Revelation Chapters 8 thru 11
Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night.
The Day of the Lord
Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:1–2 NET)
The Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.
Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would. (1 Thessalonians 5:3–4 NET)
The Day of the Lord will not be as a thief surprising Christians. There will be signs alerting us to Jesus’ return for His church, and we know what to look for by studying the scriptures under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
For you all are sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness. So then we must not sleep as the rest, but must stay alert and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But since we are of the day, we must stay sober by putting on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet our hope for salvation.For God did not destine us for wrath but for gaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:5–9 NET)
God has not destined us to be on Earth when He pours out His wrath via the Trumpet and Bowl judgments.
He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:10–11 NET)
The conclusion, Christians will be raptured before the Day of the Lord.
Therefore, if the Day of the Lord begins with the tribulation period and the believer is not appointed unto wrath; therefore, the believer is raptured before the Tribulation period begins. (18)
That conclusion, however, is incorrect. (18)
The error of such logic is that it assumes that the Day of the Lord commences when the seventieth week of Daniel begins. But carefully examining the biblical data will clearly indicate that it does not. The false assumption just mentioned is perhaps the greatest error in the debate concerning the timing of the Rapture. If we get the starting point of the Day of the Lord right, the timing of the Rapture becomes clear. (18)
The Rapture will indeed occur before the Day of the Lord. But the Day of the Lord does not begin when “The Beginning of Birth Pains” or “The Tribulation” begins – it begins with the opening of the Seventh Scroll Seal (1). That is precisely what Paul teaches in 1 Thessalonians 5 and 2 Thessalonians 2. (18)
Furthermore, not only does the Rapture occur in connection with the Day of the Lord – but the Rapture occurs very near when the “Day of the Lord” begins.
Then He told the disciples: “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you won’t see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Don’t follow or run after them. For as the lightning flashes from horizon to horizon and lights up the sky, so the Son of Man will be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man: People went on eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day Noah boarded the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It will be the same as it was in the days of Lot: People went on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be like that [i.e., sudden destruction will come] on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, a man on the housetop, whose belongings are in the house, must not come down to get them. Likewise the man who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to make his life secure will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two will be in one bed: One will be taken [raptured] and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding grain together: One will be taken [raptured] and the other left. [Two will be in a field: One will be taken [raptured], and the other will be left.]” (Luke 17:22–36 HCSB)(cf. Matthew 24:40)
Again, the Day of the Lord does NOT start at the Beginning of Birth Pains (The Tribulation Period). The Day of the Lord starts at the opening of the 7th Seal.
The Day of the Lord in Scripture
The Old and New Testaments repeatedly refer to the “Day of the Lord.” It is one of the most important terms to understand in a discussion of prophetic truth. Therefore, its usage in the Word of God must be carefully examined. Eight prophets use the specific term the Day of the Lord nineteen times. Three New Testament writers – Luke, Paul, and Peter – use the term the Day of the Lord in four uncontested passages (Acts 2:19,20; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:1,2; 2 Peter 3:9,10). Seven additional passages using the designation “day of Christ” or “the day of Jesus Christ” are generally understood as encompassing the same time frame as the Day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:8; 3:13; 5:5; Philippians 1:6, 10; 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:8).
The Jewish prophet Obadiah was probably the first to speak of that day. Here is a prophetic utterance that declares that the Day of the Lord will be a time of judgment upon the nations. In the context of the book of Obadiah, the judgment will be in response to the nation’s treatment of Israel. As they have done to Israel, God will do to them. (18)
“For the day of the Lord is approaching for all the nations! Just as you have done, so it will be done to you. You will get exactly what your deeds deserve. (Obadiah 1:15 NET)
The dominant theme of the prophet Joel is the Day of the Lord.
How awful that day will be! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come as destruction from the Divine Destroyer. (Joel 1:15 NET)
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm signal on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land shake with fear, for the day of the Lord is about to come. Indeed, it is near! It will be a day of dreadful darkness, a day of foreboding storm clouds, like blackness spread over the mountains. It is a huge and powerful army— there has never been anything like it ever before, and there will not be anything like it for many generations to come! (Joel 2:1–2 NET)
The earth quakes before them; the sky reverberates. The sun and the moon grow dark; the stars refuse to shine. The voice of the Lord thunders as he leads his army. Indeed, his warriors are innumerable; Surely his command is carried out! Yes, the day of the Lord is awesome and very terrifying—who can survive it? (Joel 2:10–11 NET)
I will produce portents both in the sky and on the earth— blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sunlight will be turned to darkness and the moon to the color of blood, before the day of the Lord comes— that great and terrible day! (Joel 2:30–31 NET)
Joel described that day in very somber terms as a time of indescribable destruction from the Almighty. When God blows “the trumpet in Zion,” it will be in anticipation of the final judgment of Israel for her sins. But Joel has more to say about that future day: (18)
Crowds, great crowds are in the valley of decision, for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision! The sun and moon are darkened; the stars withhold their brightness. The Lord roars from Zion; from Jerusalem his voice bellows out. The heavens and the earth shake. But the Lord is a refuge for his people; he is a stronghold for the citizens of Israel. (Joel 3:14–16 NET)
Here the prophet hinted at the hope for Israel that other biblical writers also clearly proclaim. A surviving remnant will be gloriously saved at the end of the Day of the Lord.
