The Seventh Trumpet (Revelation Sermon 19 of 49)
September 03, 2017 | Andrew Davis
Judgement Day, Prophecy, The Kingdom of Christ
Recently, I was in England ministering to some of our International Mission Board missionaries. I had a day in London before I left to visit places I have always wanted to see, including the British Library. It houses one of the oldest bound Bibles in the world, called the Codex Sinaiticus (because it was found on Mount Sinai) — the whole Bible in Greek. I also saw an original first edition King James Bible, and even older, a Tyndale Bible, one of six left in the world.
I also saw an original autograph manuscript of Handel’s Messiah, specifically the Hallelujah Chorus. I was in awe. I love that piece. Some of you share a love for classical music, others not so much, but you may know the incredible story of how Handel composed this piece over 24 days. A friend recounted that he would not open the door, would not eat — he was swimming in a sea of paper, surrounded by notes, tears streaming down his face. He said, “Whether I was in the body or out of the body as I wrote it, I know not. God knows. But I think I did see all Heaven opened before me and the Great God Himself.”
The most famous part of Messiah is the Hallelujah Chorus. Most people do not know about is that the entire text of Messiah is Scripture. Charles Jennens, who wrote the text for Messiah, used Scriptures that testified prophetically to the coming, the person and the work of Christ. The Hallelujah Chorus quotes three verses from the book of Revelation. We will discuss two in the future, if the Lord wills: one from Revelation 19:6, “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Hallelujah: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.’”; one from Revelation 19:16, speaking of Christ, “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
The third is the text we will discuss today, Revelation 11:15: “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.’” For 276 years, music lovers have thrilled to hear these three texts set to this incredible music. In 1743, when King George II heard it for the first time at the Hallelujah Chorus, he rose and stood for its duration. It is now tradition to rise for the Hallelujah Chorus, out of respect for the greatness of the theme.
My desire is that you would have heavenly meditations of the greatness of Christ, that you would be recaptured back into a fervent love for Christ from whatever has been pulling on your soul this week. The world, the flesh, the devil pull on us all the time; we are prone to wander all the time, prone to drift away from Christ. The ministry of the Word of God is primarily what draws us back, recapturing us again in the grips of Christ and grace. That is what I pray will happen as you listen.
Let us set context for the sounding of the seventh trumpet. The Apostle John was in exile on the island of Patmos, a small rocky island of the coast of modern-day Turkey, for preaching the Word of God, the testimony of Jesus. He had a vision of the resurrected glorified Christ moving through seven golden lamp stands. Later, a voice invited him to rise from the surface of the earth to enter through a doorway into the heavenly realms. He was enabled to do that by the power of the Holy Spirit. When he went through the doorway, he saw the central reality of the universe, a throne with Almighty God seated on it.
In that vision, Almighty God had in his right hand a scroll with writing on both sides, sealed with seven seals. Jesus Christ alone was worthy to take the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne, to break open its seven seals. As Christ opens the seals, successive judgments pour out on the earth. As the seventh seal is opened, there is silence in Heaven for half an hour, followed by seven angels with seven trumpets emerging from the seventh seal. These seven trumpets unleash a series of horrific judgments on planet earth, such as has never been seen ever in human history. They are depicted as the direct answer to cries from suffering, martyred saints, the people of God, for vengeance and justice.
Their prayers are incense, the smoke of which rises before the heavenly altar. An angel fill a golden censer with coals from the incense and hurls it to the earth in answer to the cries for justice and vengeance. The first trumpet sends fires to rage on the surface of the earth, burning up a third of all of the trees and vegetation and all the green grass. The second trumpet turns a third of the sea to blood, kills a third of the sea creatures, and sinks a third of the ships. The third trumpet poisons a third of the fresh water on planet earth, rendering it bitter. The fourth trumpet reduces a third of the celestial beings — the sun, the moon and the stars — in their heavenly luminosity.
