It is such a blessing to study God's Word. And I'm grateful to the faithful of Royal Palm Church and those on-line who are willing to tackle this difficult but inspiring writing.
This week we continue with the vision of the activities of Heaven as God prepares to initiated his Final Judgment on those left on earth. He continues to give warnings and opportunities to those who are far from him. In this study, God sends two special witnesses to give testimony to the salvation that is offered in Jesus Christ, alone.
I trust you'll be blessed by the Lord in this study. Let me know if you have any questions or comments. God bless you, Kirk McCormick
War in Heaven
** We are as primed as possible for the final judgment to happen. In the last study we were given insight into the workings of heaven that lead to the judgment.
** God sends two witnesses, the consensus is that it is Moses and Elijah – two who were taken into heaven without death, to give witness through extraordinary powers of God’s call torepentance.
** When their work is done, God allows the Two Witnesses to be killed and put on display as trophies for Evil in the world. But what the world fails to understand is that this means that judgment is more imminent than ever.
** The “Third Woe” is upon them.
11:15-18 – The Unleashing of the 7th Trumpet – a Glimpse of What is to Be
Note: Remember… there were 7 Seals – with the 7th Seal unveiling/containing the 7 Trumpets. Now we will see how the 7th Trumpet contains 7 Bowls…each given to reveal God’s final judgments against the rebellious world/nations as led by Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet.
** Two Messages at the sounding of the 7th Trumpet – voices that foretell the contents of the rest of the book.
1. “Loud Voices” say - “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (v. 15)
· The voices are likely the multitude of angels, as this is the pattern of The Revelation (c.f.: 5:11-12)
· Point: Here we have the official transfer of ownership of the world.
o God had allowed Satan to be the “Ruler of this World” (c.f.: Psalm 2; John 12:31; 1 Corinthians 14:24-28; Ephesians 2:2), but now the “title deed” (i.e.: the scroll) has been fulfilled and God takes back full ownership of his Creation.
2. The “Twenty-four Elders” say – “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken1 your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” (vs. 17-18)
· The Elders announce the ETERNAL reign of God…never to be given to another (i.e.: Satan or his cohorts) as He will reign “forever and ever.” (c.f.: Daniel 2:44; Zechariah 14:9)
Note: “you have taken” is in the perfect tense = permanent, complete action…compared to the aorist tense of the other verbs = ongoing, yet-to-be-fulfilled action. In other words, “you have taken” means it will always be this way. God has decisively and permanently defeated Evil and Satan is eternally dethroned!
· However, this eternal reign will not be without a fight… the “nations were angry” and fight against the King.
Note: Yes…the nations were angry… but so is God. You might say that God’s reasonable/rational response to the nations anger is a fitting response. The “punishment fits the crime”
· This is also the moment when God rewards the faithful.
Note: “Reward” = to give what is due…think “wages”. You see…though salvation is a gift that cannot be earned, there is a reward for faithfulness. Not everyone has equal reward in heaven (which…btw…is gonna drive the liberal/socialist/“fairness” folks crazy). (c.f.: Matthew 5:11-12)
v. 19 – “Here comes ‘da Judge” as the Heavenly Temple is Opened
** To date…God has been working through his angels and prophets (i.e.: witnesses). Now the Lord himself is entering the fight.
** Here we have a scene reminiscent of when Jesus died...
· The Jews believed God lived in the Holy of Holies of the Temple. But when Jesus died, the veil that hid God from the people was torn from the top to the bottom.
· Here, a similar unveiling happens:
o “God’s temple in heaven was opened” = God’s presence is wide open, fully engaged…no more regulators on his power since he, himself, is engaging.
o the “ark of the covenant” is seen = the ark is the symbol of the presence of God…the assurance that his eternal covenants with his people are intact.
§ This is not the ark which was in the first Temple (c.f.: Hebrews 9:23-24)
o and the thunder, rumblings, et al are signs that God is taking action
Point: This is a picture of the coming of the full glory of God, a terrifying threat to his enemies but an uplifting promise to the people of his covenant.
Note: Before we move on yet as we look ahead… Revelation 20-22 tell of the fulfillment of this Coming of the Lord. Chapters 12-19 tell of what happen when the time had come for God to take back his Kingdom until that action is complete.
Chapter 12: 1- - A Woman, Dragon, and Child
** Now that we have the general prediction of what will happen, John fills in the gaps with specifics on how God will send the final judgment and who the main players are in it.
** Here we have a vision NOT of what will happen in the future, but of what has already happened. It is a vision that transcends time and space, letting us know of the Spiritual Warfare that has been taking place for a very long time.
The Woman (vs. 1, 2) –
· This is a clear representation of Israel…though most Reformed Scholars say it is the church. The question is, “From which people did Messiah come?” Answer: Israel.
· To Understand… c.f.: Genesis 37:9-11 – Joseph’s dream of when his brothers will betray him – “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
· She is –
o “clothed with the sun” = symbol of Jacob
o the “moon under her feet” = symbol of mothers of patriarchs (Leah, Rachel)
o wears a “crown of twelve stars on her head” = the 12 patriarchs/tribal leaders of the nation of Israel
· The Woman is clearly the mother of Messiah. (v. 2 – “She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.”)
o Note: The Roman Catholics believe this is a picture of Mary…but that suits only their theological agenda since this Woman as Mary had nothing to do with the 12 tribes other than being born in the Tribe of Judah.
o Her pregnancy symbolizes the agony of Israel as it awaits the coming of Messiah, and then the suffering when they run from persecution.
§ c.f.: Isaiah 66:7-8 – “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.”
§ c.f.: Micah 4:10 – “Writhe in agony, O Daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the LORD will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies.”
The Dragon (vs. 3, 4) –
· This is a clear representation of Satan
o “Enormous” = an evil never seen before…fierce and powerful
o “7 heads” = the fullness of Satan’s reign
o “10 horns” = goes back to Daniel (7:7 – “it was different from all the others”; 7:24 – the ten horns are ten earthly kings working with Satan to do his bidding – they are a precursor to the final Antichrist)…the horn is a symbol of strength, leading a brigade – thus, this refers to the unmatched immensity of Satan’s power
o “7 Crowns/Diadems” = the fullness of Satan’s blasphemous claim to rule creation
o “Tail swept away a third of the stars” = the reality of when Satan led a rebellion against God causing a third of the angels to “fall”, creating the demonic/evil armies
Isaiah 14:12-14 – “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.”
Luke 10:18 - Jesus replied when the disciples were amazed that the demons obeyed at the name of Jesus, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
Point: So… the sin that caused the downfall (figurative, literal, spiritual) of Satan is pride!
o The Dragon’s primary interest is to destroy/devour the Child
The Child (vs. 5, 6) –
· This is a clear representation of Jesus, the Savior/Messiah
· “She gave birth to a Son who will rule the nations” = he is Immanuel, “God with us”…because who else can rule the nations, who else is Sovereign other than God Himself?
· The Child was “snatched up” = some say this is a foreshadowing of the ascension of Jesus after the resurrection
o Paul uses the same verb to describe what will happen to the church (1 Thessalonians 4:17 – “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”)
Note: All of this is in fulfillment of Genesis 3:14-16 – After Adam and Eve confess to disobedience saying the serpent had deceived them…
So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
** “The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God…for 1,260 days.”
· The “fleeing” = a time when the people of Israel, perhaps referring also to the later persecution of the church, will try to avoid the powers of Evil.
Note: “Fleeing” is a protection strategy often employed by God’s people.
ILL: Elijah fled to hide from an angry King/Queen (1 Kings 17:4)
Israel fled to get away from the oppression of Egypt (Exodus)
We “flee” when tempted (1 Corinthians 6:18 – “flee sexual immorality”, or 1
Corinthians 10:14 – “flee from idolatry”)
· The “1,260” days likely means for a period of time…not permanent, but temporary.
vs. 7-9 – And While all of that is happening on Earth… In Heaven…
“And there was war in heaven.” (v. 7)
** Michael and the righteous angels fight Satan and the fallen angels…
…Satan loses not only the fight but his place in heaven (v. 8)…
The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
vs. 10-12 – The Victory Song in Heaven
** The redemptive work of Jesus was perfected on the cross… but the stage for that victory was set in heaven when the armies of God, led by Michael, defeat Satan.
Note: “Satan” = the “Accuser”…
…Job reminds us that one of Satan’s greatest tasks is to accuse God’s righteous.
See Job 1, as an example.
Point: There comes a time when God says, Enough is Enough…
…and the victory hymns says –
· The victory over Satan is accomplished through the sacrificial blood of Jesus
· That the sacrifice of the martyrs is a witness to that victory of Jesus
· Therefore, we can rejoice in the confidence that the victory is complete.
…then comes the epilog – “But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
** The rest of The Revelation is about that time of “Woe” that leads to Jesus’ final victory and the reestablishment of his kingdom on Earth.