THE HOUR HORSEMEN
In collaboration with F. A. Stamp
8 Stoke Abbott Court
(Approximately 8,000 Words),
THE FOUR HORSEMEN AND AFTER
By Frances Ann Roper
in collaboration with F. A. Stamp
8 Stoke Abbott Court,
In every human heart there is implanted an inborn longing for the knowledge of Truth. No human brain can compass the whole Truth, which is God, but each one can comprehend that facet of the truth which is revealed to each individual by faith in Christ. It is not necessary that every follower of Christ should see eye to eye on every point of belief, for each facet of a diamond reflects a different ray, but the Light from which those rays emanates is, and must be, the same, or there is no Truth.
We, the joint authors, have arrived through a course of intensive study extending over the past five years, at our conception of the truth concerning these present times of distress and bewilderment. We believe that the clue is contained in the Book of Revelation, from chapter 4 onwards, and we feel that the time has now come for us to offer our findings for the consideration and judgement of fellow-seekers. We do not expect a very sympathetic reception, and are fully prepared for much adverse criticism, but we feel that, having been guided to this conception of the truth, it is our duty to lay it before others, in the hopes that it may at least open new vistas of search.
Before commencing our discussion, we would like to make a brief apologia for our temerity in attempting as ambitious a task as an exposition of the Book of Revelation. One of us, the amanuensis, has a background of strict Church orthodoxy, and a brain so impregnated with traditions of the elders that many years of mental turmoil have been endured before accepting the fact that Church doctrines and theology are not synonymous with the pure teaching of the Bible. The other has had no Christian teaching whatever, apart from Scripture lessons at school, and has therefore been able to approach the Bible – a hitherto almost entirely unknown book – with a mature and unbiased mind.
There are several schools of thought with regard to the Book of Revelation, the chief of which are the Pretorist, the Historical, and the Futurist. The Pretorist school maintains that all the events recorded in Revelation related to happenings .in the early Church, in a period now long since completed. The Historical school maintains that the events relate possibly to that same period, but more probably to events which took place during the Middle Ages down to, and including the Reformation; and that, therefore, a great part of the Book must be taken as purely allegorical. The Futurist school believes that Book covers both the preceding periods, but that the literal fulfilment of the prophecies is only now beginning to take place, and that the ultimate consummation extends far into the future.
There is truth in the tenets of each of these schools of thought, for the Revelation of the Truth of God is so vast that it includes every aspect of human affairs; but the theologians and adherents of the various schools err sadly in limiting the revelation of God to the narrow confines of their individual doctrines. St. Peter tells us (2 St. Peter.ch. I. v. 20) that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. The Greek word translated “private” means individually as regards the interpreter, i.e., that no human being has the authority to say that this or that prophecy refers solely to this or that definite event. The prophecies were given as pointers and indicators of God’s plans, fully recognisable only in retrospect, and – to those who have eyes to see – while they are in process of fulfilment. They are the clue, the unbreakable thread, which leads true believers through the mazes of past history, the bewilderments of the present, and which will ultimately lead to the Throne of God.
All the prophecies relating to the Life of Christ on earth were fulfilled so literally as to be obvious and unmistakable. One or two examples may be given out of many. The Virgin Birth was foretold by Isaiah about seven and a half centuries before Christ was born.(Isaiah. Ch. 7. V. 14). Christ’s ride into Jerusalem upon the ass was foretold by Zechariah nearly five centuries previously. (Zech. Ch. 9. V. 14.). Details of the Crucifixion were prophetically described by David about a thousand years before the event (Psalm 22). The opening words of this Psalm were used by Christ upon the Cross.
Numberless other examples might be given relating to the Life of Christ, the fate of the Hebrew race, and to the rise and fall of Empires of the past. Many of the latter are described under the figures of animals etc., but all are clearly recognisable in retrospect.
Almost all the prophecies in the Bible have by now been literally and unmistakably fulfilled, and the fact that so few now remain unfulfilled is yet another indication that we are living in the latter days.
There is yet another school of thought regarding the Book of Revelation. The adherents of this school maintain that the book is written in a cipher, the key to which is lost, but that when the right time comes for the true reading of the book, the key will be rediscovered and the meaning made plain. Be that as it may, the Book of Revelation has always been considered as a huge vista of swirling shapes, shrouded in allegory and mystery. To many readers it is largely a series of beautiful words and poetic pictures, but without any hint of literal meaning.
We believe that the Book of Revelation will be found to be as explicit and literal in its meaning as any of the well-known and understood prophecies, whose fulfilment has already been accomplished. No prophecy can be fully understood until its fulfilment has taken place, but, to those who have eyes to see, the fulfilment of the earlier part of the book is now in process of accomplishment, and out of the vast clouds of incomprehensibility forms and facts are condensing into recognisable shape.
