Revelation 11: Stanly Community Church

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1 Everything is inseparably linked to the kingdom of God. In fact, all of human history is the result of our Creator responding to a rebellion against His sovereignty. For this reason, all things are ultimately moving toward the day when every transgression of His law is thoroughly judged, every traitor removed, and the redeemed will flourish in righteousness. Thankfully, His grace provides time for people to repent and seek His forgiveness. The apostle Peter explains in his second epistle that God s wrath toward the defiant has been delayed only for the purpose of salvation. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise [of judgment], writes the apostle, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). That is, He will not permit those who revere Him to perish in sin. And by a gracious work in the hearts of sinners, He is bringing His elect to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, His chosen servants will enter His kingdom with joy. All of God s people long to see that glorious time. We have been spared the penalty for our sins by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and by His atoning death we are reconciled to God through faith (2 Cor. 5:21). We have been freed from sin s power by a spiritual rebirth (Jn. 3:3) receiving a new nature that sincerely desires and seeks to obey God s will (Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:22-2:3; 2 Pet. 1:4). But we are yet to experience the fullness of eternal life in God s kingdom in resurrection glory (Rom. 8:29-30).! 1

2 The Revelation of Jesus Christ was given to the Church of our Lord so that we might understand three main truths about the kingdom (cf. 1:19): 1) Our glorified Lord Jesus Christ is ready to bring the righteousness of His heavenly kingdom to earth (Rev. 1). 2) He is Lord over the churches who are called to be His faithful representatives until He returns (Rev. 2-3). 3) His Second Coming will be a time of rejoicing in heaven but of unparalleled tribulation on earth: He will express His wrath toward sin, offer a final opportunity for repentance, purge the creation of His enemies, and establish His throne forever (Rev. 4-22). As we continue our study of chapter 11, we find ourselves in the middle of John s vision and approaching the end of the Tribulation period. We have seen Christ open the seven-sealed scroll to unfold God s plan for the end of the ages. It contains His agenda for reclaiming man s authority over the earth which was usurped by Satan (Gen. 1-3). As the sinless and glorified Son of Man (1:13), the Lord Jesus is the only one worthy to break the seals, open the scroll, and execute its contents (ch. 5) thus preparing the way for His kingdom of righteousness.! 2

3 He first calls out a remnant of Jews and Gentiles with the Gospel (cf. Rev. 7), even as He pours out His wrath on the world during the seven year Tribulation period. And He has specifically targeted the Jews for salvation with the preaching of His two witnesses throughout the 42 months (1,260 days) of the Great Tribulation (11:1-14). He will have preserved them from harm during that time (12:6). His purpose is to bring them into His millennial kingdom in fulfillment of both the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant. So the time of Jacob s trouble (i.e. the Tribulation/70th week of Daniel s prophecy - Dan. 9:24-27; 12:1) will produce salvation for the remnant of Israel (Read Jer ; Rom. 11:25-27). With the final seal broken (8:1), angels have thus far sounded six trumpets (8:2-9:21) signaling the associated judgments that brings us to the end of the Great Tribulation. Now the seventh trumpet is about to sound and announce that it is time for God s kingdom to arrive to bring to a conclusion the mystery of God revealed in part to the prophets concerning the consummation of all things (Rev. 10:7). In so doing, the third woe (v. 14) comes to pass in which the seven bowl judgments will be poured out quickly on the unrepentant world (cf. v. 14; ch. 16). Then the Lord Jesus Christ will appear in glory to take His throne (cf. Rev. 1:7; 19:11ff).! 3

4 We find in Revelation 11:15-19 the praise of the King as well as the program and promise of His kingdom. This is yet another assurance to the Lord s people (throughout the Church Age and in the Tribulation), that God s kingdom is coming. It is our Lord s response to the prayers of His people through the centuries: Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). The Seventh Trumpet: Announcing God s Kingdom (11:15-19) The Praise of the King (vv ) When the seventh angel sounded his trumpet, John s attention is again drawn toward heaven. It is from that same scene in chapters four and five (cf. 7:9-17), describing the throne room of God, that he again hears loud voices. He has previously heard the voices of God and the Lamb, of the cherubim, various other angels, and of the twenty-four elders (v. 16) representing the glorified Church. Although our attention will soon be directed specifically to the elders, these initial voices are likely both angelic and human. They join in chorus to announce: The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. A better translation would be the singular kingdom. That is, the world s kingdom includes all human governments but is under the sway of Satan (Jn. 12:31; 2 Cor. 4:4). Now the time has come for true Sovereign to banish all rebels from His realm!! 4

5 And so the voices of all those in heaven declare: He shall reign forever and ever! As the angel, Gabriel, told Mary upon the announcement of Jesus birth: He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end (Lk. 1:33). Now the fullness of His reign is about to be realized by all as He appears in glory to put down rebellion and reclaim the earth (Pss. 2; 110). Having already destroyed the works of the devil by His beloved Son s death and resurrection (1 Jn. 3:8), the Lord God through His Christ is firmly establishing His eternal throne on the earth (cf. Is. 2:2-4; Dan. 2:44; 4:3; 6:26; 7:13-27; see also Rev. 12:7-12). God the Father has given the kingdom to His Son who, in turn, places all things under the Father for His eternal glory (1 Cor. 15:24-28). At this point in the vision, John observes the twentyfour elders who sat before God on their thrones [fall] on their faces and [worship] God (v. 16). As previously noted (cf. the study in chapter four), the elders represent the glorified Church Age saints. They appear in resurrection glory in the throne room of heaven. They already reign with Christ as joint heirs of His kingdom (cf. 4:4; Rom. 8:17; see also Dan. 7:18, 22; 27). Now, in verse 17, they give thanks to the Lord God who is sovereign ( Almighty ) and eternal ( who is and who was ) for exercising His great power to establish the kingdom ( have reigned ). It is interesting to note that the phrase who is to come is omitted in older manuscripts, since His kingdom has, at this time, arrived.! 5

6 The Program of the Kingdom (v. 18) Since He is the Creator, God s implementation of His sovereign rule is holy and just (16:7). Without exception, all things are subject to His will. And although He has patiently endured the rebellion of some angels and all of Adam s fallen race of men for the purpose of redemption, that time of grace will end (cf. 2 Pet. 3). As Paul writes in his letter to the Romans: in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:25, 26; cf. Acts 17:30). As verse 18 explains, the program (i.e. agenda) for God s kingdom at the end of the Tribulation will no longer include grace. The Gentile world will have ceased to repent despite the horrific judgments from the Lord (9:20-21). The elect among the Jews will have fully repented and are waiting for the appearance of their Messiah (11:13). There is nothing left but judgment. With the inauguration of the kingdom we find the unrepentant world (i.e. the nations ) totally defiant and hardened in their sins. They are angry with God because His wrath has come (Ps. 2:1ff). God has displayed His anger toward sin and exposed the depravity of man, but He genuinely offered reconciliation. Now they refuse to bow the knee and will curse God in His final display of Tribulation wrath (Rev. 16:9, 11, 21).! 6

7 Now the time of the dead, that they should be judged has come. That is, the agenda for God s kingdom not only includes the historical display of His wrath in the Tribulation, but it includes the final judgment of all who are dead in their trespasses and sins. This is known as the Great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). Just prior to the eternal state of the kingdom (chps ), this final reckoning with rebels will sentence them to eternal punishment in the hell that is the lake of fire (19:20; 20:10, 15). It is the permanent place of unending, conscious torment for those who have refused to repent. It is the outer darkness to which all traitors in God s kingdom are banished forever the place farthest from the glory of God s presence and all that is good (Matt. 22:13; 25:30). There they will experience torment based on their deeds in this life (Matt. 10:15; 11:24). As the last portion of the verse says, God will destroy those who destroy the earth. That is, He will punish those who have violated His will and misused His creation for sinful purposes. That certainly applies to the Tribulation generation of human beings whose absolute lawlessness has totally defiled the earth. The payment for their sins is eternal death, but the gift of God for His servants is eternal life (Rom. 6:23). The kingdom is both the reward of eternal life and a place of service for God s elect. But rebels are spiritually destroyed by being banished from the kingdom (Matt. 7:13-27; 13:11-12, 30, 41-42, 47-50).! 7

8 Included in the idea of God s judgment of the dead, however, is the reward for His servants based on their faithful deeds in this life (Dan. 12:1-3; 1 Cor. 3:8; 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:4-5; 22:12). The Old Testament prophets who foresaw this time and bore witness to God s Word are singularly noted here as examples of faithfulness (cf. 10:7). But all the saints from every generation who fear [God s] name, small and great will enter into the joy of their Lord (Matt. 25:21-23); all receive the gift of eternal life in the kingdom. As a result, they will reign with Christ in glory and be given a place of service based on their loyalty here and now (Matt. 13:43; 19:27-20:16). The Promise of the Kingdom (v. 19) And that brings us to the promise of God s kingdom as emphasized in the final verse. John sees the temple of God opened in heaven, and the ark of God in His temple (v. 19a) The earthly ark of the Old Covenant was kept in the Most Holy Place of the temple the innermost sanctuary where the glory of God s presence was manifest but separated by a veil. Under the Mosaic Law no one but the high priest could enter into the inner chamber, and that was only once each year on the Day of Atonement. The emphasis was always on man s separation from God because of sin. However, when Christ died, God tore that veil from top to bottom, thus indicating that Christ s death effectively atoned for sin and the way to God was accessible through faith (Matt. 27:51; Heb. 10:19-20).! 8

9 What the apostle sees in this vision is the heavenly reality of the earthly copy: God is clearly seen as dwelling in the presence of His glorified saints. This is the promise of God s kingdom the New Covenant (i.e. New Testament) promise to experience eternal life with God in glory and serve Him forever (cf. Jer. 31:31ff). This is later expressed in 21:3 as John sees the kingdom in the recreated heaven and earth where only righteousness exists (cf. 2 Pet. 3:13). There he hears another loud voice proclaiming, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God But conversely, the promise of God s kingdom by necessity includes the eternal judgement of His enemies as discussed in the previous verse. This is what the second half of verse 19 seems to indicate. The lightnings, noises, thunderings earthquake, and great hail (cf. 4:5; 8:5) that John sees and hears are foreshadowings of the third woe mentioned in verse 14 (i.e. the final bowl judgments). These severe and swift expressions of God s wrath immediately precede Christ s Second Coming, in which He will destroy the unrepentant and bring the elect safely into the kingdom (Matt. 24:29-31).! 9

10 So with the sounding of the seventh trumpet, John hears heaven praising its King for exercising His power to reign on the earth. He also hears the glorified Church Age saints declare their Lord s kingdom agenda regarding the consummation of all things. And he and the Church are reassured of the promise of eternal life with God in His kingdom of total righteousness. Everything about our existence is tied to the kingdom of God either directly or indirectly. Our circumstances, our opportunities, and our choices all have eternal significance. As Christians, we are witnesses for our Lord Jesus Christ and His kingdom, and we can proclaim as He did that people should repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 4:17). And we should praise Him as our sovereign and eternal King who has the right to judge all people granting to some everlasting life and to the rest everlasting punishment (Dan. 12:2). Does the knowledge of God s kingdom affect your worldview? Does it inform and influence your decisions? Trust Him to sort out everything according to His perfect will. Let God s program for His kingdom and His promise of eternal glory with Him produce praise and encourage faithful service.! 10

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