His Kingdom Come

Posted: February 6, 2011 in Revelation

Revelation 11:15-19, “His Kingdom Come”

It’s been said that there are only two things in life that are absolutely certain: death & taxes (neither sounds very appealing!).  Everything else is up for grabs.  (Gas prices, dictatorships, etc…even the weather!)  In a world where few things are certain any more, the few instances of certainty can give us a bit of hope or a lot of fear, depending on what it is.  Yet beyond all of the stuff of this world, we have certainty in Christ Jesus about the future.  His Kingdom is coming & is assured – and that gives us more than a “bit” of hope; that’s huge!

John gets back to the general narrative for at least a few verses – he took a break through a parenthetical section looking at God’s sovereignty in the midst of all the seeming-chaos during the Great Tribulation.  Being that we’re half-way through the book, let’s review our context leading up to this: John had a vision of Christ, who introduced the visions to come & dictated 7 letters to the 7 churches of Asia.  John was taken to heaven & given a vision of heaven & God on the throne…angels & elders worshipping…scroll is given & who is worthy?…Jesus is found & heaven rejoices.  6 seals, prelude to the judgments (4 horsemen, martyrs, supernatural disasters)…  Interlude of the 144K & the multitude…  7th seal contained the 7 trumpets.  6 trumpets (4 supernatural disasters, 2 waves of demons), interlude of the mighty angel & 2 witnesses showing the sovereignty of God & His witness & warning to the world.

Remember the 7th trumpet has been described as another “woe” – yet what we read of the 7th trumpet here doesn’t sound “woeful” at all, but rather a song of praise.  What gives?  The 7th trumpet has sounded, yet the song isn’t the 7th trumpet woe itself, but the song of praise that surrounds what happens as a result of the 7th trumpet.  What is it that is worth all of the singing & fanfare?  Simple: the certain victory & coming kingdom of God.

Revelation 11:15-19 (NKJV)
15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

  1. The 7th angel “sounded”…sounded what?  The 7th trumpet.  Again, the 7th trumpet has been described (three times! Rev 8:13, 9:12, 11:14) as a “woe” – something that is an especially terrible outpouring of the wrath of God.  That outpouring does not occur in Rev 11 as it closes – but it does come in Rev 15.  Revelation 15:1  Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete. []  Thus the “woe” of the 7th trumpet is the bringing forth of the 7 bowl/vial judgments containing those plagues.  We saw something similar with the seals, as the 7th seal seemed to contain (or at least pave the way for) the seven trumpets.
    1. Since this is the 7th trumpet, is this the “last trumpet” that accompanies the rapture (1 Cor 15:52)?  No.  The trumpet Paul writes about is a trumpet that heralds the resurrection & rapture – which can hardly be described as a “woe.”  In 1 Thess 4, Paul describes this trumpet as “the trumpet of God” which seems to be sounded by Christ Himself, whereas the 7th trumpet here is plainly sounded by an angel.  Although good Christians disagree on this point, it seems best to look at these events separately.  There is a “last trumpet” which is sounded by Jesus that calls the Church to heaven during the resurrection of the saints & the rapture – and there is a 7th trumpet that heralds the outpouring of God’s wrath prior to the 2nd Coming.
  2. That said, there is at least one action that immediately accompanies the sounding of the 7th trumpet: the recognition of God as the King of all the Universe.  As when trumpets sounded when proclaiming Solomon to be king instead of the usurper Adonijah (his brother, 1 Kings 1:34), so does the trumpet sound when Christ is proclaimed to be King instead of the usurper Satan.
    1. Satan WAS the ruler of this world.  In the fall of mankind, Satan somehow took control of the world as men were born spiritually dead & served themselves & their own sin.  Jesus acknowledged Satan’s current (but temporary) authority when He referred to the Devil as the “ruler of the world” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11) – but also affirmed that Satan’s time was limited as he would be rendered powerless by the cross & resurrection.  We even see an indirect picture of this during Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.  In the 3rd temptation, Satan promised to give Jesus the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would but bow down & worship the Devil (Mt 4:8-10).  Never once did Jesus contradict Satan’s authority in being able to offer such a thing.  In a very real way, though God has never stepped off His throne, Satan has some sort of spiritual authority over humankind & the kingdoms of this world.
    2. Jesus IS the ruler of this world…in part now, but in fullness at His 2nd coming.  The 1st foretaste of the kingdom of God is seen at the resurrection of Jesus – as Jesus told us, God had already given Him all authority in heaven and on earth (Mt 28:18)…  Yet we still know Satan has power in this world right now – Paul even called him the “Prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2).  Satan still roams about looking for whom he may devour (1 Pt 5:8).  But Satan’s days of power are numbered!  What the proclamation of the 7th trumpet demonstrates is that Satan’s days are ended.  Thus all of heaven can rejoice at the foregone conclusion of Jesus’ kingdom.  Even before the Devil is locked in the pit for 1000 years, it could be proclaimed that the kingdoms of the world had been given to God, because God had already demonstrated His ultimate authority over Satan.  Satan’s judgment was assured, and the kingdom already belonged to Christ, even before the Lord Jesus ever set foot on the planet at the 2nd Coming.
  3. Three things are told us about the kingdom: the extent, the length, and the King.  1st fact of the kingdom – the extent: What are the boundaries of the kingdom?  They’re boundless!  “The kingdoms of this world…”  That’s everything – not a single kingdom left out.  Technically, the Greek is singular (“kingdom”) in both the oldest & the majority of manuscripts. Although there are many nations in the world, spiritually speaking we are either ruled by Christ or ruled by sin (individually) & Satan (corporately – as the unbelieving Jews had their father as the Devil, Jn 8:44). Yet when the kingdom comes, all of this changes. Everything falls under the rule & authority of Christ Jesus – there is not even a single corner or shadow of the world that does not belong to Him.  The extent of the kingdom is all-encompassing!
  4. 2nd fact of the kingdom – the length: How long does the kingdom last?  Forever! “He shall reign forever and ever!” Age upon age, eon after eon, King Jesus will forever rule the Universe…what a glorious thought!  During this age, we wait.  We proclaim His kingdom & live as those who have been brought into His kingdom, but we wait with anticipation for its fulfillment.  We wait for the days in which the Prince of Peace will reign upon the earth & the wolf will lie down with the lamb in days of righteousness.  But one day it WILL come, and it will never end!
    1. Objection: “What about the 1000 years?”  Perhaps it’s best to think of the Millennial Kingdom as the first 1000 years.  During that 1000 years, there is a specific plan as King Jesus rules on the throne of David, and a final rebellion takes place after that time.  Yet Jesus’ reign does not end after the Millennium; that’s just the time when the final rebellion is crushed & Satan is forever thrown into the lake of fire.  Once Jesus’ reign begins, it NEVER ends!
  5. 3rd fact of the kingdom – the King: Who is it that the kingdoms of the world have been given?  “Our Lord and of His Christ…”  The one rule of the one kingdom of the world is given to the One God – eternally revealed in three Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).  Here, the heavenly voices proclaim the kingdom reign of God the Father & Jesus the Son, “His Christ.”  What’s interesting here is the relationship between the Father & the Son.  Jesus is “His” anointed one (Christ/Messiah).  He is the one chosen & appointed by God for this very purpose.  Jesus is the one specifically prophesied to reign as the Son of David, but He does so with all the authority & power as the Son of God.

