George Gifford's sermons on Revelation

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The Creation Concept

A Guide to Revelation Part I

A Guide to Revelation Part II


Contents

The two witnesses Part 1

The two witnesses Part 2

The woman of Rev 12 Part 1

The woman of Rev 12 Part 2

The woman of Rev 12 Part 3

Gog and Magog Part 1

Gog and Magog Part 2

George Gifford, sermons on Revelation 12

From:

Sermons vpon the whole booke of the Reuelation

by George Gifford.
Richard Field and Felix Kinston, 1599.
Set forth by George Giffard, Preacher of the Word at Mauldin in Essex.

P. 216-242

[Spelling has been modified]

Sermon XXV

7 And there was a battle in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,

8 But they prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

9 And the great dragon was cast forth, that old serpent called the Devil, and Satan, which seduceth the whole world: he was cast into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

10 And I heard a great voice in heaven, saying, Now is salvation wrought, and the strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: because the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God, day and night.

11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives, even unto the death.

12 Therefore rejoice ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe be to the inhabiters of the earth, and of the sea, for the devil is come down unto you, which hath great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time.

In the former part of this chapter, we had first the description of the true Church: and then next we had figured out her great enemy the devil, and how he endeavoured and waited to destroy the blessed seed even Jesus Christ so soon as he should be born, and so to take away the salvation of the Church: and missing thereof; he fought to root out of the earth all that should be found to confess his holy name. Christ is taken up to the throne of God, out of the reach of the dragon, he cannot destroy him being from his birth miraculously protected, and after he had finished all things, ascending up into heaven. The Church also is so provided for by flight into the wildernes, that he can not utterly destroy her from the earth. These things we had in the former verses. In this part which I have now read, here is another thing set forth, which is the chief and principal matter of all, wherein our whole joy and comfort doth rest: and that is, how Christ overcometh. Here therefore the dragon, as it was promised, the seed of the woman shall break the serpent's head. Here therefore we shall see a great battle fought between him and Christ, in which the dragon is overcome, yea all the faithful overcome him by the blood of Christ. These be high and excellent things, yea even the highest, which we are with great joy, and with great attention to give care unto. Let us now come unto it.

And there was (saith he) a battle in heaven. The place is named first where this battle was fought to be heaven. Did not Jesus Christ fight this battle upon the earth? Did the devil lead his army up into heaven and fight there? Did he not spoil (I mean the Lord Jesus) principalities and powers, and triumph over them in his cross? Surely he overcame the devil by his death upon the cross. lf then this battle were wrought upon earth, how is it said here, that the battle was in heaven? Could it be in heaven, and yet fought in earth? For answer unto this, we must consider that which I noted unto ye before, namely, why the dragon appeared in heaven, not that he had any place, or right, or power, or entrance there, but because the woman is from heaven, her inheritance is in the heavens, and the dragon would cast her down from it. Then ye may see that the reason why he appeareth in vision in heaven, and why he is said to fight in heaven, is all one, even this the battle is about heavenly things, he would pluck down the woman from thence, from everlasting glory into eternal misery. Thus much concerning the place.

Then next here are named the captains on both parts in this battle, together with their armies. Michael and his Angels on the one side for the Church, and the dragon and his Angels on the other side against the Church. Here is then the joining of the battle, they both fight, yea they all fight on both sides, both the captains and their armies, Michael is the captain on the best part, and he is Jesus Christ. This name is given him in the tenth chapter of Daniel, where he is called the first of the chief princes: because he is the head of Angels, who are the chief princes, being as the blessed apostle Saint Paul calleth them, principalities, mights, thrones, and dominions. In the twelfth chapter of Daniel, he is called Michael, the great, or the greatest pronce. The word is an Hebrew name, compounded of three words, which consist every one but of one syllable, which are these, Mi, cha, and el. Mi, signifieth who or which, cha, equal or like, el, the strong God: Michael then signifieth he who is equal with God. And we are taught that Jesus Christ touching his Godhead is equal with the father. For Saint Paul (as ye know the place in his epistle to the Philippians) saith, that Christ being in the shape of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God. Then this Michael is Jesus, for he is equal with God. Here may now a question he moved, as thus: Did not this Michael only overcome the dragon? Is there any other power besides the power of our Lord Jesus, which hath vanquished Satan? If not, how is it said, that Michael and his Angels fought against the dragon? This is easily answered, that how soever Michael hath his Angels that do fight, yet he alone hath the power which overcometh the devil: for they all fight, in his name, and in his power. Yea to speak more properly, they be but the ministers and instruments of his power. They be then joined with him in this battle, not that they fight in their own strength, but because they be his ministers.

Now besides the heavenly spirits which are not to be excluded, the blessed Apsotles, and other ministers of the Gospel whom the Lord raised up, were the Angels of Michael. These fought and do fight against the dragon, when they deliver forth the light of the heavenly truth: when they teach the true worship of God, and beat down all false worship which is in idolatry and error. Yea when they lay open the power of Jesus Christ, and his saving health: Down goeth Satan and his kingdom: even by these. So then, when Peter, and Paul, and all other holy servants of God, even as the Angels of this most mighty prince Michael, do fight against the dragon and against his Angels, and overcome them: they fight not in any power of their own, neither do they overcome by any might of their own, but they fight and overcome only in the strength and power of their captain. This may teach us, that it is not because Christ needed any help, that his Angels do fight with him: neither is it to shew that Satan's power is subdued by any other might than by his alone. All that fight against the devil and his Angels, and overcome, fight with the power of Christ. Thus much may suffice for the answering of that question.

Come now to the other part, The dragon and his Angels fought. This great tyrant having obtained a kingdom, is very loathe to have it pulled down or diminished, yea he fighteth and endeavoureth not only to uphold that he had, but also to enlarge his dominion, yea even so far of it were possible, as utterly to pull down the kingdom of God. Here is fighting then for two kingdoms, even between two great princes, the prince of darkness, and the king of glory. The Lord of hosts, even the Lord strong and mighty in battle, which is the king of glory, Psalm 24, will break down the tyrannous power and kingdom of the dragon, and set up the kingdom of grace, and salvation, and from hence ariseth the battle. But who are the dragon's Angels which do fight for him? Shall we take the dragon to be but one devil, even the chief, whom the Pharisees called Beelzebub, and all the rest of the devils to be his Angels? Or as the papists say, this great dragon is Lucifer, for so they call the prince of the devils, because in the 14 chapter of Isaiah, ver. 12 it is said, how art thou fallen from heaven Lucifer? which is spoken of the kingdom of Babel, and they ignorantly apply it to the devil. For the king of Babel is compared for the brightness of his glory, to the morning star, which is called Lucifer. It may be there is one devil chief as king over all the rest, but I do not yet see how it is clearly proved by the holy scriptures. I know the vanity of some is such, that they do not only believe that there is (as I said) one devil as king over all the rest, which I will not afirm nor deny, but also believe the conjurers, which set forth that according to the governments here among men, there be also among the devils, under the chief devil, Princes, Dukes, Earles, and great captains which have their armies under them. If the holy word of God hath taught no such thing, then who hath taught it but the father of lies? But if any man shall reply, and say it is clear by this place, that there is one prince of the devils, and all the rest be called his Angels. And likewise, Mat. 25, Go ye cursed into everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his Angels. I say as I did before, I do not deny, as I do not affirm, but that one devil may be the chief, and as the prince, but yet I do not see, but that rather by this dragon the kingdom of devils is represented, and that if there be several orders or degrees, because Saint Paul calleth them principalities, and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, Eph. 6. yet they may be all included in this dragon. Who then will some say, be the angels of the dragon which here do fight? It is no absurdity to call particular devils the Angels of the dragon, however they be all figured by him, seeing they all fight to maintain and hold up one kingdom. And moreover by the Angels of the dragon, are not only devils understood, but also tyrants, false teachers, corrupters of the truth, and heretics: for all these do fight for to uphold the power and kingdom of the dragon. As Christ and his angels fight on the one part, so these with the dragon fight against him, on the other part.

