Old Testament Reading: Psalm 2
“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.’ I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2, ESV).
Sermon Text: Revelation 11:15-19
“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.’ And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 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. 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.’ 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” (Revelation 11:15–19, ESV).
I wrote a little poem to summarize this passage. It goes like this:
The book of Revelation has done it again.
It has taken us to the time of the end.
When the first six trumpets did resound,
they revealed how things would be in the hear and the now.
But when the seventh trumpet by us was heard,
it showed how things will be after Christ’s return.
And what a marvelous sight to behold!
All things belong to Christ, his people are safely home!
While the angels and saints rejoice on that day,
the wicked do wish they could run away.
For it is then the wrath of the Lamb will come.
The nations raged! But now is the time for the dead to be judged.
Then the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of Christ.
No more sin, nor suffering, even death will be silenced!
Oh Christian, take comfort in these God inspired words.
May they move you to have Christ as Lord, today, and until he returns.
As I began to prepare for this sermon it dawned on me that you might have forgotten that we were still in the trumpet cycle.
Thumb back to Revelation 8:6. It is here that the trumpet cycle begins. We read, “Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them” (Revelation 8:6, ESV). The first trumpet was blown in 8:7; the second in 8:8; the third in 8:10; an the fourth in 8:12. And then in 8:13 we read these words: “Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, ‘Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!” (Revelation 8:13, ESV). Here we were warned that the remaining three trumpets – trumpets five, six, and seven, would be particularly significant and filled with “woe”, or sorrow, for the earth dweller, which is one of the ways that the book of Revelation refers to those not in Christ. It was in 9:1 that the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and it was in 9:13 that the sixth angel blew his. With each of these trumpet blasts something was revealed to us concerning the judgments of God that would be poured out upon the ungodly throughout the church age.
Then we came to the interlude of chapters 10 and 11. Five sermons were devoted to these two chapters. Also, there were three other sermons delivered by other preachers in that time. So about two months have passed since you have heard anything about the trumpet cycle.
Remember that the interlude, particularly chapter 11, gave attention to the question, how will it be for the people of God as they live upon the earth in the midst of a wicked world upon which the judgments of God are being poured out? And the answer given was that though the people of God be trampled under foot, God will ultimately protect, preserve, and vindicate his faithful witnesses.
And remember that near to the end of chapter 11 we were given a glimpse of the beginning of the end when Christ returns to rescue his intensely persecuted bride and to judge the wicked. 11:12: “Then they [the two witnesses] heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’ And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelation 11:12–13, ESV). Here we have a description of something that will happen when the Lord returns: his bride will be rescued through rapture, and those found assaulting his bride will take it in the teeth.
Friends, notice that with the sounding of the seventh trumpet here in verse 15 the scene shifts geographically from earth to heaven, and also temporally from the moment of Christ’s returns to a description of the state of affairs brought about by his return.
The relationship between 11:12-13 and 11:15-19 can be compared to the relationship between the story of the allied troops storming the beaches at Normandy and the account of their taking Normandy. Really it is one event accomplished in two stages. So it will be with the return of Christ. It will be one event with many stages. 11:12-13 describes Christ’s return to rescue his severely persecuted church on earth. 11:15-19 describes the occupation of the kingdom of Christ.
The important thing to notice is that the seventh trumpet takes us to other side of Christ’s return and to a time beyond the age in which we now live. Notice five things that will happen on that day the day.
The Kingdom Of The World Will Become The Kingdom Of Christ
One, notice that it is on that day the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of Christ.
Look at verse 15. When the seventh angel blew his trumpet “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’” (Revelation 11:15, ESV).
Something very significant will happen on that day. The kingdom of this world – those kingdoms which oppose the rule of Christ and seek to establish their own rule independent of him – will be no more. Only the kingdom of our Lord and of Christ will remain. Everything will belong to him. Everyone will worship and serve him. On that day he will begin to rule without challenge or rival.
Now it is true that our Lord reigns supreme even now. He is sovereign over all things. He is Lord Most High. No one and no thing is able to thwart his purposes. But according to his infinite wisdom he has decreed that for a time there exist a kingdom that is rival to his – a kingdom of darkness – a kingdom, not of heaven, but of the earth. This he has permitted according to his wisdom in order to bring about his ultimate purposes.
Also, it is also true that the kingdom of heaven has already broken in upon us. It arrived with Spirit wrought power at the first coming of Christ. “Behold the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”, was the proclamation of John the Baptist and of Christ himself. Indeed, when Christ rose from the dead he rose in power and ascended to the right hand of the Father where he rules and reigns over his kingdom even now with all authority having been given unto him.
