We have been having such a wonderful time in going through the book of Revelation. It’s been a tremendous joy for my own heart to focus on the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And I invite you again tonight to turn to Revelation chapter 11 as we come again to the text on the seventh trumpet. Revelation chapter 11, we’re looking at verses 14 and following to the end of the chapter, which I’ll read for you in a moment.
This particular event in the book of Revelation, the blowing of the seventh trumpet, announces the completion of God’s redemptive plan, the culmination of judgment on the ungodly sinners, and the establishment of the eternal Kingdom of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
So this is a very monumental moment. When verse 15 says the seventh angel sounded, it sets in motion the final events that lead up to and encompass the return of Jesus Christ in judgment glory for the setting up of His Kingdom. We know the comprehensiveness of this seventh trumpet because of what it says in chapter 10, verse 7. Go back to chapter 10 for a moment, look at verse 7. “In the days of the voice of the seventh angel when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished.” So the seventh trumpet brings to a culmination and a climax and an end the unfolding mystery of God, the mystery ending and reality coming in the return of Christ and the establishing of the Kingdom.
In fact, the action that is initiated by this final trumpet encompasses everything right on into chapter 20 and the establishing of the Kingdom, right on into the fourth verse or fifth verse right there in chapter 20. Everything that is involved in the final, full completion of the plan of God for the present world prior to the Kingdom is encompassed in the events that are set in motion by the blowing of this seventh trumpet. So again I remind you of the monumental, cataclysmic significance of this particular blowing. Let’s begin at verse 14. Let me read this text to you.
“The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly. And the seventh angel sounded, and there arose loud voices in heaven saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.
“And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God saying, ‘We give thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who art and who wast, because thou hast taken thy great power and hast begun to reign.’ And the nations were enraged and thy wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged and the time to give their reward to thy bondservants, the prophets, and to the saints, and to those who fear thy name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.
“And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.”
Now, in just reading that, we are made aware of the fact that when the seventh angel sounds, it encompasses the kingdom of the world becoming the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. It initiates the eternal reign of Jesus Christ. It also involves the wrath of God in verse 18. It involves the judgment of the dead. It involves the reward of the prophets and the saints and the destruction of those who destroy the earth. So this is a very comprehensive event set in motion by the blowing of this seventh trumpet.
I only need to remind you that as we go through the book of Revelation, we see series of seven. Seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. Each of those reflects judgment. The seven seals are seven judgments that encompass the full seven years. The seven trumpets are judgments that encompass the last few months of the seven years. And the seven bowls are judgments that are poured out in final fury in the last few days and perhaps weeks of those seven years. And there is an accumulation and an escalation of the fury and the rapidity of these judgments, as we have noted in going through them.
We’ve already been through the seven seals. We’re now at the end of the seven trumpets. And as we get to chapter 16 we’ll see the seven bowls which are the final rapid-fire outpouring of last judgment before the Lord comes at Armageddon, destroys the ungodly, and sets up His Kingdom.
Now, coming into verse 15, we remind ourselves that the first component in this text is what I call praise for sovereignty. The first thing we see at the blowing of the seventh trumpet is praise for the fact that a sovereign God is now acting to take over what is rightfully His; namely, the kingdom of this world. Verse 15 says the seventh angel sounded. We’ve been waiting for this to happen since chapter 8, by the way, verse 1. When the seventh seal was broken, there was silence in heaven, says chapter 8, verse 1, about a half an hour, and seven angels who stand before God and seven trumpets were given to them.
So they’ve been standing, as it were, ready to blow their trumpets, and they start blowing in chapter 8, and then they continue to blow in chapter 9, and we go through six trumpets. And then there is a respite before the blowing of the seventh trumpet. That respite is in chapter 10 and chapter 11, down through verse 13, an interlude. And as I noted for you, there is always an interlude between the sixth and the seventh judgment, whether it’s the seals, the trumpets, or the bowls, there’s always an interlude, and the purpose of it is to encourage the saints that the purpose of God is still on schedule and on track in spite of these incredible judgments that are being poured out furiously upon the earth.
So we’ve been through the interlude, now, before the seventh trumpet. We come to verse 15. The seventh trumpet is now set to blow. The actual results of its blowing aren’t described for us until chapter 15. And chapter 15 on, particularly through chapter 18, followed by the return of Christ in chapter 19 and the establishment of the millennial Kingdom in chapter 20. So we don’t really see specifically what happens when the trumpet blows until we get to chapter 15. Why? Because there are three chapters inserted here, chapters 12, 13, and 14. And they are there for a very important purpose.
They take us back because though we’ve come through the tribulation, the seven-year time of trouble, we’ve come through the great tribulation, the last three and a half years since the abomination of desolation or the desecration of the holy place by the antichrist. We’ve come through all of that. But we’ve come through it basically from God’s perspective. We’ve come through it looking at the judgment of God. Now, in chapter 12, 13, and 14 we’re going to be taken back, and that same period is going to be recapitulated for us, looking at it from the vantage point of antichrist, Satan, the developing rule and reign and the career of antichrist.
So much of the time period of the tribulation and the great tribulation we haven’t looked at in detail, but we will now as we get into chapters 12, 13 and 14 and see the career of antichrist unfolding. And by the time we hit chapter 15, we’ll arrive right back where we ended here in verse 15 of chapter 11, right back where the digression started, and we will hear what happens at the blowing of the seventh trumpet.
But before we hear that in chapter 15, verse 1, chapters 12, 13, and 14, go back and pick up the details of the career of antichrist, and it looks at the same period of time not so much from the viewpoint of God through judgment but from the viewpoint of the world through the career of antichrist and all the things that are going on there.
But as this trumpet is sounded, we get a general description of what is going to happen, and as I said, the details are reserved for us for chapter 15 and following, but we get the idea of what is going to happen, and the first thing that happens when the angel blows the trumpet is praise. Verse 15, “There arose loud voices in heaven and they are saying, ‘The kingdom of the world’” - singular - there is only one kingdom and there’s one king, namely Satan, who at this time is ruling through the human agency of the antichrist, but the kingdom of the world - “has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.”
Now mark it. In reality, this does not occur until after the judgment of chapter 18 and the return of Christ in chapter 19 and the setting up of the Kingdom in chapter 20. You say, “Then why does say ‘has become’ if it hasn’t happened?” Oh, the Greek language affords you the opportunity to speak of things as if they had already happened because they are so certain, they are so secure, absolutely sure that this will happen, and so the inspired writer is directed by the Holy Spirit to record the voice of the heavenly hosts saying it has already happened. It’s as good as done, absolutely sure, because it cannot be altered.
The time for final judgment has come. The time has come to rip the universe out of the hands of the usurper, Satan, to destroy the antichrist, the false prophet, and all who serve their causes, destroy them all and give the kingdom to Christ.
Now, starting right here, you begin to feel the reflection of Psalm 2. Psalm 2 is a very, very important psalm in the Old Testament because it’s a messianic psalm that talks about Christ, not in His first coming but in His second coming, not coming to save the world but coming to judge the world. It’s talking about in Psalm 2 how that the nations will be brought under the authority of Christ and He will rule them with a rod of iron. Psalm 2, then, becomes reflected not only here in this specific text, but allusions and even direct references to it are made in chapter 12, chapter 14, chapter 16, chapter 17, and chapter 19 as the final book of the Bible picks up the prophetic impact of that great, great psalm.
This is also the time described by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 when it says, “Then comes the end” - verse 24 - “when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.” Christ is coming to wipe out the kingdom of Satan, the kingdom of antichrist, the kingdoms of this world. He takes the kingdom and He gives it to the Father. He must reign, it says, until He has put all enemies under His feet, the last enemy that will be abolished is death. All things will be put in subjection.
And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all. All that human history since the fall has known of the rule and dominion of sin and Satan will be ended, and Christ will establish His Kingdom. There will be sin in the Kingdom, we’ll talk more about that in the future, but sinners will be crushed with a rod of iron, and sin will be punished instantaneously and severely and immediately because Christ will rule. The Kingdom belongs to Him and it will be His.
You must notice verse 15 says, “He will reign forever and ever,” and that sweeps you through the thousand years and then on into the new heaven and the new earth, the eternal state, in which the Lord Jesus Christ will rule. That is described in the last two chapters of Revelation, chapter 21 and chapter 22. So now you know the flow of the book. Twelve through fourteen takes us back through the tribulation and the career of antichrist. Chapters 15 to 18 describes the events of the sounding of the seventh trumpet in the final judgment.
Chapter 19 is the coming of Christ and the destruction of the ungodly, the casting of Satan, the beast and the false prophet into the pit, the lake of fire where the angels are who sinned. Chapter 20, the establishing of the millennial Kingdom. Chapters 21 and 22, the eternal state. And all of that flows out of this great moment of the blowing of the seventh trumpet.
That’s not all the praise there is. It says in verse 16: “The twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We give thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who art and who wast, because thou hast taken thy great power and hast begun to reign.’” Here we add to the angelic hosts of heaven the voices of the twenty-four elders, and as you will remember, we identified the twenty-four elders as the redeemed and raptured and ascended, exalted church. There are various views, I feel comfortable with that one.
So they add their praise to the angelic hosts of heaven. It is a time of thanks. It is a monumental moment. It is a moment for which they have been waiting for a long, long time. Over in chapter 13, in verse 7, you get a statement that would give you some indication of why they’re so happy it’s over. Because at the end of the time of the tribulation, the antichrist has made war with the saints. He’s overcome them. Authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation has been given to Him, and all who dwell on the earth have worshiped him.
And so this worldwide operation of Satan is now totally in the hands of the antichrist that is broken, shattered, and devastated at the sounding of the seventh trumpet at the return of Jesus Christ when the kingdoms of the world become - or when the kingdom of the world becomes His. Verse 17, very important statement at the end of the verse, “Hast begun to reign.” Again it is spoken of as if it has already happened though it won’t happen yet until chapter 20, the affirmation of its absolute sureness. Chapter 19, Christ returns. Chapter 19, verse 20, antichrist is destroyed. Chapter 20, verse 6, Satan is bound, and then the kingdom of the world is in the hands of Christ.
Now, at the same time there is praise for sovereignty, there is something on the other side. Look at verse 18, “And the nations were enraged.” Now we move from heaven to earth and what do we see? We see resentment for judgment, hostility against God. The nations were enraged. And the particular term that is chosen from the Greek language expresses defiant rage, not the terror of chapter 6, verse 17, not terror, absolute rage. They are angry. They are filled with hostility.
And it is obvious because over in chapter 16 - you might want to look at it for a moment, verse 14, and now we’re right into the time of the blowing of this trumpet, and you can see what happens. Spirits of demons are performing signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world and they gather them all together for the war of the great day of God the Almighty. The whole world gathers to fight against God and against Christ. In verse 16, they gather together to the place which in the Hebrew is called Har Megiddo, the valley of Megiddo.
Down in verse 19, “The great city was split into three parts, the cities of the nations fell, and Babylon the great was remembered before God to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.” So the nations will come together in a massive war against God and against the Lord Jesus Christ in His return. This is when human history reaches the apex of unbelievable hostility against God. There will be another expression of this at the end of the millennial Kingdom, the end of the thousand years, according to chapter 20, verses 8 and 9, when Satan, released after being bound for a thousand years, goes out to the four corners of the earth and deceives the world and gets one last rebellion against Christ, which is squashed for the final time.
But what you have, then, back in chapter 11, if you will, in verse 18, is the rage of the world. Now, mark this. We’ve been going through this book and we’ve been seeing them get more hostile all the time. If they don’t respond to Christ, by now their hostility has escalated to a fever pitch, and now they are not only willing to reject Christ no matter what judgment may fall, but they want to fight Him and destroy Him. I believe they’ve reached a point now where we could safely say they are beyond the hour of grace. There will be no salvation at Armageddon.
When the seventh trumpet blows and the furies are poured out, we see them blaspheming God, hating God, and gathering their armies to fight the coming Christ in a last-ditch effort to destroy the One who has a right to the world. Their futile power, however, will be answered by God’s fury. Chapter 19, verse 19, says that the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assemble to make war against Christ, but they are destroyed. They are devastated.
So while you have on the one hand in heaven the praise for sovereignty, on the earth you have this great hostility against God in the face of judgment. It is a fearsome thing and it’s tragic to see it. Here is a world that has felt God’s judgment, but they felt it in doses that should have led them to repentance. But instead, they have wasted their opportunity. They have wasted their privilege. They have wasted the very, very evident reality that they needed to make a choice for Christ in the wake of impending disaster. And as a result, their hearts are totally hardened, very much, I think, like Pharaoh. God sent all kinds of evidences of judgment. Their hearts were hardened. And finally God, you remember, hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
Now we come to a second point - and we really dealt with that last week. We come to a second point. From the sovereign praise of the hosts of heaven to the plan for judgment. The plan for judgment. Actually, a third point. We saw the hostility of those in the world. Third point, really, we come to in verse 18. It says, “Thy wrath came and the time came for the dead to be judged and the time to give their reward,” et cetera. Now we see God’s plan for judgment, and here it is in just kind of a general sense. And I don’t want to get bogged down in all of the things that could be said about this, but there are many Scriptures that come into focus here that you must understand.
