- The Over-All View
- From The Sanctuary—The Key
- The Door
- Restoring the Sanctuary
- Through the Door
- 1. The Churches
- 2. The Seals
- 3. The Trumpets
- 4. The Beasts and the Angels
Let us take an over-all look at the book of Revelation. The servant of the Lord has constantly reminded us to study this book, and has stated that when we do, there will be seen a revival among God’s people. We are told that as we study this book, one thing will be made very prominent: the connection between Christ and His people is close and decided. Those who receive the glimpse of this book that God wants them to have, will get such visions of the glory of heaven, that forces will be set in action which cannot be repressed. The time has long since come when this experience should be fulfilled among God’s people.
The Over-All View
In the study of any subject, it is important to get an overall view. Any book of the Bible, any single subject of the Bible, must first be understood in its general perspective before the several parts can be properly related to one another. How best can we summarize the book of Revelation in one sentence? It is difficult to be brief, but in summarizing it, one might say this:
“The book of Revelation is an unveiling of Jesus Christ, as from His sanctuary, He directs the onward course of events until He returns the second time for a people made ready for the great day of God.”
The sanctuary, the temple service, is the key to unlock the book of Revelation. Christ is constantly depicted throughout the book as the great Pilot of human destiny, and of human history, from His sanctuary guiding the onward course of events. Everything that happens upon this earth, and everything that happens in the church, comes in response to what Christ is doing in the heavenly temple. Unless we understand what Christ is doing in the sanctuary, or, to use the words of the psalmist, unless we know His “goings” in the sanctuary (Psalm 68:24), we cannot interpret the events that are happening here upon this earth.
From The Sanctuary—The Key
To illustrate how the sanctuary service continually reoccurs as the background for the book, let us study the four great outlines in Revelation:
- The Churches
- The Seals
- The Trumpets
- The Beasts and the Angels
There are four outlines in Revelation even as in Daniel (Daniel 2, Daniel 7, Daniel 8, Daniel 11). Each of these outlines is prefaced by a description of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, the fourth only a brief allusion, but the other three very prominent.
In Revelation 1, Christ is to be seen among the candlesticks. In Chapters 4 and 5, He is before the candlesticks again—the seven spirits of God—in the first apartment, ministering there. Before the trumpets open, Jesus is standing before the altar offering up the prayers of the saints with the incense. There are also many other allusions to the sanctuary. It is indeed the key to unlock Revelation.
One might say that the book of Revelation has a narrow door, or at least much of it has. Unless we find the door, we can never understand the great truths that climax the book. And that narrow door, which opens to us the vast vistas of truth found in this book, is the prophecy of Daniel 8 and Daniel 9: the sanctuary and its cleansing. A large section of Revelation deals with an unfolding of this great truth which was given to Daniel in the 8th chapter. Let us turn and have a look at it. Daniel saw the work of the man of sin:
11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily…was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
12 And the host was given him against the daily…by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered.
This was the papal power, Satan working through the papacy. Here is described the work of antichrist against the sanctuary of Christ.
What has he done to it according to Daniel 8? The man of sin defiled God’s sanctuary, polluted it.
How? Daniel 7 gives one aspect of how he did it. The man of sin defiled God’s sanctuary by changing His law, which is the expression of God’s character. He defiled God’s sanctuary by misrepresenting God’s character through the flood of false doctrines that were brought into the church by the teaching of the papal power and the method with which he dealt with the saints of God. As it says elsewhere:
25 He shall wear out the saints of the Most High.
You see, the sanctuary in the Word of God is the place of God’s throne. It is the place of God’s law. It stands for God’s character, the revelation of His truth. The man of sin misrepresented God’s truth. He brought a flood of errors into the church. He misrepresented His character through false doctrine. He changed God’s law, persecuted God’s people, and those he could not corrupt he destroyed. And so through the dark ages the church of God was in desolation.
13 Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily…and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?