And so the current situation is this: The kingdom of Christ has begun. It has broken in upon us. It has intruded into human history. We feel power of it. Indeed, we are in it, if we are in Christ by the Spirit, confessing him as Lord. But we know that the kingdom is not here in its full and consummate glory. Why? Because there still exists a rival kingdom in the world today! Many stubbornly refuse to bow the knee to Christ. Many do not confess him as Lord. Many are the citizens of the kingdom of this world who oppose Christ’s rule, submitting instead to the rule of another king. So as you can see there are two kingdoms present in the world today. There is the kingdom of the world, which is the kingdom of darkness, who has the evil one for a king. And there is the kingdom of heaven, also called the kingdom of God and of his Christ. These two are opposed to one another. All who live upon the earth are in fact in one kingdom or another. Either Christ is your king, or the evil one is. Christ said, “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30, ESV). And listen to the way that Paul describes our salvation in Colossians 1:13. He describes it as having been “delivered… from the domain of darkness and transferred… to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13, ESV). This is, in part, what it means to be saved. It is to be delivered from one domain, or kingdom, to another – from the domain of darkness to the domain of Christ. Those who do not have Jesus as Lord believe themselves to be free – independent from any outside rule. They are badly mistaken. For the scriptures teach that you are either a bondservant of Christ or that you are in bondage to another. Satan is cruel taskmaster, my friends. He is liar and a deceiver. His end is death and destruction. He is bent on taking as many with him as possible.
But here is the thing to recognize. There are two kingdoms present in the world today. The kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of darkness. Christ’s kingdom is here. It is present wherever the church is. It is present wherever men and woman are found who have Christ as Lord. But it is not here in its full and final form. This is why as citizens of this inaugurated kingdom we are taught to pray for its consummation, saying, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9–10, ESV).
Hebrews 10:12-13 sums it up: “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet” (Hebrews 10:12–13, ESV). This one verse says it all. Christ began to reign over his kingdom upon his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of God. But while he rules there he is also waiting there. Waiting until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
This is the thing that Revelation 11:15 describes. It is describes the day when the enemies of Christ will be made a footstool for his feet. On that day the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. All will be Christ’s kingdom. No rival power will remain. This is why
Notice that this is not the half-baked earthly, and sin prone millennial kingdom of the dispensational pre-millennialists, but it is the full and final kingdom of our Lord. Our God and his Christ are Lord over all in this kingdom, and the text says that “he shall reign [in this kingdom] forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15, ESV). It is a myth that Christ will in the future establish some new, earthly, and sin prone kingdom that will come to end after 1,000 years being brought to and end by a great rebellion (second fall, I guess). That view is unbiblical and it come from a misreading of the scriptures. In particular it arises when men assume that the book of Revelation is mainly about our future, that it is to be interpreted literally whenever possible (whenever the want), and that the order of the book of Revelation corresponds to the order of events in human history. I’ve shown that all three of these assumptions are false in past sermons. Know that it is this flawed method of interpretation that produces pre-millennialism.
The coming of the Christ was promised in the Old Covenant. He was born when the fullness of time had come. He lived, died, and was buried, and on the third day he rose from the grave, the New Covenant being ratified in his blood. He ascended to the right hand of God where he rules and reigns, all authority having been given unto him in heaven and on earth. We his people in this world, members of the New Covenant, citizens of his kingdom, enduring difficulty, and awaiting his return. When he returns everything will be his kingdom forever and ever. It is the final state.
Revelation 11:15 describes the beginning of Christ’s eternal kingdom. This is a description of the new heavens and the new earth where all is placed fully under the authority of Christ, with no rival, for on that day his enemies will be fully and finally judged .
The praise that is heard from the lips of the angels confirms it. Verse 16: “And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 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” (Revelation 11:16–17, ESV). On that day the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.
The Dead Will Be Judged
Two, notice that it is on that day that the dead will be judged.
Look at verse 18: “The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged…” (Revelation 11:18a, ESV).
Surely the phrase “the nations raged” is meant to remind us of Psalm 2. The prophesies of Psalm 2 will be filled most fully when on the day when Christ returns.
Indeed in this present evil age “the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us’” (Psalm 2:2–3, ESV). And even now “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (Psalm 2:4, ESV). And indeed the Lord has already “set [his] King on Zion, [his] holy hill” (Psalm 2:6, ESV). This has happened in the heavenly places (read Revelation and Hebrews). But Revelation 11:15ff. is showing us something of the day on which “the nations [will become the]… heritage [of the Christ], and the ends of the earth [his] possession. [He] shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:7–9, ESV). Therefore, the peoples of the earth are appropriately warned concerning that day. The Psalm says, “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:10–12, ESV).
Psalm 2 warns of the final judgment and urges men and women to live accordingly, taking refuge in Christ. When John in Revelation 11:18, says, “the nations raged”, he is summoning Psalm 2, as if to say, these two texts are talking about the same event, they are both about the final judgment.
In Revelation 11 the final judgment is mentioned only briefly. In Revelation 20:11-13 we find a more detailed description of the final judgment. John writes,
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done” (Revelation 20:11–13, ESV).
What Revelation 20:11-13 describes in some detail, Revelation 11:18 mentions only in passing.
For now simply notice that the beginning of Christ’s consummate reign and the day of judgment coincide. It will be on that day, when the Lord returns and begins to reign, that the dead will be judged according to what they had done.
Those Who Belong To Christ Will Be Rewarded
Three, notice it is on that day that those who belong to Christ will be rewarded.
Verse 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…” (Revelation 11:18, ESV).
Did you know that Christians will be judged too?
