Notes on the Apocalypse gleaned at lectures in Geneva, 1842.

J. N. Darby.

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Revelation 20:1-6

We have seen the judgment of Babylon by God, and that of the beast and of the false prophet by Jesus. We find now the judgment falling on Satan,* the spring, the power, and the strength of all this iniquity. The heart of man was the soil in which all this was sown. Satan, nevertheless, was the author of it.

{*The warrior judgment by the Lord ends in the destruction of the beast and of its armies; chapter 20:1 - 3 brings before us Satan bound after this judgment. Verse 4 begins again, and we have to the end of the chapter sessional judgment - sessional judgment on a throne, whether it be at the beginning of the millennium, or during its duration, or after. Verses 3, 4 are not historically consecutive, although generally, in point of the subject, they are so.}

Verses 1-3. The fact that Satan shall be bound is of the greatest importance to the world. One can hardly form an idea of the difference it will produce as to the world; we have very little idea of the corruption, the subtlety, and wickedness of the heart of man, and of the power of Satan. One of the principal characters of the dispensation to come is that Satan is bound. That is quite a new thing for the world. As wicked and the seducer, Satan is the serpent; as having power, he is the dragon; as adversary, he has the name of Satan; as accuser, that of the devil. Satan, in causing Adam to fall in sin, had taken away all the creation from him, and thereby from God. Adam, as the image of Him that was to come, had the possession of all the earth. Satan seduced him. Adam and Eve fell, and with them the creation. This link being broken, the whole falls: all is ruined in its head, and separated from God; and Satan figures as prince of the world. God intervenes in many ways; among others, by the deluge; the world, notwithstanding, plunges into idolatry, and by this falls more than ever under Satan's power.

84 In the word, no mention is made of idolatry before the deluge. Man, as man, has adored Satan, and in many places is still adoring him. The philosophers of antiquity adored him themselves, no less than the pagans of our days. God has proved in His wisdom that man by wisdom did not know God; and this is where man's wisdom has led him. In order to destroy idolatry God separated to Himself a nation, manifested His glory to it, spoke to it, and made Himself known to it. Nevertheless, before Moses had come down again from the mount, Israel had already made the golden calf, and had thus put themselves under Satan's power. in spite of the barrier that God had raised around His people.* God sent afterwards His own Son, the Last Adam, although not yet manifested as such. Christ is, in fact, the Last Adam, and the Father of the spiritual race, only after His resurrection; as Adam, on the other hand, became the father of the fallen race after his fall. Satan addresses himself also to Jesus, led into the desert by the Spirit, to tempt Him as he tempted Adam, but in vain. Jesus, having bound the strong man, casts out the demons, shewing thereby what power Satan was exercising in those that were possessed. In order to shew that it is not the iniquity of man that is called the demons, the legion enter the swine, and act in those animals. The demons ask that they may not be sent into the bottomless pit,** the time for them to be sent there not having come yet. Seeing that he could do nothing more to seduce Him or to destroy the effect of His power, Satan raises the whole world against Him. And as Jesus had made Himself surety for our sin, Satan, who has the power of death, uses this right of death against Jesus*** made sin for us. All that man was had been ruined and was under the power of death It is in the resurrection of Jesus that the victory is found again, and the proof of the judgment of the prince of this world.

{*It is remarkable that while relating how they had rejected all God's appeals to them to return to Him in repentance, Stephen, in making mention of the actual captivity of the Jews, speaks of their sin in the desert, specially of that of idolatry, as the cause.}

{**That is to say, where we see them shut up in this chapter.}

***This is very far from being all that is in the blessed Lord's death; but I confine myself to this point here.}

85 In the meanwhile, the time for the execution of the judgment had not yet come, and Satan is still dwelling in the heavenly places (not in the heaven, which God inhabits in light inaccessible, but in the created heavens). The death of Jesus has not expelled him thence. Nevertheless, when, in the name of Jesus, the disciples cast the demons out of creation, Jesus says, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." He foresees the downfall of Satan by the power of the name of Jesus. Actually, Satan acts still in the creation, as we see in the case of Job. Jesus is now absent - in heaven. Not being bound, Satan tries and tempts man, and man falls. He is busy about the church; he sows tares there, and spoils the work of God upon earth. He cannot spoil it in heaven.

We see, in this recapitulation of what Satan accomplishes upon the earth, how he spoils everything until he is bound. God, it is true, watches over the faithful; nevertheless, Satan is in the world, and spoils there the work of God; and if our salvation were resting on man's own responsibility, there would be no salvation for us. Men of the world can form no idea of the manner Satan is blinding the heart. Before God gives them up to it as a chastisement, Satan is already using his power in blinding men, and in making them fall into error. From the beginning to the period to which this chapter of Revelation brings us, all that God has done upon the earth, in the world, and in the church, has been spoiled through Satan. Satan has influence in the world; he blinds the heathen and the christianised world. Alas! he also blinds God's children as to their inheritance and as to the coming of the Lord Jesus. Satan endeavours to rob the church of this truth, and to make her say "My Lord delayeth his coming." He will not have it that one should believe his dominion is going to be overthrown; but at the same time, truth is professed and maintained even by unconverted persons, and subsists as given of God amongst men. But now in the time of judgment this will be no more so; God gives men up to an efficacious error that they may believe a lie.

