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Chapter 12 - War in heaven - A woman brings forth a child; he is caught up to heaven. She flies into the wilderness into the wings of the great eagle, where she is fed 1260 days. Michael casts the dragon out of heaven. The dragon persecutes the woman; the others help and protect the woman. Henceforth, there are two women - the false one in heaven and the true one in the wilderness.
This chapter takes us back to Constantine, the woman's son who was caught up to imperial power in the Roman heaven. The pagan dragon is cast out of heaven. And, henceforth, Catholicism ruled the Empire. The false woman, the apostate church, ascends to heaven with Constantine. The true woman flees into the wilderness, the outlying wings of the Empire for her 1260-year sackcloth witnessing.
At Constantine's ascension the Donatists protested against corruption in the church and bishops in political power in the imperial court. The cry then was, "What have Christians to do with kings? What have bishops to do at court?" Constantine naturally sided with the established church and persecuted the defenders. There was no freedom for Christ's brethren, just a change of persecuting dragons - from the pagan dragon to the papal dragon.Bro Growcott - A Review of the Apocalypse
TIME OF THE SEAL.
From A. D. 311.
THE LAODICEAN STATE.
The "little strength" of the Philadelphian State exhausted, and Laodiceanism fully established, Pagan persecution having ceased, and "the Catholics," as nominal Christians were now called, being in high favour with the authorities, they say
"We are rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing." -- Apoc. 3:17.
Being "lukewarm," the Spirit "spues them out of his mouth." This state continues until abolished by the judgments of the Seventh Vial, which are executed by the Saints after the resurrection.
The adulterous woman system
1 And <a great sign appeared in the> heaven; a woman < who had been invested> with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a <wreath> of twelve stars:
A great sign
The word semeion signifies "a work by which something is known. " A footstep in the sand is a mark by which it is known that a human being had been there. Hence the footstep is a sign, or mark with a signification; a mark by which something is signified. The mark is not the foot; but the impression stepped by the foot - the sign of the foot, in a like sense is the sign of the text to be taken.
This first verse exhibits a mark, or sign, by which something may be known. To constitute the sign there is a woman, the sun, moon, and stars, an investment, and a wreath. These are but lesser marks or signs of the "great sign." The woman, and the luminaries in the great sign are no more, as some imagine, a real human being of the female sex, and the lights of the sky, than the step of the foot is the foot itself.
They are merely signs of something else, between which and them there is an analogy, or resemblance. These lesser marks when grouped together, as in the text, constitute "a great sign," which must, therefore, be regarded as representing a notable development, a wonderful appearance in the apocalyptic heaven.
The sun, moon and stars of this great sign, belong to the heaven in which the sign appears. It is the same heaven as that in which "silence, as it were a half hour," supervened after the departure like a scroll of the heaven which preceded it (Rev. 8: 1; 6:14).
...And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together. This prediction was fulfilled in the change of the constitution of the Roman Orb consequent upon the success of Constantine, crowned by the victory of Chrysopolis, A.D. 324. Until this epoch of eighteen years, "the heaven" of Daniel's Fourth Beast styled apocalyptically the Dragon, had been in all its constituents pagan.
The emperors were all worshippers of Jupiter, and his associate gods. The sun-light of their imperialism was reflected from the idol superstition, of which they were ex-officio the High Priests or Supreme Pontiffs. This was the moon of the heaven shining by reflected imperial light.
... The priests of the idols having lost their hold upon the affection of the multitude, the way was prepared for the subjection of Roman Idolatry to the Catholic, or Laodicean Apostasy. The consummation was necessarily sanguinary; for the testimony of history, and present experience, show that a minority in arbitrary power can only be brought to abdicate by the arbitrament of the sword.
......Such was the collapse of Roman Idolatry in its church and state constitution, or heaven. Its forces were overpowered and dispersed, and as the world never "wonders" after a sinking cause, but is always ready to worship success, it easily transferred its allegiance to the more powerful rival [catholic paganism] which had dethroned it.
... This "heaven" was a church and state constitution of things, in which the Apostasy, foreshadowed in the epistle to the ecclesia at Laodicea. shone with all the brightness and glory an unscrupulous world lying under the wicked could confer upon a system of delusion congenial to it. Its sun, moon, and stars shone brightly.
Though a new constitution of the aerial was proclaimed, the sun was not abolished. The storm-clouds of a departing idolatrous institution had blackened it. It no longer shone in the splendor of pagan majesty which was totally eclipsed; still the supreme power continued to be a diademed imperiality. It was the same twelve-starred Sixth Head which was developed in the Augustan epoch of Daniel's "dreadful and terrible" beast.
...In the "great sign" of ch. 12: 1, the Roman Sun is no longer invested with blackness, but invests a sign-woman with a blaze of glory peculiar to himself - "a woman invested with the sun." Whatever the woman may signify, this investiture symbolizes the clothing of the thing signified with supreme imperial authority; so that whatever might emanate from the woman would be by the sanction and co-operation of the highest orders of the state.
...Gibbon informs us that Constantine had a particular veneration for Apollo, or the sun, to which Julian alludes in his orations.
... But the Constantinian Revolution, or "great earthquake" of the Sixth Seal, had baptized the idol-hierarchy in blood; so that the moon became AS BLOOD.- The sun and moon were not annihilated, but only subjected to changed conditions consequent upon the great earthquake revolution.
This popular convulsion exalted one from among the people, and placed her in the moon's orbit. The light and glory of the imperial majesty fell upon her.
A Sun Invested Woman
The original Jezebel essayed the utter abolition of Yahweh's worship in Israel; and substituted the adoration of other deities, with the lascivious abominations which had formerly brought extermination upon the Canaanites. Her fate also made her a fit emblem of the apocalyptic Jezebel, whose children will be eaten by dogs in the day of Jezreel (Psa. 68:23).
