26 - The Seventh Trumpet
|The Seventh Trumpet(Revelation 11:15–19)|
Revelation 11:15-19 (KJV) 15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earthd. 19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
Intro. :The sounding of the seventh trumpet marks a significant milestone in the book of Revelation. It sets in motion the final events leading up to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of His earthly millennial kingdom.
- Revelation 10:7 expresses the finality of the seventh trumpet: “In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.”
- That mystery is the full revelation of the consummation of God’s plan. It was prophesied by the Old Testament preachers, but its fullness was never revealed until the book of Revelation.
- That the seven bowl judgments, which represent the final outpouring of God’s wrath, are included within the seventh trumpet is evident from 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.”
- Those “seven plagues” that finish God’s wrath are the seven bowl judgments: “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’ ” (16:1).
- Since both the seventh trumpet and the seven bowls are said to finish God’s wrath, the bowls must be part of the seventh trumpet judgment.
- The last three of the seven trumpet judgments are so horrific that they are referred to as woes. In 8:13 John “heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!’ ”
- After the sounding of the fifth trumpet John wrote, “The first woe is past; behold, two woes are still coming after these things” (9:12).
- Before the sounding of the seventh trumpet he added, “The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly” (11:14).
- The seventh trumpet sets in motion the final consummation of God’s redemptive plan for the present universe. During its tenure will come the final fury of the Day of the Lord judgments (16:1–21), the final harvest of judgment on earth (11:18; 16:19), and the Lamb’s defeat of the kings of the earth (17:12–18), culminating in the final, climactic triumph of Christ at Armageddon (19:11–21).
- The sounding of the seventh trumpet signals God’s answer to the prayer, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
- That answer sweeps through chapters 12–22 as God finishes His mighty work of reclaiming creation from the usurper, Satan.
- It should be noted that although the seventh trumpet is the last in the sequence of the seven trumpet judgments, it is not to be equated with the “last trumpet” to which Paul refers in 1 Corinthians 15:52: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (cf. 1 Thess. 4:16).
- As indicated above, the seventh trumpet covers an extended period of time, thus distinguishing it from the instantaneous (“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye”) event of the “last trumpet.”
- Instead of calling for the moment of the Rapture of the church, as the “last trumpet” does, the seventh trumpet calls for prolonged waves of judgment on the ungodly.
- It does not parallel the trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52, but does parallel the trumpet of Joel 2:1–2: “Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness.”
- The seventh trumpet not only announces consuming judgment on unbelievers, but also the coronation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- In the Old Testament trumpets were frequently sounded at the coronation of a king. During his attempted coup against his father David, “Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, ‘As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, “Absalom is king in Hebron” ’ ” (2 Sam. 15:10).
- At the coronation of David’s true successor, Solomon, “Zadok the priest … took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ ” (1 Kings 1:39). Trumpets also sounded at the coronations of King Jehu (2 Kings 9:13) and King Joash (2 Kings 11:12, 14).
- The sounding of the seventh trumpet also marks the end of the interlude that follows the sixth trumpet (10:1–11:14). As noted in previous chapters of this volume, each of the three series of judgments (the seals, trumpets, and bowls) contains an interlude between the sixth and seventh events.
- Between the sixth and seventh seals came the interlude of chapter 7; between the sixth and seventh bowls will come the brief interlude of 16:15. These respites serve to comfort and encourage believers amid the terrors of God’s judgments, reassuring them that He has not forgotten them (cf. Mal. 3:16–4:2).
- Although the seventh trumpet sounds in 11:15, the judgments associated with it are not described until chapter 15.
- Chapters 12–14 are a digression, taking readers back through the Tribulation to the point of the seventh trumpet by a different path. They describe the Tribulation not from God’s perspective, but from Satan’s.
- Chapters 4–11 focused on Christ’s taking back what is rightfully His by means of the seal and trumpet judgments.
- Chapters 12–14 focus on the ultimate human usurper, the final Antichrist, whose career spans the same time period as the seal and trumpet judgments.
- The scene as the seventh trumpet sounds unfolds in four stages: praise for sovereignty, paroxysms of rage, plan for judgment, and promise of communion.
- Praise for Sovereignty
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. (11:15–17)
- Though its effects on earth were delayed (as with the seventh seal; 8:2–5), there was an immediate response in heaven when the seventh angel sounded his trumpet.
i. Expressing exhilaration at what was about to take place, there came 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.”
ii. That dramatic proclamation is obviously connected to the effects of the seventh trumpet. There is unrestrained joy that the power of Satan is to be forever broken, and Jesus Christ is to reign supreme as King of kings and Lord of lords.
iii. With the defeat of the usurper, the question of sovereignty over the world will be forever settled.
iv. What Jesus refused to take on Satan’s terms (cf. Luke 4:5–8) He will take on His own terms. Heaven rejoices that the long rebellion of the world against God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ is about to end. The setting up of Christ’s long-awaited kingdom is the apex of redemptive history.
- The use of the singular term kingdom of the world instead of the plural “kingdoms” introduces an important truth. i. All of the world’s diverse national, political, social, cultural, linguistic, and religious groups are in reality one kingdom under one king.
ii. That king is known in Scripture by many names and titles, including the accuser (Rev. 12:10), the adversary (1 Pet. 5:8), Beelzebul (Matt. 12:24), Belial (2 Cor. 6:15), the dragon (Rev. 12:3, 7, 9), the “evil one” (John 17:15), the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), the roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8), the ruler of the demons (Mark 3:22), the ruler of this world (John 12:31), the serpent of old (Rev. 12:9; 20:2), the tempter (1 Thess. 3:5), and, most commonly, the devil (Matt. 4:1) and Satan (1 Tim. 5:15).
iii. Though God scattered this kingdom at the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1–9), Satan still rules over the pieces of the once united kingdom. While God ordains human governments for the well-being of man (Rom. 13:1), those same governments refuse to submit to Him or acknowledge His sovereignty (cf. Acts 4:26). They are essentially part of Satan’s kingdom.
- Jesus affirmed that Satan, though a usurper and not the rightful king, is the present ruler of the world. i. In response to those who blasphemously accused Him of being in league with Satan, Jesus asked rhetorically, “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?” (Matt. 12:26).
ii. Three times in John’s gospel Jesus called Satan “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
iii. As he did at Babel, Satan will rule in the future over a united fallen mankind in one visible kingdom under Antichrist’s (the Beast of 13:1–4) leadership.
- Satan will not relinquish his kingdom without a struggle. i. In a desperate and doomed effort to maintain control of the world, God will allow him to overrun it with hordes of demons during the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments (9:1–19).
ii. But his efforts will not keep the true King from returning and establishing His earthly kingdom (cf. 19:11–21; 20:1–3, 10). Jesus Christ will return to sit on the throne of His father David (2 Sam. 7:12–16) and take over the whole world from the satanically controlled people who now possess it.
iii. This is really the theme of Revelation —the triumph of God over Satan as evil is purged from the world and Christ becomes its holy ruler.
- The tense of the verb translated has become is what Greek grammarians refer to as a proleptic aorist. It describes a future event that is so certain that it can be spoken of as if it has already taken place. i. The perspective of the verb tense looks to a point after the action of the seventh trumpet will have run its course.
ii. Though this event is future from the point of chronological progress reached in the series, it is so certain that the verb form used views it as an already accomplished fact (cf. Luke 19:9).
iii. The timeless heaven rejoices as if the long-anticipated day when Christ will establish His kingdom had already arrived, although some time on earth must elapse before that actually happens.
- The phrase the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ emphasizes two realities. i. Kurios (Lord) usually refers to Jesus throughout the New Testament, while in Revelation it more often refers to God the Father, thus emphasizing their equality of nature.
ii. This phrase also describes the kingdom in its broadest sense, looking forward to divine rule over the creation and the new creation.
iii. No differentiation is made between the earthly millennial kingdom and the eternal kingdom, as, for example, Paul does in 1 Corinthians 15:24–28.
iv. At the end of the thousand years, the millennial kingdom will merge with the eternal kingdom, in which Christ will reign forever and ever. Once the reign of Christ begins, it will change form, but never end or be interrupted.
- The glorious truth that the Lord Jesus Christ will one day rule the earth permeates the Scriptures. i. In chapter 15 of Revelation John saw something [in heaven] like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and marvelous are Your works,
O Lord God, the Almighty;
Righteous and true are Your ways,
King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy;
For all the nations will come and worship before You,
For Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (vv. 2–4)
ii. That they sang the “song of Moses” (cf. Ex. 15:1–18) indicates that as far back as the Pentateuch Scripture anticipated the moment when the Lord Jesus Christ would become King of the world.
iii. Psalm 2, a messianic passage whose imagery and language permeates this section of Revelation (cf. v. 18; 12:5; 14:1; 16:14; 17:18; 19:15, 19), also predicts the coming earthly reign of Christ:
iv. The prophets also looked forward to that time when the Messiah would establish His earthly reign. Of that glorious day Isaiah wrote, (Isa. 2:2–3)
v. Daniel wrote concerning that same day,
1. “You [King Nebuchadnezzar] continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue 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.” (Dan. 2:34–35)
2. “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; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” (Dan. 2:44–45)
3. Looking forward to Messiah’s kingdom Micah wrote, (Mic. 4:1–3)
4. Summing up a lengthy discussion of the Day of the Lord and the coming of Christ’s earthly kingdom Zechariah wrote, “And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one” (Zech. 14:9).
