Revelation 16:14
These are demonic spirits that perform signs and go out to all the kings of the earth, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.
The Seven Vials: Predestined Suffering in the Government of the WorldD. Thomas Revelation 16:1-21
ArmageddonS. Conway Revelation 16:12-16
Battle of ArmageddonE. J. Rose, M. A.Revelation 16:12-16
Garments -- a Scriptural FigureF. W. Naylor, M. A.Revelation 16:12-16
The Coming of ChristR. Sibbes.Revelation 16:12-16
The Eve of ArmageddonDean Vaughan.Revelation 16:12-16
The Final ConflictA. L. Stone.Revelation 16:12-16
The Mission of the Three SpiritsDean Vaughan.Revelation 16:12-16
The Necessity of VigilanceT. Nunns, M. A.Revelation 16:12-16
The Swift and Sudden AdventH. Bonar, D. D.Revelation 16:12-16
Watch Against Old SinsNewman Hall.Revelation 16:12-16
The Unclean SpiritsR. Green Revelation 16:13, 14

Following the steps hitherto taken, we come to a symbol of great repulsiveness - a symbol doubtless intended to represent evil in its repulsive form. Again we premise we see no individual persons or individual systems in this figure. "The descriptions here, as well as in the parallel passage, point to the last, the most reckless antichristian and blasphemous manifestations of the beast and the false prophet, when impregnated to the fall with the spirit of Satan, and acting as his agents in the final effort he makes against the kingdom of God" (Fairbairn, 'Prophecy,' p. 423). "By likening the spirits to frogs some respect is had, according to the just remark of Bossuet, to one of the plagues of Egypt. The point of comparison is the uncleanness, the loathsomeness, which is expressly noticed." Our attention is called to spirits and powers of evil who are directly under the control of the evil one, and subject to his inspiration ("the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas, ... then entered Satan unto him") - "the spirits of devils." These "go forth unto the kings of the whole world, to gather them together unto the war of the great day of God, the Almighty." The servant of sin obeys the behests of sin. He whose heart is open to Satan will find Satan walking in sooner or later. With the great battle we have not now to do. We see how the Church has to maintain her wrestling against "the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." This vision seems to represent an especial malignity and effort of evil in this "war of the great day of God." We can hardly forbear seeing some final intensifying of the Satanic power, some temporary prevalence of evil. But the admonition of the Lord sounds with especial force upon our ear, and must be removed from its merely parenthetical position. "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments." In order to this let the Church be roused to behold the evilness of the enemy and the greatness of the danger.

I. THE UNCLEAN SPIRITS ARE "SPIRITS OF DEVILS." The devil stands as the representative and head of all that is unlike God, and that is antagonistic to his Name and kingdom - "the adversary."

II. THE SPIRITS ARE SPECIALLY DISTINGUISHED AS "UNCLEAN SPIRITS." All unholiness is uncleanness. They prompt to all disobedience and worldly lust and foulness of life, all unbelief and evilness of conduct.

III. THEY STIMULATE AND INSPIRE "THE KINGS OF THE EARTH" - the subtle ruling powers, passions, habits, and other forms of evil which hold sway and dominion over men. The king is the symbol, not of weakness, but of power and authority and government; fit emblem of whatever domineers over the life of man.

IV. THEY STAND IN DIRECT ANTAGONISM TO GOD. This is the utmost evilness conceivable. To be led astray by temptation, to fall by unwatchfulness, to yield to evil, is bad enough, and entails just and merited punishment; but the utmost vileness is that which places itself in direct and active opposition to the Holy One. "He that opposeth God and exalteth himself against all that is called God."


(1) take heed: watching;

(2) keep free from the contamination Of sin in every guise: "keepeth his garments."

(3) For the danger is great;

(4) and the great Master cometh at an hour when we think not: "Behold, I come as a thief in the night."

(5) He that so watcheth is verily "blessed." - R.G.

The sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates... Three unclean spirits
The river Euphrates, the dividing stream (in old time) between Israel and Assyria, between Israel and Babylon — the dividing stream (in typical language) between the Israel of God and the foes of God, between the Church and the world, between the disciples of Jesus Christ and the opposing hosts and powers of evil — is dried up, by the outpouring of the sixth vial, that the last confederacy of infidelity and ungodliness may be tempted onward to its ruin. These vials are vials of wrath. The longsuffering of ages is at length exhausted: the measure of earth's iniquity is at last fun. The time is come for a decisive battle: the kings from the east, from the enemy's side of the river, shall be encouraged to cross over, shall be permitted to pass over dryshod, that they may throw themselves, in all their proud superiority of strength and numbers, upon "the camp of the saints" and upon "the beloved city." Such is the parable. Enough of palliatives and enough of compromises: enough of human expedients for harmonising the irreconcilable, for making truth speak the speech of compliment, and toning down revelation till human reason shall flatter herself that she invented it: not thus can the true life be lived, the reality of death faced, or a boundless eternity entered: not thus shall place ever be found for that "new heaven and new earth," "in which dwelleth righteousness," in which "the tabernacle of God is with men." There must first be a war and a battle: the war of spiritual combatants, the battle of the great day of God Almighty. Thus we are enabled to contemplate, with awe but not with dismay, all that growing boldness and insolence of unbelief which seems likely to be characteristic of the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It is all working up to a consummation — a consummation foreordained of God — a consummation revealed by Him in prophecy. The three unclean spirits which gather the invading powers to the battle of the great day are said to issue from the mouth of the dragon, and from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet. The reference is to the section of the three enemies, occupying the twelfth and two following chapters of this book.