We have seen in chapter 12 Satan cast out from heaven. He will never enter there again. He falls upon the earth, and causes Antichrist to revolt against Christ. Then Christ comes down from heaven, destroys the beast and the false prophet, and binds Satan himself. All that Satan did to the first Adam disappears. Creation ceases to be under his dominion, and man, delivered from Satan's power, passes under that of Jesus. Evil may remain in man's heart, but Satan is banished from the scene of this world. The Judge, the Last Adam, comes down from heaven in the power of the victory He has already gained in the resurrection. This is not yet the state of eternity. These are things manifested on the earth, where Jesus shall reign after having bound Satan and delivered the creation from the bondage of corruption.

86 Why not bind Satan immediately? Because the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God; Rom. 8:19. Christ cannot manifest Himself in the glory and in the judgment, nor deliver the world without having delivered and raised the church, nor before the judgment be given to the church as well as to Christ. "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:2; Dan 7:22). "Until the Ancient of days comes, and judgment be given to the saints of the Most High." Therefore it is that creation is not yet delivered from the yoke of corruption. The church risen must judge the world with Christ. The world to come is also to be subjected to the same trial. This does not take place during the continuance of the thousand years of Christ's reign - only at the end of that reign, when Satan comes up out of the bottomless pit. Then, as always, man fails immediately.

While Satan is bound there is no seduction, and, consequently, no combat, no suffering, no victory. God permits these things to take place now, that we may have the glory. The most ordinary precepts of the gospel suppose the superiority of the enemy as to this world, and command not to resist evil; they suppose, therefore, a state of suffering. If the world were really Christian, these precepts would not be applicable, because there would be nothing to suffer.

Verses 4-6. There are thrones. Daniel says (chapter 7:9), "I beheld till the thrones were cast down" (or rather placed) Daniel only sees the thrones; here we see there are those seated on the thrones. Now, there is suffering; then, we shall reign with Christ, and we shall be on Jesus' throne; Rev. 3:21. "The glory which thou gavest me, I have given them," John 17:22. The world will see this glory, and will know that we have been loved as Christ has been loved. When Christ shall sit upon the throne of His glory, we shall be seated on thrones. This mediatorial kingdom, in which Christ is seated on His throne, will at the end be given up to God the Father; 1 Cor. 15:24. The beheaded are those who have suffered for their testimony during the course of the events which we have seen in the Revelation. Besides those who are seated upon thrones, and those who were beheaded, we perceive here a third class, that of those who have not received the mark of the beast - negative faithfulness, it is true, but which is not forgotten. These three classes (those that are seated on thrones, those that were beheaded, and those who have not received the mark of the beast) have equally part in the first resurrection, which takes place a thousand years before the resurrection of the dead who are dead in their sins.

87 There have been those who have wished to make of the first resurrection a resurrection of principles; but the triumph of principles, mine or those of others, cannot be a personal reward for having been beheaded for those principles. To use a figure of language, one might strictly say that principles are reigning; but how could one say that they shall be priests? Those that rise reign a thousand years with Christ and shall be made kings and priests; and this cannot be applied in any way to principles, but only to the persons of the risen saints.

We see then here Satan bound, Jesus reigning over the earth, and the faithful reigning with Jesus Himself. It is necessary to understand well that Satan spoils all the work of God in the earth. The death of Jesus banishes Satan from the conscience indeed, but does not banish him from heaven. The power of Christ destroys the power of Satan; but this power will never be so much manifested as in the person of Antichrist. We have to contend until Satan be cast out from heaven.

Revelation 20:5, 6

From verses 4-10 we have the whole of the thousand years. It is the reign of Christ with His saints, who govern, and Satan is bound. The whole state of the world depends on these two things, the reign of Christ, and the prison of Satan.

Now, on the contrary, Christ is hidden, and Satan is acting unbound. The reign spoken of here is so distinct and so positive, that those who are in heaven say "And we shall reign on the earth,"* Rev. 5:10 Their power is from heaven; they shall reign over the earth according to that power. The glory of Jesus is the object of the counsels of God. Everything in the word and in the ways of God is directed towards that end; without this we cannot get the intelligence of the word. Christ is the great object of God. God would have that His whole being should be evidently manifested, and this manifestation is seen in Jesus.** No one has seen God; the Son has revealed Him to us. God manifested in the flesh has made Himself known to us. God is only "seen of angels" through the manifestation of God in the Person of Christ. The knowledge of God in Jesus gives intelligence to the most simple Christian. God did manifest Himself to man as He is, and placed Himself at his level. The simple can apprehend and understand God. He hides these things from the wise and prudent. Jesus is the object and the thought of all the counsels of God.

{*It appears that the best MSS read here, "they shall reign "; but this does not make any alteration in the argument of the text.}

{**Not only did God manifest Himself in Christ, but Jesus gave Himself even unto death, in order that all that God is should be manifested in all God did with regard to Him, and for us through Him, and that all the glory of God, all the truth of His character, should be vindicated and established by that which came upon Jesus.}

88 This glory, which God has given to Christ, God has manifested in Jesus as man. Already, in the creation, the divine glory of the Son has been manifested, and His right of possessing all things established. Jesus created everything. He has title over creation, which can only be blessed under Him, and during His reign. God has willed that everything should be made subject to man Adam was the head of the creation; he failed, and all failed in him and with him Satan having gained the victory over Adam, all has fallen under the dominion of Satan, who fills the world with evil, and rules over it through the passions of men.

The question is not merely about salvation in God's counsels, but of the restoration of all things. God re-establishes everything, and man too, in introducing into the world Jesus, the Last Adam The sons of men are not forsaken in this. God unites the church with the Last Adam. All the creation fell in the person of the first Adam, and it is the Last who becomes the object of the counsels of God. God does not restore the first Adam; He introduces a second, the spring of life to all those who are redeemed. The word was made flesh. God became a man, in order that all things might be made subject to man, and this man is Jesus;* Heb. 2; Psalm 8; 1 Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1. The Man Jesus is set over everything.

