The Great Tribulation: The 7th seal, The 7 trumpets
Revelation 8 – 11
Revelation 8 – 11
Timing of the trumpet series. When do the trumpets occur? If you look at Matt. 24:6-8 you see events that correspond to the seal judgments, and they are called “beginning of sorrows”. Then the abomination of desolation is set up, Rev. 13 tells us at the middle of the week. Therefore, the first six seals are up to the middle of the week, and the trumpets follow on, covering the “great tribulation”, the last half of the week. The trumpets may be less extensive in their range than the seals (third part vs. fourth part of the earth), but they are more intensely judicial than the seals. The first four trumpets are primarily to do with the apostatizing of the western nations, preparing them to receive Antichrist. Therefore, it seems the first four will happen in rapid succession at the middle of the week. The fifthtrumpet corresponds to antichrist coming forward, and the delusion of apostate Israel, once again at the middle of the week, but spanning a longer duration (“five months”). The sixth and seventh trumpets are at 1260 and 1278 days, respectively.
The third part and the fourth part of the earth. Start by understanding the numerals three and four. Three is completeness is testimony. Four in universality in creation. Both fractions represent limited portions of the earth, but in different aspects. The third part is a division of the prophetic earth that forms a completion in the mind of God; e.g. the isles of the Gentiles (Gen. 10:5), the sphere of the old roman empire including israel (connection made from Rev. 12:4). The fourth part is a division according to physical creation (natural boundaries) and within but less than the third part. The fourth part is connected with the fourth seal (the pestilence) which is the consummation of the first four seals. Therefore, under the fourth seal we expect an epidemic disease, within certain continent(s) in the West, but not the whole West. The fourth part may specifically refer to the continent of Europe.
- 7th Seal: Leading into Trumpets (8:1-6)
- 1st Trumpet: Prosperity Dries Up (8:7)
- 2nd Trumpet: A Great Western Political Power Falls (8:8-9)
- 3rd Trumpet: An Influential Western Person Apostatizes
- 4th Trumpet: All Leadership in the West Apostatizes
- 5th Trumpet: Antichrist Emerges, Deludes Apostate Israel (9:1-12)
- 6th Trumpet: Advance of the Eastern Arab Confederacy (9:13-21)
- Parenthesis Part I: Christ Claims His Possession (Rev. 10)
- Parenthesis Part II: The Two Witnesses (11:1-14)
- The 7th Trumpet: the Appearing of Christ (11:15-18)
7th Seal: Leading into Trumpets (8:1-6)
¶ And when it opened the seventh seal, there was silence in the heaven about half an hour. v.1 The silence for half an hour expresses the solemnity of the crisis about to fall. Also, it may be a suspension in judgement so that the remnant can flee to the mountains (Matt. 24:15-20) to take cover. I don’t think the half hour is necessarily literal. If an ‘hour’ is a full period, this is something less. a meaningful calm before the storm.
2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. v.2 this is a special group of seven – different from Rev. 15:1. “Trumpets” – When you hear a trumpet you are getting a message (I Cor. 14:8). Seals were providential (1-4), these are direct. Note: Is it correct to say these are the imprecatory prayers? Because it says of “all saints”, which would include the church.
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, that he might give efficacy to the prayers of all saints at the golden altar which was before the throne. v.3 The angel-priest is Christ in angelic form as in the Old Testament (Josh. 5:13). Often when you get the expression “another angel” it is referring to Christ himself acting behind the scenes, Rev. 8:3, 10:1, 18:1. Christ is not found as the Lamb in the trumpet series. He is retreating from his manhood and character as a holy sufferer. He is still a man. The golden censer (Heb. 9:4) was used on the Day of Atonement to carry the ever-burning fire from the brazen altar (the work of Christ) to the altar of Incense (the person of Christ). It takes the full Person and Work of Christ to make the prayers efficacious. Note: There are two different altars. “The altar” always refers to the brazen altar. The “golden altar” or “before the throne” refers to the altar of incense.
4 And the smoke of the incense went up with the prayers of the saints, out of the hand of the angel before God. v.4 Probably, these are the imprecatory prayers of tribulation saints who are suffering on earth. Although, in a sense, The prayers of All Saints from all dispensations for evil to be put down and Christ to have his rightful place will begin to be answered with the trumpets. This ‘angel’ must be Christ, because no mere angel could function as a priest… see Heb. 2:16-17. In ch.5 the prayer ARE the incense, here incense is ADDED to the prayers.
5a And the angel took the censer, and filled it from the fire of the altar, and cast it on the earth: v.5a In response to these prayers, he goes back to the brazen altar and refills the censer with fire (the wrath of God against sin) and casts it on the prophetic earth. Prayers answered.
5b and there were (1) voices, and (2) thunders and (3) lightnings, and (4) an earthquake. v.5b Harbingers of the coming wrath. A four-part FORMULA of universal catastrophe on the earth. (See Rev. 4:5; Rev. 8:5; Rev. 11:19; Rev. 16:18).