The false teachers and seducers of the first three centuries, although they did not avow it as their purpose, effected completely what Jezebel aimed to accomplish in Israel. They utterly abolished "the doctrine of Christ" by their traditions; and if it had not been for "a little strength" found among a very small remnant that kept the Spirit's word, and had not denied His name, "the Israel of the Deity" would have been entirely transformed into "the Synagogue of Satan."
"Notwithstanding, I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols."
...In this toleration the StarAngel or Eldership, was culpable. They ought to have silenced their false teaching, and to have permitted nothing to reach the ears of the flock not in harmony with the written word. This would have preserved
"the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God;"
and have prevented the development, out of the One Body espoused to Christ, of a self-complacent Catholic, Jezebel, who in the epoch of the "great sign" was at once wretched, and miserable and poor, and blind, and naked" (Ch. 3:17).
"the remnants of her seed who keep the Commandments of the Deity, and hold the testimony of Jesus Christ."
The lamb' woman
...the figurative woman of ch. 12, invested with the Roman Sun, and fleeing from the Dragon, represents the whole ANTIPAGAN COMMUNITY; the vast majority of which answered to Jezebel and her children; while the remainder, with whom alone the doctrine of Christ was to be found, refused to have anything to do with a church in alliance with the
"dreadful and terrible beast having seven heads and ten horns."
...The first ecclesiastical separation of these two divisions did not occur till after the birth of the woman's son, who was to rule all the Greek and Latin nations with an iron sceptre. When this event transpired, the anti-state church party repudiated the desecrating alliance with emperors and their courts.
They refused to recognize the emperor's claim of being at once the representative of the Sixth Head of the Dragon, and Bishop of the, Bishops of Christ. The truth was with this party. They seceded; and by their secession incurred the enmity and bitter hostility of the. New Church imperially established.
The secessionists became the subject of virulent persecution by this new power, which caused them to take refuge in the wilderness. In this flight they are prefigured by the woman, who therefore leaves behind her the sun and moon, and wreath of twelve stars.
... "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the earth."
She reigns until the Ancient of Days is revealed, who "casts her into a bed, and them who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, and kills her children with death" (Ch. 2:22). This is the end of Jezebel in the day of Jezreel (Hos. 1: 11).
A different destiny, however, is apocalyptically indicated for the woman espoused as a chaste virgin to Christ. She entered the imperial presence, but soon found that it was impossible to enjoy imperial favour and protection, and maintain her honour and allegiance to her Divine Husband in purity and truth.
She therefore fled from the sunshine of royalty, and left behind her the Jezebel of her communion, to whom the meretricious blandishments of courts were altogether congenial.
While her Jezebel counter-self remained invested with the Roman sun, and acquired and exercised dominion over the kings of the earth, she was sojourning in the wilderness, in which, however, Jezebel afterwards succeeded in establishing her blasphemous, licentious and sanguinary rule.
...What a remarkable contrast between these two apocalyptic women.
The one, Jezebel, the Great Harlot and the Mother of Harlots; the other, the Lamb's wife and the Mother of all the Saints. The former, sovereign in all times of the Gentiles; the latter, trampled underfoot of the Gentiles in all their times; and persecuted with the utmost rancour and bitterness of hate: the former,
"arrayed in purple and scarlet-colour, and decked with gold and precious stones, and pearls, and reigning over the kings of the earth;"
the latter, clothed in sackcloth, and the habiliments of subjection: the former, the embodiment of ignorance, superstition, cruelty, blasphemy, hypocrisy, and vice; the latter, holy, harmless, undefiled, and without fault before the throne.
- These stars of this Sixth Head at the time of the apocalyptic going forth of the archer of the first seal were exactly twelve, and may be enumerated chronologically thus
1. AUGUSTUS, founder of the Sixth Headship of the Roman Dragon. This Star reigned 44 years from the battle of Actium, which was fought B.C. 30. He died A.D. 14, in his 76th year. He made Tiberius his colleague in the empire three years before his death A. U. C. 764 to................ A.D. 11
2. The SECOND STAR was Tiberius Caesar, successor to Augustus. In the 15th year after being made the colleague of Augustus, "the word of God came to John the son of Zachariah in the wilderness;" and he began to preach. This was 483 years from the 20th of Artaxerxes, the beginning of Daniel's seventy weeks. John was aged 27; Jesus 26 years and six months.................... A.D. 26
At the end of three years and a half, Jesus having been immersed, and John cast into prison, Jesus began to preach the gospel of the kingdom. This began the second half of Daniel 's seventieth week................... A.D. 30
At the end of Daniel's Seventieth Week, or 490 years from the 20th of Artaxerxes, which was the 22nd of Tiberius Caesar, sin was condemned in our common nature by the crucifixion of Jesus Christ..................A.D. 33
3. Tiberius dies in the 23rd year of his reign, and is succeeded by the THIRD STAR, named Caius Caesar Caligula................ A.D. 33
Of this human monster Tiberius said, that he had brought up a serpent for the Roman people; concerning whom he expressed the wish that they had but one neck, that he might cut if off at one stroke. He died ................A.D. 37
4. The FOURTH STAR was Claudius Caesar. The famine mentioned in Acts 11:28, pervaded the whole Roman Habitable under this star. He reigned not quite fourteen years, and died aged 63 ................A.D. 51
5. The FIFTH STAR was his successor Tiberius Claudius Nero. This Caesar for the first five years reigned with applause, being provoked to good conduct by the perpetual admonitions of the renowned Seneca. But changing his manners, he sunk to the lowest depths of degradation. He reduced the greater part of Rome to ashes, and charged it upon the christians, upon whom he inflicted the most exquisite torture. He died by his own hand in the fourteenth year of his reign, aged 32....................................................A.D. 64
6. The SIXTH STAR, was Galba, who reigned 8 months.
7. The SEVENTH STAR was Otho, remarkable for his wickedness, and the shortness of his reign, which scarcely exceeded three month s. He died by his own hand, and was succeeded by a man of incontinent gluttony.