The first three chapters of Revelation record St. John’s vision of Christ in Glory, and the letters to the seven Churches. The fourth chapter describes the door opened in Heaven and the call to St. John to come up and be shown the things which must come to pass hereafter (Ch. 4. V. 1). This gives the keynote of prophecy to all the subsequent chapters of the book, and by so doing declares that everything therein recorded is neither mystical nor allegorical, but capable of as literal fulfilment as all the earlier prophecies of the Bible.
The fifth chapter describes the Book, close sealed with seven seals. The Greek word for “book” indicates a papyrus scroll, which was written upon both sides. No one in all Heaven was found worthy to break the seals and open the scroll, save only the Lion of the House of Judah Who is also the Lamb that has been slain.
Chapter six commences with the opening of the first seal, and the beginning of the prophecy. “And I saw and behold a white horse, and he that sat thereon had a bow; and there was given unto him a crown; and he came forth conquering and to conquer.”
The colour of the horse indicates that whatever is represented is intrinsically good, as white, in Scripture, in always the colour of holiness. The bow is indicative of speed and strength, and the crown of honour and power. But the rider led forth a company of horror in his wake, as shown by the three other horsemen that followed him. What can we find in the world that will adequately meet all these indications? Surely Science, and the vast increase of man's discoveries arising therefrom.
Science is fundamentally nothing more than man’s attempt to understand the Works of God, though few scientists would admit it. Any branch of Science, approached with humility and wonder and a sense of the power of God, can but lead the student closer and closer to the awe-inspiring comprehension of the fullness of perfection which is God. The deeper that the human brain can vastness probe into the profundities of science – whether it be the vastness of the universe or the minuteness of the structure of the atom, whether into the complexities of Radar research or the mazes of Organic Chemistry – the more the believer is staggered at the immensity of the perfection of the works of God; for God made all things good.
Science has given mankind speed and strength to a degree never before known in the world’s history. The era of Science opened rather over a century ago, and since then speed and strength have ruled mankind to an ever-increasing extent. The indications of the Bow are fully revealed.
Science, in all its ramifications, rules the world today, and in very truth wears the crown of honour and power. In the minds of a vast number of mankind Science has usurped the honour and reverence which rightly belong to God.
Science, though intrinsically good, has led into the world untold miseries, even as the conqueror on the White Horse led in the ghastly riders that followed him.
The opening of the Second Seal reveals “a red horse; and to him that sat thereon it was given to take peace from the earth, and that they should slay one another; and there was given him a great sword.”
Ever since the beginning of human records there have been wars and fightings, but this horse follows the white leader, so obviously it indicates something other than the war and blood shed which have always been part of man’s history. If the white horse be understood to represent modern Science, the red horse must indicate something arising out of science which intensifies the horrors of warfare to an unprecedented degree. The rider on the red horse was given a great sword, and the sword is always indicative of war. The armaments of modern warfare are a direct outcome of science, bombs of all sorts, including the atomic and the hydrogen bomb, aeroplanes, submarines, tanks and all the hideous panoply with which the world is all too familiar, all these are the result of man's misuse of the knowledge of Science.
The rider on the red horse may truly be taken to indicate all that is included in the word ‘Armaments’.
At the opening of the Third Seal was seen “a black horse, and he that sat thereon had a balance in his hand. And I heard a voice. . . saying, ‘A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny, and the oil and the wine hurt thou not’.”
The phenomenon represented by the third horse also follows in the train of Science and Modern Knowledge. The Balance indicates something connected with trade and barter, or what is known in these days by Finance. The black colour of the horse shows that it is wholly evil, and this horse and its rider may well by translated as the system of International Finance, the “Hidden Hand” that is the source of such incalculable wickedness in the world today.
The reference to the fixed prices of wheat and barley – essential commodities – is recognisable in the acute shortage of staple foodstuffs in the present age, while the luxuries of life, represented by the oil and the wine, are unlimited for those who can afford them.
The opening of the Fourth Seal released “a pale horse, and he that sat upon him his name was Death, and Hades followed with him. And there was given unto them authority over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, with famine, and with death, and by the wild beasts of the earth.”
The Greek word translated as “pale” means literally “green”, the sickly, livid colour of a corpse. The Greek word translated as “death” in the phrase “to kill with. . . death/”, may better be translated as “pestilence”, that is, anything that causes death, or places the victim under sentence of death. The rider, whose name was Death, is in the Greek ó θxvxtos, the Bringer of death, and Hades, the nether world, loomed behind him. Their authority was to slay by violent and unnatural means, thus proving that the rider of the livid horse is not to be confused with the peaceful departure of the natural death of the Christian, but represents violent death accompanied by suffering and fear, and leading to the horrors of Hades. It is part of the judgement that is to fall upon those who reject Christ.
