Seventh Trumpet - Page 2 of 3 (series: Lessons on Revelations)
by John Lowe
16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
Jesus came the first time as a babe in a manger—a tender Lamb. He is coming the second time at the end of the Great Tribulation in great power, taking vengeance on them that do not know God. He will roar out of Zion, “the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”
When Jesus was born, and during His earthly life and at the time of His death, there were great wonders among the angels, the stars, the elements and on earth among men—both living and dead—which give us a divine story found only in the Word of God. However, none of these—or all of them combined—can compare with the overwhelming intensity of the manifestations which go along with and follow the sounding of the seventh trumpet. When the blast of the trumpet goes forth, John declares he heard “great voices (11:15).”
At the present time the kingdoms of this world are in Satan’s control (3Matthew 4:8-9). Our Lord never said that they were not. On the contrary He called Satan “the prince of this world” (4John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), and admitted that the world was his kingdom (5Matthew 12:26). But the hour will come when God shall resume His power, and the Angel Gabriel’s words to Mary shall be fulfilled (6Luke 1:31-33).
The judgments that follow after the sounding of the seventh trumpet are the most intense, the most ghastly, the most remarkable and the most numerous—both in heaven and on earth. Truly, these remaining chapters of Revelation record the time of Jacob’s Trouble, the time of Great Tribulation.
The “twenty-four elders” are the “seniors of Heaven.” They know that the destroyer of earth (the devil) is not yet destroyed. They know the great White Throne Judgment is ahead. They know the rewards to all the faithful have not yet been given out. The meek shall inherit the earth—but they have not yet done so. The devil still remains out of the pit, and therefore the victory of victories is yet to be won. The elders know all of that.
But—the trumpet which brings all this to pass and brings to a climax all judgments is now sounding in the ears of these “kings and priests.” They could not keep their seats. They fell prostrate on their faces before the Lamb.
Notice, the “elders” are instantaneous in their response to the Word of God. The twenty-four elders not mentioned since the last of the seals (77:11), worship God and give thanks because:
1) He has begun to reign on earth.
2) His wrath has punished the rebellious nations. All of the kings that try to rule the world challenge God, and therefore God defends His honor by judging the nations.
3) He has judged the living and the dead. God gives each person the reward he or she deserves (811:17-18).
The people in heaven are seeing God bring about the final day of reckoning. For this they worship the Lord. We are not told what they say as part of their worship of the Lord Jesus.
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.
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.” (NIV)
Notice also that they are intelligent in their relating of the ways of God. They acknowledge His titles. They say, “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.” They are titles of remarkable majesty and power. Satan seeks to imitate these titles, and his wretched little puppet in doing this is called “the beast that was, and is not, yet he is” (17:8), but it is a poor and shoddy imitation of the titles of dignity and honor our Lord bears in Glory.
They acknowledge His triumph. They say, “Thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.” “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come (11:18).” The throne rights of the Lord are not only asserted they are assured. Within a few more chapters (all of them more or less parenthetical) the wrath of God will be poured out in the emptying of the vials. Nothing will stand before that wrath. The Lord’s power is rightly called “great power.”
The Lord is not coming to receive a mere constitutional monarchy, but absolute, unfettered, unhindered power. Heaven’s ideal form of government for earth is a totalitarian monarchy with complete power vested in the Person of the Lord Jesus. He is going to be Lord of all. “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 earth.
This anger of the nations will be described in chapters 12-19. But the outcome was already determined. The nations would no longer be afraid (as in 96:15-17); instead, they would be filled with defiant rage that would manifest itself in an attempt to fight against Christ, as described in coming chapters.
They acknowledge His timings, especially as those timings concern both the crowning of the redeemed and the crushing of the rebels. They say, “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 earth.” The martyrs of God, the messengers of God, the men of God, the multitudes of God all stand before Him for the time has come that they be rewarded for their faithfulness. The elders take note of it and rejoice. And the destroyers of the earth, His earth, are to be themselves destroyed. No one will escape judgment for Christ will even judge "the dead.” Unbelievers will be brought from the grave to face judgment and punishment for their sins.
In the Bible, God gives rewards to His people according to what they deserve. Throughout the Old Testament, obedience often brought reward in this life (Deuteronomy 28), but obedience and immediate reward are not always linked. If they were, good people would always be rich, and suffering would always be a sign of sin. If we were quickly rewarded for every faithful deed, we would soon think we were pretty good. Before long, we would be doing many good deeds for purely selfish reasons. While it is true that God will reward us for our earthly deeds “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (20:12), our greatest reward is eternal life in His presence.
In this life we never see full justice meted out, but when Christ returns to take over all will receive their due deserts. When Christ comes again there will be winners and losers. His “servants the prophets,” those to whom a revelation was given and who spoke and wrote for Him, will be first to receive their reward. They were first in point of time. And what a price some of them paid! Then there were the “saints,” Paul, Peter, James, and John. These are the “greats,” but notice our text says, “small and great.” I think the Holy Spirit may have added “small,” just so I could be included; like Paul said of himself, I am the least of Thy servants. Do you feel the same way?
19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the 1ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
In verse 18 the nations of the earth are very angry. The time of God’s great wrath is come. God is about to judge the wicked in final judgment; He is about to reward all of His prophets and servants. There will be a new Heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. The saints will be put on display in the Pearly White City. Satan will be put in the pit. All sin and all unrighteousness must be removed from the earth. The Antichrist and the wicked will be put down. They become exceedingly angry, and in chapter 12 a great war breaks out between God and the devil.
Over and over again, things are opened in this book. A door is opened (4:1), the seals are opened (6:1-9), the abyss is opened (9:2), the tabernacle of the testimony (the holy of holies) is opened (19:11), the books are opened (20:12), and the temple of God is opened (11:19). Here is opened up to human view, the true, eternal temple in the heavens. Did you know there was a literal 10temple in Heaven? The opening of the temple displays the ark which in Old Testament times was always concealed, thus signifying that God is about to act on behalf of the beleaguered Israel. In the Old Testament, the ark was connected with the tabernacle and Moses, the land and Joshua, the kingdom and David, the temple and Solomon. It thus stood connected with Israel’s law, Israel’s land, Israel’s Lord, and Israel’s light. All the covenants and promises of God to His people are in that ark. God’s solemn promises cannot be broken—they are forever settled in Heaven. The ark was the symbol of God’s presence and God’s covenant with Israel. The ark of the covenant had to do with Israel, not with the Gentiles or the Church..