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The Seventh Trumpet: The Beginning of the End

Tom Pennington Rev. 11:14-19


I'm excited to go back to our study of the book of Revelation. I invite you to turn there with me, to Revelation 11, where we'll pick up. Now, since it's been several months again since we studied Revelation, I want to do as I did this morning with 1 John. Let me start with a brief review of what the book is about and how we got where we are.

The theme of the book of Revelation is, in fact, the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is from Jesus Christ, it is revelation from Him, and it is about Jesus Christ. So, that expression, "the revelation of Jesus Christ", is sort of a double meaning - from Him, about Him, His person, His work, His kingdom. He is its source, and He is its theme.

Now, the outline of the book of Revelation is easy. If you look at chapter 1:19, Jesus' words there provide the framework of this book. He tells John, in chapter 1:19, "Therefore write the things which you have seen [that's chapter 1], and the things which are [that's the vision of the seven churches, in the letters to the seven churches in chapters 2-3], and the things which will take place after these things [that begins in chapter 4 and runs through verse (he meant chapter) 22]." We find ourselves studying, then, the third part of this great book - the things which will take place after these things. It's really the stages of Jesus' final triumph.

Now, in chapter 5, you remember, chapters 4 and 5, we saw with John a vision of God the Father, in chapter 4, seated on the throne and in His hand was a scroll. And in chapter 5, Jesus the Lamb comes up and takes the scroll from the hand of the Father. The scroll, as we learned, is the title deed to the earth. It's sealed with seven seals. In chapter 6, Christ broke the first six of the seven seals on that scroll, and as He broke the seals, a series of judgments poured out on the earth during a period of time called the seven-year Tribulation. You'll see in the outline there that that encompasses from chapter 6 all the way through chapter 18.

Now, in chapter 6 you have the first six seals, as Jesus breaks them. But then in chapter 7, you have an interlude where we pause for a moment and we look at the Tribulation saints, both the 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will share the gospel during that time, as well as a countless redeemed multitude in heaven, in the second half of chapter 7.

In chapter 8:1, our Lord then breaks the seventh and final seal. And the breaking of the seventh seal, initiates a series of seven, distinct judgments that are really part of, wrapped up with the seventh seal. But those judgments are announced by the blowing of seven trumpets. So, the seventh seal, then, is in fact the first six trumpets, and we walked our way through that in chapters 8 and 9.

Before the angel sounds the seventh trumpet, there is another interlude. That interlude runs from chapter 10:1 through chapter 11:14. There, we saw the little book where there's a picture of the realization in John's mind that what he's talking about in this book is sweet to the mouth, to know that God is going to address these things, but sour to the stomach as you digest the reality of what it means for the people on this planet.

And then in chapter 11:1-14, we looked at the two witnesses who will come. This is an interlude. These interludes are not strictly chronological, but they overlap the chronology of the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls. So, the interludes are - don't think of them as coming in exact chronological order. Rather, they spread out and cover more of the time period of the Tribulation.

This interlude, in chapters 10 and through the middle of chapter 11, reminds God's people that He's still sovereign over all of these events. He's not forgotten His own. He's continuing to redeem others. And so, it's a reminder to live in hope.

Now, that brings us then to the seventh trumpet in chapter 11:15-19. The blowing of the seventh trumpet initiates a rapid-fire series of catastrophic judgments that come at the end of the Tribulation. When the seventh angel sounds, it will announce the finale of God's judgments and the imminent return and reign of Jesus Christ our Lord.

You understand how this works, and I don't want to trivialize what we're studying here, but you know how it is when you're watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July and you see the various fireworks go up, and you know that, "Wow, that's impressive! That's exciting!" But at the very end, that's when the real firepower comes. In a very real sense, that's what's going to happen at the end.

Now, the last time we studied this book together, we finished our study of the interlude that begins in chapter 10:1 and runs through the middle of chapter 11. Tonight, we step away from an interlude and we come back to the chronology of the future seven-year Tribulation, and we pick up where chapter 9 ended. Specifically, tonight, we come to the seventh trumpet.

Let's read it together, Revelation 11, and I'll begin reading in verse 14. "The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly." That's a reference to the fact that these final three trumpets are so horrific that they're referred to as woes. So, the second is passed, the third is coming, the seventh trumpet. Verse 15: "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. And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your 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."

The seventh trumpet announces, as you've just read with me, that the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, that He is about to judge the world and to redeem His own. Now, that basic content of the seventh trumpet unfolds, in the text we just read together, in three distinct scenes that I want us to examine together.

The first scene, that we see here, is a description of the seventh trumpet in verse 15. It begins with what we've seen already six times. This time the seventh trumpet, the seventh angel rather, blows his trumpet. Look at verse 15: "Then the seventh angel sounded..."

Now, just to remind you, we have already looked at the other six trumpet judgments and walked through them. Let me just remind you that, recorded in chapters 8 and 9, first of all, the first trumpet judgment, a third of the vegetation on earth is burned up. In the second trumpet judgment, a third of the oceans are destroyed. In the third trumpet judgment, a third of the freshwater is poisoned. In the fourth of the trumpet judgments, a third of the sun, moon, and stars are darkened. That's followed by a brief interlude in chapter 8:13, with a single eagle and those three woes. The last three trumpet judgments, as I mentioned, are so terrible that they're referred to as woes. The fifth trumpet judgment, we looked at together in chapter 9, is swarming demonic locusts. That is followed, in chapter 9:12, by this pronouncement: "The first woe is past; behold, two woes are still coming after these things." The sixth trumpet, we studied together, is horrific. It is a demonic army of 200 million that wreaks havoc on this planet. At the end of that, and before the seventh in chapter 11:14, as we just read it: "The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly."

And that introduces us then to the seventh trumpet. And I would encapsulate the seventh trumpet this way: it is the culmination of divine wrath. The culmination of divine wrath. The seventh trumpet is clearly the finale of the display of God's wrath.

Go back to chapter 10, chapter 10:7: "but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound [notice this], then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets." "The mystery" - that's something that was previously unknown but has now been revealed by God. This mystery concerns the consummation of human history, the consummation of the eternal plan of redemption. With the seventh trumpet, that's coming to a culmination. It's coming to an end.

Turn over to chapter 15, chapter 15:1: "Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished."

Look at chapter 16:1, where those seven plagues are described: "Then I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, 'Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.'"

Now, what I want you to see is that both the seventh trumpet and the seven bowls are described as the completion, the finale, the finishing of God's wrath. That means that the seven bowls of wrath must be part of the seventh trumpet judgment, just as the seven trumpets were part of the seventh seal, sort of grew out of it, these seven bowl judgments. By the way, when we think of bowl, don't think cereal bowl; think a flat saucer kind of bowl that's easily dumped. That's the picture. So, out of this seventh trumpet comes these seven bowl judgments, and they are really intense. So, the sounding, then, of the seventh trumpet sets in motion the series of events that end the Tribulation, that lead to the second coming of Jesus Christ, and to the establishment of His earthly kingdom. That series of events is recorded in chapters 15-19.

But notice with me that the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, when? In chapter 11:15. But the bowl judgments, that flow from that, aren't described until chapters 15 and 16. That means chapters 12-14 are a parenthesis, a digression. Why? What happens in chapters 12-14? In chapters 12-14, those three chapters review all that has happened during the Tribulation, up to the seventh trumpet. Not from heaven's perspective, not from God's perspective, but from Satan's perspective. What we're going to see, in chapters 12-14, we'll learn how Satan empowers the final Antichrist in his horrific career, a career that spans the same time frame as the seal and trumpet judgments that we've studied so far.

So, think of it this way. Chapters 12-14 overlay all that we've studied, beginning in chapter 6 to the seventh trumpet. They describe the same time period, but from the perspective of what Satan is accomplishing as he energizes and empowers the man of sin, the Antichrist.

The seventh trumpet, then, really brings us to the end. It initiates God's answer to the prayer that His saints have prayed throughout history, the prayer that you and I pray often, the prayer that we were taught by our Lord to pray in Matthew 6:10 - "Your kingdom come." The seventh trumpet is God's answer.

Now, after the seventh angel blows his trumpet, the heavenly choir announces God's kingdom. The pouring out of God's judgment on earth, as I just mentioned, is delayed. We don't learn about it until chapter 16. But there's an immediate response in heaven to this announcement. Look at verse 15: "...and there were loud voices in heaven..."

The expression, "a loud voice", occurs often in Revelation. We've seen it already a number of times, but this is the only time it's in the plural, loud voices. This is the first in a series of announcements in heaven that anticipate the culmination of our redemption. Chapter 10:6-7, chapter 12:10-12, chapter 14:7-8, 15:1, 18:2, 19:2 are all announcements as things come to their conclusion.

Now, in this case, we aren't told whose voices these are. But, likely, it is all of the intelligent beings in heaven, both angelic and redeemed. In other words, it's the entire composition of heaven, angelic and saved humans. Verse 15 says they are saying this: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ..."

By the way, just as an aside, I've called this a choir and a song. The reason for that is, in the Greek text, they catch the fact that there is a, there's a lyrical rhythm to these words. And so, it's actually set off like a poem in the Greek text and I think that's the idea. This is likely a song that's sung.

Now, the word "world", here in verse 15, "the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ" - the word "world" refers, as one author describes it, to human society temporarily controlled by the powers of evil, organized in opposition to God. This is the world.

And notice that these voices in heaven explicitly used the singular. They don't say the kingdoms of this world; they say the kingdom of this world. Why is that important? It actually makes a profound point. I love the way John MacArthur explains that. He says this, "All of the world's diverse national, political, social, cultural, linguistic, and religious groups are in reality one kingdom under one king. That king is known in Scripture by many names and titles, most commonly, the devil and Satan." The kingdom of this world is exactly right. It is the kingdom ruled by Satan himself.

Think about this. At the Tower of Babel, God divided Satan's kingdom by language and scattered its people across the globe. Then, in His providence, God established the nations, including, according to Acts 17, their time and place in human history. He also established human government to rule those nations (Romans 13:1).

But although they are divided by language and culture, all of the nations of our world and all of the governments that run them refuse to acknowledge God and to submit to Him. They are divided in every way, but as Psalm 2 says, but one, and that is, their opposition to the true King of heaven.

Satan still rules that worldwide kingdom that's in rebellion against God. Jesus, in Matthew 12:26, refers to Satan's kingdom. He has a kingdom. What is that kingdom? Well, in John 12:31, John 14:30, and John 16:11 - in all three places, Jesus calls Satan "the ruler of this world". As we will discover in Revelation 13, Satan will again unite fallen humanity into one kingdom, one political kingdom under Antichrist.

Although Satan is the ruler of this world, don't forget that our Lord has decisively defeated him at the cross (Colossians 2:15). He demonstrated His power at the cross over Satan and his demons. But that victory will only come to complete earthly fulfillment with the events that are recorded in Revelation 6-19.

Now, look again at verse 15 and what this heavenly choir announces, what they sing. The kingdom of the world, that is, fallen humanity with its nations and its governments all under Satan's rule - "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ..." "Has become" in Greek is literally became. It's an unusual use of the Greek aorist tense. It's used this way when an event that's still future is so absolutely certain it can be spoken of as if it's in the past. That's exactly what the choir of heaven will do at this point in the Tribulation. There are still events in Revelation that must unfold before Christ returns and establishes His kingdom, but it is so certain the choir of heaven can sing as though it's already happened. It has been decreed and it's about to come to pass.

The kingdom of this world has become or became the kingdom, notice this, "of our Lord". The word "Lord" is kurios in Greek. What's interesting is in most of the New Testament, the word kurios or Lord is used primarily of Jesus Christ. But in Revelation, it most often refers to the Father. By the way, that stresses their equality. But notice, "The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of the Father and of His Christ [or His Messiah]..." The earthly kingdom that Satan has ruled over, men organized against God, God is now taking over.

Now, the word "kingdom" here is used in its broadest sense. It's to make the point that the rule of Satan and fallen humanity over this earth is going to end. It's going to be replaced by the kingdom of God. There's going to be a massive regime change on this planet. Satan is pulled down from being the ruler of this world with all of its antagonism against God, and God establishes His kingdom.

Now, here's something very important I want you to get. This announcement is not simply about God's eternal rule as King of heaven. That's never been questioned. Instead, this announcement is that God is about to establish that same rule on the earth through His Son. The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah. Initially, the form of Christ's kingdom will be the earthly millennial kingdom He'll reign over for 1000 years. We'll see that in chapter 20. And then it will transition into the eternal kingdom with a new heaven and a new earth. We'll see that in chapters 21 and 22.

But notice verse 15 adds, "and He will reign forever and ever." I love that. Once Christ begins to reign, He won't reign for 70 years. He'll reign forever and ever. The Old Testament prophecies that Messiah would in fact reign. Turn back to Psalm 2. I mentioned it a moment ago, Psalm 2. I just recently finished a song on this Psalm. I love its message. Verse 1: "Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together [again, you see that while they're divided on everything else, they're united in their opposition to God and to His Messiah] against the Lord [against Yahweh], and against His Anointed, saying, 'Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!' [What's God's response?] He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, 'But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord [of Yahweh. This is now the Lord speaking, our Lord]: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.' Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord [Yahweh] with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" God says, "I will establish My King, and He will reign forever."

Turn to Daniel's prophecy. We saw this so clearly. In Daniel 2, you remember, in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:34) as we see it. Daniel describes it. He says, "You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue [that represented all the kingdoms of this world] on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Go down to verse 44 where he explains it. "In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future..."

Turn over to chapter 7. Another of Daniel's visions is even more specific. It's not a stone, it's the Son of Man. Daniel 7:13: "I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him [the Son of Man. This is our Lord. This is the second person of the Trinity] was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed." Verse 18: "But the saints of the Highest One [that's us] will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come." Verse 22: "until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom." Go down to verse 27: "Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him." This was prophesied and now we're seeing it come to pass.

By the way, the New Testament makes it very clear that all of those promises about Messiah ruling forever are fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. Turn to Luke 1. Luke 1, as Gabriel announces to Mary the birth of Jesus. Luke 1:31: "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." That's the prophecy. What we're reading in Revelation is the fulfillment. We're looking into the future and seeing it unfold before our eyes.

In Revelation 11, every intelligent being in heaven spontaneously erupts into praise and thanksgiving and joy that the world's long night is about to end. The long rebellion of this world against God the Father and against the Lord Jesus Christ is almost over. The rule of Satan is about to be destroyed, and the Lord Jesus Christ is about to be installed as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

The second scene in our drama is the worship of the redeemed in verses 16-18. After John tells us about the response of all of heaven, he then focuses on the response of one group. First, he tells us their identity in verse 16, "And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God..." Now, you remember we met this group back in chapters 4 and 5. And at that time, I laid out several arguments that I thought were compelling (they certainly are to me; they are to many others) that the 24 elders are all the redeemed. Some say the 24 elders represent only the believers of the church age. Now, that's possible. But I tend to think that they, instead, represent the believers, the redeemed of all times. I believe that twelve of them represent the 12 tribes of Israel and all Old Testament believers, and 12 of them represent the 12 apostles and all New Testament believers.

They are described here, notice, as sitting on their thrones, that is, they're reigning. By the way, angels are never said to reign, only the people of God. Their thrones, notice, are "before God", that is, in His presence. Back in chapter 4:4, it's described this way: "Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads." So, the identity of this group is the redeemed of both the old and New Testament.

Notice their reaction in verse 16: "...fell on their faces and worshiped God..." In response to the blowing of the seventh trumpet and the declaration of all heaven that God's kingdom is replacing the kingdom of this world, they fell on their faces as an expression of, I'm sure, a mix of exhilaration of honor and praise and submission. And notice, they "worshiped God".

Folks, that should be our response to these great truths. In fact, let me make it even broader. This should be our response whenever we come to understand something more clearly about the eternal plan of redemption. I'll tell you, as I study God's Word, two things happen every week. One is, I discover that God is amazing. And the second is that I am amazed. And I hope that's your response. It's certainly the response of these elders, these redeemed.

John goes on to describe, then, their song. Their song. He begins with its expression. It's an expression of thanksgiving. Verse 17, "saying, 'We give You thanks..." Oh God, we thank You. Notice the object of this thanksgiving. It's the person and character of God. "We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were..." They refer to God in distinctively Old Testament terms. He is the Lord God. He is the God who is the Master, the Sovereign One.

And then their praise focuses on several specific attributes of God's nature. First of all, notice, they describe Him as "the Almighty". The Greek word is pantokratōr. Panto is all; kratōr is strength or power. So, it's literally all power or all sovereignty. This name occurs nine times in Revelation, seven times connected to Lord God. It describes God's all-powerful sovereignty over all of the created universe. You are the Almighty. You are the One with all strength.

Then he says, or they say, "who are", "who are". Literally, the Greek text says, "the One being". God is the One who simply is. What does that say about God? It underscores that He's self-existence, self-existent rather, that He depends on nothing outside of Himself for His existence. He simply is. He doesn't need you. He doesn't need me. He needs nothing. He is. He's self-existent. It also underscores that He's eternal, that all time is embraced within His eternal presence. He is simply the one who is. He exists now and will exist for all eternity. And it underscores that He is unchangeable. He always will be what He always has been. He simply is - the same yesterday, today, and forever.

So, He's the Almighty, the One who is, and then "who were", literally, "the One who was being". It's an interesting expression - "the One who was being". This is the One who continually existed in the past, again, a reference to His eternity. He has no beginning. He was, in the sense that He always existed.

Now, if you're familiar with Revelation, you realize something is missing here. Because the other three times these expressions have been used so far in Revelation (1:4, 1:8, 4:8), a third phrase was added in each case. What was it? The One who is, who was, and who is to come. The one coming. It's not included here. It's not included later in chapter 16. Why? Because in this seventh trumpet, Jesus Christ is viewed as having already come and having already established His kingdom. So, the phrase isn't repeated here. He simply is and was. That's the God who is the object of their praise.

But then they move on to give us the reasons for their thanksgiving and praise, the reasons for their song. Verse 17: "We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because..." There are several specific reasons for their song of praise, their song of thanksgiving.

First of all, God's sovereign reign over earth's kingdoms. Verse 17: "...You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign." God has taken in hand, He has taken up His great power for one specific purpose, to begin to reign. By the way, the verb tense in Greek implies that God's sovereign rule over the earth will be permanent. And, again, they're not saying that God hasn't been sovereign over all of the earth throughout history. Of course, He is. What they're saying is He's now going to take control of the kingdom that has been ruled over by Satan, all the people of this world in rebellion against him. You have begun to reign. So, the elders praise God for using His inherent power to exert His governing authority over the earth. To end the rebellion, is what we're talking about.

There's a second reason for their praise, and that is, God's just wrath on an angry world. Verse 18 says, "And the nations were enraged..." The elders, here, are talking about the hostility that the nations of the world have toward God and toward His people. We see that growing even in our own nation, don't we? It's everywhere. It's across this planet. It's an expression of the fallen human heart. The elders are recounting and rehearsing that hostility.

By the way, the Greek word here for "enraged" implies a kind of settled hostility, a deep-seated anger, bitterness, and resentment against God. It's the feudal, laughable rage of the nations, resisting God's rule and His Son in chapter 2, or in Psalm 2, as we saw a moment ago. This rage, this internal rage of earth's peoples against God will go so far that it will eventually drive them... Think about this for a moment. It will eventually drive them to assemble the armies of the world to fight against Christ at the Battle of Armageddon. It is rage.

The elders praise God for His response to the nations' rage against Him. Notice verse 18 says, "...and Your wrath came..." We could translate it, "and Your rage came" because the words, "enraged" and "wrath", are the same Greek word in different forms. They were enraged and Your rage came. They were filled with wrath against You and Your wrath came. You see, God's response of wrath is not capricious. It is perfectly just. It is wrath for wrath. We've already seen so much of God's wrath in the seal judgments and in the trumpet judgments, but we're about to see the full fury of God's wrath in the bowls of wrath that are coming, and from Christ Himself, the second coming.

You know, so many people have such a weak, anemic view of Jesus Christ. Turn over to chapter 19, chapter 19:11: "And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness [notice this] He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood [in other words, He is a many-time victor of many battles], and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. [Now watch verse 15.]. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; [and notice the end of verse 15] and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty." Jesus is incredibly patient. But when the time comes, He will demonstrate incredible wrath, wrath that is deserved toward an angry world.

Verse 18 goes on to say, "And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came..." Again, the elders use the Greek aorist tense to describe God's future wrath as if it's already come because it's so certain to come. Can I just say? If you're here tonight and you have never repented of your sins, you've never put your faith in Jesus Christ as your only hope of being right with God, you may be tempted, as so many people in this world are tempted, to think, "You know, God has only done me good in this life. God and I are okay. It's going to work out. It's going to be fine." Can I beg you not to misunderstand God? Because God tells you exactly what's happening.

Turn to Romans 2, Romans 2:3: "But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things [wrong things] and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?" [Is that what you really think?] Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience..." You take those things lightly. God is good to you. He's kind to you. He showered you with blessing upon blessing. Your life is rich. You enjoy so many things in this life. And why? Verse 4 says, "...not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" But if that isn't what happens, verse 5 says, if you don't repent, don't mistake God's patience, because what's really happening is this: "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God..." And verse 6 says it very plainly, "who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS..."

So, can I plead with you? If you're here tonight and you've never repented of your sins and believed in Christ, and you think that God is going to, He's going to grade you on a curve, that He's not going to take your sin seriously, that He's not going to judge you, that because of all the good you enjoy in this life, there's no way you'll ever face the wrath of God, let me beg you to understand what God says, and that is, that His goodness and patience here is intended to lead you to repentance. But if you refuse, wrath is coming. Wrath is coming. If God were to allow your rebellion against Him to go unpunished, it would mean that God Himself had become unjust, an unjust judge. And let me just say, that's not going to happen. Your only hope is my only hope, and that is, the Redeemer that God sent, His only Son: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish [that's what's coming if we don't believe in Him. But whoever believes in Him will not perish] but have eternal [everlasting] life." My prayer for you tonight is you would simply respond to that gracious invitation, repent of your sins, and believe in Jesus Christ.

The third reason for the elders' praise is God's judgment of all humanity. Verse 18 says, "...and the time came for the dead to be judged..." "The time" is the Greek word kairos, which means "the season, the era, the occasion". The season has finally come for the dead to be judged. Now, that's likely a general reference to all of God's future judgments of both the righteous and the wicked. The elders, representing all the redeemed, praise God that one day He's going to judge, and that judgment will turn out positively for some and negatively for others.

First of all, there will be the reward of His saints. Verse 18 says, "...and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great..." God will reward all of those who have been faithful to Him. You realize God doesn't miss anything that you do for His sake. I may not see it. The people in your house may not see it. No other believers in this house may see it, but Jesus misses nothing. That's why you have the description of the judgment in Matthew 25 where the righteous stand before Christ, and Christ says [verse 35], "I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was sick, and you visited Me." And the righteous go, "Lord, when did we do that?" And He said, "When you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to Me." He doesn't miss a thing, and He will reward.

I love that line in Hebrews 6:10: "For God is not unjust so as to forget your work..." He' not unjust to forget. He'll remember, and He does reward His saints. 1 Corinthians 3:8: "...but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor." 1 Corinthians 4:5: "Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts..." Now, when you read that like I do, you're tempted to go, "Oh boy, that isn't good! He's going to bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts." But that's not the point of that verse. Listen to the next line: "and then each man's praise will come to him from God." God's going to bring out the good things that nobody else knows. He's going to expose those worthy motives, when you did things for His sake that nobody else knew. It was just between you and Him. He's going to bring that to light and then each man will receive his praise from God. Revelation 22:12: "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done."

Now, the elders, here in their song, divide the faithful into two groups. Notice verse 18: "...Your bond-servants the prophets". Now, that's a familiar Old Testament description for those who speak revelation from God. It includes all the Old Testament prophets, from Moses to Elijah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah - all of the prophets. It also includes the New Testament prophets, including John, who's called a prophet in this very book, and the two witnesses of Revelation who are yet to come, I believe, Moses and Elijah.

And then they describe the second group. Verse 18: "...and the saints...". And the saints - this is all true believers. Both Old and New Testament believers are called saints. And the elders then describe this group with two additional phrases. Notice verse 18: "...and those who fear Your name, the small and the great..." The small and the great, by the way, means those of all social and economic classes. God is no respecter of persons. He rewards everybody. The elders praise God for His reward of His saints.

Have you ever wondered what the rewards are? This is a... I want to preach a message on this sometime but let me just give you an outline. Here's what the rewards are. First of all, we get the kingdom. You inherit the kingdom, both the millennial kingdom, according to Matthew 25:34, "enter into the kingdom", and Revelation 21:7, the eternal kingdom. You get the kingdom. That would be enough. But you also get crowns. Now, don't think like literal crowns you wear on your head. They're described this way. The "crown of righteousness" in 2 Timothy 4:8, the "crown of life" in James 1:12 (in Revelation 2:10 as well), and the "crown of glory" in 1 Peter 5:4. Think of it like this. They're not a crown that you wear on your head; they are the crown, which is righteousness, the crown which is eternal life, the crown which is eternal glory. That's what you get.

Thirdly, and I love this one, perhaps most of all, you get the praise of Christ. You get the praise of Christ. That's what 1 Corinthians 4:5 says: "...then each man's praise will come to him from God." And you see it, of course, in the parable of the talents in Matthew's gospel, where the Lord says, "Well done, good and faithful slave [servant]." Can you imagine what it would be like to have the praise of Jesus Christ? That's a reward.

And then, fourthly, we get a greater capacity for service in eternity. In the parable of the talents which, by the way, it's not talents like skills; it's talents like money. It's a parable that says God gives you things in this life that you can invest and if you invest them well, if you use them for His glory, then He gives you a greater capacity to serve Him in eternity. These are our rewards.

Well, let's move on. The elders also praise God, not only for the reward of His saints, but for the destruction of the wicked. Verse 18 says this: "...and to destroy those who destroy the earth." Now, let me just warn you, be careful not to read your Scripture through a contemporary lens. It might be easy to read that and think, "Oh, there we go. You know, we need not to pollute the environment." Well, it's true. We need to be good stewards. We're given a stewardship over this planet, and we need to be responsible stewards of this planet as much as it's in our strength to do so. But this is not about those who pollute the environment. In biblical terms, those who destroy the earth are those who pollute the earth with their sin. The irony is that those who are the loudest about not polluting the environment are doing the most to pollute this planet from the vision of God. Chapter 19:2 refers to the Antichrist and all his followers and says "[they are] corrupting the earth with her immorality..." They pollute the planet with their sexual sin.

By the way, this is true of all unbelievers. It's a fascinating passage in Leviticus 18, where there's a list of all of the sexual sins that God forbids - incest, bestiality, homosexuality, etc. And at the end of that (this is Leviticus 18:24-25), God says this, "Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled." And then He adds this. This is fascinating: "For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants." The elders praise God that He will judge sinners who have polluted the planet with their sin. He will destroy those who have defiled the earth.

The third and final scene connected to the seventh trumpet is the promise of God's faithfulness in verse 19. The promise of God's faithfulness. A fascinating verse. It underscores God's faithfulness by a scene of what John and others see in heaven. First of all, we learn that God is faithful to redeem His own, and we learned that from the vision of the ark of the covenant. Verse 19: "And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened..."

By the way, it's clear in Exodus 25:40, in Hebrews 8 that God showed Moses - on Mount Sinai, God showed Moses a temple that existed in heaven and then, from that pattern, Moses constructed the Tabernacle and later the temple was built. Here, God throws open the door to the Holy of Holies in heaven which, by the way, is a beautiful picture, isn't it? That was unthinkable in the Old Testament world. No one had access to God, only the High Priest once a year. But God throws open the door.

Verse 19 says, "...and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple..." Some of you are disappointed. You thought it was in a warehouse in Washington, DC. Some of you get that. The ark of His covenant appeared in His temple. The ark, by the way, was just a rectangular box. It was wood covered with precious metal and, inside the box, were several things, but most importantly a copy of God's law, the covenant that He had made with Israel. Then, on top of the box, there was what was called the Mercy Seat. It was the place between the cherubim, where the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement - the High Priest came in with the blood of the sacrifice, he put it on the Mercy Seat.

The idea was this: that that blood covered the broken law inside the ark. It shielded the vision of a holy God from seeing the broken law inside the box. Primarily, the ark of the covenant symbolized that God had entered an eternal covenant of salvation with His people. It appears here, in conjunction with the seventh trumpet, to remind God's people that even as God brings judgment on the world, He will never forget to redeem His own.

At the same time, it also reminds us that God is faithful to judge the wicked, and this is pictured in the great storm that's described in the end of verse 19: "...and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm." As we saw back in chapter 4:5, these things are often associated with God's judgment. And here, again, they are a reminder that just as God is faithful in His promise to redeem His people, He is just as faithful He's promised to judge unbelievers.

One author summarizes this great seventh trumpet this way: "The message of the seventh trumpet is that Jesus Christ is the sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords. He will one day take the rule of the earth away from the usurper, Satan, and from earth's petty human rulers. History is moving inexorably toward its culmination in Christ's earthly reign. When He returns, He will bring covenant blessings to the redeemed but eternal judgment to those who reject Him."

What are the implications of this amazing scene that we've been allowed to see in heaven? Let me just point out a couple of things. First of all, folks, don't be surprised that, until the events of Revelation 11, the entire world will continue to be under the control of Satan. Don't be shocked by that.

Number 2: remember that God's replacement of the kingdom of this world with the kingdom of His Son is as certain as if it already happened. It will come.

Number 3: pray daily. Matthew 6:10: "Your kingdom come." "Your kingdom come."

Number 4: don't lose heart as the enemies of God flourish and evil appears to be winning. So many Christians do. You know, maybe you watch too much news. Maybe you listen to too much on the internet. Because if it's causing you to lose your joy, if it's causing you to lose your confidence in Christ, then it's wrong. You need to understand and remind yourself often that Christ wins. Fanning writes this: "This is a victory we can count on even before we see the final score. We can rejoice like exuberant sports fans and join with heaven's choruses in singing the praises of the Lord God Almighty. And when we seem to face long odds in life, we can be encouraged that the game is not over yet and our victory in Christ is guaranteed."

And then, number 5: remind yourself often that all of the events we're studying in Revelation are real, and they are going to happen. Think about that for a moment. Christ will return for His own and for seven years... Seven years! Think about seven years ago. For seven years, He will pour out His wrath on this planet, even as He saves many more. Christ will return at the end of that seven years to earth. He will defeat His enemies at the Battle of Armageddon. His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, and in that day, all Israel will be saved. He will judge those who survive the Tribulation. He will establish His kingdom and He will renew this planet to an Eden-like state. And He will reign over this very planet we live on for 1000 years from His throne in Jerusalem. And then, at the end of that, He will eventually destroy this present universe and create a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness is at home. And we will dwell with Him forever. That is our future. Remind yourself often. That's not a legend. That's not a fairy tale. That's not a wish. It's as done in the mind of God as if it had already happened.

Let's pray together.

Father, thank You for telling us what's coming. Thank You for encouraging our hearts. Lord, we live in dark times and it's so easy, it's so easy, to lose our perspective. It's so easy to lose our hope. Lord Jesus, remind us often that You are our King, and You are the King of all kings and you are the Lord of all Lords. And one day, You will initiate a series of events in which You will take back this planet from the usurper and You will reign here on a renewed earth for 1000 years. Lord, help us to live in eager anticipation of that day. And Lord, I pray for those who are here tonight who are kidding themselves, thinking that they're really never going to face Your wrath. Help them to believe what You've said that Your goodness now is to call them to repentance so that they won't face the wrath that's coming. May they do so even tonight. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen!


The Two Witnesses - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 11:1-13

The Seventh Trumpet: The Beginning of the End

Tom Pennington Rev. 11:14-19

The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 12:1-17

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