A. Past Blog Posts
- The First Four Trumpets (8:6-13)
- The Fifth Trumpet Brings the First Terror (9:1-12)
- The Sixth Trumpet Brings the Second Terror (9:13-21)
- The Mighty Angel and the Small Scroll (Rev 10)
- The Two Witnesses (Rev 11:1-14)
B. Text of Rev 11:15-19
“15Then, when the seventh angel blew his trumpet, there was a loud voice in heaven saying,
‘The kingdom of the world, of our Lord and of his Christ has arrived, and he will reign forever and ever.’ 16The twenty-four elders who are sitting before God on their thrones fell down on their faces and they worshiped God 17they sang, ‘We give thanks to you—Lord God Almighty—the one who is and was because you received your great power and begin your reign. 18The nations have become angry, for your wrath has come and your servants and prophets and saints and the ones (both small and great) who fear your name are to be repaid. The time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth.’
19Then the temple of God, which is in heaven, was opened and I saw the ark of his covenant in his temple. Then there was lightening, noise, thunder, an earthquake, and a great hailstorm.” (Rev 11:15-19)
Photo Credit: Matthais Gerung (1500-1570)
C. General Remarks
“This section of the book of Revelation closes with the sounding of the last of the seven trumpets (11:15). What startles us is that what follows is so utterly unlike anything that the other trumpets announced. It is quite unique that here, instead of such things as volcanic eruptions, demonic locusts, and firie-breathing monsters, we listen to an outburst of rejoicing in heaven.” (Metzger, Breaking the Code, 71)
“This section begins with the victorious proclamation that the world has now become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.” (Mulholland, “Revelation” , 503)
II. LOUD VOICES IN HEAVEN AFTER THE SEVENTH TRUMPET (Rev 11:15)
Καὶ ὁ ἕβδομος ἄγγελος ἐσάλπισεν· καὶ ἐγένοντο φωναὶ μεγάλαι ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ λέγοντες·
ἐγένετο ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ κόσμου τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν
καὶ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ,
καὶ βασιλεύσει εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων.
“Then, when the seventh angel blew his trumpet, there was a loud voice in heaven saying,
‘The kingdom of the world, of our Lord and of his Christ has arrived, and he will reign forever and ever.’” (Rev 11:15)
A. The End Is Coming
The progression of the narrative of Revelation seems to be closing in on the end times. We appear to be getting closer to the end of the seven years of Tribulation as these voices from heaven declare that the world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord God the Father and of Jesus Christ.
B. God Takes His World Back
The main and overall theme of the book of Revelation is that God takes his world back from evil. The main content of the book—chapters six through twenty—describe the process which God uses to take his world back. Revelation 11:15 tells us that the “process of destruction of earthly power is already under way” (Walvoord, Revelation, 186).
C. The Telescoptic View
Throughout this study we have looked at how some of the items of judgment might be contained within each other. Meaning, the trumpet judgements might be contained within the seventh seal and the bowl judgments might be contained within the seven trumpet. This view is supported by Rev 11:15 because when the seventh trumpet is blown nothing actually happens, except that an announcement comes from heaven. Therefore, it appears that the seventh trumpet occupies a length of time instead of administering a direct judgment on the earth. Walvoord, when commenting on Rev 11:19 states that “there is little narrative movement from this point until chapter 19 and the second coming of Christ” (Walvoord, Revelation, 188).
D. Future Millennial View
The kingdom mentioned here and the reign “forever and ever” seems to indicate that this is a future divine rule. This future rule of our Lord was prophesied in the Old Testament by Daniel (Dan 2:44; 7:14, 27), retold by the angel Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:33), and is seen in Rev 20-22. N. T. Wright says, “The vision which John isi passing on is a cosmic, global vision, and the ‘kingdom’ which God has established through his Messiah is not simply a collection of kingdoms, ruling over this nation and that. It is his universal rule, scooping up ‘the kingdom of the world’ as a single entity and claiming it back as his own rightful property” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 103).
III. TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS WORSHIP (Rev 11:16-18)
A. Fallen in Worship (v. 16)
Καὶ οἱ εἴκοσι τέσσαρες πρεσβύτεροι [οἱ] ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καθήμενοι ἐπὶ τοὺς θρόνους αὐτῶν ἔπεσαν ἐπὶ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν καὶ προσεκύνησαν τῷ θεῷ
“The twenty-four elders who are sitting before God on their thrones fell down on their faces and they worshiped God” (Rev 11:16)
These are the same twenty-four elders we have seen several times earlier in the book (4:4, 10; 5:5-6, 8, 14; 7:13) and later in the book (14:3; 19:4). In my opinion, they are the twelve patriarchs and twelve apostles.