1. The dragon is described to us in the twelfth chapter by figures and names, which leave no doubt of their meaning. He is expressly termed the devil and Satan — the old serpent, with evident reference to the history of man's fall — the deceiver of the whole world — the accuser of the brethren. He is described as a dragon — that fabulous monster of antiquity, with its huge coils of serpent-like scales — here painted with seven heads, ten horns upon one of them, and seven crowns — telling at once of manifold versatility, giant strength, and more than regal dominion. He is described further as casting down to the earth the third part of the stars of heaven — to express at once the audacity of his presumption, and the superhuman sweep of his success. He stands before the woman clothed with the sun and crowned with the stars — emblem of the Church of God now travailing in birth with the Saviour of prophecy and of expectation — stands, I say, watching for the Incarnation, and eager to devour the Divine Child at the moment of His birth. Frustrated by the final rescue which transfers the imperilled Saviour, by ascension, to the throne of God in heaven — and himself receiving a defeat in the war with the glorified Christ which hurls him back, wrathful and revengeful, upon an earth not yet regenerated — he turns all his fury first upon the Church, which escapes from him into the wilderness, cared for by God Himself, who has prepared there her temporary home and her heavenly supplies — cared for by God, but helped even by the earth, who, in a sense wonderfully true to history, has sometimes even protected and favoured her — first, I say, upon the Church herself, and then (by a slight modification of the metaphor) upon the individual Christian, represented as not yet sharing the full security of the Church as a whole, as having still to fight for his life, though the Church is guaranteed from the once threatened destruction.

2. The second enemy is depicted in the thirteenth chapter. A wild beast of hideous composite form — lion, bear, and leopard in one — is seen by the evangelist rising out of the sea. With one slight — very slight — difference his first appearance is that of the dragon himself. There are the seven heads and the ten horns upon one of them, only in this latter case the horns arc crowned, not the heads, and therefore the crowns are ten, not seven. The dragon gives him his power and his throne: he is to represent him: the dragon is a power out of sight: the beast is his impersonation and his "express image." One peculiarity of this foe is a portentous vitality. He receives a mortal wound, but he lives again. The admiration of the beholders rises into adoration. They worship the dragon who gave him his authority, and they worship the beast who lives after dying. The second enemy is the world. There is no mistaking the symbolism. In the interpretation of Daniel's vision the four beasts combined into the beast before us are expressly said to be kings: the beast is the world, as the dragon is the devil. The world, in its aspect of power — the aspect here presented — is a great reality. In St. John's time it was the formidable — apart from revelation the irresistible, invincible — foe of the little Church of Jesus Christ. The time was to be when an apparently fatal wound was to be inflicted upon this antagonist — a wound, of which one illustration, if not the one fulfilment, was to be the nominal conversion of the Roman Empire to the faith which once it persecuted. Surely that wound was a mortal wound? Wait a while and you shall see the world rise from its bed of death — you shall see names changed, realities surviving — you shall see kings ruling in lust and rapine "by the grace of God" — you shall see the nominally Christian world wax wanton in turn against its imaged and sculptured Lord — you shall see Christian kings issuing their edicts of exile against Christian worshippers, and Papal Rome drawing from her scabbard the sword which Pagan Rome had for ever sheathed. The power of the world is superhuman in its vitality: the dragon — this accounts for it — gives the beast his throne and his authority, and that throne and that authority, call themselves what they may, are still adverse and antagonistic to the cause and the people of Jesus Christ.