When the fifth angel sounds his trumpet, he releases from the Abyss billowing smoke and a demonic invasion, producing an unimaginable level of torment, pain, and agony. It was like a locust swarm but with power to sting like scorpions. Those who reject God are tormented for five months. The sixth angel unleashes with his trumpet a terrifying demonic army, 200 million strong, to rampage over the surface of the earth to kill a third of the human race, perhaps two or three billion people.
Despite all of these incredible judgments being poured out on planet earth, we have this incredibly sad statement at the end of Revelation 9:20: “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent” of their wickedness. Despite that level of agony and judgment, the people are still hardened in their sins.
Just as an interlude happened between the sixth and seventh seals, there is also break in the action between the sixth and seventh trumpets. Revelation 10 shows a mighty, massive, powerful, radiant angel standing with one foot on the dry land and one foot in the sea, his head in the clouds. In his right hand is a scroll lying open with writing on it. John is commanded to take the scroll and eat it. It is sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach. Then he is commanded, or rather recommissioned, to prophesy to many nations and languages and peoples and tribes. He is sent as a prophetic messenger to the world through the writing that he will do. Thus, the scroll represents the written Scripture.
In the first half of Revelation 11, two flesh and blood witnesses take their place in this moment in redemptive history to explain God’s purpose for these plagues of judgment and to provide a final warning to urge people to repent and flee to Christ. The witnesses’ testimonies combine with John’s writings to make it clear to all. After the witnesses are killed and resurrected, the seventh angel sounds his trumpet.
Just as the seventh seal seems to unfold or unleash the seven trumpets, so the seventh trumpet is will unfold or unleash the seven bowls. The description of those appear later, in Revelation 16. With those seven bowls come the final judgments at the very end of human history. It is telescoping action, like those little Russian dolls which are opened to reveal increasingly smaller dolls. The judgments cover similar but not identical ground, so they are clearly not simultaneous but subsequent.
Before we get to the seven bowls, we will go behind the scenes in Revelation 12 and 13 to see Satan the red dragon, his demons, and then the Antichrist and his world system. We will look into “this present darkness” [Ephesians 6:12] that will escalate to a degree we can scarcely imagine. We will seek to understand the career of Satan and that of the Beast from the Sea the Beast from the Earth, as well as the evil world system that Satan has set up in which we already live but which will reach its worst level, which God calls Babylon, the Great Whore in this end time. We will examine the world and the devil and the powers that are assaulting the people of God right to the end, which will lead us to Revelation 19, the Second Coming of Christ.
Heaven Celebrates: God’s Eternal Kingdom Has Come!
The Seventh Angel Sounds His Trumpet
Let us begin with Revelation 11:15, “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.’” The seventh angel sounds his trumpet. Much of this awesome book involves waiting for God’s timing. As we read, it seems to be happening all at once, but in reality there is an unfolding over time.
God has conceived meticulous timing for everything he does. The unfolding sequences as John sees them correspond in a complex way to a timetable of judgments that God has already worked out in his mind to come later. For John these are visionary, not actually happening before him. He recorded what he saw, and we, by faith, can also see it happening even though it has not happened yet. The account of numbering the seals and the trumpets in order gives a sense of wise sequencing by God, who is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. His order is perfect and right.
The seventh trumpet and the consummation of the coming Kingdom of Christ are decisive. Now that all this judgment has occurred, at last the seventh angel sounds his trumpet. With that blast it is as though heaven is saying it is finished; it is as good as accomplished, even though there are many chapters left in the book of Revelation. Imagine watching a game in which something so decisive happens on the field that you realize the game is over; there is no way the other team can recover. That is the feel here: the declaration of the seventh trumpet is so decisive that there is no way the powers of evil will recover.
