THE SEVENTH TRUMPET IS SOUNDED
Rev 11:14-19 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. 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. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 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. 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. 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.
Three woes were announced in Rev. 8:13. In verse 9:12, we are assured that the fulfillment of the first woe was symbolically revealed in the prophecy found in chapter nine. In chapters ten and the first 13 verses of chapter eleven, the revelation of the second woe was given and is now past. With the beginning of the lesson text, John writes that the third woe cometh quickly, that is, it will be revealed by the angel's sounding of the seventh trumpet.
In order to have a better understanding of the lesson text, it may be in order to review the events leading up to the symbolic revelation of the seventh, and final, trumpet sounding. The preceding events that were prophesied by John's heavenly vision include the state of Catholicism after the conquest of the Eastern Roman Empire in Constantinople by the Turks (Rev. 9:13-21). This was followed by the "Protestant Reformation," which restored God's word to the people (Rev. 10), the measuring, or examination of the New Testament church of Christ, its doctrine, and the faith of its membership (Rev. 11:1-2). Following this was the events culminating 1260 years of religious persecution of Christians and the devastating restriction of teaching the gospel of Christ, at the hands of the civil government, which was ordered by the Catholic papacy (Rev. 11:3-13). During this latter period of history, when the Catholic doctrine dominated the religious world, faithful teachers of God's Word, although few in number, kept the true light of the gospel of Christ alive during this long period of dark, sinful apostasy. In doing so, these faithful witnesses for the Son of God disclosed the abominable errors of those that corrupted and compromised the truths of Christian doctrine.
With these events in mind, the symbolic revelation that resulted, when the seventh angel sounded the final trumpet, can be understood with more historical accuracy. With the trumpet sounding, John reveals this portion of his vision. He wrote that 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. The final trumpet sound ushers in the final triumph for the cause of Christ. The religious restrictions imposed by the Catholic papacy would be defeated, and freedom to worship God according to the truths of the New Testament, would be permanently established. These days were to be symbolically ushered in by the spiritual rejoicing of the great voices in heaven. The kingdoms of this world, once dominated by Satan-inspired men, would now become kingdoms of our Lord, that is, mankind, having freedom to teach Christianity without civil or religious restrictions, would be free to proclaim Christ's true doctrine as the only pathway to heaven. Our Savior's kingdom on earth is His church, the body of Christ, which He rules over from His throne in heaven, while seated at the right hand of God. The symbolism found in this verse of the lesson text tells us that, after the survival of 1260 years of Catholic papal persecution, the church of Christ, His kingdom on earth, would be, once again, firmly planted. No matter how small or large its membership may be, due to the freedom of religion, or the lack of it, the true, faithful body of Christ will remain on earth forever and ever - until the return of our Savior at the end of time.
The symbolic prediction of ceasing Catholic persecution, and the restoration of free teaching and worship of the church of Christ to its original values and doctrine, brought great joy to the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats. These twenty four elders were first revealed to John in his heavenly vision of things that were to take place in the future (See Rev. 4:4). As previously discussed, these men seem to represent both the Old and the New Testament - the twelve tribal leaders of the Jewish nation and the twelve apostles of Christ Jesus. The Jewish dispensation ushered in the prophecy of the Messiah, and the Christian dispensation fulfilled that prophecy, when the Son of God came to earth, established God's New Testament doctrine, and gave His life on the cross of Calvary as God's atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. These elders, that were seated around the throne of God, were so joyous at this announcement that they fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 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 (Vss. 16-17).
The foretelling of the final triumph over the force of evil that was determined to alter God's Word, and prevent it from being taught to the world, had now been revealed to the apostle John, which resulted in joy among these religious leaders, who were now vocal representatives of God's promised Savior, and the church which He established. They praised God for demonstrating His omnipotent power over these Satan-inspired forces of evil, which would finally allow the church of Christ to grow and spiritually prosper.
The following verses 18 and 19 sufficiently explain the reason for God intervening, and redeeming His people from the restraints enforced on them by those that corrupted the Word of God for their own self-righteous desires. Remember the gospel taught by the apostle Paul that stirred up much anger from Demetrius and the other silversmiths of Ephesus, jeopardizing their craft of creating idols, which brought them personal wealth (Acts 19:23-28)? Here, in verse 18, we find that the nations were angry, and the reason for their anger seems to be the same that arose from the silversmiths of Ephesus. Their personal gain, from the misuse of their power, in the "guise of religion," was being threatened by the truthful preaching of God's unadulterated New Testament gospel message. This seems to be the reaction from all self-centered "preachers," even in today's society, that corrupt God's Word in order to personally profit from those having little, or no, knowledge of salvation through our Savior, Christ Jesus. Indeed those, which destroy the earth, that is, the wicked oppressors of true Christianity, will be judged, and receive just punishment for their sinful apostasy. But those that obediently serve God and fear His wrath, that is, the faithful saints in Christ Jesus, will receive their promised reward of an eternal home in heaven.
All these prophecies came to John in this heavenly vision by the sounding of the seventh trumpet. It foretold of the redemption, and the reestablishment,of the body of Christ and His doctrine of salvation, and was confirmed with this scene of symbolic glory in heaven: 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. With the fulfilling of these prophecies, the never-ending victory over the forces of evil was to be accomplished, and the church of Christ would receive a new life, and a new inspired zeal to spread the gospel of salvation through Christ Jesus, the Savior, and Son of God, throughout the world.