B. Thanks to God (v. 17)
εὐχαριστοῦμέν σοι, κύριε ὁ θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ,
ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν,
ὅτι εἴληφας τὴν δύναμίν σου τὴν μεγάλην
“they sang, ‘We give thanks to you—Lord God Almighty—the one who is and was because you received your great power and begin your reign.’” (Rev 11:17)
1. No “To Come”
Throughout this book we have read that God is the one who “was, is, and is still to come” (1:4, 8, 4:8). Yet, here there is no “to come” perhaps because the time of Christ coming has arrived (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 108; Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 105).
2. Begun to Reign
The verb at the end this verse is translated in what Greek class an “ingressive” manner. This means that the verb and the context around it seems to indicate the verb describes something that starts and continues on. Several translations reflect the ingressive translation which I have given above using the phrase, begun to reign” (NET, NLT, NASB, LEB, NIV, ESV, NRSV). Yet, “hast reigned” is the translation chosen by the KJV 1900, AV 1873 or similarly “reigned” in the NKJV. Some commentators take a “timeless” notion here (Mathewson, Revelation, 153) while most seem to take an “ingressive” view (Robertson, Greek Grammar, 834).
While it says that God has begun his reign in 11:17, I believe that this is different than the reign of Christ that happens in Rev 20:1-11. This reign in 11:17 is God’s reign that is begun through his judgements of the world. The reign that is began in Rev 20 is Christ’s reign on earth.
This seems to be a fulfillment of Pss 2:9 as well as the announcements in Rev 12.
God is “confronting the powers of the world with the news that he is now in charge, and that mode of his fule is that which was established by ‘his Messiah,’ the Lamb” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 104).
The Preterist view of this passage will say that this describes God’s control of the situation in AD 66-70 when the Romans took over Jerusalem. This destroyed Judaism and forced Christianity to be a primary religion, and therefore the “reign of God” is through Christianity.
C. God’s Time (v. 18)
καὶ τὰ ἔθνη ὠργίσθησαν,
καὶ ἦλθεν ἡ ὀργή σου
καὶ ὁ καιρὸς τῶν νεκρῶν κριθῆναι
καὶ δοῦναι τὸν μισθὸν τοῖς δούλοις σου τοῖς προφήταις
καὶ τοῖς ἁγίοις καὶ τοῖς φοβουμένοις τὸ ὄνομά σου,
τοὺς μικροὺς καὶ τοὺς μεγάλους,
καὶ διαφθεῖραι τοὺς διαφθείροντας τὴν γῆν.
“’The nations have become angry, for your wrath has come and your servants and prophets and saints and the ones (both small and great) who fear your name are to be repaid. The time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth.’” (Rev 11:18)
1. The Nations Anger
The anger of the nations will eventually lead them to a place where they assemble armies against God (Rev 16:14-19; 20:8-9).
2. God’s Wrath
Sometimes it is easy to think of our Lord God as simple and loving without any anger or wrath. When my wife and I were attending a church in Turlock, CA I remember that pastor there once gave a sermon titled, “Jesus, the Bearded Woman.” The basic idea of the sermon was that pictures throughout history often portray Jesus as feminine and soft, yet if you read the Gospels it is clear that Jesus was not always nice and feminine. At times get gets angry, calls people “hypocrites,” and criticizes people. Other places in the Bible mention God’s wrath, especially nearing end-times events:
- “But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath?” (Matt 3:7, NLT, emphasis added)
- “When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath?” (Luke 3:7, NLT, emphasis added)
- “But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Rom 2:5, NLT, emphasis added)
- “But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.” (Rom 2:8, NLT, emphasis added)
- “And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.” (Rom 5:9, NLT, emphasis added)
- “And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.” (1 Thess 1:10, NLT, emphasis added)
- “For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.” (1 Thess 5:9, NLT, emphasis added)
Another example of people not correctly understanding Jesus and God is when people say that Jesus was “nice” in the Gospels. I was at my staff meeting at church once in early December. Our worship leader said that the pastor should do a series of sermons about “how to be nice” like Jesus was. However, I had to point out to her that if you read the Gospels carefully you will notice that Jesus was not always nice.
