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.” 16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
18 The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. – Revelation 11:15-19 ESV
As believers, we are used to thinking of Jesus as our Savior, but also as our King and Lord. To us, He already reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords, in our hearts and lives. At least, we like to think so. We are familiar with passages like Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV:
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
But notice what this passage says. It prophecies that Jesus will rule and reign from David’s throne and over his kingdom. That has not yet taken place. Daniel also prophesied about this coming day.
And the kingdom and the dominion
and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
and all dominions shall serve and obey him. – Daniel 7:27 ESV
This is an important distinction that we oftentimes overlook. Even Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 ESV). This was a prayer of aspiration and anticipation. Jesus was not just speaking of a spiritualized kingdom, a kingdom within the hearts of men, but of a literal kingdom here on earth. And that kingdom would be marked by God’s will being done throughout the earth. And the prophet Zechariah also spoke of a day when that prayer would be answered in full and in literal terms.
And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one. – Zechariah 14:9 ESV
In his commentary on the book of Revelation, Robert L. Thomas writes:
The whole theme of Revelation is the purging of evil from the world so that it can become the domain of the King of kings. Only a physical kingdom on earth will satisfy this. – Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary
And with the blowing of the seventh trumpet, the ushering in of that day finally arrives. In conjunction with the trumpet’s blast, John hears the sound of voices from heaven shouting, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” The long-awaited prophecy concerning His Kingdom finally becomes reality. And the 24 elders fall down before God in worship, acknowledging the significance of this day, saying, “you have taken your great power and begun to reign” (Revelation 11:17 ESV).
This is the beginning of His reign. And we must understand that at this point, Jesus will be returning to a world marked by sin and filled with rebellious people who have repeatedly refused to bow the knee to God. Even in the face of His judgments, they have longed for death, but not for a restored relationship with Him. Jesus’ return to earth is going to be accompanied by conquest and warfare against the physical kingdoms of this earth. The seven bowl judgments have yet to take place. There is much more that must happen before His Kingdom is fully established. And even when His millennial reign begins, the thousand year period of time in which He will sit on the throne of David and rule from Jerusalem over all the nations of the earth, it will not be the full and final form of His Kingdom rule. The apostle Paul reveals that Jesus will finalize His reign when He has subjected all under His sovereign rule, including Satan himself. Then Jesus will turn over the Kingdom to the Father.
24 After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. 25 For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. 26 And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.” (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) 28 Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere. – 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 ESV
At the end of the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth, there is another major event that will take place. John reveals it later on in his book, providing us with details concerning the arrival of the heavenly Jerusalem.
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:1-4 ESV
This is the climax to it all. The return of Christ will ultimately bring about the restoration of all things. Men will once again enjoy the intimate, unbroken fellowship with God enjoyed by Adam and Eve in the garden. Sin, sorrow, evil, pain and the very potential for repeating the rebellion that led to the fall will be eliminated once and for all.
With the blast of the seventh trumpet, the restoration of all things will be closer than it has ever been. The reign of Christ will have begun. But there will be much that has to happen before the new heavens and the new earth can come into existence. Satan will still wield his power and influence over the world. The Antichrist will still hold sway over the nations and control everything from commerce to the worship of the people. Even Satan and his minions will recognize the threat posed by Jesus’ arrival. They will see Him as an enemy and usurper to their power and will respond accordingly.
As we will see, the seven bowl judgments will bring additional pain and suffering on the earth, and result in Satan and the enemies of God declaring war on Jesus the rightful King.
13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. 15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) 16 And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. – Revelation 16:13-16 ESV
The establishment of Christ’s Kingdom will not take place without a fight. Satan will not give up his domain easily or willingly. The nations of the earth will rebel against Christ rather than repent of their sins and accept Him as their sovereign King and Lord. And John hears the voices of the 24 elders shouting: “The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged” (Revelation 11:18 ESV). Jesus will ultimately destroy the destroyers. He will conquer the nations and bring to an end the rule of Satan on the earth.
The last thing John sees in this chapter is the opening of the temple in heaven. In the Holy of Holies, John sees the ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s faithfulness and righteousness. On top of that ark is the mercy seat, the place of atonement, where Christ paid for the sins of man with His blood.
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. – Hebrews 9:11-12 eSV
24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. – Hebrews 11:24-28 ESV
The temple in heaven is open. The mercy seat is seen, reminding us that Christ has paid the price necessary for all things to be fulfilled and the final consummation of all things to take place, just as God has planned. There is nothing left to be done, except the pouring out of the bowl judgments and the final victory over Satan and his allies. The victory of Christ is assured. The outcome has been predetermined and there is no question as to which side wins. His Kingdom will come and His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.