Horatius Bonar Commentaries
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.Strangership And Pilgrimage.
1 Peter 2:2.
The woman fled into the wilderness!Well would it have been with her had she continued there. But she came forth into earth's cities, and dwelt in its palaces, and put on its gay apparel, and said, 'I am a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.' In unbelief and forgetfulness of her true character, she sought to reign where she should have remained a stranger, and put on purple robes when she should have worn only sackcloth (1 Corinthians 4:8).
'The earth helped the woman,' no doubt; and in so doing saved her from unceasing persecution, giving her some respite. Christianity became fashionable; and the immense number of mere professors of that faith, while really a source of internal weakness, was yet a source of external strength and protection. It was earthly protection, no doubt, and on that account perilous; yet it was just the protection which God Himself had given to the Jewish Church in Babylon, in Shushan, and in Egypt. The flood of persecution was sweeping the Church away, when 'the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.' This cessation of persecution, this earthly help, became a snare. The woman said, 'I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing.' She forgot her heavenly calling, her future kingdom, her incorruptible inheritance, her unearthly hope, and became part of the world which had helped her. Civilization, science, literature, intellectual enlightenment, became her gods. She set them between her and the cross, between her and the glory. Influence, power, wealth, knowledge apart from God and His Christ, were sought after and obtained. The Church wooed the world, and the world wooed the Church; compromises were agreed upon; the world ceased to persecute, and the Church ceased to 'condemn the world.'
Yet God is ever calling His own out of this mingled mass, and bidding them walk alone. We are not simply to leave the world, but to 'go forth outside the camp,' bearing Christ's reproach; and oftentimes that reproach comes sharper from the lips of so-called Christians, than from a pleasure-loving world.
Abelwas a stranger upon earth—so are all God's Abels still. Enoch was a stranger—yet he was partaker of the heavenly calling. Abraham was a stranger—yet he was one of the seekers of the better, even the heavenly country (Hebrews 11:16), looking for the New Jerusalem, the Church's special home (Hebrews 11:10). Davidconfesses himself a pilgrim—'We are strangers before You, and sojourners, as were all our fathers' (1 Chronicles 29:15; Psalm 39:12).
'Leave of your country,' said God to Abraham (Genesis 12:1). 'Arise and depart,' were the prophet's words to Israel (Micah 2:10). 'Let us go forth,' said Paul (Hebrews 13:13). 'Stranger and pilgrim' is descriptive of a believing man (1 Peter 2:2). 'In journeyings often,' said Paul of himself (2 Corinthians 11:26). Again and again is it said of Israel, 'They took their journey' from such and such places.
Strangers and pilgrims! Yes! For this world is not our rest or our home! We are wayfaring men, tarrying but a night. We are sojourners, as were all our fathers; and we pass the time of our sojourning here in fear; not looking back, but up and on; with girded loins and staff in hand hastening to the heavenly city. What have we to do with Egypt's treasures, or Babylon's glory; with Corinth's lusts, or Rome's magnificence; with Athenian philosophy, or Ephesian magic—with worldly wantonness or luxury? We see what eye has not seen—we hear what ear has not heard—and we pass by these earthly beauties and pleasures! They perish with the using! The fashion of this world passes away!
These are memorable words of Paul—'In journeyingsoften.' Such is a brief but true picture of a Christian man's life. Rooted, yet unrooted; settled, yet unsettled; at rest, yet ever moving; anchored, yet hurried along with storms; unburdened, yet burdened; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.
Such was the life of Abrahamand the patriarchs; such the life of Moses;such the life of Israel in their desert-wanderings. Here have we no continuing city—not even a continuing tent. No certain dwelling-place; no rest—sure of a dwelling somewhere, yet not sure of it anywhere. Patriarchal life was made up of comings and departings, of greetings and farewells. Men were then 'strangers and pilgrims on the earth.' They were like seamen, the greater part of whose time was spent in pulling up and letting go the anchor, in spreading and taking in their sails. Their life was the remotest possible from that of the hermit on the one hand, or the bustling merchant on the other. They seemed hardly to touch the soil over which they passed, or to have any firm connection with the things seen and temporal.
