The Book of Revelation – Lesson 6
6 - Chapters 10, 11 and 12
( It only gets worse, Hell on Earth - War in Heaven)
Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65]
And I saw another mighty angel - Another from that "mighty angel," mentioned, Rev 5:2; yet he was a created angel; for he did not swear by himself, Rev 5:6. Clothed with a cloud - In token of his high dignity. And a rainbow upon his head - A lovely token of the divine favour. And yet it is not too glorious for a creature: the woman, Rev 12:1, is described more glorious still. And his face as the sun - Nor is this too much for a creature: for all the righteous "shall shine forth as the sun," Mat 13:43. And his feet as pillars of fire - Bright as flame.
And he had in his hand - His left hand: he swore with his right. He stood with his right foot on the sea, toward the west; his left, on the land, toward the east: so that he looked southward. And so St. John (as Patmos lies near Asia) could conveniently take the book out of his left hand. This sealed book was first in the right hand of him that sat on the throne: thence the Lamb took it, and opened the seals. And now this little book, containing the remainder of the other, is given opened, as it was, to St. John. From this place the Revelation speaks more clearly and less figuratively than before. And he set his right foot upon the sea - Out of which the first beast was to come. And his left foot upon the earth - Out of which was to come the second. The sea may betoken Europe; the earth, Asia; the chief theatres of these great things.
And he cried - Uttering the words set down, Rev 10:6. And while he cried, or was crying - At the same instant. Seven thunders uttered their voices - In distinct words, each after the other. Those who spoke these words were glorious, heavenly powers, whose voice was as the loudest thunder.
And I heard a voice from heaven - Doubtless from him who had at first commanded him to write, and who presently commands him to take the book; namely, Jesus Christ. Seal up those things which the seven thunders have uttered, and write them not - These are the only things of all which he heard that he is commanded to keep secret: so something peculiarly secret was revealed to the beloved John, besides all the secrets that are written in this book. At the same time we are prevented from inquiring what it was which these thunders uttered: suffice that we may know all the contents of the opened book, and of the oath of the angel.
And the angel - This manifestation of things to come under the trumpet of the seventh angel hath a twofold introduction: first, the angel speaks for God, Rev 10:7; then Christ speaks for himself, Rev 11:3. The angel appeals to the prophets of former times; Christ, to his own two witnesses. Whom I saw standing upon the earth and upon the sea, lifted up his right hand toward heaven - As yet the dragon was in heaven. When he is cast thence he brings the third and most dreadful woe on the earth and sea: so that it seems as if there would be no end of calamities. Therefore the angel comprises, in his posture and in his oath, both heaven, sea, and earth, and makes on the part of the eternal God and almighty Creator, a solemn protestation, that he will assert his kingly authority against all his enemies. He lifted up his right hand toward heaven - The angel in Daniel, Dan 12:7, (not improbably the same angel,) lifted up both his hands.
And sware - The six preceding trumpets pass without any such solemnity. It is the trumpet of the seventh angel alone which is confirmed by so high an oath. By him that liveth for ever and ever - Before whom a thousand years are but a day. Who created the heaven, the earth, the sea, and the things that are therein - And, consequently, has the sovereign power over all: therefore, all his enemies, though they rage a while in heaven, on the sea, and on the earth, yet must give place to him. That there shall be no more a time - "But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, the mystery of God shall be fulfilled:" that is, a time, a chronos, shall not expire before that mystery is fulfilled. A chronos (1111 years) will nearly pass before then, but not quite. The period, then, which we may term a non - chronos (not a whole time) must be a little, and not much, shorter than this. The non - chronos here mentioned seems to begin in the year 800, (when Charles the Great instituted in the west a new line of emperors, or of "many kings,") to end in the year 1836; and to contain, among other things, the "short time" of the third woe, the "three times and a half" of the woman in the wilderness, and the "duration" of the beast.
