was beyond the power even of the inspired prophets themselves." (1 Peter 1:10-12) So also is it with the prophecies of Antichrist. The case indeed is stronger still, for while they "who waited for redemption in Israel" had to glean the Messianic prophecies from Scriptures which seemed to the careless reader to refer to the sufferings of the old Hebrew prophets or the glories of their kings, the predictions of Antichrist are as distinct and definite as though the statements were historical and not prophetic. [7]

And yet the task of the expositor is beset with real difficulties. If the book of Daniel might be read by itself no question whatever could arise. "The Coming Prince" is there presented as the head of the revived Roman empire of the future, and a persecutor of the saints. There is not a single statement respecting him that presents the smallest difficulty. But some of the statements of St. John seem inconsistent with the earlier prophecies. According to Daniel's visions the sovereignty of Antichrist appears confined to the ten kingdoms, and his career seems limited to the duration of the seventieth week. How then can this be reconciled with the statement of St. John that "power was given him over all kindreds and tongues and nations, and all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him "? [8] Is it credible, moreover, that a man endowed with such vast supernatural powers, and filling so marvelous a place in prophecy, will be restrained within the narrow limits of the Roman earth?

If these points be urged as objections to the truth of Scripture it is enough to mark that the prophecies of Christ were beset with kindred difficulties. Such prophecies are like the disjointed pieces of an elaborate and intricate mosaic. To fit each into its place would baffle our utmost ingenuity. To discover the main design is all we can expect; or if more be demanded of us, it is enough to show that no part is inconsistent with the rest. And these results will reward the student of the Apocalyptic visions of Daniel and St. John, if only he approach them untrammeled by the crude views which prevail respecting the career of Antichrist.

These visions are not a history, but a drama. In the twelfth chapter of Revelation we see the woman in her travail. In the twenty-first chapter she is manifested in her final glory. The intervening chapters afford brief glimpses of events which fill up the interval. It is with the thirteenth and seventeenth chapters that we have specially to do in connection with the present subject, and it is clear that the later vision unfolds events which come first in the order of time.

The false church and the true are typified under kindred emblems. Jerusalem, the Bride, has its counterpart in Babylon, the Harlot. In the same sense in which the New Jerusalem is the Jewish church, so likewise Babylon is the apostasy of Rome. The heavenly city is mother of the redeemed for ages past (Galatians 4:26) the earthly city is mother of the harlots and abominations of the earth. (Revelation 17:5) The victims who have perished in the persecutions of Antichristian Papal Rome are estimated at fifty millions of human beings; but even this appalling record will not be the measure of her doom. The blood of "holy apostles and prophets," — the martyred dead of ages before the Papacy arose, and even of pre-Messianic times, will be required of her when the day of vengeance comes. [9]

As it is only in its Jewish aspect that the Church is expressly symbolized as the Bride, [10] so also it is at a time when this, their normal relationship, has been regained by the covenant people, that the apostate church of Christendom, in the full development of its iniquity, appears as the Harlot [11] The vision clearly indicates moreover a marked revival of her influence. She is seen enthroned upon the ten-horned Beast, herself arrayed in royal hues and decked with gold and costliest gems. The infamous greatness of Papal Rome in times gone by shall yet be surpassed by the splendor of her glories in dark days to come, when, having drawn within her pale it may be all that usurps the name of Christ on earth, [12] she will claim as her willing vassal the last great monarch of the Gentile world.

As regards the duration of this period of Rome's final triumphs, Scripture is silent; but the crisis which brings it to a close is definitely marked. "The ten horns and the Beast shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire." (Revelation 17:16)

One point in the angel's description of the Beast in relation to the harlot claims special notice. The seven heads have a twofold symbolism. When viewed in connection with the harlot, they are "seven mountains on which the woman sits;" but in their special relation to the Beast they have a different significance. The angel adds, "and they are seven kings;" that is "kingdoms," the word being used "according to its strict prophetic import, and to the analogy of that portion of the prophecy which is here especially in view." [13]