3. There is a third enemy, called in the text, for the first time, "the false prophet"; but clearly marked, in later passages of the nineteenth and twentieth chapters, as identical with the "beast from the earth" of the thirteenth. His characteristics are peculiar. They combine might and meekness. He has two horns like a lamb, but he speaks like a dragon; he unites the seeming innocence of the lamb with the subtlety which beguiled Eve in the serpent. There is no doubt as to his origin — it is more patent than that of the second — he comes up out of the earth whatever his apparent influence with heaven and the unseen. In some sense he is the viceroy of the second enemy; "he exercises all his power before him" — the power which the dragon gave he guides to its destination. His work is to glorify in every way the beast which is the world. He makes earth worship the world. He magnifies, by every art and every persuasion, the miracle of the revival. He props miracle by miracle, can make fire come down from heaven by his incantations to deceive mankind into the idolatry of the beast which died and lives. He bids them make an image of the god-world, and then he puts life into the image and makes it speak. St. John lived in days when the beast was embodied in the empire, and when the image of the emperor was an object of worship. The suspected Christian was bidden for his life to sacrifice to that image. All this would make the figures of this part of the vision very real and very life-like to the Church of that time. Illustrative, not exhaustive, of them. The second beast, like the first — the third enemy, like the second, lives on until now. He is the wisdom, as the other is the power, of this world. He is that subtler, more penetrating influence of policy and diplomacy, of skill and scheming, of expediency and statecraft, of knowledge divorced from religion, of science falsely so called, of reason set against revelation, and creatureship exalted into rivalry with the Creator, without which the brute-force of wealth and numbers, of edicts and penalties, of arms and armies, would have no avail ever against intellect and enlightenment, would have lost it long ago in the face of popular growth and advancing freedom. It must be confessed that it is not easy to set before ourselves in a sharp, strong, telling way the distinctions and contrasts of the three enemies. They interlace and intertwine with each other — their general drift is the same — they are working to one end, and they are helping one another to reach it. Yet we must endeavour to see why they are distinguished, and to discover their special characteristics as influences upon the generation occupying the earth on the very eve of the great day. "I saw three unclean spirits come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet."(1) We might hesitate long and anxiously about the first of these. We might think of many characteristics of the evil spirit in his fall and in his ruin, in his reign and in his warfare, as they are suggested to us in the hints and warnings of the Bible. But there is one quality which seems to underlie and motive all, and that is insubordination. It is the unwillingness to keep the rank and the station — "the first estate," as St. Jude calls it — assigned by the Lord of all to the individual being created. It is the inability to curb and coerce the unruly workings of that pride of self, that lust of liberty, that passion for independence and exemption from jurisdiction, which begins by trying to escape from the omnipresence, and ends by making omnipotence itself its foe.(2) And what of the inspiration from the "beast" which is the world? To it also we might assign many names, but we shall choose one among them and call it materialism. It is the pressure upon us, the influence over us, of this brute thing, the power of the present, the power of the seen, the power of sense and time, the power of the circumstance and the surrounding of the men that shall die and the world that passeth away; it is the inability to withstand the custom and the fashion, the force of numbers and the cry of voices and the command of the society which can compel or outlaw; it is the influence, in One shape, of clamorous appetite and eager ambition and unsatisfied getting; it is the influence, in another shape, of the meanest and vilest of philosophies, saying, The body is all — let it have its way; or, The body is all — there is no hereafter.(3) Insubordination — materialism — what shall be the third spirit? Think of the characteristics of the lamb-like, serpent-like wonder-worker — of the ingenious subtle inventor that can draw fire from the sky and make images speak — that can assert itself under another's name, impose its edicts with authority, and ostracise the poor Christian that would so much as buy or sell unmolested — think of all this, and you will not count the third influence misnamed if we call it intellectualism — the thing which struts and parades itself as "thought," intelligence, an open mind, a refusal to see with other's eyes, a repudiation of the received, a passion for the original — though its discoveries are oftentimes the mere echo of an echo from days of obsolete objection, of puerile, infantine bewilderment.

(Dean Vaughan.)

The battle of that great day of God Almighty
Is it possible, after all, that we have mistaken the character of the final triumphs of humanity and Christianity? Are they to be peaceful triumphs? or are they to be gained in the bloodiest grapple of the long-opposing forces which the pen of history ever had or ever shall have to record?

1. In the first place it lies level to the most superficial observation that this, our earth, was chosen of God as the theatre of a great judicial conflict. This world is not a pleasure-garden in God's realm, in which white-footed angels may walk at the cool of day, fearing no thorns or flinty roughness, and inhaling only the fragrance of roses and spices. It is not a place of idle sauntering for any citizens of God's empire, just giving grateful shade, and musical with birds and fountains. It is a rough battlefield on which Good and Evil are met to strive for the mastery. It would not be strange, then, at all if in a world so purposed and elected the conflict should ever be keener; the progress be not more and more pacific, but more and more troubled and stormy; the struggle should ever gather to itself on either side more masterful forces, and the final battle be more resolute and deadly, as it is to be more determinate than any that have gone before.

2. But let us descend for a little from the broad view to details of the engagement, and see how the strife goes in the individual heart — what the law of progress, and what the character of the most decisive victories. Leave out the more spiritual aspects of the conflict for a moment, and come in upon one who is wrestling with some evil habit. Here is a man trying to break away from the bands of intemperance. His first efforts are feeble and ineffectual. He doesn't understand the power of his adversary. All his measures are mild, all his efforts are languid. He tries gentleness and moderation long enough to see that they only play into the hands of the enemy. It begins to dawn upon him that nothing but a terrible final duel can lay his enemy prostrate. Now the grim appetite rises in its strength. The soul, too, seeks to put on power. It thinks of whatever may stimulate its prowess — property wasted, health blasted, name dishonoured, family comfort and peace desolated, life imperilled — and meets the dread hour. It has need of all the heroism it can summon up. It navel: knew till now what the contest must be, and more than once now, doing its best, it may be worsted. It must yet put forth a more desperate strength. The battle that wins for it deliverance, that breaks the tyrant's sceptre, will be the fiercest battle of all the war. So it is with all the vices — with every evil habit. Is it not thus with the more spiritual struggles for the new spiritual life? The soul begins perhaps by entertaining graver thoughts. That is well, but that doesn't end it. It isn't even the beginning of the end. It reasons with its wild and lawless propensities. The headstrong rioters laugh at such proclamations. They are paper-bullets. It seeks realise an outward reformation. This is no more than cutting off the outposts of evil — shooting down a picket or two. It tries exercises, Bible-reading, praying, good-willing; but only to discern more clearly how immovable the heart. The heart is yet securely intrenched. The citadel has not been carried. The soul becomes more in earnest, and the forces waken and multiply on either side — the truth pleads, and conscience and fear and the Holy Ghost and the world pleads — and the flesh and the adversary. This will be another struggle from any that have gone before. It will be a striving unto blood. It will be a grapple for life or death. The soul, if it wins, comes out of it after all pale and spent, with scarce strength to raise the shout of victory. Is not this private and individual strife an epitome of the larger — the public — the universal and comprehensive struggle? Are not the final conflicts ever the most desperate? Is not the fact of hopeful progress declared, not by increasing pacification, but by the growing sternness and fierceness of the contest?