Immediately John hears loud voices, in contrast to the seventh seal which results in silence for half an hour in Heaven. Powerful angels and elders and the redeemed celebrate with all their might. Elsewhere, the sound of their voices is compared to a mighty waterfall, like Niagara Falls, an overpowering, cascading sound. They are not shy or holding back; they are excited.
What Heaven Celebrates
What do they celebrate? Verse 15 says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” The kingdom of the world represents the force that is in obvious control of the earth. It is singular — not the “kingdoms” of the world, but the kingdom of the world. The human race is a single unit. We all descend from one man, Adam. Through him, the whole human race was given planet earth as a stewardship, one kingdom of this world. But Satan usurped Adam’s place and took over the kingdom of the world. Adam surrendered the keys of that kingdom to Satan, so Satan is in some dark ways the god of this age or the king of this present kingdom.
He rules in devious ways as the power, the puppet master, behind all the thrones of dictators and tyrants. When he takes Christ up a mountain to tempt him in Luke 4:5-8, he shows him in an instant all the kingdoms (plural) of the world, with their glory and riches. “And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’” The kingdoms become one entity in Satan’s hands. He offers it to Jesus, who refuses, answering heroically, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
Satan has been ruling in secret behind various thrones, over the various large and small kingdoms and fiefdoms and countries of the world all along, pitting one against the other, causing one to rise and another to fall. He does that for his own wicked and evil purposes. We will learn more about that in Revelation 12.
Christ refused Satan’s offer of all the kingdoms of the world on his wicked terms, that Christ would bow down and worship him instead of God. Instead, Christ submitted to his Father, doing His will, and his Father has given him the world. This is what the angels and elders and all the redeemed are celebrating in Revelation 11, that the Father is giving the world to the Son in his own time and in his own way.
The Kingdom Has Become...
It says, “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” indicating that it is a finished work even though it has not happened yet. These words were written twenty centuries ago, but there is a sense of certainty in the prophetic past tense. The prophets often speak about future events as though they have already happened. For example, Isaiah 53:5-6 says, “But he [Jesus] was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah wrote those words seven centuries before Jesus was born, yet he uses the past tense. For us, it has happened in the past, but for Isaiah the prophet, it was a future event that he described as past.
The Lord’s Prayer Now Fulfilled
This statement proclaims the fulfillment of the very thing we, as disciples of Christ, have been praying for throughout our Christian lives in the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” How many hundreds of millions of times have those words been said to God? Here at last, God has answered all those prayers; the time has come.
A “kingdom” is the place where a ruler openly, evidently rules. This verse refers to the time when God is clearly ruling on earth. Currently He is already the king of the world. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof…” [Psalm 24:1] It is His and He rules it now, though not openly. He is secretly maneuvering free-will beings to do His will, whether they acknowledge Him or not. Thus Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” His will is not presently done on earth as it is in Heaven, but after the Second Coming, all will see. The seventh trumpet will quickly set in motion the final judgments that will culminate in the destruction of Satan’s wicked kingdom and of the Antichrist.
God the Father’s Pledge to Christ the Son
Here at last we also see a fulfillment of the pledge that the Father made to the Son to give him the world. Psalm 110 shows powerfully how God makes it plain that He will give all the world to the Kingdom of His Son. Psalm 110:1-2 says, “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’ The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.” After Christ died, rose again and ascended, Hebrews tells us he went through the Heavenly realms to the right hand of God. He is seated there and has been for twenty centuries. During that time, God has been extending Christ’s scepter to the ends of the earth. He is ruling in the midst of his enemies in secret permeation. It is not evident and obvious. Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman took and hid in kruptós — Greek meaning encrypted — in a large amount of flour until it permeated the whole dough. That has been happening for twenty centuries. But God intends a more open obvious glory for his Son because he was willing to leave Heavenly glory and make himself nothing to be found as a servant and to be obedient even to the point of death on a cross. God said He would give Christ “the name that is above every name” and guarantee “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Philippians 2:9-11]
The Eternity of God’s Kingdom
Revelation 11:15 shows the eternality of God’s reign: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” All human kingdoms terminate in death. In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a statue with a head of gold and chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, feet partly iron, partly clay. He did not know what it meant, so Daniel interpreted it for him. These various precious and other metals represented a span of history from the Babylonian empire through the Medo-Persian Empire, through the Greeks and the Romans — they represent human kingdoms.
But then the focus comes in on the feet of clay. Having feet of clay refers to a weakness in a great man or leader, like an Achilles heel. The coming kingdom of Christ strikes the statue on its feet of clay, smashing them and collapsing the entire statue as a result. Daniel 2:34-35 says, “While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.”
The chaff is particles of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and clay — a pile of nothing, like sawdust. All the human kingdoms of the world, all evidence of their glory, are like dust, which is blown away in a whirlwind. There is nothing left; the threshing floor is clean. The rock that strikes the statue and the feet of clay becomes a huge mountain that filled the whole earth. The rock represents the kingdom of Christ; unlike all of those human kingdoms, it will last forever. Daniel 2:44 says, “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.”
The feet of clay is the mortality of the leaders. God said to Adam, “You will sink back down into the dust from which you came for dust you are and to dust you will return.” We will die, but Jesus has triumphed over death. He cannot die again, so He will reign forever and ever. Human kingdoms are dust in the wind, just as Isaiah said in Isaiah 40:22-24, “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.”
Every morning, I read a biography to my kids of Adoniram Judson. He was a missionary in the 1820s to Burma. He sailed up the Irrawaddy River, along the jungles of Burma, to see the king, or to “prostrate himself at the golden feet” as it was called. Along the river, he saw many former ancient royal cities of previous Burmese kings. In Burma, when a son took the throne, he would build his own royal city rather than ruling in his father’s royal city. Within 10-20 years or less the jungle would capture former royal cities and turn them back to nothing. This represented a cautionary tale to each ruler of Burma: someday you will die and your royal city will be reduced to jungle again. The Kingdom of God and of Christ, however, will last for all eternity. The final conquest of this royal Kingdom will be achieved only by the immeasurable greatness of God’s sovereign power.
The 24 elders join the praise. Verses 16-17 say, “And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying: ‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.’” They are prostrating themselves before God in joyful worship, thanking Him for the open display of His sovereign power, which is essential to seizing back the kingdom of the world from Satan and from the Antichrist — the wicked human rulers. The elders celebrate the awesome power of God to finally establish Christ’s reign on earth. My understanding of history is that God raises up monsters, such as Pharaoh who enslaved the Jews, allows them to have a wide range of power, and then crushes them as a display of His power. Romans 9:17 says, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’” This is true of all tyrants in history who have had massive power, but the greatest monster, the beast, is yet to come.
Verse 17 says, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.” This is a great display of His power. Satan, Antichrist, and all the human opposition will not hand it to Him; He must take it from them. Most people read this verse without pause, but we need to realize that this is about omnipotence — infinite power. If we asked God “Was that particularly difficult for you to do?” What would He say? It would be like asking Jesus, “Of all your healings, which was the hardest ?” It is a ridiculous question. They were equally easy for him; he can do anything. Or if we asked the raging inferno that is the sun, “Which is hardest for you to ignite, a matchstick, a twig, a branch, a tree or a forest?” what would it say? None would be difficult. That is a picture of God’s omnipotence.
But from our perspective, as created beings, this is a huge accomplishment. The power of Satan, of the Red Dragon, and of the demons, and of the beast, and of the world-conquering empire that he will set up will be the most powerful the world has ever seen, directly attacking the people of God and slaughtering them. From our perspective, it will take immense power to set this kingdom up, and God will do it. The elders fall on their faces to worship and give Him thanks for it. They have yearned for that in their hearts, that God would use Him omnipotence of yours to clean this world up. At last He does it.
Earth Enraged: God’s Eternal Kingdom Has Come!