{*It is interesting to see in Psalms 1 and 2 the rights of Jesus as the righteous man according to the government of God, and His rights according to the counsels of God, as the Anointed, the Christ. In the following Psalms one sees clearly that nothing of all this is yet accomplished, as is well known. But, Christ having suffered, we have in Psalm 8 the great result on the earth of His position as Son of man explained in Hebrews 2. Compare Ephesians 1:20-23; 4:9, 10; and see Luke 9, where He forbids His disciples to announce Him as the Christ, substituting for this title the sufferings and the glory of the Son of man - the portion of the church. Compare also John 11 and 12, where His rights as Son of God and Son of David are set in evidence; and as soon as His right as Son of man begins to dawn, the sufferings present themselves to the Lord, and our participation in those sufferings.}

89 The first Adam and the Last Adam cannot subsist together. It is impossible that Christ and Satan can be both at the same time the princes of this world. Christ is not yet seated on His throne; He is on His Father's throne; Rev. 3:21. Now, it is the presence of the Spirit of Christ within, that renders the heart faithful. In order that Christ may reign as the Last Adam, Satan must be bound.

The question is not to know whether Christ's reign is a spiritual or a personal reign; for the Holy Ghost does not leave us, and therefore the reign is spiritual as well as personal. But to say that Christ will not be there is to deny the reign of Christ. The Holy Ghost has not been made man, and He is not the Bridegroom of the church, and the church desires the Bridegroom. The Spirit and the bride say "Come." The Spirit does not say this to Himself; He says it to Christ. A reign of Christ without Christ is a reign without a king. It is limiting the church to the desire of what she has already, that is, the Holy Ghost. It is to confound everything in the relations of Christ as King of the earth and as Bridegroom of the church.

Acts 3:19-21. That of which the prophets spoke is the glory at the end, the restoration of all things. The heaven must receive Jesus (not the Holy Ghost, who had already come down), until the times of the restitution of all things, and until the times of refreshing. It is Christ who, as Man, is to reign. God has willed to subject all things to man (not to Christ who does not come, but) to Christ, who shall be sent from heaven, and who is now preached. It must be the man Jesus manifested in glory. Jesus is moreover invested with the judgment. He judges, because He is the Son of man; John 5:27. The Holy Ghost is not the Son of man. Besides, the judgment precedes the millennium, and cannot be conceived before a millennium brought by the Holy Ghost, and by the preaching of the gospel.

90 The promises made to the Last Adam, the hopes of the Bridegroom, the judgment, all is personal to the Son of man Jesus is coming in Person. All this is connected with the glory of Christ. One cannot be in the truth if one rambles from the Person of the Son of man. The Holy Ghost acts but to magnify and glorify the Lord Jesus.

The reign of a thousand years is a reward. Men may say sometimes, that they are principles which shall reign, that it is a question about a resurrection of principles. But it is written "they shall reign" (Rev. 5:10; 20:6); and I cannot thus confound principles and persons. If we suffer, we shall reign. We are not principles. When we suffer, is it in order that the principles may reign? It would be a singular reward for me when I suffer to say that it is in order that my principles may reign a thousand years.

The apostle speaks of the first resurrection, as if all knew that there are two resurrections. In the word of God, two resurrections are always spoken of, and never one general resurrection, of which one finds neither the expression nor the idea. God does not thus confound the just and the unjust: and nothing will separate them more than the resurrection. Now, they are mixed and confounded in the world; but the resurrection shall separate them. There is a resurrection from amongst the dead; therefore, there are some dead that do not rise in that resurrection, whereas others do rise.

How can principles be priests? It is nonsense. Those who will reign will be priests. He has loved us, and has washed us? and made us kings and priests. One can neither wash principles nor make them priests. If the Person of the Lord Jesus and the persons of the saints be taken away from the glory, the root of every affection is cut off, and one has a millennium without Christ and without affection.

91 The first and the second resurrection manifest the glory of Christ in two very different ways. The church glorifies the Lord in being with Him and serving Him. Jesus shall be glorified in the judgment of the wicked, who shall acknowledge, in spite of themselves, that He is Lord. And for this reason, the resurrection of the just completes their life and their glory. The power of the life of Christ is applied to their bodies, whereas the resurrection of the wicked is a resurrection of judgment, and not of life. The resurrection of life does not in any wise belong to the wicked. He "shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you," Rom. 8:11. The life of Christ and the Spirit of Christ are not in the wicked; therefore, the cause of the resurrection of the just is not in the wicked. By the resurrection the just are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ; John 5:25. In Luke 14:14 the Lord Jesus says "These shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." If all rise together, one could not hold such language, nor that of Jesus in Luke 20:35, where He speaks of those who shall be counted worthy to obtain "that age, and the resurrection of the dead "; for if all rise together, some cannot be distinctively counted worthy of the resurrection. Thus far as to the resurrection of the just: the resurrection of the wicked is for the judgment. It is not contemporary with that of the just. In order that the just may reign, they must be risen. They shall bear the image of the heavenly. "We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is," 1 John 3:2.

