Sermon 2456. The Lamb Our Leader
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MARCH 15, 1896.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, MARCH 7, 1886.
"These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes." Revelation 14:4.
YOU, dear Friends who belong to the Tabernacle, are well acquainted with our venerable friend, George Rogers. It was a greatjoy to me to find him alive when I came home from the Continent. He said that he must keep on living till he had seen me oncemore, and then he hoped that he should go Home. That was a month ago, but yesterday I saw him again and he seemed to be greatlyrevived and refreshed. He has attained an extremely advanced age and it is only natural that he should soon go to his restand reward. He remarked to me, yesterday, that he had bid farewell to the world, entirely, and he did not wish to renew theacquaintance! He did not know why he should linger here any longer, for everything was finished and he was ready to depart.And then he said to me, in his cheery way, "I wonder whether I shall see that new Baptist Chapel completed." You know thathe is not a Baptist, but a Congregationalist, yet he has been with us so many years that we always claim him!
He added, "When it is built, I hope they will send a regular old-fashioned Baptist to preach in it." I asked him, "What sortof old-fashioned Baptist do you mean?" "Why," he replied, "the oldest-fashioned Baptist was the man that cried, 'Behold theLamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.' That is the old-fashioned sort of Baptist I mean-John the Baptist-andthat is the sort I hope will come there." "Yes," I said, "and I wish that was the sort of preacher who would go everywhere,for that is the Truth of God which still needs to be preached." "Ah, yes," said Mr. Rogers, "there is nothing like the doctrineof the Atoning Sacrifice! It is the doctrine for this world and it is the doctrine for the next." "Do you not think," he said,"that this passage would make you a good text for tomorrow, 'These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes'?" "Yes,"I answered, "that will make me a good text. May God send me the sermon!"
That is why I have taken this text-it really comes to you from that venerable man who is so far advanced in years and so closeto the border of the eternal state. He feels that the old-fashioned Baptist doctrine that ought to be continually preachedis this, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world," and that the best character that can be ascribedto Christians in any age is this, "These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes." Upon that theme I am now goingto speak to you as the Holy Spirit shall enable me.
I. And, first, I would make this observation, that THIS IS CHARACTERISTIC OF SAINTS-"These are they which follow the Lambwherever He goes." This has always been the way of the saints. This is the way the holy Prophets went, the way of the martyrs,the way of the reformers and confessors, the way of all who shall meet above around the Throne of God and of the Lamb.
Begin at the beginning. When do you see Abel at his best? It is when he brings of the firstlings of his flock and stands besidethe altar of sacrifice whereon lies the God-accepted lamb! The first of the martyrs is a martyr to the doctrine of Sacrificeby Blood! He, being dead, yet speaks, bearing his testimony that there is no way of access to God except by the sacrificeof a lamb.
Pass on to Abraham. What is one of the most memorable sayings of the father of the faithful? "My son, God will provide Himselfa lamb for a burnt offering." Did not Abraham, then, by faith, see Christ's day? Yes, he saw it afar off and was glad. Heknew that the great Jehovah-Jireh would provide a wondrous Substitute who would die in the place of His people, even as theram took the place of Isaac. And Abraham saw in his own offering of his son whom he so dearly loved, a faint image of thatgreater Offering of the Eternal Father when He would give His only-begotten and well-beloved Son to die that His people mightlive.
Again I say that it is always characteristic of God's people that they follow the Lamb, for look at Israel in Egypt. Theyare slaves at the brick kilns. They are building treasure cities and pyramids, but they cannot stir out of Egypt until, firstof all, they have slain and eaten the paschal lamb and sprinkled his blood upon their dwelling places. Then they go out singingthe song of Moses, the servant of God and of the Lamb! All through their marching in the wilderness there was the offeringof the morning lamb and the evening lamb. The people of God were known by their trust in a great Sacrifice, that Sacrificebeing prefigured by "the blood of bulls and of goats, and the sprinkling of the ashes of an heifer," and especially by thePassover lamb and the morning and the evening lamb.