Paul'shistory was in many respects a repetition of Israel's, and even more a repetition of the Master's,who was, above all others, 'in journeyings often;' whose ministry was a continual moving to and fro, having no place to lay His head; to whom even Bethany was only a single night's resting-place from which He must depart on the morrow. From the day that the Lord shone upon Paul on his way to Damascus, his life was that of Israel in the desert, only with more of conflict, and weariness, and sorrow, and labor. He had his Ethams, his Succoths, his Marahs, his Elims, his Rephidims, his Kadeshes—with many an intervening resting-place—certain of nothing but that the pillar-cloud was above him, that his bread would be given him, and his water would be sure—that there was no condemnation for him, and that all things would work together for his good!
Many and pleasant resting-places had Paul, like his Master at Jacob's well, enjoying shade and provision of which the world knew nothing—but the intervals between were long and wearisome. At Corinth, at Antioch, at Troas, he rested once and again, enjoying sweet fellowship with the brethren; but he had scarcely begun to enjoy this, when he was called away. The pillar-cloud rose, and he was constrained to move. Each movement, each stage, was the encountering of a new storm of the desert, or the endurance of more scorching heat. Gladly would he have remained at such places, in the bosom of churches he had planted; but the Spirit allowed him not, leading him on from place to place—to bonds and imprisonment—to labors and stripes—to beating and stoning—to shipwreck and peril by sea and land—to weariness and painfulness—to hunger and thirst—to fastings and cold, and nakedness. He was a stranger and pilgrim on the earth—through much tribulation entering the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).
Of Israel we read that 'they came to Elim' (Exodus 15:27), where were the wells and palms; and then that they 'took their journey from Elim' (Exodus 16:1), into the wilderness,where there was neither bread nor water.
They had left Egypt, the land of worldly plenty, where they walked by sight, not by faith—and they had come into a land where sight was nothing, and where faith must be all. The closing waters of the Read Sea, while they cut Israel off from their enemies—cut them off from the land of plenty—and shut them into one of dearth and desolation. They were now alone with God!For good or for evil, they had now to deal with Him alone—and that face to face, in a desert land, where earthly supplies were unknown. If He were against them—who could be for them? If He were for them—who could be against them?
Their arrival at MARAH tested them. Is their life to be by faithor by sight?Is earth or heaven to be their recognized storehouse of blessing—their fountainhead of abundance? This was their first real taste of the true wilderness life and walk. It began with the bitter—and it ended with the sweet. The first taste of the waters was distasteful—the second most pleasant. The bitterness was of earth—the sweetness was of heaven.
Yet at Marah the comfort was of a mingled kind. It was not their faith that had turned the bitterness into sweetness—and this was humbling and sad. God had met their murmurings with His own free love—their distrust of Him with overflowing bounty—and, if we may so say, had answered them according to their unbelief, not their faith. He had, in wondrous grace, reversed His own rule of action, and had done the miracle because of their unbelief—not their faith! Yet even the outward blessing Marah was not a full one. It sufficed for the moment, but it was incomplete. There was water, but no shade; wells, but no palms. The water had issued from their unbelief, not their faith; and God marked His displeasure by making them drink it on the unshaded burning sands.
There was little then to bind them to this shadeless spot, saddened with the recollection of their own unbelief, though in a measure sweetened by the gracious dealings of Him whose love passes knowledge. Their journey from Marah would not be an unwilling one, and their arrival at ELIM would be most grateful—for Elim contained all that such sojourners required. Sweet spot! Close girdled with low hills; the higher peaks of the desert not far off; covered with desert shrubs, tall or stunted; wells bubbling over, and losing themselves in the desert sand; a tiny stream finding its way through the sandy hollow to the Red Sea; and clustering palms (now, in our day quite a forest) stretching their shades over the smiling valley in all directions!
Israel might say—Here let us abide. If we are to have a home in the desert, let it be here. They would say, 'This is our rest;' but God said, 'This is not your rest.' So they left the shade and the cool waters—'they journeyed from Elim.' The journey to Elim was pleasant; the stay at Elim was still more so. The journey from Elim must have been sad and dreary—behind them the refreshing verdure; before and around the hot wind of the desert, and with no resting-place in view. But such was the will of Him who was leading them on—such was the silent beckoning of the pillar-cloud. They must not stay—though they would have gladly stayed. It is not to softness, and luxury, and ease that they are called, but to hardness and trial—and a life of faith on an unseen God and a yet distant 'Canaan'!