¶ 6 And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves that they might sound with their trumpets. v.6 Special time taken to prepare… shows that these judgments are ordered and deliberate. Indicates great seriousness.
1st Trumpet: Prosperity Dries Up (8:7)
¶ 7 And the first sounded his trumpet: and there was hail and fire, mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth; and (1) the third part of the earth was burnt up, and (2) the third part of the trees was burnt up, and (3) all green grass was burnt up. v.7 all the comforts that men enjoy will be taken away. Hail – rapid, sudden, sharp, judgment from above. Fire – the wrath of God against sin. Blood – moral and physical death. The earth – the civilized earth. Results:
- Western Europe (third part) is devastated.
- All the great men (trees, Isa. 2:13; Dan. 4:20-22) in the West are cut down.
- All human prosperity (green grass) dries up – not just in the west.
2nd Trumpet: A Great Western Political Power Falls (8:8-9)
¶ 8 And the second angel sounded his trumpet: and as a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea, and (1) the third part of the sea became blood; 9 and (2) the third part of the creatures which were in the sea which had life died; and (3) the third part of the ships were destroyed. v.8-9 the piscture is of a volcano, Exploding from within. A great political power in the west (long established) formally gives up the aknowledgment of god, and afflicted terribly with the judgement of God is violently removed from its place as a leader. Its place of impact is the gentile nations in a state of turmoil (the sea). Perhaps the USA? this will be a great western nation, but not one of the ten nations. Results:
- Moral & physical death characterize the Tumultuous Western nations.
- Any person that was a moral light to the masses in the West now apostatizes.
- All the upheaval and corruption causes the western economy to collapse.
The second trumpet may take any political impediment out of the way for the beast to take control in the west. we can see how the usa would be a political impediment for a world leader to rise out of europe.
3rd Trumpet: An Influential Western Person Apostatizes
¶ 10 And the third angel sounded his trumpet: and there fell out of the heaven a great star, burning as a torch, and (1) it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters. 11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood; and (2) the third part of the waters became wormwood, and (3) many of the men died of the waters because they were made bitter. vv.10-11 A great star (a person of great moral leadership) falls, burning as a torch (afflicted by the judgement of God), from his place in the (moral) heavens as a light. Results:
- His apostasy poisons the sphere of the world’s refreshment (entertainment and media). Rivers – the daily course of this world. Fountains – sources of refreshment for the natural man. The star is called Wormwood – “bitterness”. The bitterness of apostasy – hating the thing they fell away from.
- Daily life in the west becomes morally corrupt (Contrast with the waters of Marah, Ex. 15).
- Results in the moral death of the general populous in the West.
4th Trumpet: All Leadership in the West Apostatizes
¶ 12a And the fourth angel sounded his trumpet: and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; v.12a The sun, moon, and stars – the whole governing body — a complete system of government in all its parts is plunged into moral darkness. Note: under the sixth Seal (Rev. 6:12, 13) the same symbols restricted to the 4th part of the earth were shaken. Here it is the 3rd part and they are morally darkened.
12b so that the third part of them should be darkened, and that the day should not appear for the third part of it, and the night the same. v.12b Result: the western world becomes unable to discern moral light from moral darkness.
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¶ 13 And I saw, and I heard an eagle flying in mid-heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to them that dwell upon the earth, for the remaining voices of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound. v.13 A dark warning to the earth-dwellers that the three woe-trumpets will be especially bad. the first four trumpets are really preparatory. in the 5th trumpet the Antichrist comes forward.
Three Woe-trumpets: Three Great Armies
- 5th trumpet – an army of demons (that delude apostate Israel)
- 6th trumpet – an army of men (the Arab confederacy)
- 7th trumpet – the armies of Christ (at His appearing)
5th Trumpet: Antichrist Emerges, Deludes Apostate Israel (9:1-12)
The fifth Trumpet tells us how the man of sin will delude the earth-dwellers in Israel (Rev.9:4). He does the same to the Gentiles in the fifth bowl (Rev. 16:10, 2 Thess. 2:11-12). This delusion is presented as a judgment from God, not so much as an activity of Satan (although it is). The poison that results from this delusion will produced a miserable state. We find this in the Old Testament as well. In Isa. 8 we have the condition of the unsealed mass of the Jews just prior to the attack of the king of the North, who are vainly trusting in Antichrist for protection. Isa 8:21-22 shows the utter despair of the apostate Jews under Antichrist’s leadership.
Antichrist Emerges (v.1)
¶ And the fifth angel sounded his trumpet: and I saw a star out of the heaven fallen to the earth; and there was given to it the key of the pit of the abyss. v.1 A “fallen” star – this verse is not the Apostasy of the Antichrist, but the time when he comes forward. He is only given this key temporarily… later we see an angel using it (rev. 20:1) to lock satan up for 1000 years.
