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'' ^ Ci*



THE MONTHLY INTERPRETER



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CONTRIBUTORS TO THE MONTHLY INTERPRETER.



The Ven. Archdeacon F. W. Farrar, D.D., F.G.S.

The Very Reverend Dr. Plumptrb.

The Very Reverend Dr. Howson.

Rev. Canon H. D. M. Spencb, M.A.

Rev. Wilt J AM John Deans, M.A.

Rev. Prof. R. H. Reynolds, D.D.

Rev. Prof. S. D. F. Salmond, D.D.

Rev. Prof. J. R. Thomson, M.A.

Rev. Prof. E. Johnson, M.A.

Rev. Prof. A. B. Bruce, D.D.

Rev. Jambs Morison, D.D.

Rev. George Mathbson, D.D.

Rev. Thomas Whitelaw, D.D.

Rev. J. J. Lias, M.A.

Rev. Prebendary E. C. S. Gibson, M.A.

Rev. Prebendary E. Huxtable, M.A.

Rev. Canon Rawlinson, M.A.

Rev. Paton J. Gloag, D.D.

Rev. J. Barbiby, M.A.

Rev. A. Plummer, D.D.

Rev. James Iverach, M.A.

Rev. Prof. A. Cave, B.A.

Rev. C. H. H. Wright, D.D.

Rev. W. F. MouLTON, D.D.

Rev. Prof. H. Caldbrwood, LL.D.

Rev. Prof. Wm. Milugan, D.D.

Rev. C. D. GiNSBURG, LL.D.

Joseph John Murphy.

Rev. Principal G. C. M. Douglas, D.D.

Rev. J. F. Valungs, M.A.

Rev. Hugh Macmillan, LL.D.

Rev. Prof. R. A. Rbdford, M.A., LL.B

Rev. Prof. T. M. Lindsay, D.D.

Rev. Henry N. Bernard, MA.

Rev. John Hutchison, D.D.

Rev. Prof. A. H. Sayce, M.A.

Rev. D. M. Ross, M.A.

Rev. T. K. Cheynb, D.D.

Rev. Alexander Stewart, LL.D.

Rev. Prof. F. Godet, D.D.

Rev. G. Lansing, D.D.



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THE



MONTHLY INTERPRETER,



EDITED BY THE REV.

JOSEPH S. EXELL, M.A.



VOLUME 11.



EDINBURGH: I LONDON:

T. & T. CLARK, 88 GEORGE ST. | KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, & CO.

1885.
O



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MORRISON AND OIBB, EDIMBUBOH,
PKINTERS TO UEB XAJBSTT's 8TATI0NEBT OFFICE.



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The Monthly Interpreter.



THE GEOUNDWORK OF THE APOCALYPSE.— III.

CoNTiNiJiNG the subject of the " Seven Seals," we come to the
fifth, which is related in Eevelation vL 9-11 : —

" And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the
altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of
God, and for the testimony which they held : and they cried
with a great voice, saying. How long, Master, the holy and
true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that
dwell on the earth ? And there was given them to each one
a white robe ; and it was said unto them, 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 be fulfilled." ^

Very little in this passage is definitely drawn from the Old
Testament, but a comparison of Zechariah L 12 ("0 Lord of
hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy," etc.) and Deutero-
nomy xxxii 43 (" He will avenge the blood of His servants ")
is instructive, as it illustrates the manner in which the words
of the Old Testament float before the mind of the writer, even
when there is no direct reference to them. But remembering
the position which this vision occupies, standing immediately
after the judgments of war, famine, and pestilence, and bearing
in mind the correspondence which we have already traced
between those earlier visions and our Lord's discourse in

' Beference should also be made to 2 Kings ix, 7, and Hosea iv. 1.
VOL. II. ^ ^ A



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2 The Groundwork of the Apocalypse.

