DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - Please give your views on Revelation 12:3,4. “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth; and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born;” and oblige one who desires to know the truth.
Marion Co., Ala.
August 22, 1869.
Reply: Greatly as we desire to enlighten those who desire to know the truth, we are fully conscious that none but God himself is able to unseal the sacred pages of divine revelation to the understanding of any of the children of men. “As it is written, And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Isaiah 54:13. Nevertheless we are informed that in giving instruction to the children, God did at sundry times and in diverse manner speak in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, and in these last days by his Son, who being the Mediatorial Head of his church, all spiritual communication from heaven are made to the church through him. And Christ having redeemed his church unto God, has ascended up on high, and received gifts for, and given them to his church, including some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edification of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. All these gifts God has set in the body, the church, as it hath pleased him; and by and through them, God is still, through Christ, speaking to and instructing Zion’s children by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. Only so far, therefore, as God’s ministers are inspired by the Spirit, can they have the mind of Christ, or exercise in the gifts which God has set in the church. However conscious, therefore, of our inability to expound the deep things of God, by any superior light or discernment of our own, relying on the gifts bestowed, we dare not withhold from those who desire to know the truth such light as we are favored with, though feeble it may be.
The revelation of Jesus Christ which John received when on the Isle of Patmos, and which he was commanded to write, was of things which were, and of things which he was told must shortly come to pass, and we are told that our Lord sent and signified them by his angel, to his servant John. They were signified by a variety of figures, which the Holy Spirit employed for the purpose, all of which were full of signification. This we should bear in mind as we proceed to search for the meaning of the passage proposed for consideration. In the preceding chapter there was given to John a reed like unto a rod, and he was directed by the angel of the Lord to rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. The temple of God, we understand, signifies the church of Christ; and the measurement to include the temple, the altar, and the worshipers, and goes back to the laying the foundation, and forward to the bringing the top stone with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. In the measurement the exact number of the days of the persecution of the church in her wilderness state is definitely ascertained. “And the temple of God was opened in heaven,” and there was seen in his temple, or church, what has never been seen anywhere else; namely, “the ark of his testament.” The true testament, or testimony of God, is deposited in the church, which is the temple of the living God. And as neither Dagon, nor any other idol can stand before the ark which contains the testimony of eternal truth, no branch of anti-christ has any use for it. The opening of the temple in heaven, to our mind, signifies the disclosure of the church in her gospel organization; regenerated from her legal state under the law, by the one offering of Christ, made upon the measured altar. And the time of the coming and Mediatorial work of Christ are signified by the lightning, and voices, and thunderings, which were heard when Mercy and Truth met together, and Righteousness and Peace kissed each other, and when the voice of eternal Justice was heard demanding full satisfaction for the sins of God’s people, and the voice of the Son of God responding, “Lo I come, to do thy will, O God.” At the resurrection of our crucified Lord, the Sun of Righteousness dispelled the darkness of death which had involved the church, and brought Immortality to light. “His brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand, and there was the hiding of his power.” Habakkuk 3:4. In the refulgent radiance of immortal light, the gospel church appeared, “Looking forth as the morning; fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” Heaven, which is the throne and government of God, was now clearly seen by those whose eyes were blessed, and in that heavenly state the church appeared as a woman clothed with the Sun, in gospel light and immortal glory; redeemed, regenerated, and risen with Christ to newness of life, above the moon, or legal dispensation, and on her head the royal diadem of sparkling glory reflecting power and everlasting glory through the apostles unto him that sits upon the throne and to the Lamb forever.