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel - Who sounded not only at the beginning of those days, but from the beginning to the end. The mystery of God shall be fulfilled - It is said, Rev 17:17, "The word of God shall be fulfilled." The word of God is fulfilled by the destruction of the beast; the mystery, by the removal of the dragon. But these great events are so near together, that they are here mentioned as one. The beginning of them is in heaven, as soon as the seventh trumpet sounds; the end is on the earth and the sea. So long as the third woe remains on the earth and the sea, the mystery of God is not fulfilled. And the angel's swearing is peculiarly for the comfort of holy men, who are afflicted under that woe. Indeed the wrath of God must be first fulfilled, by the pouring out of the phials: and then comes the joyful fulfilling of the mystery of God. As he hath declared to his servants the prophets - The accomplishment exactly answering the prediction. The ancient prophecies relate partly to that grand period, from the birth of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem; partly to the time of the seventh angel, wherein they will be fully accomplished. To the seventh trumpet belongs all that occurs from Rev. 11:15-22:5. And the third woe, which takes place under the same, properly stands, Rev 12:12, 13:1-18.
And - what follows from this verse to Rev. 11:13 runs parallel with the oath of the angel, and with "the fulfilling of the mystery of God," as it follows under the trumpet of the seventh angel; what is said, Rev 11:11, concerning St. John's "prophesying again," is unfolded immediately after; what is said, Rev 11:7, concerning "the fulfilling the mystery of God," is unfolded, Rev 11:15-19, and in the following chapters.
Eat it up - The like was commanded to Ezekiel. This was an emblem of thoroughly considering and digesting it. And it will make thy belly bitter, but it will be sweet as honey in thy mouth - The sweetness betokens the many good things which follow, Rev 11:1, Rev 11:15, &c.; the bitterness, the evils which succeed under the third woe.
Thou must prophesy again - Of the mystery of God; of which the ancient prophets had prophesied before. And he did prophesy, by "measuring the temple," Rev 11:1; as a prophecy may be delivered either by words or actions. Concerning people, and nations, and tongues, and many kings - The people, nations, and tongues are contemporary; but the kings, being many, succeed one another. These kings are not mentioned for their own sake, but with a view to the "holy city," Rev 11:2. Here is a reference to the great kingdoms in Spain, England, Italy, &c., which arose from the eighth century; or at least underwent a considerable change, as France and Germany in particular; to the Christian, afterward Turkish, empire in the east; and especially to the various potentates, who have successively reigned at or over Jerusalem, and do now, at least titularly, reign over it.
But the court which is without the temple - The old temple had a court in the open air, for the heathens who worshipped the God of Israel. Cast out - Of thy account. And measure it not - As not being holy In so high a degree. And they shall tread - Inhabit. The holy city - Jerusalem, Mat 4:5. So they began to do, before St. John wrote. And it has been trodden almost ever since by the Romans, Persians, Saracens, and Turks. But that severe kind of treading which is here peculiarly spoken of, will not be till under the trumpet of the seventh angel, and toward the end of the troublous times. This will continue but forty - two common months, or twelve hundred and sixty common days; being but a small part of the non - chronos.
And I - Christ. Will give to my two witnesses - These seem to be two prophets; two select, eminent instruments. Some have supposed (though without foundation) that they are Moses and Elijah, whom they resemble in several respects. To prophesy twelve hundred and sixty days - Common days, that is, an hundred and eighty weeks. So long will they prophesy, (even while that last and sharp treading of the holy city continues,) both by word and deed, witnessing that Jesus is the Son of God, the heir of all things, and exhorting all men to repent, and fear, and glorify God. Clothed in sackcloth - The habit of the deepest mourners, out of sorrow and concern for the people.
These are the two olive trees - That is, as Zerubbabel and Joshua, the two olive trees spoken of by Zechariah, Zac 3:9, Zac 4:10, were then the two chosen instruments in God's hand, even so shall these. be in their season. Being themselves full of the unction of the Holy One, they shall continually transmit the same to others also. And the two candlesticks - Burning and shining lights. Standing before the Lord of the earth - Always waiting on God, without the help of man, and asserting his right over the earth and all things therein.
If any would kill them - As the Israelites would have done Moses and Aaron, Num 16:41. He must be killed thus - By that devouring fire.
These have power - And they use that power. See Rev 11:10. To shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophesying - During those "twelve hundred and sixty days." And have power over the waters - In and near Jerusalem. To turn them into blood - As Moses did those in Egypt. And to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will - This is not said of Moses or Elijah, or any mere man besides. And how is it possible to understand this otherwise than of two individual persons?
And when they shall have finished their testimony - Till then they are invincible. The wild beast - Hereafter to be described. That ascendeth - First out of the sea, Rev 13:1, and then out of the bottomless pit, Rev 17:8. Shall make war with them - It is at his last ascent, not out of the sea, but the bottomless pit, that the beast makes war upon the two witnesses. And even hereby is fixed the time of "treading the holy city," and of the "two witnesses." That time ends after the ascent of the beast out of the abyss, and yet before the fulfilling of the mystery. And shall conquer them - The fire no longer proceeding out of their mouth when they have finished their work. And kill them - These will be among the last martyrs, though not the last of all.
And their bodies shall be - Perhaps hanging on a cross. In the street of the great city - Of Jerusalem, a far greater city, than any other in those parts. This is described both spiritually and historically: spiritually, as it is called Sodom Isa 1:9 &c. and Egypt; on account of the same abominations abounding there, at the time of the witnesses, as did once in Egypt and Sodom. Historically: Where also their Lord was crucified - This possibly refers to the very ground where his cross stood. Constantine the Great inclosed this within the walls of the city. Perhaps on that very spot will their bodies be exposed.
Three days and a half - So exactly are the times set down in this prophecy. If we suppose this time began in the evening, and ended in the morning, and included (which is no way impossible) Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the weekly festival of the Turkish people, the Jewish tribes, and the Christian tongues; then all these together, with the heathen nations, would have full leisure to gaze upon and rejoice over them.
And they that dwell upon the earth - Perhaps this expression may peculiarly denote earthly - minded men. Shall make merry - As did the Philistines over Samson. And send gifts to one another - Both Turks, and Jews, and heathens, and false Christians.
And great fear fell upon them that saw them - And now knew that God was on their side.
And I heard a great voice - Designed for all to hear. And they went up to heaven, and their enemies beheld them - who had not taken notice of their rising again; by which some had been convinced before.
And there was a great earthquake and the tenth part of the city fell - We have here an unanswerable proof that this city is not Babylon or Rome, but Jerusalem. For Babylon shall be wholly burned before the fulfilling of the mystery of God. But this city is not burned at all; on the contrary, at the fulfilling of that mystery, a tenth part of it is destroyed by an earthquake, and the other nine parts converted. And there were slain in the earthquake seven thousand men - Being a tenth part of the inhabitants, who therefore were seventy thousand in all. And the rest - The remaining sixty - three thousand were converted: a grand step toward the fulfilling of the mystery of God. Such a conversion we no where else read of. So there shall be a larger as well as holier church at Jerusalem than ever was yet. Were terrified - Blessed terror! And gave glory - The character of true conversion, Jer 13:16. To the God of heaven - He is styled, "The Lord of the earth," Rev 11:4, when he declares his right over the earth by the two witnesses; but the God of heaven, when he not only gives rain from heaven after the most afflicting drought, but also declares his majesty from heaven, by taking his witnesses up into it. When the whole multitude gives glory to the God of heaven, then that "treading of the holy city" ceases. This is the point so long aimed at, the desired "fulfilling of the mystery of God," when the divine promises are so richly fulfilled on those who have gone through so great afflictions. All this is here related together, that whereas the first and second woe went forth in the east, the rest of the eastern affairs being added at once, the description of the western might afterwards remain unbroken. It may be useful here to see how the things here spoken of, and those hereafter described, follow each other in their order. The angel swears; the non - chronos begins; John eats the book; the many kings arise. The non - chronos and the "many kings" being on the decline, that treading" begins, and the "two witnesses" appear. The beast, after he has with the ten kings destroyed Babylon, wars with them and kills them. After three days and an half they revive and ascend to heaven. There is a great earthquake in the holy city: seven thousand perish, and the rest are converted. The "treading" of the city by the gentiles ends. The beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies are assembled to fight against the Great King. Multitudes of his enemies are killed, and the beast and the false prophet cast alive into the lake of fire. while John measures the temple of God and the altar with the worshippers, the true worship of God is set up. The nations who had trodden the holy city are converted. Hereby the mystery of God is fulfilled. Satan is imprisoned. Being released for a time, he, with Gog and Magog, makes his last assault upon Jerusalem.
