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The Book of Revelation, the 4th Chapter, and part of the 1st Verse. “ COME UP HITHER, AND I WILL SHEW THEE THINGS WHICH MUST BE
This was not the first time John had heard the voice of the Lord, as the voice of a trumpet speaking with him, as we learn from the first chapter of this book. Most of you will be aware, that prophecies in olden times, were generally given in visions. God spake to Jacob in visions of the night. And in Job we read that God spake once and again in a dream and in a vision of the night. Isaiah "saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up” (Isa. vi. 1). Ezekiel had visions of God. It was so with Daniel and the other prophets. But to pass to the New Testament we find that St. Paul was not without his visions. He heard and saw things in his visions and revelations which it was not possible for him to communicate to his fellow-man. Peter had a remarkable vision, in which the Lord appeared to him and instructed him, by His Spirit, not to call that common or unclean which God had cleansed. The Lord sent him to preach the Gospel to Cornelius. I need say no more to establish the fact, that frequently the Lord has appeared in visions to His servants the prophets. Now, this Book of Revelation, seems to have been communicated to John principally, if not altogether, in visions. God has a perfect right to make known His own mind in His own way. He knows the best manner of communication. We have no right to dispute either the matter or the manner with God. “He has at sundry times, and in divers manners, spoken unto the fathers by the prophets, and in these last days, He has spoken unto us by His Son Jesus Christ” (Heb. i.). We shall now turn to our text. “After this,” says St. John, that is, "after these things" which he had seen and heard, as recorded in the previous chapters. “After these things, I looked, and behold, a door
a was opened in heaven, and the first voice which I heard was as it were a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter, or things which must be after these things."
Now, let us try to explain our text in a familiar and simple way. I shall endeavour thus to present it to you. And in doing so, I want you to look at the Book of Revelation, as a book written, not only for the learned and clever, but as a book containing the mind of God for simpleminded people like ourselves. Do not approach this book with a fear
and dread, as if it were impossible for you to understand any portion of it, because you cannot comprehend the whole of it. If you were to adopt such a course as this, every book in the Bible would be closed to you. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein." rely upon it, that this Book of Revelation has been written for our learning and for our profit. It is a book for simple-minded people like ourselves. By these words I do not mean to insult you ; but I do mean, that if we approach this book in simplicity, and read it with a single eye, without any attempt at gratifying preconceived notions, or following learned systems of historical expositions, we shall be able to see a great deal of its meaning and of its spiritual import. It will prove itself to us a profitable and instructive book. There are three things which I shall propose for our consideration, and which, either arise out of the text itself, or are expressly stated in chap. i. 19. John is told “ to write the things which he had seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” Here are THREE DIVISIONS—Past, Present, and Future. These divisions are easy to be understood. I shall proceed to consider the FIRST.
FIRST, THEN, OF SOME OF THE THINGS WHICH HAVE BEEN. This will at once carry us back to the Old Testament. I will mention some of the things which have been, aud which are recorded therein. We read in the first chapter of Genesis that God made man upright in the perfection of His own image, and pronounced him very good. This is one of the things which have been. But we must remember another thing in close connection with this. Man does not appear to have remained very good very long. You know what happened. He partook of that “ forbidden fruit, whose mortal taste brought death into the world, and all our woe.” By one man,” and that one man was Adam—the head and representative of the whole family. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.” Sin, death, judgment, and condemnation are all consequences of Adam's one transgression. some of the things which have been. Another of the things which have been, is the promise, which was made to our first parents before they were driven out of the Garden. I am not about to enter into the deeper things of God, but there is an unfolding of these deeper things of God in His Holy Word. The Promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, was an unfolding of the mind of God with respect to redemption by Christ Jesus. This was further unfolded by Jehovah to Abraham, when He said, “ that in thee, and in thy seed, all the families of the earth shall be blessed." These are things which have been.' And they are the outcome of things which had been before them, for God worketh all things after the counsel of His own will which He purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began." Again, some of the things which have been, are the ingathering of God's Elect through the whole of the old dispensations, from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Moses, and from Moses to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and since our Lord's time even down to the present. The royal and
These are Saviour cry.
