« Prev Revelation 20:8 Next »

REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 20 - Verse 8

Verse 8. And shall go out to deceive the nations. See Barnes "Re 12:9".

The meaning here is, that he would again, for a time, act in his true character, and in some way delude the nations once more. In what way this would be done is not stated. It would be, however, clearly an appeal to the wicked passions of mankind, exciting a hope that they might yet overthrow the kingdom of God on the earth.

Which are in the four quarters of the earth. Literally, corners of the earth, as if the earth were one extended square plain. The earth is usually spoken of as divided into four parts or quarters—the eastern, the western, the northern, and the southern. It is implied here that the deception or apostasy referred to would not be confined to one spot or portion of the world, but would extend afar. The idea seems to be, that during that period, though there would be a general prevalence of the gospel, and a general diffusion of its blessings, yet that the earth would not be entirely under its influence, and especially that the native character of the human heart would not be changed. Man, under powerful temptations, would be liable to be deluded by the great master spirit that has so often corrupted the race. Once more he would be permitted to make the trial, and then his power would for ever come to an end.

Gog and Magog. The name Gog occurs as the name of a prince, in Eze 38:2-3,16,18; 39:1,11.

"He is an invader of the land of Israel, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal," Eze 38:2. Magog is also mentioned in Eze 38:2, "the land of Magog;" and in Eze 39:6, "I will send a fire on Magog." As the terms are used in the Old Testament, the representation would seem to be that Gog was the king of a people called Magog. The signification of the names is unknown, and consequently nothing can be determined about the meaning of this passage from that source. Nor is there much known about the people who are referred to by Ezekiel. His representation would seem to be, that a great and powerful people, dwelling in the extreme recesses of the north, (Eze 38:15; 39:2,) would invade the Holy Land after the return from the exile, Eze 38:8-12. it is commonly supposed that they were Scythians, residing between the Caspian and Euxine Seas, or in the region of Mount Caucasus. Thus Josephus (Ant. i. 6, 3) has dropped the Hebrew word Magog, and rendered it by skuyaiScythians; and so does Jerome. Suidas renders it persaiPersians; but this does not materially vary the view, since the word Scythians among the ancient writers is a collective word to denote all the north-eastern, unknown, barbarous tribes. Among the Hebrews, the name Magog also would seem to denote all the unknown barbarous tribes about the Caucasian mountains. The fact that the names Gog and Magog are in Ezekiel associated with Meshech and Tubal seems to determine the locality of these people, for those two countries lie between the Euxine and Caspian Seas, or at the southeast extremity of the Euxine Sea.—Rosenmuller, Bib. Geog. i., p. 240. The people of that region were, it seems, a terror to Middle Asia, in the same manner as the Scythians were to the Greeks and Romans. Intercourse with such distant and savage nations was scarcely possible in ancient times; and hence, from their numbers and strength, they were regarded with great terror, just as the Scythians were regarded by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and as the Tartars were in the Middle Ages. In this manner they became an appropriate symbol of rude and savage people; of enemies fierce and warlike; of foes to be dreaded; and as such they were referred to by both Ezekiel and John. It has been made a question whether Ezekiel and John do not refer to the same period, but it is not necessary to consider that question here. All that is needful to be understood is, that John means to say that at the time referred to there would be formidable enemies of the church who might be compared with the dreaded dwellers in the land of Magog; or, that after this long period of millennial tranquillity and peace there would be a state of things which might be properly compared with the invasion of the Holy Land by the dreaded barbarians of Magog or Scythia. It is not necessary to suppose that any particular country is referred to, or that there would be any one portion of the earth which the gospel would not reach, and which would be still barbarous, heathen, and savage; all that is necessary to be supposed is, that though religion would generally prevail, human nature would remain essentially corrupt and unchanged; and that, therefore, from causes which are not stated, there might yet be a fearful apostasy, and a somewhat general prevalence of iniquity. This would be nothing more than has occurred after the most favoured times in the church, and nothing more than human nature would exhibit at any time, if all restraints were withdrawn, and men were suffered to act out their native feelings. Why this will be permitted; what causes will bring it about; what subordinate agencies will be employed, is not said, and conjecture would be vain. The reader who wishes more information in regard to Gog and Magog may consult Professor Stuart on this book, vol. ii. pp. 364-368, and the authorities there referred to. Compare especially Rosenmuller on Eze 38:2. See also Sale's Koran, Pre. Dis. % 4, and the Koran itself, Sura xviii. 94, and xxi. 95.

To gather them together to battle. As if to assemble them for war; that is, a state of things would exist in regard to the kingdom of God, and the prevalence of the true religion, as if distant and barbarous nations should be aroused to make war on the church of God. The meaning is, that there would be an awakened hostility against the kingdom of Christ in the earth. See Barnes on "Re 16:14".

 

The number of whom is as the sand of the sea. A common comparison in the Scriptures to denote a great multitude, Ge 22:17; 32:12; 41:49

1 Sa 13:5; 1 Ki 4:20, et al.

(c.)—Condition of things in the period referred to in Re 20:7-8.