3. When these three combine against God and his people — Sadduceeism, with audacious head; absolutism, with a chained fellow-man beneath its heel; and false religion, binding and loosing human consciences with a lie — then will that last great battle be joined whose fortunes and whose fluctuations will issue in giving the kingdom to the saints of the most High God. There will yet be such a combination. There is yet to rock the perturbed earth the tumult of that battle-day. Evil is not to be quietly dispossessed of its seat in this fair province of God. It holds by immemorial possession. It shall please God to show the full prowess of truth. The mightiest rally of evil in its united strength will be permitted. Gog and Magog will be gathered to the war. The false prophet, the beast, and the old dragon will consolidate their divisions in one dread array. Christianity will advance her banner and sound her charge. Considering what she is called to encounter, considering the long historic past, considering all the prophetic intimations, it will not be strange if she is called to contend against carnal weaponry. That "Armageddon" of the Lord, on which evil, with all its myrmidons, is finally to fall down slain, will be, we believe, not figuratively, but in some part of it, and in the high places of the field, literally an "aceldama." There will be "the thunder of the captains," "with confused noise and garments rolled in blood."

(A. L. Stone.)

Behold, I come as a thief
How comes a thief? He comes secretly and unexpectedly; secretly, lest he be discerned, and then with all advantages of surprisal, that he may not be taken himself while he is taking others. So Christ is said to come to judgment. He comes suddenly and unexpectedly. When people will take no warning He watches the time of their destruction, so that here you have "the goodness and the severity of God" (Romans 11:22): first, His goodness is showed in that He will give warning in all dangers; but here is His severity also: when warning will not be taken, then He comes with judgment. Christ here says "He will come as a thief in the night," and this His coming is by reason of our unfaithfulness. And His coming is sudden, unless to some of His children that He prepares by warning. When He came into the world at His first coming there were but a few "waited for the consolation of Israel" (Luke 2:25): the rest did not. When He comes to any man or nation in His judgments doth He find faith? No; He finds them blessing themselves that to-morrow shall be as to-day. All that have spiritual life, labour to be waking Christians and then watching Christians. What is the difference between men but that carnal men are sleepers and spiritual men are waking? And what is the difference of Christians that are good and that are not? The one is a watchful Christian and the other not so. Wherein is one better than another? As the one is more careful to avoid sin than another. To come, therefore, to some directions how to carry ourselves, and among others remember this: we should have this waking and watchful consideration that we have a soul immortal, and that we are for eternity; and whatever we do in the flesh that shall be ever with us; and how that shortly we are going to the tribunal seat. In all these respects we should labour to be watchful at all times, because that time in which we take liberty to ourselves may be the time of our surprisal. We should therefore watch at all times, in prosperity and adversity. We should watch against all the sins of our persons and the sins of the state we are in. Besides, if we use this course, we shall bring our souls to that awe as that they shall not dare to offend God, by reason they must come to be examined. And how will our souls be willing to be judged before Christ, when we are unwilling to set ourselves before ourselves? If we use this it will bring a holy awe upon our souls, because they know they must come to examination for every sin. But mark what follows: "Blessed is he that watches and keeps his garments close lest he walk naked."

1. First, know we have no garments of our own. Now it is thus in spiritual things. We have no garments of our own since the fall; but before we had. We have none now but original corruption that spreads over the soul. Besides that, men living unto years have another nature worse than the leprosy, custom. Here is all the clothing we have of ourselves; but for any spiritual good we must fetch it from Christ (Revelation 3:18).

2. Now the second thing is this, we having none of ourselves, therefore we must have garments; and when we have them we must keep them clean and close: "Blessed is he that keeps his garments close." For the first must be garments for defence; so in spiritual things there must be garments to defend us from the wrath of God, else we lie as naked to God's wrath as a man in a storm being naked lies open to the storm. We must have garments of amity and friendship now. Again, we must have garments for distinction. Now, garments do distinguish Christians at the day of judgment. Garments that are coverings must be all over of equal extent. They cover the whole man. So head, hands, and heart, all must be sanctified as well as justified. So that those that look upon a Christian should see nothing in him but somewhat of Christ, His words, His callings, His thoughts. And we must be clothed not only with garments, but armour, because we live in the midst of our enemies, by which we may perceive the necessity of the putting on of the one as well as the other. Now, as we must have garments and must keep them close, so also we must keep them from stains. The persons where these graces are may be defiled, but the graces are pure. We should, therefore, labour to keep our actions unspotted. The righteousness of Christ is an excellent garment, but it must be put on; and if we have Christ we have all. There is another thing intended in this Scripture. These are dangerous times, and there are spiritual cheaters abroad in the world. Therefore we should keep our profession close, and keep our truth and our judgments close, and get love into our affections; for we shall be set upon, and if we walk at large, then heretics and seducers will come between us and salvation, because our garments are not close. If a man will have any good by religion, he must cleave to religion. "Lest they walk naked, and men see their shame." All shame arises from this, that we do not keep our garments close. So long as truth and Christ by truth have a place in the soul, so long we are safe. Now to give some directions how to keep our garments close.(1) Labour for convincing knowledge, because all grace comes into the soul by the light thereof. Grow, therefore, in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; and often propound queries to our judgments about the Word and sacraments. Am I able to maintain this truth I have been brought up in? And do I find them true to my soul, &c.(2) Those that will have good gardens will have flowers of every kind, so a Christian must have graces of every kind. We must put on whole Christ for justification and sanctification, and we must add grace to grace; and when we have put on every grace we must keep them clean, and not defile our profession.

(R. Sibbes.)

These are words specially for the last days. With eighteen hundred years behind us now, we may take them home most solemnly to ourselves.

1. They warn.

2. They quicken.

3. They rouse.

4. They comfort.

I. THE COMING. It is the long-promised advent. Christ comes! He comes —

1. As Avenger.

2. As Judge.

3. As King.

4. As Bridegroom.Like lightning; like a thief; like a snare. Like lightning to the world, but the Sun of morning to His Church; like a thief to the world, but like a Bridegroom to the Church; like a snare to the world, but like the cloud of glory to His own.

II. THE WATCHING. Not believing, nor hoping, nor waiting merely; but watching — as men do against some event, whether terrible or joyful, of which they know not the time. Watch, for ye know neither the day nor the hour of His arrival. Watch, for that day is great and glorious. Watch, for ye are naturally disposed to sit down and take your ease. Watch, for Satan tries to lull you asleep. Watch, for the world, with its riches and vanities and pleasures, is trying to throw you off your guard.

III. THE KEEPING OF THE GARMENTS. Be like Nehemiah, who, when watching against the Ammonites, did not put off his clothes night nor day. Keep your garments all about you, that when the Lord comes He may find you not naked, but robed and ready.

IV. THE BLESSEDNESS. Blessed is the watcher; blessed is the keeper of his garments. Many are the blessed ones; here is one class specially for the last days.

1. It is blessed, for it cherishes our love.

2. It is blessed, for it is one of the ways of maintaining our intercourse.

3. It is blessed, for it is the posture through which He has appointed blessing to come, in His absence, to His waiting Church.

V. THE WARNING. Lest ye walk naked, and men see your shame. "Shame" has three meanings

1. The shameful thing or object.

2. The feeling of shame produced by the consciousness of the shameful thing.

3. The exposure to shame and scorn from others. The first of these is specially referred to here. But all the three are connected.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

I. "BEHOLD!" Here is a business infinitely more momentous than any other that can engage you.

II. "I COME." Jesus the Son of Mary — Christ the Son of God. He whose hands were filled with mercies, and whose heart overflowed with love. He comes to see how we have requited His love — what benefit we have derived from His glorious incarnation and His great redemption — what use we have made of His Word, of His Sacraments, of His Church, of His ministers, of His Sabbaths, of His grace. I come, not I will come, but I come — the present tense, I am coming, I am on My way. "Behold, I come as a thief": when all is repose, quietness, confidence, security. Such will, very generally, be the state of that generation of men who are living when the Lord descends at the last day. "Behold, I come as a thief." Most who die, die suddenly. A year before, a month before, they never thought of dying. Many never give a serious thought to death a week before they die, and some not even a day.

1. Watch, while others sleep.

2. Pray, while others trifle.

3. Labour, while others are idle.

(T. Nunns, M. A.)

Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments
It was customary in the temple at Jerusalem for certain of the Levites to keep watch or guard during stated hours of the night. An officer was appointed over them, whose business it was to go round, and see that these watchers were attentive to their duties. He carried a lighted torch in his hand, and, if he found any of the men asleep at their posts, the law permitted him, if it did not require of him, to set fire to their garments. The offender, thus marked, was brought up before the magistrate on the following day, with his garments either wholly consumed or partially scorched, and then received the punishment due to his negligence. Now, see the force of the text: "Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments." Blessed is the man who so takes heed to his Christian profession in this dark world, where it is necessary he should act as a watchman, because his enemy Satan goeth about to catch him asleep at his post. Blessed is the man who so minds his duties and his Master's interests that no mark of disgrace is put upon him, and that a charge of negligence cannot fairly be brought against him. Blessed is the man who gives such "diligence to make his calling and election sure," that the garments in which he will have to appear, in the light of perfect day, when every man's work will be tried of what sort it is, may not prove his confusion.

