And the dragon was enraged at the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea.
I. THE ANTICHRISTIAN WORLD answers to the first of the wild beasts of which we here read. See the resemblance. Rome and Nero's were not more exact.
1. Her appearance is wonderful. "Clothed with the sun."
2. Her progeny is wonderful. "She brought forth a man child."
3. Her antagonist is wonderful. The devil is the great enemy of redeemed humanity, and the description given of him indicates that he is a being of stupendous force and malice.
4. Her influence is wonderful. Supernatural beings engage in fierce conflict on her account. There was war in heaven. The subject here is Nature serving Christliness. The earth - nature - "helped the woman" - embodied Christianity. Nature helps Christliness in various ways.
I. BY ITS GRAND REVELATIONS. Nature reveals all the grand subjects that constitute the very foundation of Bible discoveries.
1. There is God. All nature proclaims, not only his existence, but his personality, unity, spirituality, wisdom, goodness, power.
2. There is law. Every part is under the rigorous reign of law. Any infraction of nature's laws carries penalties.
3. There is mediation. The principle of mediation runs through all nature. One element, one agent, one being, everywhere serving another.
4. There is responsibility. In the human world men are everywhere recognized as responsible, men everywhere feel their responsibility.
5. There is mystery. There is a haze over all nature. Every part has arenas which no intellect can penetrate. The whole universe seems to float on the dark sea of mystery. Now, all these subjects which we find in nature we find also in the Bible. Hence nature comes, also, to illustrate the meaning of the Bible and confirm its truth. It is a grand parable. Hence "the earth helps the woman."
II. BY ITS MORAL IMPRESSIONS. Nature is suited to make impressions upon the earth corresponding exactly with those which Christianity essays to produce.
1. The sense of dependence. How infinitesimally little man feels beside the great hills, confronting the ocean billow, and under the awful stars! Amidst the majesty of Nature's appearances he feels himself to be nothing, and tess than nothing. He feels borne along as a straw upon the resistless flood of destiny.
2. Reverence. How great does God appear in nature, in the minute as well as the vast! "An undevout astronomer is mad." There is a spirit in nature that seems to say to every thoughtful soul, "Take thy shoes from off thy feet," etc.
3. Contrition. The streams of Divine goodness seem to well up from every blade, flow down on every ray, beat in every wave of air, and are vocal with reproof to guilty man for his ingratitude and disobedience towards his Maker.
4. Worship. In reason's ear a thousand voices speak to man. "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, sing forth the honour of his Name." Now, these are just the impressions that the gospel aims to produce; and thus nature serves Christianity by endeavouring to produce the same spiritual results; and in this way, again, "the earth helps the woman."
III. BY ITS MULTIPLIED INVENTIONS. Men, by studying nature and employing its laws, elements, and forces for their intellectual and temporal uses, have attained those arts which are highly conducive to the advancement of Christianity.
1. There is merchandise. Trade brings the remotest nations together in a common interest. The means for exporting commodities are available for exporting the Word of God.
2. There is the press. The press is an invention of nature, and an invention which is admirably suited to advance Christianity. It has already borne the gospel to the most distant part of the earth.
3. There is painting. The art by which man transfers the forms of nature, and embodies his own conception of beauty on the canvas. By this noble art the scenes and characters of the Bible, and even our blessed Lord himself, are brought with a vivid reality under the notice of men.
4. There is music. The magic art which catches the floating sounds of nature and weaves them into strains of melody that stir the deepest feelings. Never does truth come with such strange majesty to the heart as when it comes floating on the wave of melody.
5. There is government. Government is of the earth, earthy; but it helps Christianity. The Roman government, in the first ages, did it good service, and all civil governments that keep to their true province serve it now. - D.T.
The earth helped the woman.I. SOME ILLUSTRATIONS OF THIS HELP. How the earth has rendered help to God's people sometimes by —
1. Its wide extent. The primeval going forth of Abram, the father of the faithful, from Ur of the Chaldees, was in all probability owing to the discomfort, distress, and may be actual danger, for one who had renounced idolatry as he had, should he live any longer in an idolatrous land. And so he went far away westward into the land God showed him. And the Exodus was another going forth into a far-off land, that the people might worship God as they could not do in Egypt. Pharaoh would not let the people go, but God compelled him, and the colonisation of Palestine by Israel, and all that followed from that, was the result.