The “host” spoken of here refers to God’s people. “How long,” says the questioner, “shall God’s sanctuary, Christ’s sanctuary, be trodden down? How long shall His truth be trodden underfoot? How long shall His law be changed? How long shall His character be misrepresented? How long shall His church be defiled and trodden underfoot?” And the answer is given:
14 Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
Restoring the Sanctuary
Usually our views of the cleansing of the sanctuary are far too narrow. We see in the light of Revelation why our views are too narrow. To understand the cleansing of the sanctuary, we must first of all understand what Satan did to the sanctuary. The sanctuary is the place where God’s character is revealed to the universe—God’s law, God’s love, God’s truth. What did the man of sin do? He trod it down. And it was trodden underfoot how long? Unto two thousand three hundred days.
In that case, we would expect that in 1844 something would begin to rescue truth from the rubbish of papal error and to exalt it, to vindicate God’s character and His law, and to restore the truth of God and the ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary to its rightful state, and with that, of course, His people. Only thus, as God’s truth is restored, as God’s law is restored, as God’s character is vindicated, can God’s sanctuary truly be restored. And that is inseparable from the work to be done in the hearts and lives of God’s people, because God is depending upon His people to vindicate Him in the controversy with Satan. He has always looked to man, and for that purpose man was created.
Through the Door
Now let us go to the book of Revelation and see how it unseals the meaning of the cleansing of the sanctuary. Then we shall understand indeed the work of the great Advent Movement. We shall briefly consider the four lines of prophecy beginning with the seven churches described in Revelation 2 and 3.
1. The Churches
In the first church—the church of Ephesus, or the early church–we find a picture of a people stoutly resisting the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. The Nicolaitanes were a Gnostic sect who believed that the gospel of Jesus Christ released people from the obligation of obedience to the moral law. Here was a church zealous for good works, zealous for orthodoxy, zealous for the purity of the faith. But the Lord rebukes them with the words:
4 Thou hast left thy first love.
While contending for the law of God, they were lacking that one essential quality which alone can fulfill the law.
The second church—Smyrna—was a persecuted church, a poor church, yet the Lord says it was rich.
Pergamos, the third church, comes into existence with the beginning of the union of church and state. The church now is beginning to tolerate the Nicolaitanes.
The fourth church, that of Thyatira, yields a measure of compromise to Jezebel, that wicked woman, who represents the apostate system of religion which ruled in the dark ages.
Sardis, the fifth church, was the first particularly “revelation” message. It left Rome with an open Bible, but tried to live on its past reputation.
The sixth church, Philadelphia, portrays the Advent awakening. It is the church of brotherly love, representing the blessed state of love and unity which existed in that church. The Lord exhorted His people of this church to hold fast.
And so we have spanned six churches, which, you will notice, span the dispensation of Christ’s ministry in the holy place of the sanctuary. When we come to the sixth church, the message to the church of brotherly love is:
8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
This brings us to the opening of the most holy place of the sanctuary, and then we come to the seventh church, Laodicea, which means “judging of the people.” Here is a people living in the hour of judgment who have slipped back into the Laodicean condition of lukewarmness—a nauseating condition, offensive to Christ, the heavenly Lover. It is a church that professes to keep the law, a people who know that they are to be judged by the law, and yet who are lacking the only thing which can fulfill the law—the gold of love. The message is: “Repent with a repentance that will be consistent with the hour of judgment, a repentance which will open the way for the experience of the cleansing of the sanctuary.”
But we must leave the churches and move on. We can spend only a little time on each highlight of prophecy. But notice there are six churches that span the dispensation of the ministry of Jesus in the holy place, and the sixth brings us to the open door, opened in 1844, and the seventh to the great day of atonement.
2. The Seals
Now we move on to the next outline of prophecy, that of the seals. In Revelation 4 we see the throne of God, not in the most holy place as some have contended, but in the holy place:
5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
When it speaks of seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, that is the holy place, is it not?
1 And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
John wept much because no one could open this book. No one could reveal its contents. No one could be found who could even look at the book, let alone open it. And then he saw the Lamb.
Here is a challenge which goes forth to the universe: Who can open the book? Truly, the destiny of the whole world, even the universe, is at stake in the unfolding of this book. To gain a broad concept of this vision in Revelation 5, we need to start with the beginning of the great controversy and follow it through to the end when sin is no more, because the chapter ends with this:
13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
So there is a clean universe. Ellen White quotes this verse at the end of Great Controversy:
The Great Controversy, p. 678:
One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation.
So Revelation 5 takes in the whole drama of the conflict. The plan of God, His eternal purpose for the human race, the riches of His glory in His inheritance in the saints, the wealth of His favor which He is going to lavish on His children, on the human family, throughout the eternal ages, and the basis of the whole of God’s purpose, the mystery of His redeeming love that angels desire to look into,—this is the law of God, the expression of God’s will. No man could unfold His law, His will to the universe, until Christ came.
6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Here the emphasis is on “in the midst.” Christ is not only in the midst of the elders; He is not only in the midst of the beasts, who are represented as being around God’s throne, supporting and upholding it, but Christ is in the very midst of the throne of God itself, the center of attraction, the uplifted Lamb of Calvary. And into His hands is committed the book. The right is Christ’s as the Pilot of human destiny; His is the judgeship of all men. He begins to break the seals. So here we have a series of seven seals:
1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
Come Lord Jesus
Many manuscripts omit the words “and see,” leaving just the word “Come.” (See the New English Bible and the Revised Standard Version.) Since the beasts spoken of here are the living creatures, they may represent a group of living creatures because they are full of eyes. They may even be one section of the living creatures, a phalanx of them. As the Lamb opens the seals, one of the beasts (or a section of them) thunders forth, “Come!” Then the Lamb opens a second seal, and another section of living creatures cry, “Come!” As the next seal is opened, they cry again, “Come!” When the next seal is opened, they cry, “Come!” Why do they cry, “Come?”
When we go back to Revelation 5, we find that these beasts have the prayers of the saints in golden bowls. These are the prayers of all God’s people from the time of Adam—all the men of God, including Enoch, Seth, Noah and others through the ages,—who caught the vision of the plan of God for a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. By faith they saw the earth free from the curse of sin. They looked for the city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on this earth, that they sought a better country. They saw the promises afar off and embraced them, but they never obtained them. The Scripture says:
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.
But they confessed belief in those promises and their prayers ascended to God, and the prayer of all the ages was:
“Come, Lord Jesus. Come and reign on the earth. Come and banish sin. Come and unfold your plan.”
And here is Christ with the seals in His hand containing the whole purpose of God for the human family, and Christ is to unfold it to the world. Christ, at the beginning of His ministry, took the book. The beasts cry, “Come,” echoing the prayer of people down through the ages, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Jesus, as He took that book and began His priestly ministry, baptized the church of God with the fires of Pentecost. They were clothed in white raiment, and went forth like the white horse, conquering and to conquer, to win the world for Christ. And what a church it was!
Then, when He opened the second seal, the next beast cries, “Come!” The apostle Paul said that day would not come except there come a falling away first; and the falling away is revealed here because the church has lost its purity. Here is a red horse of strife and dissension coming into the church of God.
The next horse is black, the rider having a pair of balances in his hand. One of the living creatures says, “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny.” Why starvation rations, rationing out the word of God? There is a
11 …famine in the land not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.
Then the pale, greenish colored horse of apostasy. Death was the rider. Hell followed him, and they slew a fourth part of the earth—God’s people—with the beasts of the earth. What a tragic picture! Here is a church professing to be the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, actually guilty of slaughtering the saints of God.
When the fifth seal is opened, what is the picture?
9 And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
The expression “souls under the altar” refers to the sanctuary service again. When the priest slew the victim, he poured the surplus blood at the base of the altar, and here the martyrs are represented as pouring out their lives in service for God. Their blood is crying unto God from the ground like the blood of righteous Abel, and what do they cry? “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” White robes were given to every one of them.
