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“ Well, Sir, when it is neither open nor shut, but just on the snick.” I then said, how do you get in and out ? “Oh, said he, by pushing it open.” Well, thought I, bow admirably this represents a class of religionists of the present day, who talk of a “ Gate ajar,"
" which they intend to push open and so slip into Heaven. They will want their grand pianos and all kinds of music, I suppose.
Their follies and their worldly delights will be their Heaven, and a queer Heaven it will be. Now, let us see what John saw—“ An open door.”
open door ” is just what a helpless sinner needs, for he feels that he has no power to push it open, if it be only left ajar. 6 But what saith He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth ; and shutteth and no man openeth.” “ Behold, I have set before thee an open door and no man can shut it.” This is the door of hope—the door of salvation—the door of Heaven, which neither man nor devil can shut. This door must stand wide open until Jesus Himself shuts it, and when He has shut it, no one will be able to open it, or to go in thereat. “ When once the master of the house is risen up, and shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without and to knock at the door.” Knock! Knock !! Knock at the door. Who is there? Whence come ye? ' Lord, Lord open unto us.”
6 Let us in Lord.” No! No!! "I know you not whence ye are.” Indeed, “I never, never, never knew you.” The door is shut, you see, and not left ajar. It is either open or shut. It is now open, and wide open, and will remain so until the last saved sinner has entered in. sometimes charged with not preaching an open, free, and full gospel, the truth is, we preach nothing else. We wish to preach God's open door, and not man's gate ajar. I am speaking to you very plainly this evening, and why not? I may never meet you all again. Well, I may be wrong in some of my sayings. But search the scriptures. Bring everything to the test of God's holy word, by which we stand or fall.
Now, when John saw the door which was opened in heaven he heard a voice like a trumpet talking with him, which said, “Come up hither,
, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” There is one word in our text which I regard as very emphatic. It is the word “must." I beseech you to notice that it is not may be, but must be. It is emphatic. This word "must" expresses necessity. There is a certainty about what God says. He has spoken, and He will bring it to pass. The force of the word “must” will appear from the following examples. “ Jesus must be about His Father's business.” “Ye must be born again.'
Jesus must needs go through Samaria,” and you know the reason why. The woman of Samaria and others were to be brought into the knowledge of the Messiah. “They who worship God must worship Him in Spirit and in truth,” Jesus must suffer-must be lifted up—must diem must rise again--must go to heaven-must reign till all His enemies are put under His feet. And all His sheep He must bring to glory. Now, you will see, that there is very considerable force in the word “must.” Whatever John saw or heard as regards the future, it is as certain to come to pass as if it had already taken place. It is necessary. It must be. “ Things which must be hereafter."
I shall now examine the account as given in this 4 c. 2 v.
John was immediately in the Spirit. This was the Lord's preparation of the Apostle for the reception of those blessed truths which He was about to unfold to him. The Lord does prepare His servants in His own way, either for the reception of His own Divine thoughts, or for His work, or for His glory. He had prepared John when "he was immediately in the Spirit.” " Then he beheld a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” This is very much like. Isaiah's vision, 6th chapter. It was the Lord who was sitting upon the throne. The apostle gives a description of Him whom he saw. « And He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone : and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty beasts; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders, clothed in white raiment, and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” How beautifully the Lord is here described. And as regards the elders, I would only remark that their clothing was an emblem of that purity and holiness which made them worthy to appear in the
presence of Him who sat upon the throne, while the crowns which they wore upon their heads betokened conquest over every enemy. They were kings and priests unto God. “ And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne of God, which are the seven Spirits of God.” Here we have the Holy Ghost figured forth by the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne of God. “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal ; and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind." Here we have four beasts mentioned. The word for beasts is Zoa-living creatures. This reminds us of Ezekiel's living creatures. John gives us the likeness of the living creatures which he