2. The division of the earth into separate states and kingdoms has been another great help to the Church of God in her days of distress. Egypt was a refuge for the infant Christ when Herod would have put Him to death. One of the most awful results of the wide-spread Roman Empire was that its law — which in its evil days was but the will of the reigning emperor, and he too often one of the vilest of men — ran everywhere, and shut off all retreat from its oppression. Its agents met the fugitive on every shore, till the world became one vast prison-house for the oppressed. The shattering, therefore, of that empire, and its division into separate states, were a vast relief for mankind, of which the Church of God often took advantage in her days of trouble. That the rule of that red dragon, like Herod, could not pass beyond the limits of Judaea, was a blessing that Joseph and the mother of our Lord were quick to avail themselves of by fleeing into Egypt. And what a thrilling story of the earth's helping the people of God has been the result of —
3. The earth's varied surface and form. From the days when David clambered up the rocky steeps of the mountains of Judea, and hid himself from Saul in inaccessible caves and fastnesses, in secret places on the mountain sides, and amid their frost-covered summits — places known only to himself and his trusty followers — from those days right down to the days when the Waldenses and the Christians of Piedmont found shelter from the murderous might of Papal Rome — more fierce and dragon-like than even Pagan Rome — amid Alpine snows and crags and cliffs, whither the blood-stained hand of their adversaries could not reach them, though they often tried. Well did the earth's mountain fortresses help God's people then. Nor may we overlook —
4. The earth's natural phenomena. The ten plagues of Egypt were but intensified forms of such phenomena, as any one resident long enough in that ancient land will know. The dividing of the Red Sea was by "a strong east wind." The defeat of the Spanish Armada, like the pestilence which slew the Assyrian army that threatened Hezekiah and his city and people — what were these but earth's phenomena, bidden of God to go to the help of His people, as assuredly they did? And how often have —
5. The politics of earth been Used in a similar way. In , an edict was passed, requiring Christians to deliver up their sacred books under pain of death. This was speedily followed by another, dooming all Christian ministers to prison. And that was immediately followed by a third, authorising the inflicting on them the most savage tortures, unless they would sacrifice to the heathen gods. In the year 304, a fourth edict was issued, ordering the magistrates to force all Christians to offer sacrifices to the gods, and to employ all sorts of torment if they refused. But relief was at hand. In the year 306 Constantine rose to power, and soon after to imperial power. In the year 313 liberty was proclaimed to the Christians, "and in the year 324 the Emperor publicly declared himself a Christian." Thus did the great earthly power of Rome help the people of God by swallowing up for ever the pagan and long-persisted-in persecution, which had been designed to overwhelm them in its full, fierce-flowing flood.
6. Nor have the passions of earth played an unimportant part in this same helping of God's people. God "maketh the wrath of man to praise Him"; and not man's wrath only, but his avarice, and at times even baser passions still. As when that sensual Persian tyrant, for the sake of Esther, hurled down the party of Haman and exalted that of Mordecai. And our own English Henry the Eighth leaned not a little towards the reformed faith because by means of it the beautiful woman he desired might more readily become his. And what a sad and deplorable part did the lust after the Church lands play in persuading the peerage and gentry of that age to pull down the old Church and put up the new. Granted well-nigh all that can be said against that old Church and for the new, still the dark fact remains that avarice and greed were the governing motives of not a few. And that wild outburst of a nation's rage, known as the French Revolution, how that availed to put down the cruelties of the Inquisition, and all those tortures whereby the Church of Rome had been wont to force men to acknowledge her sway. And finally —
7. The men of this world — such as the apostle speaks of as "earthly" and worse — then the very children of earth have once and again helped the children of God, the chosen of the Lord. Even Pilate wanted to. And what a list of like unspiritual, worldly men, who yet have proved friends of Christ, the apostolic records furnish — Gallio, Lysias, Festus, Felix, Agrippa, and the centurions and officers of the guard, who were kind to Paul, and stood between him and his enemies. And it has been so ever since. In the life of Lord Shaftesbury, we find him frequently telling how, in one and another of his benevolent but at that time most difficult enterprises, he was helped far more by those who made no profession of religion at all than by not a few of those who did. And to-day, do we not know many who refuse the Christian creed but who will yet do Christian deeds and help Christians therein? And the reason is that God has implanted in man Conscience, the instinctive love of justice and goodness, and hatred of injustice and oppression; and because the Church appeals to these principles she often gets the good will of worldly men, and their practical help and sympathy.