The second woe is past - The butchery made by the Saracens ceased about the year 847, when their power was so broken by Charles the Great that they never recovered it. Behold, the third woe cometh quickly - Its prelude came while the Roman see took all opportunities of laying claim to its beloved universality, and enlarging its power and grandeur. And in the year 755 the bishop of Rome became a secular prince, by king Pepin's giving him the exarchate of Lombardy. The beginning of the third woe itself stands, Rev 12:12.
And the seventh angel sounded - This trumpet contains the most important and joyful events, and renders all the former trumpets matter of joy to all the inhabitants of heaven. The allusion therefore in this and all the trumpets is to those used in festal solemnities. All these seven trumpets were heard in heaven: perhaps the seventh shall once be heard on earth also, Th1 4:16. And there were great voices - From the several citizens of heaven. At the opening of the seventh seal "there was silence in heaven;" at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, great voices. This alone is sufficient to show that the seven seals and seven trumpets do not run parallel to each other. As soon as the seventh angel sounds, the kingdom falls to God and his Christ. This immediately appears in heaven, and is there celebrated with joyful praise. But on earth several dreadful occurrences are to appear first. This trumpet comprises all that follows from these voices to Rev 22:5. The kingdom of the world - That is, the royal government over the whole world, and all its kingdoms, Zac 14:9. Is become the kingdom of the Lord - This province has been in the enemy's hands: it now returns to its rightful Master. In the Old Testament, from Moses to Samuel, God himself was the King of his own people. And the same will be in the New Testament: he will himself reign over the Israel of God. And of his Christ - This appellation is now first given him, since the introduction of the book, on the mention of the kingdom devolving upon him, under the seventh trumpet. Prophets and priests were anointed, but more especially kings: whence that term, the anointed, is applied only to a king. Accordingly, whenever the Messiah is mentioned in scripture, his kingdom is implied. Is become - In reality, all things (and so the kingdom of the world) are God's in all ages: yet Satan and the present world, with its kings and lords, are risen against the Lord and against his Anointed. God now puts an end to this monstrous rebellion, and maintains his right to all things. And this appears in an entirely new manner, as soon as the seventh angel sounds.
And the four and twenty elders - These shall reign over the earth, Rev 5:10. Who sit before God on their thrones - which we do not read of any angel.
The Almighty - He who hath all things in his power as the only Governor of them. Who is, and who was - God is frequently styled, "He who is, and who was, and who is to come." but now he is actually come, the words, "who is to come," are, as it were, swallowed up. When it is said, We thank thee that thou hast taken thy great power, it is all one as, "We thank thee that thou art come." This whole thanksgiving is partly an enlargement on the two great points mentioned in Rev 11:15; partly a summary of what is hereafter more distinctly related. Here it is mentioned, how the kingdom is the Lord's; afterwards, how it is the kingdom of his Christ. Thou hast taken thy great power - This is the beginning of what is done under the trumpet of the seventh angel. God has never ceased to use his power; but he has suffered his enemies to oppose it, which he will now suffer no more.
And the heathen nations were wroth - At the breaking out of the power and kingdom of God. This wrath of the heathens now rises to the highest pitch; but it meets the wrath of the Almighty, and melts away. In this verse is described both the going forth and the end of God's wrath, which together take up several ages. And the time of the dead is come - Both of the quick and dead, of whom those already dead are far the more numerous part. That they be judged - This, being infallibly certain, they speak of as already present. And to give a reward - At the coming of Christ, Rev 22:12; but of free grace, not of debt, To his servants the prophets: To his saints: to them who were eminently holy: To them that fear his name: these are the lowest class. Those who do not even fear God will have no reward from him. Small and great - All universally, young and old, high and low, rich and poor. And to destroy them that destroyed the earth - The earth was destroyed by the "great whore" in particular, Rev 19:2; Rev 17:2, Rev 17:5; but likewise in general, by the open rage and hate of wicked men against all that is good; by wars, and the various destruction and desolation naturally flowing therefrom; by such laws and constitutions as hinder much good, and occasion many offences and calamities; by public scandals, whereby a door is opened for all dissoluteness and unrighteousness; by abuse of secular and spiritual powers; by evil doctrines, maxims, and counsels; by open violence and persecution; and by sins crying to God to send plagues upon the earth.