“How long, O Lord?” There are the four beasts. As Christ opens the seals, the cry is, “Come, Come, COME, COME,” with ever-increasing crescendo, and then COME! When He opens the fifth seal, even the blood of the martyrs cries unto the Lord, “Come, Lord Jesus! How long, O Lord, how long?” And He says, “Give them white robes for a little season.”
The Reformation begins. The morning star, heralding the breaking of eternal day, was the Reformation. The martyrs who had died, condemned by the vilest men, by earthly tribunals, are now seen as saints of God. They are justified. Their lives are vindicated in the light of the Reformation.
Then, He opens the sixth seal, and there is a great earthquake. The sun becomes black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon becomes as blood. The prayer is beginning to be answered. The cry has been, come, Come, Come, COME, and is now, “How long, O Lord, how long?” In the sixth seal are revealed the omens of His coming: the earthquake, the dark day, the falling of the stars. Then the rich men, the mighty men, the chief captains, and every bondman and every freeman hide themselves, and what do they say?
17 For the great day of His wrath IS come, and who shall be able to stand?
It does not bring us up to the second coming, but it brings us, as it were, to the very presence of the second coming, and then stops short, for a specific reason. A question is asked now. The cry of the ages has been, come, Come, Come, COME, How long, O Lord? But when He gives the omens of His coming and the events leading up to it, the cry goes forth, “The great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?” That is the question. Who SHALL be able to stand?
Who Shall Be Able to Stand?
Now, friends, the purpose of the seventh chapter, before the seventh seal is introduced (which is His second coming), is to answer that question, “Who can stand when He opens the seventh seal? Who can stand in the glory of that divine Presence? For the great day of His wrath IS come and who shall be able to stand?” The seventh chapter gives us the answer.
The sealing episode breaks the sixth and seventh seals. The seventh chapter is the day of atonement, the cleansing of the sanctuary. Just as there are six churches which span the dispensation of Christ’s ministry in the first apartment, and the seventh church is the hour of His judgment, the six seals again span the ministry of Jesus in the first apartment, and we are now brought down to the sealing time which precedes His coming—the sealing of the 144,000.
On the Day of Atonement the Jews gathered around that sanctuary with prayer and fasting and deep searching of heart. They knew it was the judgment day, the sealing day, and at the close of that solemn day, Jew shook Jew by the hand and said, “I hope you have received a good seal.” The Bible describes the character of these people, the 144,000. They are faultless, they are virgins, they have a pure faith, they have no guile in their mouths, they are firstfruits, they are the first people ever upon this earth in their mortal state to attain to perfect maturity of Christian character.
1 And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
Ellen White beautifully describes this scene;
A Word to the Little Flock, page 15:
Soon our eyes were drawn to the East,—for a small black cloud had appeared about half as large as a man’s hand, which we all knew was the sign of the Son of Man. We all in solemn silence gazed on the cloud as it drew nearer, lighter, and brighter, glorious, and still more glorious, till it was a great white cloud.
The bottom appeared like fire, a rainbow was over it, around the cloud were ten thousand angels singing a most lovely song. And on it sat the Son of Man, on His head were crowns, His hair was white and curly and lay on His shoulders.
His feet had the appearance of fire, in His right hand was a sharp sickle, in His left a silver trumpet. His eyes were as a flame of fire, which searched His children through and through.
Then all faces gathered paleness, and those that God had rejected gathered blackness. Then we all cried out, who shall be able to stand? Is my robe spotless? Then the angels ceased to sing, and there was some time of awful silence, when Jesus spoke: “Those who have clean hands and a pure heart shall be able to stand, my grace is sufficient for you.” At this, our faces lighted up, and joy filled every heart.
These have entered into the experience of the cleansing of the sanctuary. They stand at His coming.
3. The Trumpets
Let us go on to the next line of prophecy: the trumpets. It is also prefaced by a vision of Christ in the first apartment.