As introductory to the full orbed glory of the church, in her gospel organization, when the first gleaming rays of morning light disclosed this wonder in heaven, when John was sent as the harbinger of Christ, the church still held under the law, was in labor travailing in birth to be delivered; in pain until her Deliverer should come out of Zion to turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For in the day now being ushered in by the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, a nation was to be born at once. The disclosure of the church of God, coming up out of the wilderness, was truly a wonder, filling the hearts of all who beheld it with astonishment, and reflecting eternal honor and glory to God in the highest. But as the light of morning advanced, and the dawning light of approaching day drew near, there appeared another wonder; for the same light which reveals the glory of God, shining in the face of Jesus Christ, also detects the hidden works of dishonesty which the former darkness had concealed. The same light which enables us to see the kingdom of God will disclose to us the opposite abominations of anti-christ; so as the light increased, another wonder was seen; behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads appeared. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them down to the earth. This heaven in which these wonders appeared was the Jewish heaven, and the false prophets which were identified with the people of Israel, in the old Jerusalem, are undoubtedly the stars which were drawn by the tail of the great red dragon, and which were ultimately cast out from their former habitation, into the earth, no more to even seem to be governed by a theocracy, but swallowed up like the company who contested the right of the priesthood with Aaron, they were dispersed among the uncircumcised Gentiles, henceforth to be governed only by earthly wisdom and human policy; and drawn by the dragon, to be forever identified with the Devil and his angels, in mists of darkness reserved unto the judgment of the great day to be punished.
The dragon stood before the woman, as stood Herod in waiting to devour the child as soon as he should be born.
The red dragon, in our text, is in verse nine said to be the old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world. He is capable of strange transformations, sometimes appearing as an angel of light, and is described in a variety of forms to John in his vision. In his pagan form, as a great red dragon; in his Papal form, as a beast rising up out of the sea; as the Protestant beast, as rising out of the earth, having two horns like a lamb, but speaking as a dragon. In the image of the beast, the same old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, is now seen in the combination of all the humanly contrived religious institutions of the present age, which the Protestant beast has commanded them who dwell on the earth to make, and to which power is now given to proscribe, persecute, disfranchise, and finally to put to death all such as have not the mark of the beast, or his image, or the number of his name. The first form in which this monster is detected by the light of divine revelation as arraying his infernal forces against Christ and his church is that in which he is seen in our text; a great red dragon; red, because stained with the blood of persecuted and slaughtered thousands of the saints and his dragon form distinguishing his pagan career. In this pagan dragon form he stood before the church, for to devour the child Jesus as soon as he was born. Not only as Herod stood ready to destroy him as soon as born of Mary, but at his crucifixion to utterly destroy him; as soon as raised from the dead in the regeneration, to destroy him in his members. It is true the Jews conspired with the Romans to devour the holy child Jesus, but it was under the Roman authorities which were pagan at the time, that he was delivered up to be crucified. And this pagan form of opposition to Christ and the church continued until the dragon gave his seat and power and great authority to the Papal beast. The seven heads and ten horns, and ten crowns of the dragon, correspond with the number of the heads, horns and crowns of the Papal beast, and refer to the various departments of their organization, and the crowned heads of power which have agreed and given their power to sustain the beast, just as the power of the United States has been, and now is being given to sustain the image of the beast, by chartered rights, special privileges, endowments. There is, to say the least, a remarkable coincidence in the form of our national government compared with that of the dragon and the beast, at this time; the President, and his cabinet being seven, sustained by ten horns or military divisions of power, rising above and holding dominions over the States of our national confederacy. Whether there be anything ominous in this coincidence or not, it is certainly remarkable.
The views which we have thus hastily written, we are aware, are open to criticism of those who are more enlightened on the subject. We do not wish to force them on any who may dissent from them. We only give them as our present views, because our views are called for on the subject by one who professes to desire to know the truth, and as we have nothing we wish to disguise or to keep secret in our religious views, we lay what we have written before our readers, for their consideration. In all we write we are liable to err; but when writing on passages of the Scriptures so highly figurative as this under consideration, we have much fear lest we may darken counsel by words without knowledge. If what we have written shall afford any light or comfort to brother Ingle, or to anyone else, we shall not have labored in vain.
October 1, 1869.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 494 – 498