The Origin and General Character of the Demonic Army (vv.2-3)
2a And it opened the pit of the abyss; and there went up smoke out of the pit as the smoke of a great furnace; v.2a The Man of Sin will release the satanic influences out of the abyss. The chained angels (Jude 6) do not escape… they don’t get out till the “great day”, but their influence, their machinations, rise up like smoke.
2b and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke of the pit. v.2b Results: Sun darkened – any remaining moral light is blocked out. Air darkened – the moral atmosphere they breathe is full of satanic delusions.
3 And out of the smoke came forth locusts on the earth, and power was given to them as the scorpions of the earth have power; v.3 Here we have the agents of the 5th Trumpet: demons pictured by locusts. Locusts are characterized by being extremely thorough. The only escapees are those who have faith.
- Origin: “Out of the smoke“ – they originate from a satanic purpose, intending to blind.
- Format: Called “locusts“ – demons in the format of an unstoppable army (Joel 1:4-6).
- Ability: “Power as scorpions“ – power to inflict men with moral pain.
Their Target (v.4)
4a and it was said to them, that they should not injure the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, v.4a Their food is not the normal food of locusts (trees, grasses – we know these aren’t literal insects). These will attack men; but will injure “no green thing”; i.e. no person with divine life will be hurt.
4b but the men who have not the seal of God on their foreheads: v.4b Specifically, in contrast with the sealed 144,000 who are protected at the middle of the week, these demons will target the unsealed “apostate” part of the nation of Israel.
Their Effect on Apostate Israel (vv.5-6)
5a and it was given to them that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months; v.5a their lives will be prolonged while they suffer. The five months (natural locust lifespan) signifies a limited period of affliction.
5b and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. v.5b The effect of the army on the apostate Jews is a sudden, transfixing, paralyzing pain. This is pain is in a moral sense; probably a pain in the conscience which Satan can inflict (he is “the accuser”).
6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall in no way find it; and shall desire to die, and death flees from them. v.6 Men will seek death; an avenue to separation from God. They will be looking for any solution to the pain.
The Detailed Description of the Locusts (vv.7-10)
7 And (1)the likenesses of the locusts were like to horses prepared for war; and (2) upon their heads as crowns like gold, and (3) their faces as faces of men; 8 and (4) they had hair as women’s hair, and (5) their teeth were as of lions, 9 and (6) they had breastplates as breastplates of iron, and (7) the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to war; 10 and (8) they have tails like scorpions, and stings; and their power was in their tails to hurt men five months. vv.7-10 Eight attributes of the army of demons:
- War horses… they have a warlike energy
- Crowns like gold… boasting a righteous commission from God
- Faces like men… they appear outwardly to be independently intelligent, but…
- Hair as women’s hair… in reality they are subject to Satan.
- Lions’ teeth… vicious and cruel.
- Iron Breastplates… hearts are a hard as iron.
- Sound of wings… gives the victim the sense of being rapidly overwhelmed (Joel 2:5-6).
- Stings in tails… these can poison the mind and soul the way a scorpion poisons the body. “Power in the tail“ speaks of power to deceive (Isa. 9:15). The venom is falsehood, born in the abyss. The duration of the torment is “five months” which is the natural lifespan of locust. Five is the number of human weakness. Men are nothing in comparison with the power of Satan, and he will abuse them at his own discretion to the full extent that God will allow or that their bodies will tolerate.
Who is Controlling and Directing Them? (v.11)
11 They have a king over them, the angel of the abyss: his name in Hebrew, Abaddon, and in Greek he has for name Apollyon. v.11 Either Satan himself or his chief angel controls the army of demons. This is not the Antichrist… the Antichrist turns the key (v.1), but doesn’t lead demons. “Abaddon” is Hebrew for ‘destruction’, and “Apollyon” is Greek for ‘destroyer’. This would seem to confirm the king’s identity as Satan himself. The names mean “Destroyer” in the languages of Old and New Testaments.
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¶ 12 The first woe has passed. Behold, there come yet two woes after these things.
6th Trumpet: Advance of the Eastern Arab Confederacy (9:13-21)
The sixth trumpet gives the invasion of a huge army from the east into the Beast’s empire. The sixth bowl gives the “drying of the Euphrates”, the opening of the way for this army to invade. From elsewhere in scripture (e.g. Daniel 11:40, Isaiah 28:15) we know there will be an invasion into the land of the Israel by the Assyrian (the King of the North and his Arab Confederacy) just prior to the coming of the Lord that will sweep down through the land into Egypt. a humiliating defeat. This correlates with the sixth trumpet, although Revelation is more concerned with the spiritual effect on the Roman empire. the difference is: The 6th trumpet is a broad look at the net effect of the Assyrian’s inroads, concentrated more with the spiritual side. perhaps the 6th trumpet would begin earlier than 1260 days… with hate speech from the Arabs toward Israel? The 6th vial gives more the precise moment of the attack…. when the Arab armies break trough the roman lines along the Euphrates.