“ The first beast was like a lion." How so? I suppose for courage, strength, and boldness. - The second beast was like a calf or an ox,” for patience and endurance. 66 The third beast had a face like a man,” for wisdom and intelligence. “The fourth beast was like a flying eagle," for rapidity in flight and quickness of eyesight. We have a further account of these “ living creatures ” in the 8th verse, both as to their appearance and their office. 66 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within : and they rest not day and night saying Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” The remaining part of the chapter is taken up with the elders and the living creatures giving glory, and honour, and thanks unto Him who liveth for ever and ever, because all things are and were created for His pleasure. But whom do the four beasts or living creatures represent? I think we get some light upon this point in the following chapter and 9th verse. The beasts and the elders fall down before the Lamb, and this Lamb represents the Lord Jesus Christ, and they sing a new song, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof : For Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall
reign on the earth." Now we see who are represented by the four and twenty elders and the living creatures,—the redeemed of the Lord. They are actively engaged in the Lord's service and they are living creatures before the throne of God and of the Lamb. Once they had no taste for His service. They were dead creatures, dead in their sins; but now they are living creatures. They have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, and quickened by the life-giving Spirit of our God, and now, gathered from the ends of the earth, they appear before the throne to give the honour and the glory of their salvation unto Him to whom it is due.
I shall now proceed to point out to you some other things which John saw, and which must be hereafter. Let me beg of you to read the book of Revelation, as a book teaching the doctrine of final perseverance. I mean the final perseverance of the Saints. There is no book in the Bible more full of teaching in this direction. It gives us the conquest of the servants of God over every enemy.
Bear this in mind as we go along in our exposition. In the opening of the 5th chapter, John saw a book in the right hand of Him who sat upon the Throne, and it was like Ezekiel's roll, written within and without. But there was no man in Heaven, nor in earth, nor under the earth, that was able to open the book, and loose the seals of it, and look thereon, 'at which John wept much. Then one of the elders said to
“Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals.” The Lion ont of Judah is the Lord Jesus Christ, who was found worthy to open the book and loose the seals. This wonderful book of God's eternal covenant, counsel, and purpose, could alone be read and explained to us by Him who had been from everlasting in the bosom of the Father. The latter part of the 5th chapter is wholly taken up with giving honour and glory to Him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb. The Angels, and the redeemed of the Lord Jesus, together with every creature in Heaven and in earth, join in this anthem of praise to God and the Lamb.
The book in the hand of the Lamb had seven seals, and we read of His opening them in the 6th chapter. The Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed to open them. When He opened the first John saw a a white horse ; and He that sat upon him had a bow; and a crown was given unto Him, and He went forth conquering and to conquer. There is an allusion here to a certain practice among the ancients, when those who had been victorious in war, returned home, they were privileged to ride in triumph on white horses. The first seal opens with a triumphant appearance
of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Saviour is seen riding upon His white horse, and the armies of Heaven are seen riding after Him upon white horses--all significant of conquest. He who is faithful and true is proclaimed “ King of Kings and Lord of Lords ” (Rev. xix). Jesus employs His gospel bow as a means for the accomplishing of His purpose,
and crowns it with success. A crown is given to Him, and He is seen going forth conquering and to conquer. No power on earth can stop the Saviour in His victorious march. In His majesty He
rides on prosperously. There is a force and a power in the white horse of the gospel of truth, which no earthly force or power can withstand, it is the force and power of the Holy Ghost accompanying the word, taking possession of men's hearts, keeping them, and carrying them to present them faultless before the throne of His glory. The first seal presents us with a view of the conquering Lamb of God.
The second seal opens with the symbol of a " red horse." And what are we to understand by a red horse? It is said there went out another horse that was red—the rider had power to take peace from the earth. A great sword is given to him, and people kill one another.
Here we have war and bloodshed. How often has the literal sword been drawn against the children of God! How numerous have been their sufferings and persecutions! And how frequently this “red horse" is found in our midst in the way of persecution now ! The workers of iniquity whet their tongue like a sword, they bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words. The tongue is often a sharp sword. The “red horse" of slander, persecution, war, and bloodshed is frequently found in congregations and in churches. Beware of the "red horse.”
