15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, 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 shall reign forever and ever.”
16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God,
17 saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.
18 The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
Image above: Abrecht Durer: Angels with Seven Trumpets Public Domain Engraving; edited.
As I have stated in previous posts—
Chapter 11 gives us a view into what God’s people will be experiencing as they witness to the Gospel of Christ between His Resurrection-Ascension and Second Coming.
In the section of Revelation 11 for this post we are at the end of the age as far as the church is concerned—
V. God has removed His people out of this world and has vindicated them before the watching world; and now, He pours His wrath out on those who have rejected the Gospel invitation.
It seems that all is over, and in a sense, it is. However, there are more details that have to be filled in. We are viewing Revelation from the interpretive perspective of progressive recapitulation (see Hendriksen, below). With the end of Chapter 11, we are half way through the book of Revelation.
vs. 15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, 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 shall reign forever and ever.”
With the 7th Trumpet the end of the age has arrived. This will be followed by the pouring out of the cups of wrath (in chapter 16). The church has already gone to be with the Lord. All that will be saved have been saved. There is nothing but wrath for those remaining on the earth.
The voices in verses 17-18 are presumed to be from all of heaven’s inhabitants. They rejoice that the world is now under the total control of the Lord. The past tense is again used because the event is so certain that it can be spoken of as past. (Image right above is “An angel blows the ‘last trumpet'”, as in 1 Corinthians 15:52, stained glass window from Langenzenn, Germany, 19th century; Wikipedia.)
vs. 16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God… .
The beings that sit on these thrones are obviously an angelic order involved in the worship of God in heaven and are involved in the fulfilling of his purposes on the earth. The number twenty-four is suggestive of the twenty-four courses of priests in I Chronicles 24. Many commentators think that the elders represent the elect of all ages. Just as the courses of Priests represented the totality of the Priesthood, the twenty-four elders represent the totality of the elect of all ages. Some of the elect have already died and are already there in heaven. Some are still unborn, but these angels represent them all. (Image above right is St. John on Patmos by Limbourg brothers public domain.)
vs. 17 saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.
Note the part of the phrase “and is to come” is dropped from the description of the Triune God. This is because He has already come at this point in the Revelation!
The ESV translates the phrase, “You have begun to reign.” The 24 elders assume their usual position prostrate before God. Note that the tense of the word “reign” is past tense (aorist). This is taken as an ingressive aorist—begin to reign. God is said to have “taken his great power” (dunameis from which we derive our English word “dynamite”). He has assumed what was his by right. He was King all along. The only difference is that now he enforces his reign over every living being. Before he permitted some to rebel. Now he no longer allows rebellion. He is absolute King. The reign is said to begin with the sounding of the 7th trumpet.
vs. 18 The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
The Four and Twenty Elders circa 1803-5 William Blake
The time (kairos) for the Last Judgment has arrived. Kairos is “opportune time” versus “chronological time.” As a great friend of mine used to say, “The Lord is always on time. He is not early, but He is never late!” This is the meaning of kairos. The prayers of the martyrs have long been on the incense altar of heaven awaiting answer, but now they are given God’s full attention!
The Lord will reward his servants, and punish those who have rebelled against him. It is interesting that the rebellious are said to be those who are destroying the earth. Those who are wicked and break God’s holy laws are the ones who bring the calamities on the earth!
“When the judgment day arrives, then the full meaning of Psalm 2:7ff., and of Daniel 7:14 (cf. Luke 1:33) is going to be revealed.” (see Hendriksen, pp. 132-133, below.)
vs. 19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
The Temple in Heaven is the sanctuary (naos) in heaven. (pictured above from image adapted Wikipedia Commons.) It is the place where God and his angelic hosts and his people dwell.
The Ark in the vision John sees is a symbol of God’s covenant faithfulness. All of the wrath and Judgment that comes out of heaven is righteous. It comes as a result of the activity of God himself. It seems now to us as if he has forgotten his promises. Men go free for their crimes. Not so! God will avenge his people at the end.
Chart Applying the Truths of Chapter 11 to Our lives
Next time, we will move into the last half of the book. We will begin with Chapter Twelve.
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation)
Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.
ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com
Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).
Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.
Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
WikiMedia Commons for Images
© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved