APPLYING THE PRINCIPLE
IN CONNECTION WITH THE STUDY OF "ARMAGEDDON"
Applying the principle of the
harmony of interpretation and Christian experience in connection with
the Revelator's description of Armageddon (Rev. 16:12-16), we learn
that, as a description of a military battle between nations in
Palestine, it has no message for the Christian in his conflict with the
powers of evil. When interpreted as the finale of the great controversy
between Christ and Satan, it immediately becomes of great interest and
usefulness to the Christian who is now engaged in warfare with the
forces of evil. The very first promise given was one in which the Lord
promised man that He would be with him in the conflict with the forces
of evil. (See Gen. 3:15.) In God's Word, throughout the centuries we can
trace the development of that "war" or
"controversy." We are admonished to "endure hardness, as
a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Tim. 2:3), and to "war
a good warfare" (1 Tim. 1:18). By the word
"war" or "battle" the Revelator describes the great
controversy between Christ and Satan from the time they warred in heaven
until the consummation of all things at the end of the millennium. (See
Rev. 12:7, 17; 13:7; 16:14, 16; 17:14; 19:19; 20:8.) The purpose for
which the Bible was written was to make the child of God wise regarding
the spiritual "war," and to give him strength to "fight
the good fight of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12). When the Lord's
prophets describe the spiritual conflict which wages between those
serving in the Lord's army and those on the side of the Lord's enemy,
they liken the Christian to a soldier, with his armor on, fighting with
a spiritual sword - the Word of God. (See Ephes. 6:11-17.) This
conflict is as real as any war between nations, is more continuous and
more extensive than any material struggle between nations, and requires
from the Christian as much patience, perseverance, and ceaseless
struggle as in any international conflict. The knowledge of this Bible
teaching has prompted hymn writers to write such hymns as: "Onward.
Christian soldiers, marching as to war." Under such names as
"Armageddon," and "The Final Conflict," hymnologists
have given the Christian church hymns which express the inspired
interpretation of the "war" imagery of the Apocalypse. These
godly hymn writers have expressed the interpretation held by the most
spiritual and devoted men and women of God. The Christian church has
lost its power for the battle against evil in proportion to its loss of
the spiritual vision accorded by the true interpretation of these
"war" pictures of the Revelation. Satan's design is to weaken
the church by spreading abroad false interpretations, which cause people
to fail to see their own personal and vital connection with the battle
between the forces of good and evil: that they are either on the Lord's
side in His army, or on the side of the Lord's enemy. By teaching that
these prophecies deal with some material war among nations away off in
Palestine, people are blinded to the solemn truth that these
"war" pictures of the Revelation were given by our Lord to
show that by our acceptance or rejection of Him and His truth, we either
stand with Him or against Him.
concerned merely a future Palestinian military war, it could have no
present or future spiritual value to the Christian, for it would belong entirely
to the future; but as the conclusion of the spiritual conflict; it has a
definite message for those now engaged in that warfare. If
"the kings from the sunrising" refer to military powers who
come into the prophetic limelight only at the time of the sixth plague,
the prophecy could have no message for anyone until the time of the
sixth plague, and even at that time such information would help
no one! But when "the Kings from the sunrising" are
interpreted as the heavenly armies led by our Lord Jesus Christ coming
to deliver His people and to destroy their Babylonian enemies, the
prophecy is immediately lifted to the plane of being a present blessing
to believers in the Lord. A prophecy of future military events
would be limited to the time referred to, and would mean just that, and
no more, being totally independent of Christian experience; but, as the
writer has shown in a larger publication, prophecies concerning future
events in the great conflict between the forces of good and evil have a
present blessing for those engaged in that conflict. The Leader of the
forces of good, and the leader of the forces of evil, and the principles
involved are the same down through all stages of the spiritual conflict,
and, as shown in my previous publication referred to, a prophetic
description of its final stages, in principle, is applicable to other
parts of the conflict. After the 1,000 years mentioned in Rev. 20, the
wicked seek to overthrow the saints; but they have sought to do that
down through all the centuries of the conflict. The Lord reigning within
the New Jerusalem thwarts the purpose of the wicked and destroys the
enemies of His people; but the Lord has always reigned within the midst
of His people and always caused them to triumph - even in the face of
Christian experience is in
harmony with the interpretation that "the Kings from the
sun-rising" refers to the coming of the heavenly armies led by our
Lord. Having fully explained all the angles of this prophecy in other
publications, we must refer the reader to them for detailed
consideration. Here, where we are necessarily restricted by space, we
confine our remarks to that which particularly concerns Christian
experience and Christ as "the sun-rising."
Throughout the Scriptures
Christ is said to be the "Day-spring," or "Sun-rising."