So it is with us. We are 'in journeyings often.' Egypt is left behind forever—the blood has been sprinkled, and we have found protection and deliverance from the destroying angel—the march has been begun—the Red Sea is crossed—we have sung the song of Moses—we have entered on the desert—we are pressing toward 'Jerusalem'! Our desert lifeis the life of discipline, and faith, and hope. We come to Elim, and rest for a few pleasant days beneath its palms. But Elim is not Jerusalem, and we must leave it. Oppressive words these, 'They journeyed from Elim!' And yet, since Elim is not 'Jerusalem', our hope still shines in front of us. It is not on Canaan that we turn our backs; it is not Jerusalem that we are called to leave; for that city once entered, is entered forever. From it we go out no more.
But here "in the wilderness," we have our changes—our risings and our fallings—our rejoicings and our sorrowings—our movings and our restings—our sickenings and our healings—our partings and our meetings—often coming close together, like Marah and Elim in the same desert, and within a day of each other. We are 'in journeyings often!' Ours is a continual tent-life—this wilderness world is not our rest! Often we wish it were our rest, we get so tired of these unceasing movements—but it must not be so. We could not be trusted with ease, and comfort, and painless, prosperous days. We would forget ourselves—and forget our inheritance. Every change or sorrow says to us—"Onward, upward! Elim is pleasant, with its wells and palms, but it is not Canaan—it is not Jerusalem. It is only a brief resting-place; a rest to recruit and fit you for your further journey. You must leave it on the morrow!"
Yet the pillar-cloudis here, for shade, for protection, or guidance. It will not mislead. You shall just have as long at Elim as is for your good—and not a minute longer! Therefore gird up your loins; be ever in readiness either for resting or journeying—for the battle, or the march, or the triumph. Let patience have her perfect work; let faithkeep her hold of the unseen; let hopeburn brighter and fuller as the journeyings are drawing to their close—and as we near the gates of the glorious city—and the banks of the river of life—and the palms of the paradise of God!
Be holy. Be separate from the world. Abstain from fleshly lusts. Lay aside all filthiness. Walk soberly. Beware of earth's folly and idle laughter. Set your affection on things above. Be prepared for suffering. Endure hardness. Take up your cross daily and bear it aloft—and be not ashamed of it. The footsteps of the old pilgrims are still visible on the sands of time. Follow them! Their voice is still heard, and their hand still waves, beckoning you to follow. Until you find a nobler faith than Abraham's, a better book than the Bible, a truer creed than Paul's—believe what they believed. For these things are not yet obsolete. Centuries do not alter truth. Time and science have not yet leveled the eternal hills. The cross still stands erect amid the ruins of ages—the blood of Jesus still purges the conscience—and the believing man is still a stranger here in this world!
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.The Heavenly Song of Victory.
This is a song of heaven—of that heaven from which the dragon had been cast out. It was sung with a loud voice, that all in heaven and earth might hear. It is a song of triumph and gladness, like that which is sung over one sinner who repents. Yet it is not a song of consummation, as if the whole work was completed, and the last battle won. For the dragon is only cast down to earth, to do terrible things there in his last wrath. But it is a song of progress. Another victory won—another advance made—the glorious termination becoming nearer and nearer.
Often had such a song been sung. Even at the first promise—still more at each successive unfolding of it—at the covenant with Abraham, and again with David; at each prophetic announcement of Messiah; at His birth; at His death (He himself took it up, 'Now is the judgment of this world'); at His resurrection; at His ascension; at subsequent events both in heaven and earth; last of all shall it be sung at His second coming, when the development shall reach its fullness, the consummation be realized, the kingdom set up, and the glory revealed. It is like the feeling of seamen, at rounding some new coast which brings them more within sight of home; like soldiers, after defeating one and another squadron of the enemy's troops, and pressing on, flushed with victory; like climbers of some mountain-range, surmounting first one and then another of the intervening heights that lie between them and the object of their ambition.
Thus runs the heavenly song—'Now has come to pass the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ.' Let us attend to each of the notes separately.
I. The salvation.It is 'the salvation' that is here sung of—the salvation of Him whose name is Jesus, the Savior. It is salvation—not consisting of one blessing or one kind of blessing, but of many—made up of everything which can be indicated by the reversal of our lost condition. It is not done at once, but in parts and at sundry times, each age bringing with it more of 'salvation' in every sense; unfolding it; building it up; gathering in new objects; overcoming new enemies; occupying new ground; erecting new trophies. But little of it has yet taken effect; an 'election,' no more—yet something is doing, age after age. At each new development, or conquest, a new song in sung—'Now is come the salvation;' and if these intermediate shouts of triumph be so loud and rapturous—what will be the last of all?