I do not know any clearer characteristic of the saints throughout the ages that are past than this, "These are they whichfollow the Lamb." Think of the Prophet Isaiah and as you remember him and his prophecy, does not the thought of the Lamb ofGod rise up to your mind at once? "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, soHe opens not His mouth."
Then, when the new saints come into the world in the brighter day-the clearer dispensation of the Gospel-does not John theBaptist point all who hear him to the Lamb of God? That morning star of the Christian solar system throws its bright beamsupon Jesus, the one great Sacrifice! John cried, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world," and thatother John, who heard Him speak, started following the Lamb and all through his life he kept close company with that blessedLamb of God till, in his extreme old age, on the island of Patmos, he saw visions of God and wrote that wonderful Book ofthe Revelation out of which we were reading just now. And one of the noteworthy points in that Book is that John continuallyspeaks of the Lord Jesus as the Lamb. The one Sacrifice has been offered, the redemption price has been fully paid, the sinsof the redeemed have been all put away and now one might have thought that the Lord Jesus would assume some other form-forinstance, that of the Lion of the tribe of Judah would always be predominant in the apocalyptic vision-yet it is not so! Johnsays, "I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Zion."
Sacrifice is always first-first before the angels, first before the elders who represent the Church, first in the very centerof the Throne of God, Himself-for it is the Throne of God and of Him who offered Himself as the Sacrifice, that is, the Lamb!This, then, is the emblem on the escutcheon of the Church triumphant as well as the Church militant, "a Lamb as it had beenslain." For the wilderness and for Canaan, for the battlefield and for the palace, for the Cross and for the Throne, it isalways the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain and that lives again, and lives to die no more. God forbid that this matchless figureshould ever be dim to our eyes, but may we gaze upon it with ever-increasing delight!
Saints in all ages have followed the Lamb and I do not wonder that they have done so, for it was the Lamb that made them saints.They have "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Sainthood begins at Calvary! There is no possibilityof being holy till first there has been remission of sin-and there is no remission of sin without the shedding of the bloodof the Lamb! No, dear Friends, we have no hope of being clean in God's eyes unless we have been washed. And there is no fountainof cleansing for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but that which was opened when Christ hung on the Cross!Well may they follow Christ who have been made saints by Him.
They follow the Lamb, again, because it is He who keeps them saints. "He keeps the feet of His saints." If we walk in thelight, as God is in the light, and so have fellowship, one with another, it is still, "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son,"which, "cleanses us from all sin." We need perpetual cleansing and we get that perpetual cleansing in the ever-flowing streamfrom the wounds of Christ which, in effect, perpetually bleed for those who put their trust in Him. Well may the saints followthe Lamb, for to Him they owe not only the beginning, but the continuance of their spiritual life and saint-ship!
And, Brothers and Sisters, what other leader could they follow? What model, except Christ, is there for a saint to copy? Howcan we attain to holiness if we work not after this pattern? Where shall any manhood be seen as fit for imitation except whereit is linked with the Godhead in the Divine Son of God? Where shall we see the Law of God written out in living charactersbut in the life of this glorious Man, this blessed Son of God? Beloved, it is not possible for saints, in all respects, tofollow any other leader, and it is characteristic of them that they follow the Lamb! Ask yourselves, my dear Hearers, whetheryou are among these followers of the Lamb.
II. The second part of our subject shows us that THIS EXPRESSION IS INSTRUCTIVE TO THOSE WHO DESIRE TO BE SAINTS. Those ofus who have already the commencement of sanctification should remember that we can only be saints in the fullest sense byfollowing the Lamb wherever He goes.
