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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 22

 

 

Verses 1-10

THIS is one of the many instances in the Bible in which the chapter division is in the wrong place. It here breaks the prophetical panorama of the heavenly metropolis, which is the last scene of these wonderful latter- day prophecies. Hence the division should not here appear.

1. The River of Life here described is in the city delineated in the preceding chapter.

2. The Tree of Life is also in the city. The twelve manner of fruits indicate the wonderful diversity of heavenly fruition, perfectly adapting and congenializing the heavenly state to every possible idiosyncrasy — social, intellectual, educational, and spiritual — appertaining to the entire heavenly host, from the most uncultured Hottentot to the champion apostle and the brightest archangel. The leaves of the tree are for the health of the nations. Healing, in the English, is misleading. The Greek therapeion is not a participle, but a noun. There are no diseases in heaven to be healed. This is a revelation against the probability of apostasy from the heavenly state. Lucifer and the angels fell long ago. This was before their probation expired. Our probation will expire at the end of the present life. Hence there is no probability that any of us will ever apostatize after we get to heaven. Sickness is the invariable precursor of death. If no ailment supervenes, death will never come. The Tree of Life is the symbol of perpetual immortality. Meanwhile, the very leaves of the tree are an effectual palladium against the slightest ingress of spiritual ailment. This tree is a beautiful evergreen, forever exhibiting its magnificent, umbrageous foliage, demonstrating to the multiplied millions of immortal eyes the transcendent reality that health never wanes, sickness never comes, and death is unknown. Hence the leaves of the tree, in their fadeless beauty, are a universal guarantee that perfect health is the constant and everlasting blessing of the glorified state.

3-4. And there shall be no more curse.” This forever settles the question of future probation. If there is any probation in the transfigured state, it will never be forfeited by transgression, as in that case the curse would inevitably supervene. “The throne of God and the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will serve Him, and they shall see His face.” This is a confirmation of the foregone conclusion that the New Jerusalem, poised in the firmament above this world, having reached the glorified state, is none other than the city of God, where He in His glory occupies the effulgent throne of the universe, and the Lamb that was slain and that liveth again shall focalize the adoration and admiration of glorified saints forever. Oh, how unutterably blessed to draw near and behold His face, all radiant with the love that brought Him from heaven to die for us poor sinners! “His name shall be in their foreheads.” The glorious experience of entire sanctification is this day notable for its efficiency in the superscription of the divine cognomen on the countenance. If, in these mortal tenements, the divine glory so radiates from the countenance as to enable us to read people like we read books, who can calculate the brilliancy of that splendor which shall beam from the physiognomies of the glorified saints, illuminated by the effulgent presence of God and the Lamb?

5. Night shall not be there; they do not need the light of a lamp and the light of a sun, because the Lord God shineth upon them, and they shall reign unto eternities of eternities.” This verse climaxes John’s glowing description of the heavenly state. He winds up with the affirmation of the eternal reign of the saints. Not only this world marching on to the heavenly state, but one billion and one hundred and seventy millions of other worlds have been at least faintly apprehended by telescopic observation. Who can anticipate to what extent our Lord will use us in the administration, culture, and evangelization of these innumerable worlds? This glorious prophetical panorama winds up with these wonderful words: “Eis tous aioonas toon aioonoon;” i.e., “Unto eternities of eternities.” These profoundly significant Greek words define the reign of the saints in glory, the existence of God and the duration of the damnation of the wicked. Hence you see the ridiculous and nonsensical absurdity of Universalian dogmatism, which would refute the eternity of future punishment.

Thus winds up the wonderful panoramic, prophetic visions, which John saw on the Isle of Patmos. It is also the valedictory prophecy of the whole world, the celestial city and the glorified earth climaxing all. We now have fifteen more verses, constituting John’s apologue.

6. The Lord God of the spirits of the prophets.” The prophet in all dispensations is the called and sent revelator of God’s truth. God imparts to each one of His prophets a spirit peculiar to the work He has called him to do. Hence the infinite diversity of prophetical idiosyncrasy. The called and sent blood-washed, fire-baptized preachers of the gospel are God’s prophets in the present age. Therefore, God is now showing them “the things which quickly come to pass.”

7. Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he who keepeth the words of this book of prophecy;” i.e., the book of Revelation. Most people take but little interest in Revelation. Of course, they forfeit the blessing. Reader, do you believe this prophecy? Are you on the constant outlook for the Lord’s coming?

8. Here again John wants to worship the Apocalyptic Angel, of course misapprehending him for God.

9. Here we have God’s positive prohibition of angel-worship. It is simply another form of idolatry. This prohibition sweeps Romanism from the field.

10. Revelation has been a sealed book for ages, for long centuries even rejected, repudiated as spurious, denied a place in the sacred canon, and laid on the shelf. At the present day God is giving His people wonderful light on this book of mysteries. Oh, how He is lighting it up to the “Holiness people” The value of this book to the present generation is actually inestimable. Peter, James, Jude, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul have all left us most brilliant prophecies, revealing the wonders of the latter days. But John transcendently climaxes all. But a youth when called to the apostleship, he enjoyed the nearest proximity to Jesus, leaning on His breast. He was permitted to live a whole generation after all the other apostles were dead and gone. Hence he enjoyed wonderful experimental maturity. His spiritual illumination was transcendent, and his prophetic interpenetration and perspicacity illimitable. All his apostolic comrades prophesied tersely and isolatedly. John gives us the grand and wonderful panorama, sweeping down the intervening ages, not only to the end of the present Gentile Dispensation, when the Lord shall come in His glory and reign in triumph through the millennial ages, culminating in the final judgment, the earth’s cremation, and the end of time; but he sweeps right on, luminously revealing the re-creation of the earth and its ethereal environments, the glory of the heavenly state, when this world shall have been reannexed to the celestial empire, conferred upon the saints as a soldier’s bounty, reminiscent of fidelity and valor during Immanuel’s exterminating war against sin and Satan; the descension of the New Jerusalem into visible proximity, and the reign of the saints through all eternity.