Verse 18 says, “And thy wrath came.” Notice again they are speaking in the past tense as if it has already happened, though the trumpet has just sounded, and what it is going to cause to happen hasn’t yet happened and won’t until we hit chapter 15. Again, though, it is reaching forward and looking at it as if it’s already taken place, thy wrath came. And let the world know, beloved, that this is exactly what the prophet said was going to happen. Nobody who understood Scripture should be surprised by this.
If you go back, for example, into Isaiah chapter 24, you start reading at verse 17, “Terror and pit and snare confront you, O inhabitant of the earth, then it will be that he who flees the report of disaster will fall into the pit, and he who climbs out of the pit will be caught in the snare, for the windows above are open and the foundations of the earth shake. The earth is broken asunder. The earth is split through. The earth is shaken violently. The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard and it totters like a shack for its transgression is heavy upon it, and so it will fall, never to rise again.
“So it will happen in that day that the Lord will punish the hosts of heaven” - that is, the wicked fallen angels on high - “and the kings of the earth on earth, and they will be gathered together like prisoners in the dungeon and will be confined in prison, and after many days they will be punished. Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem.”
Over in chapter 26 of Isaiah, again verse 20, “Come, my people, enter into your rooms and close your doors behind you. Hide for a little while until indignation runs its course. For behold, the Lord is about to come out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will reveal her bloodshed and will no longer cover her slain.” They won’t even bury the dead, there will be such a massive slaughter. The Bible also tells us the birds of the air will eat their flesh as they lay exposed.
Isaiah chapter 30 and verse 27, “Behold, the name of the Lord comes from a remote place, burning in His anger and dense in His smoke. His lips are filled with indignation and His tongue is like a consuming fire and His breath is like an overflowing torrent which reaches to the neck to shake the nations back and forth in a sieve to put in the jaws of the people the bridle which leads to ruin. You will have songs as in the night when you keep the festival and gladness of heart as when one marches to the sound of the flute, to go the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.
“And the Lord will cause His voice of authority to be heard and the descending of His arm to be seen in fierce anger and in the flame of a consuming fire in cloudbursts, downpour, and hailstones. For at the voice of the Lord, Assyria will be terrified, when He strikes with the rod. And every blow of the rod of punishment which the Lord will lay on him will be with the music of tambourines and lyres and in battles brandishing weapons He will fight them. For Topheth has long been ready. Indeed, it has been prepared for the king. He has made it deep and large, a pyre of fire with plenty of wood. The breath of the Lord, like a torrent of brimstone, sets it afire.”
Fearful judgment. At the same time, the saints will be celebrating in a place of protection as they are sheltered from this devastating judgment to enter into the Kingdom which has been promised to and prepared for them.
Ezekiel chapter 38 is another text that gives us these very important prophecies. Verse 16, “And you will come up against my people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It will come about in the last days that I’ll bring you against my land” - that’s the nations of the world as we said in Armageddon - “in order that the nations may know me when I shall be sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog.” Some would associate this with the - with the judgment at the end of the millennial Kingdom, Gog and Magog described in Revelation. It might well be that.
But certainly both of those would encompass the great fury of the day of the Lord as Peter himself in his second epistle jumps from one to the other and sees them both as the final fury of God. That day of judgment is described further as a day of blazing wrath, verse 19, a time of great earthquake. “The fish of the sea, the birds of the heaven, the beasts of the field, the creeping things that creep on the earth, all the men on the face of the earth will shake at my presence, the mountains will be thrown down, the steep pathways will collapse, every wall will fall to the ground.
“I’ll call for a sword against him on all my mountains. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. People are going to destroy each other, pestilence, blood. I will enter into judgment with him, rain on him, on his troops, on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain with hailstones, fire and brimstone, and I’ll make myself known in the sight of many nations.” And so it goes. Zephaniah has a number of prophecies about the same thing.
