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through the midst of heaven: Come, gather yourselves together to the great supper of God.*
V. 18. “ That you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of tribunes, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all freemen and bondmen, and of little and of great." While Christ, the divine hero, is advancing to battle with his celestial army, an angel in the sun with a loud voice invites all the birds of the air to a most plentiful entertainment which is preparing for them; where they may fill themselves with human flesh of all kinds, from that of kings to that of slaves, and with the flesh of horses and that of their riders; an expressive picture of the immense slaughter that is going to be made. It would seem that this bloody scene will terminate in the evening of the day, as the invitation is given to a supper. - Then,
V. 19. “And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together, to make war with him that sat upon the horse, and with his army." We have just now seen the heavenly captain on horseback at the head of his holy troop marching to battle; and now we see who are the enemies he comes to encounter. Here is the beast, or Antichrist, with prodigious armies gathered from all parts of the earth, and headed by their kings and princes. Here they are met with that satanic design of engaging in battle with him who sits upon the horse, the omnipotent Son of God. " The kings of the earth,” says the royal psalmist, “have stood up, and the princes have met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ: but thou, O Christ, shall break them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” Psalm ii. 2, 9. No more is man than a potter's vessel, when he contends with the Almighty. The decisive moment is come. This is the day of the Lord in the valley of destruction. Joel, iii. 14. This is the great day of the Almighty God, Apoc. xvi. 14, in which he will show to whom belong empire and victory. For,
. 20. “ And the beast was taken," pursues St. John, " and with him the false prophet, who wrought signs before him, wherewith he seduced them who received the character of the beast, and who adored his image. These two were cast alive into the pool of fire burning with brimstone.” At the terrible appearance of Christ descending through the skies with his army, his enemies are struck with dread and con
+ In the Greek, "to the supper of the great God.”
sternation; and by his order the beast Antichrist, is seized and made captive, and with him the great impostor, his false prophet, who by delusive signs and wonders had seduced such numbers to become the beast's votaries. Christ with the sole breath of his mouth hurls down Antichrist alive into hell-fire, “ that wicked man, whom," as St. Paul informs us, " the Lord Jesus shall kill (or exterminate) with the breath of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." 2 Thes. ii. 8. The prophet Isaiah had likewise said : “with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. man,” xi. 4. The false prophet is also precipitated down along with his master. Thus will be exterminated that beast, Antichrist, the greatest monster of impiety the earth ever bore, the declared enemy of Christ, the man of sin, the son of perdition, as St. Paul styles bim, an idolater, a mock god, a more cruel persecutor of the Christians than Nero or Dioclesian. From the pinnacle of arrogance and power he will be flung down, and in a moment buried alive in the bottomless pit. “I have seen the wicked man," says the psalmist, “highly exalted, and lifted up like the cedars of Libanus. And I passed by, and lo he was not: and I sought him, and his place was not found.” Psalm xxxvi. 35.-Lastly,
V. 21. “ And the rest were slain," continues St. John, “ by the sword of him that sitteth upon the horse, which proceedeth out of his mouth: and all the birds were filled with their flesh.” Immediately upon the destruction of Antichrist and the false prophet, the whole army is slaughtered; Christ commanding his two-edged sword, or giving it to an angel, to do the execution. In such a wide field of carnage, the
birds of the air, which had all been invited to this supper, • are now filled and sated with the flesh of the dead bodies. “If
I shall whet my sword as the lightning," said the Lord, “ and my hand take hold of judgment: I will render vengeance to my enemies, and repay them that hate me. My sword shall devour flesh. Praise his people, ye nations, for he will revenge the blood of his servants." Deuter. xxxii. 41, 42, 43. And thus we see executed the sentence, taken notice of before, which Christ pronounced at the beginning of Antichrist's persecution and war: “He that shall kill by the sword, must be killed by the sword.” Apoc. xiii. 10.
Such will be the dreadful vengeance, the almighty Son of God, the King of kings and Lord oi' lords, will take upon his enemies, and in this conspicuous manner will he vindicate his sovereign dominion, and rescue his faithful servants from
that intolerable tyranny they have laboured under for three years and a half. This exploit of the alınighty Son of God, we see expressed beautifully by his prophet Isaiah: Dizistis enim-Idcirco hæc dicit Dominus Deus ; delebitur fædus vesIrum, &c. Isaiah xxviii. 15, 18. But we seem to be furnished with further interesting circumstances of this memorable day by the prophet Zachary, if we understand right his following prophecy :
Chap. xix. 1. “Behold the days of the Lord shall come, and thy spoils shall be divided in the midst of thee.
V. 2. “And I will gather ali nations to Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken, and the houses shall be rided, and the women shall be defiled: and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the rest of the people shall not be taken away out of the city.” This siege and taking of Jerusalem by a body of Antichrist's troops, we have explained before.Zachary goes on,
V. 3. “Then the Lord shall go forth, and shall fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
V. 4. “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is over against Jerusalem towards the east : and the mount of Olives shall be divided in the midst thereof to the east, and to the west, with a very great opening, and half of the mountain shall be separated to the north, and half thereof to the south.
