The Gospel in Revelation — No. 3

The Gospel Message in the Book of Revelation — No. 3

The gospel of the kingdom.

By W.W. Prescott

We have found that the real subject of the book of Daniel is the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of the Son of man, the Messiah of prophecy, to whom there was given " dominion, and glory, and a kingdom." Dan. 7:14. We shall find the same subject developed in the book of Revelation, and the climax is reached when "the seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ [His Messiah]." Rev. 11:15.

The Gospel of the Kingdom

But the gospel of the kingdom con­sists of much more than a mere an­nouncement of a coming event. In the question of the kingdom is involved the solution of the problem of sin, and the overthrow of the kingdom of Satan upon the earth. This led to the his­torical development of the provision made " before times eternal; " and so " when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a wo­man, born under the law, that He might redeem them that were under the law." Gal. 4 : 4, 5. The incarnation, the earthly life of conflict with the powers of darkness, the death on the cross, the resurrection, and the ascension of the Son of God were all in the past when the seer of Patmos recorded the things which were revealed to him, and he assumes the knowledge of these events on the part of his readers. To him the problem of sin has been solved, the great reconciliation has been made, and " the prince of this world " has been cast out. But the fruit of this victory has not yet been fully realized, and there yet remained centuries of conflict before a redeemed people could enter upon the possession of the king­dom which the cross had won for them. It is with this conflict that the book of Revelation deals, leading up to " a new heaven and a new earth." Rev. 21:1.

The Gospel of the Cross

The keynote of the doctrine of this book is found at its very beginning: " Unto Him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by His blood." Rev. 1:5. " Loveth " is in the present tense, denoting a continuous act. " Loosed " is in the Greek aorist tense, referring to a single act at a definite time in the past. Deliverance both from the guilt and the power of sin was accomplished at the cross. From the throne of grace in the heavenly sanctuary the risen Christ, our great High Priest, con­tinues His ministry of love by impart­ing to us the Holy Spirit, who makes effective in us the work which Jesus wrought for us by His life and death and resurrection. Faith unites us with the living, victorious Christ, and thus appropriates Him as our victory. It is the constant effort of Satan to break this union with Christ so that he may be able to overcome us. Here is the center of the conflict. The book of Revelation opens the sealed book which makes known the history of the church, unveils the deceptions of Satan, and keeps before us the victorious work of the slain Lamb who has gained the keys of death and of Hades in our be­half, It " continues the line of predic­tive history running through the New Testament, and is the consummation of the sure word of prophecy which pervades the Bible as a whole."

The Person of Christ

The Person of Christ is the rock foundation upon which rests every doc­trine of the gospel, and He Himself is also the guiding and ruling element in history. It is quite in harmony with these fundamental truths that in the first chapter of the book of Revelation we have presented before us in all the majesty of His heavenly glory the same Son of anon whose incarnation, life of humiliation, atoning death, resurrec­tion, and ascension are testified to in the Gospels, and whose parables and teachings concerning the kingdom of God contain the germ of all that is further developed in this book. He is here seen walking among the churches. Then there logically follow various definite outlines of the future experiences of His own people viewed from different angles, together with clear expositions of the reappearance of ancient Babylon, with Satan still acting as the invisible king, but now working through a vicegerent, who, while claiming to be a disciple of Christ, is yet " the man of sin," and, like his prototype Judas, is " the son of perdition," Those plain intimations of " grievous times " which are given in the letters of the apostles to the churches, when some should " fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1), are now definitely developed in lines of prophecy which outline the course of events both within and with­out the church, and which lead up to the final triumph of the saints in Christ (Rev. 22: 4, 5), and the utter destruction of all opposing powers in­stigated by Satan, so that " Babylon, the great city, . . . shall be found no more at all." Rev. 18:21.

The Seven Churches

In the second and third chapters of Revelation the Son of man of the first chapter is heard in messages of warn­ing to those who are departing from the faith, and in words of promise to those who " hear what the Spirit saith to the churches," and overcome through grace. The fact that in every succeeding stage of the historical church He declares, " I know," indicates that He who promised, " I am with you always, even unto the end of the world " (Matt. 28: 20), has fulfilled and is fulfilling His word in a very practical way.

