Revelation 9:13 to 11:14.
Rev. 9:13,14. “And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.”
In coming from the “golden altar,” the command, “Loose the four angels,” shows that the sixth trumpet sounded sometime before the vail to the Most Holy apartment of the heavenly sanctuary was lifted. Otherwise the voice would have come from the throne — the Most Holy place. (For detailed treatment of the lifting of the vail, see Tract No. 3, The Harvest.) But as has been shown, we are still in the period of the fifth trumpet, a fact which evokes the question: How, then, could the sixth trumpet have sounded before the events of the fifth had expired?
It will be observed that though each of the trumpets begin at a definite time, yet one overlaps the other, and all seven extend to the second coming of Christ. This is seen in the coexistence of the truths of all seven. The flood (first trumpet), the Exodus movement (second trumpet), the giving of the Old Testament Scriptures (third trumpet), the church’s going into captivity (fourth trumpet), Christ’s first advent and subsequent events (fifth trumpet), are all sounding louder today than ever before. And as these truths constitute the gospel for today, it is evident that though the trumpets run in consecutive order, each beginning at a different time, they all continue in force to the end of the world, terminating therewith. Thus the rejection of one being tantamount to the rejection of all seven, the lesson is sharply drawn that to reject one truth is to reject the whole truth.
With the fourteenth verse of Revelation 9 begins the description of the sixth trumpet, and it ends with the fourteenth verse of Revelation 11, which announces: “The second woe [sixth trumpet] is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.” Accordingly, each prophetic event recorded between Revelation 9:14 and 11:14 must find its fulfillment in the period of the sixth trumpet — between the first and the second woes.
In the light of this fact, we see that the time in which the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11:3 were to “prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth,” must occur during the sounding of the sixth trumpet. And being in the future tense, the phrase, “shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (Rev. 11:3), shows that at the time the trumpet began sounding, this period of 1260 days was yet future.
The voice which came from the golden altar said “to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.” In order to identify “the four angels,” we must first understand the literal meaning of the river Euphrates.
The capital city of ancient Babylon was built on either side of the Euphrates, thus dividing the city in two parts. The river was also the source of water supplying a fortifying mote about the city. So because the ancient Babylonians were the first to build on the banks of the Euphrates, and because the original application must attach to the original settlers there, the “great river Euphrates” emerges as a type of “the waters…where the whore sitteth” (Rev. 17:15) — modern Babylon. And this important truth is amplified by the fact that the ancient city, Babylon, does not now exist, whereas prophecy calls for a Babylon today.
Now in order for there to be a modern Babylon, there must necessarily be a repetition today of the conditions and events essentially characterizing ancient Babylon in its connection with God’s people. Consequently, their captivity in Babylon, the type (Jer. 29:10), must find its parallel in Babylon, the antitype. Very obviously, therefore, the angel’s being “bound in the great river Euphrates” must be figurative of the Christian church during the period of her captivity in antitypical Babylon — “that great city” rising after John’s time.
Furthermore, the statement made by the voice from the golden altar, “loose the four angels which are bound,” conclusively shows that when the “voice” spoke, the church (the angels) was already in captivity and was to be loosed.
Rev. 9:15, first clause. “And the four angels were loosed.”
The execution of the command, “Loose the four angels,” meaning to set the church free from her captivity in Babylon, resulted in her being liberated from her long bondage to the tyranny of church-state rule, and in the Bible’s being restored to God’s people, so that they might study and worship in fear and in favor of no man, and in accountability only to their conscience and to their God. In the consequent dissolution of the church-state union, the “four angels” were loosed.
Rev. 9:15, last part. “…which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.”
The fulfillment of Josiah Litch’s prediction (calculating the “an hour, and a day, and a month and a year” of Revelation 9:15 to total 391 years and 15 days, reckoning a day for a year, as in Ezekiel 4:6) is the strongest semblance of truth to be found in Uriah Smith’s interpretation of the trumpets. Little wonder, then, that its advocates are doing their best to keep the people believing in it by stoutly maintaining that The Great Controversy lends support to the position established by Litch’s prediction.