They will not be judged in the same way that those not in Christ are judged. They will not stand before the great white throne of Revelation 20 to be judged according to what they had done. That judgment can only lead to damnation, for who could possibly stand though that judgment. No, the one trusting in Christ has their sins covered by Christ’s blood. He paid for their sins, and he has given them his righteousness. You, if you are trusting in Christ, will not be amongst the dead who are raised to stand before the great white throne to be judged there for you will already be alive in Christ. Your name is in the book of life!
Indeed, we should be comforted by the fact that we will not have to stand before the great white throne to judged unto damnation. Indeed we should rejoice that we will not be judged concerning whether we will go to eternal life or eternal death based upon what we have done in this life – none will stand! But I do believe that we should talk more about the judgment of Christians unto rewards. For it is a kind of judgment, isn’t it? For how can you possibly reward someone without making a judgment concerning their work?
Please don’t misunderstand. I am not saying that we will in any way contribute to our salvation. I am not saying that our obedience in this life will have anything to do with our eternal destiny. All of that comes down to the question, are you trusting in yourself or in Christ, in his righteousness, or your own?
But I am desiring to make this point: Christians will give an account. We will stand before God our Father and give an account for the deeds done in the flesh. This will be a Fatherly judgment, not unto condemnation (for there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), but a judgment unto rewards, or the lack therefore.
This seems to be what Paul had in mind when he wrote these words to Corinthians:
“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:10–15, ESV).
Friends, do not be one of these. Do not be the Christian who, though his faith be sincere and saving faith, his life be devoted to kings of little eternal value. Brothers and sisters, “do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19–20, ESV).
The Destroyers Of The Earth Will Be Destroyed
Four, notice that it is on that day that destroyers of the earth will be destroyed.
Look at the last line part of verse 18: “…and for destroying the destroyers of the earth” (Revelation 11:18, ESV).
Who are the “destroyers of the earth”? When we take into consideration the way that this phrase is used in the prophets, especially in Jeremiah and Daniel, and when we take into consideration what is depicted in the rest of the book of Revelation, we must come to the conclusion that the “destroyers of the earth” are the dragon, the beast, the false prophet and the harlot along with all of the men and women who follow them and do their bidding, but particularly the wicked kingdoms of this world. On that day God will destroy the destroyers. God’s wrath we be poured out upon those who lead astray the people and now are destroyed themselves.
The People Of God Will Enjoy The Fulness Of His Presence Forevermore
Five, notice that it is on that day that the people of God will enjoy the fulness of his presence forevermore.
Look at verse 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” (Revelation 11:19, ESV).
The temple symbolizes God’s presence with his people. The ark of the covenant also symbolizes God’s presence with his people, particularly his covenantal faithfulness. This vision concludes with John seeing the temple opened before him and the ark of the covenant revealed. The meaning is clear. God is with his people now, and his presence will be enjoyed in a most immediate way on that last day.
Notice that John also saw “flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail” (Revelation 11:19, ESV). This scene appears repeatedly in the book of Revelation whenever the final judgment is in view. God will be comfort his people with his presence on that day, but he will judge his enemies.
Remember the Jericho story that stands behind the image of the seven trumpets? For seven days the people of Israel were to march around Jericho and seven priests were to blow seven trumpets and the walls of the city would fall flat and the city conquered. Here I simply wish to remind you of the central place the ark of the covenant played in that event. It was forever in the midst of God’s people – a comfort to them as a symbol of his presence and covenantal faithfulness, and a threat to the enemies of God.
Let us take some time to apply these truths before we conclude.
The first point application is theological. I wonder if your eschatology is biblically sound. Does your view of the end square with what this passage teaches? I’m afraid that many in our day hold to a view that cannot square with it. Theirs are the infinitely complex charts that insert gaps of time in between the many things that are to happen on that last day. The scriptures teach that the last day will be a full day. On that day the Lord will return to raise the dead in Christ and to rescue through rapture those who are alive on earth enduring persecution. On that day the Lord will pour out his wrath upon the persecutors living upon the earth. On that day the dead will be raised and judged, and those in Christ will be rewarded. On that day the destroyers of the earth will be destroyed, On that day the kingdom of the earth will become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ. On tat day all will be come temple. The last day will be a full day. The pre-tribulational pre-millennialists are wrong to take these individual events and to spread them out over 1,007 years. Theirs is an umbilical system thrust upon the text of scripture, and often found crammed into the gaps. I’m urging you to abandon it if you have not already and to adopt instead the Amillennial position which I am in the process of the describing to you.
Secondly, in light of the final judgment I ask, have you taken refuge in Christ? On that last day you will stand clothed either in your own garb, or in the garb of Christ. Your garb and mine is filthy and sin stained. Christ’s garb is radiant white. Be clothed in his righteousness, friends. Repent and believe upon him. Confess him as Lord. Be washed by his blood.
Thirdly, I wonder if all of this teaching concerning the time of the end is having an effect upon the kind of person you are. The Apostle Peter had some things to say about the time of the end, and Peter also expected his teaching to have an effect upon his audience. He said, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness?” (2 Peter 3:11, ESV).