I. First LET US TAKE THE WORD "GARMENTS" AS USED LITERALLY, AND AS DENOTING ONLY THE CLOTHING OR COVERING WHICH WE WEAR UPON OUR BODIES. The Bible teaches us something about our garments in this plain and literal sense. Many seem to think that religion has nothing to do with the manner in which a love of dress and outward adornment is indulged; that every one is at liberty to choose and act for themselves in this matter. A Christian, however, does not think so. He has learnt that there is a sobriety and suitableness of attire which become godliness; and he makes it his aim to adorn, not himself, but the gospel he professes, even in this particular.


1. The perishable nature of all earthly things.

2. The sinfulness of our nature, and the worthlessness of our best deeds.

3. Again, the figure contained in the text is used also in the Bible in a more cheering and gracious signification. "Garments of light," are spoken of; "garments of praise"; "white garments"; "holy garments"; "shining garment." These beautifully significant figures were not all of them applied, in the first instance, to sinful creatures like ourselves; yet they truly betoken the state of God's redeemed people at one period or other of their earthly pilgrimage. Collectively, they portray the believer's sanctification.

4. But I must proceed to remark, lastly, that there is a sense given, in the Bible, to the figure in our text, which is especially glorious and worthy of remembrance. "Garments of salvation" are spoken of, beautiful garments, which are something more than mere garments of sanctification, though that is an immense blessing; garments in which the believer may appear before God "with exceeding joy."

(F. W. Naylor, M. A.).

Watch against old sins. Sitting on a flowery bank, a viper crawled forth and bit us. Great were the pain and the peril before the wound was healed. Shall we carelessly choose that very bank on which again to rest? Would it be wise to let the pale primrose and the fragrant violet tempt us where deadly reptiles may still make their nest? Let us watch against the delusion that there is no longer need to watch. After a severe struggle the victory was won over our reigning lusts, and we fancy that the peril is past. But let us watch. The rebellion has been put down; but though its armies have been scattered and its prince dethroned, many traitors lurk in secret places watching for opportunities to renew the struggle. The embankment is weak where it once gave way; and though the breach has been repaired it must be diligently watched. The flames have been put out, but the ashes are still smouldering; and, if the wind rises, the fire may burst forth anew.

(Newman Hall.)