In the seventh chapter of Daniel the Beast is identified with the Roman Empire. In the thirteenth of Revelation he is identified also with the lion, the bear, and the panther, the three first "kingdoms'" of Daniel's vision. But here he is seen as the heir' and representative, not of these alone, but of all the great world-powers which have set themselves; in opposition to God and to His people. The seven heads typify these powers. "Five are fallen, and one is." Egypt, Nineveh, Babylon, Persia, Greece, had fallen; and Rome then held the scepter of earthly sovereignty, the sixth in succession to the empires already named. [14] "And the other is not yet come, and when he cometh he must continue a short space," Here the prophecy is marked by the same strange "foreshortening" already noticed in each of Daniel's visions. While Rome was the sixth kingdom, the seventh is the confederacy of the latter days, heading up in "the Coming Prince." The Coming Prince himself, in the full and final development of his power, is called the eighth, though belonging to the seven, [15] The importance of these conclusions will appear in the sequel.

The subject of the twelfth chapter is the dragon, the woman in her travail, the birth of the man-child and his rapture to heaven; the conflict in heaven between the archangel and the dragon; (Verse 7; Compare Daniel 12:1.) the dragon's banishment to earth; his persecution of the woman, and her flight to the wilderness, where she is sustained for "a time, and times, and half a time," or 1, 260 days (Verses 6, 14.) (the second half of Daniel's seventieth week). The chapter ends by the statement that, baffled in attempting to destroy the woman, the dragon "went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." The thirteenth chapter, crossing the lines of Daniel's visions, represents the fulfillment of the dragon's purpose through the agency of the man of prophecy, whom he energizes to this end. Whatever meaning be attached to the birth and rapture of the woman's child, there can be no reasonable doubt that the obedient, faithful "remnant of her seed" is the Jewish Church of the latter days, the persecuted "saints of the Most High" of Daniel's prophecy.

The serpent, the woman, and the man, appear together on the earliest page of Scripture, and they reappear upon the latest. But how significant and terrible the change! No longer the subtle tempter, Satan is now displayed in all his awfulness as the great fiery dragon, [16] who seeks to destroy the woman's promised seed. And instead of the humbled penitent of Eden, the man appears as a wild beast, [17] a monster, both in power and wickedness. The serpent's victim has become his willing slave and ally.

God has found a man to fulfill all His will, and to Him He has given up His throne, with all power in heaven and "on earth." This will hereafter be travestied by Satan, and the coming man shall have the dragon's "power, and his throne, and great authority." (Revelation 8:2) Both the Dragon and the Beast are seen crowned with royal diadems. (Revelation 12:3; 13:1.) Once, and only once, again in Scripture the diadem is mentioned, and then it is as worn by Him whose name is "King of kings and Lord of lords." (Revelation 19:12-16) It must be as pretenders to His power that the Beast and the Dragon claim it.

The personality of Satan and his interest in and close connection with our race throughout its history, are among the most certain though most mysterious facts of revelation. The popular classification of angels, men, and devils, as including intelligent creation, is misleading. The angels [18] that fell are "reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the Great Day." (Jude 6) Demons are frequently mentioned in the narrative of the Gospels, and they have also a place in the doctrine of the Epistles. But THE DEVIL is a being who, like the Archangel, seems, in his own domain, to have no peer [19] .

Another fact which claims notice here is the hold which serpent worship has had upon mankind. Among the nations of the ancient world there was scarcely one in whose religious system it had not a place. In heathen mythology there is scarcely a hero or a god whose history is not connected in some way with the sacred serpent. "Wherever the devil reigned the serpent was held in some peculiar veneration." [20]

The true significance of this depends on a just appreciation of the nature of idol worship. It may be questioned whether idolatry as popularly understood has ever prevailed except among the most debased and ignorant of races. It is not the emblem that is worshipped, but a power or being which the emblem represents. When the Apostle warned the Corinthian Church against participating in anything devoted to an idol, he was careful to explain that the idol in itself was nothing. "But" (he declared) "the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, not to God, and I would not that ye should have fellowship with demons." (1 Corinthians 10:20.)