V. 5."— And the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with him.” The Lord my God, the almighty Son of God, will come, accompanied by all the saints, v. 5, as St. John represented him, and he will destroy at once all those nations, v. 3, as he destroyed in the day of battle, the Egyptians in the Red Sea. Mount Olivet, it is here said, v. 4, shall be split, in two; in order perhaps to open a passage to Antichrist and his false prophet, at the moment they are cast down alive into the infernal pit. Christ will stand upon the mountain : and while he is in this posture, the immense heap of slain lying in the plains below him, may not his enemies then be truly said to be made his footstool ? Psalm cix. 1.
V. 6. " And it shall come to pass in that day," continues Zachary, “that there shall be no light, but cold and frost.
V. 7. “And there shall be one day, which is known to the Lord, not day nor night: and in the time of the evening there shall be light.” That one day, known to the Lord, is the day of vengeance upon Antichrist and his people, which properly wi neither be day nor night, the sun, moon, and stars, being
obscured and veiled over, as we learned from Joel, saying of that day “the sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars have withdrawn their shining," iii. 15. The light that will then illuminate the earth, will be that resplendent brightness with which our Saviour will come down to do the execution. While the rays of the sun are ihus intercepted, no wonder the air grows cold and frosty. But in the evening there will be light, that is, when the scene is over, and Christ mounted up back to heaven, the sun's light will return, viz. in the evening, the time indicated also by St John in the invitation of the birds to a supper.
V. 12. “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord shall strike all nations that have fought against Jerusalem : the flesh of every one shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongues shall consume away in their mouth." While Antichrist's armies in the vale of Josaphat are slain by the sword, those troops which took Jerusalem in the abovementioned siege, and treated there the servants of God so barbarously, will be punished by their flesh melting and consuming away, &c. and thus the people will be preserved from any stench of the carcasses.
V. 16. “ And all they that shall be left of all nations that came against Jerusalem, shall go up from year to year, to adore the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
V. 17. “ And it shall come to pass, that he that shall not go up of the families of the land to Jerusalem, to adore the King, the Lord of hosts, there shall be no rain upon them."
Those that join not Antichrist's army, but remain in their • country, will be ordered to depute a certain number of per
sons to go every year to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of tabernacles: and if any country neglect this obligatory devotion, it will be punished by the want of rain. The feast of Tabernacles was kept by the Jews in memory of their sojourning forty years in the desert, and this place may signify the soleinn festival, which will be annually observed by the Christians at Jerusalem, in memory of their deliverance from Antichrist, by the destruction of him and his people in and near that city. And as the feast of the tabernacles was kept on the fifteenth of the Hebrew month Tizri, which answers to the moon of our September; this may indicate that the great day of destruction will happen about the autumnal equinox; in which case counting back three years and
sitteth on the throne, shall dwell over them.” The martyrs "are placed in the presence of their God, to whom they offer constant homage and adoration: and he will dwell over them, by infusing the joy of beatitude into their souls, and being their liberal Lord and gracious governor for ever. Lastly,
V. 16. “ They shall no more hunger and thirst, neither shall the sun fall on them, nor any heat.
V. 17. "For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall rule* them, and shall lead them to the fountains of the waters of life, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Their afflictions and hardships are now all over. They are now promised to be no more subject to the torments or sufferings they have undergone, either from hunger or thirst, or from the sun or any heat falling upon them, that is, from any sort of fire, natural or artificial; many of them having probably been famished to death, others burned, and others: shot. On the contrary, their bodies after the general resurrection will enjoy a most pure and perpetual feast, in being fed by the Lamb and refreshed by the most pleasant living waters, in such manner as is suitable to their glorified state. Before, St. John sail; they are before the throne of God, &c. to indicate the happiness of their souls immediately after their passage to the other life : But here he says: they shall no more hunger and thirst, &c. to denote the future period after the general resurrection, when their bodies which were associated in the hardships, will likewise enjoy their
share of beatitude, Furthermore, one may here observe the - suppression of the word “and," which is so constantly re
peated through the Apocalypse. In verse the 15th was expressed the beatitude of the soul, and in verse ihe 16th that of the body: the disparity of these two beatitudes could not well · admit of the conjunctive particle and, while the terms of soul and body were not expressed.—And God will wipe away their tears of sorrow : by filling them with the abundance of the sweetest joy and most perfect happiness for all tternity.
On the expiration of the forty-five days above-mentioned, Antichrist having collected together all the forces, assembled by the three evil spirits who " had gone forth unto the king of the whole earth to gather them to battle against the great day of the Almighty God," Aroc. xvi. 14, he encamps them
in the valley of Josaphat, between Jerusalem and Mount Oli· vet, and pitches his own tent on that mountain. He had
* In the Greek, " shall feed them."