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which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.

a ch. 16 : 17. . . .& Joel S : IS ; Matt. 13 : S9. . . .c Jer. 51 : 33 j eb. 13 : 12. 1 Or. become dry.

to their consummation. For such a consum-
mation the harvest is, always, and when the
reaper goes forth with his sickle and reaps and
gathers in the ripe grain, the promise of the
year is fulfilled, and its work achieved.

15. And another angel came out of the
temple. Here, again, as in 11: 1, seq., it is
the inner sanctuary of the temple (vote) that is
meant. From this inner sanctuary, this holy
place, and holy of holies, the angel comes ;
as when a messenger, or a minister comes
from the presence, the cabinet of a king, made
acquainted there with his purposes and com-
mands, and commissioned now to make them
known. Crying with a loud voice to him
that sat on the cloud. Some have appeared
to think that an angel, merely, would not
he represented, even in vision, as speaking in
tones of direction to one himself divine, and
that therefore we must not see in him who
sits upon the cloud the Lord himself. The
difficulty is met by remembering that the
angel speaks simply as commissioned, and as
announcing the supreme divine purpose and
will. The situation is, after all, quite con-
sistent with the representation, throughout
the New Testament, of our Lord as ever
executing the will of the Father. In his
incarnation, he takes the position of one act-
ing as the instrument of a purpose. He can
say, " I and my Father are one"; and yet, in
another view of his purpose and mission, he
can say, "I came not to do mine own will,
but the will of him that sent me." In that
character and attitude he is seen here. He is
"the Son of man," executing that divine
purpose in which he himself shares, but of
which he is the instrument. The words of
the angel remind us of this, while at the same
time they announce the fact that the time has
come for the consummation of that great
divine purpose and plan. Thrust in [ire>^o>-,
"send"] thy sickle, and reap; for the
time is come for thee to reap : for the
harvest of the earth is ripe [lit., become

dry]* " There is a time to sow and a time to
reap." There is a time, also, for the ground
to be fallow, that it may be the more ready
for the sower and the seed. As our Lord
foreshadowed in one of his parables, the his-
tory of God's kingdom in this world has had
very much of this analogy with those pro-
cesses through which alike the seed and the
soil in which it is sown must pass, ere the
harvest come. The seeming delays in God's
spiritual kingdom are much like those vicissi-
tudes of the passing year in which the hopes
of the husbandman are now encouraged and
now clouded. There are even analogies to
that which one sees when large tracts of
country are given over to neglect, and al-
lowed to return almost to their wilderness
state. The rank vegetation, as it grows and
dies, fattens the soil, and makes it the more
productive when the plough once more rends
its bosom and the seed is cast in. Somewhat
like this are those aspects of Christian history
which might otherwise seem so difficult of
comprehension. But in God's husbandry the
harvest, even "the harvest of the earth," the
whole earth, is sure to come.

16. And he that sat on the cloud thrust
in his sickle on the earth [cast his sickle
upon the earth], and the earth was reaped
[or, "harvested"]* The preposition in the
Greek (rl, with the accusative), the revisers
correctly translate "upon." Alford renders,
"And he that sat upon the cloud put his
sickle upon (into, from above) the earth."
The action, of course, is wholly symbolical.
The sickle is "cast" (/3Ae*) into the ripe har-
vest on the earth, and the harvesting follows.
The action described is the casting of the
sickle into the earth, not any act of reaping
the reaping follows, but how, is not said.

17. And another angel came out of the
temple which is in heaven. Again it is 1
the inner sanctuary (vote). He also having
a sharp sickle. The significance of this ap-
pears in what follows.



[Cn. XIV.

18 And another angel came out from the altar, which
had power over fire ; and cried with a loud cry to him
that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp
sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth ;
for her grapes are fully ripe.

19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth,
and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into
the great winepress of the wrath of God.

20 And d the winepress was trodden without the city,
and blood came out of the winepress, /even unto the
horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hun-
dred furlongs.

I 18 And another angel came out from the altar, he that
hath power over fire; and he called with a great
voice to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Send
forth thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of
the vine of the earth ; for her grapes are fully ripe.