The opening of the Fifth Seal revealed the souls of the Martyrs who have died for the sake of the Word of God and for the testimony which they held. Their place of waiting is one of high honour, under the very Altar of God. They cry to God for vengeance for their blood upon those who dwell on the earth. To them are given white robes, and the word that they should rest yet for a little time, until their fellow-servants also, and their brethren, which should be killed even as they were, should have fulfilled their course.
This is the period in which we are living today – the Period of the Fifth Seal. It cannot be too strongly emphasised that these Periods of the Seals are concurrent, though, owing to the limitations of human language, they must of necessity be described seriatim. The Periods of the Seals commence one after the other, but continue concurrently. The Period of the Fifth Seal may be recognised by the persecution of the Churches behind the Iron Curtain, of which only the slightest information ever leaks through to the Western world.
It is during this period that the process of Sealing at the Servants of God upon their foreheads, takes place. This is deduced from Chapter 7. Vs. 1-4 where it is stated that the Four Angels to whom it is given to hurt the earth and the sea, are ordered to hold their hands until the sealing is completed. As soon as that is finished, the terrors described in Ch. 6. Vs. 12-13 at the opening of the Sixth Seal will commence, and Christ will appear in the air to take His followers up. The Period of the Sixth Seal may already have commenced, for earthquakes have been noticeably on the increase during the past year or two, and the recent reports of falls of mysterious blocks of ice may possibly be the forerunners of the approach of a comet, which will be the physical cause of the shattering world phenomena described in Ch. 6. Vs. 12-17.
The number of those that are to be sealed is 144,000, and they are all descendants of Israel. Accepting the belief that the Anglo-Saxon and allied races are descendants of the so-called ‘Lost Tribes’, it follows that all these persons are to found among the British and American peoples, and those nations racially allied to them, and among those of the Jewish race who are of pure stock.
This band of 144,000 would appear to be the Administrative Staff who will return on earth when Christ comes to reign for the thousand years. This is deduced from Ch. 14. V.1, where it is stated that the Lamb was seen standing on Mount Zion and with Him 144,000, having His Name and the Name of His Father, written on their foreheads. This is the event referred to in Zechariah Ch. 14, V. 4. when Christ returns in visible form to reign as King.
The terrors of the Sixth Seal, i.e., the earthquake, the darkening of the sun, the blood-coloured appearance of the moon, and the stars falling from heaven. correspond unmistakeably with phenomena known to have been caused on the earth in early times by the close approach of a comet or some other sidereal body.
In the midst of this horrific upheaval Christ will appear and take all believers out and away from danger.
It is strange how seldom any reference is made in the teachings and writings of modern authorities to this tremendous event. All too often it is glossed over and explained away by saying that it is to be taken in a spiritual sense, or that Christ has already come into the hearts of His followers on earth – anything rather than accept it as a literal fact. True, the Holy Spirit is working on earth in the hearts of believers. even as Christ said He would; but Christ states clearly that: “then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven”. Nothing could be plainer or clearer than this. St. Paul also informs us about this event, prefacing his statements with the words “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord”, thus obviating any idea that it might be merely his own interpretation of Christ’s teaching. (1 Thess. Ch. 4. Vs. 15-17). Again in Acts Ch. 1 v. 11, the Angels that appeared to the disciples after the Ascension stated that “this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven”. Another clear and unequivocal statement.
In the list of tribes from each of which are to be sealed 12,000 it is noticeable that the Tribe of Dan is missing. The Danites were always the enterprising tribe, the colonists, the seafarers of ancient times. Bearing in mind this tribal character, it may well be the case that most of the descendants of the Tribe of Dan are already in the next world, having met with death on earth among the thousands of volunteers who were killed in the two World Wars, or as pioneers and explorers, or as any of the multitude of adventurous souls throughout past centuries. Thus there would be too few of the tribe of Dan still living on earth to make up the requisite number of 12,000.
The events described in Rev. Ch. 6. vs. 12-17, would appear to be contemporaneous with the events described in Ch. 7 vs. 9-17. St. John was being shown the two sides, events on earth and the simultaneous events in Heaven. The great multitude which no man could number, whose state of bliss and happiness is so movingly described in Ch. 7. vs. 9-17, must be those who loved Christ during their earthly lives, and who are caught up to be with Him when He comes in the air, and who are thus removed from all the horrors that are to follow.
The 144,000 sealed ones, are a special band, drawn from the descendants of Israel, who are later to return on earth to administer Christ’s rule. They will be taken up with all other believers, but are in a class apart.
