Text: Rev 11:14-19
OT Text: Joshua 6:1-21
Featured Verse: Rev 11:15 Then 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 Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
Main Idea: We see (another) picture of God bringing redemptive history to a close and establishing his eternal kingdom as the kingdom of this world crumbles at the seventh trumpet blast.
[The interlude of chapters 10-11 has come to a close. Verse 14 tells us that the final woe and the seventh trumpet will bring this second series of judgments to an end. Also, this fits the pattern of the four series of seven judgments (seals, trumpets, thunders/visions, bowls) in that each of the final visions gives us a look at the throne room of heaven as God brings final judgment onto the earth.]
The dominant OT background for the first six trumpets was the Exodus account. The blowing of the trumpets is expressed in terms of the plagues that God used to deliver Israel from the bondage in Egypt. This will be further confirmed in chapter 15 when we hear the redeemed people singing the song of Moses. But the interlude of chapters 10-11 introduced another line of concern which will come together in this final trumpet blast. In yesterday's passage we saw the people of God giving faithful witness in the midst of a hostile world. And when God brought final vindication parts of the city walls crumbled.
There is reason to believe that those two themes (the exodus and a crumbling enemy city) have come together in this final trumpet blast. The OT story of the exodus did not end in the desert, but followed Israel into the promised land. (Yes, there is also an interlude in that story - 40 years of wandering.) The entrance to the promised land required the defeat of an enemy city which stood on the border of the promised land. Moses did not live to make this journey, but his successor, a young leader named Joshua, led the people of God around the city in a procession of faithful dependence on God. Seven days of marching and a trumpet blown each day. On the seventh day, the final trumpet was blown and the fortified city of their enemy crumbled and the barrier to the promised land was removed.
In a similar way, the seventh trumpet blast brings down the kingdom of this world and opens the pathway to the promised land. Like the Joshua account, the seventh trumpet blast brings the judgment and destruction of the enemies of God. In the book of Joshua, it was the hostile inhabitants of Jericho. In this vision from Revelation, it is the entirety of the world that will be brought into judgment (11:18).
Conclusion and Application
The biblical theme of universal judgment can be a hard doctrine. Partly, it is hard because we fail to see the seriousness of sin or the holiness of God. Partly, it is hard because we know that sin marks our own hearts and lives also. Celebrating the final judgment (as is frequently done in the book of Revelation) can feel like we are basking in hypocritical self-righteousness. But we need to remember the context. Persecution is real and the removal of persecutors is necessary for complete salvation. Verse 18 tells us that those who are destroyed are "the destroyers of the earth."
The exodus story reminds us that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God but are saved (passed over) because of the blood of the Lamb of God. It also reminds us that the removal of opposition is necessary for complete salvation. There are two ways in which enemies of God can be removed. The first is conversion. Hence the urgency of the church to be faithful witnesses (11:4). Granted, Revelation doesn't show a lot of conversion stories, but the people of God are described as a "great multitude that no one could number from every nation" (7:9). As the story unfolds throughout the ages, many of God's former enemies are repenting and entering the kingdom by faith in the Lamb Slain. And yet, Revelation tempers our hope with a measure of reality. In spite of God's visible power, many people will refuse to repent (9:20). Those who continue in their opposition to God (which often leads to oppression for those who follow God) the day of judgment will be a day of wrath (11:18). For those who do not repent, their opposition to God will be removed in the final judgment. This is a stern and sober truth that should motivate our prayers and our witness.