“In the year 1840,” reads the record in mention, “another remarkable fulfillment of prophecy excited widespread interest. Two years before Joseph Litch, one of the leading ministers preaching the second advent, published an exposition of Revelation 9, predicting the fall of the Ottoman empire. According to his calculations, this power was to be overthrown ‘in A.D. 1840, sometime in the month of August;’…
“At the very time specified, Turkey, through her ambassadors, accepted the protection of the allied powers of Europe, and thus placed herself under the control of Christian nations. The event exactly fulfilled the prediction.” — The Great Controversy, pp. 334, 335.
To say what The Great Controversy says, is perfectly permissible, but to say that it is supporting the idea that Josiah Litch’s interpretation of the “hour,” “day,” “month,” and “year,” Biblically denotes a period of “391 years, 15 days,” ending in 1840 A.D. is not permissible. Moreover, the event which took place in 1840 did not fulfill the Biblical prediction, for the very simple reason that at the end of the “hour, and…day, and…month and…year,” the four angels were “to slay the third part of men.” In actual fact, though, at the date when Litch’s prediction was fulfilled, no slaying took place, and Turkey, instead of being overthrown, was without bloodshed placed under protection of the European nations! Furthermore, the “four angels,” and not a nation (for a nation is never symbolized by angels), were to be made free, and then they were to kill “the third part of men,” whereas the Turks killed none, but instead of being made free, they were really placed under mandate. Still further, John heard that the number of them who were to do the slaying was exactly 200,000,000 cavalrymen (“horsemen”), but Turkey never had that many cavalrymen in all her lifetime!
Having already seen that the “fire,” “smoke,” and “brimstone” are symbolical, not literal, and that hence they do not come forth as a volley from a firearm in the hand of a Turk, we are in consequence led to probe further for their significance. In doing so, we find that Rev. 9:20 reveals that the symbolical fire, smoke, and brimstone result in “plagues.” Not firearms, but plagues, therefore, are the means with which the horsemen slay the “third part of men.”
Since “the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk” (Rev. 9:20), the object in slaying a third part of men is manifestly not to accomplish some selfish end, but rather to help men repent.
Resuming with Litch’s prediction, it is plain to see that The Great Controversy is not attempting in what it says concerning the prediction, to explain the subject of the trumpets. It is merely recording an historical event. Therefore its statement, “in the year 1840, another remarkable fulfillment of prophecy excited wide-spread interest,” must not be construed as advocating Josiah Litch’s interpretations of the Revelator’s prophecy, but instead recording the fulfillment of his prediction based on The Revelation. Thus, it was the latter’s, not the Bible’s or The Great Controversy’s position that “exactly fulfilled the prediction.”
But one may ask, If Revelation 9:15, upon which Josiah Litch’s prediction of the date in question was built up, did not meet its fulfillment at the time he pointed to, then what made the Turks on the very date set accept the Christian nations as a protectorate? Did Satan cunningly bring the Turks to terms on the date predicted by Litch in order to forestall and discredit this wonderful truth of the Trumpets, and thereby to firmly entrench his deceptions in the church?
As to that, we do not know, but this we do know: that despite the fact that Litch unintentionally misapplied the Scriptures, yet on the very day which he predicted for “the fall of the Ottoman empire,” some power brought the empire under the “protection of the allied powers of Europe.”
Thus though it is certain that on the set date something happened to Turkey, it is even more certain that this happening was not in fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy. Let it suffice, however, that the Lord turned Litch’s prediction into a blessing:
“When it became known, multitudes were convinced of the correctness of the principles of prophetic interpretation [of the 2300 days] adopted by Miller and his associates, and a wonderful impetus was given to the Advent Movement. Men of learning and position united with Miller, both in preaching and publishing his views, and from 1840 to 1844 the work rapidly extended.” — The Great Controversy, p. 335.
Once men fought the astronomical findings of Galileo. They even forced him to recant his position that the earth was round. But their fighting the truth did not make the earth flat. Likewise anyone’s fighting against the clear-cut evidences that Revelation 9:15 did not meet its fulfillment in 1840, or, as a matter of fact, trying to obscure the light on any other Bible truth, will in no whit darken or doom it, but only darken and doom himself.
