Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Revelation 11:14-19 THE SEVENTH TRUMPET IS BLOWN

We   now come to the end of the 11th chapter.  Allow me to give you a brief  synopsis  of what we have  said  so far:

       1.     The book of   Revelation  is  primary the revelation of  the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1) ,  “who  loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to  his God and Father…” (1:5,6). This book  reveals future  things – “the things that  must soon take place” (1:1; 4:1). The destinies of all peoples, nations, tribes and their kings  are  in view  here [1]. There is no god for the Muslims  or god for the Hindu’s  or  god for the Christians . There is only One God an Creator,  and He is the  Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom He made all things (John 1:3). Jesus Christ  is  the Son of God  who gave Himself  for  the world ,   that is , He gave Himself for all His sheep among the  tribes , nations , tongues of the world.  He  has set a time  when He  will return  from where He is now seated in the  heavenlies,  to judge all  of mankind with respect  to the revelation  that  is given us in this Bible. He will then  divide mankind into  two kinds of people, sheep and goats, at the final judgment (Matt 25:31-46).  Mankind will face two  destinies : eternal heaven or eternal hell

2.     In Chapter 11  we are given  a general  overview of the history of the world :
(i)               The place of the church  in history :  When the temple was measured in 11:1-2,   a distinction was made between  the temple  of God  and the outer court and the   holy city. We observed  from this that there is always  a  nominal church  which is distinct  from the true  church.
(ii)             From that true church  2 witnesses arise. From  an exposition of  11:4 we saw  that these two witnesses  are the true church and true  ministers of the gospel. They testify powerfully  (in word and deed)  against  the   nominal  church and the world.  Their words  become a fire, effectively silencing  the arguments of their  enemy . They will prophesy (speak with authority from God)  until the appointed time .
(iii)           Then we  observe the rise of the anti-Christ , the beast which comes out of the abyss. The  anti-Christ exists in the whole age, but towards  the end of time and before the coming of Christ he  is allowed to kill these two witnesses, so that  it seems that the true  church  and her true ministers  are  now extinct.
(iv)            But lastly,   we find  that the witnesses do not remain dead. We note,  that the days of trial for the true church  are shortened  ( 11:11-cf  Matt. 24:22).   Like their Lord Jesus,   they are  raised  from the dead  and taken up to heaven (11: 12) before the  7th trumpet of the final judgment is thrown  is blown ! This trumpet corresponds with  1 Thessalonians  4:16-18 . This, in a nutshell is  the  biblical view of the history  and the future of the world. You  are  privileged  to know the outcome!

THE SEVENTH TRUMPET ( 11:15)

Do you remember what we had previously said about  the significance  of the number  seven ? It is the number of divine perfection and  of accomplishment . When the  7th seal is  opened and the  7th trumpet is sounded  and when  the 7th bowl of God’s wrath is emptied out  upon the earth , the end has come in a two fold sense :  (i) God’s people  will have been delivered and  taken to heaven to be  with their  Lord forevermore,  and   (ii)  God’s enemies  will be judged and separated from Him forevermore.  And now as the 7th trumpet is blown  (or,  as the third  woe is announced)  we need to make some important observations :

1.     Remember that  the blowing of the  7th trumpet  occurs within the context of the 11th chapter.  This chapter   does not provide  a lot of details.  Rather  it paints  a picture  in  broad strokes  with respect to the  history  of  the church, as she  both triumphs  as the church militant  against her enemy  , the anti-Christ. There are no  explicit details given here of the ‘grim and gory’ details that we would associate with the end of history,  when Jesus comes to judge. Only one thing , the final fact is clearly stated :  “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

2.      Chapter 12   will provide us  with more  details  as  things get more intense .  Remember again  that the  pattern  of the book of Revelation is cyclical – indicated  by the  visions of the 7 seals, the  7 trumpets and the  7 bowls. The    7th seal, the 7th trumpet  and the 7th bowl always  indicate  the end of a cycle - now from this angle and now from that angle.  As we   consider the 12th chapter we shall see that  the  church , which has just gone to heaven with her Lord ( 11:12)   will be involved in an epic struggle with the great dragon  (Satan) .  