The sixth trumpet is the beginning of “the indignation”. The Antichrist will flee when this army invades, leaving the apostate Jews defenseless (Zech. 11:17). Dan. 11:36 says, the Anti-Christ will prosper until the Indignation. The King of the north will swing thru the land, “desolating” it, then continue down into Egypt.
The Arab confederacy is ten nations (Psalm 83). The Muslim nations that surround Israel from the north and east. Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan (Moab and Ammon – Jordan may break up into two), the Arabians. Iran (Persia) will come in the first and second attack – Ezek. 38:5). If China comes in it will be confederate with God. From Daniel 8 we know that Gog and Magog will be supporting the Arab confederacy (“but not by his own power”).
¶ 13 And the sixth angel sounded his trumpet: and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, v.13 “a voice” – It would seem that this is the voice of God. “from the four horns” – universal power. “of the golden altar” – connected with answering the prayers of Rev. 8:3-4
The Source and Size of the Great Eastern Army (vv.14-16)
14 saying to the sixth angel that had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound at the great river Euphrates. v.14 We know behind the movement of empires are angels and demons (Dan. 10:20). these four are fallen angels (contrast the four angels in Rev. 7:1). The river Euphrates was the eastern border of the old Roman Empire (just east of Israel). The Arab invasion will not penetrate to western Europe…. it will be concentrated in the middle east (Israel).
15 And the four angels were loosed, who are prepared for the hour and day and month and year, that they might slay the third part of men; v.15 This is a specific moment in the mind of God. Although the attack will be concentrated in Israel, the strike will cause the Roman empire (the “third part”) to collapse. It will be the judgement on the West for interfering in the discipline of God on Israel (Isa. 28:15).
16 and the number of the hosts of horse was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number. v.16 The number of this army is 200,000,000. It is not clear if this number is literal… if it is, this is the largest army the world has ever seen (Joel 2:2). Note: the populations of these countries today could allow for a literal 200,000,000. Horses are used (see Rev. 6) symbolical of human agencies (Joel 2:4).
A Detailed Description of the Army (vv.17-19)
¶ 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and those that sat upon them, having breastplates of fire and jacinth and brimstone; v.17a They wear “breastplates of fire and jacinth and brimstone” which are defensive weapons. It describes what their hearts are like: possessed by satanic influences, driven by hatred, but appointed by God.
- Fire – this army is the instrument of god’s righteous judgement (Isa. 10:5, Joel 2:11)
- Jacinth – a reddish orange stone, similar to the color of flame.
- Brimstone – burning sulfur, a foreshadow of eternal judgement.
17b and the heads of the horses were as heads of lions, v.17b “heads of lions” – their state of mind (heads) is one of terrible majesty, fearlessness, boldness (Isa. 5:26-30, Joel 2:1-11)
17c and out of their mouths goes out fire and smoke and brimstone. 18 By these three plagues were the third part of men killed, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which goes out of their mouths. vv.17c-18 Offensive weapons are now described; what they use to devastate the Beast’s empire:
- Fire – a sudden infliction of judgement.
- Smoke – resulting confusion and blindness.
- Brimstone – long-lasting, throbbing effect.
19a For the power of the horses is in their mouth and in their tails: v.19a The power behind these horses (human agencies) is:
- Their mouth (what you see) – Satan’s open power.
- Their tails (what you don’t see) – Satan secret power.
19b for their tails are like serpents, having heads, and with them they injure. v.19b Contrast “scorpion-like tails and stings” (first woe, designed to blind and delude) with “serpent-like tails and heads” (second woe, desired to injure and kill). “Heads” tell us this blow to the empire is perfectly placed and timed.
The Hardening Effect on those who are Not Killed (vv. 20-21)
20 And the rest of men who were not killed with these plagues repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and the golden and silver and brazen and stone and wooden idols, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. v.20 The surviving citizens of the beast’s empire (the great western portion, away from Euphrates) will harden their hearts, they will continue the idolatrous worship of the Beast.