II. SOME TEACHINGS OF THIS HELP.
1. How inevitably it will be needed. God's faithful people being what they are, and Satan being what he is, how can it but be that he should persecute the Church of God?
2. It will surely be forthcoming. All men and all material agencies are ministers of God for good to His people, if He pleases to make them so. And He will do this if need arise.
3. How blessed to be of the number of those for whom God will do this. It is His faithful Church, His true people, for whom He will do this. Are we of their number?
(S. Conway, B. A.)I. BY ITS GRAND REVELATIONS.
1. There is God. All nature proclaims not only His existence, but His personality, unity, spirituality, wisdom, goodness, power.
2. There is law.
3. There is mediation.
4. There is responsibility.
5. There is mystery.
II. BY ITS MORAL IMPRESSIONS.
1. Sense of dependence.
III. BY ITS MULTIPLIED INVENTIONS.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
I. Hence it might be wise for us, in the first place, to allude to THE SOMEWHAT UNGENEROUS WAY IN WHICH THE WOMAN HAS BEEN TREATING THE EARTH IN MODERN TIMES. There is a violence of prejudice in the minds of a great many of God's people which is almost inexplicable. From the outset they suspect all offers of help from the world of natural research. Now the day has passed for a mere show of bigotry. Whoever considers that his opinions are settled beyond modification is simply a conceited or obstinate debater. Now if skilled philosophers have to be modest in dealing with each other, how much more wary ought the rank and file of mere theologians to be! For they are a class of scholars who do not claim to be experts in the details of the material sciences. Is it not time that religious people recognise the lapse of time and the growth of ages? Some things have come to light which Turretin and Luther and Calvin did not know, or they very likely would never have written what they did. The true prudence for us all would be to welcome aid in any difficult field of labour, no matter whence it comes. A fact is a fact, as a diamond is a diamond, and both are valuable; and it would be sheer waste of time to inquire jealously the colour of the first searcher who found either. There was a day when the gold and silver of Pharaoh's people went into the heaps of money contributed for building the tabernacle of God in the wilderness; there need be no fear but that all the discoveries of every science in turn, as soon as they have become fixed and tabulated by scientists themselves, will range their valuable brightness where they can best beautify the temple of God's Word.
II. Now let us seek SOME FEW OF THE FORMS OF ACTUAL HELP WHICH NATURAL SCIENCE OF EVERY SORT HAS ALREADY FURNISHED, thus exhibiting its real friendliness.
1. To begin with, let us consider its answer to what have beech termed the "unconscious prophecies" of the Bible.
2. In the second place, the Church has occasion to thank science for its help in giving a constant rebuke to impertinent cavils which petulant objectors are in the habit of urging. Voltaire founded an argument against the truthfulness of the Old Testament upon what he termed the ignorant mistakes of the writer who composed the various books. Among these he instanced the expression of Solomon in the Proverbs, "Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the glass." Now, said this witty Frenchman, Solomon could not have been the wise man he was reputed to be, or else he would have been fully informed that glass was not known as a substance until long after he was dead; it was invented subsequent to the date of his somewhat fragmentary book. Now science stepped into the controversy, not precisely for the Bible's sake in that sceptical age, but for its own. Chronology settled that Solomon lived about Then a historian proved that glass was in use among the Egyptians far before that time, for he had found pictures of glass-blowing in the ruins of the temples sculptured on the stone slabs. Archaeology followed with an exhibition of a glass signet engraved with a monarch's name, and dated ; this was discovered in ancient Thebes. And to this there was added the fact, announced by the expedition just returning from Egypt, that there were glass beads buried with the mummies they began to unroll. At this moment also came in philology to say that Solomon had not in fact mentioned the name of glass at all in his proverb; the original Hebrew word meant "cup," a mere drinking-vessel of any material; the wise man had warned against wine "when it giveth its colour in the cup." Thus, again, four distinct sciences in turn took up the contemptible little cavil and silenced it. It seems a waste of energy; but this has often been the result of such a demonstration.
3. Once more: consider science as exemplifying its friendliness for the Church in the illustration of difficult doctrines which it furnishes. It does not matter where we seek for examples. The resurrection of the body, perhaps one of the doctrines of the New Testament the most mysterious, was quite a fresh revelation to the world at large. It is a hard matter of belief to many a perplexed mind now. But it is no harder than the mystery of a tree's growth from the seed; and this is the figure which the Apostle Paul used for his help in explaining it. There are reserves in science into which the all-wise Creator retires as He does in revelation.