“I will pour out on the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10 NET)
Simeon has explained how God first concerned himself to select from among the Gentiles a people for his name. The words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the fallen tent of David; I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord, namely, all the Gentiles I have called to be my own,’ says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago. (Acts 15:14–18 NET)
For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25–27 NET)
Isaiah and Paul refer to the Day of the Lord as a pregnant woman who has progressed from initial spurious birth pains to regular full-on childbirth labor. Unlike the beginning of birth pains, this type of labor will not cease until the child is born.
Wail, for the Lord’s day of judgment is near; it comes with all the destructive power of the sovereign judge. For this reason all hands hang limp, every human heart loses its courage. They panic— cramps and pain seize hold of them like those of a woman who is straining to give birth. They look at one another in astonishment; their faces are flushed red. (Isaiah 13:6–8 NET)
For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night. Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:2–3 NET)
The Day of the Lord is the phrase used by the prophets to speak of the outpouring of God’s wrath against evil at the end of days. They described the response of the world’s people in terms similar to John’s statement that the haters of God would try to hide from Him.
It will be the supreme fulfillment of the truth:
Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, (Galatians 6:7 NET)
Isaiah was the greatest of the Old Testament evangelists and a prophet who prophesied from within the royal palace. Isaiah wrote that, on the Day of the Lord, His enemies will fearfully crawl into holes in the ground.
Go up into the rocky cliffs, hide in the ground. Get away from the dreadful judgment of the Lord, from his royal splendor! Proud men will be brought low, arrogant men will be humiliated; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. Indeed, the Lord who commands armies has planned a day of judgment, for all the high and mighty, for all who are proud—they will be humiliated; for all the cedars of Lebanon, that are so high and mighty, for all the oaks of Bashan; for all the tall mountains, for all the high hills, for every high tower, for every fortified wall, for all the large ships, for all the impressive ships. Proud men will be humiliated, arrogant men will be brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. The worthless idols will be completely eliminated. They will go into caves in the rocky cliffs and into holes in the ground, trying to escape the dreadful judgment of the Lord and his royal splendor, when he rises up to terrify the earth. At that time men will throw their silver and gold idols, which they made for themselves to worship, into the caves where rodents and bats live, so they themselves can go into the crevices of the rocky cliffs and the openings under the rocky overhangs, trying to escape the dreadful judgment of the Lord and his royal splendor, when he rises up to terrify the earth. (Isaiah 2:10–21 NET)
When God “rises to terrify the earth,” men will seek to flee to the caves and holes of the earth for protection. Their wealth will be worthless that day. It will be a catastrophic economic crash, not of Wall Street, but of the world. (18)
Isaiah continues and declares the heavens will turn black, and neither the stars, moon, nor the sun will give their light: (10)
Wail, for the LORD’s day of judgment is near; it comes with all the destructive power of the sovereign judge. For this reason all hands hang limp, every human heart loses its courage. They panic— cramps and pain seize hold of them like those of a woman who is straining to give birth. They look at one another in astonishment; their faces are flushed red. Look, the Lord’s day of judgment is coming; it is a day of cruelty and savage, raging anger, destroying the earth and annihilating its sinners. Indeed the stars in the sky and their constellations no longer give out their light; the sun is darkened as soon as it rises, and the moon does not shine. I will punish the world for its evil, and wicked people for their sin. I will put an end to the pride of the insolent, I will bring down the arrogance of tyrants. I will make human beings more scarce than pure gold, and people more scarce than gold from Ophir. So I will shake the heavens, and the earth will shake loose from its foundation, because of the fury of the Lord who commands armies, in the day he vents his raging anger. (Isaiah 13:6–13 NET)
Isaiah also said that the heavens would melt away and disappear like a rolled-up scroll, and the stars will fall from the sky. (10)
All the stars in the sky will fade away, the sky will roll up like a scroll; all its stars will wither, like a leaf withers and falls from a vine or a fig withers and falls from a tree... For the LORD has planned a day of revenge, a time when he will repay Edom for her hostility toward Zion. (Isaiah 34:4,8 NET)
In his apocalyptic vision, Jeremiah said the heavens would become so dark that the sun, the moon, and the stars do not give out their light.