21 And they repented not of their murders, nor of their witchcrafts, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. v.21 The result of this hardening is that the empire is characterized by “universal” evil:
- murders – extreme violence
- witchcrafts – Satan worship
- fornication – gross immorality
- thefts – disintegration of the fabric of society
Parenthesis Part I: Christ Claims His Possession (Rev. 10)
This Parenthesis (Rev. 10:1 – 11:14) comes between the sixth and seventh trumpets. There is a parenthesis between the sixth and seventh seals, trumpets, and bowls. These parentheses are given to provide important details and themes before we get the final judgment in the series. This parenthesis comes right before the seventh trumpet (the appearing of Christ). It gives two reasons why Christ will appear:
- The earth is His rightful inheritance, and He will take what belongs to Him (Rev.10)
- He has a faithful witness here on earth, and He will come to intervene on behalf of his suffering people (Rev. 11:1-14)
Christ Asserts His Claim Over the Whole Earth (vv.1-4)
¶ And I saw another strong angel coming down out of the heaven, clothed with a cloud, and the rainbow upon his head, and his countenance as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire, v.1 This angel is Christ Himself, not as a priest (as the “another angel” in ch.8), but now as a king claiming what belongs to Him. Whenever the Son takes on angelic garb He is retreating from what professes His name, and falling back on what He is as a Divine Person. He is clothed with a “cloud“, which points to the Shakina glory cloud; i.e. the manifest presence of Jehovah, that which can be seen with the eye. The “rainbow upon his head” shows that the end result of the divine mind will be blessing for the whole world. His “countenance as the sun” pictures His supreme glory in government (see Matt. 17:2, Rev. 1:16). However, His “feet as pillars of fire” speak of the manner of His appearing; that He will come treading the path of holy judgement. The figure of a “pillar” is combined with “fire”; showing the ideas of solidity or stability combined with thorough, final judgment.
2a and having in his hand a little opened book. v.2a What is the “little open book”? First of all, it is “open” (not sealed) because its contents have been previously available. We find this in Daniel 12 where the prophet was told “do not seal the book”. The open book is in contrast to the seven-sealed book of judgment that is found in Revelation. It would seem then that the opened book is Old Testament prophecy! It has been opened for many years, but now it is about to be fulfilled. It is “little“ in view of the magnitude of its accomplishment.
2b And he set his right foot on the sea, and the left upon the earth, v.2b The angel plants his feet on the inheritance. Revelation assumes we’ve read the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the place where one stands is often connected with a claim of ownership, see Joshua 1:3. This is why, when the nearer kinsman could not redeem the land, Boaz drew off his shoe to give to the nearer kinsman, confirming the transaction, and showing that Boaz now owned the land. Tradition says that the kinsman would have thrown Boaz’s shoe over the field to signify this change of ownership (see Ruth 4:7-8). See also, Psalm 6:6-8, where the Lord says he will “cast out His shoe” over Edom, showing that Israel under Christ will own the land of Edom in the Millennium. The placement of His feet speak of the Lord’s universal claim over men, over the world.
- His claim over the nations in turmoil (right foot in the sea).
- His claim over the organized nations (left foot on the land).
3 and cried with a loud voice as a lion roars. And when he cried, the seven thunders uttered their own voices. v.3 This “loud voice” is the voice of Christ (Psa. 68:33) of majesty and power that demands a response! Just as a lion is known to “roar” over his prey once it is under his feet, so Christ is seen with the land and sea under His feet, uttering this territorial cry to claim His possession. If we read Psalm 2, we find that Christ will ask Jehovah to give Him the nations for His inheritance. The judgments up until the appearing are the “wrath of God”, not the “wrath of the Lamb”. God will pummel the earth with judgments to bring about the proper alignment of things when Christ appears. In this chapter we are getting a beautiful picture of Jehovah’s Son about to take His inheritance! His cry is answered by the heavens. The “seven thunders“ is the full response of united heaven to the cry of the rightful king. It is the seven-fold voice of God’s intervention in judgment; heaven responds “Yes, this is right!”
4 And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write: and I heard a voice out of the heaven saying, Seal the things which the seven thunders have spoken, and write them not. v.4 The seven thunders are sealed up. The subject of the heaven’s response to its Beloved One cannot be described in human words (John 12:27-28). It is God’s special yet formal affirmation to His Son that He will indeed rule it all.
Christ will Accomplish the Mystery of God (vv.5-7)
¶ 5 And the angel whom I saw stand on the sea and on the earth lifted up his right hand to the heaven, v.5 The angel lifts up his hand to heaven as a sign of two things; (1) heaven’s full authority is about to be invoked (), and (2) the angel receives His solemn commission as a dependent servant (Gen 14:22). A servant of God never can speak with as much authority on God’s behalf as when he is walking in dependence on God. We see this beautifully in Christ. Christ has been seated at His Father’s right hand for two-thousand years, patiently waiting until His enemies are made His footstool (Psa. 110:1). He remains perfectly the dependent man, not knowing the day nor the hour when His time of manifestation will arrive (Matt. 24:36). But now the time has come! He rises, as it were, off the throne, and lifts up His hand to receive the commission. The time has come for Him to bring about the accomplishment of the mystery of God.