8. Vitellius was the EIGHTH STAR, whose reign of seven months was signalized by the expenditure of thirty millions of dollars in feasting and riot. In the 57th of his age, he was dragged half-naked by a Roman mob into the forum, and with exquisite tortures torn to pieces, and thrown into the Tiber.
9. The NINTH STAR was Vespasian. He emulated the excellences of Augustus, and grieved to inflict punishment when justice demanded it. He was, however, extremely avaricious. He reigned ten years, and died aged 69................................................................. A.D. 75
10. The renowned Titus was the TENTH STAR. On account of his Singular humanity, he was called "the delight of mankind." In the life-time of his father Vespasian he destroyed Jerusalem. He reigned rather more than two years, and died aged 41. He is supposed to have been poisoned by his brother who succeeded him ................A.D. 77
11. Domitian was the ELEVENTH STAR of the Imperial Stephan. He persecuted the christians with the greatest rigour. He was a second Nero. John, the Apostle, was banished by his decree to the isle of Patmos, where the Apocalypse was revealed to him for the benefit of all true Christadelphians, or Brethren of Christ. After a reign of fifteen years, being detested on account of his cruelty, he was put to death by his own guards, aged 55 ................A.D. 92
12. The TWELFTH STAR of this "dreadful and terrible" succession Cocceius Nerva, a man of prudence and moderation, who acquired the dominion late in life. During his brief reign of one year and four months, John was restored to the society of his brethren and companions in tribulation. He died, aged 66, and was succeeded by Trajan................ A.D. 94
In the foregoing chronological table the dates are given according to the true time, which is four years earlier than the regular era.
Such was the WREATH OF TWELVE STARS extended by the Deity as a prize to be gained by the conquest of the Dragon. All the twelve were imperial supreme pontiffs. For the archer-and-woman fraternity to carry off the prize, was for it to be wreathed with the imperial Stephan of the Caesars; and to subdue their pontificate under their feet.
... on the opening of The Fifth Seal, they are represented as crying with a loud voice from underneath the altar, "How long?" How long till their brotherhood should wear the dodecal Caesarian starry Stephan? They knew that this wreath of victory was Caesarian. A believer living in the beginning when the apocalypse commenced to be fulfilled; that is, at the accession of Trajan; knew that twelve Caesars had occupied the draco Roman pontifical throne.
From Augustus to Constantine there were about fifty-four emperors. Why, then, were there not as many stars upon the imperial Stephan, seeing that it was gained when so many had sat upon the Italian throne?
Because, I conceive, the number of the stars was given to indicate, that the opening of the apocalyptic, seals was to begin when the twelfth imperial star had set; that is, with the reign of Trajan an, who was a thirteenth, or number one of a new series. Trajan and his pagan successors may be said to have worn the crown of the Twelve Caesars*. But they could not retain it. It was wrested from them by the Woman, whose Jezebel-son claiming to be her Head - the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church - wreathed himself therewith; and then caused her to become a fugitive in the wilderness of the Great Eagle.
*... The first twelve of the emperors, who ruled the Roman Habitable with undivided authority, assumed the surname of Caesar, this title was therefore their original distinction - Imperator Caesar.
...The stars are Roman as well as the sun and moon; and stripped of these in flight, the twelve stars remain with the sun and moon in the same heaven from, or out of, which she flies; otherwise, we ought to behold her a fugitive with a wreath of beauteous stars upon her head in the wilderness; a symbolization which would be incompatible with her trampled condition there.
2 And <being pregnant she cries being in pangs and straining to bring forth.>.
The Woman Pregnant
En gastre echousa, literally, having in belly. She contained something within the pale of her communion afterwards to be manifested, or brought forth. She contained it, according to the fitness or decorum of the symbol, previous to her cries in parturition. She did not cry being in pangs and straining to bring forth after her investiture with the solar mantle of imperialism.
Her being invested with the sun was consequent upon her giving birth to what was contained within her, and its being placed upon the Italian throne.
Had her child not been born, the "great sign in the heaven" would not have there appeared. The Italian throne in Rome had first to be vacated by its pagan occupant, before anything produced from the Laodiceanized Christian Body, pre-figured by this woman, could be herpasthe, carried up from its birth-place in the Roman heaven to godship and its throne.
Hence the "great sign" described in the first verse, was representative of the consummation of certain antecedents; and though first stated, was the last thing in the situation developed before the world. The woman's pregnancy, then, preceded her cries. With what was she pregnant?
Impregnation of Christadelphian Eve
What Paul feared, and to prevent which he was
"jealous over all with a godly jealousy,"
was even then secretly at work, impregnating the Christian Eve with principles which in fruition caused her to give birth to a Cain, who has been murdering his brother Abel for fifteen hundred years.
It was even then at work. He styles it "the Mystery of the Iniquity" - the secret principles of that lawlessness which would develop itself into the Lawless One, or Man of Sin - anthropos tes hamartia - THE MAN OF THE APOSTASY.
The seed-germ of this man was already in the womb of the espoused.
...in the course of three hundred years ...The multitude of them who styled themselves Christians, were destitute of all unity of heart and soul; and had degenerated into a "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" set of catholic politicians.
These gave character to the woman-community in the beginning of the fourth century. The Christadelphians or Brethren of Christ, at that crisis, were the "few names left, who had not defiled their garments." These alone were the pillar and support of the truth;" and but for them, it would have died out from among men; and there would have been no woman to fly into the wilderness, and to be sustained there 1,260 years. But the Deity had reserved to Himself a remnant, styled
"the remnants of her seed, who keep the commandments of the Deity, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Ch. 12:17).