This great work of God, destroying the destroyers, under the trumpet of the seventh angel, is not the third woe, but matter of joy, for which the elders solemnly give thanks. All the woes, and particularly the third, go forth over those "who dwell upon the earth;" but this destruction, over those "who destroy the earth," and were also instruments of that woe.
And the temple of God - The inmost part of it. Was opened in heaven - And hereby is opened a new scene of the most momentous things, that we may see how the contents of the seventh trumpet are executed; and, notwithstanding the greatest opposition, (particularly by the third woe,) brought to a glorious conclusion. And the ark of the covenant was seen in his temple - The ark of the covenant which was made by Moses was not in the second temple, being probably burnt with the first temple by the Chaldeans. But here is the heavenly ark of the everlasting covenant, the shadow of which was under the Old Testament, Heb 9:4. The inhabitants of heaven saw the ark before: St. John also saw it now; for a testimony, that what God had promised, should be fulfilled to the uttermost. And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail - The very same there are, and in the same order, when the seventh angel has poured out his phial; Rev 16:17-21: one place answers the other. What the trumpet here denounces in heaven, is there executed by the phial upon earth. First it is shown what will be done; and afterwards it is done.
And a great sign was seen in heaven - Not only by St. John, but many heavenly spectators represented in the vision. A sign means something that has an uncommon appearance, and from which we infer that some unusual thing will follow. A woman - The emblem of the church of Christ, as she is originally of Israel, though built and enlarged on all sides by the addition of heathen converts; and as she will hereafter appear, when all her "natural branches are again "grafted in." She is at present on earth; and yet, with regard to her union with Christ, may be said to be in heaven, Eph 2:6. Accordingly, she is described as both assaulted and defended in heaven, Rev 12:4, Rev 12:7. Clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars - These figurative expressions must he so interpreted as to preserve a due proportion between them. So, in Joseph's dream, the sun betokened his father; the moon, his mother; the stars, their children. There may be some such resemblance here; and as the prophecy points out the "power over all nations," perhaps the sun may betoken the Christian world; the moon, the Mahometans, who also carry the moon in their ensigns; and the crown of twelve stars, the twelve tribes of Israel; which are smaller than the sun and moon. The whole of this chapter answers the state of the church from the ninth century to this time.
And being with child she crieth, travailing in birth - The very pain, without any outward opposition, would constrain a woman in travail to cry out. These cries, throes, and pains to be delivered, were the painful longings, the sighs, and prayers of the saints for the coming of the kingdom of God. The woman groaned and travailed in spirit, that Christ might appear, as the Shepherd and King of all nations.
And behold a great red dragon - His fiery - red colour denoting his disposition. Having seven heads - Implying vast wisdom. And ten horns - Perhaps on the seventh head; emblems of mighty power and strength, which he still retained. And seven diadems on his heads - Not properly crowns, but costly bindings, such as kings anciently wore; for, though fallen, he was a great potentate still, even "the prince of this world."
And his tail - His falsehood and subtilty. Draweth - As a train. The third part - A very large number. Of the stars of heaven - The Christians and their teachers, who before sat in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. And casteth them to the earth - Utterly deprives them of all those heavenly blessings. This is properly a part of the description of the dragon, who was not yet himself on earth, but in heaven: consequently, this casting them down was between the beginning of the seventh trumpet and the beginning of the third woe; or between the year 847 and the year 947; at which time pestilent doctrines, particularly that of the Manichees in the east, drew abundance of people from the truth. And the dragon stood before the woman, that when she had brought forth, he might devour the child - That he might hinder the kingdom of Christ from spreading abroad, as it does under this trumpet.
And she brought forth a man child - Even Christ, considered not in his person, but in his kingdom. In the ninth age, many nations with their princes were added to the Christian church. Who was to rule all nations - When his time is come. And her child - Which was already in heaven, as were the woman and the dragon. Was caught up to God - Taken utterly out of his reach.