And he gathered
The hosts that have mustered behind the Euphrates were once God's handiwork and God's creatures. They have broken loose from that relationship. They have chosen them another leader — himself already emancipated from the yoke of the original blessedness. There is one power, one only, which God does not-shall we say it with reverence? perhaps cannot — exercise: the compulsion of the will — that coercion of the moral being, which some talk of as though it certainly would be applied if God were at once Almighty and all-loving, but which a deeper reflexion feels to be inconsistent alike with the definition of man and with the definition of salvation. Man without free will is man no more — and a salvation imposed by main force would be no salvation. There is a point in the affairs of nations — there is a point even in spiritual history — beyond which war is the one solution. Enmity — even between man and his Maker — may become hostility. As the end draws on, prophets and evangelists concur in anticipating a culmination, if not an incarnation, of evil, only to be dealt with by an intervention of God Himself to decide the long controversy, and to regenerate earth, as a prophet has written, "by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning." The prophetic figure for this catastrophe is that of a war and a battle. God would have the matter fought out. But how strikingly is the distinction here drawn between God's part, and that which is not God's part, in the impending conflict! An angel dries the Euphrates, but no angel stimulates to the crossing. That is the office of the unclean spirits; and they issue from the mouth of the three enemies — the dragon, the wild beast, and the false prophet. "He gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." The "gathering" is ascribed, in the 14th verse, to the three spirits. The word is the same here — and the Greek idiom will bear the rendering "they gathered." But the instinct of our English translators has well guided them to the transition: the parenthesis of ver. 15 has broken the thread. The unclean spirits go forth to gather — "Behold, I come as a thief — Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments" — "And he gathered them together into the place which is called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." The spirits of evil do not choose the battle-field: they whisper, and buzz, and irritate — they suggest, and prompt, and incite; but there is a hand and a will above theirs, which leaves not to them the strategy or the combination. "He gathered together," and He chose the ground. Thus is it in the Old Testament prophecies of the same last encounter. "Thou shalt come up against My people, as a cloud to cover the land: it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee." Thou shalt come — and I will bring. this is from Ezekiel. "I will gather all nations... thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord." This is from Joel. "The day of the Lord cometh For I will gather all nations to battle... Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations." This is from Zechariah. The spirits go forth, but it is God who "gathers." He dries the Euphrates, and He fixes the Armageddon. We scarcely recognise, in that name of mystery, the familiar Megiddo — "Armageddon," "hill of Megiddo" — on the southern skirt of that great plain of Esdraelon which was the scene of so many conflicts, for defeat or victory, in the earlier and later history of Israel. But does any one imagine that we are to seek, on the map of Palestine or of the world, a site or a place for the last great battle? It is well to look into the imagery: it is helpful toward the understanding of the thing signified; it is in the comparison of Scripture type and Scripture parable that we learn what God has written about this consummation of all things. Even in that last suggestion, of the attractiveness to a later enemy of a battle-field fatal to Josiah, we have something to learn as to the fascinations of that lying spirit which alone can make any man a fighter against God. But we are reading of spiritual things: the field of that war is not local — any more than its armour, whether of defence or attack, is carnal. Nay, the place itself is varied in various predictions. St. Jehu points us to the valley of Esdraelon and the hill of Megiddo; Joel makes the place of "decision" the valley of Jehoshaphat; and Zechariah gathers all nations against Jerusalem, speaks of a siege and capture of Jerusalem, and sets the feet of the Divine Deliverer upon the Mount of Olives before Jerusalem eastward. Such varieties should guard us against all temptations to limit or localise where the matter itself spoken of is not carnal but spiritual. As surely as the vulture scents its prey wheresoever there is death, so surely shall the destroying Angel find out sin, so surely shall delivering Angels find out God's elect, so surely shall there be for every man a day of judgment, for every man a way of salvation: not here, nor there, particularly, shall the war of the end be waged or the battle of decision fought out: Armageddon is a type, not a locality, and the prophecy, like all prophecy, is not letter but spirit.(1) We have before us, then, the two camps, distinct and separate, of the faithful and the foe. It is characteristic of the scene and of the time. A battle is impending, and there can be no battle without a choice of sides. Silently and half unconsciously the two camps are forming: every sinful thing done, every unkind word spoken, every heart-murmuring, every spirit-blasphemy, against the commandment or against the revelation or against the providence of God, is drifting the doer or the speaker or the thinker towards the camp of the foe: every act of good, every earnest effort, every struggle with a sin, every soul's prayer and soul's "feeling after" the invisible, every thought of love to Him who died for us, every longing yearning desire after a heaven of holiness and of service, is tending towards that "camp of the saints" of which a later chapter tells — safe whatever befalls, because God Himself is there.(2) "Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth." The absent Lord speaks — and says, I come. On the eve of the battle — while yet there may be a failing heart needing to be encouraged, or a rebel heart opening itselt to conviction — the voice sounds between the two camps — I come. Creep back, rebel heart, to thy allegiance — be strong, coward heart, be strong — behold, I come — come as a thief — mad blessed is he that watcheth! And what is "watching"? Is it a restless, hurrying, rushing activity, which counts every moment a sin that is not either excited devotion or bustling charity? Is it the refusal of every comfort and every enjoyment, lest a God who is looking out for our fall should take advantage of us and come because we are resting? Is it the eager calculating of times and seasons, the living much with what Isaiah calls "stargazers and prognosticatore," men who can give a name out of this book to each dynasty and each potentate of modern history, and tell precisely at what point we stand on the bank of the stream of time in reference to the advent or the millennium? Is this the life to which Jesus Christ calls us, when He sends that voice, between the two camps, from the excellent glory, "Blessed is he that watcheth"? None of these things. To "watch," in Christ's sense, is to have the heart interested in truth, and the spirit alive to duty — to be able to say, in hours of resting, "I sleep, but my soul waketh" — to listen for the voice of God, even in the night hours, and to be always alert to answer, "Speak, for Thy servant heareth." To "watch," is to keep the heart with all diligence, lest it pollute, at the source, the very stream of the life — to guard against the first rising of sinful thought, ere it form itself into desire or have time to set up an idol — to have the door ever open between the soul and its God, that it may breathe the air of heaven, and weigh all things here with the very shekel of the sanctuary.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Dream not of marching battalions and of mustering squadrons when you hear of Armageddon, dream not of a local battlefield. No; this is no common earthly battle; it is a spiritual battle; a war of principles; of righteousness against unrighteousness; of faith against unbelief; of Christ against Antichrist. This war has been waging ever since St. John received the revelation. In the latter days it will culminate in this one grand final conflict — the crisis of the world; the battle of the great day of God Almighty; the great decision between good and evil, sin and God, the world and Christ. The future of the Church used to be described as a shining river flowing full to the promised end, silently widening itself out into a bright tranquil summer sea. How different the predictions of Scripture, of Christ and His apostles. Rather is the future of the Church in their view that of a mighty river sweeping to a great Niagara. The bright tranquil summer sea is beyond, seen afar off, but first there is the terrible precipice; the tranquil sea is only reached through the war of falling, tossed, and troubled waters. I am sure that this is the prediction repeated again and again of Christ and His apostles: "In the last days perilous times shall come; "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." Do not these words most strikingly answer to those of the text? Are not these powers, and signs, and manifestations, and embodiments of "the spirits of devils working miracles, which go forth" to gather together the hosts of the world to the battle of the great day of God Almighty; to gather them together to the battlefield of Armageddon? And by what evil influences will these malignant spirits work their will and delude the world? It would seem from several passages, as well as the text, that it may be allowed to them to perform the appearance of lying miracles, with what will look like supernatural powers. But in the main these evil spirits will appeal, nay, are appealing, to that which is worst in the hearts of men — to an impatience of moral restraint, to a dislike of pure Christian morality, to the longing after independence, to the rising in the human heart against the childlike teachableness and submission of soul which the Christian faith requires of us, to the desire to have no superior, to be a law unto ourselves, a god to ourselves. And all this is carrying on at this very day, and every day more and more actively; so actively, so successfully, that we might almost despair of the good cause if we did not remember that two hosts are being gathered to the battle — the host of Christ as well as the host of Antichrist — and that the influence and energies which enlist soldiers for Christ are quite as powerful and more powerful than those which enlist soldiers against Christ. And if the adversaries of Christ were never more numerous, so never were the devoted soldiers of Christ more numerous. And just as in the English army the immediate prospect of war leads men to enlist, so in this spiritual war are Christians keen for the battle, and the growing opposition and the pressing danger only awaken in their hearts an enthusiasm for the cause of Christ which they would not feel in more quiet times. In prospect of the coming battle I will not despair. I address you as soldiers of Christ. I ask of you an enthusiasm for the person of Christ your Lord, a devoted faith and love for Christ. This is what the captain of an earthly host desires of his soldiers: if they have an enthusiasm for him, they will follow him anywhere, they will follow him to the death; and this enthusiasm Christ asks and is able to inspire. And in your dealings with others, who perhaps seem to be in the opposing army. I do not ask you to contend with them, to argue with them, still less to think evil of them (some of them may yet be standing shoulder to shoulder by your side before the battle is over); but I ask you by your life, much more than by your words, to let all see and know that you have a true devotion to Christ, that you love Him with your whole heart. This will draw them to your side — yes, all the truest souls among them; they all long in their hearts, half unknown to themselves, for such a noble love, for such an inspiring devotion. Let them see in you that such a love, such a devotion, is possible, is real, is all-powerful. And in your dealings with others, remember that the love of Christ is the magic influence which alone controls the human heart.