19 And the angel cast his sickle into the earth, and
gathered the 8 vintage of the earth, and cast it into
the winepress, the great winepress, of the wrath of

20 God. And the winepress was trodden without the
city, and there came out blood from the winepress,
even unto the bridles of the horses, as far as a
thousand and six hundred furlongs.

a eh. 16:8 & Joel 3: 13....cch. 19: 15 dlss. 63. 3; Lam. 1: 15 e Beb. 13:12; cb. 11 :8..../ch. 19: It. 1 Or. vine.

18. And another angel came out from
the altar, which had power over the fire.

The meaning is more clear in the revised
version : " He that L&tt power over the fire.' 1
This refers us back to ch. 8 : 3-5 ; from which it
appears that the altar spoken of is the altar
of incense. The angel having "power [au-
thority} over the fire," is the angel who, as
there described, took the censer and filled it
with the fire of the altar, and cast it into the
earth." It was a signal of judgment, since
"voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and
an earthquake" followed. The appearance
of this angel having authority over the fire,
in the vision now considered, is in like man-
ner a signal of judgment. As he comes, also,
from the altar of incense, where the "prayers
of all the saints" are offered, we must con-
nect with what is now about to follow those
prayers of the saints, as is also done in the
passage above quoted. We have seen the
gathering in of the harvest of salvation. But
in this, as in all the other visions, there is a
reverse side to the picture. Besides the har-
vest there is the vintage. And cried with a
loud cry [with a great voice], to him that
had the sharp sickle, saying. It is the
angel from the temple who is addressed. He,
like the angel from the temple mentioned in
ver 15, comes from the immediate presence
of God, commissioned to execute divine pur-
pose. The angel at the altar of incense,
through whom the prayers of the saints re-
ceive their answers, as they cry to heaven for
vindication and protection, gives to him the
signal. Thrust in ["send" (ire^ov)] thy
sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of
the vine of the earth ; for her grapes
are fully ripe. Carpenter says : "The vin-
tage symbolizes a harvest of judgment; do
not the words respecting Babylon (the wine
of the wrath of her fornication, ver. 8) come
to the mind, and confirm this? . . . And it

is not without significance that the angel to
whom this cry is addressed comes forth from
the temple, the sanctuary of God's faithful
ones, as one who has witnessed their secret
sorrows and their sufferings, and is fitted to
'recompense tribulation' to the troublers of
Israel (2Th.i:6).

19. And the angel thrust in his sickle
[cast his sickle] into [upon] the earth, and
gathered the vine of the earth, and cast
it into the great winepress of the wrath
of God. ' ' Gathered the vintage of the earth ' '
is better. The words ' ' wine-press of the wrath
of God ' ' place the nature of the vintage be-
yond doubt. It is not as the harvest. That
was mercy, gathering in the sheaves of salva-
tion, as the precious grain is gathered and
garnered ; this is justice, casting the reaped
clusters, ripe in wickedness, into "the wine-
press of the wrath of God ' ' ; thus symbolizing,
not a garnering and a preserving, but crushing
and final destruction. The two are, therefore,
in vivid contrast.

20. And the winepress was trodden
without the city. What city ? Jerusalem,
Alford thinks, "where the scene has been
tacitly laid, with occasional express allusions,
such as that in our ver. 1." Lange says: "In
the symbolical apprehension of the passage,

only the City of God can be meant

Nothing, therefore, save the vital church of
God of the last time can be understood in its
quality, incontrovertibly, of passing into the
visible appearance of the heavenly Jerusalem,
and the imperishable City of God." Heng-
stenberg also thinks the church is meant, but
the church in its militant state. Carpenter's
note is : "The wine-presses usually stood out-
side the city; it is so represented here, not
without an allusion to those who fall under
the weight of this judgment because they have
refused the defence of the true city and sanc-
tuary." The mention in this connection of




