By Horatius Bonar
"The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."--Revelation 19:10.
The meaning of this passage may be given in the two following propositions--(1) The theme of prophecy is Jesus. (2) The Holy Spirit who inspired the prophets bears testimony in them throughout to Jesus--His great object in the prophecies is to bear testimony to Jesus.
'For' connects the two clauses thus--'I am the angel that ministered to the Old Testament prophets; I now minister to you, communicating the same testimony to you as to them--the one testimony of Scripture concerning Jesus. I am nothing but a creature, a fellow servant with yourself in the same work and mission, testifying to Jesus--do not worship me, but that God from whom I come, to testify of His Son.' Let us take these words in their widest sense--
I. The theme of the Bible is Jesus. Not philosophy, nor science, nor theology, nor metaphysics, nor morality--but Jesus. He is the alpha and omega, the first and the last. We acknowledge Him as the theme of the Gospels; let us no less acknowledge Him as the theme of all Scripture, all inspiration.
II. The theme of Bible-annals is Jesus. Not mere history--but history as containing Jesus. Not the mere rise and fall of nations and kingdoms, but these as connected with the promised seed of the woman.
III. The theme of the Psalms is Jesus. It is not mere poetry, Hebrew poetry, that we find in them--but Jesus. It is poetry embodying Jesus; it is praise, of which every note is Immanuel.
IV. The theme of prophecy is Jesus. It is not certain future events, dark or bright, presented to the view of the curious and speculative--it is Jesus; earthly events and hopes and fears only as linked with Him.
What man needs, then, is Jesus; not mere knowledge or wisdom. What humanity--unconsciously and ignorantly, it may be--sighs for, is Jesus. What earth, ruined and accursed because of sin, groans for, is Jesus--nothing less than this. No other prophet or priest or king can meet the exigencies of the race and its dwelling, the earth, but Jesus only.
Yes, 'the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.' I might take up these words and show how they are fulfilled in the things written concerning His first and second comings. But I prefer taking them up under the two great heads.(1) Himself; (2) His work. This will embrace the whole Christology of the Bible.
I. Himself. It is He, His own self, that shines out to us in the prophetic word. There we have His Person announced to us--the God-man; Son of God, and Son of man; the Wisdom of God; the Word made flesh; the Seed of the woman; the Bruiser of the serpent's head; the man with the bruised heel; Seed of Abraham; Seed of Judah; Seed of David; Star of Jacob; Root of Jesse; the Lamb slain; the Lion of the tribe of Judah; Prophet, Priest, and King, Judge and Lawgiver. As the Creator of all things, He has relationship to the universe; as Redeemer of His chosen, He has special relationship to earth. As the Light of the world, he is connected with the present state of the world's darkness; as the Morning Star, He is connected with dawn; as the Sun of Righteousness, He is connected with the promised day--the day of the Son of man.
II. His work. This, of course, is in correspondence with His character and person. It is prophetical work; it is priestly (or sacrificial) work; it is royal work. He is both teacher and lesson, the prophet and the prophecy; He is both priest and sacrifice, the altar and the victim; He is King--King of kings; and all things are His, though not yet put under Him. This work is (1) past (2) present, (3) future.
But let us mark the bearings of this work upon--
(1) HEAVEN, and the things of heaven. It has revealed God, in His love, wisdom, power, and righteousness; the three-one God, father, Son and Spirit. It has formed the great lesson for angels; for from it, and the Church redeemed by it, principalities and powers learn the wisdom of God. 'Angels desire to look into it;' and angels in Him have received their head; for He is the head of principalities and powers, and shall yet be manifested as such. He is King of heaven, seated on the throne of the universe!
(2) EARTH, and the things of earth. Here it is that His cross once stood, and His blood was shed, and His grave was made. Truly He is connected with earth; for He was of the substance of the Virgin, and therefore linked with the dust of earth. Here it is that He has been saving sinners; redeeming to Himself a Church, a bride; preparing His kings and priests for the universe, as well as for this earth itself. It is from this earth (by virtue of His blood) that He removes the curse; it is of this earth that He says, 'Behold, I make all things new;' it is here that He is to reign as King.
(3) The GRAVE, and its inhabitants. He did not enter the tomb merely to show that He could come out again. He entered that He might acquire power over it, in virtue of His death. He is now Lord of the grave, and Conqueror of death. 'O death, I will be your plague; O grave, I will be your destruction.' He is 'the resurrection' as well as the risen One; from Him comes the first resurrection, with all its glory--the better resurrection--the resurrection unto life.
(4) HELL, and its possessors. He came to pluck brands from the burning; to deliver from the wrath to come; to take the prey from the mighty; to spoil the spoiler; to destroy the works of the devil--him who has the power of death, the prince of darkness. He comes to bind Satan, and shut him up; to smite Antichrist, 'prince of the blood-royal of hell.' He comes to fight the last battle with Satan, when the cup of his iniquity is full; for Satan's enmity to Christ and His Church during these six thousand years is filling that cup; and though Satan has not the guilt of rejecting Him as the Savior, he has the guilt of deliberately warring with Him and His saints.
Thus, then, Jesus is the great Bible-theme. For Him let us search the Scriptures--for Jesus--nothing less than Him! What do you think of prophecy? What do you think of Jesus? What do you think of the testimony to Him given by the Father and the Spirit? Shall earth be ashamed of her coming King? Shall His Church be ashamed to bear testimony to His royal prerogatives in this dark day of His absence?