II. The power.This is the more common rendering of the word (not 'strength'), as when Christ's miracles are spoken of, or 'the powers of the world to come.' As yet God's power has not been fully manifested; it has been hidden. Man's power and Satan's have been in the ascendant. The counteraction of and victory over these have not yet been conspicuously revealed. Many trophies, no doubt, it has won; many enemies it has defeated; many brands it has plucked from the burning; but the full revelation of its greatness is yet to come. When that day arrives, earth as well as heaven shall rejoice—'Now is come the salvation and the power.' That shall be the day of power—'the Lord God omnipotent reigns.'
III. The kingdom of our God.It is the kingdom—the kingdom of kingdoms; not of Satan or man, as now, but of God, no, our God. Our God, says heaven; our God, re-echoes earth. God's purpose is to have a kingdom and a king. The original grant or command to Adam involved this—'Have dominion' (Genesis 1:28); He 'put all things under his feet' (Psalm 8:6). Man in the person of the first Adam was declared king, with this globe for his dominion. He fell, and forfeited his tenure. The second Adam has come in his stead; and the kingdom of our God is yet to be set up. As yet it is but the kingdom of man and of Satan. Earth has not acknowledge God; but in the day when God's original purpose shall be fulfilled, shall be heard the loud voice in heaven and earth, 'Now is come the kingdom of our God.' Then shall the Church's prayer be answered—'Your kingdom come.'
IV. The authority of His Christ.'The Christ of God' is the full name for Jesus of Nazareth—God's Messiah—He in whom all royal, priestly, judicial, prophetically power is invested. To this Messiah all power has been given, all authority entrusted, in heaven, and earth, and hell. But now we see not yet all things under Him. His authority is in abeyance until the fullness of the times shall come. Then it shall be put forth over all the earth. He shall destroy Antichrist; bind Satan; deliver creation; bring all the nations under His sway as King of kings and Lord of lords. His authority shall be supreme. His throne shall be above all thrones. His scepter shall be acknowledged everywhere. All nations shall submit themselves. Earth shall be as heaven. Then shall the loud voice be heard—'Now is come the authority of His Christ.'
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.The Blood Of The Covenant.
All through Scripture we find traces of the blood. 'You shall bruise His heel' was the first reference to it. The bruised heel of the woman's seed was to be the foundation stone of our deliverance. It was to be deliverance by blood. The bruised heel was to tread upon the serpent's head. In connection with this announcement as to the bruised heel, sacrifice was ordained; and thus the truth began to be developed; victory for the sinner through the blood of One who was to be slain.
'The blood is the life' (Deuteronomy 12:23). Not that blood and life are actually the same thing—the one is material, the other immaterial. But the blood is the 'life made visible'—the liquid link between body and soul, which, once broken, brings death. The blood poured out is the life drained away from the body—the departure of the soul from its material dwelling. Thus the blood and the life are identified. God identifies them; law identifies them. Blood 'shed' is the symbol or visible exhibition of 'death'.
Death was the penalty of man's guilt. The wages of sin is death. The soul that sins—it shall die. If, then, another life is to be taken for our life, and another death is to be substituted for ours, the true expression of this is the drawing the blood from the victim, and putting that blood on us. This is the symbolic declaration of the great substitution, the great transference—one life for another, one death for another. Death, with all its consequences, lies on the transgressor until another death comes (in the symbolic form of blood), and washes it away. When the sinner receives God's testimony to 'the blood of the Lamb', then the transference is at once completed—death passes away.
Let us see the different aspects in which the blood is presented to us in Scripture; the manifold blessings with which it is connected; the various points at which we come into contact with it.
I. The blood of the Lamb contains the good news.(Hebrews 12:24) It 'speaks better things than that of Abel.' It speaks of grace, not of wrath; of mercy, not of vengeance; of peace returning, not of peace departing. As seen on the altar, it tells the good news of life given for life; as seen upon the mercy seat, it says, 'Let us come boldly to the throne of grace.' Glad tidings of great joy to the sinfullest are contained in the blood—the precious blood of Christ. It offers to the sinner a reversal of the sentence of death, by presenting him with the death of another in his stead.