And the woman fled into the wilderness - This wilderness is undoubtedly on earth, where the woman also herself is now supposed to be. It betokens that part of the earth where, after having brought forth, she found a new abode. And this must be in Europe; as Asia and Afric were wholly in the hands of the Turks and Saracens; and in a part of it where the woman had not been before. In this wilderness, God had already prepared a place; that is, made it safe and convenient for her. The wilderness is, those countries of Europe which lie on this side the Danube; for the countries which lie beyond it had received Christianity before. That they may feed her - That the people of that place may provide all things needful for her. Twelve hundred and sixty days - So many prophetic days, which are not, as some have supposed, twelve hundred and sixty, but seven hundred and seventy - seven, common years. This Bengelius has shown at large in his German Introduction. These we may compute from the year 847 to 1524. So long the woman enjoyed a safe and convenient place in Europe, which was chiefly Bohemia; where she was fed, till God provided for her more plentifully at the Reformation.
And there was war in heaven - Here Satan makes his grand opposition to the kingdom of God; but an end is now put to his accusing the saints before God. The cause goes against him, Rev 12:10-11, and Michael executes the sentence. That Michael is a created angel, appears from his not daring, in disputing with Satan, Jde 1:9, to bring a railing accusation; but only saying, "The Lord rebuke thee." And this modesty is implied in his very name; for Michael signifies, "Who is like God?" which implies also his deep reverence toward God, and distance from all self - exaltation. Satan would be like God: the very name of Michael asks, "Who is like God?" Not Satan; not the highest archangel. It is he likewise that is afterward employed to seize, bind, and imprison that proud spirit.
And he prevailed not - The dragon himself is principally mentioned; but his angels, likewise, are to be understood. Neither was this place found any more in heaven - So till now he had a place in heaven. How deep a mystery is this! One may compare this with Luk 10:18; Eph 2:2; Eph 4:8; Eph 6:12.
And the great dragon was cast out - It is not yet said, unto the earth - He was cast out of heaven; and at this the inhabitants of heaven rejoice. He is termed the great dragon, as appearing here in that shape, to intimate his poisonous and cruel disposition. The ancient serpent - In allusion to his deceiving Eve in that form. Dragons are a kind of large serpent. Who is called the Devil and Satan - These are words of exactly the same meaning; only the former is Greek; the latter, Hebrew; denoting the grand adversary of all the saints, whether Jews or gentiles. He has deceived the whole world - Not only in their first parents, but through all ages, and in all countries, into unbelief and all wickedness; into the hating and persecuting faith and all goodness. He was cast out unto the earth - He was cast out of heaven; and being cast out thence, himself came to the earth. Nor had he been unemployed on the earth before, although his ordinary abode was in heaven.
Now is come - Hence it is evident that all this chapter belongs to the trumpet of the seventh angel. In Rev 11:15-18, are proposed the contents of this extensive trumpet; the execution of which is copiously described in this and the following chapters. The salvation - Of the saints. The might - Whereby the enemy is cast out. The kingdom - Here the majesty of God is shown. And the power of his Christ - Which he will exert against the beast; and when he also is taken away, then will the kingdom be ascribed to Christ himself, Rev 19:16; Rev 20:4. The accuser of our brethren - So long as they remained on earth. This great voice, therefore, was the voice of men only. Who accused them before our God day and night - Amazing malice of Satan, and patience of God!
And they have overcome him - Carried the cause against him. By the blood of the Lamb - Which cleanses the soul from all sin, and so leaves no room for accusing. And by the word of their testimony - The word of God, which they believed and testified, even unto death. So, for instance, died Olam, king of Sweden, in the year 900, whom his own subjects would have compelled to idolatry; and, upon his refusal, slew as a sacrifice to the idol which he would not worship. So did multitudes of Bohemian Christians, in the year 916, when queen Drahomire raised a severe persecution, wherein many "loved not their lives unto the death."
Woe to the earth and the sea - This is the fourth and last denunciation of the third woe, the most grievous of all. The first was only, the second chiefly, on the earth, Asia; the third, both on the earth and the sea, Europe. The earth is mentioned first, because it began in Asia, before the beast brought it on Europe. He knoweth he hath but a little time - Which extends from his casting out of heaven to his being cast into the abyss.