But having all along, in the interest of their cherished ideas, confused the minds of the laity by misconstruing the Rod’s teaching, the adversaries of Present Truth today will doubtless do likewise with this tract and with The Great Controversy’s statement concerning Litch’s prediction. Let those, therefore, who have been accustomed to permit others to think for them but who are concerned about their eternal welfare, be warned away from the deadly peril of such a course, and beware of rejecting that which is truth. For “the great danger with our people,” says the Spirit of truth, “has been that of depending upon men, and making flesh their arm. Those who have not been in the habit of searching the Bible for themselves, or weighing evidence have confidence in the leading men, and accept the decisions they make; and thus many will reject the very messages God sends to His people, if these leading brethren do not accept them.” — Testimonies to Ministers, p. 106.
Now to continue we direct our attention to the truth concerning the four angels, “which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.” Rev. 9:15, last part.
The marginal rendering gives the preposition “at” for the preposition “for,” making the verse read: “At an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year.” Still more exactly rendered, it would read: “At an hour, at a day, at a month, and at a year.” Thus are designated four points in time “at” which the four angels were to prepare “for to slay the third pan of men.” And as the “third part” in the trumpets represents, as we have seen, those who reject God’s appeals to them to repent and be saved, then, accordingly, the angels’ preparing themselves on four successive occasions for the eventual execution of death upon “the third part of men,” shows that the men are to reject a four-phase (four-doctrine) message, each phase being revealed successively:
(1) The only revelation of truth pertaining to and coming “at an hour” is the proclamation of the angel’s announcement: “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.” Rev. 14:7.
(2) The only revelation of truth pertaining to and coming “at a day” is the warning of “the day of vengeance” (Isa. 63:4), “the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” which is to be heralded by the promised “Elijah the prophet.” Mal. 4:5; Testimonies to Ministers, p. 475.
(3) The only revelation pertaining to and coming “at a month” is “the latter rain in the first month” (Joel 2:23) — the light of the angel who is to lighten the earth with his glory (Rev. 18:1; Early Writings, pp. 277, 278). Then “afterward,” says the Lord, “I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh.” Joel 2:28. Glorious prophetic promise, it envisages the power that God is to bestow upon His messengers who are to proclaim the message that is revealed in the time “of the latter rain.” “At the right time” says the Spirit of Prophecy, “He sends His faithful messengers to do a work similar to that of Elijah.” — Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 254. (For further study on the latter rain, see The Shepherd’s Rod, Vol. 2, pp. 256, 257.)
(4) And, finally, the only revelation pertaining to and coming “at a year,” and preparing the four angels “for to slay the third part of men” is says the Lord, “the year of My redeemed.” Isa. 63:4. And this “year” at which His people are redeemed is, of course, the time of the sealing and of the deliverance of the 144,000, — those who are redeemed who escape the slaughter decreed in Ezekiel 9. Of these, the Lord says: “I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations,…to the isles afar off, that have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory; and they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations…to My holy mountain Jerusalem,…in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord.” Isa. 66:19, 20.
These four messages prepare the four angels “for to slay the third part of men” — all who fail to receive into their lives the saving truth of the gospel as revealed in the four messages. They are, to recapitulate, (1) those who close their ears to the proclamation of the judgment, which is revealed “at an hour”; (2) those who heed not the solemn warning of the day of God’s vengeance, which is revealed “at a day”; (3) those who receive not the latter rain, which comes “at a month”; and (4) those who do not join “His redeemed” (the 144,000), who are sealed “at a year.” All these who fail to make the needful preparation for gloryland after the truth is proclaimed to them, shall perish at the command of the angelic horsemen whose army numbers “two-hundred thousand thousand.”
Rev. 9:16-19. “And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.”
These verses immediately evoke the question Who are these “horsemen” and “horses,” numbering 200,000,000 each, “the army” which is to “slay the third part of men”?
In answering this question, it is to be remembered that likewise the “four angels” were to “slay a third part of men,” also that they symbolize the fourfold message brought to view in preceding paragraphs. Unmistakably, therefore, the “army” of “horses” is figurative of the workers who proclaim the final message.