It followeth, that the dragon and his Angels prevailed not, neither was there place found any more in heaven, This may seem to be but half a comfort, that he saith, they prevailed not: for a power sometime doth not prevail, and yet is not overcome, nor diminished. Doth Satan go away, and his Angels from this battle only not prevailing? Are they not subdued and vanquished? Yes, that is out of question, that our mighty prince hath broken or crushed the head of the serpent. He triumphed in his cross over principalities, and powers. Satan cometh down from heaven speedily: As ye know how our Saviour speaketh in the Gospel, I saw Satan fall down from heaven like lightning. They prevailed not, not only in oppugning the whole Church, but also in not retaining that power which they had. For having seduced the large and mighty kingdoms of the world, insomuch that the devils by the Gentiles were worshipped as Gods; now Christ finishing the blessed work of redemption so long before promised to the fathers; and now the pure light of the glorious gospel shining into the hearts of God's chosen in all places, great multitudes were translated out of darkness into the kingdom of light. Now is not the dragon able to pluck out of the hands of Christ, so much as one soul of his elect: and therefore the conquest over him is great. But that which followeth seemeth somewhat dark; namely, that he saith, their place was found no more in heaven. Had the devils any place in heaven after they were become devils? had they any place in heaven till Christ suffered? Nay we are taught that they were cast down from heaven when they sinned, 2 Pet. 2. By this is meant that they could no longer impugne or assault the Church touching her blessed estate in the heaven with any hope to dispossess her. Satan and his Angels had place in heaven only to fight against the chosen, and now the same is quite taken away from them at the coming and death of the Lord Jesus.  If any will say, he tempteth all the elect still as he did before, he seeketh to cast them down from heaven into the gulf of hell as he did before: And moreover, it may be said truly, that he could never from the beginning of the world pluck down one of God's elect. What difference is there then? why is it more said, that his place is found no more there? True it is that he could never disinherit the Church, nor pluck down into eternal destruction so much as one of her true children, and so in that respect there can appear no difference at all: But yet we must consider, that because the battle is now fought, and all things before promised are now finished by the death and resurrection of Christ, the victory of Christ and his Church is ascribed to this time, that now Satan is cast down. Again, whereas this huge monster, partly by his strength, and partly by his craftiness, had long time prevailed, and thereby was made so bold that every way he assailed Christ Jesus himself: now he feeleth that he is overcome, and that there remaineth no hope for him ever to assail again in battle, either the Saviour himself, or the salvation of the Church. Their place in that respect is found no more in heaven. Where is their place then found? for they be not quite put down as yet from fighting, they have a place, they be not yet quite dispossessed of their kingdom?

It is expressed in the next verse, that they be cast forth into the earth, out of heaven then into the earth. Not utterly put down then (as I said) from their kingdom, nor from fighting, but cast out from fighting any more in heaven, to fight in the earth. Of this we shall speak more anon, but first touching the speeches which are to set out the dragon. The great dragon (saith Saint John) was cast forth, called the devil and Satan, which seduceth the whole world, &c. look upon the words, he is a dragon fierce and fell: He is a very great one, and of wonderful power: He is that old serpent, and therefore not only subtle, but through long experience wonderful deep in manifold crafts and sleights. He is called the devil, that is, a false accuser by his caluminations. He is called Satan, which is an adversary, burning with hatred against God and man. He hath with his craft and subtilty prevailed and seduced the whole world, (only those few excepted which the Lord hath chosen out of the world) and yet in this battle he is overcome and cast forth. For what is he for all his fierceness, strength, and subtilties, when he encountereth with Christ? for he is Michael, equal or like to the strong God. Indeed ye may well perceive that all we are nothing to this ugly monster, he could easily swallow us up: but there is one on our side, even our redeemer who is too hard for him, and hath cast him forth, he hath cast him into the earth, and his Angels with him. Well then come, he is not yet cast down into hell and shut up there. He is cast but into the earth, he is not spoiled of all power, but upon earth he reneweth the battle, and fighteth. And the Church is and hath been upon the earth. Very true, & he fighteth against her upon the earth, he tempteth her children, he persecuteth them with slanders, and with all kind of cruel torments: but her salvation is ratified and sealed up, and so he cannot fight against her in heaven. He hath then some power left to fight with all against the Church in earth, to vex and afflict her in this world, but hurt her estate in heaven, nor dispossess her he cannot, being spoiled of all that power, neither remaineth in him any hope thereof. Again he hath his power, his kingdom, and dominion remaining whole still in the earth, that is, over the reprobate and wicked worldlings. He is cast forth and his Angels out of heaven, but not from amongst them. They be his subjects, they be his vassals, they honour him by doing his will.