This will afford an insight into the character of the predicted serpent worship of the last days. [21] Satan's master lie will be a travesty of the incarnation: he will energize a man who will claim universal worship as being the manifestation of the Deity in human form. And not only will there be a false Messiah, but another being, his equal in miraculous power, yet having for his only mission to obtain for him the homage of mankind. The mystery of the Godhead will thus be parodied by the mystery of iniquity, and the Father, the Son, and the Spirit will have their counterpart in the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet. [22]

A silent heaven marks this age of grace. Whirlwind and earthquake and fire may awe, yet, as in the days of the old Hebrew prophet, [23] God is not in these, but in the "still small voice" which tells of mercy and seeks to win lost men from the power of darkness to Himself. But the very silence which betokens that the throne of God is now a throne of grace is appealed to as the crowning proof that God is but a myth; and the coarse blasphemer's favorite trick is to challenge the Almighty to declare Himself by some signal act of judgment. In days to come, the impious challenge will be taken up by Satan, and death shall seize on men who refuse to bow before the image of the Beast. [24]

The Antichrist will be more than a profane and brutal persecutor like Antiochus Epiphanes and some of the Emperors of Pagan Rome; more than a vulgar impostor like Barcochab. [25] Miracles alone can silence the
skepticism of apostates, and in the exercise of all the Dragon's delegated power, the Beast will command the homage of a world that has rejected grace. "All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life." (Revelation 8:8) If it were possible, the very elect would be deceived by his mighty "signs and wonders"; (Matthew 24:24) but faith, divinely given, is a sure, as it is the only, safeguard against credulity and superstition.

But this is what he will become in the zenith of his career. In his origin he is described as a "little horn," (Daniel 7:8) — like Alexander of Macedon, the king of a petty kingdom. Possibly he will be the head of some new Principality to arise in the final dismemberment of Turkey; it may be on the banks of the Euphrates, or perhaps upon the Asian shore of the Aegean Sea. The name of Babylon is strangely connected with events to come, and Pergamus, so long the home of serpent worship in its vilest forms, is the only place on earth which Scripture has identified with Satan's throne (Revelation 2:13).

Of the great political changes which must precede his advent, the most conspicuous are the restoration of the Jews to Palestine, and the predicted division of the Roman earth. The former of these events has already been considered in a previous chapter, and as regards the latter there is but little to be said. The attempt to enumerate the ten kingdoms of the future would involve a profitless inquiry. [26] History repeats itself; and if there be any element of periodicity in the political diseases by which nations are afflicted, Europe will inevitably pass through another crisis such as that which darkened the last decade of the eighteenth century. And should another revolution produce another Napoleon, it is impossible to foretell how far kingdoms may become consolidated, and boundaries may be changed. Moreover in forecasting the fulfillment of these prophecies, we are dealing with events which, while they may occur within the lifetime of living men, may yet be delayed for centuries. Our part is not to prophecy, but only to interpret; and we may well rest content with the certainty that when the Apocalyptic visions are in fact fulfilled, their fulfillment will be clear, not merely to minds educated in mysticism, but to all who are capable of observing public facts.

Through the gradual unfolding, it may be, of influences even now in operation; or far more probably as the outcome of some great European crisis in the future, this confederation of nations [27] shall be developed, and thus the stage will be prepared on which shall appear that awful Being, the great leader of men in the eventful days which are to close the era of Gentile supremacy.

If we are to understand aright the predicted course of the Antichrist's career, certain points connected with it must be clearly kept in view. The first is that up to a certain epoch he will be, notwithstanding his pre-eminence, no more than human. And here we must judge of the future by the past. At two-and-twenty years of age, Alexander crossed the Hellespont, the prince of a petty Grecian state. Four years later he had founded an Empire and given a new direction to the history of the world.

In the career of Napoleon Bonaparte, modern history affords a parallel still more striking and complete. When, now just a hundred years ago, he entered the French military school at Brienne, he was an unknown lad, without even the advantages which rank and wealth afford. So utterly obscure was his position that, not only did he owe his admission to the school to the influence of the Governor of Corsica, but calumny has found it possible to use that trifling act of friendly patronage to the disparagement of his mother's name. If then such a man, by the gigantic force of his personal qualities, combined with the accident of favoring circumstances, could attain the place which history has assigned to him, the fact affords the fullest answer to every objection which can be urged against the credibility of the predicted career of the man of prophecy.