spiritual seed must be completed--not a vessel of mercy can be left behind. Things that have been. The promise of redemption and redemption itself are accomplished facts. “ Jesus has entered into the most holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” The “us” are believers, the people of God, and their redemption is an eternal one. It cannot be altered. “It is finished,” “It is finished,” hear the dying
The sacrifice has been slain, the atonement has been made, the work is done-redemption is complete. Jesus has gone into heaven to bear witness to this fact that the work of redemption has been accomplished, and “that by His one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. x.). Now, are not these some of the things which have been, and still are? I forbear to speak of things which have been in Creation and in Providence. I have just thrown out a few things which have been in grace, pray enlarge upon them for yourselves. And let us proceed :
SECONDLY.—Notice a few of the things which are. What are these ? Sin is in the world yet. This is one of the things which still exist. Α. child of God, though he be regenerate, has sin remaining in him, and it will remain in him to the end of his days. There is a raging devil in the world. He is described as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour. He is one of the things that are. How Satan would like to devour one of God's children. Now, if he could, he would get a living stone out of the spiritual building of God. And, if he were to succeed, what would be the consequence? Well, the whole fabric of the Church of God would come down, and we should have a second ruin worse than the first. But, blessed be God, Satan cannot devour one of the blood bought of the Lord. He did what he could to the Saviour when here upon earth. Think of Satan's temptations and of Christ's victories—and now Christ has passed into the heavens, the head and representative of His people, He is beyond the reach of a tempting Devil—He is safe, and believers are safe in Him. Things
Where is Jesus now? “He has gone into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us " (Heb. ix). Dwell on the word
for a moment, for these are the persons for whom He is appearing in Heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ is at God's right hand, and this is the reason which St. Paul assigns in Heb. iv. why believers should come boldly to the Throne of Grace. “ He is passed into the heavens," and seeing that we have a High Priest that can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, for He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. He must become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God. He suffered being tempted, and now He is able to succour them that are tempted. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Our High Priest is in Heaven in the most holy place, but the worshippers who are outside, in the holy place below, have nothing to fear. The bells of the High Priest are ringing-He is alive, and behold, He is alive for evermore-He lives, and we live in Him—things that are—Jesus is in Heaven. But where else is He? Is He not here in the midst of the Church of God ? In
the three preceding chapters of this Book of Revelation, we read of seven golden candlesticks, which are explained by our Lord Himself, as the seven churches. The seven stars are the seven angels or ministers of these seven churches. I shall not stop to explain the number
as you know it is a number of perfection. Now we read that the Lord Jesus was in the midst of these seven golden candlesticks or seven churches. John saw “ in the midst of these seven golden candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man” -(Rev. i. 13). Then follows a glorious description of the Saviour. Now observe, the Son of Man is in the midst of the churches, or, in other words, in the midst of the people of God. “Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. xviii. 20). These are the Saviour's own words. What a grand church! Two or three gathered together in the name of Jesus. What a congregation ! Is this a true church, a pure church, a holy church ? It is the Church of God in the midst of which the Son of Man
But what is the Lord Jesus doing in the midst of the seven churches ? He is there to commend, approve, counsel, threaten, chastise, rebuke, and encourage them. He is there to deal with them as He pleases. And who has more right to do any of these things in the churches than He Himself. He is with them in the fires and in the waters, and when they pass through the fires and through the waters He is still with them. His love embraces them, His arms are underneath them, His grace strengthens them, and His Spirit comforts and directs them. How delightful to meditate upon things that are! We have now hastily glanced at some of the things which are, which will prepare our way for the consideration of some of the things which shall be hereafter. “ Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”
THIRDLY—I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. I shall have to dwell more at length upon the words of my text than I have done upon those portions which have already been considered. Let us now read together the whole of the verse- .“ After this,” that is, after these things which John had seen, and which are recorded in the first three chapters of this book, “I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in Heaven : and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be after these things. If I offer any words of comment upon this or any other portion of Scripture which are not agreeable to the same, I do not ask you to receive them. I do not wish to go one whit beyond the teaching of God's word. If I utter anything contrary to His precious word—Oh! May God have mercy upon me and forgive me; but if in keeping with His blessed book, then bless thy truth, God, though spoken by thy unworthy servant, and Thine shall be all the honour and all the glory. John says, he “looked and behold a door was opened in Heaven. I like these words very much indeed. You know what Jesus says about the door-“I am the door.” This door is the door of entrance to Heaven which John saw, and which was open not " ajar,”—“Gates ajar,”—“A gate ajar for me. A short time ago I asked a real northener when he considered a gate to be ajar ; his