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With the close of this verse the account of the woman is suspended, and is not resumed again till we reach the thirteenth verse of the chapter ; meantime we may hazard a few further remarks upon the illustrations afforded by this picture.
The child is not conveyed from earth to heaven, because it is not supposed to have been on earth. Taken to God and to his throne, its perfect safety is manifested. Hence even the great red dragon makes no further demonstration against it. The element of imputed righteousness does not yet appear to human eyes not privileged like those of the apostle, nor is it seen in the earthly system.
Its further exhibition is a matter yet in reserve. The economy of grace, represented by this woman, we suppose to be an opposite of the legal dispensation ; that old economy could not bring forth the righteousness required, as it is intimated, Is. v. 4, “What could I do more for my vineyard than I have done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes.” The element of judicial wrath, represented by the sea, could not bring forth this righteousness; as it is said, Is. xxiii. 4, “Be thou ashamed, O Zidon : for the sea hath spoken, even the strength of the sea, saying, I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men, nor bring up virgins.” Neither could the earthly system produce it, as the same prophet declares, (Is. xxxiii. 9, 10, 11,) “ The earth mourneth and languisheth: Lebanon is ashamed and hewn down : Sharon is like a wilderness ; and Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits. Now will I rise, saith the Lord ; now will I be exalted ; now will I lift up myself. Ye shall conceive chaff; ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you.” Or if the earthly system be made eventually to bring forth that good fruit, it is only by the immediate action of sovereign grace; as, in the physical world, the rains from heaven descend, and give rise to the springs that water the valleys, affording that moisture whence the fruitfulness proceeds: and even under this aspect the earth is merely an instrument, or vehicle, through which the fructifying element imparts its moisture to the various products emanating from it. So it is said, Is. xlv. 8, “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness : let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together: I the Lord
“ Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom," Heb i. 8; or when it was said by this only begotten one, "Lo, I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of me,” Ps. xl. 7. When we can assign a time in the history of the world for either of these events as an epoch, we may feel ourselves warranted in calculating the twelve hundred and sixty days or years from it; and when satisfied on this point, we may consider the other periods as synchronizing with this. Till then we must be governed by the declaration of the mighty angel, that, apocalyptically, time is no longer.
have created it.” Thus as the desert* may by divine power be made to blossom as the rose, so the earthly system by the same transforming power may be made to exhibit the rich provision of divine bounty. A change perhaps indicated in the latter part of this vision, where a new earth as well as a new heaven are said to be seen by the apostle.
V8.7, 8. And there was war in heaven: Και εγένετο πόλεμος εν τω ουρανό και Michael and his angels fought against the Mιχαήλ και οι άγγελοι αυτού του πολεμήdragon; and the dragon fought and his
σαι μετά του δράκοντος, και ο δράκων εποangels, and prevailed not; neither was their place [the place of them] found any λέμησε και οι άγγελοι αυτού, και ουκ ίσχυmore in heaven.
σεν, ουδε τόπος ευρέθη αυτών έτι εν τω
ουρανώ. $ 279. “There was war in heaven.'—Here there is a partial change in the scenery, but the scene itself is still laid in heaven. The apostle stops in his narrative of the woman to describe something else going on as it were simultaneously.
In a literal sense there could not possibly be a dissension or contest in the councils of the Most High. This war we may presume to be intended to represent the virtual contest necessarily existing between the principles of redemption on the one side, and those of condemnation on the other. The war itself may be considered equivalent, as a figure, to the throes of the woman bringing forth the man-child ; and the birth of the child and its exaltation to the throne of God may be viewed as simultaneous with the expulsion of the dragon from heaven: one event involving the other. The war is not to be understood as commencing with the flight of the
but rather as terminating with it. The action of the dragon in
* The deserts or wildernesses of Scripture are not always to be supposed to be Arabian deserts. Every city in the East, it is said, had its wilderness or neighbouring tract of wild uncultivated land; the soil perhaps not being worthy of culture, producing only thorns and briers. From the manner in which these desert tracts are spoken of in the sacred writings, it is evident that they are to be contemplated as places of great scarcity as to food, water, and shelter ; representing a position apparently furnishing neither the pretended security and ample provision symbolized by an earthly city, the work of men's hands, nor the real security peculiar to the heav. enly Jerusalem.