Verses 11-13

THE SECOND BLESSING CONFIRMED AND FUTURE PROBATION ANNIHILATED

11. Let the unrighteous man still be unrighteous and the filthy still be filthy; let the righteous still do righteousness; and let the holy still be sanctified.” The prophetical panorama has already swept through the whole realm of human probation. This significant verse is the verdict of the Holy Ghost pronounced on all the sons and daughters of Adam’s fallen race. You see indubitably entire humanity divided into four classes; i.e., the righteous, the wicked, the holy, and the filthy. Justification by the free grace of God in Christ, received and appropriated, takes away the guilt pertinent to your own sins, and makes you righteous. This does not reach the deep pollution of your fallen. nature. Hence the Holy Spirit calls you “filthy.” The Greek word hagiadzo, throughout the Bible translated “sanctify,” is a compound, from alpha (not) and gee (the earth). Hence it means to take the world out of you. 1 John 2:16 says:

“All this is the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.”

Therefore, you see that sanctification is the antithesis of pollution, and the grace by which all the filthiness of the flesh and spirit are expurgated. In these Scriptures, certainly the two works of grace are distinctly and irrefutably set forth, the one to save you from condemnation and make you righteous, and the other to save you from “all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1), and make you holy. This verse not only establishes beyond controversy the two distinct works of grace in the plan of salvation — i.e., justification and entire sanctification — but, with the irresistible logic of the divine ipse dixit, positively reveals the fact that these indispensable graces must be received in the present life, or forever forfeited, thus triumphantly and irrefutably sweeping from the field all the specious dogmata propagated by the advocates of physical death, fiery purgatory, or any other theory of post-mortem sanctification. You are liable this moment to reach the end of your probation. How awful to think, as you are now under condemnation for your sins — i.e., unrighteous — you are liable instantly to forfeit the last possibility of change, and remain a miserable culprit through all eternity! Though your own sins are forgiven, and you are saved from evil habits, yet you are not saved from evil tempers. The pollution of the Adamic nature still inheres in the deep interior of your spiritual organism; i.e., in the bold phraseology of the Holy Ghost, you are still “filthy.” Will you not fly to the cleansing fountain lest the black curtain fall, eclipsing the last hope of your sanctification and sealing your doom, consigning you to the society of the “filthy” through all eternity? Perhaps you are not saved from the filth of tobacco, opium, strong drink, gluttony, jewelry, and needless ornamentation, which defile your body. Are you saved from pride, vanity, folly, anger, wrath, malice, revenge, hatred, envy, jealousy, ambition, covetousness, love of the world, self-love, selfishness, Church pride, and other forms of spiritual filthiness? Hasten to the cleansing fountain, get washed from all this “filthiness of the flesh and spirit,” lest the dark curtain fall and consign you to remain filthy through all eternity. When God speaks, let angels, men, and devils be silent. You know this is the positive word of the Almighty. You must have these two works of grace. If you are not both righteous and holy, you are liable any moment to be shut out of heaven forever. God give you a superlative appreciation of His word! You will not be judged by your creed, nor what your preacher says; but by the word of God.

12. Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give unto each as his work is.” While our work is not the condition of our salvation, yet it is the measure of our reward in heaven. Consequently, the rewards of the righteous and the retributions of the wicked will be as diversified as their lives in this world. This declaration of the Almighty should present every conceivable incentive to do our utmost to help Jesus save the world. The smallest deeds of philanthropy, mercy, and grace will receive an abundant reward in the good time coning. We should all substitute the expectation of death with the constant outlook for our glorious Lord.

13. Alpha and Omega are simply the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet Christ is first and last in the plan of salvation. Himself is our salvation. He is all and in all. When you have Him enthroned in your heart, you are saved to the uttermost. God help us to rise above creeds and sink out of self into Christ!


Verses 14-16

CATHOLICISM EXPOSED AND PURITY VINDICATED

14. Blessed are they who wash their robes, in order that access unto the Tree of Life shall be theirs, and they may enter through the gates into the city.” Here you see we correct an important error in the English version, which reads: “Blessed are they who do His commandments.” You see the true reading from the critical Greek is, “Blessed are they who wash their robes.” This translation is corroborated by the Revised Version, which is translated out of the Sinaitic manuscript, which lies before me. Why is not our English Bible correct? Because it passed through the Dark Ages a thousand years, during which not one man in a thousand could read or write, while ignorance, brutality, and barbarism filled the world. The art of printing had not been invented. Therefor they must undergo the tedious and laborious work of writing the Scriptures by hand. The result was two thousand errors found their way into our English New Testament. Do those errors affect the plan of salvation? They do not. The way to heaven is so plain that “wayfaring men, though fools, cannot err therein” (Isaiah 35:9). You find salvation flooding the Bible like a heavenly ocean, from the Alpha of Genesis to the Omega of Revelation. Then why is it important for us to correct these errors? So that we may know the whole will of God. While doubtless nearly all of these errors crept in inadvertently, I trow some of the most important were purposely made by corrupt, intriguing priests, to vindicate their craft and palliate their guilty consciences. How do you know that the Greek Testament, from which you write these commentaries, is correct? This Sinaitic manuscript was discovered by Dr. Tischendorf in the Convent of St. Catherine, on Mt. Sinai, in 1859. The chirography locates it far back in the post-apostolic times, before the Dark Ages set in. Hence it is free from the corruptions of the Dark Ages. The discovery of this manuscript was a sunburst on the Christian world, flooding the inspired pages with the light of original exegesis. True religion imputes all salvation to God, while false religion imputes it to man. Just as the people of this world have taken the government of the nations out of God’s hands, so they have usurped the government of the Church, and even taken the plan of salvation into their own hands. There is much Roman Catholicism in the English Bible. When the English Church made that translation in 1611, she was full of Romish heresies. Romanism and all the fallen Churches preach salvation by works, while the true gospel teaches that you are saved by grace, and not by works. You see in this verse, as your English reads, heaven is assured to those “who do His commandments.” Don’t you see that is the Romish heresy of salvation by works? Millions of people, depending on their good works to save them, now lift up their wails in hell. The Bible everywhere teaches that purity is the only condition of admission into heaven.