First, then, we are to follow the Lamb. Some men spurn the idea of following anybody-they have very capacious brains and theylike to think and to excogitate. They will have nothing but what is beaten out on their own anvils. To accept the Word ofGod as a little child receives it is altogether beneath their dignity. They think that the Word of God, itself, is mistakenwhen it says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higherthan the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." They fancy that their thoughtsare even a little higher than the thoughts of God! They are followers of nobody. They are leaders or, at any rate, they are"self-contained." They have their own revelation and each man of them is a god to himself. Very well, you may stand thereby yourselves, you learned people! You may have your degrees, M.A., D.D., or whatever else you like, for you are those whofollow nobody! But of the true people of God, it is written, "These are they which follow the Lamb." These are not they whofollow their own leading, striking out a path of their own. These are not the great eccentrics, or the wonderful originals,but these are they which follow-they are content to be merely follow-ers-they do not aspire to be anything more than followers.But they are glad, however, to add that they are followers of the Lamb! "These are they which follow the Lamb."
There are other persons in the world who follow some one of their fellow men. Whatever he says is gospel to them! Whateverhe has written is, of course, infallible. "Be you followers of me," says the Apostle Paul, but then he adds directly, "evenas I, also, am of Christ." While we are children, we are necessarily under instructors, but we must take heed, as we growin Grace, that we never follow an instructor so blindly as to follow him where he goes wrong. No, "to the Law and to the Testimony:if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them." Every true instructor will beg you tosee that, when he errs, you are not to err with him, but to keep a conscience and an understanding of your own so that itwill not be said, "These are they who follow this or that eminent preacher or divine." But, "These are they which follow theLamb." Mind that, dear Friends, for it is most important!
I know another company of people who follow "the church." That is a wonderful thing, you know, "the historic church." Thisis the great door of entrance into the church of Rome and many have been attracted to it, and have gone through it down intoHell! There are certain persons who think that "the church" cannot err, but I do not know a more erring community than thatwhich is commonly called "the church"! Yet there are certain people who must follow the church wherever she goes and, as shehas gone to Rome, there they will also go! Or if they think she has gone to Oxford, there they will abide. Or if she has goneto Canterbury, there they will dwell. Well, I have great respect for some of these brethren, but I prefer to be numbered withthose of whom it is written, "These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes." Whether He goes to Rome, or to Geneva,or to Wittenberg, or to Canterbury, or to Smithfield amidst the martyrs' burning stakes, or among the misnamed Anabaptists,or the Methodists, follow the Lamb wherever He goes!
I have been sometimes called to book for saying-yet I will venture to say it again-that if I lived in a village, or if I livedin any other place where I knew there was a Baptist or other Dissenting Chapel, before I decided to attend it, I would wantto know, first, "Is the Gospel preached there?" I am not so blindly wedded to any denomination whatever, that I should clingto the denomination if it did not cling to Christ! "Follow the Lamb wherever He goes." If you can hear sound doctrine concerningChrist preached anywhere, go and hear it! If it is in connection with those who also follow the Lamb in the waters of Baptism,show your preference for that form of worship, but do not cling merely to an old name and an old flag when Christ has gonefrom them. The first thing for your soul is to get near to Christ, to feed upon His Truth and so to let it be said of you,dear Friends, "'These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes.' And if they do not hear the Gospel in one place, theywill go to another, for they are not going to listen to false doctrine. They have, as sheep of Christ, received a taste bywhich they know what is the Truth of God and what is error. 'A stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: forthey know not the voice of strangers.' But when they hear their Shepherd's voice, they will follow that! 'These are they whichfollow the Lamb wherever He goes.'" The church is all very well in its place, but the church has often lost her Lord. In theSong of Solomon we read how she went about the streets seeking Him. So I should not like to have to follow her wherever shegoes-but it is safe and right to follow the Bridegroom wherever He goes. So let us keep to that and be among those that "followthe Lamb wherever He goes."