Thus the woman, who had become excessively attenuated, as it were skin and bone, a living skeleton, in all the period of her pregnancy, was grieved with a multitude of nominal professors ready for "any enterprise by which they might acquire power and office in the state. This was the party with which she was pregnant. It styled itself "the HOLY APOSTOLIC CATHOLIC CHURCH;" and only waited for a catholic man of power to lead them in their attack upon the pagan Roman government.
This was "THE COMING MAN" of the fourth century - a leading politician, a Man of Power, who should be able to make the party to which he should belong the ruling Dower of the state. With this party, waiting for the Manifestation of its chief, the woman was pregnant before "she cried being in pangs and strained to bring forth."
The Period of [the Christadelphian Eve's] Pregnancy
"I have espoused you," says Paul, "to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ "
...the time of gestation from conception to birth, is 280 days.
...it is necessary that the law of nature in the case become the measure of the duration of the symbolic pregnancy before the symbolic child is manifested in the world.
This is styled "the decorum of the symbol," and must be regarded in the interpretation of all symbols... We must therefore find the woman in espousable existence 280 years before the manifestation of any MAN OF POWER, who in any sense could be decorously styled "her child."
...But the Christadelphian Eve had not been espoused twelve months before it became manifest that iniquity was working within her. The Case of Ananias and Sapphira was illustrative of this. The evil manifested through them was the evil principle which generated that "Mystery of Iniquity" which at length developed the Lawless One or Man of Sin. It was the spirit of falsehood, which Paul styles
"the deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish" (2 Thess. 2: 10).
This case of Ananias and Sapphira marks the commencement of the woman's symbolic pregnancy. It occurred A.D. 33. This was the epoch of her impregnation. From this year of apostolic espousal to ... Constantine and Licinius, A.D. 313, which put an end to the pangs of birth in the heaviest persecution that ever was then known, was exactly 280 years."
A pregnancy of forty weeks of years, at the end of which there was manifest a Man of Power, who professed the faith of the majority of the woman's community; delivered her from the sanguinary oppression of the pagan "Devil and Satan," whom he cast out of the heaven into the earth together with the stars of his tail; and who set himself up as the Bishop, or Overseer, episkopos (the Eyes and Mouth) of all the bishops of the Roman world.
The Woman Cries Being In Pangs
...The period during which she was tormented with the pangs of parturition were the "ten days, " or years, preceding the proclamation and edict of Constantine and Licinius, which were issued, as I have said, A.D. 313.
This parturient crisis in the woman's history is foretold in the letter to the ecclesia at Smyrna in these words -
"the Devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days" (Apoc. 2: 10).
This ten days' parturient tribulation came upon her with the opening of the fifth seal, A.D. 303. This is known in history as the great Diocletian Persecution, the severest ever inflicted by the great red pagan "Devil and Satan" upon professors of christianity.
In this fifth seal period her- "cries" were uttered
"with a loud voice, saying, Until when, 0 Despot, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on the dwellers upon the earth?"
...After the death of the Augustan emperor Galerius, in A.D. 311, her straining efforts began. ... The straining efforts of the woman were synchronous with the opening of the sixth seal, by which was initiated that "war in heaven" which resulted in casting the pagan Dragon out, and her own investment with the sun... Eusebius, in his Life of Constantine, says,
"In short, as the sun, when he rises upon the earth, liberally imparts his rays of light to all, so did Constantine, proceeding at early dawn from the imperial palace, and rising as it were with the heavenly luminary, impart the rays of his own beneficence to all who approached his person" - lib. I ch. 43.
The totality upon which these rays of the imperial beneficence fell, was all of the woman's adherents previously to his drawing the line between those who recognized his EPISCOPAL SUPREMACY and those who rejected it as the usurpation of the ANTICHRIST. After this line was drawn, the rays of his beneficence were reserved exclusively for what he styled "THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH," of which he was the acknowledged episcopal head. All others were regarded as perverse and wicked.
3 And there appeared another <sign in the> heaven; and behold, a great < fiery> red Dragon [pagan Rome], having seven heads [elevations (moutains) and forms of governments] and ten horns, and <upon his heads seven diadems>
The pagan dragon power ascendant in the political heavens
The Dragon had long occupied the heaven of Italy; but it was not until the judicial crisis of the sixth seal that he was exhibited as "a sign."
He was significative of a power occupying a position of hostility to the Christian Eve, and to all who favoured her. This third verse is the first place in the Apocalypse where this hostile power is mentioned by the name of Dragon, though it is not the first where the power itself is indicated. The power is referred to in ch. 2: 10, where it is styled "the Devil. "
Here the Smyrnean section of the woman is exhorted to "fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the Devil shall cast some of you into prison that ye may be tried."
The Devil was the power which owned and controlled the prisons into which then, as now, he casts all whom his prosecuting attorneys convict of violating his laws. All the sufferings of the woman in her gestation -of 280 years were inflicted upon her by "the Devil and his Angels," who reigned in the heaven of the Roman Orb.
The Great Red Fiery Dragon
The dragon was one of the military ensigns of imperial Rome.
A dragon is a kind of beast, and therefore partakes in the characteristics of beasts. These in prophetic writing are the well-known symbols of destroying monarchies or powers; and, where the people of the Deity are found sojourning under their authority, the persecutors of the saints. But, though the dragon is a beast, he is apocalyptically distingished from the beast of the earth, and the beast of the sea; nevertheless, possesses certain characteristics in common with them both: for are all found upon the same arena, though not contemporary in all they history.
The four beasts in Dan. 7:3, the winged lion, the bear, the winged leopard, and the anonymous fourth beast, are explained in verse 17, as representative of four kings or powers, styled kingdoms in verse 23. The less fourth beast, that is not named by Daniel, is styled by John diversely a dragon and a beast, according to the subject he maybe treating of.