(See Luke 1:78, margin; Mal. 4:2, etc.) He is declared to be "the
Light of the world." (See John 9:5; 1:5,9; 3:19; 8:12; 12:35,46;
Ephes. 5:14; 2 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 2:28; 22:16, etc.) These oft-repeated,
explicit statements should guide Christ-loving Bible students when
interpreting Rev. 16:12. In the Revelation (5:5) Jesus, the Son of
David, is declared to be "the Lion of the tribe of Judah." As
the tribe and standard of Judah were "on the east side toward the rising
of the sun" (Num. 2:1-3), we know that the Revelator's
reference to "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" keeps before us
the connection of the east with Jesus, as "the Lion of the tribe of
Judah" Who leads His people across the sands of the desert to the
promised land. In the Scriptures the lion is employed as the symbol of
strength to destroy one's enemies, and when Jesus comes the second time
He is pictured as Israel's "strong Redeemer" (Jer. 50:34)
coming from the east-"from the rising of the sun"-like Cyrus
(whose name meant "the sun") to liberate Israel from the
bondage of Babylon. (Jer. 50:33; Isa. 41:2, 25; 45:1, 13; 46:11.)
The same Greek word for
"east" ("anatole") is employed in Rev. 7:2 (where a
message from Christ is pictured as coming from the "east"),
and Rev. 16:12. The same word, "anatole," is also employed in
Luke 1:78, where Jesus is definitely termed "the Dayspring,"
or "Sunrising." Zacharias declared, "The Dayspring"
(margin, "Sunrising") from on high hath visited us, to
give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow
of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
Jesus is the Source of
spiritual light, comfort and growth of the soul as the sun is the source
of literal light, warmth and growth of all things on this world. Without
the light of the sun ~l earthly life would perish; without the light of
Jesus all spiritual life would perish. This truth is well expressed in
the words of the hymn written by John Wesley, "Christ, Whose
Glory," and in such hymns as "Sun of My Soul,"
"Jesus, the Light of the World," etc.
Christ is said to be "the
light of men," "that light," "the true light"
(John 1:4, 7, 8). John declares that "God is light" (1 John
1:5). James states that God is "the Father of lights" (James
1:17). The Psalmist says: "The Lord God is a sun" (Ps. 84:11).
Isaiah assures us that "the Lord shall be thine everlasting light,
and thy God thy glory" (Isa. 60:20, 21). "The Lord is my
light" (Ps. 27:1). "The light dwelleth with Him" (Dan.
2:22). Jesus came to be "a light to lighten the Gentiles"
(Luke 2:32). "Christ shall give thee light" (Ephes. 5:14).
"Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord" (Isa. 2:5).
"And in Thy light we shall see light" (Ps. 36:9) "The
saints in light" (Col. 1:12). "The light of the gospel"
(2 Cor. 4:4). "His marvellous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). The gospel
church is likened to "a woman clothed with the sun" (Rev.
12:1). "The law is light" (Prov. 6:23). "Thy word is a
lamp, and a light unto my path" (Ps. 119:105). "The entrance
of Thy words giveth light" (Ps. 119:130). "The path of the
just is as the shining light" (Prov. 4:18). These are a few of
scores of such expressions to be found throughout the Word of God.
Christ's kingdom is depicted in the Scriptures as the kingdom of light
(Luke 16:8, etc.), and Satan's kingdom as the kingdom of darkness
(Ephes. 6:12; Col. 1:13, etc.).
It should be emphasized that
the light from Jesus, "the Light of the world," "the Sun
of righteousness," comes to believers as the sun rising in the
eastern skies, scattering the darkness and giving light to those who
previously were in darkness. "His going forth is prepared as
the morning" (Hos. 6:3). "Then shall thy light break forth
as the morning" (Isa. 58:8). "Until the day dawn, and
the day star arise in your hearts" (2 Pet. 1:19). "But
unto you . . shall the Sun of righteousness arise" (Mal.
4:2). "I am . . . the bright and morning star" (Rev.
The blessings of the light of
the gospel are spoken of as coming from the east. "Arise,
shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen
upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross
darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His
glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light,
and kings to the brightness of thy rising" (Isa. 60:1-3).
Upon a world of spiritual darkness the light of the gospel message is
shining. Coming from "the Sun of righteousness"; coming like
the rising of the sun (Rev. 7:1-3), its glory is now being shed with
increasing power throughout the earth. Soon "the earth" will
be "lightened with His glory" (Rev. 18:1). Thus the Scriptures
refer to the spiritual light of the gospel coming "from the
east" or "from the sunrising," and also refer to
the literal glory of Christ coming "from the east" or
"from the sun-rising" (Matt. 24:27; Rev. 16:12, etc.).
harmonizes with the interpretation that applies (Rev. 16:12) in
connection with Christ and His glorious work of redemption. Light is
actually a ray of power and energy. Gospel light is a vibrant power
poured out by "the Sun of righteousness" upon those who seek
for it. Light is energy-giving and strengthens the innermost soul. It
penetrates the soul and the mind, and these react on the physical and
will make it well and happy. Light from "the Sun of
righteousness" descends upon honest hearts and uplifts, exalts,
refines and purifies. Light is the giver of all things worth while. All
evil flies before it like bats before the dawn. All things of menace to
mankind thrive in the dark. All things of Light glory in the Light.