So as we come to Revelation 11, we are coming then to this great event that the prophets foresaw. And the people knew these events were to come. In fact, they for centuries have cried out for them. In Psalm 3:7, “Arise, O Lord, save me, O my God, for thou hast smitten all my enemies on the cheek, thou hast shattered the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord, thy blessing be upon thy people.” God, do the total work, smite them totally, devastate them totally. God’s people have always cried for the destruction of the wicked who have dishonored the name of God. “Arise, O Lord” - Psalm 7:6 says - “lift up thyself against the rage of my adversaries. Thou hast appointed judgment and let it happen.”
So we see, then, that this is indeed what will take place. The nations, verse 18, again were enraged and thy wrath came. A momentous historical fulfillment of prophecy. And then he describes it. Along with the wrath and the judgment, the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to thy bondservants, the prophets, and to the saints and to those who fear thy name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth. You can see there are two components, then, in this great final event. It’ll be a time of judgment, a time of destruction.
It’ll also be a time of reward, and that is indeed what the Scripture talks about. The time came, he says, time being kairos, not chronos, not clock time but event. This great event will come. And first of all, he says, the dead are to be judged. Now, that’s probably a general statement. That’s probably covering all of the judgments that are going to take place, both of the righteous dead and the unrighteous dead. But when the time comes for the dead to be judged, it’ll split into two parts, the time to give reward to thy bondservants the prophets and the saints, and the time to judge those who have destroyed the earth with a destructive judgment.
So I think when he says the time for the dead to be judged, he’s talking about probably the judgment we know as the sheep-and-goats judgment that comes at the end of the time of the tribulation, when He sorts out the sheep and the goats, determines who will go into His Kingdom. Among those, of course, that are dead, it means the glorified and exalted who I believe would include the church and the Old Testament saints who are raised, according to Daniel chapter 12. They will be brought then into the Kingdom in glorified form. There will be some living believers who will be spared the final holocaust. They will go in in physical bodies.
So the Kingdom would be made up of exalted saints from the church, those who died during the tribulation time, those who died and have been dead, their bodies in the grave since Old Testament times, their spirits, of course, all of them with the Lord. There will be a resurrection Daniel describes in Daniel chapter 12, and the Old Testament saints, the tribulation saints, will be raised to join the church saints already raised at the rapture. Together we will come down to inhabit the Kingdom. That certainly will take place. There will also be the entry into the Kingdom of those sheep who are alive on the earth who will enter the Kingdom.
There will be the marriage supper of the Lamb that has already taken place with the glorified and redeemed saints who will come back with Christ and be a part of the establishing of His Kingdom. So I think he’s just saying there’s a general time of judgment. It’s described for us, you remember, in John chapter 5 and in verses 25 and following, just a brief reminder of that. And there, Jesus says an hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. And it’s going to be a resurrection of life for some - verse 29 - and a resurrection of judgment for others.
So listen. Seventh trumpet blows, heaven praises, earth begins to panic. The plan of judgment unfolds. It is the time for the dead to be judged. The righteous dead will be glorified and taken into the Kingdom with the returning Christ. The unrighteous dead will be damned and sent to hell. They will be destroyed, as it says there in verse 18. But first of all, before we get into the destruction aspect, let’s look at the first side of it. This time is a time to give their reward to thy bondservants, the prophets and to the saints, even to those who fear thy name.
So first of all is a time for reward, and I think we’re all very much aware of this. When the Lord Jesus comes, He says His reward is with Him, to give to every man. And that’s for those who are righteous. It is a time of great reward when the Lord Jesus Christ comes. And I believe He says, first of all, He’s going to reward the prophets and secondly just the rest of the saints because the prophets have a very special place in God’s economy. But generally speaking, all through Scripture, believers are promised rewards, and they are promised at Christ’s coming that they will receive those rewards.
For example, 1 Corinthians 3:8 - I know you know that - it says, “He who plants and he who waters are one, but each will receive his own reward.” Chapter 4, verse 5, “Don’t go passing judgment before the time, wait until the Lord comes. He’ll bring to light the hidden things of darkness, disclose the motives of men’s hearts, then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” And as I noted, Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I come quickly, my reward is with me to give to every man.” What is the reward? To inherit the Kingdom.
Matthew 25:21 to 40, Mark 10:29 to 31, to inherit the millennial Kingdom, and to inherit the eternal Kingdom, as Revelation 21 describes it. Furthermore, the Bible says there are crowns, the crown which is life, the crown which is righteousness, the crown which is glory, and so forth. So it is a time for the rewarding of the saints. And He splits them, as I said, into two groups, thy bondservants, the prophets, and the saints who are those who fear thy name.