Matthew xxiv., we can scarcely fail to be struck with the
remarkable parallel which the vision before us offers to the
ninth verse of that chapter. Our Lord in the discourse on
the Mount of Olives first announced the judgments on the
world, " the b^inning of sorrows," wars, famines, pestilences,
etc., and then turned to His dimples and spoke of what should
happen to them : " Then shall they deliver you up unto
tribulation, and shall kill you ; and ye shall be hated of all
the nations for my name's sake." Precisely so in St John's
visions there is first a representation of the very same judg-
ments, and then a like transition to the fate of the disciples ;
and a glimpse is granted to the seer of " the souls of them
that had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony
which they held." The coincidence is too exact to be acci-
dental, and I cannot help feeling that this fifth seal is but a
symbolical representation of the fact to which our Lord was
alluding, and that therefore its primary and direct reference
is to those who sufiTered in the Apostolic age. With regard to
the details of interpretation it is difficult to speak with con-
fidence. The " white robes " (otoTuiI XevKcU) appear here for
the first time, and in this book are only mentioned again in
vii. 9-14. "White garments" {l/idria Xcv/ca), however, are
mentioned in iii. 4, 5, 18, iv. 4; and "fine linen white and
pure " (fivccivov \evicov koX icadapov) in xix. 4 ; the " fine
linen " being explained in verse 8 as " the righteous acts of
the saints." It may be a question whether there is any
difiTerence of meaning intended by the use of these distinct
terms in different parts of the book, but I am not called upon
to discuss this here, since I am not venturing to write a
Commentary on the Eevelation, but am only endeavouring to
point out and illustrate its groundwork in the Old Testament
and our Lord's utterances. I pass on, therefore, to the sixth
seal, verses 12-17. The extent to which the imagery which
is presented in this vision is borrowed from the prophets, and
had been also appropriated by our Lord in His discourse, will



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The Groundwork of t/te Apocalypse. 3

be best shown by placing in parallel columns this vision of
St. John and the corresponding section in Matthew xxiv.,
and by italicizing all the direct quotations from the Old
Testament with marginal references to them : —

Revelation vi. 12-17. Matthew xxiv. 29, 80.

And I saw when be opened the Immediately, after the tribu-

dxth seal, and there was a great latlon of those days,

earthquake ; and the sun became the sun shall be darkened, and

black as sackcloth of hair, and the the moonshall not give her light,

whole moon hec&meBs blood ; cmd the and the stars shall &11 from

Joel it stars of Uieheaveti fell nnto the etLrth, heaven, and the powers of the

as a fig-tree casteth her unripe figs heavenshallbeshaken: and then

when she is shaken of a great wind, shall appear the sign of the Son

And the heaven was removed as a of man in heaven : and then

IsaiAh scroll when it is rolled up ; and every shall all the tribes of the earth

"^^- *• mountain and island were moved out mourn, and they shall see the

of their places. And the kings of the Son of man coming on the clouds

earth, and the princes, and the chief of heaven with power and great

captains, and the rich, and the strong, glory,
and every bondman and freeman, hid

Jeremiah themselves in the eaves and in the

rocks of the mountains ; and they say (Luke xxiii. 28, 29. Daughters

to the mountains and to the rocks, of Jerusalem, weep not for me,

Hoseaz. ^all on us, and hide us from the face but for yourselves, and for your

of Him that sitteth on the throne and children. . . . Then shall they

Joel il from the wrath of the J^amb : for the begin to say to the mountains,

JJtj^^j great day of their wraih 18 come land Fall on us; and to the hills,

m. 2. who is aJble to stand ? Cover us.)

I suppose that most readers of the Apocalypse take for
granted, without much consideration, that St. John's language
refers to the last judgment. We naturally associate the strong
and startling terms employed with the end of all things.
And yet when we come to weigh carefully the expressions
used, and to examine their source, I think that it becomes
extremely doubtful whether this interpretation is the true one.
The imagery, it will be seen, is not uncommon in the Old
Testament, and the marginal references might have been
multiplied, as there are several other passages in which we
meet with identical or similar symbolism. It was apparently
suggested in the first instance by the terrible earthquake
which made so deep an impression on the Jews that years



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4 The Groundwork of the Apocalypse.

were numbered from it (Amos LI; cf. Zech. xiv. 5). Thus
it was to the prophets a symbol of God's judgments, and we
find that when they would describe the fall of cities and
nations they frequently recur to the figure and represent the
catastrophe under the image of some great convulsion of
nature. Passages such as those marked in the margin from
Isaiah, Joel, and others are confessedly allowed to refer not
to the final coming of our Lord, but rather to the destruction
of Jerusalem — whether by the Chaldees or by the Eomans
matters not. In Malachi, for instance, there can be little
doubt that the " great and terrible day of the Lord " refers to
what we call the first coming of Christ, i.e. not to the end of
all things, but to that twofold advent in mercy and judgment
which began with the Incarnation, and must be regarded as a
continuous " coming " {irapovala), until the Church was
founded and Jerusalem destroyed- This interpretation of the
Old Testament is strongly confirmed by the use which our
Lord makes of Hosea x. 8 in Luke xxiil 29. And the
Apostles certainly took the prophecy of Joel as referring to
that first coming, for St. Peter on the day of Pentecost says
expressly : " This is that which hath been spoken by the
prophet Joel ; And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I
will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh : and your sons and
your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see
visions, and your old men shall dream dreams : yea, and on
my servants and on my handmaidens in those days will I
pour forth of my Spirit ; and they shall prophesy : and I will
show wonders in the heaven above, and signs on the earth
beneath ; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke : the sun shall
be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the
day of the Lord come, that great and notable day : and it
shall be that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord
shall be saved" (Acts ii 16-21).