“I looked at the land and saw that it was an empty wasteland. I looked up at the sky, and its light had vanished. I looked at the mountains and saw that they were shaking. All the hills were swaying back and forth! ...Because of this the land will mourn and the sky above will grow black. For I have made my purpose known and I will not relent or turn back from carrying it out.” (Jeremiah 4:23–24;4:28 NET)
The prophet Ezekiel, who ministered during the Babylonian captivity, warned against the false prophets. Men who profess to be messengers of God will proclaim a false message of peace in the days immediately before the Day of the Lord.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to the prophets who prophesy from their imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord! This is what the sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit but have seen nothing! Your prophets have become like jackals among the ruins, O Israel. You have not gone up in the breaks in the wall, nor repaired a wall for the house of Israel that it would stand strong in the battle on the day of the Lord. They see delusion and their omens are a lie. They say, “the Lord declares,” though the Lord has not sent them; yet they expect their word to be confirmed. Have you not seen a false vision and announced a lying omen when you say, “the Lord declares,” although I myself never spoke? “ ‘Therefore, this is what the sovereign Lord says: Because you have spoken false words and forecast delusion, look, I am against you, declares the sovereign Lord. My hand will be against the prophets who see delusion and announce lying omens. They will not be included in the council of my people, nor be written in the registry of the house of Israel, nor enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the sovereign Lord. “ ‘This is because they have led my people astray saying, “All is well,” when things are not well. When anyone builds a wall without mortar, they coat it with whitewash. Tell the ones who coat it with whitewash that it will fall. When there is a deluge of rain, hailstones will fall and a violent wind will break out.When the wall has collapsed, people will ask you, “Where is the whitewash you coated it with?” “ ‘Therefore this is what the sovereign Lord says: In my rage I will make a violent wind break out. In my anger there will be a deluge of rain and hailstones in destructive fury. I will break down the wall you coated with whitewash and knock it to the ground so that its foundation is exposed. When it falls you will be destroyed beneath it, and you will know that I am the Lord. I will vent my rage against the wall, and against those who coated it with whitewash. Then I will say to you, “The wall is no more and those who whitewashed it are no more—those prophets of Israel who would prophesy about Jerusalem and would see visions of peace for it, when there was no peace,” declares the sovereign Lord.’ (Ezekiel 13:1–16 NET)
Ezekiel was commanded to speak further concerning the Day of the Lord, to forewarn the nations that a day of reckoning and accountability would arrive for them one day. Again, the heavens would be filled with dark, gloomy storm clouds.
“Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the sovereign LORD says: “ ‘Wail, “Alas, the day is here!” For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near; it will be a day of storm clouds, it will be a time of judgment for the nations. (Ezekiel 30:2,3 NET)
When I extinguish you, I will cover the sky; I will darken its stars. I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not shine. I will darken all the lights in the sky over you, and I will darken your land, declares the sovereign Lord. (Ezekiel 32:7–8 NET)
In Hosea’s vision of the Day of the Lord, he said the people would beg the mountains to bury them and the hills to fall on them. (10)
The high places of the “House of Wickedness” will be destroyed; it is the place where Israel sins. Thorns and thistles will grow up over its altars. Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!” and to the hills, “Fall on us!” (Hosea 10:8 NET)
Joel said this would be such a terrible time of God’s judgment that the cry would be, “Who can survive it?”
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm signal on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land shake with fear, for the day of the Lord is about to come. Indeed, it is near! It will be a day of dreadful darkness, a day of foreboding storm clouds, like blackness spread over the mountains. It is a huge and powerful army— there has never been anything like it ever before, and there will not be anything like it for many generations to come! Like fire they devour everything in their path; a flame blazes behind them. The land looks like the Garden of Eden before them, but behind them there is only a desolate wilderness— for nothing escapes them! They look like horses; they charge ahead like war horses. They sound like chariots rumbling over mountain tops, like the crackling of blazing fire consuming stubble, like the noise of a mighty army being drawn up for battle. People writhe in fear when they see them. All of their faces turn pale with fright. They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. Each one proceeds on his course; they do not alter their path. They do not jostle one another; each of them marches straight ahead. They burst through the city defenses and do not break ranks. They rush into the city; they scale its walls. They climb up into the houses; they go in through the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them; the sky reverberates. The sun and the moon grow dark; the stars refuse to shine. The voice of the Lord thunders as he leads his army. Indeed, his warriors are innumerable; Surely his command is carried out! Yes, the day of the Lord is awesome and very terrifying—who can survive it? (Joel 2:1–11 NET)
Joel also wrote that the sun, moon, and stars will be darkened before the Day of the Lord. (10) Recall this occurred after the opening of the Sixth Scroll Seal.