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Here we see Jesus offering up the prayers of His people upon the golden altar. The trumpets represent desolations:
19 My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
Here are judgments upon an apostate Christendom, which has united church and state. Constantine and the bishops united church and state. Constantine hoped to strengthen the state, and the bishops hoped to strengthen the church by this unholy alliance. That which they hoped would be the everlasting salvation of the state was its curse. And the corruption of the church resulted because of this wicked union which gave birth to the papacy and the whole apostate Christendom.
There are a series of judgments: the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth trumpets. As you read through those trumpets, one thing stands out: every one of them is tempered with mercy until, of course, we come to the last one.
The trumpets are repeated again—under the plagues, only intensified and without mercy, and the whole of Christendom, the entire system of Babylon, is overthrown. We shall not pause on the trumpets. Coming to the sixth trumpet, we find mentioned in The Great Controversy very specifically, so that its accuracy cannot be denied, the prophecy of the ending of the sixth trumpet on the 11th of August, 1840, with the downfall of the Ottoman Empire.
The Lord permitted the rise of this terrible power from the desert (the wilderness, or the bottomless pit), this false religion of Mohammedanism to scourge an idolatrous Christendom. When that scourge finished its work, God was finished with the Ottoman Empire. In what a wonderful way Christ works! He raised up Assyria to be a scourge to ancient Israel, and when He had finished with Assyria, He said:
15 Shall the axe boast itself against him that hews therewith? Or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shakes it? As if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.
And He put the axe aside when He had used it. The Lord used the Mohammedans to scourge Christendom many times. The cause of the Reformation was teetering in the balance, and the emperor of the holy Roman Empire, in league with the Pope, was about to rise up and crush the Reformation. The Turks began hammering almost at the door of Rome, and the papacy had to abandon its designs to destroy the people of God in order to defend its very life. Some of these things are going to be repeated again in the closing controversy of the church.
The sixth trumpet brings us down to 1840. Then, immediately after the sixth trumpet, and before the seventh comes to view, there is another episode, that of the rise of the great Advent Movement, and the finishing of the mystery of God, described in chapters 10 and 11.
There is a very definite plan in the book of Revelation which we should seek to understand. As there are six seals, then the great day of His wrath comes with the question, “Who shall be able to stand?” followed by the episode of the sealing, so there are six trumpets with a break describing the work of the Advent Movement in Chapter 10.
Here is shown an angel with a little book in his hand, which he unseals. The angel is Christ Himself. He unseals the book of Daniel, with those prophecies that pertain to the end of time, particularly to the cleansing of the sanctuary, because you will notice He says, “there should be time no longer.” The longest time period ended in 1844. Let us read:
7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
“When he shall begin to sound,” or, as the original and other translations say, “in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound,” the mystery of God should be finished. Again, this is the time in which we live. The sixth trumpet is finished. The seventh trumpet is about to sound, for we know of a certainty the nations are angry, the last time prophecy was finished in 1844, and we are living in between the sixth and seventh trumpets, in that period of time which takes place according to Revelation 10. The mystery of God is to be finished.
What takes place between the sixth and seventh seal? The sealing of the 144,000!
Here, between the sixth and seventh trumpets is the finishing of the mystery of God, the same thing as the sealing of the saints of God.
There is an order, you will notice, in the seals, the churches, and the trumpets. The seventh church portrayed judgment, the judging of the people. God’s people are judged. In the seals, we find that God’s people are sealed. Here in the trumpets we find that the mystery of God is finished. So God’s people are judged and sealed. Then the mystery of God is finished. It is finished in the lives of His people.
4. The Beasts and the Angels
Let us go on to the fourth line of prophecy. You will notice that each line of prophecy climaxes in the great Day of Atonement. It culminates in a description of the work of cleansing of the sanctuary. The book of Revelation unseals the true meaning of Daniel 8:14.
In this fourth line of prophecy, we find the dragon—Satan—working through pagan Rome and papal Rome in Revelation 13. He blasphemes God in verse 6 of Revelation 13. He blasphemes His name, His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. He is defiling the sanctuary again. In 1798 He is overthrown. In verse 11, we come to another power: Protestant America.