Nor will it avail to urge that the last fifty years have so developed the mental activity of civilized races, and have produced such a spirit of independence, that the suggestion of a career like Napoleon's being repeated in days to come involves an anachronism. "In proportion as the general standard of mental cultivation is raised, and man made equal with man, the ordinary power of genius is diminished, but its extraordinary power is increased, its reach deepened, its hold rendered more firm. As men become familiar with the achievements and the exercise of talent, they learn to despise and disregard its daily examples, and to be more independent of mere men of ability; but they only become more completely in the power of gigantic intellect, and the slaves of pre-eminent and unapproachable talent." [28]

By the sheer force of transcendent genius the man of prophecy will gain a place of undisputed pre-eminence in the world; but if the facts of his after career are to be understood, considerations of a wholly different kind must be taken into account. A strange crisis marks his course. At first the patron of religion, a true "eldest son of the church," he becomes a relentless and profane persecutor. At first no more than a king of men, commanding the allegiance of the Roman earth, he afterwards claims to be divine, and demands the worship of Christendom.

And we have seen how this extraordinary change in his career takes place at that epoch of tremendous import in the history of the future, the beginning of the 1, 260 days of the latter half of Daniel's seventieth week. Then it is that that mysterious event takes place, described as "war in heaven" between the Archangel and the Dragon. As the result of that amazing struggle, Satan and his angels are "cast out into the earth," and the Seer bewails mankind because the devil is come down into their midst, "having great wrath because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Revelation 12:7, 12).

The next feature in the vision is the rise of the ten-horned Beast. (Revelation 13:1) This is not the event described in the seventh of Daniel. The Beast, doubtless, is the same both in Daniel and the Apocalypse, representing the last great empire upon earth; but in the Apocalypse it appears at a later stage of its development. Three periods of its history are marked in Daniel. In the first it has ten horns. In the second it has eleven, for the little horn comes up among the ten. In the third, it has but eight, for the eleventh has grown in power, and three of the ten have been torn away by it. Up to this point Daniel's vision represents the Beast merely as "the fourth kingdom upon earth," the Roman empire as revived in future times, and here the vision turns away from the history of the Beast to describe the action of the little horn as a blasphemer and persecutor. [29]

It is at this epoch that the thirteenth chapter of Revelation opens. The three first stages of the history of the empire are past, and a fourth has been developed. It is no longer a confederacy of nations bound together by treaty, with a Napoleon rising up in the midst of them and struggling for supremacy; but a confederacy of kings who are the lieutenants of one great Kaiser, a man whose transcendent greatness has secured to him an undisputed pre-eminence. And this is the man whom the Dragon will single out to administer his awful power on earth in days to come. And from the hour in which he sells himself to Satan he will be so energized by Satan, that "ALL power and signs and lying wonders" shall characterize his after course. [30]

There is a danger lest in dwelling on these visions as though they were enigmas to be solved, we should forget how appalling are the events of which they speak, and how tremendous the forces which will be in exercise at the time of their accomplishment. During this age of grace Satan's power on earth is so restrained that men forget his very existence. This, indeed, will be the secret of his future triumphs. And yet how unspeakably terrible must be the dragon's power, witness the temptation of our Lord! It is written, "The devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, showed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time; and the devil said unto Him, All this power will I give Thee, and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it. If Thou, therefore, wilt worship me, all shall be Thine." (Luke 4:5-7)

It is this same awful being who shall give to the Beast his throne, his power, and great authority, (Revelation 8:2) — all that Christ refused in the days of His humiliation. The mind that has realized this stupendous fact will not be slow to accept what follows:

"And power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations; and all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb" (Revelation 13:7, 8).

Of the events which afterwards must follow upon earth, it behooves us to speak with deep solemnity and studied reserve. The phenomenon of sudden and absolute darkness is inconceivably terrible, even when eagerly looked for with full intelligence of the causes which produce it. [31] How unspeakable then would be its awfulness, if unexpected, unaccounted for, and prolonged, it may be for days together. And such shall be the sign which Holy Writ declares shall mark the advent of earth's last great woe. [32] The signs and wonders of Satanic power shall still command the homage of mankind, while the thunders of a heaven no longer silent will break forth upon the apostate race. Then will be the time of "the seven last plagues," wherein "is filled up the wrath of God," — the time when "the vials of the wrath of God" shall be poured out upon the earth. (Revelation 15:1; 16:1.) And if in this day of grace the heights and depths of God's longsuffering mercy transcend all human thoughts, His WRATH will be no less Divine. "The day of vengeance of our God," "the great and the terrible day of the Lord," — such are the names divinely given to describe that time of unexampled horror.

