30 December 2018

Seventh Trumpet, Third Woe - (Rev 11:15-19)

Plagues
When the seventh seal was opened there followed silence in heaven for about half an hour before the seven angels began to sound their trumpets (8:1-5). This was so the prayers of the saints could be heard offered on the golden altar. 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, as promised.
(Revelation 11:15-19) – “And the seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, the kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, who sit before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, saying, We give you thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who was; because you have taken your great power and reigned. And the nations were angry, and your wrath came and the time of the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear your name, the small and the great; and to destroy them that destroy the earth. And there was opened the temple of God that is in heaven; and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant; and there followed flashes of lightning, voices, thunders, an earthquake, and great hail.
     The twenty-four elders give thanks to God as the one “who is and who was.” This phrase occurs in Revelation’s prologue and John’s vision of the throne (“him who is and who was, and who is coming” [1:4; 4:8]). Now the third item is dropped, “coming.” The day has come 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 Lamb’s triumph are complete.
     Therefore 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 Jeremiah’s dirge against Babylon, “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” (Jeremiah 51:25). The same passage was used to describe a “great mountain burning with fire” that was cast into the sea when the second trumpet sounded (Revelation 8:8-9). Included in this portrait is the final overthrow of Babylon.
     The declarations about the kingdom echo the prophecy from Daniel:  “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” (Daniel 7:26-27).
     “And there was opened the sanctuary of God in heaven, and the ark of his covenant was seen.” The lid of the ark of the covenant constituted the “mercy seat” where Yahweh would meet and commune with Israel’s representative “between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony” (Exodus 25:21-22). The ark pointed to Yahweh’s covenant faithfulness and loving-kindness; the mercy seat was the point between heaven and earth where His presence was found.
     At this point, the sanctuary is fully opened and the ark is in plain sight. Earlier the sanctuary was “measured” to separate it from the nations bent on its destruction (11:1-2). This image anticipates the picture in 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” (21:22-24).  In New Jerusalem, the tabernacle of God is with men. He will dwell with them, they will be his people and God himself will be with them (21:3-4). Rather than hid within the curtains of the sanctuary, His presence will be the light for all New Jerusalem.
     The seventh trumpet marks the time when “your wrath came and the dead were to be judged.” At another point, the sanctuary is seen “opened,” when the seven angels with the seven last plagues appear to “finish” the wrath of God (15:1-8). At that point “the sanctuary of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.” Out of it come the seven angels with the bowls filled with the seven final “plagues” that represent God’s wrath. No one is able to enter the sanctuary until “the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.” The seven trumpets end with God’s wrath completed, as do the seven bowls full of the wrath of God. On some level, both series 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” (8:5). This series now repeats at the close of the seven trumpets but with the addition of hail (“flashes of lightning, voices, thunders, an earthquake, and great hail”).
     This same series was seen in John’s vision of the throne (Revelation 4:5[“out of the throne proceed flashes of lightning, voices, and thunders”]). These phenomena occur several times, either at the end or the beginning of a seven-fold series (4:5; 8:5; 11:19; 16:17-18). Each time a new element is added, an “earthquake” in 8:5, “hail” in 11:19, “a great earthquake” and “great hail” in the seventh bowl of wrath (16:17-18).
     The seventh bowl of wrath includes verbal and conceptual links to the seventh trumpet or “second woe.” When the seventh bowl is emptied a great voice from the sanctuary declares, “It is done!” Likewise, with the seventh trumpet “great voices” declare the victory of God’s kingdom over the kingdoms of the world. The seventh bowl causes a “great earthquake” that causes the division of the “great city,” Babylon, and the fall of the cities of the nations. God gave to Babylon the “wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” Just prior to the seventh trumpet a “great earthquake” causes a tenth part of the great city to fall.
    The trumpet series ends with 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 before which the dead, “the great and the small,” stand to be judged. “Great and small” links the two scenes but their order is reversed. In the seventh trumpet, the saints are rewarded; before the great white throne, the unrighteous are judged. Both scenes include the judgment of the dead (20:11-15). the dead (20:11-15).

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