16 And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God,

  1. The last time we saw the 24 elders was back in Ch 7, when they joined with the angels in heaven & the great multitude of saints giving thanks & praise God.  One of the elders spoke to John & identified the great multitude as martyrs who had come out of the great tribulation (Rev 7:14)…IOW, they had come to faith in Christ during the great tribulation & were killed as a result.  The elders themselves were already in heaven at the time.
  2. Who are the elders?  We first saw them in Ch 4 in John’s initial vision of heaven when they gave glory to God & cast their crowns before Him.  Although there are different opinions who they may be, it seems likely they are elders from among the NT saints in the age of the Church – they represent US in the throne room of God.  According to the promise given to the church of the Laodiceans, those who overcome have been given the right to sit with Christ on His throne – just as we see the elders doing here.
  3. With that in mind, notice what happens when the elders worship God: they fall on their faces.  Is that the attitude of our hearts when we worship?  Beyond the physical action – is this the position of our heart during the times we worship God? … It seems easy to get to a place where our “worship” is really just rote.  We sing because everyone else does.  We say “thanks” because it’s expected of us.  That’s NOT what we see of the elders!  The things they see of the goodness, holiness, and righteousness of God compels them to worship – and they do so with all their heart.  THAT’s the way worship ought to be with us as well!

17 saying: “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.

