My wife and i have been doing a Marvel Cinematic Universe “marathon” for the past few months. As such, we recently finished Avengers: Infinity War. Now, to be fair, this is kind of a backward illustration, but bear with me. The point remains.
Chaos reigns in the last thirty minutes of the film. The heroes are fighting the army of Thanos. They are trying to destroy the lone remaining infinity stone before Thanos can get his hands on it. The fighting is fierce.
And then, it looks like Thanos has failed in his mission. Vision’s mind stone was destroyed. But Thanos had just retrieved the time stone, so he simply rewinds time. Disaster averted (for Thanos).
But just as Thanos adds the mind stone to his gauntlet, Thor’s ax embeds itself in Thanos’ chest. Thor ends up standing right in front of Thanos. And then Thanos snaps.
The change is instantaneous. The chaos stops. The fighting ends. Instead, people are trying to figure out who remains. A haunting peace surrounds the environment.
I know, that’s a terrible illustration because Thanos is the bad guy. Right? He’s not supposed to win. Right?
And you’re correct. But the point this post seeks to prove is that the world will end in an instant. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52,
Listen! I am telling you a mystery:
We will not all fall asleep,
but we will all be changed,
in a moment, in the blink of an eye,
at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound,
and the dead will be raised incorruptible,
and we will be changed.
John describes this vividly in Revelation 11:15-19,
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 Messiah,
and He will reign forever and ever!
The 24 elders, who were seated before God on their thrones, fell facedown and worshiped God, saying:
We thank You, Lord God, the Almighty,
who is and who was,
because You have taken Your great power
and have begun to reign.
The nations were angry,
but Your wrath has come.
The time has come
for the dead to be judged
and to give the reward
to Your servants the prophets,
to the saints, and to those who fear Your name,
both small and great,
and the time has come to destroy
those who destroy the earth.
God’s sanctuary in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant appeared in His sanctuary. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings of thunder, an earthquake, and severe hail.
Not quite. As we discussed two posts ago, there is more to come. We must remember that last week’s post plays directly into this one. As for the timeline of Revelation, there is a “parenthesis” from 12:1-19:10 that rehashes much we’ve already seen in 4:1-11:19. I will prove this throughout the remainder of this series.
As for our passage today, it can be discussed under three headings: The statement from heaven, the statement from God’s people, and God’s response.
The Statement from heaven (11:15)
This is the statement of consummation. History is over. Jesus is reigning forever. He has taken over the world system and made it His own. We will see what this looks like throughout the rest of this book. A significant emphasis of 12:1-19:10 is “the kingdom of the world [becoming] the kingdom of our Lord.”
But here we see that Jesus wins. Jesus reigns.
This is cause for joy for the Christian. The evil, wicked, hateful world system will be done away with forever. We will be eternally free from oppression. This is good news!
The Statement from God’s People (11:16-18)
This is a statement of thanksgiving. This is further proof that these “elders” represent the priests of God, which refers to all Christians. They are the ones who most benefit from God’s reigning power.
Their statement can be further broken down into two aspects. The first emphasizes God’s person and reign. The second emphasizes the results (judgment for the wicked; reward for the righteous). It is worth noting that only the praise is present; everything else is referred to in the past (or “aorist,” for the Greek nerds like myself). I point that out to show that it’s not possible on a textual basis to say that God was already reigning and now is going to judge. In other words, this text doesn’t support–on its own–any particular millennial approach.
The emphasis here is that God is reigning, and His people are thankful. You could almost say that they responded to the voice from heaven (11:15) with thankful rejoicing for the entirety of God’s sovereign activity.
God’s Response (11:19)
God responds to the very last thing they say. If we remember back to 6:9-11, God told the martyrs to wait a little while. Their persecutors would be judged, but not yet. Here, we see Him judge them. They say that the “time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth,” and God answers with lightning, thunder, earthquake, and hail. This earthquake is likely the same one mentioned in 11:13, and it is probably also the same one mentioned in 6:12, and also 8:5, and again later in 16:18. The world will end with an earthquake. We will look at it again when we reach 16:18, but these are certainly the same because 16:18 uses the same imagery: hail and an earthquake.
The way verse 19 starts is more important than the judgment the wicked can expect. The ark of the covenant is in the sanctuary in heaven.
The ark was in the holy of holies and represented the presence of God. The Israelites were unable to be near the ark. Only the high priest was allowed; he was only allowed once a year. We saw last time that the sanctuary referred to God’s people. As such, God is saying, “True worship is spiritual worship, and my people have my holy presence inside them” (cf. John 4:23-24). And even more–in Revelation 11:19–God is saying, “My people are safe in my holy presence eternally!”
However, this carries a warning to those in John’s day–and ours–who want to overemphasize physical worship. The Jews insisted that theirs was the only proper worship of God. They said that they had the temple (though granted, it might have been destroyed by this point), so they claimed sole access to God. John here explains that genuine access to God is through the blood of Jesus Christ. The veil was torn in two (cf. Luke 23:45), symbolizing that we have access to God because of Christ’s work on the cross.
And then, the chapter concludes with judgment on those who do not have access to God through Christ.
Place your faith in Him today!
Escape judgment! Know fellowship with God! Experience eternal life! Don’t wait until it’s too late!
You never know when the trumpet will sound, just like no one knew when Thanos would snap.
You need to be ready!
In this with you.
Soli Deo Gloria
Thanks for reading.
The next entry can be found here.