Hence you see the true translation of this passage, “Blessed are they who wash their robes,” is in perfect harmony with the uniform teaching of the Bible; while the English, “Blessed are they who do His commandments,” offering salvation by works, antagonizes the great truth revealed throughout the Bible, that we are saved

“by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not by works, lest any one may boast” (Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:9).

15. Dogs, sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, idolaters, and every one who maketh and loveth falsehood, are outside.” This verse is the antithesis of the preceding. That tells us who are saved. There is but one class, and they are those “who wash their robes” in the blood of the Lamb. This tells us who are excluded and forever left out of heaven. The dog, in the Bible, constantly symbolizes impurity. Consequently, we see that all of the impure — i.e., unsanctified — are left out of heaven. “Sorcerers” would take in all of the actual heretics of all ages, who have depended on human arts and devices instead of the plain word of God. “Fornicators” really takes in every soul who is not entirely sanctified, because nothing but the full sanctification of your heart saves you from spiritual fornication, and enthrones Jesus as the only lover of your soul. “Murderers” includes all people having the malevolent affections which lead to, and are the essence of, homicide. “Idolaters” comprehends every devotee except the truly sanctified worshiper of the Most High, as none others are entirely free from idolatry in some of its forms or phases. Popular religion is full of idolatry. You see that all these are left out of heaven. Last of all, in this dark catalogue, “every one who practiceth and loveth falsehood.” This statement of the Holy Ghost is weepingly comprehensive, excluding from heaven all who do not take the Bible for their only guide, and live and die in the delightful practice of and obedience to its blessed truths. Hence we see from these discriminations of the Holy Ghost that, while only one class is admitted into heaven — i.e., those “who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb;” i.e., the wholly sanctified — many different classes are forever excluded from the city of God.

16. The glorified Savior here testifies to His Divinity and humanity. As God, He is the root of David; as man, He is the offspring. Meanwhile, He is the bright morning-star of all human hope.


Verses 17-19

THE BRIDE PERFECTLY RESPONSIVE TO THE HOLY GHOST

We are living in the Gospel Dispensation, characterized by the universal mission of the Holy Ghost. The Father sent the Son into the world to bleed and die for the lost. The Son sent the Holy Ghost into the world to reveal Him to every human spirit, and calling all to repentance. The children of the Holy Ghost, who delight to do the will of their Heavenly Father, constitute the bridehood of Christ. Hence the Holy Ghost has sent the bride into the world, co-operate with Himself in the universal call to repentance. The peculiarity of the bride is that she is the companion and surviving representative of the suffering Savior. The visible Church is not identical with the bride. There is a Church within a Church. Therefore you must pass the second veil to find the true Church; i.e., the martyrs of all ages, who constitute the bridehood of Christ. The worldliness of the popular Church and her irresponsive attitude toward the Holy Ghost irreconcilably abnegate her claims to the bridehood. A moment’s reflection settles this question in favor of the sanctified people. They are constantly and perfectly responsive to the Holy Ghost in His universal call to repentance. The peculiarity of Holiness people is their indefatigable pertinacity in calling the people to the Savior. They persistently interview the comers and goers in the interest of their souls. In this way they provoke the disgust of all squeamish and fastidious people, and frequently render themselves odious to what is misnamed good society. But these so- called fanatics, who are always talking for Jesus to the disgust of the carnally-minded, are the people in the world who verify the definition of the bride in this verse. God give us grace to co-operate with the Holy host, and content ourselves to be popular with Jesus, though we incur the constant contempt of the world’s magnates! Dare to be true to the Holy Ghost, and co-operate with Him constantly in His perpetual calls of a lost world to Jesus. So soon as you become delinquent in your appeals to the people in the interest of their souls, you forfeit your claim to a place in the bridehood. Lord, help us to be true to the Holy Ghost! From the fact that the grace of God in Christ, as set forth in this verse, is perfectly free for all, and the omnipotent Holy Spirit is constantly calling, and here the bride is certified, with equal constancy, to be calling all to come and partake of the water of life freely, it follows, as a logical sequence, that none but the sanctified actually verify the character here imputed to the bride of Christ. Oh, how this verse ought to alarm the dumb Churches!

FINAL ANATHEMAS AGAINST ALL WHO HAVE THE AUDACITY TO TINKER WITH GOD’S WORD

18, 19: “I testify to every one who heareth the words of this book of prophecy: If any one may add to these things, God will add unto him the plagues which have been written in this book: if any one may take from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take his part from the Tree of Life, and out of the Holy City, from the blessings which have been written in this book.” We here readily see why our Savior forbade His own apostles to go and preach this gospel till they received the sanctifying baptism of Pentecostal fire. Without this heavenly enduement, He knew they were incompetent for the responsibility. It is impossible for a person to preach to others an experience he himself does not possess. For this reason, the Bible has been exposed to all sorts of perversions, dissections, additions, subtractions, and tergiversations, to suit the caprices of human creeds. Where is the Church which is not loaded down with human dogmata and institutions unheard of in the word of God? In this way God is actually crowded out of the heart, and they become devotees of idolatry. When you hear the preannouncement of a doctrinal sermon, look out for a harangue on the creed, with scarcely a scintillation of gospel truth. In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul tells us

“the end of the commandment is divine love out of a clean heart and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned.”