We are now come to a most important period of time. The non - chronos hastens to an end. We live in the little time wherein Satan hath great wrath; and this little time is now upon the decline. We are in the "time, times, and half a time," wherein the woman is "fed in the wilderness;" yea, the last part of it, "the half time," is begun. We are, as will be shown, towards the close of the "forty - two months" of the beast; and when his number is fulfilled, grievous things will be. Let him who does not regard the being seized by the wrath of the devil; the falling unawares into the general temptation; the being borne away, by the most dreadful violence, into the worship of the beast and his image, and, consequently, drinking the unmixed wine of the wrath of God, and being tormented day and night for ever and ever in the lake of fire and brimstone; let him also who is confident that he can make his way through all these by his own wisdom and strength, without need of any such peculiar preservative as the word of this prophecy affords; let him, I say, go hence. But let him who does not take these warnings for senseless outcries, and blind alarms, beg of God, with all possible earnestness, to give him his heavenly light herein.
God has not given this prophecy, in so solemn a manner, only to show his providence over his church, but also that his servants may know at all times in what particular period they are. And the more dangerous any period of time is, the greater is the help which it affords. But where may we fix the beginning and end of the little time? which is probably four - fifths of a chronos, or somewhat above 888 years. This, which is the time of the third woe, may reach from 947, to the year 1836. For, The short interval of the second woe, (which woe ended in the year 840,) and the 777 years of the woman, which began about the year 847, quickly after which followed the war in heaven, fix the beginning not long after 864: and thus the third woe falls in the tenth century, extending from 900 to 1000; called the dark, the iron, the unhappy age. If we compare the length of the third woe with the period of time which succeeds it in the twentieth chapter, it is but a little time to that vast space which reaches from the beginning of the non - chronos to the end of the world.
And when the dragon saw - That be could no longer accuse the saints in heaven, he turned his wrath to do all possible mischief on earth. He persecuted the woman - The ancient persecutions of the church were mentioned, Rev 1:9, Rev 2:10, Rev 7:14; but this persecution came after her flight, Rev 12:6, just at the beginning of the third woe. Accordingly, in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the church was furiously persecuted by several heathen powers. In Prussia, king Adelbert was killed in the year 997, king Brunus in 1008; and when king Stephen encouraged Christianity in Hungary, he met with violent opposition. After his death, the heathens in Hungary set themselves to root it out, and prevailed for several years. About the same time, the army of the emperor, Henry the Third, was totally overthrown by the Vandals. These, and all the accounts of those times, show with what fury the dragon then persecuted the woman.
And there were given to the woman the two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place - Eagles are the usual symbols of great potentates. So Eze 17:3, by "a great eagle', means the king of Babylon. Here the great eagle is the Roman empire; the two wings, the eastern and western branches of it. A place in the wilderness was mentioned in Rev 12:6 also; but it is not the same which is mentioned here.
In the text there follow one after the other, The dragon's waiting to devour the child. The birth of the child, which is caught up to God. The fleeing of the woman into the wilderness. The war in heaven, and the casting out of the dragon. The beginning of the third woe. The persecution raised by the dragon against the woman. The woman's flying away upon the eagle's wings.
In like manner there follow one after the other, The beginning of the twelve hundred and sixty days. The beginning of the little time. The beginning of the time, times, and half a time. This third period partly coincides both with the first and the second. After the beginning of the twelve hundred and sixty days, or rather of the third woe, Christianity was exceedingly propagated, in the midst of various persecutions. About the year 948 it was again settled in Denmark; in 965, in Poland and Silesia; in 980, through all Russia. In 997 it was brought into Hungary; into Sweden and Norway, both before and after. Transylvania received it about 1000; and, soon after, other parts of Dacia.
Now, all the countries in which Christianity was settled between the beginning of the twelve hundred and sixty days, and the imprisonment of the dragon, may be understood by the wilderness, and by her place in particular. This place contained many countries; so that Christianity now reached, in an uninterrupted tract, from the eastern to the western empire; and both the emperors now lent their wings to the woman, and provided a safe abode for her. Where she is fed - By God rather than man; having little human help. For a time, and times, and half a time - The length of the several periods here mentioned seems to be nearly this: -
1 The non - chronos contains less than 1111 2 The little time 888 3 The time, times, and half a time 777 4 The time of the beast 666 1 The non - chronos extends from about 800 to 1836 2 The 1260 days of the woman from 847 - 1524 3 The little time 947 - 1836 4 The time, time, and half 1058 - 1836 5 The time of the beast between the beginning and end of the three times and a half