The Hebrew tannin, and the Greek drakon, rendered in our English version dragon, it is evident from Ezek. 29:3, signifies a crocodile; the great scaly serpent-fish of the Nile, the symbol of the Egyptian power styled "Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers."
The dragon, then, whose force is in his tail, symbolized the power of the old Egyptian Polity. This, in the days of Moses, was the great enemy of Israel after both flesh and spirit. It embodied in its institutions all the filthiness, and superstition, and tyranny of human nature; and stood before the world as the great SIN-POWER of antiquity - "the Old Serpent, the Devil and the Satan."
But the empire of the Dragonic-Sin-power was westward. It did not remain enthroned in Egypt. Yahweh's servant Nebuchadnezzar transferred it to Babylon; whence in due time it migrated, and was at length found in the city of the Seven Hills. The power there, in the epoch of the sip, was the old Egyptian Dragon incorporate in the Graeco-Latin polIty, which possessed Egypt, Syria, 'and the East. Hence, the territory of the Dragonic fourth beast of Daniel is apocalyptically and "spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where our Lord was crucified" (Ch. 11:8); "the great city Babylon."
... Speaking of the procession of Constantine from Milan to Rome, Gibbon says, "he was encompassed by the glittering arms of the numerous squadrons of his guards and cuirassiers. Their streaming banners of silk, embroidered with gold, and shaped in the form of Dragons, waved round the person of the emperor".
The Seven Heads of the Dragon
Now "here is the mind which hath wisdom" - here is the sense or meaning which is true. "The seven heads are seven mountains, where the woman is sitting upon them." This is a Hebraism; an idiom, in which "are" is used for represent.
It is a form of speech often used in Scripture; as, of the rock smitten by Moses, it saith, "that rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4); it represented Christ: "this bread is my body;" it represents my body: "the seven lightstands are the seven ecclesias;" they represent them: and in many other places too numerous for reference.
The seven heads have a two-fold signification, the first whereof is given in Apoc. 17:9. They represent seven mountains. But, if nothing more had been said, we should have been at a loss with regard to the particular seven represented. It was therefore added, "where the woman is sitting upon them." But what does "the woman" represent? There can be no doubt about the signification of this symbol; for John was informed that the woman represented "a Great City" - an Imperial City; even "that great city, which," while he was in Patmos, is "having dominion over the kings of the earth" (verse 18).
From the description, it was impossible that John could mistake as to the signification of this imperial woman. He knew, as we may know, that no other city could be meant than "the Seven Hilled City" - ROME. This is the only city situate upon seven mountains, in John's day or since, that can be said to have dominion over the rulers of the earth.
Her topography is seven heads, or elevations,
of the land drained by the Tiber; and are thus named:
1. Mount Coelius;
2. Mount Viminal;
3. Mount Aventine;
4. Mount Esquiline;
5. Mount Quirinal;
6. Mount Capitoline;
7. Mount Palatine.
Seven forms of govenment
Upon these seven mounts Rome, styled by its historians, "the Eternal City," is sitting; and, when the Apocalypse was revealed to John, contained a population of millions. She was founded by Romulus 753 years before the birth of Jesus Christ
...The second signification of the seven heads is expressed in Apoc. 17:10; as, "And they are seven kings"; the "and" connecting them with the seven mountains - "the seven heads are seven mountains, and they are seven kings," or governing bodies, as basileis also signifies. These seven forms of government belong to the seven hills; and are therefore Roman and Italian.
John was informed, that at the time of the revelation of the mystery being made, five of the heads had fallen; and that the one in existence, consequently, was the sixth head; and that the other, or seventh head, had not yet appeared; but that when it came up, it would continue only a short time:
"they are seven kings; the five have fallen, and the one is, the other not yet come; and when he may come, it behoves that he continue a short time."
The two greatest historians, Livy and Tacitus, have enumerated the five from the building of the city, as,
1. The Regal Head, which continued 240 years;
2. The Consular Head, which continued 11 years;
3. The Dictatorial Head, which continued 5 years;
4. The Decemviral Head; and,
5. The Tribunitial Head with consular authority, which continued till it was superseded by
6. The Imperial Head, B.C. 31. John the apostle and Tacitus the historian, lived under this head, which continued in Rome 507 years. It was then wounded as it were to death by the
7. Or Gothic Head, A.D. 476. But, as this was only to continue "a short time" compared with the sixth, it was slain after reigning 60 years, in A.D. 554.
The Imperial 6th Head
There was this peculiarity about the sixth head, namely, that, about A.D. 330, Constantine, the first catholic emperor, dedicated a new city, which, after his own name, he called CONSTANTINOPLE.
This new Rome was also built upon seven hills; nevertheless, it is impossible to mistake it for "the woman", or "great city", of Apoc. 17, inasmuch as it has never been the capital of hoi hepta basileis, the seven governing bodies enumerated by the historians of the Italian Rome.
...Thus, from the dedication of the City of Constantine to the establishment of the Seventh Head upon the seven mountains, the Sixth Head of the Dragon had two capitals and two thrones to which the governing orders of the state were related.
The Ten Horns of the Dragon
The difference between the ten horns of the Dragon and the ten horns of the Beast of the Sea, consists in the ten upon the Beast being diademed, while the ten upon the Dragon are not. This indicates that the Beast symbol represents things concurrent with the Horns in the exercise of sovereignty; while the Dragon, as far as old Rome is concerned, had to do with the sovereignty of the heads before the horns had received their kingdoms.