We read in 1 Corinthians 15:23, "But every one in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterwards, they that are Christ's at his coming." The thought of a general resurrection is traditional, and comes from having lost sight of the perfect salvation of the church. Those who have believed are already justified, and have part in the resurrection of the just, which accomplishes their glory and their happiness. The dead in Christ shall rise first, and those that are alive shall be changed; 1 Thess. 4:13-17. There is an infinite happiness in the thought that we shall be conformed to the image of Jesus, and that we shall have the same portion with Him. If we were not kept of God, even the sight of the glory of Christ could not prevent us from falling into the hands of Satan. May this encourage us and keep us humble!

92 Revelation 20:7-15

Verses 7, 8 contain a very important and humiliating principle. It is impossible, in whatever position man may be, that he should not fall if he is left to himself, and if he has not communicated to him from God a life of which the grace of God is the strength. Jesus manifested in glory does not change the heart This change is a work of grace. As soon as those even who have seen the glory are no more kept from temptation by the power of God Himself, where they are subjected to temptation, they fall and Satan makes them at once his slaves. Satan, being loosed, comes up out of the bottomless pit, upon the earth, not into heaven, where he re-enters no more. When at last banished from the earth, Satan will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are since the beginning of the millennium, and shall never come out of it. This is a proof that the judgment of the wicked [dead] does not take place at the coming of Christ. When the great white throne is there, the earth flees away; and this is not the return of Jesus.

In the present dispensation, God visits the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name; Acts 15:14. Satan is opposed to this people in whom the Holy Ghost dwells, and who have the foretaste of the glory and the joy that belong to the people of God. The consequence is, that they are a separate people, who fail in rendering testimony if they enter, however little, into the ways of the world. Already, in Abraham, God takes out of the world a people to Himself, whom He leaves in the world. Israel was, as a nation, separated from the world. An Israelite could not espouse a Gentile. This separation was according to the flesh, not the result of faith.

In the church, it is individual faith which causes this separation. All the precepts of the gospel suppose a state of persecution; Matt. 5:38-48; 20:16. Everything supposes opposition; Luke 14:25-32. If there were a Christian world, the precepts of the gospel would not have any application.

During the thousand years, on the contrary, Jesus shall be the Prince of this world, of which Satan is now the prince. Now, all those who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution; 2 Tim. 3:12. We are called to suffer; and if the world were really christianised, we should be called to run with the tide instead of contending against it.

93 When Satan shall be bound, all that will be changed, and this opposition of the world will cease. The Lord Jesus shall reign in righteousness; there will be no temptation, and the mass of people will be really governed by Him. If this took place in the present dispensation, all the precepts of the gospel would become useless and out of place. Under the reign of Christ, the church, which has already suffered, will be seen glorified, and the world blessed, without Satan's temptations, living in peace and under the government of the Son of man. It does not follow that every soul on earth shall be converted.

If the reign of a thousand years were a spiritual millennium, it would not be possible that Satan could be loosed to seduce all those who would have the life of Christ in them. Instead of that, it is a government without temptations; and when Satan is loosed, he carries man away with him in spite of the sight of the glory of Jesus; and this is the final trial which displays how impossible it is for God to trust in the creature; John 2:24. We are called to trust the faithfulness of God, because we have learned that God cannot trust us.

It would be extraordinary in a dispensation for man not to be subject to trial and temptation in the ways of God. Those of the millennium are to be tempted like others. The consequence of it is the same - man falls. Even the presence of Christ does not prevent it; and the heart is so irremediably wicked and evil, that in the presence of Jesus it will yield to its passions and lusts, and please himself instead of pleasing Jesus. Innocent man fell - still more does he when he is no more innocent.

During the manifestation of the glory of Christ, the revolt cannot be hidden. Man may see the glory of Christ, be convinced of it, and oppose himself to it! Lazarus being risen, the Jews wish to put him to death with Jesus, because of the testimony rendered to the power of Christ. If the heart of man is not converted, renewed, and kept of God, it is capable of anything. Verses 9, 10. They will make war with the saints and with the city beloved of God.

At that time the whole world shall be the sphere of the judgments of the prophecy. With the Jews the promises and the ways of God are circumscribed in the land of Canaan, which is simply also called the earth. Later this sphere extends itself, and the four monarchies, then Christendom, become the prophetic earth. Jesus shall reign over the whole inhabited earth, and prophecy shall then extend over all its surface. If, when Christ is manifested in glory, the world oppose the people of God, it is not surprising that the same thing should happen now that Christ is hidden. To think otherwise is to be in illusion.

94 To understand the glory of Christ in the church, the church must be separate from the world. When the church is mixed up with the world, this only spoils the church and Christians. The world never draws towards Christians, and it cannot do so, for its own nature cannot allow it; but Christians may to their own loss draw near the world, because the old man is still in them.

Verse 10. The beast and the false prophet are in the lake burning with fire and brimstone since the judgment of the earth. Satan is not there. He reigns in a public-house, in balls, in the opera, in the theatre, in concerts, etc., and he rules in the hearts of men by presenting to them things pleasant to their lusts. When Satan shall be in the lake burning with fire, he will not reign there; he will be there as the most miserable being. At the beginning of the millennium the beast and the false prophet will be thrown there alive. Satan is only bound in the bottomless pit, from whence he shall come out again to tempt men.

As long as Satan is in heaven, he is the prince of this world There are idolaters, a Babylon, and that secret influence which deceives the heart of man, so as to make him look at a piece of wood as a god. These are the effects of the deceits of the enemy. What has become of the greatest part of the human race? They are plunged in idolatry. Civilisation does not draw man out of it; the people of antiquity, whose civilisation has been transmitted to us, did not through it come out of idolatry; and the most enlightened men submit themselves to things which their own reason rejects, because they are under the influence of Satan. When Satan has come out of the bottomless pit, he can no more exercise this influence, because he cannot go up into heaven again and give himself out for a god before men. He can only excite them to open revolt.