To be in the wilderness, in a spiritual sense, is to be in a position destitute of means, either real or pretended, of eternal life. To be sensible of being in such a wilderness may be equivalent to being poor in spirit; a state of conviction of sin, preparatory to a sense of entire reliance upon the mercy and unmerited favour of God. To pretend to a righteousness and sufficiency of one's own, is to fancy ourselves in a city well fortified and abundantly provided, when we are in reality in the wilderness. Reference to this delusion seems to be made, Is. 1. 2, “ At my rebuke I make the cities a wilderness.” To the poor the gospel is preached: this gospel sets forth the wilderness of man's position by nature, but when spiritually understood it sets forth also the shelter and supply provided. The provision once recognized, the wilderness is made like Eden, and the desert like the garden of the Lord, Is. li. 3.
waiting to devour the child is in effect part of the war; a representation of the same contest by a different figure.
· Michael and his angels fought,' &c.—Michael, according to Leusden, signifies, Who is like to God? or God striking, or the stroke, the humility, or the poverty of God; Micha signifying, with the other meanings, Who is this ? that is, in this place—reminding us of the question repeatedly put concerning Jesus, Matt. xxi. 10, Luke v. 21, and elsewhere. Combining this signification with the last syllable, Al or Ala, an appellation of the Deity, especially expressive of strength or power, the whole name carries with it the force of the question, Who is this so like unto God ? corresponding with the captious interrogatory of the Scribes and Pharisees, Who can forgive sins but God only ? Micha is also said to signify “the waters here;" that is, here are the means of ablution, the fountain of life ; equivalent to the exclamation of the eunuch, i8gú, ö8mp, Lo! here is water. *
All these meanings direct our attention to him who was the express image of the Father; who, although equal with God, humbled himself, appearing in fashion as a man, while at the same time, when occasion called for it, he exercised the power and prerogative of Deity; who was stricken and smitten-being wounded for our transgressions; and in whose atoning blood there is opened a fountain for the washing away of sin and uncleanness—the water of life.
Michael and his angels we accordingly take to be a representation of the Redeemer and his gospel principles contending with the Accuser and his self-righteous and legal principles; a contest between the intercessor or mediator, and the adversary or prosecutor; a struggle in the nature of things between antagonistic principles—between the requisitions of the law and the provisions of sovereign mercy; but yet not literally a struggle in the divine mind, because with God the end must be coeval with the beginning. Every cause here being a final cause ;—the world having been created to be redeemed, as the woman was created for the man, and not the man for the woman; the plan of redemption having been formed before ever the earth was, to manifest the glory of God by causing his goodness, we may venture to say, to pass before the eyes of an assembled universe, that his perfections may be illustrated, the consistency of all his attributes manifested, his character made known and rightly understood, and his great name sanctified, Ezek. xxxvi. 23.
$ 280. “And prevailed not,' &c.—The dragon prevailed not, for it
* Michael "a Quis sicut Deus ? aut humilitas sive paupertas Dei, vel percus. sio Dei, sive percutiens Deus. Micha xşa vel non pauper vel humilis, art percutiens vel percussus, sive quis hic? id est, in hoc loco : sive aquæ hic. Ela. xx vel no quercus sive fortitudo, aut Syriacè Deus. Leus. Onom. Sac. 89 and 186.
was not intended that he should prevail ; but the effort of the accuser in contending, and the triumph of the intercessor in overcoming him, are set forth as occurring in the divine counsels to illustrate the greatness of the work of redemption, and to shadow forth the difficulties in the way of its accomplishment. That a benevolent God should love those that love him would not be a matter of astonishment; or that a just God should justify the just would not be wonderful ; or that a God of perfect purity should favour beings perfectly virtuous would not be at all mysterious ; but that the same Being who has declared himself a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers even upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him, Ex. xx. 5;—that this Being should in any way extend his love to his enemies; that the same God of infinite justice, who has expressly declared that he will by no means clear the guilty, Num. xiv. 18, should still in any way justify the ungodly, Rom. iv. 5;—that the same God of whom it is said that he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; that he is angry with the wicked every day; that upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest ;that this God should, under any circumstances consistent with the perfection of the divine character, extend his sovereign grace to those who are deserving only of his eternal wrath !!! here is a matter of astonishment. Here we behold a conflict of moral elements, and it is in this conflict that the intercessor and the elements of his vicarious and propitiatory work triumph over the accuser, with his elements of condemnation.