11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
The great test comes to God’s people. The buy-and-sell decree is proclaimed. The closing conflict over the law of God ensues. Presented here is a threefold union—united to deceive the whole earth: apostate Protestantism, spiritualism, and Romanism. We see the course Protestantism is taking by following after Romanism and setting up the image to the beast—a very black picture indeed for Protestantism.
Can Protestantism Be Saved?
After looking at Revelation 13, we might well ask the question, “Can Protestantism be saved?” An article came out in Reader’s Digest awhile ago, by Norman Vincent Peale, the title of which was, “Can Protestantism be Saved?” It is a good question, isn’t it? Why are the churches uniting today? Why are they involved in this great ecumenical movement? They want to save Protestantism, don’t they? Do you think they will save it? What can revive it? What can, save it? It is on its way back to Romanism. Four hundred years ago the Protestants marched out of Rome with an open Bible, and a message to preach. Today they are marching rapidly back into Romanism. Can Protestantism be saved?
The Great Controversy, p. 425:
While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of the penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin among God’s people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14.
Revelation 14 presents the everlasting gospel. Here is the cure for Protestantism. Here is God’s final reformation for this world. There is only one cure for Protestantism, because there is only one great trouble with Protestantism. Protestantism did not move forward to complete the work of reformation that was begun in the 16th century. The cleansing of the sanctuary, my friends, in a very simple way of looking at it, is God’s last reformation. Read it in Daniel 8. What did the man of sin do? He defiled the sanctuary. He brought in his errors. He changed God’s law. He trod underfoot the church of God.
Daniel saw all this wicked work going on, and asked: “How long shall this thing continue?” The answer: “Unto 2300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Then shall begin the work to uplift the sanctuary, to uplift the truth, to rescue it from papal errors, and to free the church from Babylon.
The Three Angels’ Messages
Where is the great work of reformation particularly brought to view? Oh yes, it is brought to view in the churches. There is the church living in the hour of judgment, but it is in the Laodicean condition. The call is to repent. We are given another glimpse of the cleansing of the sanctuary, the final work of reformation, in the sealing of the 144,000.
That is, indeed, a work of reformation, a complete work in the hearts and lives of God’s people. In Revelation 10, there is a work of reformation, a finishing of the mystery of God. But it is left to Revelation 14 to give the fullest picture of what the cleansing of the sanctuary is. Let us study it carefully.
The first angel has the everlasting gospel. It says with a loud voice,
7 Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.
It is a work of judgment (the children of Israel gathered around the tabernacle for the forsaking of sin). The judgment is come. The trumpet must be blown in Zion. There is a work of sanctification. In Joel the message is given
14 Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord.
Notice that it says here in Revelation 14:6, “and give glory to Him.” Let us see the connection between that and Daniel 8:14. The cleansing of the sanctuary is primarily a vindication of God’s name, of God’s character, of God’s law, because the man of sin has defiled and blasphemed His name, blasphemed His character, misrepresented His truth.
Here in the first angel’s message, the command is given, “Give glory to Him. The hour of His judgment is come.” This great, solemn call to the judgment is a call to put away sin, as given in Joel. It must be as we face the reality of eternal judgment. “Give glory to Him!” Here is embraced a message of health reform in the church of God. The apostle says,
1 Corinthians 10
31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
The great sanctuary truth should show us God’s purpose for the human soul.
1 Corinthians 6
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 3
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
God says, “Now, give glory to Him.” We cannot give glory to God unless whatever we do in our bodies and in our spirits, gives glory to Him. Here is a great work of reformation. It includes the whole body.
7 And worship Him that made heaven and earth.
Here is also a call for reformation. Can Protestantism be saved? We find that the whole Protestant world is saturated with the doctrine of evolution. Isn’t the message telling us, “Worship Him that made heaven and earth?” And with that, “worship Him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Where is that quoting from? That is a direct quote from the 4th commandment. It refers to the Sabbath.