The Coming of the Kingdom of God ENRAGES the People of the Earth
But the joy of heaven is not shared by the inhabitants of the earth. Verse 18 says, “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.”
The coming of God’s kingdom enrages the people of the earth. They have not been praying, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom of God and of Christ is repulsive to them, to every fiber of their being. It is the very thing they do not want. They do not find Jesus’ yoke easy and his burden light. They are not excited that a thrice holy God actively reigns over every aspect of His kingdom, not thrilled that God is light and in Him, there is no darkness at all. They are not attracted to the person and work of Jesus Christ. They hate this work of God and are filled with rage.
Rage Characterizes Twenty Centuries of Opposition to Christ and His Kingdom
This rage is clearly depicted in Psalm 2. Here we see twenty centuries of human opposition to Christ and his Kingdom. Psalm 2:1-3 says, “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they say, ‘and throw off their fetters.’” They do not consider his yoke easy; they want to throw it off. The kings of the earth, who have always been enemies of Christ, have taken their power and authority at every stage of history and fought against the Lord and against His Christ. Psalm 2:4 gives God's reaction, “The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.” He laughs in judgment and derision. If you all of you banded together to combine your power, I would still laugh. If all of the demons, every one were together against me, if every created being took their stand against me, I would still laugh. Omnipotence.
This is God’s decree and action after that laughter: “He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my King on Zion, my holy mountain.’ I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.’”
Then the psalmist gives some advice: “Therefore, you kings be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.”
The End of the Rage-Filled Opposition
This rage-filled opposition to Christ and His kingdom will reach its final act in those last chapters in the book of Revelation. We will see it in the coming of the Antichrist and his blasphemous reign and in the great escalation of persecution. The overwhelming majority of Christian martyrs that will have lived have not yet been murdered. There is a huge number of martyrs yet to come.
We will see it in the way that the world and its leaders, its sub-kings under the Antichrist, will gather for one last battle against the people of God at Armageddon. One last time they will fight. Their rage is a replica of the dragon, Satan’s, rage, that we will see in the next chapter. Revelation 12:12. He, Satan, “is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
Judgment Day: Eternal Rewards and Endless Wrath
Judgment Day Imminent
Finally, verse 18 gives us Judgment Day, eternal rewards and endless wrath. “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.” Judgment Day is coming. The seventh trumpet heralds the events that will lead rapidly to the Day of the Lord and judgment on the wicked forces of evil.
Many verses talk about the day of the Lord or Judgment Day. Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Jesus said that on the Day of Judgment we must give an account for every careless word that we have spoken. The time will have come at last for that judgment.
God Waits Patiently for That Day and its Rewards for His Servants
God has been waiting patiently for that day to come and predicting again and again that it will come. Later in the book, we will have Judgment Day clearly depicted. Revelation 20:12, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”
All of us who are genuine believers in Christ will be rewarded by God for any good deed you did, done by faith, done for the glory of God, done with a loving demeanor. He will reward anything, no matter how great or small. He will reward great courage shown in going to an unreached people group and taking your life in your hands, maybe dying that that group might come to faith in Christ; or small things like giving a cup of cold water to somebody in need. God does not forget anything. Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him…” He will reward the saints and prophets and all those who have served him faithfully.
Destroying those who Destroy the Earth
He will also destroy those who destroy the earth. This shows the special anger that God has reserved for the wicked of the earth whose sins have resulted in the destruction of His beautiful planet. After God made this beautiful world and everything was arranged just how he wanted it to be, it was so beautiful. The oceans and the rivers and the lakes and the mountains and all of the sea creatures and all of the air breathing animals, and insects, and birds — everything was beautiful. God saw all that He had made and behold, it was very good.