6 and swore by him that lives to the ages of ages, who created the heaven and the things that are in it, and the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be no longer delay; v.6 We have had Christ as the dependent Servant (v.5) lifting up His hand to heaven, and now we have His as the Accomplisher of the purpose of God. Christ makes a promise by God in two aspects: (1) as the Eternal God, and (2) as the Creator, the One who brought this whole “theater” into existence in the first place. The promise is this: “I am going to finish this, and I will it quickly.” The expression that there will be “delay no longer“ doesn’t mean that clocks will stop, but rather, that there will be no more delay in the complete fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound the trumpet, the mystery of God also shall be completed, as he has made known the glad tidings to his own bondmen the prophets. v.7 The “mystery of God” refers to the secret of God’s ways with men; how He has allowed evil to continue, the mystery of the silent heavens. Mysteries in scripture are truths that were previously unknown, but now made plain through the complete fulfillment of prophecy. It will be completed with the seventh trumpet; i.e. the appearing of Christ. But it is very specific; “when he is about to sound”. It could be that it refers to an event moments prior to the appearing; perhaps the display of “the sign of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:30)? The accomplishment of this “mystery of God” is something that God made known to the prophets, although its completion then was very distant (Dan. 12:8-9). But even then, the thought of Christ having His rightful place was “glad tidings” to the prophets, as it is to every heart that hungers and thirsts after righteousness. But the accomplishment is now very near (Rev. 22:10)!
How Progress is Made in Prophetic Matters (vv.8-11)
¶ 8 And the voice which I heard out of the heaven was again speaking with me, and saying, Go, take the little book which is opened in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the earth. v.8 The scene now changes from an objective view of this angel, to a subjective line. We are about to learn some very important lessons for the student of prophecy. God tells John to take the little book from the hand of the Lord. The student of prophecy must take prophetic scriptures in this way; as from the hand of the Lord. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 19:10). It is not just a series of events, but it is all about Christ!
9 And I went to the angel, saying to him to give me the little book. And he says to me, Take and eat it up: v.9a John wanted the Angel to just give it to him. The angel doesn’t just give it to John, but he says “take it, and eat it up”. It will require energy on our part to take it (get a hold of it intellectually) and also to eat it up (digest or meditate on it so as to understand it). We must “eat the little book” in order to have a grip on why God is doing what He is doing. Two lessons I take from this:
- The Book of Revelation is NOT enough to get a hold of prophecy. Revelation is only the tying together of the Old Testament prophecies. Many have tried to progress beyond this point (the events surrounding the appearing) without eating the little book… the result is disastrous. That is where many speculative interpretations have come from.
- We cannot make progress is prophetic subjects – or any subject for that matter – if we are unwilling to eat the book (Jeremiah 15:16). We have to let the moral import of God’s word sink into our hearts and consciences. Then God can give us more light, and we will be useful servants to communicate that truth to others (v.11).
9b and it shall make thy belly bitter, but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey. 10 And I took the little book out of the hand of the angel, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth as honey, sweet; and when I had eaten it my belly was made bitter. v.9b-10 When we eat the little book there are two results:
- Sweet in the mouth. When we think about the Lord having his rightful place and blessing the world, it produces joy in our hearts. This is the immediate response, and the taste lingers!
- The belly bitter. When we understand how the Lord is going to do it (through judgment) it will produce sobriety. Our conscience will be affected! It will cause us to pass judgement on everything to do with the flesh. We shouldn’t treat prophecy like chewing gum. Prophesy is in some ways painful… but we need to go on eating.
11 And it was said to me, Thou must prophesy again as to peoples and nations and tongues and many kings. v.11 If we let the moral import of prophecy effect our hearts and consciences, it will prepare us not only for further light, but to be effective servants in communicating the truth we have.
Parenthesis Part II: The Two Witnesses (11:1-14)
The Remnant Distinguished from the Mass (vv.1-2)
¶ And there was given to me a reed like a staff, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship in it. v.1 The temple and its occupants (symbolizing that in Israel which is real… the remnant in a priestly character) is measured, showing GOD’S OWNERSHIP of them. “Rise, and measure” – now John (a Jew) will take an active role. When God measures something, he is about to take it up for blessing (Zech. 2:2, Ezek. 40-45).
tribulational temple. we know there will be a temple built by this verse. the jews will be restored to the land in jewish unbelief, and will be helped by the “land shadowing with wings, which art beyond the rivers of cush.” (isa.18). yet those who are faithful to god are identified with this temple.
Material temples referred to in the Word of God
- Solomon’s (I Ki. 7) destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, 588 B.C.
- Zerubbabel’s (Ezra. 3, 6) pillaged & dedicated to the heathen god Jupiter by Antiochus Epiphanes, 168 and 170 B.C.
- Herod’s (John 2:20), reconstructed & enhanced, commenced in 17 B.C. destroyed by Titus the Roman in 70 A.D.
- Antichrist’s (2 Thess. 2:4), to be built by restored Judah, destroyed by King of the North.
- Christ’s millennial temple (Ezek. 40), entirely new, grand and capacious.