Again, the oftener I read our Lord's discourse on the Mount
of Olives, the more I am convinced that the only satisfactory



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The Groundwork of the Apocalypse. 5

interpretation of it is that which takes the whole of it down to
verse 34, as descriptive of all that was to precede and accom-
pany the destruction of Jerusalem. Up to verse 28 it mud
refer to this ; and thus far nearly all commentators are agreed
From this point the difference of interpretation begins. But
what violence has to be done to the " irrLmediaidy " (evOim^)
of verse 29, if there is a sudden transition from the fall of
Jerusalem to the end of the world ! and what possible mean-
ing is there in verse 34, " This generation shall not pass till
all these things be fulfilled/' if *" these things " are the signs
accompanying the second advent ? Take the whole discourse
down to this verse as referring solely to the destruction of
Jerusalem, and all is plain and comparatively easy. The
language is of course symbolical, but it is almost entirely
founded on tiie language in which the prophets of the Old
Coveaant had annoimced the destruction of cities and empires,
and does not go beyond them in any point of strength. On
this view, verses 34 and 36 become at once intelligible, and
contain a marked and pointed contrast. " All these things,"
of which our Lord has been speaking, are to happen within
the lifetime of the then existing generation : '' but of that day
and hour knoweth no one," eta " That day," as elsewhere in
the New Testament where it stands absolutely, signifies the
day of final judgment (see Matt viL 22 ; Luke x. 12 ; 2 Thess.
i 10 ; 2 Tim. i. 12, 18, iv. 8); and thus "according to the
view here .advocated our Lord plainly distinguished between
the two comings, gave full details in prophetical language and
imagery drawn from tiie Old Testament concerning the Jirst,
and marked out its date as taking place during the lifetime
of His hearers; while of His final coming {irapowrici) He
distinctly refused to tell them, and grounded His refusal upon
the fact that ' of thai day and hour knoweth no one, not even
the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. "' ^
And now to return to the vision of the sixth seal If I
> See the Expositor for April 1881, p. 804.



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6 The Groundwork of the Apocalypse.

am right in thinking that the passages which form its ground-
work both in the Old Testament and in our Lord's discourse
do not look beyond the destruction of Jerusalem, surely we
get a weighty argument for referring St John's language to
the same event It is diflBcult for us, as we look back, to
realize that the first advent and the foundation of the Christian
Church was anything but the glad festival season which it is
to us. But for those then living, the throes and birth-pangs
which ushered in the new era, and the awful catastrophe
which fell on those who " knew not the * time of their visita-
tion," were such jpresent realities as to appear like the shaking
of the heavens and the earth, and the darkening of the light
of the sun. The convulsions of nature were after all but
feeble images of the moral and spiritual confusion which
accompanied the change from one age to another. The
" coming ** of Christ was such that to many it was the coming
of the " great and terrible day of the Lord." There was in
very deed a shaking of all things and a sifting of all men.
The foundations were cast down, and the whole world must
have seemed to totter and reel beneath men's feet What
wonder then if the words of the prophet rose involuntarily to
the lips of the men of that generation : " Who may abide the
day of His coming ? and who shall stand when He appeareth ?
for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' sope : and He
shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver : and He shall purify
the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that
they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness."

Between the sixth and seventh seals a twofold episode is
presented to the gaze of the seer — (1) the sealing of the elect,
and (2) the vision of the " great multitude." The idea of the
^ sealing " is undoubtedly borrowed from Ezek. ix. 4 : *' Go
through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem,
and set a mark (or ctob^ upon the foreheads of the men that
sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the
midst thereof. And to the others He said in mine hearing,



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Tlie Groundwork of the Apocalypse. 7

Go ye after him through the city, and smite : let not your eye
spare, neither have ye pity : slay utterly old and young, both
maids, and little children, and women : but come not near any
man upon whom is the mark : and b^in at my sanctuary."
The idea of this passage and of the " sealing " in Eev. vii. 1-8
is identical, and it is impossible to doubt that there is a con-
nection between the two ; but beyond this there is not much
which verbally reminds us of the Old Testament in this seventh
chapter till we come to the closing verses (16 and 17), in
which we find that the language of the elder is quoted almost
word for word from Isaiah xlix. 10.