Thus far then we see his kingdom doth yet continue after this great battle: and shall continue to the great day, that is, the day of judgment. But hath not the Lord Jesus fully overcome him? hath he not fully trode down his adversaries? or did he want might for to do it? He wanted no might even at once utterly to tread them down all, and to leave them no power. The world which he wrought was not in itself unperfect, either for the full deliverance of his chosen, or for the utter overthrow of all his enemies: but it pleaseth God in his heavenly wisdom, that this power should not shew forth itself at once, but by degrees, and in some measure for the time, and then perfectly to take effect when all the dead shall be raised up. Then let us not be discouraged, that the dragon after this battle fought, retaineth still a kingdom, and great power, and doth still muster his bands, and armies, and doth fight. He cannot fight any more (as we have seen) in heaven, and that which he retaineth of his power in earth, is but by permission for a time: for Christ at the latter day (as Paul sheweth, 1 Cor. 1) will put down all rule and authority, and shall have all his enemies made his footstool. Thus far touching the battle.

Now as it hath been the manner of old, when any great battle was fought, that the side which prevailed would sing a song of victory, and set forth the praise of the conquerors: As ye may see how in such a song Moses, and the children of Israel, magnify the Lord God as the most strong and mighty warrior, when he had overthrown Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, Exod. 15. Also we read how Deborah in the book of Judges, after the great victory gotten over Sisera, made a song, in which she setteth forth the praise of the conquerors, Judg. 5. The Lord is magnified, and the instruments, even her self, and Barak, and Jael the woman which drove the nail into the head of Sisera, and likewise such of the children of Israel in their tribes, as behaved themselves valiantly. And we read also, that when David had slain Goliath, and the victory was gotten over the army of the Philistines, the women came forth and did sing, that Saul had slain his thousand, and David his ten thousand, 1 Sam. 18. These were songs of victory: this was the manner to extoll the conquerors. So here, when the dragon and his Angels are overcome, there is a joyful song of victory, which S. John heareth uttered with a loud voice from heaven. This is indeed a most excellent song, in which first the kingdom and power of God, and of his Christ, are magnified for overcoming the dragon, then the glorious victory which the Church hath over him through Christ. Thirdly, there is a calling upon the heavens and upon all that dwell in them, to rejoice for this glorious victory. And lastly, woe is proclaimed to the reprobate, which receive no good by the same victory, but through their own corruption, turn it to their further destruction.