In chapter 8. v. 1, is described a period of about half an hour during which there was silence in Heaven. This may well be the actual period during which Christ is appearing in the air, for we are told in 1. Thess. Ch. 4. vs. 16-17, that the dead in Christ will be there in the clouds, and that the believers on earth shall be caught up together with them. As the Angels will be gathering all the believers from the four winds, i.e., from every part of the earth (St. Matt: Ch. 24. V. 31). Heaven will be well-nigh empty during that brief period, and silence will reign.
That the Return of Christ in the air takes place during the period of the Sixth Seal, the seventh Seal being concurrent, is deduced from the statement in Rev. Ch. 6. Vs. 14-17, where it is told that after the Heaven is removed (V. 14) the great ones of the earth and every bondman and freeman cry out for the mountains and rocks to “Fall on us and hide us 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, and who is able to stand?” If some tremendous display of Divine intervention were not universally seen, those on earth who are left behind would not realise the “wrath of the Lamb” and would not cry out for protection against it.
In Rev. Ch. 8. V. 2 begins the period after the believers have been taken out of the world. The state of confusion reigning in the world is horrible to contemplate, and is described in the remainder of Chapter 8 under the Sounding of the first four Trumpets. It is not possible yet to attempt to explain exactly what is indicated by these Trumpets, but it is clear that appalling devastation will occur, though whether by human or natural means is not known. A great part of the earth will be ravaged by fire, (V. 7), the sea will become contaminated (Vs. 8-9), and fresh water supplies will be rendered undrinkable (Vs. 10-11). There will also be stupendous astronomical phenomena, as described in verse 12. Then St. John hears a voice emanating from a great angel in mid heaven announcing three further occurrences under the heading of “Woes”, which are also the three last Trumpets.
Chapter 9 opens with the sounding of the Fifth Trumpet announcing the first Woe. St. John is shown first the occurrences in the other world, then the results in this world. A star – probably indicating an Angel – falls from Heaven upon the earth, and opens the Pit of the Abyss. From hence, the nethermost Hell, rises a smoke which darkens the sun and the atmosphere, and out of the smoke come shapes described as locusts with scorpion stings. These creatures had no power to injure anything except those human beings who have not the Seal of God on their foreheads. As it has been previously deduced that all the sealed ones have by this time been gathered up into Heaven – with the exception of two, to be mentioned later – it may be understood that all human beings then on earth will suffer from the attacks of these creatures. People will not die of these attacks, but will suffer such torment that “men shall seek death, and shall in no wise find it, and they shall desire to die, and death fleeth from them”. (V. 6).
Then follows a description of the venomous creatures (Vs. 7-8). It must be remembered that St. John could only describe what he saw in the language of his time, which limitation makes much of the Book of Revelation seem fantastic. But the description may well be taken to indicate aeroplanes spraying either bacteria or blister gas. The creatures had breastplates of iron and wings the sound of which was as the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to war; a very apposite description of aeroplanes by one who had never seen or imagined such things. They are described as having “tails like unto scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men”. This may well describe a spray apparatus at the rear of the fuselage. These creatures continue their attacks for five months, and are harmful only to human beings.
The sounding of the Sixth Trumpet announces the Second Woe (Ch. 9. vs. 13-21). At this juncture vast armies are released at the River Euphrates. The description is of horses whose riders are equipped with “breastplates as of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceedeth fire and smoke and brimstone” (V 17). The Greek word translated “hyacinth” indicates a very dark blue-black; Homer uses the word to describe blue-black hair, and Theocritus uses it to mean true black.
Bearing in mind the fact that modern mechanised warfare and its concomitant phraseology was to be unknown till close on two thousand years after St. John wrote this, it may well be taken as a very adequate description of tank attacks on a vast scale, accompanied by intensive bombardment. This invasion is to take place in the area of the River Euphrates, and may be taken to indicate the invasion of the Palestinian area by Russia. As all that area is rich in oil wells, this is a very probable development of the present situation, and the Euphrates flows right across the most direct line of attack.
Chapter 10 records an experience which appears to concern St. John personally, and at present it is not possible to find any way in which it can refer to events in this world. The only hint of any connection with world events occurs in verse 11, where St. John is told “Thou must prophecy again before many peoples and nations and tongues and kings”. As it is known that St. John did not have any occasion to do this after the writing of the Book of Revelation, it may perhaps mean that before the Return of Christ to reign on earth, i.e., during the three and a half years of the final Tribulation, he may return on earth again, in the same way as Elijah did in the form of St. John the Baptist (St. Matt. Ch. 11. V.14, and Ch. 17. vs. 11-13, also St. Mark Ch. 9. Vs. 11-13). The orthodox Church does not accept the doctrine of Reincarnation, but in view of the fact that the statements with regard to St. John the Baptist were made by Christ Himself, there seems no valid reason for the Church’s attitude.