The need of His abiding presence is clearly revealed in the descriptions of apostasy within the church, and in the repeated references to him who op­poses. In the church in Smyrna we find a " synagogue of Satan." Per­garaum is " where Satan's -throne is." " The woman Jezebel " seduces some in the church in Thyatira, and there we read of " the deep things of Satan." In the church in Philadelphia we again find " the synagogue of Satan." It is " the Amen, the faithful and true Wit­ness," who " loved the church, and gave Himself up for it" (Eph. 5:25), whose grace and power avail to bring His own safely through all these experiences. Note His loving words " to the angel of the church in Laodicea," the church of the present day: " I counsel thee to buy of Me gold refined by fire, that thou mayest become rich; and white gar­ments, that thou mayest clothe thyself, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest; and eyesalve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see." Rev. 3:18. We do well to heed these words.

The Seven Seals

In the prophecy of the seven seals we have a view of the church which " came forth conquering, and to con­quer" (Rev. 6:1, 2), facing war and famine and death, until the cry of the slain is, " How long, O Master, the holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? " Verse 10. Then follow the very signs which our Lord Himself had designated as just preced­ing His coming (cf. Rev. 6:12, 13, with Matt. 24:29, 30), and the so-called great men of the earth who have not made their peace with God, seek to hide themselves " from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of their wrath is come." Verses 16, 17. But the great day of wrath is the day of final deliverance for those who have " washed their robes, and made them white in the blood ,a the Lamb." Rev. 7:14.

The Seven Trumpets

Under the symbolism of the seven trumpets we trace the efforts of the Roman and the Mohammedan powers to substitute a religion of man and an earthly kingdom for the religion of Christ and a heavenly kingdom, a strug­gle which continues until our own time with our own message of the ever­lasting gospel, and " the time of the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints." Rev. 11: 18. Then it is that " the kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ: and He shall reign forever and ever." Rev. 11:15.

The Overthrow of Paganism

In the twelfth chapter of Revelation we find a brief outline of the work of the dragon, " the old serpent, he that is called the devil and Satan" (Verse 9), who used the power of the empire of Rome in the early centuries to sup­press Christianity by making pagan­ism the religion of the state and per­secuting those who professed faith in Christ. But Pentecost sounded the death knell of paganism as the world religion, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, paganism — the paganism of ancient Babylon was conquered by the end of the fourth century, and ceased to be the official religion of Rome. " They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony." Rev. 12:11. Satan was cast out of heaven by the power of the cross (John 12:31), and on earth he was defeated by the same power. This victory was gained, and still is gained, by death, for " they loved not their life even unto death." Rev. 12:11. This is the gospel of the cross.

The Vicegerent of Satan

In the twelfth chapter there is no concealment of the purpose of the dragon to destroy Christianity by en­forcing paganism, and so he openly ap­pears as " a great red dragon," and is called " the old serpent," a word which carries us back to his first work in the garden of Eden. But after paganism was overthrown by the word of the cross, a new turn is taken and a dif­ferent symbol is employed to represent the opposition to Christianity. This symbol is the ,first beast of the thir­teenth chapter. The seven heads and the ten horns show that it is closely allied to the dragon, and the union of the leopard and the bear and the lion in its make-up, when considered in the light of the vision of the seventh chapter of Daniel, connects it directly with Babylon. The diadems are now on the horns, instead of on the heads as in the twelfth chapter, indicating that the fourth kingdom has now been divided into ten kingdoms, and that the time is consequently after 476 A. D. The dragon does not now appear in his own person, but gives " his power, and his throne, and great authority " to the beast power, who acts as his vicegerent.

The historical fulfillment of this symbolism is found in the rise and work of papal Rome, whose official head accepted the Babylonish title of Pontifex Maximus in 378 A. D., and was recognized as the head of all the churches by Justinian in 533 A. D. Here we find the reappearance of ancient Babylon under the guise of a Christian church, whose head is authoritatively declared to be the vicegerent of Christ, but who is revealed in this prophecy as the vicegerent of Satan,— a counter­feit church which is designated by in­spiration as " Babylon the great, the mother of the harlots and of the abomi­nations of the earth."

This modern Babylon, like ancient Babylon, is " a world-wide monarchy," and uses its arbitrary power " to make war with the saints, and to overcome them." Rev. 13:7. As compared with ancient Babylon, its period of author­ity — forty and two months, or twelve hundred and sixty prophetic days or literal years — is six times seventy years plus six times Seventy years plus six times seventy years, in which the triple six idea is suggested. Here again appears the power of the slain Lamb, for all will yield to the demand of this vicegerent of Satan to render him worship except those whose names are found " in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Rev. 13:8, margin. Again the efficacy of the cross is manifested.

(To be concluded)

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By W.W. Prescott

August 1929

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