There is not only a work of health reform here, but there is linked to this great final work of reformation a very definite call for Sabbath reform. The Sabbath is the great institution, the sign of righteousness by faith. The Sabbath commemorates a finished work of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. The Sabbath brings to our view the Creator, the power of God unto salvation. It tells us that the same power which created this world in six days is now exercised to recreate us in newness of life, testifying that it is the Lord that sanctifies us. He writes His law in our hearts and in our minds.
Following the judgment, the second angel cries:
8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
The “wine” of Babylon is its false doctrine. The Bible reveals in Revelation what these doctrines are:
- Sunday sacredness: the bond with Romanism
- Immortality of the soul: the bond with spiritualism
- Belief in eternal torment, and other kindred errors
Revelation 14 is a call to reformation, a complete separation from the false doctrines of Babylon, through the power of the everlasting gospel. It is to bring deliverance to God’s people from the spirit of Babylon—not only from Babylon outside, but also from Babylon inside—and from the principle of sin—all that Babylon stands for. Babylon is the kingdom of self-worship. God’s people are to receive the victory, with complete deliverance from sin.
The third angel’s message warns against apostasy, the beast and his image and his mark, and summarizes with the message:
12 Here are they which keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
That is a perfect definition of the everlasting gospel: the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Faith working unto obedience to all the commandments of God to produce a people made ready for the great day of God, a sealed people. The cleansing of the sanctuary primarily involves the vindication of God’s character. God’s character can only be vindicated in the lives of His people, and the sanctuary cannot be cleansed until God can indeed say of His people, “Here are they which keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
When God can say that, the sanctuary is cleansed. The work of reformation is complete. Do you see what the reformation is to lead to? The keeping of God’s commandments and the very faith of Jesus in our lives. Revelation 14, friends, is the cleansing of the sanctuary. When that work is complete among God’s people, what is the next event?
14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.
15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
When is the sickle put in? Can it be put in now? Can Jesus come? Why can’t He come? The harvest is not ripe. The work of cleansing the sanctuary has not been completed. The great work of reformation has not yet done its work among God’s people. But when the work of reformation has been completed, once God’s people have gathered at the sanctuary, confessed their sins, sent them all ahead to judgment; when they have glorified God in their bodies, and in their spirits, and the work of health reform is complete; when the work of Sabbath reform is finished, and the work the Sabbath stands for—that of worshiping the Creator; when the work of separation from Babylon, and every false doctrine and every false spirit for which Babylon stands is ended; when God’s people have final deliverance; when Jesus has placed upon them the seal and He can say, “Here are they which keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Then the sanctuary is cleansed. Then the call of the angel is: “Put in thy sickle and reap. The harvest is ripe.”
The three angels’ messages are to be repeated to the world with distinct utterance. They have been sounding since 1844, and the work of reformation and cleansing of the sanctuary has been going forward since that time. In spite of our Laodicean condition, God has still blessed and prospered His work in the earth. But the work of reformation as given in the three angels’ messages is yet to go with greater power, much greater power. And God has chosen an hour in earth’s history for this message to be repeated, because we find it in Revelation 18.
1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
Thus when the three angels’ messages are to be repeated in this world, they go forth with a loud cry. At this time all the nations of the earth have drunk the wine of Babylon. Church and state have united. A marriage takes place—an unholy alliance.
The Two Marriages
Did you ever consider that the book of Revelation climaxes in a description of two marriages and two suppers? Revelation 13 and 17, describe the marriage of the nations of this earth: Protestantism in the new world, and Romanism in the old world. Protestantism, Catholicism, spiritualism, and heathendom unite with the state. There is a marriage of religion and state. The devil perfects this union to deceive the whole world. That is one marriage we must understand.
We should understand the order of events that will lead up to that marriage. They are given in Revelation 13: the fire from heaven (the false latter rain), the image to the beast, and so on.
In Revelation 17 the religions of the world follow the example of Catholicism and fallen Protestantism in uniting with the state power. When that marriage takes place, when religion and state unite and they decree that no man can buy or sell save he that has the mark and name of the beast, and the number of his name, John says,
1 After these things, I saw another angel come down from heaven having great power, and the earth was lightened with his glory.