A further instruction is this. We may always follow the lead of the Lamb of the atoning Sacrifice. We can never follow ittoo closely in our thought. You know that you may get some one thought into your head and it may rule your whole being tillyou hardly know where it may lead you. Few men know the consequences of introducing any single doctrine into their minds,for it is pretty sure to bring another and another in its train! This is especially true about the doctrine of the Atonementoffered by Christ, the Lamb of God, yet you may accept it without fear, whatever its consequences may be, and never be atall afraid to follow it wherever it goes!
For instance, when you think of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, dying in unutterable pain to redeem men, it gives you the trueidea of the terrible blackness of sin. Well, follow out that thought and if you begin to be greatly depressed under a senseof sin-if conscience should sting and scourge your heart, if it should almost drive you to despair to think that sin couldnot be put away except by the death of the Son of God-still follow out the thought, for the process will not hurt you! "Followthe Lamb wherever He goes." Though He should lead you into a very trying experience and a very humbling sense of your ownguilt, go on still further with Him, for He who leads you into that gloom will lead you out of it in the most efficient manner-youneed not be afraid to "follow the Lamb wherever He goes."
"If it is so," says one, "that the Son of God must die before sin can be put away, then it follows that there is no salvationout of Christ." Just so! Follow up that thought! Go on with it to its ultimate issues. Do not be afraid, even though the consequencesshould startle you. Rest assured that where the doctrine of the Cross may lead you, you may follow it quite safely. One thingI know, the doctrine of the Cross will never make you trifle with sin! It will never let you imagine that the death of thewicked is a slight matter. It will never make you indifferent as to the state of men when they pass into another world. "Followthe Lamb wherever He goes," and you will hate sin more and more-you will love souls more and more, you will have an intenseawe of the Law of God-and you will have an intense love for the Person of your Redeemer. You cannot push this thought toofar-it is a Truth of God about which you can never go to an extreme! No, I wish that you would go to any extreme that liesalong this route, "These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes," as a matter of thought.
But now, once more, you may also very safely follow the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Atoning Sacrifice, in matters of fact. Thatis to say, you may be in this world, as far as you can in your measure, as Christ was. The man who believes in the doctrineof the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, will feel that sin is bitter and he will become very intolerant ofsin. He will seek to put it down. He will try to purge it out of his own conduct and he will not endure it in his own family.Go on with that line of conduct and follow the Lamb wherever He goes! How can you tolerate that which cost the Son of Godthe bloody sweat of Gethsemane? How can you play with the dagger which pierced His heart? No, you must practically, in yourlife, hate the sins that made Him mourn and nailed Him to the tree! Alas, nowadays I see many who are trifling with sin. WePuritans, they say, are much too precise and too strict. Ah, Sirs, it is that preciseness and that strictness that are neededmore and more and we shall never know how to live thus except we abide hard by the Cross of Christ! Unless we believe thatsin cost Christ His life, we shall never have that holy enmity towards sin which we ought to have, that blessed intoleranceof sin which ought to take possession of every Christian's heart and mind!
"Follow the Lamb wherever He goes." If you do, you will have to go outside the camp, just as He did, bearing His Cross. Hewent forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem-you will have to do the same. You will find people saying of you that they cannotendure you, you have become too religious, too strait-laced, and so on. Blessed are they who are not afraid of hard names,who, indeed, feel that if it is wrong in the judgment of the world to follow Christ so closely, they intend to be more wrong,even as David said to Michal, "I will yet be more vile." God help us so to do! "Follow the Lamb wherever He goes," into theplace of separation outside the camp.
If you follow the Lamb, you may be called to suffer, you may have to lose friends, you may come under the cruel lash of slander.You may, perhaps, have to lose this world's gains for righteousness' sake and holiness' sake-but whatever the cost may be,follow the Lamb, say to yourself-
"Through floods and flames, if Jesus leads, I'll follow where He goes."