  1. The elders give thanks to God the All-Powerful One.  The word in Greek not only speaks of God’s omnipotent power, but more directly of His all-encompassing right to rule over all things.  God has all authority in the universe…the Creator is the supreme ruler of creation.
  2. The elders give thanks to God the Ever-Existent One.  This has been a common praise for God throughout Revelation (as has been God’s power).  As the great “I AM,” God simply always “IS”…there is never a time when God is “not.”  You could wipe out all of creation & all of time itself, and God would still be there.  With that in mind, there’s a particular joy in God being ever-existent in this proclamation of Christ’s kingdom.  God is ever-existent; Satan isn’t.  God has always been & always will be; Satan was created by God & one day will be cast into the lake of fire by God.  Satan may seem to be one who is to be feared & served, but there is Someone infinitely more powerful & worthy of worship than the Devil…the great I AM, the one who is & was & is to come.
    1. The majority of manuscripts actually leave out “who is to come.”  That’s actually very appropriate here, because the elders are celebrating the fact that the reign of Jesus IS come.  It’s no longer a future hope for them; it’s actually occurring at that very moment!  Either way, it doesn’t take away from the fact that God will always exist – there will never be a time in which He does not live in victory in His kingdom.
  3. The elders give thanks to God the Ever-Reigning One.  Note the tie back to God being the “Almighty.”  Not only does God have the right & ability to rule all creation; God WILL rule all creation for all time.  From the moment Adam ate of the fruit of the tree, the rule of the world had been usurped by Satan, but no longer.  By His great power, God has taken back His rightful rule & will be recognized as the King over Creation.
    1. Again, this is a foregone conclusion.  The formal moment this will occur will be at Jesus’ 2nd Coming, but the elders could give thanks for it at the 7th trumpet as if it had already happened.  This was basically the final moment prior to the actual act, and like a dam already broken, there was no stopping the rule & reign of Christ from coming.
    2. Are you starting to understand why all of heaven is rejoicing at this point in Revelation?  The end of Satan is at hand; the glorious reign of Christ has begun – the time is finally here for the glory of God to be revealed in the 2nd Coming of Christ.  Heaven can rejoice at that point because of the timing…but WE can rejoice in these same things now because of their certainty.  Keep in mind that the book of Revelation does not contain a bunch of visions of things that “might” happen – this is not a book of potential different futures; this is a book of the REAL future – this is a book of certainty.  If we were thinking of it as a movie, we’ve been given a preview of the final scenes – we know how it all ends.  Thus this is a book of hope.  For the Christian, we can rejoice in the same things that the elders & all of heaven rejoices in, because we KNOW without a doubt that these things are true.  We endure suffering now, but we know we won’t always suffer.  We endure temptation now, but we know we won’t always be tempted.  We endure death now, but we know there will come a day in which death will be no more.  The Lord Jesus IS the victor & He IS the King; it is just as certain today as it will be the day He sets foot on the earth!
  4. All of that is a prelude to giving thanks to God as the Righteous Judge.  See vs. 18…

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.”

  1. What do they mean by saying “the nations were angry” – were the nations angry with God?  In part, yes – but the nations of the world are angry in that they are chaotic & have no righteous rule apart from God.  They are in rebellion against the true King, God Almighty, so they anger & rage, and the only right & just response is the wrath of God. (Walvoord) “There is a play on words in the Greek which is not indicated in the Authorized Version, the same word (Gr. verb form of ὀργή) being used for “angry” as for “wrath” referring to the righteous judgment of God. The wrath of men is impotent; the wrath of God is omnipotent. The wrath of men is wicked; the wrath of God is holy.”
    1. Seems to be a reference to Psalm 2.  Originally written as a song to be sung when crowning the king of Israel (Solomon), it ultimately & can only truly be sung in regards to Christ Jesus as King. [BIBLE: Psalm 2]  That’s the righteous reign of the Lord Jesus in the Millennial Kingdom!  Jesus has the victory – Jesus reigns from His throne – Jesus rules with an iron rod – Jesus is to be feared by the nations of the earth.  Our Lord Jesus IS the King! …
  2. What happens after the wrath of God has come?  Judgment.  All the dead will be judged – both those in Christ & those outside of Christ.  It’s appointed to man once to die, and then the judgment (Hb 9:27). Although there are different judgments for believers & unbelievers (as we’ll see), the reality of the judgment of God is the same for all. … This flies in the face of those who claim humanistic hedonism: “This life is all we have, so eat & live, for tomorrow we die.  Live it up now; you’re worm-food tomorrow with nothing beyond the grave – you just cease to exist.”  Although that’s the claim of modern atheism & secularism, that’s NOT the claim of the Bible.  Every person who has ever drawn breath WILL face the judgment of God… John 5:26-29 (26) For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, (27) and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. (28) Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice (29) and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. []
    1. The question for you is which resurrection is it in which you’ll take part?  Those who trust in Christ as Savior & Lord will take part in the resurrection of life; those who reject Christ & reside in the evil of their own sin will still be resurrected – but it will be to the resurrection of condemnation.  Know this: God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).  You CAN be saved from the condemnation of your sin, but you MUST respond to Jesus by believing upon Him as the Lord God.
  3. There’s a judgment of reward. Whether an OT servant (like the prophets) who looked forward to the sacrifice of God’s Messiah or a NT saint who could look back in faith upon Christ at the cross, all those who “fear” God will be raised & experience the judgment of God.  But this judgment isn’t to be feared; this is a judgment of reward & we can look forward to it.  This is a reference to the “Bema” – or the Judgment Seat of Christ. [] Paul makes it clear that we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, where we receive the things done in the body (2 Cor 5:10).  Obviously for the person who is truly born-again, our salvation is secure in Christ – this is a judgment that determines what things we did as Christians that were good, borne out of the work of the Holy Spirit within us…and what things were done in our flesh.  The Bible tells us that a test of holy fire will determine which actions are which kind.  If our work endures, we receive reward; if our work burns then we suffer loss, but we ourselves are still saved. (1 Cor 3:14-15)
  4. There’s a judgment of destruction. Obviously the saints of God aren’t the only ones judged – Scripture makes it clear that all those who persist in their rejection of Christ & rebellion against God will endure the righteous judgment of God.  This is not a judgment of reward; it’s the payment of the wage of death as the books are opened & every sinful act, deed, and thought is laid bare before a righteous & holy Judge.  Later in Revelation, this judgment is made absolutely clear: Revelation 20:12 (12) And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. … (15) And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. []  Those who bring destruction to the earth through their sin – those who profane the gift of life that had been graciously given them by God, will themselves be destroyed in this final judgment.  People sometimes look at Hell as a big party where they can finally do whatever they want, but that’s not the picture the Bible paints of it.  Hell is a place of everlasting destruction & torment…and it is the final destination of those who face this final judgment.
    1. That is NOT what God would have for you!  The whole point of the good news of gospel is that this is why the Lord Jesus came in the 1st place.  We had been left condemned by our sin, but Jesus took our condemnation in our place when He hung on the cross.  He already paid the price for you & for me in order that we would be saved from this final judgment of wrath.
    2. How does someone know if their name is written in the Book of Life?  You can’t write your own name there – that is a work of God alone.  Cast yourself upon Christ Jesus by faith! 

