But it is a well—known fact, that the Jews will return to their own land, and build again the temple, and fortify Jerusalem, and there offer sacrifices, and perform the temple ritual as in days of old; for it will happen unto them according to the true proverb, " The dog turns to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire." This city, then, which they build up, is first of all likened to a " woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars," which gives birth to a "man child " (for it is of the Jews as a nationality " whose are the fathers, and of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever "). She flees by the aid of " the two wings of the great eagle" (the eagle represents the Roman power, whose standard was an eagle),, into the wilderness unto her place "—i.e., into Palestine—where she is nourished (i.e., strengthened and fortified), a time, times, and half a time. Then will all the kings of the earth go a whoring after it. It is figuratively called "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF THE HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." The city is elsewhere called spiritually "SODOM AND EGYPT," because there it is looked at in its relation to the Gentiles as such, and in respect to the governmental dealings of God, and not in its relation to Christendom. It is called " Babylon " because of the system of its religion which would lead men into independence of God and rebellion against Him. She is called a " Harlot " because of her persistent treachery against her LORD, Jehovah, the God Almighty. " How is the faithful city become a harlot " (Isa. i. 21). For a description of the city in this last character read carefully the second and third chapters of Jeremiah, the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel, and the second, third, and fourth chapters of Hosea. It is called the mother of" abominations," because of its idolatry—they " worship demons, and the idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood; which van neither see, nor hear, nor walk."
This great city, the center of this vast system of religion—a religion that will sit as it were upon " many waters," i.e., upon " peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues," and " reign over the kings of the earth " (for by her " sorcery were all the nations deceived "), will ride upon a " scarlet colored beast "—a sovereign or emperor of great power. This beast will probably be an emperor of Rome, who, like Nero, will reign over Jerusalem, and support it by his great power and wealth. He has " seven heads," and " ten horns." " Horns " represent rulers of principalities, provinces, or dependencies. " Heads " represent " mountains," and also forms of government. Now Rome is a seven—hilled city; and it has also had seven forms of government; six had already existed in the time of John, the writer of the Apocalypse. They are, I think, the governments, such as the regal, the democratic, or republican, the decemvirate, &c. " The beast " will be of the seventh form revived, and will be of dreadful tyrannical power, cruel as a "leopard" with " bear's feet " and a " lion's mouth" (Paul, in referring to his first defense before the emperor, says, " I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion, i.e., out of Nero's cruelty and power). Satan, the dragon, being cast. down out of heaven " as lightning," in thee midst of the week, will give his own authority unto the beast, who will carry on his career for three and is half years, that is, until he is destroyed by the manifestation of Christ's coming. He is called " the man of sin, the son of perdition," and " the lawless one," in the New Testament; in the Old Testament, " the evil man," and " the wicked man," e.g., " to deliver thee from the evil man " (Prov. ii. 12). The Branch of the stem of Jesse "with the breath of his lips shall slay the wicked man " (Isa. ii. 4). "Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man " (Psa. cxl. 1). " Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked man " (Psa. cxl. 4). " Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man " (Psa. x. 15) "The wicked man is snared by the work of his own hands " (Psa. ix. 16). (The Septuagint has in this last quotation, instead of " the wicked man," " sinner," from which expression no doubt the words, " the man of sin " in New Testament are taken.) " Deliver my soul from the wicked man " (Psa. xvii. 13.) " For yet a little while, and the wicked man shall not be " (Psa. xxxvii. 10). " Attend unto me, and hear me; because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked man " (Psa. lv. 2, 3). "Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked man " ("sinner," Sept. Psa. lxxi. 4). " Blessed is the man whom thou chasteneth, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law; that thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be Jigged for the wicked man " ("sinner," Sept. Psa. xciv. 12, 13). " Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; for the mouth of the wicked man ("sinner," Sept.) is opened against me " (Psa. cix. 2). " Surely thou wilt slay the wicked man, O God " (Psa. cxxxix. 19).