Mount Zion (ver. i), and of the temple (er. is, 17),
would seem to indicate some general refer-
ence to Jerusalem. We must keep in mind
the symbolism, however, and so doing, the
general view suggested by Carpenter, in El-
licott, is better than, especially, any such
overloading of the figures used, as in the
paragraph from Lange, just quoted. And
blood came out of the winepress, even
unto the horse bridles, by the space of
a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
The symbolism, here, is of the most intense
character, and we must be careful not to be
betrayed into any obscuring literalism. Wine
is called in Gen. 49: 11, and Deut. 32: 14, "the
blood of grapes," not, says Hengstenberg, " on
account of its red color, but because it is pre-
pared from the juice and strength of grapes."
The transition to the symbolism of actual
blood is therefore the more easy. The men-
tion of "the horse bridles" seems to intro-
duce the idea of instruments used to execute
the divine judgments, while the imagery em-
ployed simply sets forth the idea of the fear-
fulness of the judgments. We may compare
with this passage ch. 19: 13, 14, 15. One ap-
pears clothed in a vesture dipped in blood; his
name, " The Word of God." He is described
as "treading the wine-press of the fierceness
and wrath of Almighty God." But "armies
which are in heaven" follow, "upon white
horses, clothed in fine linen, white and pure."
These are with him as he treads the wine-press
of divine wrath. In our present passage the
same general symbolism appears to be em-
ployed, although the details vary. We quote
further from Hengstenberg: "Such is the
depth of the sea of blood ; but its breadth
measures sixteen hundred stadia. We are
here to take for our starting-post the holy
city, before whose gates a sea of blood (a sea,
not a river) begins, and completes a circle of
sixteen hundred stadia. The number denotes
a judgment encircling the whole earth. Four,
the signature of the earth, is first multiplied
by itself, aad then again by one hundred.
Quite similar is the formation of the one hun-
dred and forty-four thousand ; the fundamen-
tal number is twelve, first multiplied by itself,
and then by one thousand. Similar, also, is
the formation of the number six hundred and
sixty-six. According to several expositors,
the number here must be the length of Pales-
tine. But this proceeds on the false supposi-

tion that it is a stream of blood which is here
spoken of, instead of a sea of blood. Besides,
the length of Palestine cannot be made prop-
erly to square with such a measurement ; so
that we are thrown on mere conjecture, to
which no license is given in the Apocalypse.
Finally, one does not see what Palestine coulci
have to do here, since throughout the Apoc-
alypse it has no signification attached to it."


We are now approaching the close of the
Dispensation, or age. The next chapter
begins by announcing "the seven last
plagues." In them, we are told, "is filled
up," completed, "the wrath of God." His
final visitations upon the sinful and hostile
world, contemporaneous with the consumma-
tion of his purposes of grace and redemption,
are now to be set forth in Apocalyptic scenery.
" The statement," says Carpenter, " that these
are the last plagues, seems to show that the set
of visions now commencing carry us down to
the end of the age ; there are no other plagues
after these; they are the last plagues; the
vials, like the seals and trumpets, run up to
the final consummation."

What we find in the closing verses of the
chapter just considered, must, therefore, be
looked upon as in some degree anticipatory
of the events to be more particularly de-
scribed in those immediately following. The
fourteenth chapter, indeed, as a whole, seems
to be a general picture of the period during
which the gospel should have world-wide
propagation, down, even, to the close of the
period ; this gospel propagation being attended
by providential visitations vindicating the jus-
tice and sovereignty of God, set at naught by
those who reject the gospel and seek to hinder
its spread. The pivotal verses of the chapter
appear to be the sixth, seventh, and eighth ;
in the first of which the gospel angel flying in
the midst of heaven is described ; in the
second his proclamation ; while in the third
another angel follows him, proclaiming the
fall of great Babylon. Those standing with
the Lamb on Mount Zion, with a notice of
whom the chapter opens, are the great multi-
tude gathered out of the world by the min-
istry of that gospel of redemption. Those
who perish in the treading of the wine-press
of God's wrath, are they whom Babylon has
made to drink of the wine of the wrath of her




fornication, and who now partake of her doom.
The chapter covers the whole period since the
time when, at the Reformation, a true and
pure gospel began to be proclaimed, during
the ages of the great missionary enterprises
of the church, in which the news of redemp-
tion is carried to all nations, down to that
"end" which our Lord declared should
"come" when this world-wide ministry
should have been fulfilled.