That the symbol, horses, is correctly interpreted to represent gospel workers is further borne out by Zechariah 14:20. There, horses are used to symbolize preachers, those who sound “the bells” — the alarm of warning, the message of salvation. Like the “locusts,” therefore, they represent the messengers of God, but under different circumstances. (For more ample treatment of this symbolical meaning of the horses, read Tract No. 2, The Warning Paradox of Zechariah 6.)
So as the horses are representative of gospel messengers, and as they are controlled and guided by their riders (divine beings), then the “horsemen,” it automatically follows, are figurative of the angelic host who lead and direct the saints in their work of proclaiming the message and, subsequently, in killing the third part of men who reject it. But since riders, not horses, do the killing when engaged in battle, these supernatural beings, the angelic horsemen, are the ones who actually do the slaying. Hence, their having “breastplates of fire [protection of the Spirit], and of jacinth, and brimstone.”
What, then, we may ask, is the “power” of the horses? These 200,000,000 horses, we have learned, symbolize a great army of gospel workers, from whose lips go a message which means life or death. That, therefore, must be the power in their mouth. Consequently, the “fire,” “smoke,” and “brimstone,” which issue “out of their mouths,” are figurative of the message which they proclaim: the power of the Holy Spirit (the “fire”), the sacrifices of Christ (“the smoke”), and the destructive judgments of God (“the brimstone”). By this three-fold message “was the third part of men killed.” Rev. 9:18.
“The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.” Isa. 60:12.
“Lift ye up a banner,” saith the Lord, “upon the high mountain [God’s holy church], exalt the voice [the proclamation of the gospel] unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles. I have commanded My sanctified ones [the ministry — “two hundred thousand thousand” “horses”], I have also called My Mighty ones [the angelic host — “two hundred thousand thousand horsemen”] for Mine anger, even them that rejoice in My highness. The noise of a multitude [the army of Revelation 9:16] in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle. They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of His indignation, to destroy the whole land.
“Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: and they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore, I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger.” Isa. 13:2-13.
“And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:17.
If our eyes were opened as were the eyes of “the young man,” we, too, would see an angelic host round about the “Elisha’s” of today.
And now as to what swelled the number of preachers from 144,000 to 200,000,000, the Lord says: “I will also take of them [of those whom the 144,000 shall bring from “all nations,” after the fulfillment of Isaiah 66:16 — the purification of the church] for priests and for Levites.” Isa. 66:21. The very fact of such a multitude of workers speaks for itself that they are engaged in reaping the harvest of the world.
Here in pledged word, God foretells in clearest tenor that many of those whom He brings into the church after the purification, will join the 144,000 in proclaiming the message to the whole world, when the earth is lightened with the glory of the angel (Rev. 18:1).
Then shall “the sons of strangers,” says the Lord, “build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in My wrath I smote thee…. The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel…. Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.” Isa. 60:10, 14, 18, 19.
“And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on My name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is My people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.” Zech. 13:8, 9.
Two parts lost and one part saved make three parts in all. The “one third” (Rev. 9:15) shall be slain by fire, smoke, and brimstone (Rev. 9:18), before probation closes. The remaining wicked who are slain by the seven last plagues (Rev. 16) and by the brightness of His coming (2 Thess. 2:8), after probation closes, make the other third. The saved, the last third, are “the third…left therein.” Zech. 13:8.
Rev. 9:17. “And the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions.”
The lion, the king of beasts, is strong and fearless. Accordingly, the last gospel ministry, that which the lions’ heads here symbolize, is fearless in its efforts to spread the gospel truth, and is triumphant over all nations.
Witnessing prophetically its conquering power, the prophet Joel declares: “A great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it…. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
“The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.
“They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.” Joel 2:2- 10.
“And the remnant of Jacob,” declares Micah “shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.” Mic. 5:7-9.
“And in that day” adds the Lord, “will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it…. In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.” Zech. 12:3, 8.
Rev. 9:19. “For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails.”
As we have already observed, the only power in the mouth of God’s people is the Word which they proclaim: “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Heb. 4:12.