And he cries mightily, “Babylon is fallen…for all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Thus are the three angels’ messages repeated with distinct utterance.
At that time, when God’s people are commanded to receive the mark of the beast, when they must stand true to God because their eternal destiny will be decided by the way they relate themselves to that decree, the judgment of the living has come. Babylon has fallen completely in the third angel’s message. There is the beast. There is the image. There is the mark fully developed. The Lord baptizes His people with His spirit, and they give the final call.
Now Revelation 19. When the events take place outlined in Revelation 18, the church puts on her beautiful garments, is baptized with the latter rain, goes forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners. Then there is heard a great sound of rejoicing in heaven. Even the Lord is going to rejoice over His church with singing.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.
This bride is called the New Jerusalem. It is the bride, the church, the Lamb’s wife. The New Jerusalem is composed of people, a people arrayed in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus. God’s answer to the false marriage between an apostate Christendom, the state, and the nations of this earth, is the marriage which takes place in the most holy place of His sanctuary. When the work of cleansing the sanctuary is complete, when the church of God, like Queen Esther, puts on her beautiful garments, and goes in before the King, and the King grants her request; when the numbers of His subjects are made up, then the marriage of the Lamb is consummated.
The whole world is divided into two classes: those who have taken part in the false marriage have the mark of the beast; those who have entered with Christ into the marriage in the most holy place, having put on the white linen, clean and white, have the seal of God.
The Two Wraths
Those who have the seal of God and have entered by faith into the marriage of Christ in the most holy place, are subject to the wrath of the dragon.
17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. [which is the Spirit of Prophecy, Revelation 19:10]
That has only been partially fulfilled. It has yet to be fully consummated. When there is a church that really keeps the commandments of God and has the Spirit of Prophecy—not just in a book—to them is fulfilled the promise of Joel:
28 I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.
Then the dragon will indeed make war; he will be wroth with such a people as that.
But those who take part in the apostate marriage, receive the wrath of God in the seven last plagues.
The Two Suppers
There are two marriages; there are two wraths, and the drama ends in two suppers. Notice here:
9 And he said unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
And there is another supper:
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
So the apostate union of church and state comes to an end. The union of Christ with His church abides forever, and God’s people inhabit the New Jerusalem, where the story ends.
The book of Revelation is largely a book of the cleansing of the sanctuary. It takes you down through four great lines of prophecy:
- The Churches
- The Seals
- The Trumpets
- The Beasts and the Angels
Each line climaxes in the cleansing of the sanctuary. Revelation 14 is a whole chapter on the Advent Movement. When that message has done its work in the lives of God’s people, when God has a people who have participated in that work of cleansing, the work of reformation has produced in them the image of Jesus, then the message of Revelation 18 sounds. The church of God, baptized with the latter rain, goes forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer. Then rejoicing is heard in heaven, and they say,
17 Let us be glad and rejoice…for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready.
There is much assurance for us in the book of Revelation of the wonderful plan of God, the wonderful purpose for the Advent Movement which began in 1844, the triumph of the cleansing of the sanctuary, the certainty of the Advent Movement and its place in the prophetic plan.
God raised up a people in 1844 whose destiny is clearly unfolded in Revelation 14. This is our message—the three angels’ messages—rooted on the eternal platform of truth, the only salvation of Protestantism in this world today. Everywhere churches are troubled. What can they do? What is their salvation? We have a tremendous obligation to the people to deliver that message. There is no salvation in any other theory today aside from the three angels’ messages.
This is the movement which began in 1844, and which today is going into all the world, and here the message needs to be renewed. The church today is the church militant, not yet the church triumphant. It needs to be reproved, counseled, and so on, yet this is the movement, my friends. Here it is in Revelation 14, climaxing in that tremendous movement which today is just ahead of us, that of Revelation 18, when the whole earth is to be lightened with the glory of God.