We may say, therefore, that although the
final consummation, in this ending of the
gospel period and in the last judgment, is not
solely indicated in this chapter, it is included.
Events, too, are transpiring, meanwhile,
which, in some sense, foreshadow it. God's
purposes of mercy seem hastening to their
final fulfillment. There are no more such
delays as in previous ages have constrained
the suffering saints to cry, "How long, O
Lord?" Many hindrances are taken out of
the way ; many corrupting and misleading
influences are held in check, or their opera-
tion overruled; the world's natural progress
no longer prevents, but promotes the propa-
gation of the truth, and the time comes
when the apostolic declaration is literally
true "all things are yours." At the same
time, the evil power so long dominant suffers
fatal blows. Events occur which seem to
foreshadow the final doom of apostasy and
all organized hostility to God, and to his
people, and to his truth. Even at this day
in which we live there is truth in the declara-
tion: "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great" ;
so fast are the changes that have come upon
what seemed once so secure against all
change such weakness and decrepitude
have seized upon that which was once so

If we have been correct in our interpre-
tation of the symbolism of the tenth chap-
ter, particularly the "little book," and the
angel standing with one foot on the sea, and
one on the land, we shall be justified in tra-
cing a parallelism between what is found there,
and what is written in the sixth verse of the
present chapter. If the little book is the re-
covered gospel, especially with reference to
its central, saving truth ; and if the angel
who holds it and delivers it to God's servant
for communication to "many peoples, and
nations, and tongues, and kings," stands thus
upon the sea and the land, as claiming both

for the field of gospel proclamation then the
general sense, there, is clearly the same as
here, where the angel is seen "flying in mid-
heaven, having eternal good tidings to pro-
claim unto them that dwell on the earth, and
unto every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and
people." In noticing that part of the tenth
chapter, also, which speaks of the seven
thunders and their voices, whose utterances
the seer was not permitted to "write," we
quoted the words of Durham, that these voices
of the seven thunders may have been proc-
lamations of the same judgments as in the
sixteenth and seventeenth chapters are de-
picted in the pouring out of the seven vials,
and the destruction of Babylon. At that
stage of the revelation it was not fitting that
these things should be declared; they are
therefore reserved for a later one. If this
view may stand, the parallelism noted above
may be carried still further; and just as the
period whose opening was signalized by the
"little book" was one of gospel proclamation
throughout the world, accompanied by signal
judgments of God upon every form of "spir-
itual wickedness" and hostility, so in the
present chapter, it is the same period, with
the same two grand characterizing features.

We ought to note, before leaving the sub-
ject of this chapter, the significance of this
connection of mercy with judgment in those
dispensations of God which characterize,
thus, "the last times." The great designs of
his providence and grace in this way reach
their consummation in those two aspects
which belong to all history, yet which have
not been wont, in the long past, to come forth
in such clear and full manifestation. Wicked
men in the world have often demanded,
"How doth God know? Can he judge
through the dark cloud ? " And the suffering
and waiting saints have often called from the
altar of their immolation for God to appear
in vindication of himself and them, yet ap-
parently without response. This will not
always be. As events approach their con-
summation, they seem to hasten, as if eager to
reach the goal; while "the mystery of God"
is "finished" in the open and manifest execu-
tion of perhaps long-concealed designs. Men
begin to see where was "the hiding of his
power"; see where that power has wrought
in events of the past which may have seemed
of man and the earth only, and in contem-

CH. XV.]




AND I saw another sign in heaven, great and mar-
vellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues ;
for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

2 And I saw as it were <*a, sea of glass mingled with
fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the
beast /and over his image, and over his mark, and over
the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass,
having the harps of God.

1 AND I saw another sign In heaven, great and
marvellous, seven angels having seven plagues,
which are the last, for in them is finished the wrath
of God.

2 And I saw as it were a glassy sea mingled with
fire; and them that come oil' victorious from the
beast, and from his image, and from the number of
his name, standing ' by the glassy sea, having harps

och. 12:1, S....*ch. 16:1; 1 :9....c oh. 14: 10.. ..d ch. 4: 6; 21: 18.... Mitt. 3: 11.. ../oh. IS: 15; 16:17....; ch. 5: 8; 14:2.-

1 Or, upon.

porary events recognize his hand, alike in its
"goodness" and in its "severity." We may
come upon this thought again as we study
the pouring out of the vials, and seek to find
there some indications of that providence in
judging and punishing which so accompanies
the grace that causes proclamations of re-
demption to go forth in all the lands and
languages of the world.



