That Great City"

In the symbolic prophecies of Revelation we easily recognize the city of Rome as "that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth."

By WILLIAM A. SPICER, Former President of the General Conference

In the symbolic prophecies of Revelation we easily recognize the city of Rome as "that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth." So it was in the days of the pagan empire when John was writing on Pat­mos. And so, too, it was when the Papacy later set up an ecclesiastical empire in the same field.

But in one place in the Revelation "the city" clearly means the whole Western empire. De­scribing the falling away from the Papacy of France (one of the ten kingdoms of the divided empire) in the earth-shaking French Revolu­tion, the prophet wrote: "And the same hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell." Rev.11:13.

This picturing of the empire of Western Europe as "the city" shows how accurately prophecy follows certain details of history that we might miss unless watching closely. The prophet John was repeating an idea which had grown up in Roman usage.

Cicero, famous lawyer, statesman, and writer of Rome, died in the year 43 B.C. In one of his written documents, he said : 'The city is Rome, a state formed of the assemblage of all nations." —YONGE'S Works of Cicero, 'On Standing for the Consulship," chapter 14 (London: Bohn, 1872.)

Again, in the days of the apostles, the Em­peror Claudius (who died A.D. 54) was explain­ing to the senate how Roman citizenship had been extended beyond the city: "At last our city became bounded only by the Alps; so that not only separate individuals but whole states and nations became ingrafted into the Roman name."—Annals of Tacitus, Book XI, chapter 24 (Oxford Translation, Harper Brothers, 1863).

With this usage of including the provinces in "the city," especially those ten kingdoms that rose within the original empire, it was a very natural thing for the prophet to describe the breakaway of France from the papal organiza­tion in the climax of the French Revolution like an earthquake in the great city, by which "a tenth part of the city fell."

And so plainly did this prophecy indicate France as the scene of the atheistic uprising against the two witnesses (the Old and the New Testaments) that Protestant students of prophecy had discerned France as the field of the prophecy more than a century before the French Revolution.

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By WILLIAM A. SPICER, Former President of the General Conference

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