Who are those who destroy the earth? The entire human race, for one, because in Adam we sinned, we fell, and God cursed the earth as a result. Romans 8:20-21 says, “…the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” But this verse — “The time has come … for destroying those who destroy the earth.” — might also zero in on people who have, in a specific way, destroyed aspects of the earth with ecological disasters through industrial greed or policies that have ravaged some aspect of the planet, polluting the sky, the earth, the water. God will judge people who destroy the earth and He will make in its place a beautiful new world.
Heaven’s Temple Unveiled
The Heavenly Realities Behind Moses’ Sacrificial System
In verse 19, we see Heaven’s temple unveiled: “Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant.” In the language of the Old Covenant, Moses’ tabernacle and the Ark, the golden box that he made of acacia wood inlaid and overlaid with gold, were a type and a shadow and a symbol of a heavenly temple. So also was Solomon’s temple. Hebrews 8 tells us that the Levitical priesthood in the sanctuary is a copy, a replica of the heavenly reality.
This is not like in Steven Spielberg’s movie in which the ark was found at Tannis and stored in a shipping crate in a warehouse in Washington D.C. I believe that God is in the habit and process of destroying his physical replicas of heavenly realities, such as the ark and the bronze serpent. God’s temple in heaven is the genuine reality of what the ark symbolizes: the place where one hears God’s voice and has communion with Him, where the glory cloud was over the mercy seat, where He spoke to Moses and to the high priest, where the blood was poured out by the high priest once a year, where the actual stone tablets of the law of Moses and the jar of manna were. All of those items and actions represent communion — intimate, close fellowship — of God with atoned-for sinners. This is what is seen in heaven in verse 19, bringing the sense of fear and judgment that comes with flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, earthquakes and a great hailstorm.
Christ’s Kingdom and Judgment are Coming
Week after week I preach astonishing things from this book, and for me, the most important thing you can do is delight in the coming king and kingdom. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you [that means let me be your king, stop fighting my kingly rule. Bow your neck, let me put my yoke on your neck] and learn from me for I am gentle and humble at heart and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Do not fight my kingdom; delight in my kingdom. Submit to Christ. If you have never trusted in Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, do it right now. Christ is the Son of God; He died on the cross in your place as an atoning sacrifice. Trust in Him and come to Christ.
Yearn for the Coming Kingdom!
For believers, our job is to delight in that kingdom ever more, to celebrate it, yearn for it, look forward to it. One of the big differences between Christians and non-Christians is we are looking forward to and cannot wait for this kingdom to come. Non-Christians are enraged at the coming Kingdom. We need to pray, as never before: Oh God, may your name be held in honor, may it be hallowed all over the world, and may your kingdom come, and may your will at last be done on earth in the same way that it is being done right now in heaven.
And then we need to live like this. “So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” [Matthew 6:31-33] What does it mean to seek first His kingdom? It means to pray for it to come, to evangelize and embrace missions to talk to lost people about this, and to look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.
I am looking forward to the international picnic tomorrow because I never get an easier chance to share the gospel to people from all over the world. I do not have to get on a plane. People from all over the world come to a picnic that we host, eating our food, so they will have to listen to at least some of us talking to them about Jesus. It never gets easier. This is worldwide evangelism in one picnic place. If you do not come to the picnic, pray tomorrow around noon when we will be sharing the gospel with people from all over the world. And if you cannot come, find somebody this week whom you think is lost and share the Gospel with them.
Delight in the Eternal Nature of Christ’s Coming Kingdom
Finally, feed the delight that you have in the coming kingdom — get excited, look forward to it, celebrate it. Think about the Hallelujah Chorus: “The kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, hallelujah, and he will reign forever and ever.” Make those your prayer this afternoon.
Father, thank you for the time we have had to celebrate, to rejoice, to delight in the coming Kingdom. I pray that you would give us a zeal and an energy and a delight such as we have never had before, based on the Scripture, that we would be so evidently, clearly filled with joy and hope, and that we would allow that to move us to share the Gospel with people as we have opportunity. Father, we thank you for these things, in Jesus’ name. Amen.