You receive this divine love in regeneration, and a clean heart in sanctification. Then, if you keep your life all right, you will always have a good conscience. If you never take in any of the devil’s doubts, your faith will never fail. So, get genuinely converted and sanctified, then keep your faith and obedience all right, and you have all the doctrine in the Bible, verified daily in your own experience. Oh, how the Church-mongers in all ages have added human doctrines and institutions to the Bible, and burned millions of God’s saints because they did not submit to their pontifical dictations! I hope the readers of this book have all blessedly passed over the water-line. If you have not, I advise you to go at once and receive all the water you want, whether by Immersion or affusion, or both. You will make little or no progress in spiritual things till you settle all water- questions, and find out the secret that water never did have anything to do with your salvation. You are saved by grace alone, received and appropriated by faith. So, hasten to get through your humanisms, take your eye off the water and everything else, put it on Jesus, and keep it there. So long as you keep your eye on Jesus, He will keep His hand on you. Then neither men nor devils can hurt you. Does not the man who preaches immersion as necessary to salvation add immersion to the Bible? — because it is not in it? You may receive this and other human institutions with impunity, if you have light to see that Jesus alone can save, with or without human manipulation. It is horrific to contemplate the fearful extent to which popery, prelacy, and priestcraft have gone in their accumulated additions to the plan of salvation. The result is that but few souls pass beyond the fogs of human invention into the clear light of God’s blessed truth. At the present day, the studied sermonettes preached from our popular pulpits give the people scarcely a scintillation of gospel pabulum. God is now, in the Holiness movement, fast leading the people out of the dismal night of creedisms and ecclesiasticisms into the cloudless day of His blessed, unadulterated, unsophisticated, and untinkered word. We hail with joy the glorious dawn of a better day. Thousands in all lands are rising up “to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints,” clamorous for the truth as it is in Jesus, and no longer willing to receive the ipse dixit of uninspired men. God is now, in the Holiness movement, calling out His faithful people in all nations and Churches to receive His word from the debris of humanisms, and give it to the world in its pristine purity; while the ecclesiastics have literally inundated the Churches with human inventions, not only teaching sacramental salvation, the essentiality of water baptism, but even adding immersion to the Bible and worshipping it as a god — i.e., making it essential to salvation — and filling the Church with so many human inventions as to utterly bewilder the unspiritual, lead them into idolatry, to live and die in practical heathenism, ignorant of God and the sweet simplicity of His blessed truth. But not satisfied with their mammoth additions, they have rendered themselves quite as conspicuous for their subtractions. Consequently, they incur a double condemnation, the one for addition to God’s plan of salvation revealed in the Bible, and the other for subtraction from the same. Before I was sanctified, I preached fifteen years in the fogs of Babylon, awfully bewildered by the theologians. It is a significant fact that the same men who pile mountains on the Bible take mountains out of it, to make room for the dogmatic mountains which they build on it. Much of the most learned and influential preaching I ever heard was labored efforts to prove that there was no such person as the Holy Ghost, nor such a thing as spiritual conviction, regeneration, adoption, or sanctification. I have frequently heard collegiate graduates, standing in the pulpit, vociferate and argue a solid hour to disprove the entire problem of spiritual religion. Satan is not fool enough to waste his ammunition. When I was a boy, the awful and constant fight was made against spiritual regeneration, laboring most assiduously by logic, theology, and ridicule to utterly eliminate it out of the Bible, and throw it beyond the North Pole, so it never could get back.

They had nothing to say against sanctification, from the simple fact that it was neither preached nor professed; and the devil always shoots at something. Then the fight against regeneration was quite as hot and heavy as it is now against sanctification. Bible is a Greek word, which means book. Hence, “Holy Bible” simply means a book on holiness While it is a notorious fact that holiness is the theme of the Bible, set forth specifically six hundred times, and inferentially in thousands of instances, yet the Bible murderers have the audacity to stand in the pulpits and tell the people they can’t be holy, and God doesn’t require it. A few centuries ago, the clergy had triumphantly succeeded in taking God out of the plan of salvation, and monopolizing it themselves. God used Luther to restore the long-lost doctrine of justification by the free grace of God in Christ, received and appropriated by faith alone, independently of carnal ordinances and priestly manipulation. He used Wesley and others to restore the glorious doctrine of entire sanctification by the short route of consecration and faith, instead of the long pilgrimage of growth and purgatory. He is now using some of His true people to restore the long- lost truth of divine healing, woman’s ministry, and the Lord’s second coming. Certainly terrible retributions await those men who have devoted their life-long labors to the adulteration of God’s word, both by addition and subtraction. God has raised up the Holiness movement to give the Bible to the world without addition or subtraction. Nothing but entire sanctification can ever break off the creedistic shackles, and so illuminate the word and the heart as to enthrone Jesus the supreme and only autocrat of the soul, and the Bible your only way-bill from earth to heaven.