The third seal is opened and behold a “ black horse.” The rider has a pair of balances in his hand, and a voice is heard saying, “ A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny.” The “ black horse" seems to me to be a symbol of want, famine, and calamity. I do not mean a literal famine, although this may be true, but I mean a famine of the gospel. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos viii. 11). This is indeed the “black horse" of famine. This co black horse” is often in the pulpit, and in the congregations too. If the “ black horse” be in the pulpit, you will generally have leanness in the congregation. The famine is felt in the souls of His servants. Oh, what poverty is experienced when the black horse is among us !—it is next to death.
The fourth seal is opened, and behold a "pale horse." The name of the rider is Death and Hell follows. He has power to kill with the sword, with hunger, with death, and with the wild beasts of the earth. Some very learned men interpret all this historically, and they may do so for
I will not quarrel with them. I prefer looking at these things spiritually and experimentally. The book of Revelation is a book full of symbolical representation. The "pale horse,” we are told, is death.
“ Natural man is dead spiritually, and hell follows. This “pale horse"
' too frequently appears in our churches. It was said of the church of Sardis, “ That thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." What a state for a church to be in ! Dead, dead. This is the “pale horse." Hell follows, for all is misery, darkness, and gloom. How do all these things apply to us?
The fifth seal opens, and presents us with a view “ of the souls of those who have been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” These martyrs were the true worshippers of God, who had come up out of great tribulation, and who now have white
robes given to them, because they are worthy. They have to wait for a little season until their brethren and fellow servants have been killed, and then the Lord will be avenged npon their enemies. It is no bad thing to be a martyr for God's truth.
When the sixth seal is opened, the terrible judgments of God appear. Then how anxious all classes of persons are to escape them. Kings, great men, rich men, chief captains, mighty men, bondmen, freemen, all wish to hide themselves in dens and in rocks of the mountains from the presence of Him who sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. Great indeed will be that day of His wrath, and who shall be able to stand ? Between the sixth and seventh seal John is privileged with a view of the safety of the people of God as recorded in the 7th chapter. Nothing shall happen to interfere with the sealing of the servants of God from among the Jews, nor with the ingathering of God's children from among the Gentiles. The twelve thousand of each tribe of Israel must be sealed. The twelve thousand and the hundred and forty and four thousand are perfect numbers to set forth all the redeemed of Israel. The great multitude which no man can number gathered from among all nations represents to us the redeemed of the Gentiles. But Jews and Gentiles saved, are alike before the throne of God. “They have come up out of great tribulation,” the tribulation of this world, “ and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, Therefore," emphasize this word “therefore.” “ Therefore," expressing the consequence of being washed in the blood of the Lamb. “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple : and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, 'neither thirst any more ; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them into living fountains of waters ; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Here then we have a grand view of the redeemed before the throne of God. The “red horse” of persecution had not destroyed them, Nor had the “ black horse ” of famine slain them Nor had the “ pale horse ” of death devoured them.
They had been afflicted, persecuted, and cast down, still they triumphed—none of these perish. I think we may venture to say again—here is the teaching and doctrine of final perseverance.
This would encourage John. And does it not encourage us ? How delightful to get right up to the throne of the Lord of hosts, and to give Him all the glory. This prepares the way for the opening of the seventh seal.
The seventh seal opens with silence in heaven. - The Lord our God hath put us to silence.”. “Be silent, ( all flesh, before the Lord.” “ Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” As soon as we see the Lord
upon His throne of grace and glory, we are dumb before Him. We cannot open our mouths or move our tongues to say, to me or to my power be ascribed the glory of my salvation. We have not a word to say, until the Lord of hosts opens our mouths to give Him the praise, the honour and the glory which are due to His name. The silence is broken by the Angel of the Covenant ministering at the golden altar.