It is also stated in Malachi Ch. 4. Vs. 5-6, that Elijah will be sent back on earth yet again before the great and terrible Day of the Lord. No explanation is given in Scripture for these references to the return on earth of both St. John and Elijah, and therefore any attempted explanation can be only conjectural. This point will be referred to later on.
Chapters 11, 12 and 13 of Revelation, are each concerned with events that take place during a similar period, i.e., three and half years. This period is sometimes described as forty-two months, sometimes as one thousand two hundred and sixty days, and once (Ch. 12. V. 14), as “a time, and times, and half a time”. Taking the months as consisting of 30 days each, the two first descriptions work out at the same figure, but if calculations be based upon the present year of 365 days, there is a discrepancy of 17½ days. It is not possible to make any definite statement on this point, in view of the changes which have taken place in the calendar during the centuries; but it is quite clear that these three descriptions refer to the same period. Therefore all the events recorded in these three chapters must take place concurrently.
The first mention of this fateful period is in chapter 11 V 2, where, after the measuring of the Temple, it is stated that the Holy City shall be trodden underfoot by the nations for forty-two months. A very great deal has been written on this subject by students all down the ages, and the general consensus of opinion seems to be that the time should be calculated upon the system of taking a day to mean a year. Many very abstruse expositions have been worked out on this basis, but it is quite as reasonable to take the statements as they stand, i.e., as referring to an actual period of three and a half years.
This is the period between the Coming of Christ in the Air and His Return to reign on earth. This is the period of the Great Tribulation, spoken of by Christ in St. Mark Ch. 13. Vs. 14-37, and of which He says (V. 20) “Except the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved.” The confusion and terror of this period cannot be imagined. In the first place the terrific demonstration of Divine Power attendant upon the appearance of Christ in the air is quite beyond human conception. Then the sudden removal of thousands of people will cause unimaginable chaos. Those believers who may be working on heavy machinery, in charge of trains, road vehicles, shipping, aeroplanes, essential services etc., will all leave a legacy of ruin and tragedy when in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, as St. Paul puts it, they are taken away from the world, and from whatever work they may be engaged upon. In St. Matthew Ch. 24. Vs. 40-41, Christ gives a vivid description of the suddenness and unexpectedness of His appearance.
In addition to this, it must be realised that a far greater number of persons will be taken out from among those nations that are predominantly Christian than from those that have rejected all acknowledgement of God, though even among these will be found a surprising number of people who have clung to God in secret, and who will thus be eligible for the immense privilege of being called out of the world before the commencement of the Great Tribulation. This will mean that the Communist nations will be left in complete power, and they will immediately begin to put into operation all their schemes for world domination. One of their first moves will be the invasion of the Palestinian area, across the River Euphrates, as described under the Sixth Trumpet.
Now follows (Ch. 11. Vs. 4-13), the strange account of the Two Witnesses. These are generally taken to represent the Old and the New Testaments, but this explanation is extremely far-fetched, and requires an immense amount of complex argument in order to make it in any way agree with the statements in this section of Revelation. As has been previously pointed out, the fulfilment of all the prophecies relating to the Life of Christ on earth, as well as those relating to the Hebrew race and to great empires of the past, can be clearly and easily recognised, without the aid of erudite and abstruse, not to say obscure, expositions by learned scholars.
Thus it is far more reasonable, and far more in accord with the nature of all the other prophecies of Scripture, to take this account of the Two Witnesses at its face value, and to accept the fact that two individuals, believers in Christ, will be left on earth after all the other believers have been taken up with Christ in the air. These two will be the only remaining believers on earth during the three and a half years of the Great Tribulation, and to them will be entrusted the stupendous task of keeping the Light of God burning on earth during that period of horror and spiritual darkness. They must of necessity be mighty of spirit, and that they have been fore-ordained for this tremendous responsibility is made clear by the reference to them in Zechariah Ch. 4. In this chapter the prophet sees two olive trees and two candlesticks, and asks the Angel more than once for an explanation of them. The first time he asks, the Angel side-tracks any explanation by giving a message to Zerubbabel (Zech. Ch. 4. Vs. 6-11), thus making it clear that Zerubbabel is not indicated by the trees or the candlesticks. In Verse 11 the prophet repeats his question, and again in Verse 12. Thus pressed the Angel gives a deliberately ambiguous reply (V.14), saying, “These are the two sons of oil that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” No further explanation whatever is vouchsafed, and, as it stands, the whole vision is totally incomprehensible. It might well be asked why such an enigmatic and uncorrelated vision should have been given to the prophet, and why it should have been necessary for him to place it on record. However nothing in Scripture is preserved without good reason, and the reason that this vision was given to the prophet Zechariah and recorded by him, is made clear by the repetition of the vision hundreds of years later, to St. John. The explanation that was withheld from Zechariah was given to St. John, but Zechariah had been required to record it in order to-make it clear that these Two Witnesses are extremely lofty and highly developed spirits, who have been in close proximity to the Throne of God for a very long time. They must assuredly be the very highest and most powerful servants of God in order to carry out this most exacting of all tasks that has ever been committed to human beings.