The “power” “in their tails” — in that which follows them — is the power in their converts. This is borne out by the identical significance of the locusts’ tails, which (as previously explained) represent the converts made by the early Christian ministry. Correspondingly, then, the horses’ tails represent the converts to be made by the latter day Christian ministry. Having “tails…like unto serpents, and…heads,…with [which] they do hurt,” they are “a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it.” Joel 2:2. They are God’s army invincible!
Thus, God’s people in the closing work for the world will surpass in power even the early Christian disciples. Such faith, wisdom, determination, and zeal, as no other people have ever possessed, will invest every believer with a commensurate power, such as none others have ever had.
Consequently, before them “all faces shall gather blackness,” and nothing shall prevail against them — no, not even “the gates of hell.”
Just as the rapid accession of converts (“tails”) to the church yesterday is what enraged the enemies of Christ, who wanted to keep the people under their control then, so the conversion of the great multitude to the church today is what will “hurt” those who want to keep the people under their control now. The very fact that the serpent-like tails have heads with which “they do hurt,” denotes that the converts to the church will have an active part with the ministry in the proclamation of the gospel.
Each horse significantly has a lion-like head and serpent-like “tails,” the one looking ahead and the other watching behind. They therefore can represent but one inseparable host, “as an army with banners,” going “forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer.” — Prophets and Kings, p. 725.
The composite symbolism — rider, lion’s head, horse’s body, and serpent-like “tails” — in comparison with that of the “locusts,” indicates that whereas the early Christians were killed by their enemies like helpless locusts, God’s people today shall, as invincible horses, suffer no harm at any hand. The angelic beings that “sat on them,” are the ones who, though invisible to the human eye, will lead “every one in his path” (Joel 2:8), and who, “having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone,” will cause any sword lifted against the saints to break, and fall “as powerless as a straw.” (See Early Writings, pp. 34, 285; The Great Controversy, p. 631; Life Sketches, p. 102.)
Rev. 9:20, 21. “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”
The fact that “the rest of the men which were not killed by” the “fire,” “smoke,” and “brimstone,” repented not, is conclusive evidence that in the closing of the events of the sixth trumpet, and in the beginning of the events of the seventh, the work of the gospel is to be finished, and probation is to close: “in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets.” Rev. 10:7.
Then it will be said: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Rev. 22:11.
Now to get on with the sequence of the sixth trumpet, we come to the
EVENTS TO TAKE PLACE JUST BEFORE THE SEVENTH TRUMPET SOUNDS
Rev. 10:1-3, 8-10: “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: and he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth:
“And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open In the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.”
(We have omitted Rev. 10:4, as it deals with the seven thunders, a subject about which John was told not to write, and which remains unrevealed.)
This “mighty angel,” he who “set his right foot upon the sea, and his left on the earth,” and who instructed John to eat the book, has been long understood to represent the message which was proclaimed on both land and sea, world-wide, by William Miller and his associates, beginning in 1831 A.D. (The Great Controversy, p. 331), and culminating in the disappointment of 1844. (This subject is treated of more fully in Tract No. 6, Why Perish, Revised Edition, pp. 59-63.)
The surpassing joy with which the all-engrossing thought that Christ was coming in the autumn of 1844 A.D. possessed the believers then, was indeed as “sweet as honey” to them. But when the longingly awaited hour came, and failed their joyous expectations, the sweet of hope turned to the “bitter” of disappointment. It did so not only because they had still longer to remain on this cursed and hapless earth, sin-convulsed and death-weary, instead of entering into a land where there is “no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither…any more pain” (Rev. 21:4), but also because they were mocked by the wicked multitude, who hated the idea that the world was then coming to an end.
In this great joy of expectation and bitterness of disappointment was fulfilled the forecast: “it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.” Rev. 10:10.
Chapter 10, verse 10, we see, has taken us back to the disappointment in 1844. Also we see that verses 10 and 11 are sequential. Obviously, the latter must therefore carry us on to the next great event which was to take place, and which was to bring light, hope, and courage to the then disheartened church of God. Says John, concerning the angel’s prediction of what was to follow:
Rev. 10:11. “And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”
To correct their misunderstanding on Daniel 8:14 the prophetic Word of God declared: “Thou must prophesy again;” that is, repeat the preaching of Christ’s coming to earth. But as His people were then greatly confused and unable to reconcile the Scriptures, God sent into their midst one, Ellen G. Harmon, seventeen years of age, to be His mouthpiece unto them. She was given a vision relative to the disappointment and the ingathering of the first fruits, the 144,000. (See Early Writings, pp. 13-20.)