19 Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.

  1. We’ve seen the lightnings, earthquake, and hail before – just before the sounding of the 7 trumpets.  This signifies a similar transition to the bowl/vial judgments of God.  Chronologically, they’re about to be poured out – but the narrative of the book is about to take a break again in another interlude that lasts from Ch 12-14.  Imagine the intensity building & the judgments about to come – and then like an old movie serial, we see the words, “To be continued…”  That’s the basic idea…
  2. Yet before we get the lightning, we see one more area in heaven: the temple of God which is wide open, showing the Ark of the Covenant.  (This isn’t the temple that John was told to measure on the earth from vss. 1-2; this is specifically the temple of God in heaven.)  To a Christian from a Jewish background, this would have been striking – after all, a normal Jew wasn’t allowed to see past the temple veil.  Even among the priests, only the high priest was allowed to see the Ark of the Covenant one time a year on the Day of Atonement…  Of course, in Christ, the veil had been ripped in two…the veil of separation had been done away with – we’ve been given full access.
  3. What’s the point of the Ark being seen?  Remember what the Ark represents: the presence of God & the foundation for Israel’s relationship with Him.  It contained the tablets of the testimony, the 10 Commandments.  The basis for the relationship between God & Israel as a King to His people was wrapped up in the Law.  On top of the Ark was the Mercy Seat (where the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled), which represented the throne of God.  Basically, as Christ is proclaimed to be King over all the world, the covenant that shows His kingly relationship to Israel is shown.  So what?  So the promises have been kept!  The covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David has been fulfilled to the letter…not a single thing is being left undone.  God will forever be with His people, as nothing stands in the way!

Conclusion:

Praise God for the certain hope we have in Christ!  Not only do we look forward to our own eternity with Jesus & the gracious relationship we have with Him now – we can also look forward to His forever-victory over the Devil.  His kingdom is coming (and has come!), and Jesus will reign forever & ever in righteousness & glory.

Although at times it may be tough to see, we need to remember that what looks to belong to the Devil really belongs to God.  And one day we’re going to witness God taking His kingdom back by force.  Even before the Devil is ever cast into the lake of fire, God already has been given the victory!  Along with the rest of the elders, we can give God praise as the worthy all-powerful King.  We can give Him praise as the holy & righteous Judge.  We can give God praise as our ever-faithful Lord.

Because God is worthy of praise now for the certainty of what will happen then…what else is there that we cannot trust Him with now?  To know with certainty through faith that Jesus forever has the victory ought to give us strength & hope for our sufferings & trials right now.  Although our pain doesn’t hurt any less at the moment, our perspective surely changes when we remember that Jesus is forever the victor & forever the reigning king, and one day He will completely do away with pain & suffering.  Entrust yourself to your King – hope in Him!  Jesus has proven Himself worthy of praise & worthy of hope!

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