And yet when in the midnight darkness of the last apostasy, Divine longsuffering will only serve to blind and harden, mercy itself shall welcome the awful breaking of the day of vengeance, for blessing lies beyond it. Another day is still to follow. Earth's history, as unfolded in the Scriptures, reaches; on to a Sabbatic age of blessedness and peace; an age when heaven shall rule upon the earth, when, "the Lord shall rejoice in all His works," (Psalm 104:31) and prove Himself to be the God of every creature He has made (Psalm 145:9-16).

Further still, the veil is raised, and a brief glimpse afforded us of a glorious eternity beyond, when every trace of sin shall have been wiped out for ever, when heaven will join with earth, and "the tabernacle of God" — the dwelling place of the Almighty — shall be with men, "and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God" [33]

It was a calamity for the Church of God when the light of prophecy became dimmed in fruitless controversy, and the study of these visions, vouchsafed by God to warn, and guide, and cheer His saints in evil days, was dismissed as utterly unprofitable. They abound in promises which God designed to feed His people's faith and fire their zeal, and a special blessing rests on those who read, and hear, and cherish them. (Revelation 1:3) One of the most hopeful features of the present hour is the increasing interest they everywhere excite; and if these pages should avail to deepen or direct the enthusiasm even of a few in the study of a theme which is inexhaustible, the labor they have cost will be abundantly rewarded.


[1] The Times, Monday, 18th December, 1876.

[2] The Times, 18th December, 1876.

[3] That Antichrist is to arise from the eastern part of the Roman empire, and from that part of the east which fell under the rule of Alexander's successors, is rendered unquestionable by this chapter. But, seeing that in the eleventh chapter he is mentioned as conflicting with the king of the north (i. e., the king of Syria), and also with the king of the south (i. e., the king of Egypt), it is plain that he does not arise either from Egypt or Syria. He must, therefore, arise either from Greece or from the districts immediately contiguous to Constantinople. It is true that if he arose from the latter, or indeed from either of the four, he would be esteemed Greek in origin, because all the four we: re divisions of the Greek empire; but it seems far more probable that Greece proper will be the place of his rise. He is described as C waxing great towards the south and towards the east, and towards the pleasant land; ' that is, toward Egypt, Syria, and Palestine — a description that would geographically suit the position of one who was supposed to be in Greece.

"Moreover, a 'little horn' (an emblem not of that which he is as an individual, but of that which he is as a monarch) is a symbol that well suits one who should arise from one of those petty principalities which once abounded in Greece, and have even still their memorial in the throne of the sovereigns of Montenegro." — NEWTON Ten Kingdoms, p. 193.

[4] Daniel 8:23-25. The entire passage is quoted ante (note).

[5] Daniel 11:36-45; 12:1. I am inclined to believe that the entire passage from ver. 5 of Daniel 11: will receive a future fulfillment, and I have no doubt of this as regards the passage beginning with ver. 21. See especially ver. 31. But the future application of the portion quoted in the text is unquestionable. Although the chapter in part refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, "there are traits which have nothing to correspond to them in Antiochus, which are even the exact contradictory of the character of Antiochus, but which do reappear in St. Paul's account of the Antichrist to come." I quote from Dr. Pusey. He adds (Daniel p. 93): "The image of the Antichrist of the Old Testament melts into the lineaments of the Antichrist himself… One trait only of the anti-religious character of Antichrist was true of Antiochus also; 'he shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods. ' Blasphemy against God is an essential feature of any God-opposed power or individual. It belongs to Voltaire as much as to Antiochus. All besides has no place in him …The characteristics of this infidel king are (1) self-exaltation above every god; 'he shall magnify himself above every god; ' (2) contempt of all religion; (3) blasphemy against the true God; (4) apostasy from the God of his fathers; (5) disregarding the desire of women; (6) the honoring of a god whom his fathers knew not. Of all these six marks, one only, in the least, agrees with Antiochus." The entire passage is valuable, and the arguments conclusive. A remark at p. 96 suggests that Dr. Pusey identifies this king with the second "Beast" of Revelation 13., and this view is maintained by others on the ground that a "Beast" in prophecy typifies kingly power. This is true generally, but the second beast of Revelation 13: is expressly called "the false Prophet" (Revelation 19:20); and the passage proves that he is immediately connected with the first beast, and claims no position independently of him. The difficulties in the way of supposing him to be a king in his own right are insuperable.