"The blood-spattered footprints of my Master shall receive mine! Not with equal strides, but still with gladsome footsteps,I will follow in His track, let that track lead where it may. What He did, I will do, after my measure." This is what we oughtto do, Brothers and Sisters. How different our lives would be if we always worked them out by this rule-
"What would Christ do in such a case?" I have sometimes got into a great fix of conscience when I have put to myself the question,"What would Christ do in such a case as this?" And once or twice I have not been able to answer. And then I have had to standback a little and say, "Would Christ ever have been in circumstances similar to mine just now? Is there not some mistake fartherback and had I not better go right back and begin again, somewhere or other, rather than keep on a track in which I cannotsuppose my Lord to be?" Oh, that we might feel, from now on, that we will follow the Lamb wherever He goes, whatever the consequencesmay be!
Young Christian, I recommend that you, in starting out in the Christian life, aim at obeying your Lord's commands in everyparticular. If you have believed in Him, the first thing that you ought to do is to be baptized. "Follow the Lamb whereverHe goes," and I am sure that He went down into the waters of Jordan and was baptized by John. And then the Holy Spirit restedupon Him and His Father said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." When you have done that, go and give yourselfto the Church of Christ, for the Lord Jesus Christ, from the very first, began to gather round about Him those who fearedGod-and He had a company of disciples who constituted His Church. Still keep on following the Lamb wherever He goes and ifyou do, you will be a very amiable, loving, generous, hearty, self-denying, laborious Christian. If you follow the Lamb whereverHe goes, you will go about doing good. You will lay yourself out in service for the Master. Perhaps you will teach littlechildren, for He said, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not." Perhaps you will stand and preachin the streets, for He, by the hillside and on the mountain, and by the sea, always spoke the things of God. If you followHim, you will do good in one way or another-and not be a lazy lie-a-bed in the Kingdom of Christ-expecting to be honored andrewarded for doing nothing at all.
"These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes." Brothers and Sisters, are we not happy that we may follow Him? Histrack leads to rest, for He sits at the right hand of God! His track leads to victory, for the Lamb is enthroned and He willgive us to overcome and to sit with Him upon His Throne, even as He has overcome and sits with the Father upon His Throne!Oh then, by that sweet ending, let us make a good beginning and a blessed, persevering continuance, in following the Lambwherever He goes!
III. I close with this remark-our text IS SUGGESTIVE TO ALL WHO WOULD BE SAINTS.
You perceive that if you are to be true saints, first of all, you must trust Christ. A man does not follow another unlesshe has faith in him. Brethren, your way to Heaven lies in trusting yourself with Christ as a Sacrifice for sin-as the Lambof God. Trust yourself with Him and you have begun the new life, you have started as a saint!
But, next, this trust must be of a practical kind. It is not said in our text, "These are they which trust the Lamb," merely,but, "These are they which follow the Lamb." You must do what He bids you, as He bids you, because He bids you and becauseyou trust Him. You must begin, from this day forth, to show by your lives that your faith in Christ is no mere sentiment,but a vital active principle within your minds. In that way you shall find eternal life in trusting the Lamb and followingHim.
But, if you follow Him, remember that you must make no terms with Him. "These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes.""Lord," you say, "I will follow You across the grassy lawn, or over the smoothly rolled road." No, no-you must make no conditions!You must follow Him up the crags and down into the marshes. You must follow Christ everywhere, with no picking and choosingof the road. Where He bids you, you must go. Where He leads you, you must follow. Will you do that? If so, you shall be Hisin the day of His appearing-but you must take that, "wherever," into the contract. "These are they which follow the Lamb whereverHe goes." O Sir, will you follow Christ at this rate? If you will, you are Christ's man-this is the sort of soldier that Hewould enlist in His army-the man who is ready to follow Him wherever He goes!
