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resemblance : 1st. Christ cometh in the clouds of heaven. 2d. Every eye shall see him. 3d. All the kindreds of the earth shall mourn because of him. All three of these facts are stated in
It is demonstrated that our Lord referred in his description to his coming at the destruction of Jerusalem; for he adds, immediately, “ Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” These words the revelator would not naturally have used, because the event was so near; but he supplies in the place of them the admonition, “ The time is at hand.” We ask again, on the strength of this argument, was not the Apocalypse written before the destruction of Jerusalem ?
But there are other facts to be considered. Nothing is more plain than that Jesus foretold, that when his coming should take place, the kingdom of God should be fully established. “Verily 1 say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power ;” Mark ix. 1. Luke's language is similar: “I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God;" ix. 27. All the New Testament writers looked forward to the establishment of the kingdom of God as near. They spoke of it in almost every form of phraseology. Now, if the revelator spake of that great event as being near at hand, it would seem to show conclusively that he wrote before the destruction of Jerusalem. In the eleventh chapter, in which the revelator brings up his description of the troubles of the Jews to their climax, he says, “ The second woe is past; and behold, the third woe cometh quickly. And the seventh angel sounded, [the last of the series, for there was no eighth or ninth angel,] and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” And to this he adds, “ And the four and twenty elders, which sat before
God, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned ;” xi. 14—17. Is it not reasonable to suppose, that the revelator spoke of the same event to which our Lord referred ? The kingdom of God came with power, when the kingdoms of this world became the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. Are we not justified, then, in the conclusion that the Apocalypse was written previously to the destruction of Jerusalem ?
Turn we to another fact. Jesus promised his disciples that “In the regeneration, when the Son of man should sit on the throne of his glory, they also should sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel ;” Matt. xix. 28. This metaphor of reigning with Christ is of frequent occurrence in the New Testament. “ It is a faithful saying, For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him ; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him : if we deny him, he also will deny us;" 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12. Now, as to the point of Christians reigning with their Master, the revelator treats of it frequently. They reigned when he reigned ; they came to power when he came to power. Jesus told them, when they saw the signs of his coming, to lift up their heads, for their redemption then would be nigh. What does the revelator
say about this matter of reigning with Christ? him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne ;" iii. 21. Hence the early Christians were said to be made “ kings and priests unto God;" Rev. i. 6; and when they sung the new song, they said, “ 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 ;” v. 9, 10. The Gospel reign began in its full power at the destruction of Jerusalem; and the reference which we find in the Apocalypse to
Christians being exalted to reign with Christ, as a future event, proves that the destruction of Jerusalem was future when the book was written.
But we pass from this topic. There is another subject, bearing a close relation, which it will be proper to introduce here. Our Lord repeatedly stated, that, at the time of his coming, he should judge the nations of the earth. The time of his coming was preëminently a time of judgment. He foretold, that when the Son of man should come in his glory, he should sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him should be assembled all nations, and he should render to every man according to his works ; Matt. xxv. 31, and xvi. 27, 28. Because the event was very near when St. James wrote, he said, “ Behold the Judge standeth before the door ;' v. 9. St. Paul said, that Jesus should “ judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and kingdom ;" 2 Tim. iv. 1 ; and St. Peter said, that men must give account to him " that is ready to judge the quick and the dead;" 1 Pet. iv. 5. There will be no dispute, then, that the judgment of the nations was to take place at the time of the coming of the Son of man at the destruction of Jerusalem. Now, it is very plainly to be seen, that the revelator spoke of the same judgment as transpiring in the course of the events that he described. At the sounding of the seventh angel, (as we have shown,) it was announced, “ The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever;" and to this it is added, “ And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great, and shouldest destroy them that destroy the earth.” And then, as though the old temple were destroyed simultaneously with this judgment, the revelator adds, in the next words, “ And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament;" i. e., the spiritual temple of the Gospel was to be opened in place of the temple on Mount Zion, which was about to pass away; Rev. xi. 18. Now, as the revelator foretold this great judgment as about to take place in connection with the establishment of the kingdom of God, is not this an additional proof that the Apocalypse was written previously to the destruction of Jerusalem ?
4. We approach now another class of evidences, which may perhaps be regarded as a little more direct; and yet they do not possess to our mind any greater force than those which we have already submitted.
THE Jews are spoken of in the Apocalypse in such a manner as would lead us to conclude that the book was written before the destruction of their city. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him ;" i. 7. Here is a manifest reference to the Jews among whom, and at whose instigation, the Lord Jesus was crucified. They were involved, according to this passage, in the judgment described by the revelator, and which was then shortly to transpire. Could the revelator have said this, had not the Apocalypse been written before the destruction of Jerusalem? But again : In the seventh chapter of the Apocalypse, the twelve tribes are spoken of as still being in existence; and for the purpose of representing the Jews who had been converted to Christianity, and received the acknowledgment of God that they were his, the revelator describes twelve thousand persons as being selected from each tribe, who received the seal of God in their foreheads, that they might not be hurt in the approaching calamities. The threatened judgment seems to have been delayed, that all possible preparation for the security of the Christians, amid the coming dangers, might be made, - a circumstance which the revelator describes in his own style : “And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God : and he cried with a loud voice to the
four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of God in their foreheads." The number of those that were sealed was one hundred and forty-four thousand, 66 of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” The tribes mentioned were the tribes of Juda, of Reuben, of Gad, of Aser, of Nephthalim, of Manasses, of Simeon, of Levi, of Issachar, of Zabulon, of Joseph, of Benjamin. Here is so plain a reference to the tribes as existing at the time, that one would consider it as decisive of the question that the book must have been written before the destruction of the nation. To this it may be said, in reply, that the revelator was perhaps contemplating the tribes retrospectively. But such a supposition conflicts with the plan of the Apocalypse; and moreover, the fourth chapter, which begins the second great division of that book, opens by saying, “ Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.” The tribes did not exist as such, after the dissolution of the nation. And why should these tribes have been mentioned in the manner pointed out, if Judea were not involved in the judgment? Why should Jewish Christians alone be mentioned ? We confess we know of no answer that can be given to these queries.
We find also references in the Apocalypse to the City of JERUSALEM as still standing, at the time that book was written. Speaking of the two witnesses who had been slain for the testimony of Jesus, the revelator
“ And their dead bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified ;" xi. 8. It was a custom with the sacred writers to call one city by the name of another, to signify some point of resemblance. Thus Jerusalem was called Sodom, after the example of Isaiah i. 10, on account of its wickedness; and it was also called Egypt, perhaps for the same reason. It was spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, i. e., it was called so figuratively or metaphorically. But