Verse 20-21

THE SIGNS OF HIS COMING

20. He that testifies these things says, Yea, I come quickly. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

21. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.” Matthew (24:31), corroborated by Mark and Luke, records our Lord’s words in His memorable sermon on the judgments, which He preached on Mt. Olivet the day before He was crucified: “Hear the parable of the fig-tree, and of all the trees. When it putteth forth branches and tender leaves, then you know the summer is nigh.” It is now April, and we are in North Carolina. Ten thousand times ten thousand buds are evolving, leaves unfolding, and flowers blooming throughout the vast forests which everywhere abound. Where is the fool who has to be told that “summer is nigh?” Throughout the political, ecclesiastical, social, and spiritual world the signs of our Lord’s coming are quite as obvious, apparent, demonstrative, and unmistakable as the signs in the natural world that the summer is nigh. It is lamentable to see the depth of that lethean slumber which everywhere encumbers a fallen Church and a wicked world. Recently a great preacher stood in a city pulpit and proclaimed to a vast audience his profound conviction that the world will run on as it is for indefinite ages, only incurring the changes incident to natural evolution. To say nothing of debauched Romanism, many Protestant pulpits are this day filled by infidels. Evolution is the current infidelity of the present age. It imputes everything in religion to growth and other gradualisms. Hence it takes God out of the plan of salvation. Gradualism is all humanism. When you take out the epochs — i.e., conviction, regeneration, and sanctification — you take God out and run into infidelity. The gradualism belongs to man; the instantaneity to God. You will not let Bob Ingersoll come into your pulpit; but you receive his doctrine of evolution, preached by your own pastor, as the bona fide gospel. Whenever you leave the divine interventions — i.e., the distinct epochs of conviction, regeneration, and sanctification — out of religion, and flatten out into gradualism, you run headlong into infidelity. Our Churches are full of it. Of course, they are not expecting the Lord to come. Nothing would disappoint and appall them so much. They would cry for rocks and mountains to hide them from His presence.

THE SIGNS AMONG THE JEWS

Only fifty thousand returned under Nehemiah out of Babylonian captivity to repopulate the Holy Land. This day one hundred thousand Jews are back in the land of their fathers. Eleven different colonization societies are operating constantly to augment that number, among which is the famous work of Baron Rothschild, the richest man in the world. The wandering children of Abraham, after a dreary expatriation of one thousand eight hundred years, are everywhere turning their longing eyes toward the lovely land of the patriarchs and prophets. The wonderful conversion of Joseph Rabinowitz, in Russia, his powerful preaching, the organization of the Jewish Christian Church, denominated “Israelites of the New Covenant,” and the vast multitudes recently converted and added to it, all prognosticate cheering omens of the Lord’s near coming. Matthew 24:34 :

“Truly, I say unto you, this race (not generation) shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled.”

The Jews are the great miracle of prophecy. Amid the revolutions of two thousand years, nearly all other nationalities have gone into eclipse. The Jews, with no country to hold them together, are a distinct people in every clime. They are a monument of prophetic truth, proclaiming to all the nations among whom they sojourn that the Lord is coming again to gather His people and rule the world in righteousness. Ezekiel (37th) shows in the vision of “dry bones” that the Jews, in the main, will be gathered into Palestine before they are converted to Christianity. When I was in the Holy Land, I was with Simpson’s missionaries among the Jews. They reported great encouragement. All nationalities in the Holy Land are on the constant outlook for the Turkish power to fall. This done, Palestine comes at once into Christendom, and the Jews are called from every land, to the patrimony the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob gave them in “the land flowing with milk and honey.” In that case, all Christendom will make a specialty of their conversion.

When I visited the wailing of the Jews, in their hired avenue, where they are permitted to come to the west wall of the temple on the outside once per week, on Friday afternoon, and bewail the loss of their temple, the desolation of their land, and the affliction of their people, I was profoundly impressed that the God of Israel heard their cry, and would answer their prayer.

The return of the Jews to their native land is fast becoming a foregone conclusion in every country under heaven. After they are gathered into Palestine, the potent evangelizing agencies of the combined Christian world will speedily convert them to Christianity. Zechariah, in his last two chapters, tells us about terrible desolating wars, which shall turn against the Jews after they have been gathered into the Holy Land, and during the tribulation two-thirds of them will be cruelly slaughtered. This awful massacre will go right on, till the King of Glory shall descend on His millennial throne, interpose, and deliver them. The presumption is that these exterminating wars, during the tribulation, in the permissive providence of God, will eliminate out of Israel the material unsuitable and inadequate to the incalculable responsibilities devolving on them in the oncoming millennial reign, in which the surviving third will be called to the front to co-operate with their glorified Brother in the government of the whole world. The Jews are God’s earthly people. Since the conquest of the world by the Gentiles, and the supersession of the theocracy by human governments, B.C. 587, the Gentiles have stood at the front and ruled all nations, while the Jews have been relegated to the rear. When the Lord comes, He will call His people again to the front. In the evangelization, civilization, and education of all nations, during the millennial reign, the Jews will take the lead.

SIGNS AMONG THE GENTILES

Gentile rule properly began, B.C. 587, with the fall of Jerusalem. It is to continue 2478 years by lunar chronology, 2520 by calendar, and 2555 by solar. 587 plus 1896 equals 2483. Hence you see 2555 minus 2483 leaves 72 years by solar time; 2520 minus 2483 leaves 37 by calendar; whereas, 2483 minus 2478 leaves 5 years. So you see the solar time is only 72 years, and calendar 37; whereas, the lunar time has already expired, and four years over. From these figures, you see we are at the end of Gentile rule. It began with the Chaldean golden head (Daniel 2), coming down to the Medo-Persian breast and arms of silver; then the Grecian Empire of brass, represented by the abdomen and thighs; followed by the mighty Roman legs of iron; and, last of all, the toes of iron and clay. Hence you see it depreciates from first to last, beginning with gold and winding up with crude iron and potter’s clay. The Gentile Dispensation is going like every other, confirming the fact that man, without God, is an utter failure. So Gentile government has weakened from the beginning, passing from gold value down to potter’s clay. The trend of the whole world, in the present age, is to democracies, which are the weakest of all governments. The next step is anarchy, which is no government at all. The political world is this day on the verge of universal anarchy. Our government, which is the best in the world, is rapidly becoming more and more unstable and dissatisfactory. In the Lycurgian code of Grecian law, no man could be senator unless he had reached his sixtieth year, and sustained an irreproachable character. Now bribery, peculation, and debauchery are common. “Where the carcass is, there the vultures will be gathered” (Matthew 24:28). This is our Savior’s vivid portrayal of the political and ecclesiastical world at the time of the end. He describes it as an old carcass already dead, and attracting the vultures by the scent of its putrefaction. The body politic has certainly reached that awful state. The vultures of divine retribution already darken the atmosphere as they hover around, voracious to light down and devour the debauched governments of this wicked world. I am on the constant outlook for the stone to strike the image on the feet and smash it into the chaff which the wind of premillennial judgment will speedily blow away. Then that stone will cover the whole earth and stand forever. The swift dilapidation and rickety instability of all human governments, proving to a demonstration the incompetency of human rule, this day proclaims the near approach of our glorious King.