2 And the court which is without the temple cast out, and measure it not; because it has been given up to the nations, and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty-two months. v.2 The court (the apostate nation) is not owned of God, and has been “trampled under foot” (Dan. 7:25, Isa. 18:6) of the Roman Gentile Beast for 42 months (42 / 12 = 3.5 years). This is the last 3.5 years, AFTER the Beast breaches the terms of the covenant (Daniel 9:27). We need to understand from Daniel 12:11 that all these durations measured from the middle of the week when the abomination of desolation is set up. “The holy city” – refers to historical Jerusalem, see v.8 where in connection with the rejection of Christ it is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. see note Ψ above.
The Testimony of the Jewish Remnant (vv.3-6)
3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. v.3 Why two witnesses? an adequate testimony for God and His claims (John 8:17). the 1260 days is: 1260 / (30 ” 12) = 3.5 years… same period as v.2, but now God’s is noticing every day of their testimony, showing His care over them. “clothed in sackcloth” – The sorrowful nature of the work, their sorrow over Israel’s condition, their rejection by their brethren (e.g. Psa. 11, 12).
the number two. We see “twos” in the Gospel of Matthew, two demoniacs (Matt. 8), two blind men (Matt. 9), etc., because it is a question of sufficient testimony to Israel. Kelly says “it might be two or two hundred”… the number is representative. Jeremiah and Baruch (Jer. 36:26) are like the remnant in Jerusalem. God hides them in the city.
4 These are the two olive trees and the two lamps which stand before the Lord of the earth; The two witnesses are pictured as:
- “olive trees” – they testify in the power of the Holy Spirit (Zech. 4:6).
- “candlesticks” – their testimony is divine light amidst darkness. Two in Rev. 11, one candlestick in Zech. 4 because there it was the person of Christ, here it is the Jewish witnesses pointing to Christ.
- “before the Lord of the earth” – the subject of their testimony is the claims of the coming Messiah as the rightful Lord of the earth. The Beast wouldn’t have minded if it was “the Lord of heaven” (v.13).
See Zechariah 4. They bear witness to the blessing of Israel under Messiah, flying in the face of the false claims of Antichirst. In Zechariah, the two olive trees were Joshua (high priestly) and Zerubbabel (kingly), though looking on to Christ in the Millennium. In Rev. 11, these answer to (1) those in the temple, and (2) those in the city. The Antichrist is a king (Dan. 11:36) and a priest (Rev. 13:12)… at this time imitating the Messiah (he has two horns, like a lamb). The witnesses (to the true messiah) are in Jerusalem for the entire time of the Antichrist’s reign.
5 and if any one wills to injure them, fire goes out of their mouth, and devours their enemies. And if any one wills to injure them, thus must he be killed. v.5 In the will of God, nothing can touch them. As Christians we are told to turn the other cheek… how could these be Christians? the disciples were a little before their time… luke 9:54.
6 These have power to shut the heaven that no rain may fall during the days of their prophecy; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth as often as they will with every plague. v.6 Their ministry and miracles have the same character as Moses and Elias – two old testament prophets. The condition of Israel is similar to that in the days of Moses and Elijah — slavery and apostasy. Not Moses and Elijah personally. The spirit and power of Elijah as was true also of John the Baptist (Luke 1:17, Matt. 11:14). not coincidentally, “the days of their prophecy” are 3.5 years, the same as elijah’s drought (James 5:17)!
The Martyrdom of the Jewish Witness by the Beast (vv.7-8)
7 And when they shall have completed their testimony, the beast who comes up out of the abyss shall make war with them, and shall conquer them, and shall kill them: v.7 They are invincible until they complete their testimony. This is the first mention of the beast. This is the revived roman empire under the immediate power of Satan. Men, for all their attempts, will never re-organize the Roman empire… until God allows Satan to do it. They are killed In order that the mystery of iniquity might rise to new heights. The witnesses don’t “ultimately lose”. They win all the way through… their death and raising is their final victory.
Origins. note the following distinctions:
- Historical revival of Rome – out of the sea (Rev. 13:1).
- Satanic revival of Rome – out of the abyss (Rev. 17:8).
- Antichrist, religious leader of revived Rome – comes out of the earth (Rev. 13:11).
- But Jesus comes out of heaven (Rev. 19:11).
8 and their body shall be on the street of the great city, which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. v.8 The street of the city whose name means “new peace” is littered with the evidence of brutal murder… now joining the ranks of Old Testament types of Satan’s world (Luke 17:28-30). Egypt is Independence from god. Sodom is corruption. These witnesses share a certain fellowship with Jesus in their manner and place of death, as well as resurrection and ascension. “Body” not “bodies” because of their unified testimony.
Scornful Treatment of the Slain Witnesses (vv.9-10)
9 And men of the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations see their body three days and a half, and they do not suffer their bodies to be put into a sepulchre. v.9 A spectacle of their short-lived triumph. “3.5 days” as with the other numbers in this chapter, we take these as literal days. This means a day for every year of the witnesses’ testimony.