After all of this I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your elderly will have revelatory dreams; your young men will see prophetic visions. Even on male and female servants I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will produce portents both in the sky and on the earth— blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sunlight will be turned to darkness and the moon to the color of blood, before the day of the Lord comes — that great and terrible day! It will so happen that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered. For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who survive, just as the LORD has promised; the remnant will be those whom the LORD will call. (Joel 2:28–32 NET)
Crowds, great crowds are in the valley of decision, for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision! The sun and moon are darkened; the stars withhold their brightness. The LORD roars from Zion; from Jerusalem his voice bellows out. The heavens and the earth shake. But the LORD is a refuge for his people; he is a stronghold for the citizens of Israel. (Joel 3:14-16 NET)
Peter applied Joel’s prophecy to the day of Pentecost when the Church was born, which is also when the “Last Days” began,
‘And in the last days it will be,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out my Spirit on all people, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. And I will perform wonders in the sky above and miraculous signs on the earth below, blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will be changed to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes. And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:17–21 NET)
Nahum wrote that the awesome manifestation of the holy wrath of the Lord would cause the mountains to quake and crumble to dust, the hills to melt, and the earth to tremble (earthquakes). He, too, asked who could survive the fierce anger of the Day of the Lord.
The mountains tremble before him, the hills convulse; the earth is laid waste before him, the world and all its inhabitants are laid waste. No one can withstand his indignation! No one can resist his fierce anger! His wrath is poured out like volcanic fire, boulders are broken up as he approaches. (Nahum 1:5–6 NET)
The prophet Zephaniah, who called Judah to repentance and warned of impending judgment (the Babylonian captivity), gave one of the most terrifying descriptions of the Day of the Lord. He called it a day of terrible distress and anguish. He said it would be a day of ruin and desolation, darkness and gloom, clouds, blackness, trumpet calls, and battle cries. He added that the Lord would make a terrifying end for all the earth’s people.
The Lord’s great day of judgment is almost here; it is approaching very rapidly! There will be a bitter sound on the Lord’s day of judgment; at that time warriors will cry out in battle. That day will be a day of God’s anger, a day of distress and hardship, a day of devastation and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and dark skies, a day of trumpet blasts and battle cries. Judgment will fall on the fortified cities and the high corner towers. I will bring distress on the people and they will stumble like blind men, for they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dirt; their flesh will be scattered like manure. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of the Lords angry judgment. The whole earth will be consumed by his fiery wrath. Indeed, he will bring terrifying destruction on all who live on the earth.” (Zephaniah 1:14–18 NET)
Bunch yourselves together like straw, you undesirable nation, before God’s decree becomes reality and the day of opportunity disappears like windblown chaff, before the Lord’s raging anger overtakes you— before the day of the Lord’s angry judgment overtakes you! Seek the Lord’s favor, all you humble people of the land who have obeyed his commands! Strive to do what is right! Strive to be humble! Maybe you will be protected on the day of the Lord’s angry judgment. (Zephaniah 2:1–3 NET)
That description of destruction is almost incomprehensible. It is like a battle plan of God’s wrath. It will be a day of wrath, a day of trouble, a day of distress, a day of waste and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities. This will not be the time of “gentile Jesus, meek and mild.” This will be the wrath of holiness. Men will mock or scorn God on that occasion. Justice will triumph on that day!
The prophet Zechariah, who foretold of the cataclysmic events that were to befall the city of Jerusalem, added this crucial testimony concerning the Day of the Lord: (18)
A day of the Lord is about to come when your possessions will be divided as plunder in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to wage war; the city will be taken, its houses plundered, and the women raped. Then half of the city will go into exile, but the remainder of the people will not be taken away. Then the Lord will go to battle and fight against those nations, just as he fought battles in ancient days. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which lies to the east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, leaving a great valley. Half the mountain will move northward and the other half southward. Then you will escape through my mountain valley, for the mountains will extend to Azal. Indeed, you will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come with all his holy ones with him. On that day there will be no light—the sources of light in the heavens will congeal.It will happen in one day (a day known to the Lord); not in the day or the night, but in the evening there will be light. (Zechariah 14:1–7 NET)
Zechariah spoke of that day being a time of divine judgment on Jerusalem, but he also viewed it as a time of judgment against the nations because of their treatment of Israel.
Malachi also asked who would endure the Day of the Lord.
You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” Because you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s opinion, and he delights in them,” or “Where is the God of justice?” “I am about to send my messenger, who will clear the way before me. Indeed, the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple, and the messenger of the covenant, whom you long for, is certainly coming,” says the Lord who rules over all. Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can keep standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, like a launderer’s soap. He will act like a refiner and purifier of silver and will cleanse the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will offer the Lord a proper offering. The offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in former times and years past. “I will come to you in judgment. I will be quick to testify against those who practice divination, those who commit adultery, those who break promises, and those who exploit workers, widows, and orphans, who ref use to help the immigrant and in this way show they do not fear me,” says the Lord who rules over all. (Malachi 2:17–3:5 NET)
In His summary of the end times, Jesus described these cataclysmic changes similarly.
“Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31 NET).