[6] A similar remark applies to the refusal to recognize the main outlines of the character and history of Antichrist. Fulfilled prophecy is our only safe guide in studying the unfulfilled.

[7] The religious skeptic may refuse to accept their literal meaning, and the profane skeptic, in rejecting the fanciful interpretations of the pious, may dismiss the prophecies themselves as incredible; but this is only a further proof that their definiteness is too pronounced to admit of the half-faith accorded to other Scriptures.

[8] Revelation 13:7, 8. In the best reading of ver. 7, the same four words occur as in 7:9 —" nations, kindred's, people, and tongues."

[9] Revelation 18:20. So also in 17:6, the saints (the slaughtered dead of Old Testament times) are distinguished from the martyrs of Jesus. Luke 11:50, 51 sets forth the principle of God's judgments.

[10] In Scripture the church of this dispensation is symbolized as the Body of Christ, never as the Bride. From the close of John Baptist's ministry the Bride is never mentioned until she appears in the Apocalypse (John 3:29; Revelation 21:2, 9). The force of the "nevertheless" in Ephesians 5:33 depends on the fact that the Church is the Body, not the Bride. The earthly relationship is readjusted by a heavenly standard. Man and wife are not one body, but Christ and His church are one body, therefore a man is to love his wife "even as himself."

[11] This, I believe, is the element of truth in the view of Auberlen and others, that the woman of chap. 17 is the woman of chap. 12., "the faithful city become an harlot" (Isaiah 1:21).

[12] "I incline to think that the judgment (chap. 18:2) and the spiritual fornication (chap. 18:3), though finding their culmination in Rome, are not restricted to it, but comprise the whole apostate church, Roman, Greek, and even Protestant, in so far as it has been seduced from its first love to Christ, and (has) given its affections to worldly pomps and idols." — REV. A. R. FAUSSET'S Commentary.

[13] ALFORD, Greek Test. in loco. Comp. Daniel 7:17-23.

[14] Just as the mention of the ten horns upon the beast has set men trying to discover in the past a tenfold division of the Roman earth, so also these seven heads have suggested the idea of seven successive forms of government in the Roman empire. Neither of these conceptions would ever have been heard of, but for the prophecy of which they are supposed to be the fulfillment. The second, though not so visionary as the first, is open to the special objection that the word pipto betokens a violent fall, such as the catastrophe of ancient Babylon, or of the Babylon of the Apocalypse (comp. Revelation 18:2). It is wholly unsuitable to express such changes as marked the government of ancient Rome.

[15] Revelation 17:10 expressly states that the duration of the seventh will be brief. Dean Alford's comment on this is not marked by his usual candor. The words in ver. 11 are ek ton hepta, but this cannot mean merely that the Beast is "the successor and result of the seven" (Alford), for ver. 10 limits the entire succession to seven. Though because of his awful pre-eminence he is described as the eighth, yet he is really the supreme head of the seventh.

[16] drakon purrhos megas, Revelation 12:3. "He is purrhos perhaps, for the combined reasons of the wasting properties of fire, and the redness of blood" (Alford, Greek Test., in loco). Compare ver. 9, "The great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan." The dragon both of Scripture and of heathen mythology is a serpent, and both refer to Satan. It is described by Homer as of huge size, coiled like a snake, of blood-red or dark color, and many-headed. "He seems to use the words drakon and ophis indifferently for a serpent" (Liddell and Scott).

[17] The tharion or wild-beast of Revelation 8., etc., must not be confounded with the dzoon or living-being of chap. 4., most unfortunately rendered beast in E. V.

[18] That is, the beings who before their fall were angels of God. The word angel in its secondary sense means no more than a messenger or attendant, and Satan has his angels (Revelation 12:7). The word is used of John Baptist's disciples in Luke 7:24.