Neither was their place found any more in heaven.'—The work of redemption once introduced into the heavenly exhibition of divine government, there is no more room for the operation of condemnatory elements. In the sight of God, Christ has fulfilled the law in behalf of the disciple. Where then is there place or room for the elements of accusation? It would seem by the expression employed here, any more, that these elements once had a place in the divine mind or purpose ; but we suppose this to be intended only to accommodate the subject to human apprehension—as if it were said, “Had it not been for the plan of redemption they would have had their place there. But in respect to the manifestation of this mystery, there is a time when the elements of accusation have a place in the view presented of divine government, and a time when they have no such place. The vision now contemplates the period when the development of truth has so far progressed in the apostle's mind, in spirit as he is, that the triumph of the Redeemer appears to be complete, and the elements of condemnation appear as it were expelled from the purpose of the divine government. That government being now seen to be conducted on different principles, we find no further mention of Michael in the Apocalypse ; but it is evident that the same champion is represented elsewhere under different characters,
such as the rider on the white horse, the Lamb, &c. The appellation is employed only in two other passages of Scripture, (Jude 9, and Dan. x. 13 and 21,) where there may be an allusion to the same contest.
The difference between a heaven where the dragon and his angels have a place and a heaven where they have no place, may correspond with the . difference between the first heaven and the new heaven ;—the first heaven affording a view of the divine counsels in which the accuser and his principles are supposed to have room for action ; the new heaven affording that display in which, the intercessor having overcome, the element of accusation has no place. The first heaven is wanting in the exhibition of imputed righteousness and sovereign mercy displayed in the new heaven; the same change being elsewhere represented as a consequence of the coming of the day of the Lord, 2 Pet. iïi. 10 and 13: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night ; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise,” &c. ;—"Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” The event being thus spoken of, in one portion of Scripture, as a change taking place in heaven ; and in another, as a change of heaven : different figures illustrating the same truth. These changes also being applicable only to the manifestation of the purposes of Deity, and not the purposes themselves ; for the divine mind must be immutable.
In the display of the new heaven and new earth, at the close of the vision, it is also said, there shall be no more sea ; that is, in this state of things there shall be no element of wrath ; a peculiarity very nearly equivalent to that of a heaven without an accuser.
V. 9. And the great dragon was cast Και εβλήθη ο δράκων ο μέγας, ο όφις και out, that old serpent called the Devil, and agaios, o xooíuevos duc 30los xai ó OntaSatan, which deceiveth the whole world : he was cast out into the earth, and his vas, o travūv tīv oixovjernv ölnu, <3kýmn angels were cast out with him.
εις την γην, και οι άγγελοι αυτού μετ' αυ
του εβλήθησαν. . $ 281. “And the great dragon was cast out.'—“In that day," it is said, (Is. xxvii. 1,) “ the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing sperpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea." We suppose the sea to be a figure of the element of judicial wrath, and the dragon or serpent in the sea, this slippery tortuous reptile,* to be the ruling principle of that element. The ejection of the accuser from the heavenly system accordingly corresponds with this punishment of leviathan of the deep, although in the Apocalypse we have not yet reached his final destruction. The instrument of
* Sept. Εν τη ημέρα εκείνη επάξει ο Θεός την μάχαιραν την αγίαν, και την μεγάλην, και την ισχυρών επί τον δράκοντα όφιν φεύγοντα, επί τον δράκοντα όφιν σκολιόν ανελεί δράκοντα. .