By that time it was understood that the statement, “the sanctuary shall be cleansed,” did not mean that Christ was to cleanse the earth in 1844, but rather that in fulfillment of Daniel 7:9, 10, He was to cleanse the heavenly sanctuary. This is the very event which opened the seals and sounded the trumpets, and which, as we have seen, John was told would be “here-after.” (See Revelation, chapters 4 and 5.) Possessed of this understanding, a small group of believers, who later called themselves “Seventh-day Adventists,” organized into a body, and zealously moved on with the prospect in view of gathering in “the servants of our God” (the 144,000). This work appeared to them to be an overwhelmingly great task, and it met with ridicule on every side.
When the long-sought number (144,000) of living church members was finally reached in the year 1917, and the world had yet but barely been touched by the message, the leaders of the denomination became confused, but only because they lost sight of the truth that there were bad as well as good in the “net” (gospel church), as Christ had predicted:
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full [when the prospective number was made up], they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.” Matt. 13:47, 48.
The result was that they began to doubt and to question and variously to explain away their former position both as to the number to be gathered in, and the generation to witness the end, until today the subject of the 144,000 has become to them one of the most confused and mooted of Bible subjects.
But now the message in The Shepherd’s Rod reveals that the 144,000 (who are to be without guile in their mouth), the appointed number of first-fruit servants to be sealed in the church, are to be separated from the unconsecrated. And the number to be sealed being much smaller than the number of the membership, it sadly reminds us that therein are many “tares.”
Inasmuch as the paramount purpose and hope of the S.D.A. denomination from its outset has been to gather the 144,000, it should be more conversant with this subject than with any other, “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh” “a reason” of its “hope.” 1 Pet. 3:15. Sadly, though, it is not; instead, it is more ignorant of who and what are the 144,000 than it is perhaps of any other known Bible truth. And what is still sadder, many of its teachers who are refusing to accept this “most startling revelation” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 445), are now insisting that a knowledge of the subject is not essential to their soul’s salvation. And thereby they are saying that they are “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” thus implying that God has put a non-essential subject in the Bible! Thus they are self-doomed to remain wretched (unhappy), and miserable (troubled), and poor (in need of truth), and blind (benighted), and naked (without the righteousness of Christ), and consequently to reject the words: “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich;…and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Rev. 3:17, 18.
And sadder yet, even after our brethren are plainly shown that the 144,000 are only the “firstfruits,” and that the second are still to be gathered in, they refuse to be convinced, obstinately following on in the fatal steps which from the very beginning have led into the ditch every leadership at the revelation of a new message.
Failing, as a natural sequence, to grasp the fact that the “angel” said, “thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” (Rev. 10:11), but not before all, they blindly insist that they are commissioned and ready to “prophesy” before all; that is, to finish the work in all the world. And this, despite heir deplorable Laodicean condition!
The trumpet symbolism has now brought us up to the time of the ingathering of the “firstfruits” (the 144,000). First fruits predicate second fruits, for it is necessarily true that there can be no first where there is no second. Wherefore just as there is a prophetic commission for the ingathering of the firstfruits from “many nations,” so there must be one for the ingathering of the second fruits from “all nations.” There being, moreover, an important event and a message at the commencement of the ingathering of the “first-fruits” from many nations, since 1844, so must there be an important event and a message signalizing the commencement of the ingathering of the second fruits, the great multitude, from all nations. This logic leads us to Isaiah’s prophecy:
“For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many…. And I will send those that escape of them unto the nations,…that have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory; and they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles.” Isa. 66:16, 19.
The action in verse 20 shows that the slaying in verse 16 effects the separation of the first fruits in the church. Indeed, were the church not the scene of the slaying, then those who escape from it, God could not send to the nations (the Gentiles), for they themselves would be heathen instead of Christians, and He would then be sending heathen unto heathen! And as the escaped are to go to the Gentiles to proclaim His fame to them the slaughter evidently takes place before the close of probation, and does not harm those who at that time know not His fame.
Verse 20 of Isaiah 66 also reveals that those who escape the slaying of the Lord will be sent, not to “many” but to “all nations.” And, too it reveals that instead of bringing 144,000 only the escaped ones will bring “all” their “brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to My holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord.” Isa. 66:20.
Rev. 11:1. “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.”
Though the last verse (verse 11) of Rev. 10 brings us to the rise of the S.D.A. denomination, and to the commission to go to “many nations,” it does not disclose the message which the denomination was to proclaim. So the eleventh chapter being a continuation of the tenth, must disclose it.
During the period of the sixth trumpet there is no literal temple. Thus the measuring (Rev. 11:1) can refer only to a spiritual temple made up of lively stones (saints), as described in Ephesians 2:20-22, or to a figure of the heavenly temple. In either case, the clause “measure…them that worship therein,” must figuratively mean to number them, for worshipers are not measured but numbered. In view of this fact, we are compelled to conclude, unless otherwise shown that the temple, the altar, and the worshipers must each be figurative of a class of believers. And all three must be measured (numbered) after the disappointment in 1844 and during the time of the S.D.A. movement.
Considering that therein are “good” and “bad” members, then very obviously this measuring, or numbering, the worshipers is nothing more or less that a work of investigating and judging their fidelity to the truth. Hence it is a work of retaining in the books only the names of those who have endured to the end and measured up to the standard of the judgment — the character of Christ. Incontrovertibly, therefore, the measuring, or numbering, figures forth the work of an investigative judgment.
Thus the doctrine of the investigative judgment, along with the doctrine of ingathering and numbering the 144,000, comprises the present truth committed to the S.D.A. denomination in 1844. And these two great truths up to the additional message of today (Early Writings, p. 277), the S.D.A. denomination was to proclaim “before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”
“The investigative judgment” decides the cases of those who have professed faith in God, and who in consequence have had their names recorded in the books (Dan. 7:10), but some of whom have not endured to the end. It determines which names shall be retained and which shall be blotted out. So not until the investigation is completed, the sanctuary cleansed from unworthy members, will the books show the exact number of names that will be retained and accounted worthy of life eternal.
The most important part of this work, however, is not the numbering but the separating — the sitting of the judicial tribunal to gather, parabolically speaking, “the good into vessels, but [to] cast the bad away” from the “net” (Matt. 13:48), which contained the dead from Adam’s time up to 1844, when it was again cast out to catch the 144,000 living saints.
The investigative judgment of the dead consequently takes place in the heavenly temple only, whereas the investigative judgment of the living takes place in the heavenly as well as in the earthly temple. While the records are being made up for the books in the heavenly, the people are being investigated for the separation in the earthly (Matt. 22:11-13). (See Malachi 3:1-3). And as the measuring is figurative of the same work, then it leads to the conclusion that the “temple,” the “altar,” and “them that worship therein” must figuratively represent the three classes to be judged.
The temple and the altar, inanimate objects must characterize two classes of inanimate saints — the two classes of dead saints. An altar, moreover, obviously, cannot be installed in a temple before the temple is built. And, furthermore, in size it is comparatively much smaller than a temple. Naturally, then, it must symbolize a class of saints which not only comes after those who are characterized by the temple but which also is proportionately much smaller.
Thus the temple, the first and the largest object, must represent the first and largest body of righteous dead, those from Adam’s time to the beginning of the judgment in 1844. While the altar, a special and smaller object, must represent a special and smaller body of righteous dead the righteous who die from 1844 on, and who are to come up in the special resurrection of Daniel 12:2 (Early Writings, p. 285).
Those who “worship therein” being the living saints who are to be “measured,” they can only be the 144,000, — those whom the denomination was, since 1844, to gather in for translation.