Verses 11-15. Satan being set aside, here is the judgment of the dead. The judgment of the great white throne only applies to the dead. Then it is that the resurrection of judgment takes place; the resurrection of life is for those only who shall reign. The effect of judgment is that "in thy sight shall no man living be justified," Psalm 143:2. It is only those who have the life of Christ in themselves that will escape from the lake burning with fire and brimstone. To be judged according to our own works is to be condemned.

95 One thing that will prove that the question here is not concerning the coming of Christ is, that the place of the great white throne is not mentioned; whereas Acts 1:11 announces the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth, and Zechariah 14:4 shews Him to us on the Mount of Olives. It is from that mountain that He was taken up from the midst of His disciples, and it is on that mountain that He will again set His feet. It is not at all the great white throne. When this appears, heaven and earth flee away from before His face. This is not the coming again on the earth. The dead appear before Him. For the judgment of the living He must come again where the living are to be found. In the other case, it is all over with the heaven and present earth.

<05020F> Revelation 21:1-8

An event of all gravity is here mentioned: Jesus gives up the kingdom to the Father; 1 Cor. 15:24. He has taken the kingdom as a man. He who became a man and made Himself of no reputation has been highly exalted. The question is about His humanity, not about His divinity, properly speaking.

Jesus, as a man, intercedes now for us; as a man He shall reign also. This is infinitely precious to us. Jesus is not an unknown God, but a man sitting at the right hand of God. As a man He shall deliver up the kingdom to God the Father, which as a man He received; 1 Cor. 15:22-28. As a man the Son shall be subject to God and shall no more reign, although as God He shall reign eternally. There is no more intercession when all the-saints are happy, nor any government when all the wicked have disappeared and God shall be all in all.

Justice shall not reign then; it shall dwell; 2 Pet. 3. Perfection will not exist until God has made all things new. There is here no distinction made of a people of God amongst men. "The tabernacle of God is with men." All is peace. God is all in all. All those who remain after the judgment are blessed together. But we have to consider whether what is called the church now shall not also be a special blessing, whether it will not be the tabernacle of God amongst men. (See Eph. 3:21.)

96 Jesus is here the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of the counsels of God. He is God Himself. When all shall be accomplished and made subject to God, then there shall be an eternal blessing. Since the fall of Adam until this day it is the manifestation of the grace and of the patience of God.

We have in one sense come to the end of the book of the Revelation. Here it is that events of the prophecy are closed. What follows is a description of the holy Jerusalem, of the joy of the saints during the thousand years, and of the relations of the heavenly Jerusalem with the earth. Everything is centred in Christ. The smallest, the meanest, of those who attach themselves to Christ, who love Christ, shall shine in the glory of Christ, and that one shall be found wise even by the wicked who despise him now. May God render us faithful to the glory of Christ, while the world is despising this glory, and we shall be made partakers of it when it shall be manifested!

Revelation 21:9 - 27; 22:1 - 5

In comparing verse 9 with chapter 17:1, you will find this likeness, that it is one of the seven angels who have the seven vials that gives the description of Babylon, and that it is one of them also who describes the bride of the Lamb, the holy city, with the whole of the prophecy from verse 9. The historical unfolding of the mediatorial service of the Lamb is already contained in this book.

What is found in chapters 21:9-27 and 22:1-5 does not form a continuation, either historical or prophetic, of what precedes. It is a description of the holy Jerusalem, and there are many circumstances which precede what is in the beginning of the chapter. The angel, in the same manner, describes Babylon after having given her history.

Verses 9-13. It is in heaven, in the glory only, that the bride, the Lamb's wife, is spoken of in the accomplishment of God's ways concerning her.* The present dispensation is only the assembling the living stones of this city, the assembling of the saints, the church. Through the resurrection, we shall all be placed without sound (see 1 Kings 6:7) in the glory prepared for us. This is the bride of the Lamb, not of the King, as in the Old Testament. The church has part in the sufferings, as well as in the glory of Christ; and to her Jesus is the Lamb, and not the King; the manifestation of the heavenly, and not of the earthly, righteousness of God (for in the last case Christ ought not to have died). This heavenly righteousness is hidden in God, unknown to the world, but known of faith. Before the world, the death of Christ is the greatest injustice of man. The Lamb is also the manifestation of the patience and of the goodness of God. But, as to the accomplishment of righteousness with regard to His death, no true estimate could be made of its value, except in heaven. No reward on earth could have been worthy of what Jesus has suffered. The manner in which Jesus glorified the Father could not be worthily recompensed but in placing the Son at the right hand of the Father. To suffer for having done well, and to submit to all - this is the part of a Christian. It is better to keep Christ's character than one's cloak. The church has part in all this. She has the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ and of His resurrection. She becomes the Lamb's wife in His glory, as in His rejection: she has part in His sufferings. We cannot have a portion with Christ above without having it with Him here on earth. Christ is one whole.

