[Some soldiers had applied Revelation 13 to the present war, expecting it to cease after forty-two months (three and a half years), and saying if it were not over then they would no more believe the Bible.]
First, let me say, that the Book of Revelation is a series of visions following one another historically, and also describing the actors, one after another, in those historic scenes. Now if we begin with chapter 1, and can, as also these soldiers, apply to ourselves the language of verses 5, 6, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” — then in chapter 5 we find the twenty-four elders as kings and priests enthroned in heaven ; and in chapter 5 they fall down before the Lamb, and sing the new song of redemption by blood, and again they say “kings and priests.” This translation to heaven of loved and bloodwashed sinners precedes that which is found in chapter 13, evidently it must. But this has not taken place: we are still here able indeed still to say, “Unto him that loved us”; but we are not yet up there falling down before the Lamb and singing the new song.
Hence chapter 13 must be still future. Let us look at the chapter itself. The thought that forty-two months will end this European conflict must convey the idea that the German Kaiser is the head of “the beast,” to whom the dragon (cast out of heaven in chapter 13) gives “his power, and his seal [or throne] and great authority.” Moreover there is an imitation of resurrection — the head had been wounded to death, but his wound of death healed, and all the world wondering about (not his making war but) the resuscitated head of the beast, and saying, “Who is able to make war with him?” for the dragon’s power is with him. Now who would like to apply all this to the German Emperor? Moreover, it is not said that war should continue forty-two months, but that “power was given to him [the beast] to continue forty and two months.” Again, he does not make war with nations such as France, Italy and England, but with “the saints [chiefly the repentant Jewish remnant]. Moreover, he is worshipped by those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. Yet again, this same beast in his last form is said to ascend out of the bottomless pit, and to go into perdition (chapter 17: 8), and those whose names are not written in the book of life wonder.
No, all this has yet to come after the church, embracing all true Christians, has left this world for heaven. Be the war what God may now please to allow, there is no counting of forty-two months in this day of grace, blessed be God: and yet it might have closed before February. Again I ask, Can these soldiers say, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood?” How safe would they be within the door before it is shut, and the scenes of judgment begin!