5. When the angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus to Mary he told her that He would someday be the great King over the earth: “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” (Luke 1:31–33).
2. Paroxysms of Rage - And the nations were enraged (11:18a)
a. The seventh trumpet vision reveals that, no longer afraid (cf. 6:15–17), the impenitent nations were defiant and enraged at the prospect of Christ’s kingdom being established over the whole earth.
b. The verb translated were enraged suggests a deep-seated, ongoing hostility. This was not just a momentary emotional fit of temper but a settled burning resentment against God.
c. Eventually, they will assemble armies to fight God (16:14, 16; 20:8–9). With no desire to repent of sin, angry resentment and hostility against heaven (16:11) will drive the nations to gather for their destruction at Armageddon (cf. Ps. 2:1, 5, 12; Acts 4:24–29).
d. The divine judgments people will experience during the Tribulation should cause them to turn from their sins and submit to God.
e. Tragically, however, even under such frightening judgment and warnings of eternal hell, most of them will refuse to repent and will instead harden their hearts (cf. Rom. 2:1–10, which teaches that men refuse to repent in spite of God’s goodness).
f. They will be like Pharaoh, who kept hardening his heart (Ex. 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34; 1 Sam. 6:6) until the point when God judicially fixed his heart in that hardened condition (Ex. 10:1; 11:10).
g. The unbelieving world will apparently reach that point at the final outpouring of God’s wrath during the events of the seventh trumpet (cf. 16:9, 11). Their rage and hostility toward God will reach a fever pitch, and they will gather to fight against Him at the battle on the plain of Megiddo: “Spirits of demons, performing signs, [will] go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. … And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon” (16:14, 16).
h. They will by then be beyond the day of grace; there will be no salvation at Armageddon. The world’s desperate, last-ditch effort to keep Christ from establishing His kingdom will, of course, fail, and they will be utterly destroyed: And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh. (19:19–21)
i. Those unbelieving rejecters will have wasted their opportunity to repent at what they acknowledged as God’s judgments (cf. 6:15–17). Instead, they will plunge into the depths of hostility and rejection and be punished in eternal hell.
3. Plan for Judgment
“…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. (11:18b)
a. The coming of God’s wrath, like the coming of Christ’s kingdom (v. 15), is so certain that it can be spoken of as if it had already happened.
b. The verb translated came is another proleptic aorist (see the discussion of “has become” in v. 15 above), describing a future event as an already accomplished fact.
c. Those who think that a loving God will not pour out His wrath on them cling to a false and dangerous hope.
d. That God will one day judge unbelievers is a constant theme of Scripture. Isaiah had much to say concerning that future day: (24:17–23) (26:20–21) (30:27–33)
e. Ezekiel 38–39 depicts the gathering of unbelievers to fight against Christ and His people, Israel, at the battle of Armageddon (It should be noted that another invasion, at the end of the Millennium, is also said to involve Gog and Magog; Rev. 20:8–10. The same names are used to indicate that this later invasion will be similar to the one during the Tribulation.):
f. The sounding of the seventh trumpet marks the fulfillment of the great judgment event that the prophets foresaw and saints of all ages have longed for (cf. Pss. 3:7; 7:6; 35:1–8; 44:26; 68:1–2). It will be the time when God pours out His wrath on His enemies.
g. Not only will the seventh trumpet signal the outpouring of God’s wrath on earth, it will also indicate that the time has come for the dead to be judged.
a. Time translates kairos, which refers to a season, era, occasion, or event.
b. The establishing of Christ’s kingdom will be a fitting time for the dead to be judged. The Great White Throne judgment (20:11–15) is not in view in this passage, as some argue, since that judgment explicitly involves only unbelievers. It is best to see the reference to judgment here as a general reference to all future judgments.
c. The elders in their song make no attempt to separate the different phases of judgment as they are separated in the closing chapters of Revelation. They simply sing of future judgments as though they were one event, in the same way that other Scriptures do not distinguish future judgments from each other (cf. John 5:25, 28–29; Acts 17:31; 24:21).
d. The judgment will first of all be the time for God to reward His bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear His name, the small and the great.
i. Though the power to serve God in a way worthy of reward is a gift of God’s grace, still all through the New Testament believers are encouraged to work in view of those promised rewards.
ii. In 22:12 Jesus declared, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”
iii. To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Cor. 3:8; cf. Matt. 5:12; 10:41–42; Mark 9:41; Col. 3:24; 2 John 8).
iv. The reward promised believers is that they will inherit the kingdom, in both its millennial (Matt. 25:34–40; Mark 10:29–31) and eternal (Rev. 21:7) phases.
v. Believers are also promised crowns, including the crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8), the crown of life (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10), and the crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:4).
e. The phrase Your bond-servants the prophets encompasses all who have proclaimed God’s truth throughout redemptive history, from Moses to the two witnesses (11:3–13).
i. Scripture frequently designates prophets as the Lord’s servants (e.g., 2 Kings 9:7; Ezra 9:11; Jer. 7:25; Ezek. 38:17; Dan. 9:6; Amos 3:7; Zech. 1:6).
ii. The time has come for them to receive “a prophet’s reward” (Matt. 10:41). All those faithful men who stood for God in dark days and against opposition will then find their work revealed and rewarded.
f. Another group to be rewarded is the saints, further defined as those who fear Your name (cf. Pss. 34:9; 85:9; 103:11; 115:13; 147:11; Eccl. 8:12; Luke 1:50).
i. Saints is a common biblical description for the redeemed in both the Old and New Testaments (e.g. 5:8; 8:3–4; Pss. 16:3; 34:9; Dan. 7:18; Matt. 27:52; Acts 9:13; 26:10; Rom. 1:7; 8:27; 12:13; 1 Cor. 6:1–2; 14:33; 16:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; 8:4; Eph. 1:15; 2:19; 6:18; Phil. 4:21–22; Col. 1:2, 4, 12; 1 Thess. 3:13; 2 Thess. 1:10; 1 Tim. 5:10; Philem. 5, 7; Heb. 6:10; Jude 3).
ii. All of God’s saints, from the small to the great (an all-inclusive term; cf. 13:16; 19:5, 18; 20:12; Deut. 1:17; 2 Kings 23:2; Job 3:19; Ps. 115:13; Jer. 16:6; Acts 26:22), will receive rewards.
g. The judgment will also destroy those who destroy the earth.
i. That is not a reference to those who pollute the environment, but to those who pollute the earth with their sin. That includes all unbelievers, especially in the context of Revelation the false economic and religious system called Babylon (cf. 19:2),
ii. Antichrist and his followers, and Satan himself, the ultimate destroyer. The apostle Paul wrote that the “mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:7) is already at work in the church age, but during the Tribulation period it will reach its pinnacle of destructive activity, shredding the very fabric of society in every evil way.
iii. Given stewardship and dominion over the earth (cf. Gen. 1:28), man instead fell into sin and throughout his history has continually corrupted the earth (cf. Rom. 8:19–21). When that corrupting reaches its apex, God will destroy the earth and create a new one (21:1; Isa. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:12–13).
4. Promise of Communion
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. (11:19)
a. Bound up in the seventh trumpet is the promise to believers of unbroken fellowship with God forever.
b. That fellowship is symbolized by the imagery of verse 19. The opening of the temple of God which is in heaven (the place where His presence dwells; cf. chaps. 4, 5) revealed the ark of His covenant.
c. The ark symbolizes that the covenant God has promised to men is now available in its fullness.
d. In the midst of the fury of His judgment on unbelievers, God, as it were, throws open the Holy of Holies (where the ark was located; Ex. 26:33–34; 2 Chron. 5:7) and draws believers into His presence.
e. That would have been unthinkable in the Old Testament temple, when only the high priest entered the Holy of Holies once a year (Heb. 9:7).
f. The ark symbolizes God’s communion with the redeemed because it was there that blood sacrifices were offered to atone for men’s sins (Lev. 16:2–16; Heb. 9:3–7).
g. Also, it was from above the ark that God spoke to Moses (Num. 7:89). The ark of the covenant is called in Scripture the ark of testimony (Ex. 25:22), the ark of God (1 Sam. 3:3), and the ark of God’s strength (Ps. 132:8). Inside it was “a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant” (Heb. 9:4). All that symbolized that God would supply His people, was sovereign over His people, gave His law to His people, and entered into an eternal saving covenant with His people.
h. But along with the ark in the heavenly temple there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm. Similar events are associated with God’s majestic, glorious heavenly throne in 4:5. In 8:5 and 16:17–18 they are associated with judgment. Heaven is the source of vengeance on unbelievers, as well as covenant blessings for the redeemed.
i. 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.
j. 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.
k. In the light of that sobering truth, Peter exclaims, “What sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Pet. 3:11)!
d destroy the earth: or, corrupt the earth