(1.) This will occur at the close of the millennial period—the period of the thousand years. It is not said, indeed, that it would be immediately after that; but the statement is explicit that it will be after that, or "when the thousand years are expired." There may be an interval before it shall be accomplished of an indefinite time; the alienation and corruption may be gradual; a considerable period may elapse before the apostasy shall assume an organized form, or, in the language of John, before the hosts shall "be gathered to battle," but it is to be the next marked and prominent event in the history of the world, and is to precede the final consummation of all things.

(2.) This will be a brief period. Compared with the long period of prosperity that preceded it, and perhaps compared with the long period that shall follow it before the final judgment, it will be short. Thus, in Re 20:3, it is said that Satan "must be loosed a little season." See Barnes on "Re 20:3".

There is no way of determining the time with exactness; but we are assured that it will not be long.

(3.) What will be the exact state of things then can be only a matter of conjecture. We may say, however, that it will not be

(a) necessarily war. The language is figurative and symbolical, and it is not necessary to suppose that an actual and bloody warfare will be literally waged against the church. Nor

(b) will there be a literal invasion of the land of Palestine as the residence of the saints, and the capital of the Redeemer's visible empire; for there is not a hint of this—not a word to justify such an interpretation. Nor

(c) is it necessary to suppose that there will be literally such nations as will be then called "Gog and Magog"—for this language is figurative, and designed to characterize the foes of the church—as being in some respects formidable and terrible, as were those ancient nations.

We may thus suppose that at that time, from causes which are unexplained, there will be

(a) a revived opposition to the truths of religion;

(b) the prevalence, to a greater or less extent, of infidelity;

(c) a great spiritual declension;

(d) a combination of interests opposed to the gospel;

(e) possibly some new form of error and delusion that shall extensively prevail. Satan may set up some new form of religion, or he may breathe into those that may already exist a spirit of worldliness and vanity— some new manifestation of the religion of forms—that shall for a limited period produce a general decline and apostasy. As there is, however, no distinct specification of what will characterize the world at that time, it is impossible to determine what is referred to any more than in this general manner.

(4.) A few remarks may, however, be made on the probability of what is here affirmed—for it seems contrary to what we should suppose would be the characteristics of the dosing period of the world. The following remarks, then, may show that this anticipated state of things is not improbable:

(a) We are to remember that human nature will then be essentially the same as now. There is no intimation that man, as born into the world, will be then different from what he is now; or that any of the natural corrupt tendencies of the human heart will be changed. Men will be liable to the same outbreaks of passion; to be influenced by the same forms of temptation; to fall into the same degeneracy and corruption; to feel the same unhappy influences of success and prosperity as now—for all this appertains to a fallen nature, except as it is checked and controlled by grace. We often mistake much in regard to the millennial state by supposing that all the evils of the apostasy will be arrested, and that the nature of man will be as wholly changed as it will be in the heavenly world.

(b) The whole history of the church has shown that there is a liability to declension even in the best state, and in the condition of the the most striking manifestation of the Divine mercies; the early Christian church, and how soon it declined; the seven churches of Asia Minor, and how soon their spirituality departed; the various revivals of religion that have occurred from time to time, and how soon they have been succeeded by coldness, worldliness, and error; the fact that great religious denominations, which have begun their career with zeal and love, have so soon degenerated in spirit, and fallen into the same formality and worldliness which they have evinced who have gone before them; and the case of the individual Christian, who, from the most exalted state of love and joy, so soon often declines into a state of conformity to the world. These are sad views of human nature, even under the influence of true religion; but the past history of man has given but too much occasion for such reflections, and too much reason to apprehend that the same things may occur, for a time, even under the best forms in which religion may manifest itself in a fallen world. Man's nature will be better in heaven, and religion there in its purest and best form will be permanent; here we are not to be surprised at any outbreak of sin, or any form of declension in religion. What has often occurred in the world on a small scale, we may suppose may then occur on a larger scale. "Just as on a small scale, in some little community like that of Northampton, as described by President Edwards, after the remarkable sense of God's presence over the whole town had begun to wax feeble, the still unconverted persons of its though subdued and seemingly won over to Christ, would by little and little recover themselves, and at length venture forth in their true character; so it will be, in all probability, on a vast scale, at the close of the latter day. The unconverted portion of the world—long constrained by the religious influences everywhere surrounding them to fall in with the spirit of the day, catching apparently its holy impulses, but never coming savingly under its power—this portion of mankind, which we have reason to fear will not be small, will now be freed from these irksome restraints, no longer obliged to breathe an atmosphere uncongenial to their nature." —Brown on the Second Coming of Christ, p. 442. "No oppression is so grievous to an unsanctified heart as that which arises from the purity of Christianity. A desire to shake off this yoke is the true cause of the opposition which Christianity has met with in the world in every period, and will, it is most likely, be the chief motive to influence the followers of Gog in his time."—-Fraser's Key, p. 455.

(c.) The representations of the New Testament elsewhere confirm this now in regard to the latter state of the world—the state when the Lord Jesus shall come to judgment. Lu 18:8: "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" 2 Pe 3:3-4: "There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?" 1 Th 5:2-3: "The day of the Lord so cometh as the thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape." See especially Lu 17:26-30: "As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed."

{a} "Gog" Eze 38:2 {b} "gather" Re 16:14

« Prev Revelation 20:8 Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |