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LECTURE XXIII.

REVELATION XII. 17.

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went

to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

WE spoke last of the three weapons by which the Christian victory is won, as they are described for us in the song of triumph in heaven over the downfall of the great enemy of man. They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and they loved not their life unto death. The atonement made for all sin in the death of Christ; the word or message of God, to which all true Christians bear in act and in endurance a firm and intelligible testimony; and that spirit of entire self-devotion and self-surrender which perseveres even unto death, and stops not short (if

God so require) of the sacrifice of life itself for
Christ.

The fall of Satan having been seen in the Prophet's vision as a fall from heaven to earth consequent upon the Ascension of the risen Jesus from earth to heaven, it suits the form of the vision to congratulate the heavens upon his departure, and to warn the regions below of his arrival. Therefore Verse 12. rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that tabernacle therein. Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil is gone down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath a short season.

You will notice here that we are not to localize too much the event described. The real thing spoken of is the breaking of Satan's power by the Redemption. The devil is like one who has been violently thrown from a great height, and falls upon the earth bruised and humbled. I beheld Satan as lightning Lu. 10. 18. fall from heaven. It is a figure of speech; but, like all the figures of Holy Scripture, a figure full of meaning. Satan is no longer master: if any one still serves him, it is his own fault; he need not do so: Christ has vanquished the devil; has thrown him down from his eminence: in the same degree the fury of the devil is aggravated; his desire to injure increases as his power to injure is circumscribed : if he has fallen from heaven to earth, he is come there with great wrath because he knows that he has but a short time.

And if we are asked who they are who are here bidden to rejoice, and to whom, on the other hand, the warning voice is addressed; we must answer,

in accordance with the general tenor of Scripture teach

ing, that by the one is meant those servants of God Is. 40. 2. whose warfare is accomplished, and by the other

those who are still in the world's battle-field, amidst temptation and danger, their rest still future, their victory not yet won. To these, and yet more, if it be possible, to that ungodly and idolatrous world which surrounds or mingles with them, the sound of alarm may well be uttered from heaven, that the enemy whom Christ has dethroned still exists, still works; and that with a rage heightened by the consciousness that sentence is already passed upon him, and the time of its execution fixed and near.

And now we return to that which was the subject of an earlier part of this chapter, the condition of

her who had born upon earth the Divine Child; in Rom. 9.5. other words, of that Church of God, of which, as

concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.

The 6th verse told us, as if by anticipation, that the woman, when her Son was caught up unto God and to His throne, fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared for her by God, that they might nourish her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. The intervening passage has explained to us the occasion of this flight. The enemy at first seen was directing his hostility not against the woman but against her child. Now we have heard of the war between that child and the dragon, and of its termination in the defeat and expulsion of the dragon ; sending him back to earth with the mark of destruction upon him, and with a determination to use to the uttermost for purposes of evil his brief time of respite. Thus we are prepared for the introduction of the five verses on which we are now to dwell.

And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto Verse 13. the earth, he persecuted the woman who bare the man child. And there were given to the woman the two Verse 14. wings of the great eagle. The allusion is to that passage in the book of Exodus in which Moses is instructed to say to the Israelites in the name of God, Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, Ex. 19. 4. and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. And the same figure is more fully drawn out in the inspired song of Moses. He found Deu. 32.10, him, Israel, in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings : so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him. And so, once again, in the well-known words of the prophet Isaiah :

II, 12.

Is. 40. 31. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their

strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles : they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Thus the figure was consecrated in the Old Testament to the one use of expressing God's special care and providence for His people and His chosen. There were given to the woman the two wings of the great eagle, that eagle of which the Church had so often read in her Old Testament Scriptures, that she might fly into the wilderness unto her place, where she is nourished for a season and seasons and half a season from the face of the serpent. The expression here used to denote the length of the Church's sojourn in the wilderness is first found in the prophecy of the 7th chapter of Daniel, with reference to the war of the

persecuting power against the saints of the Most Dan. 7.25. High: And they shall be given into his hand until

a time and times and the dividing of time. And again in the 12th chapter of the same Book, where,

in answer to the question of the preceding verse, ch.12.6,7. How long shall it be to the end of these wonders ?

it is declared that it shall be for a time, times, and an half. It is the same period, of the half seven, of three years and a half, of forty-two months, or of twelve hundred and sixty days, which we have often had occasion to explain in former discourses on this Book as the symbol of the duration of the

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