Now, to whom does he refer when he says “thy bondservants, the prophets”? Some would say Old Testament prophets, some would say New Testament prophets. I think the answer is all of them - all of them. All of the prophets will be rewarded. Certainly there are two of them mentioned in chapter 11 that will be rewarded, the two witnesses who preached the gospel and were murdered in the city of Jerusalem, their bodies left there for three and a half days until they were raised from the dead. But that phrase, “thy bondservants, the prophets,” is a very familiar Old Testament phrase.
You will find it in Daniel 9, verses 6 and 10. You’ll find it in 2 Kings chapter 9, chapter 17, chapter 21, 24. Thy bondservants, the prophets, simply refers to any and all who have proclaimed the truth of God throughout redemptive history, all who have prophesied the Kingdom, whether during the Old Testament time, the New Testament time, the time of tribulation, the time of great tribulation. From Moses all the way through to the two witnesses, the heroes of faith in - certainly in Hebrews chapter 11 and everybody who’s come after them up until the very end, all who preached.
All who proclaimed the coming King and the coming Kingdom, they will receive their reward. Jesus, in Matthew, talks about a prophet’s reward, Matthew chapter 10, and this will be the time for them to be fully and completely and thoroughly rewarded with the glories of the Kingdom for which all saints have waited and all true prophets have preached, and ultimately the eternal state which is their final, full, and most glorious reward.
Then secondly, he mentions the saints. And I would translate it, “Even those who fear thy name.” Saints are none other than those who fear the name of the Lord. Here we come from the preachers to the people. The saints is a common Old Testament title for redeemed people, it’s a common New Testament title for redeemed people, and so is the ones who fear thy name. That’s simply saying to us that all saints, whether they’re alive and go into the Kingdom as the sheep or whether they have died already and been exalted or whether they have been waiting for the resurrection at the end of the tribulation time, which I believe is the time of the resurrection of Israel and tribulation saints.
All of the saints, all of the holy ones, all who’ve been made righteous by the grace of God, all of them will receive their reward, Old Testament saints and the elect of the New Testament, all the saints of God. By the way, the term “saints” is used repeatedly through the book of Revelation. I don’t even want to get into how many times, but it’s all over the place. There were saints in the Old Testament, saints in the New Testament, and there’ll be saints in the time of the tribulation. They are the ones who fear thy name, who are the true worshipers. That, again, is a general phrase describing Christians, according to Luke 1:50 and Revelation 19:5.
It’s also used in the Old Testament to describe believers, Joshua 24:14, 1 Samuel 12:24, et cetera. And then he adds this: “small and great.” Everybody, from slaves to kings, everybody who has known the lord, everyone who could be classified as a true worshiper and a saint.
So when the Lord comes, He brings His Kingdom to His own, preachers and people alike, with all that the Kingdom promises and ultimately the eternal state. And even though we in the church will have received the reward when we are raptured, we will not yet enter into the full reward until we come back with Christ to reign in His Kingdom, which we’ve been promised, and until we go right on into the eternal state, which also has been promised to us.
So the event sounded by the seventh trumpet encompasses the great all-embracing judgment of the dead, both believing and unbelieving. First of all, he discusses those who will be rewarded, and then at the end, he discusses those who will be destroyed. Verse 18 says to destroy those who destroy the earth. That is a characterization of unbelievers. That is a characterization of unbelievers - that is not an attack on people who mess up the environment.
It is a statement about unbelievers, all of the evil people who are a part of the satanic system which is destroying the earth, all of those who are a part of antichrist’s kingdom, all of those who followed the false prophet, all who have polluted the world - not with trash but with sin, not with smog but with iniquity. All of those who are rejecters of God in every age and have tainted the world with their iniquity, polluted it with their evil, their vice. Fire will come down from heaven and judge them.
You remember back in Genesis 1:28, God’s first command? God’s first command was, “Subdue the earth.” And man was to have dominion over the earth to make it flourish. Instead, man fell into sin and corrupted it. He corrupted it so badly that God is going to have to destroy the whole thing. He’s going to have to burn the whole thing to cinders and create a new heaven and a new earth, but He’s going to punish the corrupters. Those who destroyed the earth, He will destroy.
So the praise for sovereignty and following that, the plan for judgment. There’s a final point that I would make and it’s a simple one, the promise of communion, verse 19. The promise of communion. The picture’s a little complex but the point is simple. Bound up in this seventh trumpet also is the promise that we’re going to enter into an unbroken fellowship with God forever, and that is signified in the imagery of verse 19. “And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple.” Now, that is a simple way of saying the covenant which God has promised to men is now available in its fullness.