Light glorifies the colors of the earth and uplifts humanity in its
appreciation of the beautiful. Light is being used in its many forms in
hospitals to-day to rejuvenate people and heal the sick. The gospel
light is shining and is healing sin-sick souls. Rev. 16:12 teaches that
the Light-giver is coming back with the hosts of light to destroy the
kingdom of darkness. As the rising of the sun is a daily
experience, so the believer in Jesus knows that the "healing"
rays of "the Sun of righteousness" (Mal. 4:2) rise daily
upon him, dispelling the darkness. Every day his life harmonizes with
the true interpretation of Rev. 16:12. By interpreting Rev. 16:12-16
in relation to a future military war, the moral purpose of this prophecy
is lost sight of and Satan is gratified.
The Revelator's reference to
the drying up of the river Euphrates (Rev. 16:12) when applied
militarily in regard to the future is meaningless to Christians living
to-day; but when applied, as it should be, in connection with the
conflict between the forces of good and evil, it has a spiritual message
for each Christian to-day. Babylon was built upon the Euphrates, the
waters of which were predicted to dry up. (Jer. 50:38; 51:36; Isa.
44:27.) This provides the Revelator with the expression which he uses in
Rev. 16:12. John obtained his imagery regarding spiritual Babylon from
Isaiah's forecasts of the destruction of literal Babylon by Cyrus, who
is a type of Christ. The translators believed that the Revelator used
the drying up of the river Euphrates in the taking of ancient Babylon to
obtain his imagery for the overthrow of spiritual Babylon for, in the
margin of Rev. 16:12, they have placed Jer. 50:38; 51:36, which
prophesied the drying up of the river Euphrates. And that they regarded
the reference to "the kings of the east" as referring back to
the overthrow of ancient Babylon by Cyrus is evident by the fact that
they placed Isa. 41:2, 25, which predicted the coming of one "from
the east," "from the rising of the sun," in the margin of
Rev. 16:12. In Isa. 44:24-28; 45:1, Cyrus is set forth as a type of the
Messiah. Cyrus overthrowing the literal, ancient Babylon after the
drying of the Euphrates, is a type of Christ overthrowing spiritual
Babylon after drying up the flooding, persecuting waters of modern
Babylon by the manifestations of His "fury" (Ezek. 38:18),
which arrest the attempt of murderous Babylonian "multitudes"
(Rev. 17:1, 15) to slay the people of God.
It is clear that the prophecies
of Isaiah relating to the coming of the Almighty Saviour of Israel to
bring in "everlasting salvation" and "the world without
end" are linked up with Cyrus, the Lord's "Anointed"
("Messiah"), who destroyed literal Babylon. (See Isaiah,
The name "Cyrus"
means "the sun," and Cyrus in his work of destroying Babylon
and delivering Israel, typifies Jesus "the Sun of
righteousness" (Mal. 4:2). The references to Cyrus coming
"from the east," "from the rising of the sun,"
are a play upon the meaning of his name. There is also a spiritual play
upon the designation of Jesus as "the Sun of
righteousness" who arises "with healing in His
wings." Jesus is the true "Sunrising": "The Sunrising
from on high" came "to give light to them that are in darkness"
(Luke 1:78, margin; Isa. 9:2; 42:6, 7). Obviously the things Isaiah
wrote concerning Cyrus (Isa. 45:1, 3, 13; 46:11, etc.) typify the
greater redemption to be wrought out by the greater Cyrus, the greater
"Shepherd-King," God's "Anointed" or
"Messiah," the Deliverer of spiritual Israel.
After having introduced Cyrus
in Isa. 41, verses 1-7 of chapter 42, etc., outline the work of God's
"servant" - the coming Messiah - Who would "bring out the
prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of
the prison house" (Isa. 42:7). As Cyrus, the Lord's
"anointed" (Isa. 45:1), set Israel free (Isa. 45:13), 50 the
greater Cyrus, the Lord's "Anointed" (Isa. 61:1), would
"proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the
prison to them that are bound" (Isa. 61:1). Thus the Messiah's
work of redemption is described in connection with the prophecy
concerning the work of Cyrus in liberating Israel from their Babylonian
captivity. But one does not need to wait until the sixth plague for the
Lord to intervene and dry up the waters of the Euphrates and bring
deliverance to those in Babylonian captivity. Today our Lord will bring
deliverance from the bondage of sin; today, He will set His people free
(Luke 4:18-21) and dry up the waters that threaten to engulf them (See
Isa. 43:2;59:19; 8:7;28:1,2; 2 Sam. 22:5; Ps. 69:1,2, 14, 15.)
To further illustrate the
principle that a true interpretation of the prophecies - particularly
those picturing earth's final events - will always be a "revelation
of Jesus Christ" as the Saviour of His people, and the Destroyer of
their enemies, and that it will also have a bearing upon present
Christian experience, we will touch briefly upon the book of Daniel.