And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps…
I. The fact that THE CHURCH OF GOD WILL EVENTUALLY TRIUMPH OVER EVERY OBSTACLE, and that all its members will partake in the joys of its bloodless victory, is as certain as anything in revelation. According to heathen mythology, Astraea, the daughter of supreme power anal law, and therefore the protector and benefactor of men, dwelt with them during the golden age, in free and familiar association. On the introduction of the silver age which followed, she ceased such friendly intercourse, and made her abode chiefly among the lonely mountains; and though she occasionally still visited the abodes of men, it was only amid the shades of evening when she could not be seen. But when the brazen age began, she fled to heaven to return no more. Such is the classic myth; and well does it display the hopelessness in which heathen fable finds and leaves the human race. But we have the fact, not the fable; and the fact, thank God, is far more cheering than the fable. 'Tis true the golden age has passed away, and the silver age has come, and, worse than that, the brazen and the iron age. It is true also, that because the fine gold has become dim and the pure gold adulterated, a curse has fallen on our world, and the Divine favour has been in a measure withdrawn. But still, not wholly. Though in measure God has turned away His face from us, yet, with loving-kindness and tender mercy is He gathering us again to Himself. The origin and history of the Church of God and Christ are proof. Every civilised nation this moment on the earth is in possession of Christianity, in one degree or another. Christianity made them civilised; for though in some cases, in a measure, civilised before its introduction, alas, what a civilisation! how false and how impure!
II. THE FORM OR MODE OF THIS DOMINION — how the saints shall reign upon the earth. When we would rightly understand these words of promise, that the "saints shall reign upon the earth," we must east out of our minds everything that panders to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, and look for a meaning more spiritual and heavenly.
1. The saints shall reign, as reigning implies holiness. Every true servant of God, in a measure, now reigns over sin and Satan — over an evil nature, and over the Prince of this world; and so far forth, therefore, he reigns in holiness.
2. They will, in the next place, reign numerically. Now the true and undoubted servants of Christ are a small minority in the world; and yet, even now they exert a mighty influence. But, in the happy times to which we are permitted to look forward, what is now but partial will be almost total. Christians will have the control of all things; it will belong to them of right, numerically, and it will belong to them because of their fitness to use it. They will fashion public opinion, because, in fact, they will constitute the public.
3. Again, they will reign because their Master will then triumph. He is triumphing now in every individual that is converted to God, in every increase of holiness in the Church, in every new introduction or further spread of the gospel in heathen or Mahometan lands. But His triumph then is to be more marked and decisive.
4. Lastly, the saints will reign in millennial times, as reigning implies happiness. The great English dramatist makes one of his monarchs say, "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown"; and no doubt there is much truth in it; but still, the secret conviction of poor human nature is more faithfully expressed in the proverbial phrase, "Happy as a king." On the strength of this we may say, that when it is foretold that the saints shall reign upon the earth, it is meant to be intimated by the figure, in conformity with this universal feeling, that they shall be highly blessed and enjoy great felicity. Can it be doubted that such will be their lot?
(W. Sparrow, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
WEB: Now when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.