II. The blood of the Lamb is the purchase money for the Church.(Acts 20:28) As God's eternal purpose deals both with the Church as a whole, and with each chosen soul, so does the blood. It is the price or ransom of the whole Church; it is the price and ransom of each should that is saved. Of the church it is true—'she is bought with a price;' of each saint it is true—he is bought with a price. The 'blood of the covenant' is the payment demanded by the Father, and paid by the Son. Not without blood can the purpose of the Father be carried out. It is the legal payment of the price or penalty, because it was the death which the Church should have died—but which her Surety took upon Him.
III. The blood of the Lamb is the atonement.(Exodus 30:10) 'Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of the altar with the blood of the sin-offering' (Leviticus 17:11). 'The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.' The Old Testament word "atonement" means 'to cover;' and the blood is that which 'covers' sin, so that it becomes hidden and indiscernible by God Himself—as if the only thing through which the eye of God could not penetrate was the altar blood. To him whose sin is thus 'covered' by the blood, God is propitious. The blood propitiates; and the blood, received by the sinner (in the belief of God's testimony to it), propitiates God toward the sinner himself personally. Only the blood can cover! Not mountains, nor seas, nor the thick forests of earth; only blood—the blood of the one Sacrifice. In this is atonement; and, as the result of atonement, reconciliation with God. Looking at the paschal blood, God says, 'Pass over, slay not;' looking at the sacrificial blood, God says, 'Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more!'
IV. The blood of the Lamb is the redemption.(Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 5:9) Redemption is not the same as the atonement or the purchase money, already noticed. It is the carrying out of that for which the price was paid and the atonement made. The paying down the money is one thing; the redeeming the person so paid for, so ransomed, is something more. It is nearly synonymous with salvation, only it expresses the way by which the salvation has been obtained—by ransom or purchase. Hence the expression, 'the redemption of the purchased possession' (Ephesians 1:14). Redemption by blood is our gospel; redemption presented fully by the redeeming One to the 'lawful captive,' to the imprisoned and exiled sinner. He who believes enters into possession of all that it contains.
V. The blood of the Lamb is the bringing near.(Ephesians 2:13) The far off are made near by the blood. It is the blood which removes the distance; that brings God near to us, and us near to God. It annihilates all distance, and all variance. The blood brings about the meeting between us and God. Incarnation is not the bringing near, nor the thing which brings us near; it is merely the first step in a process, which, had it not ended in the blood shedding, would have been all in vain. It is the blood that emboldens us to draw near to God, and justifies God in drawing near to us. 'Let us draw near' is the voice of the blood, speaking both from the altar and the mercy seat. And how? 'With at true heart and in the full assurance of faith.' And the blood provides for both of these.
VI. The blood of the Lamb contains the cleansing.(1Jo 1:7) This is spoken of also as 'purging' (Hebrews 9:14, Hebrews 9:22), and as 'washing' (Revelation 1:5); and it is to this that Zechariah refers, when he speaks of the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness (Zechariah 13:1); and David, when he prays, 'Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than the snow' (Psalm 51:7). It is specially to the guilt that these passages refer—the judicial or legal defilement or condemnation, as the consequence of sin committed; so that, when that defilement or condemnation was removed by the application of the blood of the substitute, the man became clean in the sight of God and of His law. He was purged in conscience and in heart; in body, soul, and spirit. After this, the inward purification began, and was carried on in connection with the blood, through the power of the Spirit. We preach the purging and cleansing blood. It has lost none of its efficacy. The Lamb slain is the same as ever; and the High Priest is the same as ever; and the blood is the same as ever—as able to purge and purify.
VII. The blood of the Lamb contains the peace.(Colossians 1:20) 'Peace through the blood of His cross;' for 'He is our peace' (Ephesians 2:14); and because of the blood, God 'is pacified towards us for all that we have done' (Ezekiel 16:63). It is the blood that has made the peace, for it removes that which produced the controversy and contention. The blood pacifies. It removes that which drew on us the wrath of God, quenching that wrath; it removes that which made us dread God and flee from Him, like Adam. Peace through the blood is our message! To the guiltiest rebel upon earth it comes!