SIGNS AMONG THE MOSLEMS [MUSLIMS]

The Moslem Power, the last twelve hundred years, has overtly, avowedly, pertinaciously, and uncompromisingly disputed the claims of Christ to the souls of men and the kingdoms of the earth. During all these dreary centuries, she has done her uttermost to exterminate Christianity from the globe, teaching her murderous votaries that they are to swim to heaven in Christian blood. She waged one series of wars a hundred and fifty years, till defeated by Charles Martel, at Tours, France, A.D. 733; and another war-period of four hundred years, down to her signal defeat by John Sobieski, at Vienna, A.D. 1683. Though all Christendom combined fought the Moslems two hundred years, during the Crusades, they signally failed to drive them out of the Holy Land and restore the patrimony of our Savior from the polluting hands of infidelity. Daniel (8:25) says: “He (Mahomet) shall be broken without hand.” How signally this prophecy is now being fulfilled! Already, within the last two hundred years, a dozen kingdoms have been wrested from the hands of the False Prophet. This day the Turkish Empire, the last and only upholder of the Moslem power, is a political corpse, kept on foot artificially by the jealousy of her neighbors, and liable, at any moment, to fall into her long-merited sepulcher. All nationalities at Jerusalem and throughout the East are in daily and hourly expectation of the Moslem overthrow. Many superstitious Moslem predictions constantly point to the fall of their power. The conquering Omar captured Jerusalem, A.D. 637. John and Daniel both say they will hold it twelve hundred and sixty prophetic years. Hence you see 1897 is no table as the long-prayed-for epoch of the Moslem fall. My Arab guide, at Jerusalem, told me many of their own prophets had warned them that Jesus Christ would light down on Mt. Olivet and take the government out of their hands. “Even so come Lord Jesus.”

SIGNS IN CATHOLICISM

History dates the rise of Mahomet A.D. 607. Procas, king of Italy, crowned Boniface III the first pope, A.D. 606. Hence you see the simultaneity of these two notable events. At this time the Dark Ages, the devil’s millennium, were under headway. As Satan had the whole world on his hands, he needed help. Therefore, he raised up Mahomet to rule the East, and the pope the West. John repeatedly, as well as Daniel, gives the papacy the prophetic period of 1260 years. Hence these two great Satanic powers are contemporary throughout.

A number of notable epochs have already been fulfilled in the papacy. The temporal dethronement (1870) by Victor Immanuel was a literal fulfillment of prophecy. About fifty years were occupied in the consolidation of the papacy after its inauguration. This would bring us down to 1920, the precise date of calendar time. Daniel (7:11) predicts his utter destruction by the Ancient of Days — i.e., God the Father — in His premillennial judgments. The Catholic world today is flooded with omens of this fulfillment. Mexico, Central America, South America, and many European governments are now repudiating the papal authority, and heaving like volcanoes, ready to explode. When I was in Rome, they were building a magnificent monument to the memory of Victor Immanuel, who dethroned the pope in 1870, and another to Garibaldi, who fought the French army and prevented them from reinstating the pope. Both of these monuments are in full view of the Vatican palace, and under the immediate eye of the pope. The King of kings is coming. The papal and all other thrones are ominously presageous of insecurity.

SIGNS IN PROTESTANTISM

About four hundred millions of population and one hundred millions of members stand identified with the great Protestant Churches. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul predicts a great apostasy immediately preceding our Savior’s coming. In our Savior’s notable sermon on the judgments, which He preached on Mt. Olivet the day before He was crucified, He lays down among the immediate signs of His coming, “Because iniquity doth abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).

Among the notable predictions of Paul relative to the last days, and prominent among the signs of our Lord’s coming, is that

“men shall have a form of godliness, denying the power of the same” (2 Timothy 2:3).

These and other predictions innumerable by our Savior, His apostles, and prophets, most graphically describe the sad condition of the great Protestant denominations at the present day. Who, beside the Holiness people, are now contending for and endued with the power of the Holy Ghost? The lukewarm Laodicean Church is a picture of Protestant Christendom when our Lord shall come and spew them out of His mouth.

My recollection is good fifty years ago, when all the Methodists either got their mouths open in the class-meeting, or they were turned out of the Church. Their popular cognomen was “shouting Methodists.” Now they are a dumb Church, unless they fall in with the Holiness people. Do you not know that dumbness and death are twin brothers? When I was a boy, all applicants for membership in the Baptist Church were required to stand up, face the congregation, and tell their own story. If their experience did not have the genuine Holy Ghost ring, their admission was postponed till they received the clear witness of the Spirit to their conversion. Now they walk in from an ungodly world, without a mourners’ bench experience. The preacher manipulates them, propounding a few easy questions. He presents them to the Church. They are received and baptized, as I seriously fear, without a clear experience of regeneration. When I was a boy, the Presbyterians kept people at the altar weeks and months, seeking the Lord. Within my observation, which is quite extensive, they have abandoned the altar, and simply call them forward to join the Church.

Fifty years ago, shouts of praise were so common in all the Protestant Churches that the meeting was discounted and considered a failure if they were not heard. The presence of the Holy Ghost was so real and impressive that a solemn awe rested upon the congregation, as if the Archangel of Doom had come down and the judgment-trump was roaring. There is nothing more common now than for spiritually-minded people to be painfully conscious that the Holy Spirit has withdrawn from worshipping congregations.

An old man in Arkansas was gloriously sanctified in a Holiness meeting. In his testimony, he said: “When a boy, I went to Methodist meetings, and saw them get happy and shout. I observed the same with the Baptists and Presbyterians. After awhile they ceased to get happy and praise the Lord in their meetings.

“From these and other phenomena I observed, to my sorrow, that the Holy Ghost had retreated away, leaving them lukewarm, formal, and dead. For years I have been wandering about, attending the meetings of various Churches, hunting the Holy Ghost. I heard an evil report of the Holiness people, but was so anxious to find the Holy Ghost again that in my search I came to your meeting. Glory to God here I found the Holy Ghost in full charge, and having right of way in all hearts. I am so glad I have again found the Holy Ghost, and found the people who walk in the light of His indwelling presence. God grant that I may live and die with you!”

The Greek word ecclesia, translated Church, means a body of people whom the Holy Ghost has called out of the world, regenerated, and who want to be sanctified. The absence of the Holy Ghost in a Church is an irrefutable confirmation of its apostasy. Hence this fearfully swift apostasy of the Churches is a literal fulfillment of Paul’s prophecy (2 Thessalonians 2:3), and that of Jesus (Matthew 24:12). The man who does not see to his sorrow the appalling apostasy of the Protestant Churches at the present day, is to be profoundly pitied for his spiritual blindness. But this is the sad concomitant of the apostasy, “That blindness in part bath happened unto Israel.” Multitudes of our wealthy and popular Churches are ruled by “society women” and rich men. That is certainly Satan’s rule, however indirect. Bishop Foster says : “This thing called ‘society’ is a painted harlot, whose breath is pestilential and deadly.” Jesus says : “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” All these fearful omens are fulfilling prophecy, and proclaiming to the world that “the Lord is nigh.”

SIGNS IN SECULARISM, SOCIALISM, SPIRITUALISM, AND CHRISTIAN SCIENCE

In all these there is a literal fulfillment of Paul’s awful prophecies recorded in 2 Timothy 3, so vividly describing the last days. The increasing corruption of society is seen in the trend of population to all of the large cities. The attractions of Satan are so innumerable and powerful through all sorts of human inventions, that scarcely a tithe of city people ever so much as attend Church. They have enough to do to attend theaters, parties, fandangos, and other entertainments, which Satan has provided for their damnation. Statistics show that only one young man in ten, at the present day, attends Church. Oh, what a huge crop of infidels is coming on! So fast as our cities grow, the populous interior is actually abandoned by the Churches, and given up to infidelity, heathenism, and the devil. All of our large cities are now missionary ground, like the heathen nations. This alarming increase of wickedness in the world is a literal fulfillment of the latter-day prophecies. Matthew 24:37, Jesus says:

“As were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage in the days before the Flood, till Noah entered into the Ark, and they knew not, till the Flood came and took them all away, so shall be the coming of the Son of man.”

In the Antediluvian world, the children of Seth, the successor of righteous Abel, were godly, and the children of Cain were wicked. So long as they kept separate, the Antediluvian Church was lighted by such men as Enoch and Noah. When they took down the partition, and the righteous intermarried with the wicked, the earth increased in wickedness with wonderful rapidity, till God, in mercy, was forced to bring on the Flood, and see them sweep into hell by solid generations. The Bible positively forbids intermarriage with the wicked. (2 Corinthians 6:14.) But where is the Church that does not flagrantly violate that commandment? The old Methodists turned out every member who dared to enter into wedlock with the unconverted. This sin ruined the Antediluvian world, and brought on the Flood. It is now fast ruining the Post-diluvian world, and bringing on the awful tribulation. As Noah’s family, the elect of the old world, went up in the Ark, escaping the doom of the Antediluvians, so will the Lord’s truly sanctified people go up in the cloud, gloriously delivered from the doom of the wicked.

The Church apostatized with fearful rapidity, and wickedness of all sorts prevailed to an alarming extent, just before God sent the Flood to destroy them all. I verily believe we are rushing to a similar fate. The Churches are so wicked, and literally mixed up with the world in marriage and every other way, that the ken of an angel would fail to draw the line. When I was a sinner, my life was morally far in advance of the average Church member at the present day. “You are a croaker!” Well, I am in good company with Jesus, Paul, Peter and John, James and Jude. The whole country is literally sown with heretical tracts and literature, teaching all phases of Materialism, Universalism, Spiritualism, and infidelity. The secular papers are loaded down with carrion. The Church papers are filled up with Church and secular news, with very little soul pabulum. The popular mind is so debauched that the railroad cars and news-stands are filled with lying novels and all sorts of filth, which mental buzzards devour with avidity. Have we not many valuable inventions? Yes, but Satan has the big end of them.

SIGNS IN THE HOLINESS MOVEMENT

This so-called “movement” is simply a revival of Holy Ghost religion. Amid the unanimous concurrence of the latter-day prophecies, I verily believe this is God’s last call to the world. (Acts 2:17-20.) It is utterly impossible to explain this wonderful revival without Divine intervention. It is generally considered to have started in 1874. However, I entered this experience four years previously. It sprang up simultaneously, not only in all parts of the United States, but in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the islands of the sea. When I traveled in the Old World, I found it in all countries and on all seas. It is everywhere undenominational and interdenominational. It not only inculcates salvation from all sin, but from sectarianism and sectionalism. It unifies all countries, Churches, and nations. It is truly a people called out, led, ruled, appropriated, and utilized by the Holy Ghost. The greatest mission of this people is to preach the gospel of full salvation to all nations. Matthew 24:14 :

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a testimony to all nations; then the end shall come.”