[19] Our translators have used the word devil as a generic term for fallen beings other than men, but the word from which it is derived has not this scope in Greek. A duibolos is a slanderer, and the word is so used in 1 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:3. But the diabolos is Satan, of whom alone the term is used elsewhere in the New Testament, save only in John 6:70, where it is applied to Judas Iscariot. The word daimonion, which occurs fifty-two times in the Gospels, and seven times in the rest of the New Testament, is invariably rendered devil, save in Acts 17:18 (gods). In classical Greek it means generally the Deity, especially an inferior god; and in the New Testament, an evil spirit, a demon.

The ultimate reference of Ezekiel 28: appears to be to Satan, and in the passage beginning, "Thou hast been in Eden in the garden of God," he is apostrophized as "the anointed cherub" (ver. 14). The cherubim appear to have some special relation to our race and world, hence their connection with the tabernacle. Can it be that our earth was at one time their domain, that Satan was of their number, and that he recognized in Adam a creature appointed to succeed him in the very scene of his glory and his fall?

[20] Bp. Stillingfleet; quoted in Encyc. Metro., article on "Serpent Worship," q. v. In Bryant's Ancient Mythology will be found a chapter on Ophiolatry (vol. 2., p. 197, 3rd ed., and see also p. 458) which fully warrants the general statements of the text.

[21] "All the world wondered after the Beast; and they worshipped the Dragon (serpent) which gave power unto the Beast; and they worshipped the Beast" (Revelation 13:3, 4).

[22] The lamb-like Beast of Revelation 13:11, called the False Prophet in Revelation 19:20. The language of 13:3, 12, suggests that there will be some impious travesty of the resurrection of our Lord.

[23] "The Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still small voice" (1 Kings 19:11, 12).

[24] In the persecutions under Pagan Rome, death was often the penalty for refusing to worship Caesar's image; but Revelation 13:15 clearly points to some mysterious death which shall result in the very presence of the image of the future Caesar. The same power which will enable the False Prophet to give life to the image, will destroy the life of him who refuses to worship it.

[25] In one of the darkest hours of their history, when the continued persecution of the Jews threatened the race with utter extinction, Barcochab proclaimed himself the Messiah, and led them in a revolt against the Romans, which ended in a carnage of the ill-fated people more horrible than any which had preceded it (A. D. 130-132). The man seems to have been a contemptible impostor who duped the people by juggler's tricks, such as blowing fire from his mouth; and yet he attained to such an eminence, and brought about disasters so terrible, that some have sought to find in his career the fulfillment of the prophecies of Antichrist.

[26] See App. 2., Note D.

[27] I say nations, not kingdoms, advisedly, for though they will ultimately be kingdoms, i. e., under monarchical government, yet before the advent of the Kaiser such may not be the case. That this division of the Roman earth will take place before his appearance is expressly stated; but whether a year, a decade, or a century before, we are not informed.

[28] Alford, Gr. Test. Proleg. 2 Thessalonians, § 36.

[29] The passage (Daniel 7:2-14) is quoted in full ante. The distinctions above noticed clear up the seeming inconsistency between Daniel's visions and the Revelation alluded to ante.

[30] ho anomos … ou estin ha parousia kat energeian tou Satana en pasa dunamei, kai sameiois, kai tepasi pseudous (2 Thessalonians 2:8, 9).

[31] The Astronomer Royal (Sir G. B. Airy) used these words in a lecture delivered at the Royal Institution, 4th July, 1853, upon the total solar eclipses of 1842 and 1851: "The phenomenon, in fact, is one of the most terrible that man can witness, and no degree of partial eclipses gives any idea of its horror."

[32] "The sun shall be turned into darkness... before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come" (Joel 2:31).

[33] Revelation 21:3. The order of these events is noticed, ante.


CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTORY on page 1 ---New Window

CHAPTERS 2-3 on page 2 ---New Window

CHAPTERS 4-6 on page 3 ---New Window

CHAPTERS 7-9 on page 4 ---New Window

CHAPTERS 10-12 on page 5 ---New Window

CHAPTERS 13-15 on page 6 (this page)

PREFACES on page 7 ---New Window

APPENDICES on page 8 ---New Window

For more about the author, read:
Sir Robert Anderson and the Seventy Weeks of Daniel ---New Window


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