Chapter 8 - The Honour of His Name

Chapter 8 - The Honour of His Name

CHAPTER VIII To complete this brief review of Scripture passages, it remains to notice the closing book of the sacred Canon. The Gospels are linked so closely with the Hebrew Scriptures and the people of the Covenant, that if the Book of Acts had been lost, the transi-tion to Epistles to Gentile communities would have seemed a strange enigma. And if the Book of Revelation had disappeared, that enigma would have been insoluble. Indeed a mutilated Bible such as that would have supplied some justification for the infidel's profane sneer, that God has been thwarted in His attempts to realise His declared purposes for earth, and so He now intends to trans-plant His people to heaven, and to wind up the affairs of earth by a bonfire!
But the Revelation is the great stock-taking book of all the outstanding promises of God; and in its pages all the dropped threads of history and type and prophecy and promise, that lie scattered through-out the earlier Scriptures, are gathered up and traced to their appointed consummation. And having regard to the nature and solemnity of the book, the appearance of the "simple name" in every chapter of it would afford no excuse for the familiar use of that name so habitual to-day. As a matter of fact, however, its occurrences are few, being limited to its use by the Lord Himself, and to certain passages where it is employed in the following phrases
"The kingdom and patience of Jesus" (ch. i. 9, R.V.).
"The testimony of Jesus" (chaps. i. 9, RX. ; xii. 1~ xix. 10; and xx. 4.
"The faith of Jesus" (ch. xiv. 12).
"The martyrs of Jesus" (ch. xvii. 6).
No Christian will attribute these striking phrases to the caprice of the Apostolic writer, albeit they are found nowhere else in Scripture. The character and purpose of the Apocalypse will perhaps supply a clew to their significance.
That the present "Christian dispensation" is the climax and fulfilment of all divine purposes of blessing to earth, is a heresy by which the Latin Fathers prepared the way for the Romish apostasy that calls itself the "Holy Catholic Church." This heresy has so permeated the theology of Christendom that in the editorially added headlines to the latter portion of Isaiah, in our English Bible, all the j udg-inents and woes are assigned to the ~Jews, and the visions of earthly blessing are treated as rhapsodies about the spiritual triumphs of "the Church."
So far from the present dispensation being the fulfilment of the prophecies of earthly blessing, it marks in the most definite way the postponement of their fulfilment. God's revealed purposes for earth are connected with His earthly people, and their realisation awaits the close of "the times of the Gentiles," during which earthly power, transferred from Jerusalem to Babylon twenty-five centuries ago, remains in Gentile hands. Not until "the times of the Gentiles" have run their course will the Kingdom be established upon earth. The Pente-costal dispensation would have led up to that great event. But owing to Israel's obdurate apostasy, that dispensation was interrupted. The murder of Stephen was the answer given by their accredited leaders-the ecclesiastical Jewish government-to the inspired Apostle's proclamation of a divine amnesty.1 Stephen was the messenger sent after the king to say, "We will not have this man to reign over us." Then the Apostle of the Gentiles received his commission, and through him were revealed the great "mystery" truths of the present dispensation. Truths, that is, which till then had remained secret; for nothing of them was disclosed in the Old Testament Scriptures. They are the "mystery" of the reign of Grace, which is obviously incompatible with divine government in righteousness openly declared; the" mystery" of the Church, the body of Christ- a heavenly relationship with a heavenly glory; and the "mystery" of that special phase of the Lord's "Coming" which will bring the present dispensation to a close.
And at its close the interrupted Pentecostal dis-pensation will be resumed. Its initial stage will include the fulfilment of Joel's prophecy to which the Apostle referred in Acts ii. 16 ff~., and its course will be marked by persecutions more terrible than the people of God on earth have ever known.
The sacred Canon is closed, and lloiy Scripture is the Word of God for His people upon earth to the end of time. It contains teaching, as we know, that has proved definitely applicable to the varying circumstances of the children of faith in ages past, and it has special messages for us to-day. Is it credible then that it has no messages of warning and comfort for the awful days that are yet to come? And where shall we look for such messages if not here? The visions of the Revelation, though limited to no one age, will have a special voice for the people of God in the coming days of unpre-cedented trial-days of suffering and peril, when, as the Lord Himself declared, there shall be "great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world, no, nor ever shall be." And with divine tenderness and grace "the elect" of those awful days are linked with the Lord Himself by the name of His humiliation-a name so redolent of memories of His suffering and sorrow. They are called "the martyrs of Jesus"
-His own in a peculiar sense. And they have "the faith of Jesus "-the faith that sustained Him on all the path that ended with the Cross. And theirs is "the testimony of Jesus "-of Him who gave His testimony before Pontius Pilate, when by a few qualifying words He might have won His freedom, and enlisted the power of Imperial Rome to protect Him from His enemies. And in keeping with all this, it is not as the Apostle of the Lord that the Seer writes, but as "your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience (which are) in Jesus."'
Rev. 1. 9. By the words "which are in Jesus" the Revisers try to give the force of the untranslatable Greek preposition. (The marginal note, "Gr. in," so frequent in the R.V., is most mis-leading: witness the fact that in Grimm's Lexicon the statement of its many meanings and uses fills between seven and eight columns.) Here, as in kindred passages, the en is "characteristic." The Lord is here presented, not in His glory, but as still suffering, because His people are suffering; and with patience waiting, even as they are waiting. Surely it is legitimate to trace a connection between the words of 1 Tim. vi. 13 and "the testimony of Jesus" in these passages. The verb used in Timothy is martu'reo, and here the noun is marturia. And surely both clauses of the sentence "the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus" (ch. xii. 17) must be read in the same way-" God's commandments and Jesus' testimony." And so also "the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (ch. xiv. 12), "God's commandments and Jesus' faith."