John in the wilderness saw the horns in what may be termed the Dragon-state, and writes of them thus, "the ten horns which thou sawest", said the angel to him, "are", or represent, "ten kings", sovereignties, "which have received no kingdom as yet" (Apoc. 17:12 )
This was their apocalyptic status until the Sixth Head of the Dragon had been wounded. After this had been slain almost to death, then we may look for the ascending of the Beast out of the abyss, in the dragon-horns receiving their kingdoms at the cost of the Dragon power (Apoc. 11:7; 13:1).
We have seen that the heads were interpreted to John by the revealing angel, topographically and politically; thus conferring upon them a two-fold signification. So it is with the Horns: they are to be interpreted chronographically and politically. Until they had received their kingdom, they were mostly chorographic appendages of the Dragon-empire; that is, they existed as provinces, territorial regions, of the dominion, upon which ten kingdoms were afterwards established by the barbarians, who founded the seventh head upon the seven mountains; wounded the Dragon's Sixth Head, which was afterwards "healed", and subverted the Dragon's jurisdiction over extensive regions.
Those regions were styled, by anticipation, horns - undiademed horns. In the time of John, they might be enumerated as, Greece, Moesia, Illyricum, Pannonia, Noricum, Rhoetia, Italy, Gaul, Spain, and Africa. The Dragon had then, and afterwards, other provinces in the east; but those only are to be reckoned as horn-provinces upon which kingdoms "receiving power as kings one hour with the Beast's" eighth head, horns sustaining the Papacy, were established.
The political organization of the peoples that was developed upon these Dragon horn provinces, became the apocalyptic Beast of the Sea; while Macedonia, Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, remained to the Dragon, as at this day.
4 And his tail <draws> the third of the stars of <the> heaven, and <he casts> them <into> the earth. And the dragon stood <in the presence of> the woman <about to bring forth>, <he might devour her offspring>.
The tail of the old Roman Dragon swayed by this power must have partaken of the character of that power, as the tail of a beast partakes of the peculiar vitality of the beast. The dragon in the heaven, heads, horns, body and tail, as a sign there, is to be viewed chronologically, in his tail-conflict with "Michael and his angels".
This tail-conflict was the last conflict of the Pagan Roman Serpent-power, or Dragon, with the partisans of the Christian Eve.
"The ancient and the honorable he is the head, and the prophet that teaches lies he is the tail" (Isa. 9:15).
All the pagan priests and philosophers were the teachers of lies in this, the crisis of the sixth seal. They would therefore constitute a very important element of the Dragon's tail.
Added to these would also be all "the rulers of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains (or chiliarchs, commanders of a thousand men), mighty men, and every slave, and every freeman" (Apoc. 6:15) who adhered to the pagan prophets.
Of these were "the Stars of the heaven" in which the Dragon was a sign. Entering into the composition of his tail, his tail is said to "draw" them. The tail of a power in motion, represents the fierce anger of that power against its enemies, as manifested in its movements of an army to destroy them. This appears from Isa. 7:4, where the armies of Syria and Israel, in march against Jerusalem, are styled the two tails of as many smoking firebrands, or their fierce anger.
... The conflict was between Michael and the Tail of the Dragon, both being in the heaven. A third of the stars of this heaven sided with the Dragon's Tail; while the two thirds ranged themselves under the Standard of "the Cross," by which sign "Michael" proposed to conquer. At that time, the Dragon dominion was divided into three parts - the Eastern, the Western, and the Illyrian, proefectures. On the defeat of Maxentius, Constantine ruled the Western, Licinius the Illyrian, and Maximin the Eastern, Third.
Maximin was the champion of Jupiter and the gods. This third was chorographically the Dragon's Tail, his Head being in Rome. Maximin dying in great torments, was succeeded in the Eastern Third by Licinius; who, apostatizing from the Catholic profession, solemnly professed himself at an idolatrous altar the champion of the gods. He was now the Pontifex Maximus of Paganism, or Chief Prophet of the Tail of the Dragon. He was the centre of attraction to the stars of the Eastern Third of the Heaven; and therefore to a "third of the stars of the heaven."
He drew them after him to a final struggle against the Archer of the First Seal. But he was defeated and dethroned, and ignominiously ejected from his high position in the state; and, in his fall from the heaven, drew with him to the earth, all the men of power, philosophers, and priests of Paganism, the stars of the Dragon's Tail, who had staked their all upon his success.
The Dragon Stands Before the Woman
Understanding that the "Great Red Dragon" is symbolical of the blood-stained power of Rome-pagan; and that the Woman represents the Anti-pagan Community of the Roman empire ; the only points for exposition under this head are the standing of the one before the other; and the time when the standing occurred.
For a power to stand before that which is offensive to it, is to assume a hostile attitude.
...And in Dan. 8: 7, speaking of the relative power of the Macedonian Unicorn, and the two-horned Persian Ram, it says,
" there was no power in the ram to stand before him."
Hence, to have power to stand, is not only to be able to struggle for victory, but to do it with effect.
The standing of the Dragon before the Woman indicates that he was in an aggressive attitude. His standing had no courtesy in it, for he stood before her that be might devour her offspring.
...The time, then, of this standing was the period of the Fifth Seal [Rev 6:9] or the ten years preceding the development of Constantine, as the imperial chieftain of the anti-pagan party.
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there 1 260 days.
In Revelation 12., the two witnessing prophets are represented by a fugitive woman, "the remnant" of whose seed is made up of the saints of the Holy City, "who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
Now, of the woman, it is said in one place, "they should feed her in the wilderness a thousand two hundred and threescore days;" and in another place, "she is nourished in the wilderness for a time, and times, and half a time." It is clear, therefore, that 1260 days are representative of a time, times, and half a time...
Now, forty-two months being interpreted in Daniel by "a time, times, and the dividing of times;" and this by John as significative of 1260 days, it follows, that the forty-two months are equal to the same period. "Months" are a lunar symbol; and when forty-two of them are divided into "times," the solar years they represent are necessarily compressed into times of 360, instead of 365 solar years; for 360 + 720 + 180 are equal to 1260, and not to 1277½.