3. Equal Standing before God
Through our faith in Jesus Christ it appears that we all have the same righteous standing before God. The lowest of slave will receive the same rewards as a high ranking official (Pss 115:13).
4. Reward to the Faithful
This is an encouraging part of the book of Revelation, “your servants and prophets and saints and the ones (both small and great) who fear your name are to be repaid.” The idea of God’s faithful being rewarded for their work occurs in the final chapter of “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds” (Rev 22:12, NLT). Additionally, Old Testament passages such as Gen 15:1-2; 30:18; Prov 11:21; Isa 40:10; 62:11 all teach that God will reward those who are faithful to him. In the Gospels Jesus taught that there will be a “reward” in heaven for those who are faithful to him (Matt 5:11-12; 6:1-18). Paul briefly mentions are “test” to see if there will be any “reward” (1 Cor 3:5-15).
5. Those Who Destroy the Earth
Some might say this the Roman Empire, yet it seems to be any destroying force.
6. Dead Judged
Some believe that the context of the “dead” here are the righteous dead because the “evil” dead are not judged until Rev 20:11-15 (Walvoord, Revelation, 187). This idea of judgment of believers and unbelievers is something that I will explain more of when we look at Rev 20:11-15.
IV. THE ARK OF THE COVENANT IN HEAVEN (Rev 11:19)
Καὶ ἠνοίγη ὁ ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ ὤφθη ἡ κιβωτὸς τῆς διαθήκης αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ ναῷ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐγένοντο ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταὶ καὶ σεισμὸς καὶ χάλαζα μεγάλη.
“Then the temple of God, which is in heaven, was opened and I saw the ark of his covenant in his temple. Then there was lightening, noise, thunder, an earthquake, and a great hailstorm.” (Rev 11:19)
A. Ark and Covenant
The ark described here symbolizes God’s presence and the place of atonement (Lev 16:2; Heb 9:3; 10:20). John sees the same things in heaven that existed during the Old Testament.
But, what happened to the Ark of the Covenant? It was in the temple in Jerusalem until the fall of Judah in 586 BC. It might have disappeared when Nebuchadnezzar burned the temple (2 Kings 25:9; Jer 3:16), it could have been removed by Shishak (1 Kings 14:26), or Manasseh (2 Chron 33:7). The book of 2 Maccabees says that Jeremiah hid the ark in a cave on Mount Sanai (2 Macc 2:4-8).
I appreciate N. T. Wright’s view that the ark of the covenant’s “appearance seems to signify that God has at last been true to his covenant promises. What he said he would do, he has now done. He has taken his power and begun to reign” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 106).
Though he has a slightly different view, according to Metzger the ark of the covenant is the “sign of the presence of God with his people” (Metzger, Breaking the Code, 71).
V. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION
A. We must care for the earth we live in.
This passage refers to “those who destroy the earth” (Rev 11:18). While this might not be a physical destroying of the earth (it could be a spiritual term) I like that it reminds us that we are supposed to care for the earth God has given us. He has provided us a splendid place to live. It is beautiful and majestic. Yet, we constantly pollute it every single day.
Here are a few facts about pollution for the United States from DoSomething.org
- Pollution is one of the biggest global killers, affecting over 100 million people. That’s comparable to global diseases like malaria and HIV.
- In 1975, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that ocean-based sources, such as cargo ships and cruise liners had dumped 14 billion pounds of garbage into the ocean.
- Over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed by pollution every year.
- The Mississippi River carries about 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico each year. This creates a “dead zone” in the Gulf each summer about the size of New Jersey.
- Approximately 40% of the lakes in America are too polluted for fishing, aquatic life, or swimming.
- While Americans are 5% of the world’s population, we use 25% of the world’s resources.
- Each year 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste are dumped into US water.
God did not decide to judge the earth because we have polluted it, but I do believe that worldwide pollution is one of the signs that the earth is fallen and that God plans to wipe it out and start over.
B. We should give thanks to God.
One thing that most Christians can improve doing is giving thanks to God. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and focus on what is going wrong. One example is a man in a small group that I had visited shared that sometimes he struggles getting caught up in the earthly life. Things such as the way that DirectTV treats him often negatively effects him much more than they should. Yet, throughout our lives it is important to give thanks to God.