(Today’s post by Wayne Bunting)
Revelation 11:15-19 seemed very hard for me to try and figure out. I stared at it for what seemed like forever. What seems strange to me is that throughout a lot of Revelation we see God’s wrath happen when each trumpet is blown. God judges the world with each of them, and they get progressively worse with each one. But when the seventh trumpet sounds we see something a little different: “there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”’ Then there is a scene where we see the 24 elders fall on their faces and worship God, again. There is no immediate judgment or indication of God’s wrath until verse 19.
In Revelation the seventh seal sets up the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet sets up the seven bowls. Seven is the number of perfection, wholeness, or completion. I think that in the case of this last trumpet, we are seeing the completion of God’s wrath, the summation of what has happened with the previous trumpets. Or rather, in its fullness, the seventh trumpet is explained in full by the succeeding 7 bowls just as the seven seals are explained in full by the seven trumpets. Think of it like a telescope; when fully extended the larger succeeding part amplifies and further clarifies the previous part of it.
Revelation 11 begins and ends with mention of a temple. The first, at the beginning of the chapter is a reference to the Old Testament temple, where sin was temporarily atoned for. The second, at the end of the chapter, is shown to be a place where Gods wrath comes out from because of sin.
The Ark of the Covenant is mentioned in verse 19. This is strategically shown here between the seventh trumpet and the bowls of wrath of chapter 16 as an indicator of God’s wrath that is based on His law. In the Old Testament His law was recorded and kept in the Ark of the Covenant. The significance of the Old Testament law here is that it showed that unless there was a sacrifice and an atonement for sin then a person was under God’s wrath. Also seen in chapter 19 are “flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.” These are a glimpse into the judgment that is seen in the bowls of wrath, particularly the seventh one. So these are judgments of those who reject God. More importantly, it is a glimpse into the wrath of God, which exists because God cannot have sin in His sight. It is also a glimpse into eternity, where those who do not have the forgiveness of Christ will suffer an eternal wrath.
Those of us who know Christ, who are born again, and who have our sins forgiven do not live under this wrath. All talk about literal/metaphorical interpretation of Revelation aside, one very important thing that we can glean from this chapter is that the wrath of God is a serious thing that should not be overlooked, or downplayed. When we say that we are saved we are saying that we are saved from God’s wrath. We are all born onto sin, and because of that are born to incur God’s wrath. But Christ died to redeem us from that curse, to rescue us from the wrath of God and the impending wrath in eternity.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, NLT)
To have your sins forgiven is to have a direct line to God. And this means that you can know Him. The world that rejects Christ does not have this. They do not have the desires of their hearts realized and satisfied in God. We do. We are forgiven. We are redeemed. We are set as priests and children of God. We are called saints because that is how God sees us. We are shown to be wearing white robes in Revelation because our sins have been washed away.
But most importantly we have this because of HIM.
So, if you know Christ take heart knowing that the wrath of God has been satisfied. And that we live in the Holy Spirit and in knowing the one who redeemed us. If you are feeling down realize that you are bought with a price. God’s wrath is not directed at you like it is in this chapter towards those who reject Christ. His view towards you is that you are redeemed, and because of that you can know the God of the universe.