It is a mistake to suppose that the years are lunar because the "times" and "months" are lunar symbols. A lunar time of solar years is 360 years; and a month of solar years is thirty, which, multiplied by twelve, gives the "year" or ενιαυτοζ, that which returns upon itself-(Revelation 9:15)-a circle of 360. But 360 common days are not equivalent to a Bible or Mosaic year. This consists of 365 years, as appears from the enumeration of the days of the Deluge. The Hebrew years had eleven months of thirty days, and the twelfth of thirty-five. Three circles and a half of these years are called for by the prophecy, neither more nor less.
The Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Feb 1854.
7 And there was war in <the> heaven: <The> Michael and his angels <war against> against the dragon; and the dragon <waged war> and his angels,
It was this Great Red Dragonic Diabolos and Satan, that
"magnified himself against the Prince of (Israel's) host: and by whom the Daily Sacrifice was taken away, and the place of its sanctuary was cast down" (Dan. 8:9-12).
It is symbolized in this place by "a Little Horn, which waxed exceeding great." It was by this Satanic Power, "Messiah the Prince was cut off;" and by which the city and sanctuary were destroyed" (Dan. 9:26).
It was the great adversary of Judah, and of the Saints, whom it reckoned also as Jews. When the Lord Jesus saw it in vision fall like lightning from heaven, he saw their adversary expelled from the Roman Heaven, as symbolized in this twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse.
Paul said it would be braised "shortly" [Rom 16: 18] after he wrote. It was ejected by the lightning of war from the heaven, about 25O years after, when the Michael and his party fought against the Dragon and his angels (ch. 12:7). It fell out of the heaven, as Jesus said; and John records, that "he was cast out into the earth," to the great terror of those among whom he fell (ver. 9,12).
The Dragon-Power of Rome, then, was surnamed THE SATAN, because it was the great and persistent Adversary of Christ, and His Brethren.
9 And the great dragon, <the> old serpent, <surnamed Diabolos, was cast forth>, and <the> Satan, which deceives the whole <habitable> was cast into the earth, and his angels were cast < forth> with him.
The whole habitable
The whole habitable, ten oikoumenen holen, was that portion of the earth comprehended within the limits of the great Pagan-Dragon dominion, which, in the epoch of the Sixth Seal, acknowledged the jurisdiction of the great city Rome.
...Human power enthroned upon the seven mountains, and exercising authority over the whole habitable - imperial human power - is apocalyptically styled "the Old Serpent," ho ophis, ho archaios - the Serpent which was in the beginning.
The Old Serpent
The apocalyptic dominion ruled by this Serpent was Mediterranean. It enclosed this sea within its territory. On the north, it was bounded by the Caucasus, the Euxine, the Danaster, the Danube, the Rhine, and the German Ocean.
...But an inquirer might ask, were not all the outlying countries as much ruled by the Serpent, as the inhabiters of the Roman earth and sea? To this I reply, not in the apocalyptic sense. The apocalypse prefigures the conflict between "the Seed of the Woman" and the Serpent, for the sovereignty of the world (Gen. 3:15).
This conflict was not between the Woman's Seed and the governments outlying the Roman empire.
At the opening of the Sixth Seal, the time had not come for that. The time to deal with the sin-powers of Asia and America had not then arrived. It was therefore necessary only to indicate by appropriate symbols that section of the general enemy with whom the saints would have especially to contend; and this was the Serpent in his Graeco-Latin, or Roman, manifestation upon the territory defined.
But, if the Pago-Roman Dragon Power be the Old Serpent, did that power exist in the days of the serpent that tempted Eve? To this question the answer is, it did unquestionably exist. The testimony before us, bears witness to the fact. It is there styled archaios, which signifies, not only old, ancient; but primeval, from the beginning, original. The Roman Dragon was the original serpent power. This is not to be disputed.
The reader will bear in mind that we are treating of a power styled the old serpent," not of the reptile styled nahkash, which Moses says,
"was more sagacious than any beast of the field, which Yahweh Elohim had made."
The animal was not the power, but only the type of it.
The fourth beast
...This Little Horn become so great was now the fourth of Daniel's beast-dominions. It planted itself in Jerusalem B.C. 63; and in A.D. 33, was popularly and pontifically acknowledged as "the King of the Jews" (John 19:12,15). It had acquired identity with "the old serpent" by its incorporation of the Syro-Babylonian, or Northern Horn power (out of which, in relation to the Holy Land, it came forth), into its Italian dominion. It was now "the Dragon, the Old Serpent" - Leviathan, the flying and very tortuous serpent, the dragon that is in the sea (Isa. 27: 1).
But when it conquered the Syro-Babylonian Horn, B.C. 67, it did not thereby acquire the apocalyptic "surname" of "the Diabolos and the Satan." It was not until the Little Horn had "magnified itself against the Prince of the Host," or Messiah the Prince; and undertook, as "a roaring lion, prowling about, seeking whom he might devour," to exterminate the saints from among the living; that it acquired the character signified by the terms "fiery red," "diabolos," and "Satan" (Apoc. 12:9).
The old serpent
In the beginning, the Serpent-World consisted of no more than two sinners - Adam and his wife; yet small as was its extent, all the evil that has since manifested itself, was latent in them. Their symbol was the Serpent, or Dragon, and represented falsehood, unbelief, and rebellion against the Deity.
Wherever these three have been found politically organized, and in conflict with the saints, there is the Serpent which was in the beginning - "the old serpent."