4. In the fourth place, let us be ready to acknowledge the help we receive in the reconciliation which science offers concerning the paradoxes of reason and faith in the Scriptures. We find in the revealed Word the statement that our Maker is "the Light of the world." Vivid indeed is the illustration offered by optical science just at this point. Here are three primary colours entering in to produce perfect white — the blue, the yellow, and the red. The natural philosopher places before our eyes a broad disk of metal; he paints on it segments of colour in due proportion, running from circumference to centre and ending at a point; then he whirls the disk like a wheel on its axis; the colours disappear, and the metal shines whiter than a silver shield. We cannot understand it; but the fact is the three elements have blended into one whole: three are one, and one is three. Then the lecturer tells us that the red gives off all the heat in the sun's ray, the yellow spreads all the illumination, the blue effects the chemical changes in living organisms. He says we read by the yellow ray, but we should shiver without the red, and we should wither and die without the blue. They are all needed as colours, and they all work together as one beam of sunlight. Now it is not contended that this is an explanation of the Scriptural doctrine of the trinity of God's being; but this we do insist upon: whenever cavillers demand scientific reasoning, because they cannot believe what they do not understand, R does seem as if we might wait for them to play their little arithmetical puzzles about three are one and one is three off upon the spectrum before they try them on the Trinity. And we go a single step farther. We cannot help thinking, in view of such astonishing analogies, that it must have been infinite wisdom which said, "God is light."
5. Finally, let us consider the friendliness of science as manifested in the positive help which it offers in the interpretation of obscure passages in the Word itself. Think of the helpfulness of Layard's discoveries at Nineveh to the students in explaining the books of Jonah and Nahum. So of the other forgotten cities and empires; we are to read concerning the fall of Tyre, the overthrow of Egypt, the extinction of Edom, the destruction of Babylon, in the light of late investigations of the ruins in those lands, all made in the interest of science.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
(W. Wayte Andrew, M. A.)
The dragon... went to make war with the remnant1. We see that the dragon's wrath against the woman breaks out in war: which shows us, that even so wrath or any sin harboured in the heart, will at last break forth in action. Cain.
2. We see who is the principal author of the bloody wars and massacres that have been in sundry nations.
3. It is said that he went to make war with the remnant of her seed: to show us hereby the insatiable blood-thirstiness of Satan and his instruments: who, when they had killed the Lord's witnesses and so many more, yet cannot rest till in like manner they have killed the remnant.
4. This seed of the woman is described from keeping of the commandments of God, and having the testimony of Jesus Christ: by this mark, therefore, let us try ourselves if we be of this number who are the members of Christ's true Church; to wit, if we hold fast, the profession of the truth constantly, and make our practice or conversation conform thereunto.
(Wm. Guild, D. D.).
A beast rise up out of the sea.I. IT HAS A MANIFOLD DEVELOPMENT. In the commerce of the world, in the government of the world, in the campaigns of the world, in the literature of the world, in the religions of the world, antichrist appears in aspects as hideous, and in a spirit as savage and blasphemous as the monsters depicted in this vision.
II. IT HAS ONE MASTER-SPIRIT.
1. He is endowed with tremendous power.
2. His grand pursuit is moral mischief. He promotes —
(1) (2) (3) 3. His sphere is co-extensive with the world. Wherever falsehood, dishonesty, impurity, revenge are, there he is. And where are they not? 4. However great his influence, he is under a restraining law. 5. His mission will ultimately prove self-ruinous. In every act the devil performs, he is forming a link in that adamantine chain that shall bind him, not merely for a thousand years, but for ever. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
(2) (3) 3. His sphere is co-extensive with the world. Wherever falsehood, dishonesty, impurity, revenge are, there he is. And where are they not? 4. However great his influence, he is under a restraining law. 5. His mission will ultimately prove self-ruinous. In every act the devil performs, he is forming a link in that adamantine chain that shall bind him, not merely for a thousand years, but for ever. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
(3) 3. His sphere is co-extensive with the world. Wherever falsehood, dishonesty, impurity, revenge are, there he is. And where are they not? 4. However great his influence, he is under a restraining law. 5. His mission will ultimately prove self-ruinous. In every act the devil performs, he is forming a link in that adamantine chain that shall bind him, not merely for a thousand years, but for ever. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
3. His sphere is co-extensive with the world. Wherever falsehood, dishonesty, impurity, revenge are, there he is. And where are they not?