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. "(Matthew 24:35 NET).
No wonder the haters of God hide in caves and beg the mountains and rocks to fall on them. They cannot face the judgments of God and of the Lamb on this terrible and great Day of the Lord. We can see that being martyred for the Lord is much better than being the object of His wrath. Let the people of God say, “Amen!” (10)
There remains a word from the last of the Old Testament prophets concerning that future day. It is a message that holds out some hope. Before the Day of the Lord begins, God will send a messenger to call the nation of Israel to repentance. Malachi, God’s spokesman about four hundred years before Christ, recorded:
Look, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives. He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me, so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment.” (Malachi 4:5–6 NET)
New Covenant Verses about the Day of the Lord
And I will perform wonders in the sky above and miraculous signs on the earth below, blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will be changed to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes. And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (Acts 2:19–21 NET)
In both of his Thessalonian epistles, the apostle Paul spoke of the Day of the Lord. His teaching assumes an understanding of the Old Testament significance of the Day of the Lord.
For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night.Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would. For you all are sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:2–5 NET)
Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God. (2 Thessalonians 2:1–4 NET)
Here is a final word on the Day of the Lord, this time from Peter:
The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare. Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze! But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. (2 Peter 3:9–13 NET)
The Day of the Lord Overview Summary
It will be a time of judgment upon:
Israel when she will be brought into account for her sins (Isaiah 40:2; Isaiah 17:4-8;33:10-14; Zechariah 13:5,6,8,9; Malichi 3:2-5;4:1)
the Gentile nations for their rebellion, unrepentance, and persecution of Israel (Romans 2:3,5,6,8,9; Obadiah 15). (18)
In summary, the Day of the Lord will be a time: (18)
- When God “rises up to terrify the earth” (Isaiah 2:19-22)
- Of destruction from the Almighty (Isaiah 13:7; Joel 1:15)
- Of divine wrath and fierce anger (Isaiah 13:13; Zephaniah 1:15;2:2)
- When God will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity (Isaiah 13:11)
- When God’s indignation and fury will be directed against the nations (Isaiah 34:1,2; Zephaniah 1:14-2:3; Zechariah 14:3; Obadiah 15)
- When God’s vengeance will be revealed (Isaiah 34:8)
- Of darkness in the heavens (Isaiah 34:4; Joel 2:31:3:14; Isaiah 13:9,10)
- Of fire from the Lord (Joel 2:3,5,30; Zephaniah 1:18;3:8)
Again, it will be a day of clouds, thick darkness, gloominess, wrath, trouble, distress, and terror (Zephaniah 1:15; Ezekiel 30:3) (18)
The Trumpet Judgments
While collaterally affecting the whole earth, the trumpet judgments will be focused primarily on the nation of Israel and the Mediterranean. Through these judgments, God will bring about the repentance of those in Israel who have not yet placed their faith in Jesus as their Messiah and set about to destroy those in Israel who have put their faith in the Antichrist and have received his mark. The prophet Zephaniah speaks of this cleansing of the land of Israel: (26)
“I will destroy everything from the face of the earth,” says the Lord. “I will destroy people and animals; I will destroy the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea. (The idolatrous images of these creatures will be destroyed along with evil people.) I will remove humanity from the face of the earth,” says the Lord. “I will attack Judah and all who live in Jerusalem. I will remove from this place every trace of Baal worship, as well as the very memory of the pagan priests. I will remove those who worship the stars in the sky from their rooftops, those who swear allegiance to the Lord while taking oaths in the name of their ‘king,’ and those who turn their backs on the Lord and do not want the Lord’s help or guidance.” (Zephaniah 1:2-6 NET)
In this great judgment, the prophet Zechariah reveals that two-thirds of Israel shall be cut off and die, while one-third will be brought through this period alive. (26)
It will happen in all the land, says the Lord, that two-thirds of the people in it will be cut off and die, but one-third will be left in it. Then I will bring the remaining third into the fire; I will refine them like silver is refined and will test them like gold is tested. They will call on my name and I will answer; I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ ” (Zechariah 13:8–9 NET)
This one-third will be composed of the 144,000 and those Jews who heeded the two witnesses’ warnings and did not receive the mark of the beast. These Jews will have escaped to the areas of Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Assyria. Daniel states that these are the areas the Antichrist will not be able to control. (26)
Then he will enter the beautiful land. Many will fall, but these will escape: Edom, Moab, and the Ammonite leadership. (Daniel 11:41 NET)
The Jews who do not take the mark of the Antichrist will realize that Jesus was their Messiah as the trumpet judgments unfold. Along with the 144,000, they will make up the remnant of national Israel who will accept Jesus as their Messiah. Unfortunately, they have missed the rapture and will be left on earth to endure the seven trumpet judgments that end the Seventieth Week. The trumpets will be a repeat performance of the time that God delivered His people of Israel from the hands of the Pharaoh in Egypt. Only instead of Pharaoh and Egypt, the judgments this time will be against the nation of Israel:
So the Lord is furious with his people; he lifts his hand and strikes them. The mountains shake, and corpses lie like manure in the middle of the streets. Despite all this, his anger does not subside, and his hand is ready to strike again. (Isaiah 5:25 NET)
The sovereign Lord showed me this: I saw a basket of summer fruit. He said, “What do you see, Amos?” I replied, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, “The end has come for my people Israel! I will no longer overlook their sins. The women singing in the temple will wail in that day.” The sovereign Lord is speaking. “There will be many corpses littered everywhere! Be quiet!” (Amos 8:1-3 NET)
In Jeremiah, we are told that the judgments God will use to bring Israel to repentance will surpass those that were done in Egypt:
“So I, the Lord, say: ‘A new time will certainly come. People now affirm their oaths with “I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt.” But at that time they will affirm them with “I swear as surely as the Lord lives who delivered the descendants of the former nation of Israel from the land of the north and from all the other lands where he had banished them.” At that time they will live in their own land.’ ” (Jeremiah 23:7-8 NET)
During this period, God will pass over and protect the 144,000 elect of Israel while pouring out His wrath on the unfaithful Jews and the unbelieving world. Jesus will then return personally to lead the faithful Jews out of the wilderness in Edom and back to the Promised Land. This is, in fact, the same wilderness area where they wandered for 40 years. This time, it will not take them 40 years. With all this in mind, let us take a look at the trumpet judgments. (26)
Revelation Chapter 8 through Chapter 11
The Seventh Scroll Seal (Silence in Heaven)
Now when the Lamb opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (Revelation 8:1 NET)
The prophet Zephaniah predicted the time of silence before the Day of the Lord.
Be silent before the Lord God, for the Lord’s day of judgment is almost here... (Zephaniah 1:7 a NET)
Heaven’s glorious worship and praise stop when the Lord opens the seventh seal. What a contrast: from the loudest and deepest worship and highest praise, the throne room of God is now silent. It is like all heavenly hosts are holding their breath, waiting for the Lord to reveal its contents. We might say that this is the “lull before the storm.” The moment of God’s judgment is now upon the earth. The fury of God has reached such intensity that there is absolute silence in all of heaven. (26)
There are occasions when the manifested presence of God is so holy the only response is silence. In the Hebrew Bible, we learn that there are times when God does something so dramatic, His people need to be silent. (26)
Be silent in the Lord’s presence, all people everywhere, for he is being moved to action in his holy dwelling place. (Zechariah 2:13).
But the Lord is in his majestic palace. The whole earth is speechless in his presence!” (Habakkuk 2:20).
Jesus, the Son of Man, has now opened the Scroll of Authority and has the right to control any further curses from Satan. The Great Tribulation would have lasted for an additional 1.75 years with the added destruction caused by the four fallen angels.
Hence the silence in Heaven as God, in His mercy, stops the curse from the four angels from being released upon those remaining on Earth at this time.
Meaning the lease is interrupted before its time is fulfilled. Nevertheless, God being just, will release Satan for the balance of the time of the lease (i.e., a brief period of time), as specified in the Scroll of Authority, after the thousand-year reign of Jesus.
The angel then threw him into the abyss and locked and sealed it so that he could not deceive the nations until the one thousand years were finished. (After these things, he must be released for a brief period of time.) (Revelation 20:3 NET)
God’s grace, mercy, and compassion for the wicked have reached its end, and now He will destroy those who have rejected Him. His harsh judgments will now encompass the face of the earth. There will no longer be any question of whether these are divine judgments from God or natural disasters. (26)
How can a good God who is grace, mercy, and compassion pass judgment for destruction and suffering?
Do I actually delight in the death of the wicked, declares the sovereign Lord? Do I not prefer that he turn from his wicked conduct and live? (Ezekiel 18:23 NET)
The answer is that God does not cause this suffering. Mankind causes this due to the hardness of his heart. It is the result of the evil in people’s hearts to live their lives without God. His Great MERCY is extended to all equally, and He waits patiently for all to accept it.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45 NET)
Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4 NET)
The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NET)
How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers! Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night. He is like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper time, and its leaves never fall off. He succeeds in everything he attempts. Not so with the wicked! Instead they are like wind-driven chaff. For this reason the wicked cannot withstand judgment, nor can sinners join the assembly of the godly. Certainly the Lord guards the way of the godly, but the way of the wicked ends in destruction. (Psalm 1:1–6 NET)
Nevertheless, when the point is reached that a person or persons, by an act of their will, decide to never change from serving evil (Satan) to serving good (God), then the only thing left is a JUDGMENT of WRATH that will keep them that have chosen to serve Satan from affecting the MERCY to be received by those that have chosen to serve God.