VIII. The blood of the Lamb contains the pardon.(Hebrews 9:22) 'Without shedding of blood is no remission.' By the shedding of blood then, there is remission of sins. The many blood sheddings have ceased (Hebrews 10:18); and the one blood shedding, which in its value, and efficacy, and suitableness is everlasting and infinite, remains. Taking it as the payment of the penalty, substituted by God for our non-payment of it, we are forgiven. He who receives the divine testimony to the blood is in so doing forgiven. That blood, by covering his sins, brings pardon—pardon to anyone who is willing to take pardon in this way from God.
IX. The blood of the Lamb contains justification.(Romans 5:9) 'Justified by His blood.' We get justification by His grace and by His righteousness. Here it is said to be by His blood. Justification seems here opposed to 'condemnation'—the sweeping away of everything that brought us under condemnation. This the blood accomplishes; meeting every accusation, answering every plea, setting aside everything that is laid to our charge. Looking to the blood, we can say, 'who is he who condemns?' The blood sets us right in conscience and in law with God. It justifies the ungodly.
X. The blood of the Lamb contains that which makes white.(Revelation 8:14) 'They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.' Not only the man, but his garments are made white. This is more than cleansing. It is the word used regarding Christ's transfiguration-garments (Matthew 17:2); the angel-robes (Matthew 28:3); the heavenly clothing (Revelation 4:4); the judgment throne (Revelation 20:2). Whiter than snow or wool, white as the garments of Christ—no, the 'head and hair' of Christ (Revelation 1:14). This is the result of the application of the blood to those who were 'blacker than the coal,' redder than crimson. What potency, what virtue, what excellency does this blood contain! How it beautifies and glorifies!
XI. The blood of the Lamb contains that which sanctifies.(Hebrews 13:12) 'That He might sanctify the people with His own blood.' This is consecrating them as His kings and priests, setting them apart for service, making them 'saints,' holy ones. The blood of the great Sin-offering (outside the gate) sanctifies. As soon as the blood touches us, by our believing, we are set apart—we become the royal priesthood, holy to the Lord.
XII. The blood of the Lamb contains the power to conquer.(Revelation 12:2) 'They overcame by (on account of) the blood of the Lamb.' No victory without the blood! No power to fight; no motive in fighting; no hope of overcoming. The blood takes the strength from the enemy. The blood supplies us with all these. We look to it, and out of weakness we are made strong. We look to it, and we are cheered as well as nerved for conflict with the enemy.
XIII. The blood of the Lamb contains our right of entrance into the holiest.(Hebrews 10:19) He entered 'by His own blood' (Hebrews 9:12). He gives us this blood as our right of entrance is sprinkled and consecrated by His blood. Let us draw near! The blood removes all cause of dread, all possibility of rejection, more—gives the certainty of reception. Let us go in! We are sure of a welcome. It gives boldness as well as right of entrance. It says, 'Draw near boldly.'
XIV. The blood of the Lamb contains the seal of the covenant.(Luke 22:20) 'This cup is the new testament in my blood.' The blood seals the covenant—and the cup is the symbol of that seal. It is 'the everlasting covenant' (Hebrews 13:20); the 'covenant of peace' (Isaiah 54:10); 'the new covenant' (Jeremiah 31:31); the covenant which is absolute and unconditional; which not only gives to each sinner who believes a present standing before God of favor and love, but which secures his eternal future beyond the possibility of a second fall. The blood covenant makes us safe forever. O blood-sealed covenant, ordered in all things and sure, what a foundation are those for our faith to rest upon, and of our hope to rejoice in! Yes, and the ages to come are all contained within your ample compass.
XV. The blood of the Lamb contains the true drink for the soul.'My blood is the true drink' (John 6:55). It quenches the thirst of the soul—the thirst of parching produced by an evil conscience and a sense of wrath, which dries up the frame like a potsherd (Psalm 22:15). It removes the wrath and the sense of wrath—by showing us that wrath transferred to the Substitute. It relieves the conscience when first we come into contact with it; and it keeps it relieved from day to day, as we drink it by faith. It is 'drink indeed.' It calms, it revives, it refreshes, it soothes; it is like cold water to the thirsty lips under a scorching sun. Nothing but the blood can allay this thirst; nothing else can be drink for the soul, for the intellect, the conscience, the heart.
