Wednesday, September 22, 2021

43. The Revelation: Seventh Trumpet - Praise and Paroxysms (Revelation 11:15-18)



"Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were 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 You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign." (Rev. 11:15–17)

Though its effects on earth were delayed, there was an immediate response in heaven when the seventh angel sounded his trumpet. Expressing exhilaration at what was about to take place, there came 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.” That dramatic proclamation is obviously connected to the effects of the seventh trumpet. There is unrestrained joy that the power of Satan is to be forever broken, and Christ is to reign supreme. The setting up of Christ’s long-awaited kingdom is the apex of redemptive history.

The use of the singular term “kingdom of the world” instead of the plural “kingdoms” introduces an important truth. All of the world’s diverse groups are in reality one kingdom under one king. That king is known in Scripture by many names and titles.

While God ordains human governments for the well-being of man (Romans 13:1), those same governments refuse to submit to Him or acknowledge His sovereignty (Acts 4:26). They are essentially part of Satan’s kingdom.

Jesus affirmed that Satan, though a usurper and not the rightful king, is the present ruler of the world. Three times in John’s gospel Jesus called Satan “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). As he did at Babel, Satan will rule in the future over a united fallen humanity in one visible kingdom under Antichrist’s (the Beast of 13:1–4) leadership.

The tense of the verb translated “has become” describes a future event that is so certain that it can be spoken of as if it had already taken place. Heaven rejoices as if the long-anticipated day when Christ will establish His kingdom had already arrived, although some time on earth must elapse before that actually happens. The phrase “the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” emphasizes two realities. “Lord” usually refers to Jesus throughout the New Testament, while in Revelation it more often refers to God the Father, emphasizing their equality of nature. This phrase also describes the kingdom in its broadest sense, looking forward to divine rule over the creation and the new creation. No differentiation is made between the earthly millennial kingdom and the eternal kingdom. At the end of the thousand years, the millennial kingdom will merge with the eternal kingdom, in which Christ will reign forever and ever.

Zeroing in on one particular group in heaven offering praise, John notes that the twenty-four elders fell on their faces (5:8, 14; 7:11; 19:4) and worshiped God. As representatives of the glorified, raptured church, these elders had been eagerly waiting for Christ to take back the earth from Satan. Their joyous cry of praise is filled with gratitude: “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign” and reflects their exhilaration that their prayers for the kingdom to come have been answered.

The elders’ praise focused on three of God’s attributes. “Almighty” describes God’s sovereign, omnipotent power. Nine of its ten New Testament uses are in Revelation (1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22). It has the sense of God exercising His all-encompassing will by means of His irresistible power. The phrase “who are and who were” expresses God’s eternity. As the living God, He had no beginning and will have no end.

The elders also praised God for His sovereignty, because He had “taken His great power and … begun to reign.” The verb translated “have taken” signifies the permanence of God’s sovereign rule.

All attempts to equate this glorious reign of Christ over the whole earth with any past event or with the church is contradictory to the clear future teaching of Scripture, including especially this passage. There is no way this text can be fulfilled except by the universal reign of Jesus Christ over the whole earth, as the prophets had for so long predicted.


"And the nations were enraged..." (Rev. 11:18a)

The seventh trumpet vision reveals that the nations were defiant and enraged at the prospect of Christ’s kingdom being established over the whole earth. The verb translated “were enraged” suggests a deep-seated, ongoing hostility. This was not just a momentary emotional fit of temper but a settled burning resentment against God. Eventually, they will assemble armies to fight God (16:14, 16; 20:8–9). With no desire to repent of sin, angry resentment and hostility against heaven will drive the nations to gather for their destruction at Armageddon (cf. Psalms 2:1, 5, 12; Acts 4:24–29).

The divine judgments people will experience during the tribulation should cause them to turn from their sins and submit to God. Tragically, however, even under such frightening judgment and warnings of eternal hell, most of them will refuse to repent and will instead harden their hearts (note Romans 2:1–10, which teaches that men refuse to repent in spite of God’s goodness). The unbelieving world will apparently reach that point at the final outpouring of God’s wrath during the events of the seventh trumpet (16:9, 11). Their rage and hostility toward God will reach a fever pitch, and they will gather to fight against Him at the battle on the plain of Megiddo (16:14, 16). By then they will be beyond the day of grace. There will be no salvation at Armageddon. The world’s desperate, last-ditch effort to keep Christ from establishing His kingdom will fail and they will be utterly destroyed.