I cannot, however, pass over this whole section without
venturing on a few remarks upon its interpretation, even
though in so doing I may seem to be travelling beyond my
proper province. It is sometimes contended that the two
episodes really refer to the same event, and that the *' great
multitude " of the second is identical with the " sealed " of the
first. But a careful reading of the whole passage is surely
sufficient to dispel this idea altogether. In verse 4, St. John
writes expressly : " / heard the number of them which were
sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of
every tribe of the chUdren of Israd^ Then follows the list
of the tribes and the number of the sealed out of each, and in
verse 9 he proceeds as follows : " After these things I saw, and
behold, a great multitude, which no man covld number, out of
every nation, and of all tribes and peoples and tongues," etc.
Thus a comparison of verses 4 and 9 makes it clear (1) that
the second episode was subsequent to the first ; (2) that whereas
in the first the number was known and assured, in the second
it was a great multitude which no man could number ; and (3)
that the " sealed " were all " of the children of Israel," whereas
the great multitude was " out of every nation." It is difficult
to imagine how St John could have used such language if he
had meant us to identify the two companies ; and in confirma*
tion of the view which takes them as distinct, it should be



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8 The Groundwork of the Apocalypse.

noticed that in chapter xiv., where the Lamb is seen standing
on Mount Zion, He has with Him '' a hundred and forty and four
thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written
on their foreheads," etc. (xiv, 1). These are spoken of in
verse 4 as " purchased from among men to be the first-fruUs
unto God and unto the Lamb/' and then immediately after-
wards is seen " another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an
eternal gospel to proclaim unto them that dwell on the earth,
and unto every nation and tribe and tongue and people"
(ver. 6). Hence, taking all things into consideration, the true
interpretation would seem to be that which takes the " sealed "
as the Jewish (or possibly JudaK)-Chri8tian) Church, and the
'' great multitude " as those of the Christian dispensation, who
make up the Church that is gathered out of all nations, and
who are seen " coming out of the great tribiUation ** (ipxoM^oi
i/e rrj^ dXly^ax: Tfj<; fjieyakrf^), an expression which at once
throws us back on St, Matthew xxiv. 21, "there shall be
great tribiUatiori " {etrrai yap rore tf A.*^i9 fMeyaKrj) : so that,
upon the whole, I am inclined to take the " sealed " of the
first episode as identical with the " elect," for whose sake the
days are shortened, and the vision of the " great multitude " as
parallel with verse 31 of our Lord's discourse: "He shall
send forth His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and
they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from
one end of heaven to the other " — a verse which, as I take it,
is descriptive of the gathering together of God's elect into a
visible Church on earth.^

Although, as has already been scdd, there is not much in the
section now before us, except in the closing verses, which
verbally recalls the Old Testament, yet the idea of the second
as of the first episode is one of which traces may be found in
the prophets. Those who compose the great multitude are

> May I be permitted to refer to an article in the Expositor for April 1881,
where I have worked out in the light of the Old Testament what seems to me
the true interpretation of this discourse of our Lord ?



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The Groundwork of the Apocalypse. 9

seen " arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands ; "
and it is said in verse 15 that "He that sitteth on the
throne shall spread His tabernacle over them " {aicqvicei iir^
avTov9). These two expressions taken together give a due
to the meaning of the whole passage ; and it has been noticed
by many commentators that the redeemed are here represented
as keeping the feast of Tabernacles/ an image which is not
unknown to the prophets of the Old Covenant when speaking
of the future of the Church of God, e.g. Zech. xiv. 16 : "And
it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the
nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from
year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to
keep the feast of Tabernacles." There is, however, a further
question : even if the reference to the feast of Tabernacles be
granted, are we to think that the scene at which the seer is
gazing is a representation of what is going on now or will go
on hereafter " behind the veil " ? or is it an ideal picture of the
Church of God on earth ? The former view is that which is
usually adopted, and it is not without some hesitation that I
am led to advocate the second alternative. But the more I
consider it, the more probable does it appear to me ; and for
these reasons : (1) The comparison with St. Matthew xxiv. 13,
which has already been given. (2) Isa. xlix. 10 : " They shall
not hunger nor thirst, neither shall the heat or sun smite
them : for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even
by the springs of water shall He guide them ; " and xxv. 8 :
" The Lord God will wipe away tears from ofif their faces,"
refer to the glories of the Messianic age and kingdom in this
world rather than in the next, as does Zech. xiv. 16, the
passage which suggests the idea of the feast of Tabernacles
(3) The promises of our Lord concerning fountains of living
water in John iv. 14 and vii 38, which are evidently in St.
John's mind (see verse 17) in regard to this life. (4) St.

> Compare a most instructiye chapter on the feast of Tabernacles in Dr.
Edersheim's The Temple, U$ Ministry and Services^ chap. xiy.



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lo The Groundwork of the Apocalypse.

John himself teaches us to look for a Tabernacle feast on earth
in his Gospel, chap. L 14, iaK'qvaxrev iv fjiuv ; and (5) in all
St John's writings " eternal life " is a present possession rather
than something future. These considerations, when carefully



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