The temple is open, the ark of covenant is there, and in the midst of all the judgment, God is throwing open, as it were, the Holy of Holies and drawing His people in. The temple of God is the sanctuary. The temple of God speaks of His presence, His throne, the place where He dwells. We saw that - didn’t we? - in chapter 4, chapter 5, the throne of God, the dwelling place of God. We were taken in chapter 4 up to heaven with John. We were taken right into the throne room of God where He dwells.
We saw Him there, dwelling with the angels. We saw Him there, dwelling with the twenty-four elders, the four living creatures, and they were all around Him and surrounding Him and there was God and there was Christ and there was the fulfillment of eternal, glorious, heavenly communion, which is the very final promise in which - I should say, to which the covenant of God takes believers, into that eternal, glorious fellowship with Him. And so here, again, heaven is opened and we see the ark of His covenant.
The covenant speaks of God’s promise to have eternal communion with the redeemed. The covenant is where the blood was poured to atone for men’s sins so that they could have ongoing communion with God. The ark corresponds to the rewarding of the faithful, even though it also shows here the pouring out of God’s wrath. By the way, just as a footnote, if you’ve been tracking a little bit through Revelation, you must be aware by now that there are a lot of openings. In chapter 4, verse 1, a door was opened; in chapter 6, the seals were opened; in chapter 9, the abyss was opened.
In chapter 11, the temple of God here is opened; chapter 15, the tabernacle of testimony is opened; chapter 19, heaven is opened; in chapter 20, the books of judgment are opened. And here, in this great unveiling, this great apocalypse, this great series of openings, we already have seen the throne, but here we see not only the throne of God but the ark of the covenant, the place where God made covenant with His people, where God made promise, where God said you sprinkle the blood and sin is covered and you can have fellowship with me.
The earthly temple, you’ll remember, was opened only once a year and into that place where the ark was went the high priest to pour out the blood to atone for the sins of his people and to keep access open to God. The very thing which God used to provide communion with His people, the very point of His union with them here is seen in heaven. That earthly ark was made, you remember, of acacia wood and gold and it was placed in the Holy of Holies. It was two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits high, according to Exodus chapter 25. It was a symbol of God’s presence. It was a symbol of God’s covenant. It was the place of atonement.
And here we find that throne open, and I believe that is simply saying the arms of God are thrown open to take into His presence on the basis of His covenant all of His people, right in the very midst of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and earthquake and a great hailstorm.
Commentator Bullinger wrote many years ago, “The ark of the Old Covenant had stood closely connected with the tabernacle of Moses, with the land of Joshua, with the kingdom of David, and with the temple of Solomon. All are united here in connection with this heavenly ark, of which the earthly ark was only a copy and a figure.”
In fact, if you go back for just a moment - I can’t resist this, Zechariah’s song when he was filled with the Holy Spirit in Luke 1 - we noted it briefly this morning - where he prophesied and said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people.” And this is anticipation of the Messiah. “He’s raised up a horn of salvation for us and He is celebrating all of those wonderful realities.” Verse 72, “To show mercy and to remember” - verse 72 - “His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham, our father, to grant us that we being delivered from the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.”
That’s the covenant, an eternal communion with the living God, and Zechariah knew that that was what salvation would assure. And here the covenant is thrown open, it is called the ark of covenant, in Scripture, because of the fact that God made promise. It is called the ark of testimony. It is called the ark of God, the ark of God’s strength. It is called the holy ark. It held, you remember, the golden pot of manna by which God was causing the people to remember His faithfulness to them in the wilderness. It held Aaron’s rod that budded, by which God was reminding them of His sovereign power.
And it held the law, the tablets of law by which we are reminded of God’s standard. But it spoke compositely of a God who would supply for His people, who was the sovereign of His people, who gave His law to His people, and ultimately all of that that they might enter into an uninterrupted and eternal covenant. But along with that vision of covenant, we have to see the lightning and the sounds and peals of thunder, the earthquake, and the great hailstorm.
We shouldn’t be surprised by that. Go back and read chapter 4, verse 6; chapter 8, verse 5 and following. You see the same things there. Only in chapters 4 and 5, it’s in anticipation - here, it’s in realization. And you can begin to see what’s going to happen when the seventh trumpet blows by virtue of lightning, sounds, peals of thunder, earthquake, and a great hailstorm. Go over to chapter 16 for a moment and I’ll give you a preview. The seventh bowl is poured out in verse 17 and, of course, the seventh bowl is the last event within the seventh trumpet.
And verse 18 says, “Flashes of lightning, sounds, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake.” So there you have it. That’s the great climax, climactic event, in the blowing of that seventh trumpet. So heaven is a point of vengeance but at the same time, it is a place of covenant.
Well, so we’ve been introduced to the seventh trumpet - a scene of praise, a scene of hostility, a scene of judgment, a scene of covenant, and all of this will unfold in the second half of this tremendous, tremendous book of Revelation.
May I say, in closing, this: History is not rambling on to some haphazard ending. History is not just flopping along like a piece of bark in a stream. History is moving inexorably with every detail formed fully in the mind of God and being executed in His own way to His own end. History is moving specifically down a path, culminating in the very precise events described in the book of Revelation.
And the message of the seventh trumpet - and it’s a message that everybody in this world needs to hear - everybody - is that the Lord Jesus Christ is sovereign, and He reigns, and He’s going to take the petty kingdoms of men and the monarchs of this world, and He’s going to take the rule out of their hands and He’s going to become King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Lord Jesus Christ is sovereign. He is the one who has the right to rule the earth and someday He’s going to take it back. There is coming a moment when that happens, and it’ll be a moment of final judgment. That judgment will have two parts: the judgment of the ungodly will be to take them into blessing and a Kingdom and to an eternal new heaven and new earth; the judgment on the ungodly will be to send them to hell forever and ever. That’s how history is going to end.
This is such monumental truth, beloved, it staggers me that people can be so indifferent to it. People talk as if the world is going to go on the way it’s going forever. People act as if God doesn’t matter, as if Christ doesn’t matter. The Word of God is so crystal clear about what’s going to happen. And as Peter said - and we come back to this so many times, “In the light of all these things, what manner of persons ought we to be?” And as Paul put it, “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” Human history is going somewhere and let me tell you something, it is dead on schedule. It won’t be a split-second late.
Father, thank you again tonight for the time we’ve had in your Word and, Lord, if this kind of truth grips us, it has to affect our lives. It has to affect how we deal with other people. It has to affect what we do with our time. It has to affect the choices we make about how we spend our lives.
If the world is headed toward this inevitable holocaust of furious judgment and we know it, how responsible are we, like Paul, who know the terror of the Lord to come to persuade men? How responsible are we to whom it has been committed to preach the gospel, to whom has been given the ministry of reconciliation, to discharge that ministry in its fullness?
Father, we thank you as we learned this morning the judgment is not what you desire, for you are a Savior. We thank you that Jesus came not to judge the world but to save the world, and only those who refuse His salvation will feel His judgment. We thank you, O God, that you want to be a Savior and not a judge, you want to be a deliverer from sin and not an executioner for sin.
We thank you that you love the world enough to give us a Savior because you long to have a redeemed people who could spend all of eternity giving you praise and glory and enjoying the blessings that come from your gracious and merciful hand.
Father, help us to live in the light of the reality of the future, knowing soon that our Lord Jesus could come for His church and then would begin the fearsome time of tribulation in which the world would be engulfed in inexplicable judgment. Father, help us, living in light of that, to call souls to repentance, to spend our hours and our efforts in things that matter in the strengthening of your church, in the building up of your people, so that all of us can be a stronger force for the Kingdom.
Help churches to become serious about the time in which we live, about the imminent reality of future judgment. Help churches to become serious about confronting perishing people with the necessity of salvation and the message of salvation that you so long for them to hear. And how can they hear without a preacher?
Father, we pray that you will make us very aware that this is a passing world, and it’s going to be totally consumed in favor of a better one where righteousness reigns and ultimately a new heaven and a new earth where there will be only holiness forever and ever.
Father, we thank you that you’ve made us a part of your Kingdom in order that we might anticipate that day. That is privilege, but along with it comes immense responsibility. And may by your Holy Spirit we be faithful to discharge it.
We thank you for these young couples that we have set aside for missionary service tonight and for the example they are to all of us of how a life can be well spent in the advancement of the Kingdom, the strengthening of the church for the purpose of reaching the lost. And make us faithful in whatever mission field you’ve placed us, Lord.
We who know the end of history must tell the world. They must be warned. Give us that opportunity and that boldness. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
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