(E. J. Rose, M. A.)

Armageddon, Babylon, Euphrates River, Patmos
Abroad, Almighty, Assemble, Battle, Bring, Control, Demonic, Demons, Devils, Evil, Forth, Gather, Habitable, Inhabited, Kings, Marvels, Miracles, Miraculous, Performing, Ruler, Signs, Spirits, War, Working
1. The angels pour out their bowls of wrath.
6. The plagues that follow.
16. Armageddon.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Revelation 16:14

     1205   God, titles of
     1416   miracles, nature of
     1450   signs, kinds of
     4131   demons, kinds of

Revelation 16:1-21

     4113   angels, agents of judgment

Revelation 16:13-14

     4132   demons, malevolence
     8735   evil, origins of

Sin Charged Upon the Surety
All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way, and the LORD hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. C omparisons, in the Scripture, are frequently to be understood with great limitation: perhaps, out of many circumstances, only one is justly applicable to the case. Thus, when our Lord says, Behold, I come as a thief (Revelation 16:15) , --common sense will fix the resemblance to a single point, that He will come suddenly, and unexpectedly. So when wandering sinners
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

The Sins of Communities Noted and Punished.
"Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." This is predicated of the judgments of God on those who had shed the blood of his saints. The Savior declares that all the righteous blood which had been shed on the earth from that of Abel down to the gospel day, should come on that generation! But is not this unreasonable and contrary to the Scriptures? "Far be wickedness from God and iniquity from the Almighty. For the work of man shall be render unto him, and cause every
Andrew Lee et al—Sermons on Various Important Subjects

Opposition to Messiah Ruinous
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel T here is a species of the sublime in writing, which seems peculiar to the Scripture, and of which, properly, no subjects but those of divine revelation are capable, With us, things inconsiderable in themselves are elevated by splendid images, which give them an apparent importance beyond what they can justly claim. Thus the poet, when describing a battle among bees, by a judicious selection of epithets
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

Healing a Demoniac in a Synagogue.
(at Capernaum.) ^B Mark I. 21-28; ^C Luke . IV. 31-37. ^b 21 And they [Jesus and the four fishermen whom he called] go into { ^c he came down to} Capernaum, a city of Galilee. [Luke has just spoken of Nazareth, and he uses the expression "down to Capernaum" because the latter was on the lake shore while Nazareth was up in the mountains.] And ^b straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught. { ^c was teaching them} ^b 22 And they were astonished at his teaching: for he taught
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Instruction for the Ignorant:
BEING A SALVE TO CURE THAT GREAT WANT OF KNOWLEDGE, WHICH SO MUCH REIGNS BOTH IN YOUNG AND OLD. PREPARED AND PRESENTED TO THEM IN A PLAIN AND EASY DIALOGUE, FITTED TO THE CAPACITY OF THE WEAKEST. 'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.'--Hosea 4:6 ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. This little catechism is upon a plan perfectly new and unique. It was first published as a pocket volume in 1675, and has been republished in every collection of the author's works; and recently in a separate tract.
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

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