...THE CONSTITUTION Of the Serpent-World, or KINGDOM OF SIN; and termed in Scripture "the Kingdom of Men" - dominion hostile to the Divine law administered by the Serpent's Seed. It matters not what form the dominion assumes, whether imperial, regal, republican, or papal, its basis is one and the same; and most appropriately symbolized by the serpent which was in the beginning - ho ophis, ho archaios.
In after times, far distant from the beginning, the serpent-world acquired an immense development. From two persons it had increased to myriads of millions; and without specifying the outlying savages of the dominion, is treated of in Scripture as "the kingdom of Egypt;" which, in the days of Moses, had attained great political proportions - a kingdom of kingdoms.
It was "the dragon, the old serpent," of his day -the great enemy and bruiser of the woman's seed, who sought their extirpation from the earth. This was the political relation of things then. The "Woman's Seed" was identified with Israel; the "Serpent's Seed," with all that had enmity against, or oppressed, them; while the "Head of the Serpent," styled in the sentence upon the serpent "thy head," is that chief government of the Gentiles, or nations, which directs, controls, or influences, the policy of the world for the time being.
The Scriptures oftentimes connect the beginning and the end without taking cognizance of the interval of a multitude of generations and ages, or, if at all, only very slightly. Thus, in Psa. 74:12, the Mosaic salvation from Egyptian bondage, and the future Messianic salvation from the down-treading of the mystic Babylon, apocalyptically and "spiritually called Sodom and Egypt" (Apoc ch. 11:3), are so connected: as it is written,
"My King of old is Elohim, working salvation in the midst of the earth. Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength."
Then, predictive of what will assuredly come to pass, and befall the same Serpent-power in its latter-day manifestation, as apocalyptically displayed in the binding of the Dragon, it proceeds in verse 14 to state,
"Thou bruisedst the heads of leviathan, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness."
LEVIATHAN signifying "a serpent coiling himself in folds," is the Dragon of Apoc. 20:2; and embraces all the intermediate dragonic manifestations of previous ages and generations, which are the folds of his coil.
The "heads of leviathan" are those apocalyptically exhibited.
"The people inhabiting the wilderness" are the saints, and Israel after the flesh made willingly subject to them.
The dragon surnamed Diabolos and the Satan
This crocodile, or dragon, is said to be at once ho kaloumenos Diabolos, kai ho Satanas ho planon ten oikoumenen olen; - "surnamed the Diabolos, and the Satan who deceives the whole habitable."
A surname is a name added to the original name. The original name for the embodiment of falsehood, unbelief, and disobedience, was "the Serpent".
In all the five Books of Moses we do not once find it styled "the Diabolos," nor "the Satan." This surname was not bestowed upon the Egypto-Romaic Babylonian Dragon until, as the Little Horn of the Macedonian, or Grecian, Goat, it
"magnified itself against the Prince of the Host (Christ)" (Dan. 8:11).
It did this when it falsely accused and crucified him.... the Roman power acquired the surname of the diabolos, because, being falsehood and transgression politically incarnate, it enacted the part of the Old Serpent in tempting the Brethren of Christ to cross the line of their allegiance to him in burning incense to Caesar as the god of the earth - diabolos, in its etymological import, being that which causes to cross the law-line of Deity.
But, it also acquired the surname of "the Satan." This word sahtahn, signifies an adversary; and without the definite article the, may signify any adversary in general. It is applicable to persons and things of whatever kind they may be. Thus, when the sons of Zeruiah counselled the death of Shimei, David rejected their impolitic advice, and styled them, Satan, (2 Sam. 19:22).
So also when Yahweh became adverse to Israel because of transgression, He is styled Satan. This appears from 2 Sam. 24: 1, where it is written, that Yahweh moved David against Israel to say, "Go, number Israel and Judah:" while in 1 Chron. 21: 1, it is written,
"And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel."
Deceives the whole habitable
...The Satan of Apoc. 12, is characterized as the power
"which deceives the whole habitable" - ten oikoumenen olen; not "the whole world,"
as in the English version, in the sense of all the inhabitants of the globe; but the whole of that portion of it subject to the Dragon-Power of Old Rome.
When the apocalypse was communicated to John, the Satan in the heaven was pagan. It deceived the people of the empire by the priests and poets (and the emperor was the High Priest) of the reigning superstition.
But while this Satan flourished in the heaven of Italy, there was another Satan in embryo preparing to occupy the same heaven from which the pagan Satan was foredoomed to fall like lightning.
This was the Satan enthroned in Pergamos (Apoc. 2:13); where his principal synagogue was situated (ch. 2:9,24; 3:9). This Satan consisted of nominal christians; professors, who claimed to be Jews by adoption through Christ; but not being what they claimed, the Spirit denounced them as liars and blasphemers.
They were zealous anti-pagans, as Protestants are, or used to be, zealous anti-papists; but their spiritual condition was that of Sardians and Laodiceans; and fit only to be "spued out of the Spirit's mouth." These pretenders styled themselves "the Church of God;" or "the Holy Apostolic Catholic Church." They contended earnestly against paganism; from which "with all power and lying wonders," styled by Paul "the working of the Satan" they alienated multitudes; but failed to indoctrinate them with
"the love of the truth that they might be saved" (2 Thess. 2:9,10).
Their Satan was enlarged, and their political influence increased; so that, when the pagan Satan fell from the heaven, the "Holy Catholic" Satan was prepared to occupy the Bishoprick vacated by his fall.
The revolution of the Sixth Seal substituted the one -Satan for the other. The Catholic Satan is still in the heaven; and will remain there, until he is ejected by Christ himself, after the type or pattern, exhibited in this twelfth chapter.
This final expulsion of the Satan from the heaven, is represented in Apoc. 20:1-3. In this scene, his head is bruised; and "the Dragon the Old Serpent, which is Diabolos and Satan," is bound in the abyss, and shut up and sealed, so that the nations may be no more deceived for a thousand years.