15] Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” 16] And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17] saying:
“We give you thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
18] The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that you should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth.”
19] Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thundering, an earthquake, and great hail. (NKJV)
Revelation 10:5 refers to the days of the sounding of the seventh angel and says “the mystery of God” will be finished. We talked about this some, that this “mystery” has to do with the “problem” of evil and why God doesn’t do something about it. Our text and chs. 12-14 give us some more of the answer. It gives us something of the scene in heaven and chs. 12-14 tell us about what will happen on this earth during this time.
To start, “loud voices” utter a bold statement: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.” Some of you have Bible notes that tell you that the word “kingdoms” is actually singular, that is, the “kingdom of this world,” etc. The voices aren’t referring to individual nations like the US or Canada, but the governance of the world, that is, mankind, itself. We don’t often think about this. It’s usually thought to be the province of fringe groups and conspiracy theorists, but Scripture tells us that it is so – not the theories of men, but the fact is that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12. It says the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one, 1 John 5:19. It says that even believers once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others, Ephesians 2:2, 3.
I’m glad Ephesians 2:3 isn’t the end of the story for us – “children of wrath, just as the others.” If men wrote the rest of the story, it would be something like, “but we turned over a new leaf and began to live right, and we all lived happily ever after.”
That’s not what it says. It says –
Those words occur elsewhere in Scripture. I leave it to you to find them. It’s a rich study.
You see, contrary to much of modern thought, we didn’t take the first step toward God. He took the first step toward us, though that’s really a terribly inadequate way to put it. We were going the other direction. If He hadn’t stopped us, we’d’ve kept on going to perdition.
Our text is a “but God” for this world. Men might turn everything upside down: redefining marriage, redefining “male and female,” promoting wickedness and unbelief on every side, and nothing seems to be happening. The heavens are silent. There is coming a time, however, when He will step in and it will be obvious that He has.
God has always been in charge, though it may not seem like it, and men question the idea. He’s always been supervising and superintending what goes on on this ball of dirt. It just isn’t always apparent, though the results of our transgressions are evident: poverty, violence, political and social unrest. When the seventh trumpet sounds, it will signal the beginning of His obvious rule.
V. 18 describes this time.
1. It will be a time of rebellion, the nations were angry. When God steps in and cuts out all the immorality and wickedness of this world, folks aren’t going to like it. We see something of this in the “marches” and rioting and uproar that happens at even the mention of curtailing some of these things.
2. It will be a time of recompense, the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints.
Scripture tells us that there will be several judgments, not just a “final judgment,” which some say is what is mentioned in Revelation 20:11-15.
a. There will be a judgment of the nation of Israel. In Ezekiel 20:33-37, God said to Israel, “As I live,” says the LORD God, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,” says the Lord God.
“I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.”
Then v. 40 says that those who do make it into the land, every one of them, will serve the Lord. This is what Paul was writing about in Romans 11:26. And, by the way, these are the “brethren” of whom the Lord speaks in Matthew 25, to which we now turn.
b. There will be a judgment of nations, Matthew 25:31-46. After the Lord’s return to this earth, He’s going to gather the nations together – there won’t be that many people left after all the judgments of the Tribulation Period. They will be divided into “sheep” and “goat” nations simply on the basis of how they have treated the Lord’s brethren, vs. 37, 45. This has nothing to do with the homeless and disadvantaged, as those who think the Gospel is about nothing but social issues claim. We have responsibilities toward these, to be sure, but that’s not the issue in Matthew 25. The issue will be how nations have treated the Jewish people during the seventieth week, the Tribulation Period.
c. There will be a judgment of believers.
I Corinthians 3:11-15: For other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has build on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
This has nothing to do with salvation, as the last verse tells us, but of reward or loss for our life’s work. Contrary to the gospel saying, “every work for Jesus” will not be blessed. There’s a great deal done in Christian circles “to be seen of men.” Our Lord said that such already have their reward, Matthew 6:2, 5. John was concerned about this. He wrote that we should be careful, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward, 2 John 8, emphasis added. There will be some who enter heaven with nothing but the clothes on their back, so to speak, their lives having been reduced to ashes. That is a sobering thought in these frivolous and superficial times.
d. There will be a judgment of unbelievers, Revelation 20:11-15.
This will be a judgment of “works,” of how the life was lived, but the determining factor will be whether or not a person’s name is written in the Book of Life. We’ll have much more to say about this later.
Evolution tells us that billions of years have passed, and billions will likely yet pass before the sun either flames out or burns out and life will be done on this planet. Nice how they always put this way out there where no one who listens to them today will be around to prove or disprove it. Kind of like what they do with our beginnings. Nothing is going on now, it was all billions or millions of years ago, so that even though we can’t duplicate it today, that’s how it happened.
No one knows when the things spoken of in Revelation will happen. Our Lord may come back before I get done typing this post. He may not return for several generations. Only He knows.
It really doesn’t matter. Whether today, tomorrow, next year, or next century, the point is, we will all stand in His presence. Only those who have received Him as Savior will enter heaven. He Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me,” John 14:6, emphasis added. The world may think that “all roads lead to heaven,” but our Lord says that’s a lie. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, Acts 16:31.