3.     We take note  then  at this point  of   the twofold  outcome  - the triumph of God’s kingdom  and the  judgment of all evil   :

The kingdom of God is   fully established : With  the 7th  trumpet   the  kingdoms of this world will  have  become the kingdoms of our God and King (v.15). Christ’s first advent  inaugurated the kingdom of God . By His miraculous signs and  wonders,  by the casting out of demons, and,  after the cross, by rising from the dead, the Lord Jesus  had showed us that someone greater than the devil  was  here. The inauguration however is only the promise of the reign.  Just as Saul  was reigning as an evil king for quite a while after God had rejected him[2], whilst God had already  anointed  David  as King, so Satan also rules as prince of the earth  whilst  God  has already installed Christ  as His holy king[3].  This is where we are  at this point in time. We are currently living under the rule of an evil prince of darkness. We see this  in our world .  Our world is ruled essentially  by self -centered  rulers . Rarely do you hear of a Christian President  of a country who  truly speaks  as a biblical man . The leaders of the world are all pragmatists , and politically correct , lest they lose their positions !
However , the Son of David , the Christ is already  the anointed King of God and He is on  His way , and  when He comes  at His second advent  the kingdom of God will be fully realized .  We are  now living  in the time of the  inaugurated kingdom  in which the battle between light and darkness  is  often very heavy . But  we know that when Christ appears  all these struggles will instantly end when Satan  will be thrown into  the fiery lake ( Rev. 20:10) !

The joy of the redeemed  will be  seen and heard :   Firstly,  there are  the  “loud voices in heaven”  which affirm  the  triumph  of God’s kingdom of those that are now gathered in heaven ,  and secondly  we find  in v.16   24  elders  (see also Revelation 4:4! ) who   fall on their faces, worshipping  God-. All  this is  in response to the  great rescue  of the church  by her Lord!  The 24 elders   are symbolical  representatives -     12  of the OT and 12  of the NT church,  and    together they  are the representatives of the church of all ages  - the  whole church of all history.

In verses 17 & 18 we find the  chorus of the elders   celebrating the accomplishment  of the  7th trumpet :  “ We give thanks to you , Lord God Almighty , who is and who was, for you  have taken  your great power and begun to reign . The nations raged [4]but your wrath came, and the  time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying   the destroyers of the earth. “  
The church is  now freed  from harassment !  The first response is  that the elders  come down from their 24 thrones   and fall on their faces to worship [5] God . Remember that from their perspective  (and the perspective of the whole creation, and  including the angels)  they and we are not omniscient . Each step in the revelatory process is watched with bated breath. Paul says in Rom. 8:19,  “ the creation  waits in  eager expectation  for the sons of God to be revealed.”  And so , when  this happens , there is loud jubilation  and worship in heaven.

Dear friends , this  is the church’s  future , and  when this happens  it  shall surpass our  boldest expectations. That is why John says  in 1 John  3:2:  Now we are the children of God , and what we will be  has not yet appeared ; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is .”  And the apostle Paul says  in   1 Cor.  13: 12 : “Now  we are seeing  but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face”. Now we worship by faith. Then we shall worship   when we see the completion  of the facts - by sight !

And so  we find that  God’s people rewarded. In v.  18 the  24 elders  celebrate the fact  that:  
·       The angry , mocking nations  will be silenced when God’s wrath is  finally displayed
·       The dead will be judged
·       God’s servants – His  prophets , saints , those who fear His Name  will be rewarded .
·       The destroyers of the earth will be destroyed .

Finally , the  temple in heaven  containing the  ark of the covenant  ( the law) will testify against  humanity ( v.19) :  The revelation of the temple  with the ark of the covenant  in heaven  must not be understood as a literal temple , for there will ultimately be no  temple  in the city, for its temple  is the Lord God Almighty  and the Lamb (Rev. 21:22). This is  a replica of the  temple of God in Jerusalem  which  was given to Moses by God from heaven !  The temple  became the dwelling place of God on earth , and it  and its furniture and its priests  symbolized    the holiness of God .
Well, that symbol  holiness now testifies against the world which constantly  has mocked and desecrated   that  temple  which was made according to a divine pattern. In Rev  14:17  we shall  see the angel  of judgment coming out of that ,  with a sharp sickle . Out of that temple  shall come the 7 angels  that  carry the  7 bowls of wrath , ready  to pour them on the earth  (Ch.15:5ff- 16: 1) . 
The point is that humanity has sinned greatly against the revealed  truth of God , as it was represented on earth by the  temple  , and that  is why  the  flashes  of lightning, rumblings , peals of thunder, an earthquake and heavy hail follow . These are   all symbols of divine judgment!

And so we see that  the 7th  and final  trumpet is full of comfort to believers.  It is the end of the fight for you. You will enter into your promised eternal  rest [6] in heaven.
Yet, at the same time  the  7th  trumpet  is   a trumpet of terror filled with  destruction  and judgment to those who  have mocked and opposed  the kingdom of God .

All this begs the question  once again :  Are you sure that you have received  mercy and pardon from God . Can you say , as you come to this communion table , “To Him  who loves me and has freed me from my sins by His blood… be glory and dominion  forever and ever . Amen !   (Rev. 1:5,6)
   




[1] See also Psalm  2 ;  Psalm 24:1
[2] 1 Samuel 15 &16
[3] Psalm 2:6
[4] see Psalm  2:1
[5] Worship :  Gr. proskuneo -  a compound word  lit. kissing towards
[6] See Hebrews  3: 7- 4:11 – The ‘ rest’ of God 

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