4. However great his influence, he is under a restraining law.
5. His mission will ultimately prove self-ruinous. In every act the devil performs, he is forming a link in that adamantine chain that shall bind him, not merely for a thousand years, but for ever.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
1. It has assumed successive forms. "Seven heads" we read of, and they denote the multiplication and succession of hostile powers arrayed against the Church of God.
2. And it has ever had immense strength. "Ten horns," and these encircled with diadems, telling how the world spirit has ever made use of the princes and potentates of earth to work his will.
3. And it has ever raged against the Church as a wild beast. Under all its forms it has hated the people of God. From Pharaoh even to the last of the persecutors it has been the Same.
4. And its deadly wounds heal (ver. 3). If its dominion be overthrown in a given locality, or in your heart, do we not know how the evil spirit, who has left for a while, comes back?
5. It is popular. "All the world wondered after," and "worshipped."
6. And it blasphemes still, It claims Divine power.
7. And it wages war and wins (ver. 7). Let families, Churches, congregations, tell how this war has been waged in their midst, and how some, often many, of their most hopeful members have fallen.
8. And none but those who are really Christ's withstand (ver. 6). Yes, we are sent forth as sheep amid wolves.
II. THE WISDOM OF THIS WORLD answers to the second "beast." St. James tells us that "this wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish." This monster (ver. 11) is seen to ascend from "the earth," as St. James tells. In Revelation 19:20 it is called the "false prophet."
1. It is said to have "deceived." It deceives —(1) By its innocent appearance, its lamb-like look. True, it had ten horns, but they meant nothing, so small, so slight, so incapable of injury. So this wisdom. No one would ever suspect it of being a fierce beast. It is known as modern thought, science, philosophy, liberal culture — lamb-like words whom none would suspect to harbour ill.(2) By its words, so subtle and serpentine. "He spake as a dragon," that is, as a serpent, as did the "old serpent." So this wisdom of the world is plausible, popular, prevalent. But it further deceives —(3) By its "lying wonders" (ver. 14). The juggleries and tricks of heathenism, its magic and sorcery, explain St. John's words. Have not most eminent names, most wonderful discoveries, most famous reputations, been amongst the rewards it has given?
2. Its falsity may be detected. See, then —(1) It is an alliance with the God-defying world (cf. vers. 12-15). Mere brute force could not get on without the tricks and frauds which this lamb-like, lying thing concocts and displays. The first beast would be powerless without the cunning of the second. And here is a test for us. Do we find that any set of opinions, any new beliefs and maxims we may have adopted, are such as the godless and antichristian world choose and cherish as of great advantage to them? Can they claim them as on their side? If so, that is a very suspicious fact.(2) It transforms you into the world's likeness (see ver. 16). On the forehead or on the right hand the mark of this beast was to be.
(S. Conway, B. A.)
His deadly wound was healed
(Thomas Fuller, D. D.)
All the world wondered after the beast
(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)
TopicsAngry, Bear, Christ, Commandments, Commands, Dragon, Elsewhere, Enraged, Fast, Furiously, God's, Grew, Hold, Keeping, Obey, Offspring, Orders, Remnant, Rest, Sand, Seed, Stood, Testimony, War, Waxed, Witness, Wroth
Outline1. A woman clothed with the sun travails.
4. The great red dragon stands before her, ready to devour her child;
6. when she is delivered she flees into the desert.
7. Michael and his angels fight with the dragon, and prevail.
13. The dragon, being cast down into the earth, persecutes the woman.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesRevelation 12:17
Text.--The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.--James v. 16. THE last lecture referred principally to the confession of sin. To-night my remarks will be chiefly confined to the subject of intercession, or prayer. There are two kinds of means requisite to promote a revival; one to influence men, the other to influence God. The truth is employed to influence men, and prayer to move God. When I speak of moving God, I do not mean that God's mind is changed by prayer, or that his …
Charles Grandison Finney—Lectures on Revivals of Religion
The Glory of Jesus and Mary.
The Work of Christ.
A Discourse of the House and Forest of Lebanon
The Fourth vision "In Heaven"
The Poor in Spirit are Enriched with a Kingdom
The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate,
A Discourse of Mercifulness
Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness.
A Preliminary Discourse to Catechising
An Appendix to the Beatitudes
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