The Apocalypse is not a revelation of natural appearances, or extraordinary phenomena, in earth, sea and sky; but a sign representation of things extant in John’s day, and of things which should be after his time, in relation to the Holy Nation of the Deity planted in the territory of Daniel’s Forth Beast, until the coming of the Ancient of Days. The apocalyptic symbolisation it illustrative to them who can “see” of the conflict of the saints with pagan Rome until they “conquered” it; with Catholic, and afterwards with Papal Rome until it conquered them; and hereafter, with all “the powers that be,” until they in turn conquer and abolish them for a thousand years. This being the nature of the Apocalypse, we must not look to the natural, but to the political Universe for the interpretation of its signs.
And here we find it necessary to remark in this so-called enlightened century, that “the signs of the times” vouchsafed by the Deity for the use of His genuine servants in their several generations, are not in the sky. He has not placed them there. No intelligent believer of the gospel looks overhead for a darkening of the solar system, and the falling of stars, as a sign of the great day of the Lamb’s wrath being near. The alleged darkening in New England, AD 1780, and falling of stars, AD 1833, were phenomena that none but Laodicean Heathen would regard as signs of the times. The Deity’s revealed signs are not manifested in America. We may feel the working of them; but they are not in these heavens, natural or political. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks signs in the sky like the signs of the weather with which they are familiar; but no sign shall be given it. Let the reader, then, not “learn the way of the Heathen; and be not dismayed at the signs of the heaven; for the Heathen are dismayed at them; for the customs of the people are vain (Jer. 10:2). Neither John nor Peter represented or taught the dissolving of the physical universe, and the “burning up of the earth.” “The earth is Yahweh’s”, for He made it; it is temporarily “given into the hand of the wicked,” till the King shall come to possess it with his Saints to the uttermost parts thereof. “He hath established it for ever.” No interpretation of Scripture that would falsify these statements can be true. All theories of the kind must therefore be rejected as mere idle tales in which only the children of the Apostasy can take delight.
No, the Deity’s signs are in the political universe. This, in a sense analogous to the material, hath its earth, sea and firmament, or aerial expanse; in which are set its greater and lesser lights, and constellations – its Sun, Moon and Stars. it hath its hurricanes, shakings, eclipses, hailstorms, and so forth, which affect injuriously those who belong to the Body Politic, whether they be rulers or the common people.
The territory of Daniel’s Fourth Beast, styled by John, “the Great Red Dragon,” was the arena of a political system “diverse from all the beasts that were before it.” The whole extent of this wide domain was decreed to be “the great Roman City.” The dominion of this power centred in Rome, covered the whole territory as a sheet of parchment over a surface equal to itself. This parchment lifted up over that surface, would symbolise the aerial expanse, firmament, or constitution of the State; and would divide “the waters” or peoples of the system, from the waters. The waters under the aerial would be “the earth,” “sea,” “rivers and fountains,” “mountains and islands”; and the waters above, the ruling classes, “thrones, dominions, principalities and powers,” or sun, moon, stars and constellations. Such was the Roman Universe in its apocalyptic symbolisation. In the creation, “Elohim called the firmament Heaven”; and so in the political system the Spirit styles the aerial “heaven,” and all who live under the dominion are said to be “under the whole heaven.”
There have been several political universes in the past; as, the Babylonian, Idumean, Egyptian, Israelitish, and so forth. When the Eternal Spirit decreed their overthrow, the epoch of judgment upon each was styled “the day of Yahweh.” There have been as many such days as there have been powers destroyed. There was a day of Yahweh on Babylon predicted in as highly metaphorical a style as the Day of the Lamb’s wrath in this (sixth) seal. In Isaiah 13, the conquest by the Medes and Persians is styled, “the Day of Yahweh coming as a destruction from Shaddai … to lay the land (of Chaldea) desolate; for the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth; and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.” Then follows in the next verse the interpretation, to wit, “and I will punish the world (of Babylon) for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” And to show how intense the judgment was intended by the metaphors, it is added, “I will make a man more precious than fine gold … Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of Yahweh Tz’vaoth, and in the day of his fierce anger”. All of which was accomplished by Cyrus, as Yahweh’s anointed commander and leader of his sanctified ones, the Medes and Persians.