10 And they that dwell upon the earth rejoice over them, and are full of delight, and shall send gifts one to another, because these, the two prophets, tormented them that dwell upon the earth. v.10 The earth-dwellers (special moral class) are so relieved from the pain of conscience, that they must feast their eyes on the corpses, full of delight… reminiscent of the Colosseum.
God’s Public Vindication of the Slain Witnesses (vv.11-14)
11 And after the three days and a half the spirit of life from God came into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon those beholding them. v.11 The men of the earth cannot conceive of the power of resurrection… a God who can raise the dead is a God whose power knows no end. Only the second installment of the first resurrection is “in the twinkling of an eye.” These will be seen briefly by earth-dwellers before being caught up. Connecting this with Rev.14:13, it seems that this is the third installment, the moment (just before the Son of Man appears) in which all martyred saints are raised (but emphasis here on the witnesses), bodily ascend, so they can come with ALL his saints (I Thess. 3:13) at his appearing, and are seen together in Rev. 20:4 reigning with Christ in the millennium.
12 And I heard a great voice out of the heaven saying to them, Come up here; and they went up to the heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them. v.12 This is the same cloud which encircled the mighty angel… they are received into the presence of the Lord Jesus. See Hebrews 11:38.
13a And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth of the city fell, and seven thousand names of men were slain in the earthquake. v.13a A great shaking just prior to the appearing of the Lord. One tenth – a division according to human responsibility. Seven-thousand – a religious sector of Jerusalem (cp. I Kings 19:18)? “Names of men” may indicate that these are men of great importance. Perhaps the most responsible earth-dwellers in Jerusalem will be instantly killed.
13b And the remnant were filled with fear, and gave glory to the God of the heaven. v.13b But they never bowed to the Lord of the earth. Acted upon by transient terror, alarmed by what is near, the worldly man thinks of God afar from himself… but there was no reception of the testimony, no conversion.
¶ 14 The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe comes quickly.
The 7th Trumpet: the Appearing of Christ (11:15-18)
seventh trumpet: no immediate judgement is announced (similar to seventh seal) but it is a summary of the victorious appearing of christ. this is the fulfillment of psalm 2. the rightful one inserts the key of david into the lock, and turns it… instantly taking the reigns of government in the earth… in a sense, the undisputed reign of christ begins at this time, the appearing of christ. in another sense, some time will pass (2 – 3 months or so) before the kingdom is fully established. see also, daniel 2:44, 7:13-14, 22.
United Heaven Announces the Appearing of Christ (v.15)
¶ 15 And the seventh angel sounded his trumpet: and there were great voices in the heaven, saying, The kingdom (1) of the world (2) of our Lord and (3) of his Christ is come, and he shall reign to the ages of ages. v.15 these are the voices of united heaven. “the kingdom of:”
- the world – the only “one-world government” ever. the only time this expression occurs in scripture.
- of our lord – the one whom we own now
- and of his christ – the promised messiah, fulfillment of prophecy. “his” is contrasted with antichrist.
he will reign “to” the eternal state, while there will be no need for government in the eternal state, yet the kingdom will never end… it will be instead “delivered up” to God.
Doxology of the Elders: Psalm 2 (vv.16-18)
16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, v.16. they fell and worshipped at the beginning of the tribulation (rev. 4 & 5) and now at the close. in this case they go even lower… “on their faces” … apreciation of christ will deepen as time rolls on into eternity. “on thrones” reigning with christ. “worshipping god” their eternal occupation.
17a saying, We give thee thanks, Lord God Almighty, He who is, and who was, v.17a thanks directed to god in two aspects, one who has all divine power and authority, and who alone existed from a past eternity. “lord god almighty” is how he was know in the old testament.
17b that (1) thou hast taken thy great power and hast reigned. 18 And (2) the nations have been full of wrath, and thy wrath is come, and (3) the time of the dead to be judged, and (4) to give the recompense to (A) thy servants the prophets, and to (B) the saints, and to (C) those who fear thy name, small and great; and (5) to destroy those that destroy the earth. v.17b-18 a five-fold subject of thanks (not chronological) these are five long-awaited events that have finally arrived:
- God has personally intervened in power, and imposed His sovereignty.
- The nations’ wrath having become full, god’s wrath finally comes.
- Judgment of the dead at the end of the millennium (see rev. 20:12).
- Rewards given by varying degree of responsibility in the kingdom (Matt. 25:14-30)
- those who were especially faithful.
- those who were the intelligent, separated people of god.
- every true beliver, no matter how weak.
- Eternal destruction of the damned (lake of fire), see rev. 19:20 + 20:15. this specifically refers to the Beast, the Antichrist, and their followers who have corrupted the prophetic earth. Isa. 14:20 identifies the beast as one who has caused the death of his own people, and the destruction of his own western territory.