Rev. 11:2. “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”
But why leave out the court? Why not measure it also? For since it is a part of the building, it, too, must be symbolical of saints. Obviously because it represents the “great multitude, which no man could number [measure], of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (Rev. 7:9) — the last who come from among the Gentiles. The “court,” in other words, is symbolical of the immeasurable (innumberable) harvest of second fruits brought in after the measurable (numerable) harvest of first fruits — the 144,000. It is not measured (investigated), because it represents those among whom there are no “bad” to be cast out; for they are gathered in after the cleansing of the heavenly temple (Dan. 8:14) — after the judgment of the dead — after the separation of “the bad” from among “the good” in the church, as illustrated by the parable of the net (Matt. 13:47, 48). They are those who by name, “My people” (Rev. 18:4), are called to come out of Babylon, and who, with no unclean among them (Isa. 52:1), come into the already purified and living church of God. (For more extensive treatment of the subject of the investigative judgment, see our Tract No. 3, The Harvest, third edition.)
The “forty and two months” (allowing thirty days to a month, and reckoning a day for a year — Ezek. 4:6), represent the 1260-year prophetic period; 538 A.D. to 1798 A.D. (See The Shepherd’s Rod, Vol. 2, pp. 142, 261.) “The Gentiles” here mentioned are those who tread “under foot” the “holy city” (the church), — an act which calls our attention to the Master’s prediction concerning the fate of the saints during this forty and two months period:
“And they [the church] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away [from the Promised Land] captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24), the time that the Gentiles go out of Jerusalem and the Israelites go in.
The occupation of the Promised Land by the Gentiles today was typified by yesterday’s Gentile occupation of it. And when ancient Israel returned from Egypt to the land of promise the times of the Gentiles in those days were fulfilled. Likewise now when antitypical Israel, the 144,000 guileless servants of God, are sealed and taken to Mt. Zion, there to stand with the Lamb, the “times of the Gentiles” in these days will be fulfilled.
(We omit Revelation 11:3-12 from this discussion, for these verses are treated of in The Shepherd’s Rod Vol. 2, pp. 270, 283-289; in revised Tract No. 2, The Warning Paradox, pp. 47-48; and in The Great Controversy, pp. 286-288.)
Rev. 11:13. “And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.”
The “hour,” “the earthquake,” the “tenth part,” “the city,” the “seven thousand” slain, and “the remnant” must, to maintain the integrity of the entire trumpet symbolism, themselves be symbolical.
Climaxing the event symbolized “the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” None but those who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” can truly fear and give glory to Him. Accordingly in the present connection the remnant is necessarily figurative of the righteous, “the wheat,” in that part of the city which fell. This makes the “seven thousand” slain figurative of the unrighteous, “the tares” therein. Hence, the tenth part stands for the Church which is first purified — in which the bad, the tares are separated from the good, the wheat. Obviously, therefore, the rest of the city is in this instance a representation of the rest of the Christian world — Christendom as a whole.
Thus the “earthquake” takes place, not throughout Christendom, but throughout the church from which is separated the firstfruits — the 144,000. And since an earthquake is a shaking then the one in point is figurative of a shaking therein.
Long ago through the Spirit of Prophecy (Early Writings, 270) the S.D.A. church was forewarned of this shaking. And now in the present graphic revelation is seen its fatal end — the destruction of all who do not become affrighted and give glory to God. Figuratively numbering seven thousand, these “slain” in the church comprehend that element which does not sigh and cry for the abominations (Ezek. 9:4), and which as a consequence fails to receive the mark (Ezek. 9:4), or the seal (Rev. 7:3-8), of God’s approbation. All who compose this class are cut off, leaving the remnant who “were affrighted” — those who have sighed and cried for the abominations, and who have consequently received the mark or the seal, and escaped the slaughter. These are they who “shall sing for the majesty of the Lord” (Isa. 24:14) — give “glory to the God of heaven.”
Chapters 10 and 11 of The Revelation cover a series of events different from those of chapter 9. Verse 13 of the eleventh chapter brings us up only to the time of the fulfillment of the marking and slaying (Ezekiel 9) in the church, or to the commencement of the Loud Cry of the Third Angel’s Message. Rev. 9, verses 20 and 21, carries us on to the completion of the gospel and the ingathering of the saints. “The second woe [sixth trumpet] is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly” (Rev. 1 1: 14) – THE SEVENTH TRUMPET.