For blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments! And let us be of good cheer! For our King is given us of Israel’s God. He has all power in heaven and on earth. He has a Name above all names. The victory, therefore, is His, and ours through Him. “In the world ye shall have tribulation. But be of good cheer: I have overcome the world!”
We must add a few words yet about the rest of this section. In verse 9 we read about the judgment of the nations: “And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” We may note here: a) That in this verse the prophecy contained in this section of Revelation changes again from direct prediction, as we had it in the preceding, into the form of the vision. In the vision John now beholds the nations marching up from the ends of the earth against “the beloved city.” b) That in the vision “the camp of the saints” and “the beloved city” dare not to be allegorized. They are certainly Jerusalem and the people of God encamped round about it. Only, we must remember that this is true only of the vision, and. that also this part may not be read as if it were history literally foretold. c) That therefore they violate all the rules of interpretation, who apply this prophecy in such a way that they find here a prediction that Jerusalem (the earthly capital of earthly Canaan) shall be rebuilt, that there Christ and His resurrected and glorified saints in their spiritual bodies shall live and reign a thousand years (the millennium), and that after the millennium the nations of Gog and Magog shall actually gather for battle against these glorified saints and their Lord. This interpretation errs because: 1) It violates the apocalyptic character of the whole book of Revelation in general and of this passage in particular, and reads it as if it were literal history, although it may only be interpreted as a vision. 2) Because in the whole New Testament Jerusalem as it exists after Christ’s exaltation is the church, the heavenly Jerusalem. Cf. Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:16; Hebrews 12:22. And this is also true in particular of the book of Revelation. Rev. 3:12; 21:22. It is quite in accord with this to explain “the beloved city” in this passage as representing the same Jerusalem. 3) Because “the first resurrection” is not bodily resurrection, but the glorification of the saints with Christ after death. Cf. my interpretation of verses 4 and 5. 4) Because of the absurdity of the presentation of glorified saints in their incorruptible and spiritual bodies with their, glorified Lord living in an earthly, material city in a corruptible and corrupt world and being actually attacked by earthly enemies with material weapons. d) The camp of the saints and the beloved city, therefore, certainly represent the church and the people of God. And they represent the entire church, in the whole world and even in heaven. In the first place, the church, of course, is centrally in heaven in Christ their Lord and through faith reigns with Him. And they are actually in heaven as far as the church triumphant, or the church glorified, is concerned. In the second place, they are, notwithstanding their heavenly character, in part still in this world and are represented by the church visible on earth. And thirdly, in their widest representation in the world they are known as Christendom, that is, nominal Christianity. It is especially Gog and Magog that look upon all Christendom, no matter how apostate, as the beloved city, even as the heathen nations in the old dispensation considered earthly Jerusalem to be the city of God, no matter how apostate and how wicked it had become.
e) That the nations of Gog and Magog in compassing about and coming to battle against Christendom in its widest sense certainly intends to destroy “the beloved city,” the cause of Christ, and to make paganism supreme in the world. In this they reveal their wickedness and become ripe for the judgment. God nevertheless uses them to inflict His judgments upon the antichristian world. Cf. Isaiah 105, ff. There we read: “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings? Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria: Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols? Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasurers, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man: And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped. Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh 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. Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.”