These are the significant words of Jesus, in that wonderful sermon on the judgments, which He preached on Mt. Olivet the day before He suffered. The Holiness movement, without a dollar, has more missionaries in the heathen field than all the Churches on the globe, with their millions of money. Bishop Taylor has twelve hundred in Africa, Asia, South America, and Oceanica. Hudson Taylor has eight hundred in China. A. B. Simpson has four hundred dispersed around the world. General Booth has fifteen thousand in forty different nations, girdling the globe with the gospel of entire sanctification. Besides, the thousands in the various Evangelical Churches are pressing the battle for God and holiness Oh, what a literal fulfillment of Daniel 12:4, “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be in creased!” i.e., the knowledge of holiness and the Lord’s coming. It is pertinently striking that Jesus said they should preach the “gospel of the kingdom.” Gospel means good news. The kingdom is none other than the glorious millennial reign of our coming Lord. It is quite observable that the Holiness people are alone in the glorious work of preaching the Lord’s coming. The great Churches are asleep. Remember, our Savior says:

“When this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to all nations, then the end shall come.” So far as we can ascertain, the gospel has already been preached to all nations, except a few in Central Asia, Central Africa, and parts of Oceanica. It is now going with wonderful rapidity to the ends of the earth. We know not but it has already been preached to the present destitute nations at some time of which history gives no record. God is also raising up a mighty army of evangelists, to carry this gospel of holiness and the Lord’s coming to all the ends of the earth. The Holiness movement is the morning star preceding the rising Sun of righteousness. How wonderful has been the rising of this star in every laud and clime! and how benignantly it now sheds its light on millions of souls, whose joyous shouts rise to meet the Lord descending in a cloud!

SIGNS IN THE OPPOSITION

The uncompromising virulence and malignity which everywhere confront the holy people are prominent throughout the world among the signs of His coming. The spiritual blindness which everywhere rests on the clergy and ecclesiastical officials is a literal fulfillment of the latter-day prophecies. Daniel 12:7 :

“When He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.”

With what wonderful expedition is this prophecy now being fulfilled! God is wonderfully using the enemies of holiness to scatter it to the ends of the earth, and hasten the Lord’s coming, which they neither desire nor believe. Church councils, mad at the Holiness movement, put their heads together to scatter the holy people to the ends of the earth, stupidly ignorant of the fact that they are fulfilling these wonderful latter-day prophecies with all their might. The determined efforts of a presiding bishop to utterly break up and discontinue my evangelistic work fledged me with wings as never before. Daniel 2:10 : “Many shall be purified, made white and tried;…none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” This prophecy explains why we find so many preachers who can’t understand sanctification. The trouble is with the heart, rather than the head. If they were humble enough to stand under the cleansing blood, they would soon understand entire sanctification. When they are unwilling to throw away their filthy, poisonous tobacco, for Christ’s sake, no wonder they can’t understand sanctification. When the heart gets humble enough to receive it on God’s terms, and they desire it above everything else — which must be an experimental verity in order to seek sanctification — the understanding will come along at race-horse speed. We are surely living down at the end of this wonderful Gentile Dispensation, when the world is actually flooded with the signs of the Lord’s coming. The great majority of the Jews were so blind at His first advent that, instead of seeing their glorious Christ, they saw a malefactor, and killed Him. When the high priest signed His death-warrant, I trow he did it in good conscience, for the glory of God. So the Church of the present day is stupidly blind to the multitudinous signs of the Lord’s near coming; and what a surprise His appearing in the heavens will be! How the great men of science will resort to electricity, magnetism, geology, astronomy, dynamics, and evolution, to explain the mysterious phenomenon! 2 Peter 3:3 :

“In the last days, mockers in their scoffing shall go forth walking according to their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things remain as from the beginning of creation.”

Then Peter follows with allusions to the Flood, the fiery destruction of the world, and the millennium, confirmatory of the great truth of divine interventions in contradistinction to gradual evolution, which is the popular infidelity preached from so many pulpits at the present day. The mockers and scoffers at the Lord’s coming, the tribulation, and the millennium, are in the popular pulpits all around us. They are literal fulfillments of the prophecies, and literally confirm the near coming of the Lord.

2 John 1:7 :

SIGNS IN THE PREVAILING HETERODOXY ON THE LORD’S COMING

“Many deceivers have gone forth into the world, who do not confess that Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh: the same is a deceiver and antichrist.”

Then John proceeds to admonish us that if any man come to us not bringing this doctrine (of the Lord’s second coming in the flesh), not to receive him into our houses, nor bid him “God-speed.” The English reader utterly misses this wonderful passage. The statement “That Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh,” in the English version reads, “is come,” and is thought simply to refer to His first coming. That is a great mistake. The true translation of the Greek erchomenon reads, “is coming.” Hence the passage reads “that Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh.” Therefore, you see it means His second coming. All of the great heresies are direct or indirect assaults on the Christhood of Jesus. He is our Prophet, Priest, and King. As Prophet, He is our great Preacher; as Priest, He has completely atoned for the sins of the whole world; as King, He is coming to rule the world forever. The antichrist in the days of John denied that He had come in the flesh. Victory has obtained on that long and hard-fought battle-field. So they now all admit His first coming.

But the Churches are full of infidelity on His second coming. You see here how positively John denounces all who deny that Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh as “deceivers and antichrists,” and warns us not to receive them into our houses, nor bid them “God-speed.” The apostolical saints were on the constant outlook for the Lord to descend and set up His kingdom. All salvation and revealed truth are in the Christhood. The dogma of His first advent is well established; but oh, the infidelity in the Church, and even in the pulpit, relative to His second coming This infidelity is laid down by the inspired writers among the omens of the last days adumbrating our Lord’s coming.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 22:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/revelation-22.html.

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