Touching the first of these, we see it is said, now is salvation wrought, and the strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ. There is nothing dark or difficult in these words: but as ye see power of God, and of his Christ are sounded forth, in that the most high power of God, and his kingdom, hath shewed itself in Christ, by vanquishing the dragon, and thereby working and ratifying the salvation of the Church, that it can never be shaken. Mark well (I pray you) how it is said, that salvation is wrought in heaven, and then the kingdom of God, and the power of his Christ are annexed. For hereby we are taught, that the salvation of the Church is wrought only by the power of God in Christ, and wholy dependeth upon the same. Here is no part ascribed to the Angels, not to any other creature, but all wholly unto God and his Christ. It is the kingdom and power of God in his son, and not the kingdom of any creature, in which the salvation of the elect consisteth. We must ascribe unto God and his Christ, all the glory and praise thereof. It pleaseth God indeed, to use both the ministry of men and Angels in working this salvation, yet they do nothing but in and by his strength: Then let us note here that which we spake of before, namely, how the dragon is cast forth from heaven, that is, wherein his power to fight did consist, and how it is taken away. For the words of this song do express it, when they say, because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth, which accused them before God day and night. This dragon did overcome our first parents Adam and Eve and brought them into the guiltiness of sin: yea all their posterity are of necessity born from them unclean sinners. Then is the justice of God, such that where there is the guiltiness of sin, there is damnation. All then being guilty, the dragon doth stand before God night and day, and requireth and judgeth even by the justice of God to have all damned in hell for ever. Herein then stood his power against all: and as under a certain right herein he fighteth: and the Lord God can not deny justice and right, because he cannot deny himself. How is the dragon then cast forth from this? Thus he is cast forth, the Lord Jesus is born, even Michael the most mighty prince. He taketh all the sins and guiltiness of his people upon him, even to bear them in his body upon the tree. He suffereth all the wrath and torments due for the same, so that with his own blood washeth the whole Church, and maketh her clean from all spot. Then she being thus justified and clothed in Christ with perfect holiness and purity, the devil can accuse her no longer, nor lay anything justly to her charge. All his right and power against the elect is taken away: and so his place is found no more in heaven. This is it which S. Paul glorieth of, Rom. 8. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's chosen? It is God that justifieth (saith he) who is he that condemneth? it is Christ which died, yea rather which is raised again, which is also at the right hand of God, and maketh intercession for us. Who then shall separate us, from the love of Christ? Behold then, beloved, the dragon cast forth, because he can no more lay any guiltiness of sin to our charge. Behold our salvation ratified in the death and resurrection of Christ. Behold the kingdom and might of God, and of his Christ herein, and let us ascribe all glory, and praise, and honour, only to him which indeed hath washed us from the guiltiness of our sins, and made us so perfectly pure, that the devil can lay nothing to our charge. This is the first part of the triumphant song, proclaiming the glory and praise of the chief conquerors. Now to the second.

I noted before that in songs of victory, not only the chief doers had their praise, but also all that dealt valiantly: as in the song of Deborah next after God, herself, Barak, Jael, and others: So here after the praise to God and his Christ for overcoming the dragon, the Church also, even all the faithful, have their praise and commendation, for their valiantness in conquering the devil and his army. These be the words, And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives even to the death. Then here is a praise of the elect, that they vanquish the dragon, here is their valiant strength which they tread him down withall in battle celebrated: but not to take any thing from the praise and glory of Christ. For they do not overcome by any might of their own, but by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, &c. Christ then is he that hath overcome, and every one that hath the true faith, in him and by him doth get the victory. Saint Paul, when he setteth forth the spiritual battle, willeth us to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and to put on the whole armour of God, Eph. 6. Even so may we learn in this place, how every true Christian soul is armed to fight, and to get the victory over the devil. It is even thus, to have the true and and lively faith in the death of Christ, and so by his blood to be purged from all sin, and to embrace the most pure and holy word of Christ, and openly to profess it, and not only in the time of peace, but even when they be so persecuted for it, that it cost them their lives. For then are they said not to love their lives even unto the death, when they choose rather to suffer all the cruel tortures and torments, which the devil and the tyrants can devise, than to deny the truth and name of Jesus Christ. It is called the word of their testimony, not that it is the word of man, but because they do witness the same: For it pleaseth our God to give this honour to his people, as to be witnesses to his most sacred truth. And our Saviour saith, that he which doth not forfake father and rnother, wife, children, and his life, for his sake, he is not worthy of him. And one thing is here to be observed, that even in death and martyrdom, even in all reproaches, and torments which tyrants and persecutors lay upon the holy servants of God, they overcome the dragon. Will ye then gladly escape from the jaws of this dragon, that he swallow you not up with him into hell? Set all your trust in the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, for the remission and free pardon of all your sins. For being through a lively faith justified in him, the dragon hath nothing to lay to your charge wherein he may justly accuse ye before God. Take the sharp sword of the spirit, even the pure word of God, and fight against him with the same, for it shall cut and wound him deeply. Stand in the profession of this truth, and be not ashamed to bear witness unto it before men: and if it shall cost thee thy life, and that thy blood shall be shed for it, faint not: thou art one of those which get the victory in the great battle, even over the dragon, and over his Angels. For let not this depart out of thy mind, they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives, even to the death.