To them will be given powers over the Forces of Nature comparable to those wielded by Moses and Elijah. Fire shall proceed out of their mouths which shall destroy anyone who attempts to hurt them during the term of their ministry; they shall have power to shut the heavens so that there is complete drought; they shall have power to turn water into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague as often as they shall desire. Their lot during the three and a half years of their ministry will be bitter in the extreme. They shall be clothed with sackcloth (Ch. 11. V. 3), indicative of extreme poverty; they shall incur world-wide hatred, opposition and persecution, but no one shall be able to harm them until the three and a half years is up. Then, when they shall have finished their testimony, and at the close of the period of the Great Tribulation, the Being referred to as “the beast that cometh up out of the Abyss” shall be allowed to attack, overcome, and kill them. The bodies of the Two Witnesses will be thrown out in the streets of Jerusalem (V.8) and left there unburied for three and a half days; during which time there will be great and world-wide rejoicings over their demise (V.10) for these Two Witnesses tormented them that dwell on the earth. The torments probably refer to the torment of conscience awakened among the godless by the preaching and exhortations of the Two Witnesses, as well as to the plagues, droughts etc., which they had been given the power to produce.
The testimony of the Two Witnesses will be tar more immediately world-wide than the teaching of any preceding prophets of God, owing to the modern developments of radio and television, and to the enormously increased facilities and speed of transport.
The words in Chapter 11. V. 9. are worthy of note, having regard to the present scheme of making Jerusalem an International Zone. The verse runs, “and from among the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations do men look upon their dead bodies three days and a half, and suffer not their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb”. This indicates that representatives from all nations will be present in Jerusalem; the use of the words “from among” makes this clear.
With regard to the possible return on earth of Elijah and St. John, previously mentioned, it is possible that they may return during the three and a half days that the Two Witnesses lie dead, in order that the Light of God may not be at any time entirely extinct from the earth, and to give mankind a last and final opportunity of repentance. This is however, purely conjectural, and there is no reference to it in Scripture beyond the two prophecies in Malachi Ch. 4. Vs 5-6, and Revelation Ch. 11. V.11. Again it may be that Elijah and St. John are themselves to be the Two Witnesses, but this is not mentioned in Scripture, and does not appear to fit very convincingly with Scriptural statements.
During this three and a half days the powers of evil which have been rampant in the world since the removal of all the other believers, three and a half years previously, will feel that they have finally triumphed over the Power of God, now that the Two Witnesses have at last been overpowered and killed. But the triumph of the powers of evil is destined to receive a terrifying rebuff. In the midst of the feasting and rejoicing the merry-making and exchange of congratulatory gifts over the dead bodies of the Two Witnesses, suddenly and without warning the Breath of God enters those lifeless bodies. The Two Witnesses arise and confront their adversaries, who are panic-stricken and aghast at this fresh demonstration of the Power of God. And for their enemies, worse is to follow. A great voice is heard from Heaven saying, “Come up hither”, and before the terrified eyes of the crowds in the streets of Jerusalem, the Two Witnesses are taken up to Heaven in a cloud. In the same hour occurs a violent earthquake, and the tenth part of the city is destroyed, and seven thousand people killed.
This latest demonstration of the Power of God has the effect of opening the eyes of the survivors, for it says (V. 13) “the rest were affrighted and gave glory to the God of Heaven”.
The Two Witnesses, by their preaching and miraculous demonstrations, will be the means of tormenting the consciences of mankind, causing the heart-searching and misery which is always the lot of those who know the right, yet deliberately choose the wrong. Their ministry will be God’s last offer of salvation before the Return of Christ in Person and even at the eleventh hour their miraculous resurrection and assumption into Heaven will be the means of saving still more erring and misguided souls.
In Chapter 12 is given an account of a series of occurrences which commence in Heaven and continue upon earth. A woman is seen, clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and wearing a crown of twelve stars. She gives birth to a child who is caught up to God, and thus saved from the dragon who is awaiting its birth in order to devour it. In Verse 6 it states that the woman fled to the wilderness where she was nourished during the same portentous period of time, i.e., one thousand two hundred and sixty days, which is again mentioned in Verse 14 as “a time, and times, and half a time”.
It is not possible to give any explanation of this vision, though many explanations have been attempted. The two outstanding features of the vision are these:
1) The period of time is the same as the period of the ministry of the Two Witnesses.
2) This vision represents an occurrence which commences in the unseen world (“a great sign was seen in Heaven”) and concludes upon earth.
From these two facts it may be clearly deduced that the occurrences in Chapter 12 are concurrent with the period of the Great Tribulation on earth. The great battle in Heaven (V. 7), resulting in the dragon and his followers being cast down to the earth explains the terrible outburst of wickedness in the world. All the believers, except the Two Witnesses, will have been taken out of the world; the dragon will have been cast down into the world – small wonder then that conditions on earth during that period will be so evil and sin-ridden that the Voice from Heaven exclaims (V. 13) “Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil is gone down into you having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time”.
Chapter 13 gives an account of still further occurrences which take place during the same three and a half years. The beast coming up out of the sea was given authority to continue his works during forty-two months. With him is another beast which came up out of the earth, later (Ch. 19. V. 20) to be described as the False Prophet. These two receive their commission direct from the devil (Ch. 13. V. 2) “and the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority”, and (Verse 12) “he”, i.e., the second beast, “exerciseth all the authority of the first beast in his sight”. These two beasts are, in fact, the opposite numbers of the Two Witnesses.
It is not possible to give direct explanations of the events described in Chapters 12 and 13, but the foregoing facts emerge unmistakably.
If the rider on the White Horse has been correctly translated to represent Science, and to have commenced his career during the last century, it follows that the Two Witnesses, also the beast and the false prophet must be alive in the world today, though the time has not yet come for them to commence their work. They are being prepared and trained, the Two Witnesses by God, the beast and the false prophet by the devil, probably in circumstances of complete obscurity, for the world-wide and spectacular tasks which will be laid upon them as soon as Christ has removed the believers from the world, and the three and a half years of the Great Tribulation begins.
Chapter 14 opens with the triumphant Return of Christ to reign in Person on earth for a thousand years, accompanied by the 144,000 who were sealed. It is all too often taught and believed that directly this wonderful event takes place, peace and equity will be immediately established, but this is not the case. The remainder of this chapter, and all the succeeding chapters up to the end of Chapter 19 are concerned with happenings which will occur after Christ has returned to reign. His actual Return will be accompanied by a tremendous earthquake in the course of which a chasm will be formed which will split the Mount of Olives asunder from east to west, thus allowing the waters of the Mediterranean to flow through and into the Dead Sea. They will then pour down the Wadi el Araba, and down into the Gulf of Akaba, thus opening a vast new waterway and rendering obsolete the Suez Canal. It is geological fact that a fault runs right through the Mount of Olives, and even a comparatively slight earthquake would cause displacement in a north-south direction. This is described in Zechariah Chapter 14, Verses 3-11. Reference to any good physical atlas of the area will make this quite clear.
The events described in Revelation Chapter 14. Verse 6 to Chapter 19. Verse 21 are still too far in the future for any explanations to be possible, though many have been attempted. It is however clear that the powers of evil will invade Palestine and will be finally overthrown at the Battle of Armageddon (Ch. 16 Vs. 12-16). They are described as the Kings that come from the Sunrising, and as the main centres of Communism are situated in that direction with regard to Palestine there would seem to be little doubt but that invasion by Communist forces is indicated. The method of their overthrow is described in Zechariah Chapter 14, Verses 12-13, and in Revelation Chapter 16 Verses 17-21. Taken in conjunction these two passages appear to describe some violent natural phenomena such as might be produced by the near approach of a comet, or some other sidereal body. Those armies which have gathered against Jerusalem shall be blasted by some force which will cause their flesh to consume away while they stand upon their feet, their eyes to Consume away in their sockets and their tongues to shrivel in their mouths. There will also be lightening, thunder and earthquakes, and great hail. These events are also described in Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39, and in Joel Chapter 2 Verses 1-11.
The 17th and 18th Chapters of Revelation deal with the fate of the Woman clothed in purple and scarlet, who was seated upon a scarlet beast with seven heads, and who epitomised all evil and villainy in the world. Speculation has run rife throughout the centuries as to the meaning of this woman and the beast. In Chapter 17 Verse 9 the seven heads of the beast are stated to represent seven mountains upon which the woman is seated, and this has led theologians and students to identify the woman “Babylon” with the Roman Catholic Church, as Rome stands upon seven hills. This theory may or may not be correct, but it would appear to savour rather strongly of the rabid Protestantism of the Reformation and post-Reformation period, and to fall within the category of “private interpretation” against which Saint Peter gives warning (2 St. Peter. Ch. 1. V. 20). The woman is described as having the words “Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” written upon her forehead. Mystery she has been for close on two thousand years, and Mystery she must remain, until the time comes when events shall make her fully recognisable.
