“THE SPIRIT AND THE BRIDE SAY COME”
It was “one of the seven angels that had the seven vials” full of God’s wrath who took John to see “Babylon the Great,” first in its state of spiritual degradation, and then in its state of worldly grandeur. John also was shown Jerusalem Shammah, the New Jerusalem of the Millennial age. The truth of the visions John saw--no mere imaginings--was impressed upon him when angel said, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb… These are the true sayings of God” (19:9).
At the angel’s voice, John fell at his feet to worship him (19:10). However, the angel said: “See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus; worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” This voice belonged to some prophet who had become an angel in heaven. Again, “one of the seven angels which had the seven vials” took John to see the “holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (21: 9, 10). John says: “When I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.”
This angel must have been a second wrath angel, for it is not likely that John would attempt to worship the same one who had reproved him before. The angel said, “I am thy fellow servant and of thy brethren the prophets.” In his vision, John sees two great angels with the tremendous authority to execute God’s dread judgments on the earth. Yet, they were once human beings on earth that were prophets of God. These men, however, possessed human faults and frailties but were forgiven, cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus, raised to heaven, and exalted to fulfill God’s highest offices. What a wonderful prospect unfolds of blessed exaltation and usefulness if we remain faithful!
Even though so highly exalted, how humble these angels are! How little they care for mere, outward conditions as compared with character! At this moment, John was probably a poor, despised, exiled slave in the mines of Patmos. Yet, these glorious, great angels will have no kneeling to them such as the pettiest kings on earth require of their subjects.
The angel charged John: “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” Then, it ought to be an easy matter for us to understand most of the book. The book is not difficult to understand if only first believed to be literal truth. Men first reject the plain teaching that Christ is to come a second time to this earth to redeem it and then settle redeemed men on the earth as His co-laborers to rule it and subdue its lawlessness. Having refused to believe this elementary truth of the Word, they begin to explain away rather than to explain this book. When we accept the book as meaning what it says, it can be understood without much difficulty.
The records of this book as Dr. Seiss says: “Constitute His last and crowning legacy to his Church and people. They are written by His appointment and command. They are put into our hands by the specific direction of eternal power and Godhead. They are therefore God’s word to us. And if He commanded the writing of them, I cannot see how men are to excuse themselves from the reading and study of them; or how any Christian can think lightly of them, or put them from him as of no practical worth, and yet retain his holy faithfulness to the plain will and inculcations of our blessed Lord and Judge.”
Paul, the apostle, tells us: “The mystery of iniquity doth already work; only there is one that restraineth now, until He be taken out of the way. And then shall be revealed the lawless one (Antichrist), whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of His mouth” (R.V.). That restraining power is the Holy Spirit. He softens the heart, and convicts of sin, leading to repentance and forgiveness. We make a great mistake when we imagine we shall always be able to repent if we wish. The mistake is that we may come to a time when, though we know it is the wisest, most important thing to do, when we will be involved in most awful misery if we do not. However, if we do not, we cannot merely wish to repent. As surely as God’s forgiveness is a gift, so surely is the power to repent a gift.
God “opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27), and that “God also to the Gentiles granted repentance” (Acts 11:18). While Paul, whose message would not be received by the Jews at Rome, declares the word of Isaiah applies: “Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive.” (Acts 28:26).
Elsewhere he tells us the Jews were hardened at this time because they rejected Jesus Christ. They were hardened in that God did not soften their hearts, and they did not feel like repenting. God promises before the Lord comes, the hearts of the Jews will be softened again, and they will repent in great numbers. For instance, Zechariah says: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications; and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:9-10). Therefore, repentance for sins is the gift of God similar to the forgiveness of sins.
Now, we come to a time when a most awful fate will be pronounced upon sinners when Christ comes in judgment: “He that is unrighteous, let him do unrighteousness still: (R.V.) “he that is filthy, let him be filthy still” (v.11). The door of repentance is closed forever with the Lord, free from all temptation. Their fate--most happy fate--is fixed too, forever. “He that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” A fixed fate for the unrighteous and filthy and a fixed fate for the righteous and holy is the reward which each one receives from Christ, “every man according as his work is” (R.V., v. 12) when the Lord comes in swift judgment.
Those who “do His commandments” shall have a right to the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations, and they “may enter in through the gates into the city” --New Jerusalem. Outside that celestial city far beyond reach of the mercy of God will be those who have sinned so long and deeply they will not care to repent.” These dogs (men given over to unclean, ravenous appetites) sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, idolators, liars” will have their part in the lake of fire (20:15).
The wonderful book of the Revelation draws to its close with the Lord knowing that its study would be neglected by Christians and its value and authority discounted just as has been the case. In His faithful care for His thoughtless, foolish followers, He adds His most solemn seal to all that John has written. No one shall ever say, “John was mistaken or mad when he wrote all these wild fancies! We believe John’s Gospel and his epistles, but the Revelation proves John’s mind became unsettled through his hardships as an exiled slave!” No, no one shall ever have one excuse for trying to weaken the authority of this last book of the Bible!
Jesus Christ Himself seems to take the pen in hand now: “I, Jesus,” He writes, “have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” It is as though He said, “All of you understand now that you don’t have to account to John for disbelieving this book or for treating it lightly. John has written it as My secretary at My dictation with the aid of the angel whom I sent to instruct John. Let anyone neglect, slight, mutilate or add to this book, and he must settle his account with me, Jesus Christ, in a day of reckoning.”
What stronger proof could He give of His identity as the very Son of God, “the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star,” than in the very midst of this stern language, He interrupts it by one more yearning invitation for us to come and be enclosed in His arms of love forever: “The Spirit and the bride (the beautiful New Jerusalem) say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
One is reminded of His outburst over the wicked, violent Jerusalem that crucified Him in the midst of most fearful denunciations and warnings when he cries, “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
If any are left outside new Jerusalem, it will not be for lack of a warm invitation to enter. It will only be because even to the last moment when the words are uttered, “he that is filthy, let him be filthy still,” that person preferred the company of “dogs,” sorcerers, or fornicators, or murderers, or idolaters or liars, or wrong-doers of some sort. “The fearful, and unbelieving and abominable, and murderers and fornicators, and sorcerers and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death” (21:8).
The first death is undone by Christ, who brings all the dead out of their graves; “Marvel not at this,” the Lord says; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His (Christ’s) voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29). Isaiah, Zechariah, Daniel and other of the Old Testament prophets prophesied of this same day. Daniel wrote: “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan.12:2).
Then, in conclusion, in view of the dreadful fate of those whose names are not written in the book of life, a most impressive threat is added by the One who has never uttered an idle word, the One who is the very Word of God:
“ I testify unto everyone that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If anyone shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And is anyone shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly.”
If so, then, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”