An evil man is rebellious to the core. He does not fear God, for he is too proud to recognize and give up his sin. The words he speaks are sinful and deceitful; he does not care about doing what is wise and right. He plans ways to sin while he lies in bed; he is committed to a sinful lifestyle; he does not reject what is evil. (Psalm 36:1–4 NET)
God, the one who has reigned as king from long ago, will hear and humiliate them. (Selah) They refuse to change, and do not fear God. (Psalm 55:19 NET)
Turn away from evil and do what is right! Strive for peace and promote it! The Lord pays attention to the godly and hears their cry for help. But the Lord opposes evildoers and wipes out all memory of them from the earth. (Psalm 34:14–16 NET)
The MERCY for the future of those who have chosen to serve God trumps the present MERCY extended to all, resulting in the removal and eternal incarceration of those who have chosen to serve evil.
It is terrible to show partiality to the wicked, by depriving a righteous man of justice. (Proverbs 18:5 NET)
If the wicked are shown mercy, they do not learn about justice. Even in a land where right is rewarded, they act unjustly; they do not see the Lord’s majesty revealed. (Isaiah 26:10 NET)
The Lord abhors the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness. (Proverbs 15:9 NET)
The Lord approves of the godly, but he hates the wicked and those who love to do violence. (Psalm 11:5 NET)
You reprimand arrogant people. Those who stray from your commands are doomed. (Psalm 119:21 NET)
The wicked have no chance for deliverance, for they do not seek your statutes. (Psalm 119:155 NET)
If the righteous are recompensed on earth, how much more the wicked sinner! (Proverbs 11:31 NET)
Yes, look! Those far from you die; you destroy everyone who is unfaithful to you. (Psalm 73:27 NET)
The Lord protects those who love him, but he destroys all the wicked. (Psalm 145:20 NET)
May sinners disappear from the earth, and the wicked vanish! Praise the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord! (Psalm 104:35 NET)
Let anyone who has no love for the Lord be accursed. Our Lord, come! (1 Corinthians 16:22–23 NET)
Remember, refusal of the greater MERCY leaves only the WRATH. (1)
The wicked have decided to never change from evil to good, unrighteous to righteous, and wicked to godly.
There is no Mercy for the Wicked
It is important to recall that, in the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus told His disciples that His holy angels would be in charge of His judgments. True to the word of God, John is now shown seven angels who will be in charge of pouring out God’s seven trumpet judgments upon the earth. Juxtaposed to living creatures, and not angels, that revealed the seven seals. If the angels are to be in charge of God’s judgments, it then stands to reason that the seals could not have been the judgments of God. Also, these judgments are initiated once the seventh seal is broken, the scroll is opened, and its contents are read. Until this point, the scroll contents could not have been read. Finally, all these events begin to unfold after the angels, through Jesus, have gathered “the wheat into the barn” (i.e., the Christians into heaven) as was revealed by the Lord. The tares have already been separated, and they will now be burned. The Day of the Lord begins with a great judgment of fire cast upon the earth by an angel. This is exactly what the Apostle Peter refers to in his epistle: (26)
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:10 NET)
Logic argues that Jesus cannot possibly come as a “thief in the night” after He has been ruling on earth for a thousand years. The Apostle Paul clearly states that Jesus will come as “a thief in the night” to the unbelieving world when the Day of the Lord begins:
Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night. Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 NET)
Our Lord told His disciples:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10 a NET).
Acting as a thief, Jesus will:
- First, “steal” His elect from the hand of Satan by cutting short the Great Tribulation,
- Second, He will “kill” those who have worshipped the beast, and
- Third, He will “destroy” the kingdom of the Antichrist.
The Opening of the Seventh Seal does not release judgment directly but rather releases the Seven Trumpet Judgments. That is, the Seven Trumpet judgments are contained within the Seventh Seal.
The Day of the Lord
The Seven Trumpets
Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel holding a golden censer came and was stationed at the altar. A large amount of incense was given to him to offer up, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar that is before the throne. The smoke coming from the incense, along with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it on the earth, and there were crashes of thunder, roaring, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. Now the seven angels holding the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. (Revelation 8:2–6 NET)
Before the archangels blow the trumpets, John sees another angel standing at the altar with a golden censer. John specifically mentions that this angel has much incense. John explains, using imagery from the Tabernacle (1) and later the Temple, that the angel sprinkles the incense over the hot coals of the altar, causing the smoke of the incense to billow up in the presence of God. (10)
We learn in the Book of Exodus that the priests offered incense before the Lord every morning and every evening (1): (10)
Aaron is to burn sweet incense on it morning by morning; when he attends to the lamps he is to burn incense.When Aaron sets up the lamps around sundown he is to burn incense on it; it is to be a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. (Exodus 30:7-8).