{*I hardly need say here, that this does not mean that there has not been a church on the earth during the ages which have elapsed since Pentecost. I have insisted enough upon this in other writings. There certainly was a church, and in the relation of a bride with Christ through faith. But the marriage was not come, and it is equally evident that the whole of it is not formed before she is in the glory. Her characteristic place is in heaven. She belongs there. What else is here is only the general principle of what God will accomplish in the glory. God wills that man should manifest this before the world, in the power of the Holy Ghost, until Jesus return; and she is here, consequently, the habitation of God through the Spirit.}

97 The spouse of the King is the spouse on earth. The bride of the Lamb is the church in glory. She has the enjoyment of the ripe fruits of the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. Even in the glory grace is the portion of the church. Government in justice characterises Jerusalem on earth. The city comes down from heaven. The city which comes from the earth is Babylon. Here it is the holy Jerusalem. She comes from heaven. She is not found on the earth; there is no thought even of her there. It may be manifested to the earth; but in its origin it is a heavenly thing, also in its character, in its nature altogether.

98 What comes from God is holy. Jesus, the only man who really came forth from God, was perfectly holy. He was not of the earth. It is impossible that anything could stain the origin of the nature of what comes from heaven. "He cannot sin, because he is born of God," 1 John 3:9. Our risen body is a house of heaven: it is a glory reserved in heaven. What is truly of God abides in God and cannot fade. In its nature life, essentially divine, is not only pure, but it cannot fade nor become corrupt.

There is still something more - "the glory of God." Then the city has the form and the beauty of what God manifests in the glory. God is glorified there: all shines with His glory; all relates to it, bears witness to it, and is clothed with it. "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God," Rom. 5:2. Christ shall come to be glorified in the saints, and the church is clothed with the glory of God Himself. It is precious to have always God's true object in view, which cannot stop on this side His glory. If one would get at the bottom of the counsels of God, one must look to His glory. What makes me, in travelling, pass through such and such a place, is not the desire of seeing that place, but of getting to an end beyond. The sight of the glory sanctifies truly, and gives an object far above all that could be prepared to stop us here on earth. We shall never walk well here below, even in the smallest details, if the great end is not constantly before our eyes. If I have any object on this side the glory, even the welfare of the church in detail, my soul will suffer from it. In this consists that which elevates all the Christian does - if in everything he has the glory of God in view.

The Father, we have seen, is never mentioned in the Revelation; nor have we here the children of the Father, but the bride of the Lamb. This book speaks of government and glory; and God, in this book, takes all His titles save that of Father. The apostles of the Lamb (v. 14), not the twelve tribes of Israel, are the foundations of the city. The prophets knew that these things were not for themselves, but for us; 1 Pet. 1:12.

99 There is a perfect order. The golden reed (v. 15), the exact righteousness of God, measures all and judges all. The result of the work of God is perfect. Nothing is wanting; nothing is too long; nothing is too short. All is perfectly regulated. Not a stroke of the hammer remains to be given. All is perfect - God is the Architect.

Verse 18. God's glory is the building of the wall; this jasper represents God. Christ is girded with pure gold, and it is said, "Righteousness is the girdle of his loins." It is the divine righteousness accomplished in Jesus, not the earthly. Verse 21. There is also purity, transparent glass, the perfect purity of God, which can no longer be defiled; chap. 15:2. The purity is no more of water, but of glass; it is consolidated, and rendered firm. The church, one with Christ, is seen there, having the righteousness of God, His purity, His holiness. The justice of man does not become a Christian. One cannot mix together with grace the earthly justice, which says "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth." The righteousness of heaven can ally itself with grace, and the only righteousness that becomes a Christian is a heavenly righteousness. It gives, and no longer exacts. God having communicated His nature to the Christian, he is raised above sin, and is made partaker of God's holiness; 2 Pet. 1; Heb. 12. The true character of the Christian is that of divine righteousness and holiness, and that of grace - what becomes God, when He is manifested as man. We want faith to lose our fortune and to forgive; but if it is coming out of the society of man, it is entering into that of God. What a portion for us, and how it does elevate our souls! This righteousness, this holiness of God, cannot be fully manifested until the church is seen in glory.

The difference of the stones (v. 19, 20) contains details which are above my knowledge. It is said of Satan, that before his fall he walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire - that every precious stone was his covering; Ezek. 28:14. The precious stones were on the breastplate of the high priest. These stones are not pure light, but the reflection of the divine glory, where the most elevated creature walked before its fall. It is in that position that Christ places the church on His heart, as high priest, and in the full manifestation of which He places her in the glory. The church is in that glory. It is what is nearest to God when the question is about the glory. It is the radiancy of divine glory reflected, and manifested in its varied beauty in the creature, and this in its most immediate relationship with God, a radiancy of divine light on and through the creature. In Ezekiel, this is the case in creation; on the breastplate of Jesus, in grace; here, in glory. In the first case the creature could not maintain itself there. Christ maintains the church there in its weakness. He places her there in the strength He has Himself in the glory. The point here is the right of the sovereignty of God, who places the church in this glory; and not the affection of the Father to His children.

100 Verse 21. The twelve gates are twelve pearls - that is, what is beautiful, the perfection of moral grace in the church, a pearl of great price (Matt. 13:46): it was what Christ had looked for. The street of the city is of pure gold, as it were transparent glass; no defilement is any longer possible. Jesus will no more have to wash our feet in order that we may enter into the presence of God for our worship. In the glory we shall be standing on purity. The more we walk there, the more we shall get into purity, without having the need of conscience to be on our guard. The more we then let go our affections, the more we shall praise God. This is great rest to him who loves holiness. The precious stones express the solid basis of our glory, and we shall walk on purity. This is heavenly rest.