The next part of this heavenly song of victory, saith, Therefore rejoice ye heavens, and ye that dwell therein. That God and his son Jesus Christ do reign, that the devil and his Angels are cast forth, that the chosen have the victory over him through the blood of the Lamb, and that the salvation of the Church can never be shaken, are so happy things, that it behooveth the very heavens to rejoice, and all the Angels of God, yea and all the redeemed which have their inheritance in the heavens. The heavenly spirits do joy wholly in the glory of God, even that his son doth reign. The heavens and the earth in their kind are glad also and rejoice: and how much greater cause have we to rejoice then? which are not only delivered out of the hands of our enemies, even out of the power of the devil and of death, and set free from eternal damnation: but also lifted up into heavenly dignity, even into the fellowship of Angels, made heirs of glorie, and the sons and daughters of the blessed God. They which have faith cannot but be filled with joy, even with spiritual joy, and despite all the vain and transitory pleasures of the flesh. They sell all that they have to buy this pearl, and this treasure, which is like treasure that is hid in the field, Mat. 13. If we do not rejoice, it is an argument that we have not felt the power of the devil conquered in our hearts. And having thus moved the heavens, and them that dwell therein to rejoice for this great victory, then he cometh to the last part, in which there is woe denounced to the reprobate, whom he calleth the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea, they have no part nor inheritance in the heavens. And the cause is rendered of their woe, which is uttered thus, for the devil is come down to you, &c. The Church (as I noted before) with all her true children be citizens of the heavenly city, and but strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. The wicked which have none other portion but in this life, even the worldlings, they be called the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea. Well, the devil is cast out of heaven, that is, he cannot impugne the salvation of the elect for to hazard the same: but all his power that way is bent and lighteth upon the infidels, I mean he conquereth and subdueth them, reigneth over them as king, and draweth them into hell. But the speech may seem strange, that here is woe denounced to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea, as it were from the victory which Christ hath gotten over the devil. Was not the devil down here below among them before? Were they not also under the woe and curse of God unto eternal damnation, though Christ had never overcome the devil? For answer to this, we must confess that all men are by nature, as the holy Apostle speaketh, the children of wrath. And so if Christ had not conquered Satan, all, not only the reprobate, but also those which shall be saved, should have been under the woe. Also Satan before Christ fought this battle, was among the inhabitants of the earth: but now being by our prince overcome, he cometh down more heavy and in more tyrannous sort upon them, and so their woe is as it were doubled. The victory of Christ is turned to their deeper condemnation. How is that will some man say? Thus, Satan being out of all hope ever to pull down the salvation of the Church, that is, being cast out of heaven, he will now wreck his ire upon the inhabitants of the earth: his power over them is not destroyed, and he will now exercise it to the full, and lead them deeper into all horrible sin and condemnation. The holy Ghost saith he hath great wrath, knowing he hath but a short time. The Church he may afflict and vex in this world, but he cannot hurt: and therefore he will, as we use to say, have his pennyworth upon those which be still in his hand: he maketh them his vassals to fight for his kingdom against Christ, and against his Church: he hardeneth their hearts and blindeth their eyes, leadeth them in the love of darkness, amd hatred of light. Thus, I say, is their woe, through the wrath and tyrannous rage of the dragon, which is more heavily come down upon them, greatly increased. And so we see, that the faithful have all joy by this victory, and the reprobate through their own corruption have their woe increased. Satan doth now ride upon them. And though the time from the passion of Christ to the day of judgment may seem unto men to be long, yet the devil knoweth it is but a short time. Thus much touching this song of victory.