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30 December 2018

Seventh Trumpet - Third Woe

SynopsisThe seventh trumpet blast or “third woe” ushers in the end of the age with the victory of the kingdom of God and the final judgment - Revelation 11:15-19

Eclipse Photo by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash
By Jongsun Lee on Unsplash
When the seventh seal was opened there followed a silence in heaven for about half an hour before the seven angels began to sound their trumpets. This was so the prayers of the saints could be heard offered on the golden altar (Revelation 8:1-6).

When the seventh angel sounds the final trumpet, a great multitude of voices is raised in heaven to declare the triumph of the kingdom by God and His Messiah. The nations of the earth have become the possession of the Lamb, just as promised.

The twenty-four elders give thanks to God as the one “who is and who was.” This phrase occurs in the prologue of Revelation and in the vision of the throne:

(Revelation 1:4) – “John, unto the Seven Assemblies which are in Asia, Favour to you, and peace, from — Him who Is and who Was and who is Coming, and from — The Seven Spirits which are before his throne.”

(Revelation 4:8) - “And the four living creatures, each one of them, have severally six wings, round-about and within full of eyes; and they cease not day and night, saying — Holy! holy! holy! Lord, God, the Almighty — Who was and Who is and Who is coming.”

Now the third stanza is dropped from this declaration; that is, “he who is coming.” The Day of the Lord has arrived and the coming of God is no longer anticipated. He has arrived. At this point, the end of the age and the consummation of the victory of the Lamb occur.

(Revelation 11:15-19) – “And the seventh messenger sounded; and there came to be loud voices in heaven, saying — The kingdom of the world hath become [the kingdom] of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign unto the ages of ages. And the twenty-four elders who before God do sit upon their thrones, fell down upon their faces and rendered homage unto God, saying — We give thanks unto thee, O Lord God, the Almighty, Who is and Who was; because thou hast taken thy great power and hast become king. And the nations were angered; and thine anger came, and the fit time of the dead to be vindicated, and to give their reward unto thy servants the prophets and unto the saints, and unto them who revere thy name — the small and the great, and to despoil them who were despoiling the earth. And the sanctuary of God which is in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant in his sanctuary appeared, and there came to be lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail” – (The Emphasized Bible).

The time has come for the dead to be judged, to reward the righteous, and to “destroy them that destroy the earth.” This phrase alludes to the dirge of Jeremiah against ancient Babylon that was also employed in the second trumpet:

 (Jeremiah 51:25) - “I am against you, O destroying mountain, that destroyed all the earth; I will stretch out my hand upon you, roll you down from the rocks and make you a burnt mountain.”

(Revelation 8:8-9) – “And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

The declaration about the kingdom of God echoes words from the prophecy of Daniel:

(Daniel 7:26-27) - “But the judgment shall be set, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High: his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”

And there was opened the sanctuary of God in heaven, and the ark of his covenant was seen.” The lid of the ark constituted the “mercy seat” where Yahweh would meet and commune with the representative of Israel, “Between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony.” The ark pointed to the covenant faithfulness and loving-kindness of Yahweh. The mercy seat was the point of contact between heaven and earth where His presence was found (Exodus 25:21-22).

At this point, the sanctuary is fully opened, the ark is in plain sight. Earlier, the sanctuary was “measured” to separate it from the nations that were bent on its destruction. The image of an opened sanctuary anticipates the picture in the vision of New Jerusalem where there is no sanctuary, “For the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary, and the nations walk amidst its light and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it” (Revelation 21:22-24).
In New Jerusalem, the “tabernacle of God is with men.” He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will be with them. Rather than being hidden within the curtains of the sanctuary, His presence will be the light for all New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:3-4).
The seventh trumpet marks the time when “your wrath came, and the dead were to be judged.” There is another point at which the sanctuary is seen “opened,” the time when the seven angels with the seven last plagues arrive in order “to finish” the wrath of God. Then, the “sanctuary of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.” Out of it came the seven angels with the seven final “plagues” that represented the wrath of God. No one could enter the sanctuary until “the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled” (Revelation 15:1-8).

The series of seven trumpets ends with the wrath of God completed, as do the seven bowls full of the wrath of God. On some level, both the seven trumpet and the seven bowls of wrath reach the same endpoint.

Before the seven trumpets began to sound, an angel took a censer filled with fire from the altar and hurled it onto the earth. This was followed by “thunders, and voices, and flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” This group of events now repeats at the close of the seven trumpets, only, with the addition of “hail” (“flashes of lightning, voices, thunders, an earthquake, and great hail”).

These same stunning events were seen in the vision of the Throne (“out of the throne proceed flashes of lightning, voices, and thunders”). They occur several times in the book, either at the end or the beginning of each sevenfold series. Each time, a new element is added, an “earthquake,” “hail,” “a great earthquake,” and “great hail” following the final bowl of wrath (Revelation 4:5, 8:5, 11:19, 16:17-18.

The seventh bowl of wrath also includes verbal and conceptual links to the seventh trumpet or “third woe.” When the seventh bowl is emptied, a great voice from the sanctuary declares, “It is done!” Likewise, when the seventh trumpet sounds, “great voices” declare the victory of God’s kingdom over the kingdoms of the world.

The seventh bowl of wrath produces a “great earthquake” that divides the “great city,” Babylon, and causes the fall of the cities of the nations. God gave to Babylon the “wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” Similarly, just prior to the seventh trumpet blast, a “great earthquake” causes a tenth part of the great city to fall.

The trumpet series ends with at the time for the “dead to be judged, and to reward your servants the prophets, the saints, and them that fear your name, the small and the great.” This mirrors the Great White Throne of Judgment before which the dead, the “great and the small,” stand in order to be judged. The clause, “great and small” links the two scenes from chapters 11 and 20, however, the order of the two words is reversed.

Likewise, in the seventh trumpet, the wicked are condemned just as they are before the Great White Throne of Judgment. Both scenes include the judgment of the dead. In other words, the same end event is described in both visions but from different perspectives (Revelation 11:5-19, 20:11-15).

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