“The Third Woe” – Revelation 11:14-19
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We have been waiting since the second "woe" when the sixth of seven angels (Vs. 8:2) blew his trumpet and released Satan's four angels to kill a third of mankind (Vs. 9:13-15).
Now "The Third Woe" is to come upon unrepentant mankind.
The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
In John's vision of the apocalypse, when the seventh and final angel blows his trumpet; three dramatic events will take place:
- An announcement of victory (Vs. 15).
- An acclamation of praise (Vs. 16-18).
- An assurance of God's faithfulness (Vs. 19).
As we recall from the last teaching of this passage, during the second of three interludes (during the three series of judgments, seals, trumpets and bowls, there is an interlude between the 6th and 7th plague/wrath) the Apostle John has written of the "angel and the little book," "the measuring of the temple" and "the two witnesses."
Now, the sounding of the trumpets will resume.
The seventh trumpet ushers in "the time of the end," the period of prophecy where the "great tribulation" will be completed.
Where the kingdom of God will be established on earth.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Where evil will be destroyed!
"You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel."
Where God's people will be avenged.
And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?
An Announcement of Victory
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"
"...the seventh angel sounded..."
* Trumpets were always blown at a king’s enthronement (1 Kgs. 1:34-41, 2 Kgs. 9:13, 11:14).
* ...but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets. (Rev. 10:7)
* This, the seventh angel sounding, is the last trumpet that announces the return of Christ (1 Cor. 15:51, 1 Thess. 4:16, Matt. 24:30-31).
All of the events John recorded in the rest of this chapter did not take place the instant the 7th trumpet sounded, it simply signals the beginning of the process, the end before the kingdom is established.
"...loud voices in heaven..."
* The heavenly choir.
“A great multitude in heaven.”
"...saying the kingdoms of this world..."
* "World" - Cosmos (Gk.) - The ruling power and authority, at this time, the beast or antichrist has been given this authority over "the kingdoms of this world" by God (Rev. 13:4-8).
But things are shortly going to change greatly!
"...have become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ..."
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
(1 Cor. 15:24)
Let's look closer into the Lord's kingdom in the past, present and future:
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
...and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
(Lk. 17:20-21 NIV)
Christ does not claim His royal rights until after He returns for His church (Matt. 24:29-31).
But the victory has already been won.
Satan offered Christ the world's kingdoms, but He refused the offer:
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve."'
Instead, He died on the cross, rose and defeated death:
The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
(1 Cor. 15:26)
And returned victoriously to heaven where the Father has given Him His inheritance:
"I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.'"
Does that mean He's not reigning today?
No, He sits at the right hand of the Father, the throne of power (Mk. 16:19, Rev. 3:21).
For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
(1 Cor. 15:25)
Today, Christ rules over a spiritual kingdom, but in this future day, He will rule over all the nations with a rod of iron (Ps. 2:9).
"...and He shall reign for ever and ever!"
No matter how difficult our circumstances are, or how defeated we think we are, the Lord Jesus Christ is still King of kings and Lord of lords. He is in control of everything now, and always will be!
An Acclamation of Praise
And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God,...
"...the twenty-four elders..."
* The 12 apostles, 12 sons of Israel; leaders of the 12 tribes, 12 of the 17 prophets?
* Nowhere in Scripture are the “twenty-four elders” named.
"...who sat before God on their thrones..."
* Only ones in a position of authority sat on thrones, had crowns of gold and robes of white (Rev. 4:4).
"...fell on their faces and worshiped God,..."
* Will we when we finally find ourselves in God’s presence?
...saying: "We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
"...'We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,..."
* "Give...thanks," always and in everything as they did.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thess. 5:16-18)
Previously, the elders praised Christ as Creator (Vs. 4:10-11), they worshipped Him as the Redeemer (Vs. 5:9-14). But here the emphasis is Christ the Conqueror and King!
* "Lord God Almighty" - El Shaddai (Hb.), it is His might, strength and excellence.
* “Lord God Omnipotent” – (Rev. 19:6)
"...the One who is and who was and who is to come,..."
* Christ Jesus
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
"...because You have taken Your great power and reigned."
The elders have prostrated themselves before God in thanks because Christ reigns, supremely and completely, with all authority and power (Matt. 28:18).
What power has Christ used to ultimately conquer and reign?
"The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth."
"The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come..."
* "The nations were angry" - In rebellion.
* The "nations" want to worship the creature, not the Creator (Rms. 1:25).
What do the "nations" have to be angry about? Hasn't God provided for all their needs? (Acts 14:15-17, 17:24-31) Hasn't He postponed judgment so all can be saved? (2 Pet. 3:9) Didn't He send His Son to the cross to pay for all men's sin? (1 Jn. 2:2)
What more could He do? But He must eventually judge because He is righteous.
"...and Your wrath has come..."
* God will not be mocked by any nation or ruler.
* Man's wrath ("anger") can never equal "the wrath of the Lamb."
* Even Satan's wrath, as cruel as it is, is no equal for God's holy wrath (Rev. 12:17).
* God's wrath is not an outburst of temper; it is His holy indignation against sin.
There will certainly be intense suffering in the first part of the tribulation period (Matt. 24:4-8), prior to the "abomination that causes desolation" (Matt. 24:15), but afterwards will be "great tribulation" (Matt. 24:21) when the wrath of God will be revealed (Rev. 14:10, 16:19, 19:15) against an unrepentant mankind and their leader.
"...the time of the dead, that they should be judged..."
"The court was seated, and the books were opened."
"...reward Your servants..."
* We will be rewarded, not with eternal life; that was bought and paid for by Christ on the cross.
* But with crowns earned by a life of service to Christ and His church, at "the judgment seat of Christ" (1 Cor. 9:24-25, 2 Cor. 5:10).
- The imperishable crown, "incorruptible and undefiled" (1 Pet. 1:4).
- The crown of rejoicing (1 Thess. 2:19).
- The crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8).
- The crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:1-4).
- The crown of life (Rev. 2:10)
All of these "crowns" are the treasure in heaven Christ spoke of:
"...destroy those who destroy the earth."
* This refers to rebellious mankind, unrepentant sinners who will not submit to God.
* Man is to be a steward of God's creation, not the owner nor the destroyer.
Revelation 11:18 is a summary statement of prophetic events yet to come.
It is heaven's song of praise to the Lord's faithfulness in accomplishing His purposes for the world. It seems strange that heavenly beings sing praise about God's judgment and wrath.
Maybe if we were with God's holy martyrs we would understand:
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
An Assurance of God's Faithfulness
Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.
"Then the temple of God was opened in heaven..."
* This chapter opened with John commanded to measure the last-days temple in Jerusalem (Vs. 11:1-2).
* But now he again sees the temple in heaven (Rev. 4:1, 15:5, 8).
"...the ark of His covenant..."
* The ark ("the covenant of the Lord") in the Old Testament stood behind the veil of the tabernacle and temple in the Holy of Holies.
* God's glory rested on the ark, God's law was within the ark, showing that the two cannot be separated. He is the holy God who must righteously deal with sin.
* Once a year the High Priest "Cohen Hagadol" (Hb.) sprinkled blood on the "Bema Seat" to atone for the sins of Israel. Today, Christ's blood covers our sin on the "Bema Seat."
We are sinners, loved by God. So, God made a new covenant with us in His blood, that we could be redeemed and reconciled to Himself:
For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
From the minute we sinned in the garden, God had a plan (Gen. 3:15). He would send His son to the cross to accomplish the greatest work of mercy ever known (Jn. 17:4, 19:30).
And by that work, our sin would be removed (1 Jn. 3:5), and the works of our enemy would be destroyed (1 Jn. 3:8).
Christ Jesus is our "ark of the covenant," by His sacrifice, we can now enter the Holy of Holies behind the veil (Matt. 27:51).
At the consummation of His kingdom, God Himself will dwell with us and there will be no need for a temple (Rev. 21:3).
"Behold the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant....this is the covenant I will make: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
(Jer. 31:31, 33)
Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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