Verses 22-27. There is no more temple - that is to say, nothing that contains and hides the glory of God. God is the temple. He receives and encloses His people. If one came out of the temple, one found the world. Then we shall be shut up in God. He is the intimate centre of everything, as also the circumference of our happiness. If we would come out of purity, we must come out of God, who is infinite. All God's names in this dispensation, save that of Father, are here. The Lamb, He who has suffered, and in whom our affections are concentrated, is also the temple. God shall be the Sun of the city (v. 23) and we shall know as we have been known. This has consequences. The nations upon the earth, spread in the judgment, walk in its light, the light of the city. Jesus saith, "The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them, that the world may know that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me," John 17:22-29. There will be a world which shall know it and see it, in the manifestation of that glory. The affection of the bride delights in the glory that belongs to the Lamb, and the bride is manifested in that glory.

101 The church, which is the manifestation of the goodness and of the glory of God, shall be the light of the world. It is in our glory that the world shall understand what a Saviour we have had. What joy for us, in whom will be seen, in the ages to come, the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus! (Eph. 2:7). When the world shall see us there, it will then understand that God has loved us as He has loved Jesus. Everything corresponds with our portion here below. The earthly Jerusalem will take vengeance (shall execute the vengeance) on God's enemies. We are here on earth the instruments of the grace and of the glory of God. Sinners may speak of it from the heart. This will continue in heaven. The church shall be in the glory, the testimony rendered to grace; and the earthly Jerusalem shall exercise the severity of justice against sin. God is now rejected and despised in us; He shall then be glorified in us.

Isaiah 60 shews that the earthly Jerusalem has the earthly government and the rights of the justice of God. "The nation that will not serve her shall perish," v. 12. As to the heavenly Jerusalem, the nations of those who are saved shall walk in her light. All that God shall perfect in the glory ought to be manifested through the Holy Ghost here on earth. By anticipation the Holy Ghost gives us the foretaste of this glory. And the knowledge of that glory is a principle of action which the world can never understand; but it can see the fruits of it. The selfishness of the world understands the grace that is in the Christian, which can forgive; but, in principle, that grace is foolishness to him. Yet, although the world does not understand our motives, it sees the faithfulness, which is a testimony rendered to grace. May God be sanctified in us by the sight of that glory!

<05021F> The beginning of chapter 22 shews us the relations of the heavenly city with the earth and the world. The world will see that we have been loved, and will know how much we have been loved, when at the appearing of Jesus we shall appear also with Him in glory. When He appears, it must be before some one. His appearing is the manifestation of His glory in the world where He has been rejected, but which God made the theatre of all that He manifested of Himself. It is there that sin entered; that Satan reigns; that man has lived in open revolt against God; that angels have served; that Jesus has suffered; that He has conquered hades, death, and the prince of this world. Nothing is more simple than God's manifesting the glory of Jesus and that of Christians in this world, where they were despised. We shall now see the great principles of that glory.

102 The earthly Jerusalem has almost all the characters of the celestial one. Yet there is an essential difference. It is in the heavenly Jerusalem that the glory is, and it is from thence that it shines upon the earthly Jerusalem. Our Christian discipline here in the earth enables us to manifest this glory. The earthly Jerusalem is upon the earth, the seat of the government of God in justice. The glory requires that all the nations should be brought low; Zech. 1:21; 2:8-13; 8:22, 23, etc. Under Israel we see the patience of God in government, with the incapacity of Israel to profit by it. Under the government of the New Jerusalem the law will be put in their heart (Ezek. 36:27), and will enable them to answer to this government of God, and God will manifest His glory there, "and my people shall be all righteous."

In the heavenly Jerusalem there is a display more complete and more intimate of the resources that are in God to bless, if there are any miseries, and not obedience. In heaven are the fruits thereof continually presented in all their richness and in all their variety. At the same time there are also on the tree of life the leaves destined for the healing of the Gentiles. In Eden, man's innocence was put to the test. There were the two trees, the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The life, without which man can do nothing, and responsibility - such are the principles of all religion.

As to responsibility, man found himself in two positions - in innocence and in sin;* that is, in Eden and under the law. The law requires obedience after the knowledge of good and evil is entered; and if there is evil, the only effect of the presence of God is to make us haste away as fast as possible. The law acts on the responsibility of man who has the knowledge of good and evil, and brings it to bear on him, but does not give life.

{*In either case, made subject to a law.}

Christ has taken up man when hopeless on the ground of his own responsibility. He took the responsibility on Himself, and has given life. He becomes thus everything to man. He comes as expiation and as mediation, puts Himself under the responsibility according to all the requirement of God, gives full satisfaction, takes upon Himself all the result of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and takes the place of the other tree, and imparts life. Man ate, not of the tree of life, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When man places himself under responsibility, he is surely lost. To recognise that Christ is the source of life, and yet to keep the responsibility of one's own salvation, is to be in confusion and in fear. Christ must answer as Mediator, and be the source of life. Thus it is that pure grace is the only way in which we can have to do with God. We shall even see traces of these things in the heavenly Jerusalem. Everything concerning ourselves is accomplished. Life and responsibility being united, it is a joy for us, as well as for the angels, to do the will of God. May God enable us to understand and to apprehend well these two principles, life and responsibility! If we take the responsibility upon ourselves, it is all over with us - we are undone.

103 Life is represented here under two figures: (1) A river of living water. We have not only the life in us, but we are drinking for ever of that life which proceeds from the throne of God, and flows in abundance through the city. (2) A tree of life. One might have eaten in Eden of the tree of life, but in that tree there was no principle of healing. Here this is not the case. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the Gentiles. This tree of life is more blessed. Those that are in the city find food in its fruit, and from its leaves proceed the resources of life for those who are still on the earth. There is the joy of communion. We drink of the river of living water. Although this is the highest joy, yet it is a joy also, even for God, to do good to those who are in want. It is grace, it is goodness. We are made partakers of that joy in the holy city; we shall enjoy there the grace which heals, as well as the grace of drinking in His holiness. There is joy in heaven for one sinner that repents.