The prediction in Isaiah 34 of a similar day on Idumaea is expressed in the same grand and magnificent style:
“The indignation of Yahweh is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies; he utterly destroys them, he delivers them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stench shall come up out of their carcasses, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood.” Then follows the same prediction exhibited in hieroglyphics strikingly similar to the Sixth Seal, to wit: “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heaven shall be rolled together as a scroll; and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven”. Then the less figurative style is resumed, and is made expletive of the metaphorical, saying, “Behold it (the sword) shall come down upon Idumaea, and upon the people of my curse to judgment. The sword of Yahweh is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams; for Yahweh hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumaea.”
Christ Jesus and Peter adopted the same metaphorical style in predicting the Day of the Lord upon the Commonwealth of Judah. The former blended the literal and the figurative after the manner in Isaiah; but the one is so easily distinguishable from the other, that no confusion need result in the comprehension of the discourse.
Now, the Deity in the Sixth Seal decreed the fate of the Roman Universe, as constituted under Jupiter, in a style identical with the formula he pronounced against Babylon under Bel, and Idumea under Chemosh. He declared that “the Heaven” should “depart as a scroll rolled up.” Illustrative of this, the reader may imagine our symbolical parchment rolling up like a scroll. As it curled up, the surface beneath would be proportionately uncovered, until the rolling up should be completed, when the whole subjacent superficies would be exposed. The heathen firmament, or aerial expanse, of the Roman Universe, having thus “departed”, room would be provided for a New Heaven to expand itself over the same geographical limits of earth and sea. Thus, one heaven would be exchanged for another, in which the sun, moon, and stars would shine forth again with a light in harmony with the new parchment, or aerial constitution of the Body Politic.
But the firmaments, or heavens, of orbs political, do not pass away, or suffer radical change, without violence. Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome are all evidential of the truth of this. The violence may proceed directly from the oppressed peoples, or the earth and sea; or from a conflict generated in the rivalries of the powers in the heaven; or from both causes in co-operation ….
When “the heaven departed as a scroll rolled up,” another heaven took its place. This was “the Holy Catholic” Heaven, with sun, moon and stars, to suit. The commencement of this heaven was characterized by “silence in it about the space of half an hour” (Rev. 8:1). Jupiter’s heaven was subdivided by four; while the Catholic came transiently to be distributed into thirds. Upon this heavenly organisation came the judgments of the Trumpets and the Vials. The threefold division obtains at the end as well as in its earlier times; for under the Seventh Vial, which is concurrent with the resurrection-period, “the Great City” is said to be “divided into three parts: (Rev. 16:9). And when the Seven Thunders shall have uttered their voices, and the judgments of the last vial shall have had their full effect upon “the air,” firmament, aerial expanse or constitution of things in the Gentile World, then the Apostate Laodicean “earth and heaven flee away; and no place is found for them” (Rev. 20:11). They are abolished in a time of trouble, far exceeding in the intensity of its distress the terrors of the Sixth Seal; for it will be “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time (Dan. 12:1). When this old Romish Heaven and Earth shall have fled before the face of the Lamb and his Associates, “a New Heaven and a New Earth in which dwells righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13) will take their place; when “Jerusalem shall be a rejoicing and her people a joy” (Isa. 65:18). These Heavens and Earth “shall remain before me, saith Yahweh,” even, saith the Spirit by John, “a thousand years”: at the end whereof they will “pass away” to make room for a new and improved constitution of things upon earth, when there shall be no more sin or evil – when death shall be abolished, and every curse shall cease.
John Thomas, Eureka, Vol 2