The Sovereign God Our Ultimate Judge
Revelation 10 - 11
1I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. 2He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. 4Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them."
This heavenly messenger is most likely Jesus Christ, the Angel of the Lord. John had seen a "strong angel" back in 5:2; now he sees "another mighty angel." The symbols used here take us back to the description of the glorified Christ given in 1:12-16. The cloud and rainbow refer to 1:16; the feet of fire to 1:15; the face as the sun to 1:16. The voice like the lion certainly refers to 5:5; see also Hosea 11:10 and Joel 3:16. This is not a voice of gracious invitation; it is a voice announcing that judgment is coming. Perhaps the best evidence that this angel is Christ is in 11:3, where He says, "I will give power unto My two witnesses." So, here is Christ, the Angel of the Lord, coming to announce that God is about to work speedily and finish His purposes on the earth. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament; Warren W Wiersbe
In the following chart Morris sets forth that Jesus is the angel of Rev. 10
DANIEL 10:5, 6
clothed in linen clothed with a garment girded with fine gold golden girdle body like beryl head and hair white as snow face as lightning countenance as the sun eyes as lamps of fire eyes as a flame of fire arms and feet like polished brass feet like fine brass voice like a multitude voice as many waters
The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
In the Old Testament, the same word is used both for the rainbow and for the weapon ("bow" and arrow). Perhaps there is thus a suggestion in the rainbow that God is a God of both grace and judgment. That is, even in the midst of judgment, God's grace is still extended and multitudes will be saved out of the great tribulation (Revelation 7:14). By the same token, those who spurn God's grace must experience His wrath. "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:29). The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
5The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven 6and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, 7but 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.
The clear reference to God as Creator (cf. 4:11; 14:7) answers evolutionary speculation as to the origin of the earth, and it also affirms the omnipotence of God in dealing with the world in judgment when the time is ripe. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament: Electronic Edition c 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.
Solemnly swearing by God the eternal Creator, the angel declared, There will be no more delay! The kjv rendering, "There shall be time no longer," has been mistakenly interpreted as an abolishment of the present time system with its sequence of events. But this is not the thought of the passage, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament: Electronic Edition c 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.
God indeed is long-suffering. He has accomplished a wonderful and winsome plan of redemption, and desires all men to come to repentance and salvation (2 Peter 3:9). He has waited year after year, and century after century, for lost men to accept their Savior, but He will not compel them against their will. Finally, He has, against His own will, it almost seems, reluctantly initiated the terrible judgments of the day of the Lord. But even in these, many are saved, and He will joyfully receive those who come to Him out of the great tribulation. The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
The souls under the altar had asked, "How long?" (6:10-11), and the answer is now given: there is to be delay no longer! Scoffers ask today, "Where is the promise of His coming? Why isn't God doing something?" (2 Peter 3) This present period of delay is the sinner's opportunity for salvation! Christ states that in the days of the seventh trumpet sound (11:15-19), God will finish His program. The term "mystery" (v. 7) means a hidden truth from God. Mortal man cannot understand why sin and suffering are in the world, and why honest saints suffer while the rebellious sinners go free. We can be sure God will straighten these things out and complete His program. Note 11:18 especially--and take comfort! Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament; Warren W Wiersbe
This mystery had been previously announced to God's prophets. The reference, therefore, is not to hidden truth but to the fulfillment of many Old Testament passages which refer to the glorious return of the Son of God and the establishment of His kingdom of righteousness and peace on the earth. While God's purposes are not necessarily revealed in current events where Satan is allowed power and manifestation, the time will come when Satan no longer will be in power and the predictions of the Old Testament prophets will be fulfilled. Then all will know the Lord and the truth about Him (Jer. 31:34). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament: Electronic Edition c 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.
Although there are a number of mysteries referred to in the New Testament, the context here seems strongly to indicate that this mystery of God refers to the whole purpose and plan of God. Why has a holy God allowed evil to thrive for so long? Why do the righteous suffer? What is God's ultimate purpose for Israel, for the Gentiles, for the Church? These and many other such questions pertaining to the ultimate reconciliation and accomplishment of God's many purposes in creation will someday all be answered, and it is perhaps the combination of all these that is called here "the mystery of God." In any case, all such mysteries of God's dealing with men will finally be resolved and understood during these days of the sounding of the final trumpet. The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
8Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth."
9So I went to the angel and said to him, "Give me the little book."
And he said to me, "Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth."
The thought that God would be glorified (11:3-6, 11-18) gave John the great pleasure. However, afterwards he was overcome with grief at the prophecy of the coming bitter persecutions against God's people (11:7-10). New Commentary on the Whole Bible; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Electronic
It is not enough for John to see this book in Christ's hand, or even to know what it contains. He must appropriate it, make it a part of the inner person. Read Ezek. 2-3 and Jer. 15:16 for similar events. The Word of God is our food (Matt. 4:4; Ps. 119:103); we must take it in and assimilate it before it can do us any good. It is good to read the Bible and study it; but we also need to memorize the Word and digest it inwardly through the power of the Spirit. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament; Warren W Wiersbe God's Word is compared to food: bread (Matt. 4:4), milk (1 Peter 2:2), meat (1 Cor. 3:1-2), and honey (Ps. 119:103). The Prophets Jeremiah (Jer. 15:16) and Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:9-3:4) knew what it was to "eat" the Word before they could share it with others. The Word must always "become flesh" (John 1:14) before it can be given to those who need it. Woe unto that preacher or teacher who merely echoes God's Word and does not incarnate it, making it a living part of his very being. Be Victorious-Revelation, Electronic Edition; Wiersbe, Warren W.
10Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. 11And he said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings."
Some commentators identify the little scroll as the scroll in Daniel 12 containing information relative to the last half of the seventieth week. Other commentators remind us that John sees himself much in the position of Ezekiel. He faces an extremely difficult task in awakening the Christians to the seriousness of their trials and in his own responsibility of encouraging the faithful. New Commentary on the Whole Bible; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Electronic
What does this incident mean? Though no interpretation was given John, it is evident that in partaking of the book he was appropriating what the book states (cf. Jer. 15:16). The scroll seems to symbolize the Word of God and divine revelation in general, for John was told to deliver the Word faithfully. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament: Electronic Edition c 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.
The eleventh chapter is a short summary and/or preview of the more detailed prophecies of the same events to come in chapters 12-20. Thus, we find anticipatory allusions to the later prophecies; cf. 11:7 with the detailed accounts contained in 13:1, 11 and 17:8, for example. The temple is protected, along with its worshipers, but the Court of the Gentiles is left without protection for a period of three and a half years. New Commentary on the Whole Bible; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Electronic
Alford calls this chapter "one of the most difficult in the whole Apocalypse" (The Greek Testament, 4:655). The best guideline to follow in interpreting this section is to take each fact literally. In line with this principle, a literal temple will be in existence during the Great Tribulation, and the city should be considered the literal city Jerusalem in keeping with its identification in 11:8. The time periods of 42 months (v. 2) and three and one-half days (vv. 9, 11) again should be considered literally. The earthquake will kill literally 7,000 individuals, and the two witnesses should be considered as two individual men. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament: Electronic Edition c 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.
In chapters 11-12, we are definitely on Jewish ground. We see the Jewish temple (11:1-2), Jerusalem (11:8), the ark (11:19), the ruling Christ (12:5), Michael (12:7), and Satan's persecution of the Jews (12:17). If we spiritualize this passage and apply any of it to the church, we will be in serious trouble. At this point, we are at the middle of the Tribulation. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament; Warren W Wiersbe
1Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. 2But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.
This temple, in fact, is the fourth temple built in Jerusalem--the first by Solomon, the second under Zerubabbel, the third by Herod. Each in turn had been destroyed by invading Gentiles, with the third temple (the one in which John himself had worshiped) having been leveled to the ground by the Roman armies commanded by Titus in a.d. 70. Ever since that time, the temple and Jerusalem itself had been under Gentile domination. . . . At the time of John's experience on Patmos, the magnificent temple that had once been the beauty of Jerusalem was merely a twenty-five-year old memory. John, in fact, had been present on the Mount of Olives when Christ had prophesied its destruction, saying: "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Matthew 24:2). The prophecy had been fulfilled by the Roman armies in a.d. 70. And yet the old prophets had often written of the holy temple as it would be in the last days (Ezekiel 40-48; Amos 9:11; Micah 4:1; Haggai 2:9; and Zechariah 6:12, 13). Somehow the temple must therefore some day be built again. The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
Gentiles Times of the Gentiles: v. 2; Rev 16:19. (Deu 28:49; Rev 16:19) Months The tribulation that is to occur at the end of this age will continue for seven years, the "one 'seven' " (week) of Dan 9:27 (see Rev 7:14, note). This seven-year period is divided, in the prophetic writings, into two equal halves of three and one-half years each. The length of the periods is also referred to as "a time, times and half a time" (Rev 12:14; cp. Dan 7:25; 12:7); "forty and two months" (Rev 11:2; 13:5); and 1260 days (Rev 11:3; 12:6). The second half of this seven-year period will be characterized by increasing cruelty on the part of the world ruler, and a consequent greater intensity of persecution and suffering. Rev 13:5; cp. Dan 7:25; 12:7; Rev 12:6, 14 New Scofield Reference Bible KJV; Electronic Edition Copyright © 1998, Parsons Technology, Inc.
Why should John measure the temple? Measurement is usually taken of one's possessions, and the temple belonged to God. In a similar way the temple of Ezekiel 40 was measured and the New Jerusalem was measured (Rev. 21:15-17). The temple here will be constructed so that orthodox Jews can offer sacrifices according to the Mosaic Law in the period in the first half of the seven-year period known as Daniel's 70th week. At the beginning of the 42-month Great Tribulation, however, the sacrifices will stop and the temple will be desecrated and become a shrine for the world ruler of the Great Tribulation who will put an idol in it and proclaim himself to be God (cf. Dan. 9:27; 12:11; 2 Thes. 2:4; Rev. 13:14-15). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament: Electronic Edition c 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.
Apparently the temple that will be built during the Tribulation, in which Jewish worship will be carried on during the first part of that seven-year period and in which, at the midpoint, the man of sin will exalt himself to be worshiped (2 Thess. 2:4). Ryrie Study Bible; Ryrie, Charles Caldwell, Th.D., Ph.D.
The Greek term translated "temple" is naos, the "holy place" of the
"sanctuary," in contrast to the general temple enclosure. The term "altar" refers
to the altar of incense, for it alone was in the holy place. The measurement of the
holy place seems to stand parallel to the sealing of the elect of Israel under the
sixth seal. God's elect are symbolized by the sanctuary of Jerusalem (see 1 Cor.
3:16, 17, where the same Gk. word naos is used for "temple"). The figure seems
to be a symbolic portrayal of God's people. New Commentary on the Whole Bible; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Electronic
The outside of the holy place is left unmeasured (i.e., unprotected), and therefore it will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles. "Forty-two months" probably refers to the three and a half years of severe tribulation and may be the same period as Daniel's "a time, time and half a time," or three and a half years (see Dan. 7:25; 12:7; Rev. 12:6, 14). Several commentators have pointed out that this period of Gentile domination was foreshadowed by the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, under whose rule the temple was desolated for three years (168-165 b.c.). New Commentary on the Whole Bible; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Electronic
The tendency of some is to spiritualize the 42-month length of the Great Tribulation, but this should be taken as a literal period, as confirmed by the 1,260 days of 11:3 which are 42 months of 30 days each. From this it is also clear that "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24) will not end until the second coming of Christ to the earth to set up His kingdom. Though Jews may possess Jerusalem temporarily, as they have in this century, they will lose possession in the Great Tribulation. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament: Electronic Edition c 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.
Israel is, therefore, about to enter the time of her greatest suffering. God will use the heavy hand of wicked Gentile nations to chastise His people, but the process will purify them. It will be the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7), the "time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation" (Daniel 12:1), the "great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world" (Matthew 24:21). This final great judgment on Israel is initiated in Revelation 11:13, but most of the rest of the book is devoted to God's judgments on the Gentiles. The details of Israel's judgment had already been outlined in the prophets (Zechariah 14:1) and by Christ Himself (Mark 13:14-20). The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
3And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." 4These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. 5And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. 6These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.
There is much disagreement as to which half of the tribulation period that these two witnesses will prophecy. I think that the best interpretation is that they will begin at the middle of the tribulation period. Else no one would be trying to kill them. Also this more fully conforms with the idea that Jerusalem will be trodden under foot of the Gentiles during the last half of the tribulation. Warren Wiersbe whom I will next quote takes the other view. That is they will prophecy during the first half of the tribulation. This agrees more fully with his understanding that the seals, trumpets, bowls are consecutive rather than parallel. This makes the seventh trumpet the middle of the tribulation period.
By now the Jewish temple has been rebuilt, and the nation (though in unbelief) is worshiping Jehovah again. It seems likely that the two witnesses will minister during the first half of the Tribulation, preaching to the Jews and having access to the temple. At the middle of the Tribulation, Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel and take possession of the temple area (2 Thes. 2; Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15). He will set himself up as god, thus bringing about the "abomination of desolation" that both Daniel and Christ predicted. We see the temple overrun by the Gentiles for three and one-half years. God asks John to measure the temple area, a symbolic action that goes back to Ezek. 40-41 and Zech. 2. To measure something means to claim it. Though the forces of Satan have taken over the Jewish temple, Christ will claim it again and restore it to His people. Note the allusion in v. 4 to Zech. 4-5 concerning Zerubbabel and Joshua, the high priest. These two men were God's servants for reclaiming and rebuilding the temple and the nation after the Babylonian Captivity, a time of national troubles. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament; Warren W Wiersbe
my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy--The word "power" was supplied to complete the thought in Greek. The possessive pronoun "my" implies that the two were well-known, at least to John. They had the power to prophesy, which means to preach under the inspiration of the Spirit, denouncing judgments against the apostate. The two witnesses are called the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth--See Zech. 4:3, 12. Some commentators think that the two olive trees and the two lampstands are symbolic of Joshua and Zerubabbel. . . . In the last days God will raise up two inspired witnesses to minister to the remaining persecuted ones. . . . The actions of the two witnesses are just like those of Moses and Elijah. Moses witnessed for God against Pharaoh, turned the waters into blood, and destroyed Egypt with plagues. Elijah caused fire to devour the enemy and shut up heaven so that it did not rain for three years and six months, the very time (1,260 days) in which the "two witnesses" prophesied. Some interpreters believe that Elijah and Moses will appear again (as Mal. 4:5, 6 seems to imply). Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ at the transfiguration, an experience which foreshadowed his coming kingdom. As to Moses, cf. Deuteronomy 34:5, 6; Jude 9. Many in the early church thought the "two witnesses" to be Enoch (not Moses) and Elijah. This would avoid the difficulty of their dying a second time, for these men had never died--so perhaps they will be the witnesses who are killed. Still, the act of turning rivers and oceans to blood applies best to Moses. An objection to this interpretation is that those blessed and departed servants of God would have to submit to death (11:7-9), and this, in Moses' case, would be a second time, which would contradict Hebrews 9:27. clothed in sackcloth--This is a garment of OT prophets, especially when they called people to repent. Their clothes went along with their teachings. So it was in the case of Elijah. New Commentary on the Whole Bible; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Electronic
The description of the two witnesses as olive trees and lampstands has an Old Testament background (Zech. 4:2-14). The two witnesses in this passage were Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor. Their connection to the lampstands was that they were empowered by the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the olive oil. In a similar way the two witnesses of Revelation 11 will be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Like prophets of old the two witnesses will be able to do supernatural miracles, and fire will destroy those who will try to harm them (Rev. 11:5). Like Elijah they will have power to stop rain, and will have power like Moses to turn water into blood and to bring on plagues (v. 6). In the midst of the unbelief, apostasy, and satanic power of the Great Tribulation these two witnesses will be a threat to the entire wicked world for a literal period of 1,260 days. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament: Electronic Edition c 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.
The duration of their prophecy is given in terms of days, probably to emphasize that they are not once-a-week preachers. Every single day, for three-and-a-half years, their testimony of judgment to come is conveyed to a rebellious and resentful world. The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
The most likely conclusion is that they are two of God's faithful witnesses from former ages, sent back to witness again in the final age. This is strongly supported by the remarkable prophecy concerning Elijah: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:5, 6). This prophecy is all the more remarkable in that it contains the very last words of the Old Testament. Some assume that this prophecy was fulfilled in John the Baptist but John the Baptist himself denied it. "And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not" (John 1:21). John did indeed come "in the spirit and power of Elias" (Luke 1:17), but he was not Elias, and his coming did not fulfill Malachi's prophecy. Jesus Himself confirmed this. "Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things" (Matthew 17:11). Elijah was taken into heaven without dying (2 Kings 2:11). God must have had a reason for such a remarkable action; Elijah was no more deserving of such a privilege than many other saints before and since. Evidently, God had a ministry for Elijah which required that he still remain living in his natural body. There he has remained ever since, awaiting the time at the end of the age when he would return to earth to complete his prophetic mission to the people of Israel just "before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
The question that many ask now is concerning the other witness. Some think it is Moses because of the similarities of the miracles performed. But how will Moses die again. Those who claim that Elijah is one of the witness because he never died will naturally turn to Enoch. Because Enoch was translated like Elijah they make a perfect pair. I myself think that these two witness are none of the above. I think that they will be two new people who will be born into the world and will fulfill these roles. That God would have Elijah and Enoch come back from heaven and to earth to be killed does not seem plausible to me. Just as John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah so will these witness come in the spirit and power of Elijah and Moses.
7When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. 8And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. 10And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
With the ministry of the two witnesses ended, God permitted the beast that comes up from the Abyss (cf. 9:1-2, 11; 17:8; 20:1, 3) to overcome them. The beast, that is, the Antichrist, is mentioned nine other times in Revelation (13:1; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 17:3, 13; 19:20; 20:10). After the witnesses were killed, their bodies were left unburied in Jerusalem, figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, because of the people's apostasy and rejection of God. For three and one-half days the whole world gloated over their dead bodies. This implies some worldwide display, now made possible by television. Their deaths were considered a great victory for the world ruler and Satan, and were celebrated by people sending each other gifts. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament: Electronic Edition c 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.
shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. It is like Christmas. Worldwide merrymaking is in order and a great holiday celebration gets under way. Sales boom again and gifts are exchanged freely. Joy to the world, the Lord is dead! Men once celebrated the birth of Christ in such a manner; now they will rejoice in His death. No more will they have to hide in caves of the earth from the wrath of the Lamb. Nevermore will angels fly across the sky, warning those who dwell on the earth of great woes about to fall. The stinging scorpion-locusts and the frightful horse-demons are a bad memory that will never torment them again. The great prince has conquered Christ, and no one can make war with him anymore (Revelation 13:4). Henceforth his power is invincible, and he will rule, in Satan's name, forever. He has even been to hell and back, and death itself has been vanquished by him. His greatest human enemies, the two tormenting prophets, lie still in the streets of Jerusalem, and all the peoples of the world are rejoicing in his victory. His triumph is complete. The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
11Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. 13In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.
The television cameras continue their daily vigil at the scene of triumph, beaming the spectacle onto every picture tube in the world, at the daily news hour. Men and women continue in an orgy of revelry, their frenzy increasing every time they view the dead prophets in Jerusalem. But as Christ was three days and three nights in the heart of the earth so will his prophets rest three days and three nights on a street in Jerusalem. As the testimony of their grim prophecies was heard for three-and-a-half years, so will the testimony of their silent bodies be seen for three-and-a-half days. Then, as the drunken revelers watch in horror, the bodies will begin to stir. Slowly the old prophets rise to their feet and the Jerusalem mob shrinks back in astonishment. The cameras zoom in on their glowing faces, and four piercing eyes glare out of 100 million television screens. Rejoicing quickly is transformed into shock. "Great fear" the Scripture calls it, and it could just as well be translated "exceeding terror." Revelry becomes hysteria and once again will "men's hearts [fail] them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" (Luke 21:26). The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
14The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
15Then 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!" 16And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17saying:
"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.
18 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."
There is an important reference to "the last trump" in 1 Corinthians 15:52. There it is said that, at this last sounding of the trumpet, the resurrection of the dead and the immortalizing of the living saints will take place. In Revelation 11:15, and following, there is no specific reference to resurrection. On the other hand, there is (verse 18) a reference to the judgment of the dead and the giving of rewards to His servants, both of which presuppose a resurrection. However, the "last trump" of this passage in 1 Corinthians is obviously the same as the "trump of God" of 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17, whereas the seventh trumpet of Revelation is the "trump of the angel." These are obviously two different trumpets. In addition, of course, it has already been demonstrated that the resurrection and rapture of those who are in Christ, as described in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4, must take place before the tribulation period, whereas the seventh angel will sound his trumpet at the middle of the tribulation period. But if that is the case, why is the trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52 called the last trump, when at least the seven trumpets of Revelation will all be sounded later? Furthermore there is even a trumpet which is to be blown near the end of the tribulation by God Himself. "And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south" (Zechariah 9:14). In context, this is a reference to God's supernatural deliverance of Israel right at the end of the tribulation. This event is probably the same one mentioned by Christ in Matthew 24:29-31. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days... he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Thus, trumpets will be blown both by angels and by God Himself after the "trump of God" which is the "last trump" in 1 Corinthians 15:52. The terminology in this passage is clearly intended not to imply an absolute chronology of trumpets, but one which is relative to its context. Similarly the "last day" of such verses as John 6:40 ("I will raise him up at the last day"), John 11:24 (". . . in the resurrection at the last day"), and others is not the final day of the cosmos, for time will never end. The "last day," in which the resurrection occurs, is the last day of the Church Age, and the last trumpet, which signals the resurrection, is the last trumpet blown by God at the end of the Church Age, but this does not preclude another last trumpet to terminate the tribulation, or even another last trumpet to end the millennium and gather all the unsaved for judgment at God's throne. Or, perhaps, one could infer that the "last day" will encompass over a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8), thus including all the resurrection events both before the tribulation, during the tribulation, after the tribulation, and after the millennium (Revelation 20:4-6) within its scope. By the same token, the last trump may not merely be one brief burst of sound, but a trumpet whose sound continues long, as did the divine trumpet on Sinai (Exodus 19:19), enduring throughout the entire duration of the thousand-year long "last day." In any case, this passage certainly provides no justification for so-called "posttribulationists" and others to contend, as they do, that the "last trump" of 1 Corinthians is identical with the seventh trumpet of Revelation. The latter is sounded by an angel releasing great judgments, but the former is the mighty trump of God which raises the dead. The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
Seven great events are thus anticipated by the elders as they worship on their faces before Christ, the Almighty Lord:
1. He has displayed His mighty power over all creation;
2. He has demonstrated Himself to be king of all kings;
3. He has observed the implacable anger of all nations against Himself;
4. He has manifested His righteous wrath against all those living in rebellion;
5. He has prepared the final judgment for all the unsaved dead;
6. He has provided a gracious reward for all who believe and obey Him;
7. He has ordained eternal destruction for all who have corrupted the earth. The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
"The nations were angry." What do the nations have to be angry about? Certainly the Lord has been good and gracious to them. He has provided their needs (Acts 14:15-17; 17:24-31), assigned their territories, and graciously postponed His judgment to give men opportunity to be saved. Even more, He sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world. Today, God offers forgiveness to the nations! What more could He do for them? Then, why are the nations angry? Because they want to have their own way. "Why do the heathen [the nations] rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed [Christ], saying, 'Let us break Their bands asunder, and cast away Their cords from us'" (Ps. 2:1-3). They want to worship and serve the creature instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:25). Like adolescent children, the nations want to cast off all restraint; and God will permit them to do so. The result will be another "Babylon" (Rev. 17-18), man's last attempt to build his Utopia, a "heaven on earth." "And Thy wrath is come." The word translated "angry" in Revelation 11:18 is the verb form of the word translated "wrath." But man's wrath can never equal the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6:16-17). Even Satan's wrath, as cruel as it is, is no match for God's wrath (Rev. 12:17). There was intense suffering in the first half of the Tribulation, but only the last half will reveal the wrath of God (Rev. 11:18; 14:10; 16:19; 19:15). There are two Greek words for anger: thumos, which means "rage, passionate anger," and orge, used here, which means "indignation, a settled attitude of wrath." God's anger is not an outburst of temper; it is holy indignation against sin. Both of these Greek words are used in Revelation to describe God's anger: orge is used only four times; thumos, seven (Rev. 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19; 19:15). God's anger is not dispassionate, for He hates sin and loves righteousness and justice; but neither is it temperamental and unpredictable. Be Victorious-Revelation, Electronic Edition; Wiersbe, Warren W.
the time of the dead, that they should be judged--This proves that the seventh trumpet is at the end of all things; it is when the judgment on Christ's enemies and the reward for which his saints had long prayed will occur. New Commentary on the Whole Bible; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Electronic
The Lord will have no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11), and neither shall we. He is long-suffering, and so we should be, but the time will come when the wicked must be judged. Whether those remaining unconverted are friends or loved ones or merely the great multitudes for whom Christ died and whom we should have sought to win, they must finally be judged. The Revelation Record; Henry M. Morris; Electronic Edition
There will also be a judgment of God's children, known as "the Judgment Seat of Christ" (Rom. 14:10-13; 1 Cor. 3:9-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-11). God will reward His faithful servants (Matt. 25:21) and the sufferings they experienced on earth will be forgotten in the glory of His presence. Though God's children will not be judged for their sins (that judgment took place on the cross), they will be judged for their works and rewarded generously by the Master. The Judgment Seat of Christ will take place in heaven after Christ has called His people home. When He returns to earth to establish His kingdom, the saints will be ready to reign with Him, with every blemish of the church removed (Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 19:7-8). Today, we groan as we serve God, because we know only too well our handicaps and blemishes; but one day, we shall serve Him perfectly! Be Victorious-Revelation, Electronic Edition; Wiersbe, Warren W.
19Then 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.
This chapter opened with a temple on earth, but now we see the temple in heaven. The focus of attention is on the ark of God, the symbol of God's presence with His people. In the Old Testament tabernacle and temple, the ark stood behind the veil, in the holy of holies. God's glory rested on the ark, and God's Law was within the ark, beautifully illustrating that the two must never be separated. He is the holy God and must deal righteously with sin. But He is also the faithful God who keeps His promises to His people. It was the ark of God that led Israel through the Jordan and into their inheritance (Josh. 3:11-17). This vision of the ark would greatly encourage God's suffering people to whom John sent this book. "God will fulfill His promises!" John was saying to them. "He will reveal His glory! Trust Him!" Be Victorious-Revelation, Electronic Edition; Wiersbe, Warren
19 This is a solemn conclusion similar to that of the seventh seal (8:5) and the seventh vial (16:18). It appears that the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven vials are not necessarily consecutive. They parallel and end in the same consummation. They present God's plans for bringing about the grand end under three different aspects, mutually complementing each other. New Commentary on the Whole Bible; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Electronic
The Sovereign God Our Ultimate Judge
"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.
18 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."
In Revelation chapter 10 and 11 we find first of all sees who is described as a mighty angel. Some people think this angel is Christ and others do not. It does not make a big difference either way.
Next John hears seven thunders who utter their voices and begins to write down what they say about is restrained by a voice from heaven telling him not to write what the seven thunders said. Isn't interesting that with all that God reveals to us here that He has chosen to still keep some things a secret.
Next John hears the mighty angel proclaim that the time of God's final judgment will be delayed no longer. God has been gracious for generation after generation and yet people haven't repented. Last week we saw that even when all these terrible things happen that the people still do not repent. But God's longsuffering finally gives way to God's wrath and final judgment on a sinful race.
Next John is told to take and to eat a little book that is sweet as he eats it and bitter as it goes to his stomach. The contents of the little book can only be guessed at.
Then John is told to rise and measure the temple holy place but not to measure the outer courts. The temple will be rebuilt during the tribulation period and will be desecrated by the anti-christ. The city its self will be once again under Gentile dominion as it mostly has for the last 2600 years.
But then John also sees a marvelous sight, two witness who are after the Old Testament fashion. No one in the New Testament ever is seen like these. They have power to destroy their enemies during the days of their prophecies and they also to cause great plagues and calamity on the earth. They continue for 42 months until the anit-chirst makes war with them and kills them. This causes such great celebration world wide that people go into perpetual celebration. These witness that have represented God over 3 ½ years are now out of the way. People will not even allow a burial for these but will continually through CNN watch and rejoice over their dead bodies.
But then after 3 ½ days they will rise to their feet before a horror stuck world and ascend to heaven. In the same hour there is an earthquake that destroys one tenth of the city and kills 7,000.
Then we have the sounding of the seventh trumpet that brings as end to this world as we know it and ushers in God's eternal reign.
When the twenty four elders see this they are worshiping God on their faces and proclaiming our text for this morning. "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. 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."
It is from these two verses that we wish to take our thoughts this morning. From these verses we see three things.
- Our God reigns supremely (Rev. 11:17)
- O Lord God Almighty
- This name is first used by God concerning Himself in Gen. 17:1 where Abram is doubting God's ability to give him children. V-17
- It is use throughout the OT but especially in Job where it is used more than the rest of the OT.
- The only time it is found in the NT other than Revelation is 2 Cor. 6:18 where Paul is quoting the OT.
- The name means all powerful, omnipotent.
- The fact that God is all powerful is a comfort to the children of God but a dreaded fear to His enemies.
- The One who is and who was and who is to come.
- God is eternal.
- He is not in a hurry and never frets, time is of not matter to Him.
- You have taken Your great power and reigned.
- God sovereignty and power are seen in that He allows His creatures to rebel against Him
- Earthly kings will put down a rebellion as soon as they can lest they be dethroned.
- But God doesn't worry about such things.
- He is greater than all of His creation and nothing can stand against His power and might.
- The nations were angry
- Now it is true that the nations are angry at God.
- Ps 2:1-5 Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: (NKJ)
- Even to the bitter last Satan and the nations will throw their selves into the fight against God and He will shake them off as we would a gnat.
- Nebuchadnezzar, the most sovereign king who ever lived was taught that it was God who ruled. Dan 4:35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; he does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?" (NKJ)
- Ps 33:9-11 For He spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. (NKJ)
- Ps 115:3 But our God is in heaven; he does whatever He pleases. (NKJ)
- Ps 135:6 Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places. (NKJ)
- Isa 46:10-11 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, `My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,' Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. (NKJ)
- Our God judges righteously (Rev. 11:18)
- A righteous Judge is only good for those who are righteous.
- All transgressors fear a righteous judge
- One who cannot be bought.
- One who can not be intimidated.
- God is too righteous to allow the penalty to not be paid.
- And the time of the dead, that they should be judged.
- This does not refer to the saints.
- Our sins have been judged already in the person of Jesus Christ.
- God, being righteous cannot ask for double payment.
- Christians will never been judged for their sins again.
- Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (NKJ)
- Either Jesus paid for our sins or we will pay for them, the choice is ours.
- The Great White throne Judgment is the final Judgment.
- All those who stand before this terrible place will be cast into the lake of fire where Satan and all his are.
- The lake of fire was prepared for Satan and his angels not for humans, but we disobeyed God.
- The problem is that the judgment of God has taken such a back seat to His love that everyone thinks it is out of character for God to send judgment.
- But I would commend you to look at the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah. Look at the book of Revelation, read the minor prophets. God is a God of justice and must therefore judge sin and the sinner.
- Notice in the last part of verse 17 that it states without appology that God will destroy those who destroy the earth.
- Our God rewards graciously (Rev. 11:18)
- And that You should reward
- God rewards faithfulness.
- God does not forget our labors.
- Heb 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. (NKJ)
- Salvation is not a reward it is a free gift that does not need to be earned.
- Rewards will vary
- Your servants the prophets
- And the saints,
- And those who fear Your name, small and great
Rewards or judgment, the decision is ours.
This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com