He is also called " the king of the north," because his dominion will be situated north of Palestine. The eleventh chapter of Daniel states a great deal about him. " The king will 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. 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 shall he 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." While he fights against "the king of the south " the ships of Chittim (i.e., English ships from Cyprus) come against him, " therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant; so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them (i.e., ally himself with them) that forsake the holy covenant. And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries; but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many; yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help; but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end." The Lord warns the disciples saying, " Then shall they deliver you up unto tribulation, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all the nations for my name's sake. And then shall many stumble, and shall deliver up one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray. And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many shall wax cold. But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved " (Matt. xxiv. 9-13). " And it was given unto him (the beast, the above—mentioned king) to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and there was given to him authority over every tribe and people, and tongue, and nation. And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, every one whose name hath not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb slain " (Rev. xiii. 7, 8). He is also spoken of in Dan. viii. 23. " And 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 (i.e., it is by the dragon's); 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; and he shall stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand." He shall plant the tents of his camp between the seas against the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him," for the Lord Jesus will slay him with " the breath of his mouth," and bring him to naught by " the manifestation of his coming.
It has been maintained by some, that this willful king is antichrist, the false prophet; but to a careful and unprejudiced reader, I think it will appear to be not so; for verse 36 resumes the thread of the history from verse 31, viz., " And arms shall stand on his part . . . . And the king shall do according to his will." Moreover, antichrist does not sit in the temple of God setting himself forth as God; but he only places the image of the beast in the temple to be worshipped; and acts as under the authority of the beast; whereas the beast himself magnifies himself above all, or that is worshipped, so that " all the earth worship him."
This king is "the lawless one," the ringleader of the apostasy; whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish: because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe the lie; that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness; " i.e., judged " at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power, in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus; who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints in that day."
The antichrist, the king of Jerusalem (Rev. xiii. 11), will be viceroy to this " man of sin," just as Herod was to Augustus, and Pontius Pilate to Tiberius. He is " he that denieth the Father and the Son " ("Who soever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father; he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also "). That is to say, he will deny that God is a Father, even. a Father that hath begotten an only Son, and that " the Son of man." In fact, he will deny the incarnation altogether, and will not confess that "Jesus Christ is come in the flesh." And in place of God the Father and His Son, " the image of the invisible God," he will cause all men to worship the beast, and his image, which he sets up. This is " the mystery of lawlessness," which " doth already work; only there is one (the Holy Ghost in the Church) that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way." " Even now have there arisen many antichrists." Nevertheless, " ye are of God, my little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." The contrast to " the mystery of lawlessness " is " the mystery of godliness," which is—"God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, received up in glory."
The antichrist is spoken of in the Old Testament,. as " the man that speaketh deceitful things," " the unrighteous and cruel man," " and the violent man,' &c., e.g., " To deliver thee from the man that speaketh deceitful things " (Prov. ii. 12). "Preserve me from the violent man " (Psa. cxl. 1, 4). " Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man " (Psa. lxxi. 4). " Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; for the mouth of the deceitful man is opened against me " (Psa. cix. 2). "O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man " (Psa. xliii. 1). " Thou halt delivered me from the violent man " (Psa. xviii. 48.
In the New Testament it is said of him: " He deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by reason of the signs which it was given him to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast. And it was given unto him to give breath to it, even to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as should not worship the image of the beast should be killed." Christ exhorted the Jews that when this image of the beast, the abomination of desolation, was set up, to " flee to the mountains." But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! For then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now; no, nor ever shall be. And except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."
This idolatry of worshipping the beast (and Beelzebub that works in him) is like the unclean spirit of a man which, when it is gone out of him, passeth through waterless places, seeking rest, and findeth it not. Then he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he and taketh with himself seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man becometh worse than the first." This passage applies to the Jews properly; but the Gentiles will turn out quite as bad; for men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self—control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof." Read carefully the seventeenth and eighteenth. chapters of Revelation.
(To be continued.)