XVI. The blood of the Lamb contains life.(John 6:53) 'Unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, you have no life in you.' The blood not only 'removes death' (judicial and spiritual), but it gives and 'preserves life' (judicial and spiritual). It quickens! Israel was forbidden to taste the literal blood, and would have been punished with death had they done so; we are commanded to drink the spiritual or symbolical blood, with the promise and assurance that it contains life for us. Without it we have no life. We are not only to be sprinkled with it outwardly, but we are to receive it inwardly—to drink it. As with the water, so with the blood. They are for inward as well as for outward application. We drink them and live; and are washed with them and made clean.
XVII. The blood of the Lamb contains protection.(Exodus 12:13; Hebrews 6:28) The blood of the paschal lamb was Israel's protection. No sword could reach the man on the door of whose dwelling God saw the sprinkled blood. So the blood of Christ our Passover protects. In believing God's testimony to the blood; it becomes sprinkled upon us; and from that moment we are safe. The blood is our security. God sees it, and bids the sword pass by.
XVIII. The blood of the Lamb contains separation from the world.(Hebrews 13:2) As the Sin-offering, Jesus suffered outside the gate; thereby not only fulfilling His sacrificial work, and completing the sacrificial symbol or type, but leaving us an example that we should follow His steps. 'Let us go forth' is the voice that comes to us from the blood. Come out and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing; for the blood of the sin offering is upon us, and Jesus is before us. Let us go forth not only from Babylon and Egypt, but from 'Jerusalem'—Jerusalem, which had become the type of the false Church—the mere religious professor—which, while naming His name, rejects Him and His cross, more—crucifies Him afresh! Let us keep ourselves unspotted not only from the ungodly world as such, but from a worldly Church—worldly professors, who, instead of bearing Christ's reproach, bring reproach upon Him!
XIX. The blood of the Lamb contains resurrection.(Hebrews 13:20) By the blood of the everlasting covenant, Christ was raised. Our sins had slain Him, shed His blood, and brought Him down to the grave! But that shed blood was the removal of the sins that had weighed Him down. God saw in that blood the finished substitution. He accepted it, and gave evidence to that completed work of propitiation, by raising the Substitute. As the great Shepherd, He gave His life for the sheep; His life was accepted instead of theirs; His death made their dying no longer necessary—no, unjust. The blood was the payment of that which had brought death on Him and us; and therefore He was raised. With Him we rise—by the efficacy of the same blood. That blood, which is the symbol of death, is the seal of resurrection.
XX. The blood of the Lamb contains condemnation.(Matthew 27:4, Matthew 27:25; Acts 5:28; Hebrews 10:29) It thus contains the condemnation of Judas, of Jerusalem and Israel—of all rejecters of Christ. The same blood that spoke of pardon speaks of condemnation. Under the weight of 'rejected blood' the unbelieving sinner perishes. This is the condemnation which the church in these last days is preparing for itself—(1) slighting the blood; (2) rejecting it; (3) trampling on the Son of God, and counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing. Under this aggravated guilt the world shall go down to wrath; for it is guilt of the deepest dye—the deliberate refusal of and contempt for all that God has provided for the sinner. If an Israelite had torn down the tabernacle, overthrown altar and laver, slain the priest, cast forth the blood and water, defiled the mercy-seat, he would be but a type of him who values at nothing the Son of God, and slights His blood. This is the millstone which the world is fastening to its own neck, which shall sink it in the abyss forever!
Yet still the value and the virtue of the blood of the Lamb remain the same. It has lost none of its efficacy. It can still cleanse, and redeem, and purify. It can still pacify the conscience and reconcile of God. Not even its most deliberate rejecters need despair, or fear that it may not avail for them. It cannot lose its power. Up to the very last it avails. Of its divine value the chief of sinners may avail himself without fear or distrust. In crediting the Holy Spirit's testimony to its undiminished and unchangeable sufficiency, the guiltiest upon earth will draw out all its fullness to himself; the whole value of the blood passes over to him who believes, as soon as he has believed. Not upon feeling, but upon believing, does the obtaining of its benefits depend. As soon as we receive the divine testimony, all that the blood has secured for sinners passes over to us as our righteous and everlasting possession. The preciousness of the blood is transferred to us; the preciousness of Him whose blood it is becomes ours, and we are accepted in the Beloved! 'Jehovah our righteousness' is our joy and our song!
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
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.