1. And I saw another sign in heaven,
great and marvellous. Another wonderful
"sign," foreshadowing things to come. The
same word (<mptiov) has before occurred at ch.
12 : 1, 3. Carpenter says, in his comment
there: "It is a sign that is seen ; not a mere
wonder, hut something which has a meaning ;
it is not a 'surprise ending with itself,' hut a
signal to arrest attention, and possessing sig-
nificance ; there is ' an idea concealed behind
it.' " Seven angels having the seven last
plagues. "Having seven plagues, the last."
The Greek, which the revised version follows
more exactly than the common one, em-
phasizes the fact that these are the last plagues.
For in them is filled up [finished] the
wrath of God. In other words, these now
to be described are final judgments; or,
speaking more correctly, perhaps, judgments
belonging to the last times. Those depicted
in the seals and the trumpets were, as we then
saw, in a manner synchronous; the visions,
respectively, covering very nearly the same
period, and relating in general to the same
events. Resemblances with these, in general
character, will be noted again in the visita-
tions at the outpouring of the vials. But
there is this important difference, that while
those of the seals and the trumpets belong
chiefly to the opening and intermediate cen-
turies of the Christian Dispensation, these of

the vials belong to its close. In this first verse
of the chapter, however, these closing scenes
are simply announced in a summary way,
anticipating the more particular descriptions
of chapters sixteen and seventeen.

2. And I saw as it were a sea of
glass mingled with fire. The translation
of the revisers, "a glassy sea," does not seem
to express the exact force of the Greek words
(ws voAiV)i'), which mean "appearing as if made
of glass." The appearance was that of a sea
of glass. It had the clear, shining, crystal-
like aspect which one sees in glass; but min-
gled with fire an element alike of splendor
and of terror. This same sea of glass seems
to have been before described at ch. 4: 6,
where it is spoken of as "before the throne."
Once more, then, our attention is called to
the fact that in these successive visions certain
features are fixed and permanent. Once more
the throne is before us, and the crystal sea in
which both it and the form there seated are
glassed. It seems to be agreed among ex-
positors that the persons described in the
words next following stand, not upon the sea
itself, but upon the shore of the sea. Diister-
dieck pronounces the former exposition un-
natural, and "out of harmony with the
scenery in ver. 4, 6." He also thinks that
the symbolism, here, is in general like that
in ch. 22: 1, et. seq., where we read of "the
river of the water of life, clear as crystal, pro-
ceeding out of the throne of God, and of the
Lamb." It is "on either side of the river,"
on the banks of it, that trees of life grow,
their fruit gathered by the "nations" of the
redeemed, there walking in glory and felicity.
He conceives that in like manner, here, the
"conquering" ones throng the banks of the
crystal sea which mirrors the glory of the
Enthroned One, and testifies to them in its
crystal-like purity and its flame-like splen-
dor how gracious, yet how just, how severe,
yet how righteous, are those "ways" of God
which become the theme of their song. "The



[Cn. XV.

3 And they sing "the song of Moses the servant of
God, and the song of the Lamb, saving, 'Great and
marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; c just
and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

3 of God. And they sing the song of Moses the ser-
vant of God, ana the song of the Lamb, saying,
Great and marvellous are thy works, O Lord God,
the Almighty ; righteous and true are thy thy ways,

a Ex. 15: 1 ; Deut. 31 : 30 ; cli. 14: 3.... 6 Deut. 32 . 4; Ps. 111:2; 139: 14....cPs. 145: 17; Hosea 14 : U ; oh. 16:7.

sea," says Hengstenberg, "denotes the great
flood of the wonderful works of God, of his
righteous and holy ways, of his judicial acts,
manifested among men. The glass denotes
their blamelessness and purity ; and the sea
being mingled with fire, indicates that it is
chiefly about the manifestations of God's
wrath, his punitive righteousness, that the
vision is occupied." The whole scene in con-
nection with the sea of glass, like the burden
of the song given below, is plainly intended
as a preparation for what is to come in the

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