Thus in the heavenly Jerusalem, there is neither innocence without grace, nor responsibility and the law without life.

Verses 3, 4. There is the centre of all authority - the throne of God and of the Lamb. The rest there shall not be a rest of idleness. His servants shall serve Him. Nothing shall separate us from God, and we shall see His face; and in our foreheads (v. 4) nothing will be seen that is not the expression of God. All that God is, His name, shall be in our foreheads (that is to say, manifested in us in the most visible manner). Slaves had the name of their masters marked in their foreheads. We shall see the face of God. The pure in heart shall see God. The whole world shall see that we are the servants of God. All this is even before the world a plain manifestation of what God is. Verse 5. All that is here is an eternal state for the church.

104 Revelation 22:6-21

Verses 6, 7. Here terminates this description. When the Last Adam shall have exercised His power to re-establish all the things mentioned by the prophets, then shall be the end. He shall be Priest after the order of Melchisedec, Priest seated on His own throne, to praise God and to bless the world. This rebellious world shall then be made subject to Him. This is the form that the mediation will take at that time - not hidden, as it is now, but with His people.

Verse 10. There is here a remarkable expression. God had told Daniel to seal the prophecy (chap. 12:4); here, on the contrary, for the church, He says not to seal the prophecy. It is not denied that Jesus is coming again, nor do men intend to deny the coming dispensation; but its power over the conscience is avoided by saying "My Lord delayeth his coming." But Jesus says "Behold, I come quickly," and He delays not, but is patient, willing that all should repent. Therefore it is that God would not that the Revelation should be sealed. He says, "I come quickly." In principle, nothing between the present moment and the coming of the Lord prevents the believer's laying hold of His coming. God will have the coming of Jesus to be a thought dear to my heart and nigh; therefore He will not seal anything. God will not have anything in the heart of the believer which separates between the time when the prophecy was given and the coming of Jesus.

At the epoch of the Reformation it was the explanation of this book (see Luther's work, entitled "The Captivity of Babylon ") that gave power to come out of the iniquity and the corruption of the professing church. And if it was not the accomplishment of the thing itself in full, yet the principle was apprehended, and its application to what was displayed in his time.

105 Verse 16. In the beginning of the Revelation Jesus is set forth as the Root of David. Here He calls Himself the Root and Offspring of David, because He has taken His place of King, as Son of David. Here it is that the church on the earth comes again on the scene, as vessel of the testimony (that is to say, the prophecy is ended). In the prophetic part, the church is not seen unless it be in heaven prophetically. But He, who has borne the testimony, presents Himself here in Person. This awakens the affections of the spouse, and the church's desire is that He would come.

We may see also how the coming of Jesus is addressed to all classes of persons. First (v. 7), "Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he who keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book." I have no doubt but that this is a warning to us, and to anyone else; for the church is instructed in this book of all that is going to happen, and of the fruits and principles of the world, and of the world which calls itself Christian. But this exhortation applies to those that shall be found here when the church is gone, in the circumstances of which the book treats (v. 12). The coming of Jesus is addressed and presented to all, as bringing with itself the consequences of their works; and then, prophecy being at an end, Jesus presents Himself personally, "I Jesus, I am," etc. This is that which awakens the desires of the church, which is His already, and which knows Him; and upon this He declares in answer, "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, I come quickly."

Verse 17. This verse gives the normal position of the church while waiting for Jesus. It is not the bride only who calls for the Bridegroom; it is the Spirit and the bride. This desire of the bride is authorised and sanctioned by the Spirit Himself. It is not anything from the Spirit that one expects. It is the Spirit which desires, and He cannot desire the Spirit. The bride desires, and she desires the Bridegroom and not the Spirit. "Come quickly, Lord Jesus! If I desire a millennium without Christ, it is not saying "Come quickly," but it is saying Delay at least a thousand years. The church says naturally "Come," if she has apprehended her privileges. There are souls who have not apprehended these privileges of the church-; therefore He says, "Let him that heareth say, Come." The church has already the river of life; and so she says to him that is athirst, "let him come," for I have the river of life: "and whosoever will, let him take of the living water freely" (for I have it); let him take of it freely. The church presents grace while waiting for the Bridegroom: it is her duty and her privilege to invite those who are athirst to take of the water of life that she possesses. Having the Holy Ghost, the church invites to drink of this living water. Come and drink! The betrothed of Jesus, she says to the Bridegroom, "Come." How desirable is her position here! As for herself, her affections are fixed above on Christ, whom she is expecting, and whom she desires. Meanwhile she is depositary and witness in grace of the grace she enjoys. She does not say, If any one is athirst, let him come to me, as Jesus could say; but it is her place, through grace, to say "Come and drink." Nothing urges more to the plainest and most faithful evangelisation, than the thought that Jesus is coming quickly. On the other hand, if you are wishing for money, or seeking to make provision for placing your children in the world, or if you have any plans for the future, you cannot wish for the Lord Jesus to come; and if you cannot, then your hearts are not right with Jesus. For Christians, it is a melancholy state. And if any one does not own the Lord, nothing is more awful than the coming of Jesus: it is judgment for such a one.

106 May God purify our hearts, in order that we may desire that Jesus would come quickly! Amen.