Chapter 20 opens with the account of the complete overthrow of the powers of evil, in which state of subjugation they will continue for a thousand years. During that period Christ will reign in Person, having His seat of Government at Jerusalem. The 144,000 sealed ones will act as Administrators of the Government, and mankind will have the wonderful experience of a world-wide and united Government under principles of absolute equity and Justice. In this atmosphere of peace, arts and industries will flourish, unhampered by wars and food shortages, and restrictions. Vast irrigation schemes will see put into operation which will open up hitherto desert and uninhabitable areas (Isaiah Ch. 35. vs. 5-6, and Ch. 43. Vs. 19-20). The references to this period throughout prophetic Scriptures are far too numerous to be catalogued here, but it may be taken as a fact that all the present schemes for International Unity and Social Welfare will be developed and utilised, and will operate without the constant friction and set-backs which characterise them at present. All the multitudinous Committees and Conferences of the present time are merely creating the machinery which will later be co-ordinated and used in the Administration of Christ’s Rulership, and which will then operate smoothly and efficiently.
Discoveries will develop to an undreamed-of extent, and will be devoted exclusively to the amelioration of man’s lot, and not to the arts of war and destruction as at present. Agriculture and food production will flourish, and materials now used in the manufacture of armaments will be diverted to the production of more and better agricultural implements (Isaiah Ch. 2. Vs. 2-4. and Micah Ch. 4. V. 3). Mankind will be given a wonderful demonstration of the benefits that accrue under the world domination of Christ.
When the thousand years of peace and prosperity are over, we are told (Rev. Ch. 20. Vs. 7-10) that Satan will be loosed for a brief period on earth. By that time mankind will have had sufficient experience of the blessings of Christ’s Rule to be in a position to decide whether they wish to serve God or the devil. It is clear from these verses that even during the period of the Thousand Years, there will still be great numbers on earth who resent Christ’s Domination. and who are only too ready, given the smallest opportunity, to revolt and re-establish the domination of evil. The centre of disaffection will be in those areas called in Scripture Gog and Magog, which have long been identified by students as indicating Russia; and it is there that the devil will set up his seat of government. The numbers of those who rally to his banner is described as being like “the sand of the sea”. These vast armies will once more invade Palestine, and make a desperate attack upon Jerusalem. In verse 9 it is stated that they are to be overthrown by fire which “came down from God out of Heaven. and devoured them”.
After this great and final overthrow the devil will be consigned to the place of punishment described (Verse 10) as the lake of fire and brimstone, whither the beast and the false prophet have already been sent. This will constitute the final annihilation of the powers of evil.
The remainder of the Book of Revelation is concerned with the most brilliant and impressive descriptions of the final events in the history of the human race. Many expositions of these chapters have been, and still are being, made, but no human being is at present in a position, to expound authoritatively upon them. Everyone should read and study them for himself, for they contain the most lofty and exalted writing ever set down by human hand, and. though the meaning is not yet plain, they convey a picture unsurpassed in majesty and beauty.
Before closing it may be well briefly to summarise the sequence of events as set out in this study of the Book of Revelation, always bearing in mind the fact that the authors repudiate any claim to infallibility, and have merely recorded that facet of the Truth which has been revealed to them.
1) The Age of Science. which opened during the 19th century represented by the Rider on the White Horse.
2) Modern Armaments, arising out of the knowledge of Science, represented by the Rider on the Red Horse.
3) The system of International Finance, and Food Shortages, developed from the discoveries of Science, represented by the Rider on the Black Horse.
4) Vast increase of Violent Death, arising from the developments of Science, represented by the Rider on the Livid Horse.
5) The Period of the Fifth Seal in which we are living at the present time, the four previous phenomena continuing concurrently. This is identified by the persecution of Christians behind the Iron Curtain. During this period the Sealing of the 144,000 takes place.
6) The Coming of Christ in the Air to remove believers from the earth, accompanied by earthquakes and violent natural phenomena.
7) The Period of the three and a half years of The Great Tribulation, and the ministry of the Two Witnesses and of the Beast and the False Prophet.
8) The Return of Christ in Person to reign on earth for 1,000 years.
9) The release of the devil for a short period on earth.
10) The final overthrow of the Powers of Evil.
11) The Last Judgement.
12) The New Heaven and New Earth.
“And He saith unto me, ‘Seal not up the words of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand. . . Behold I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to render to each man according as his work is.’ I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book. If any man shall add unto them, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall takeaway his part from the tree of Life, and out of the Holy City, which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, ‘Yea; I come quickly’. Amen, come, Lord Jesus.”
Approximately 8,000 words.