I heard of a young man who wanted to be an officer in Napoleon's army and he came to get a commission wearing a fine new hatand a suit of clothes of the very neatest cut possible. And the officer asked him, "Sir, if you were in a situation with mountainson either side of you which you could not ascend, and there was no possibility of going back, and the enemy in front was atleast ten times your number, what would you do in such a case as that?" He answered, "I should resign my commission." Theydid not make an officer of him, you may be sure of that, but there are plenty of that kind who, as soon as they come to adifficulty in the Christian faith, say, "Take my name off the roll! I did not bargain for this." Now, if you mean to be aChristian, you must "follow the Lamb wherever-wherever-wherever He goes."
And if you do this, you must be like He is. Christ and His followers must be of one mind. Christ the Lamb is not to be followedby the devil's lions. If you follow the Lamb, you must grow more and more lamb-like-and that means being more gentle, moremeek, more self-sacrificing, more ready to submit to the Divine will. The Lord make us so and may we be among the blessedpeople who shall have this for their epitaph-no, not for their epitaph, for they are not dead-but who shall have this fortheir motto, "These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes!"
Lastly, remember that Jesus came to the Communion Table and His followers should be like He in this respect, also. If thereis any child of God who has forgotten this Truth up to now, let him no longer forsake the assembling of himself with God'speople in the keeping of this sacred feast. God bless you all, for Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: REVELATION 14.
The Church of God had undergone a very great trial. There had arisen a cruel and wicked persecuting system, described by Johnin his vision as a beast-a terrible dragon, of which we read that "it was given unto him to make war with the saints, andto overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." This was bad enough, but afterwardsthere arose another system of evil which was even more dangerous, because it was an imitation of the Truth of God. Anotherbeast came up out of the earth, having two horns like a lamb, yet he spoke as a dragon; and of him, John writes, "He causesall, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark on their right hand, or on their foreheads." Iwill not go into the symbolic meaning of these two beasts-it is sufficient to observe that they had very terrible power andone might have thought that under their successive attacks the Church of God would have been destroyed. Yet note how thischapter begins.
Verse 1. And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Zion. Jesus is not dead! He still lives! He is not defeated- "aLamb stood on the Mount Zion." He is not disturbed or troubled, but He stands in the posture of quiet confidence. "A Lambstood on the Mount Zion." Jesus is not driven out of His Church, but He is still dwelling in the midst of His people. Thatis something, yet unbelief says, "Well, I can understand that John saw the Lord there, but had He any people with Him? HadHe any Church? Listen-"I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Zion."-
1. And with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. They are all there,a vast number, a complete number, the exact number which in the seventh chapter of this Book had been described as sealed!They are all there without exception-not one of them is lost-they all stand fast as a great army surrounding their gloriousLeader. Yes, my Brothers and Sisters, in the darkest times Christ has His Church still around Him! It is with Him as it waswhen the Lord said to Elijah, "Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal,and every mouth which has not kissed him." Be of good courage! If your eyes are but anointed with the heavenly eye salve,you may see, as John saw, the Lamb on Mount Zion, surrounded by multitudes of faithful followers!
2. And I heard a voice from Heaven, as the voice of many waters, and so the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voiceof harpers harping with their harps. As loud as thunder and yet as musical as the choicest notes from a band of harps- suchis the testimony of the saints, such is the expression of their exultant joy in their Lord!
3. And they sung, as it were, a new song before the Throne, and before the four living creatures, and the elders. See Brothersand Sisters, how little the powers of darkness can do? Not only are the saints all there, but they are singing! The devilcannot rob Christ of a single sonnet. The stanzas of our grateful praise shall continue to be poured forth, though all thedragons howl as they may! "They sung, as it were, a new song before the Throne, and before the four living creatures, andthe elders."
3. And no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. Thereis a special redemption, a "redemption from the earth." For such redeemed men there is a special song which no others canlearn-and that song will be sung by them in the darkest of all days, in the roughest of all weathers. When the dragons seemto triumph, Christ shall still have His praise, blessed be His holy name!
4. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. This is the Scriptural metaphor for those who havenot turned aside to idol gods, or to false opinions, or to unholy practices. You remember how Paul longed to present the CorinthianChristians, "as a chaste virgin," to Christ-he desired that Christ might have all their love. These servants of God are ofthis sort, wholly the Lord's.
4. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits untoGod and to the Lamb. Let no man deny, then, that there is a special and particular redemption of God's people. All men arenot redeemed as these were redeemed, else the expression would be untruthful, or without meaning-"These were redeemed fromamong men." There is an elect company for whom Christ especially laid down His life! They are His and they are made to knowthat they are His, and to take the position of a blood-bought people who belong not to themselves, but to Him who has boughtthem with His blood. These are the hundred and forty and four thousand who stand on the Mount Zion with the Lamb in the midstof them.
5. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the Throne of God. Kept, by Divine Grace, purein doctrine, holy in life, devout in heart-these are the bodyguard of the Lamb, the chosen companions of the King of kings-whosereward shall be unspeakably great forever and ever.
6. 7. And I saw another angel fly in the midst of Heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell onthe earth and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory toHim; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made Heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains ofwaters. The old interpreters used to understand these two verses as referring to the great Protestant Reformation. When theold dragon had done His utmost against the Church of God and the thick darkness of the Middle Ages rested alike on the Churchand the world, then God sent the Reformers, like flying angels, to preach the everlasting Gospel, and their special messagewas, "Worship not saints, angels, relics and crucifixes, but, 'worship Him that made Heaven, and earth, and the sea, and thefountains of waters.'"
8. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drinkof the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Babylon always goes down when the Gospel is preached! The very flight of theangelic preachers is sufficient to make old Rome totter to her fall! So our fathers used to explain this chapter, for so theyunderstood it. I am not sure whether it refers to that or to any other particular form of anti-Christ, but whatever it maybe, whenever the Gospel is exalted, down goes the devil and down goes the whole Babylonian system.
9, 10. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receivehis mark on his forehead, or on his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out withoutmixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels,and in the Presence the Lamb. How we ought to dread any collusion with deadly error, any fellowship with the hypocrisies andfalsehoods of those who would deceive, for if we receive the mark of the beast either on our forehead, so as to have unbelievingthoughts, or on our hand, so as to do evil deeds, we shall have to suffer in company with Babylon, that great system of errorwhich is only an imitation and a counterfeit of Christianity! What tremendously terrible words these are-"He shall be tormentedwith fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the Presence of the
11-15. And the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beastand his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep thecommandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from Heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead whichdie in the Lord from henceforth: Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.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. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on thecloud, Thrust in Your sickle, and reap: for the time is come for You to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. This isthe ingathering of the people of God. You notice that this harvest of God is reaped by the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, thatSon of Man who sat upon the cloud, "having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle."
16. And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. May you and I form a part ofthe great harvest! May we be found among those golden sheaves which are to be the reaping from Christ's great sowing whenHe gave Himself for His people, and was cast into the earth as a grain of wheat to die, that He might not abide alone!
17. And another angel came out of the temple which is in Heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. The reaper this time is anangel.
18. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; And cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharpsickle, saying, Thrust in your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.This is the ingathering of the ungodly, they are not the Lord's harvest, they are the vintage of His wrath. This vintage isnot reaped by Him who wears the golden crown, the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, but by one of His angels, who is bid to thrustin his sharp sickle and reap, for the hour of Divine judgment has at last come.
19. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepressof the wrath of God. Shall any of us ever be cast into the great winepress of the wrath of god? We shall, if we continue growingupon the evil vine and are not grafted into Christ, the true and living Vine.
20. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by thespace of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. By which striking symbol the Apostle describes the greatness and the terrorof the overthrow which must happen to the ungodly when once God begins to deal with them in judgement! Oh, that the aboundingmercy of God would give us a place in His great harvest and not leave us to be gathered in the vintage of His wrath, for ourLord Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.