In addition to this action, once a year, the high priest would take blood from the brazen altar in the courtyard and smear it on the horns of the incense altar. He would then sprinkle the incense on the hot coals. As the sweet incense filled the room, the high priest would enter the holy of holies directly into the presence of God. (10)
and take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord and a full double handful of finely ground fragrant incense, and bring them inside the veil-canopy. He [Aaron] must then put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and the cloud of incense will cover the atonement plate which is above the ark of the testimony, so that he will not die. (Leviticus 16:12-13).
We learn in the Book of Psalms that incense offered before God is the biblical symbol of the prayers of God’s people.
May you accept my prayer like incense, my uplifted hands like the evening offering! (Psalm 141:2 NET)
When John says the angel has much incense, his contemporary readers would have understood him to mean that God’s people have offered many prayers for justice against those who have persecuted them.
Recall when the fifth seal was opened:
And when He opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the witness which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Master, holy and true? Will You not judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And a white robe was given to each of them; and it was told to them that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. (Revelation 6:9–11 NET)
The time has come to judge and avenge the blood of the martyrs. When the angel throws the fire incense to the earth, it symbolizes God answering the prayers of His people by beginning a judgment by fire that announces the Day of the Lord. God’s response to their prayers results in a great shaking on the earth which John describes as noises, thundering, lightning, and an earthquake. It is important to understand that these are also our prayers that God is answering. (10)
Note that Satan’s fallen angels implemented the curses from the Scroll Seals. However, God’s wrath will be released on all mankind (i.e., Israel and the Gentile nations) by God’s Holy Angels blowing Trumpets.
In answer to the prayers of His people, God releases seven trumpet judgments on the earth. The first four trumpet judgments are against the earth’s natural resources. In each judgment, a third of the natural resources are devastated. The last three trumpets are spiritual judgments through angelic and demonic activities. (10)
Before considering these judgments, it is important to understand their purpose. They are God’s judgments against the gods of the world system that the people worship. They are not against the people themselves, although it is the people who suffer. God sends these judgments to show the world He is the One True God and bring people to repentance. (10)
This is what the Lord did when He sent the plagues to Egypt. The plagues were not against Pharaoh and the Egyptian people but against the gods that Pharaoh and the people worshiped. Yet, the Egyptian leadership and people suffered because they worshiped these false gods. (10)
In a reversal, those of Israel, and the surrounding nations, that worship the false messiah will now face the wrath the true Messiah unleashes on the false messiah, the Antichrist. (26)
The list below shows the gods that the Egyptians worshiped and the plagues that the One True God sent against each of them to show His sovereignty and superiority and to warn Pharaoh to repent.
|Egyptian Deities||God’s Judgment Plague|
|1||2,3||Osiris—god of the Nile||The Nile turned to blood|
|2||Heqt—frog goddess||Frogs covered the land|
|3||Seb—Earth god||Dust turned to lice|
|4||Scarabus—a flying bug||Swarms of flies|
|5||Apis—bull god||Death to livestock|
|6||Neit—god of health||Boils and sores|
|7||1||Shu—god of nature||Hail and fire|
|8||5||Serapia—god of locusts||Locusts eat what remains|
|9||4||Ra—the sun god||Darkness over the land|
|10||6||Pharaoh—the incarnation of Ra||Death of firstborn|
The First Trumpet Blast
When John says he sees something thrown from Heaven to Earth, this wording means that the judgments are God’s answer to the prayers of His people. (10)
The first angel blew his trumpet, and there was hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was thrown at the earth so that a third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. (Revelation 8:7 NET)
The wrath of God begins with incredible fury. As the first angel sounds, his trumpet, hail, and fire, mixed with blood, are thrown to the earth, burning a third of all the trees and all of the green grass. As evidenced in the text of Revelation, this judgment differs greatly from what occurred during the opening of the seven seals. While the seven seals were common everyday occurrences, with greater intensity, the trumpet judgments are supernatural in nature. Since the plagues of Egypt, it has never rained down hail with fire and then not with blood. This would not be considered a natural disaster but rather a supernatural one! (26)
This judgment is similar to the seventh plague in Egypt: (10)
Hail fell and fire mingled with the hail; the hail was so severe that there had not been any like it in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. The hail struck everything in the open fields, both people and animals, throughout all the land of Egypt. The hail struck everything that grows in the field, and it broke all the trees of the field to pieces. (Exodus 9:24-25 NET).
In describing the day of God’s judgments on the earth, Joel laments: (10)
To you, O Lord, I call out for help, for fire has burned up the grassy pastures, flames have razed all the trees in the fields. (Joel 1:19).
God made an interesting statement to Job when He was rebuking him. The Lord asked Job the following questions: (10)
Have you entered the storehouse of the snow, or seen the armory of the hail, which I reserve for the time of trouble, for the day of war and battle? (Job 38:22-23).
The Second Trumpet Blast
Then the second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain of burning fire was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea became blood, and a third of the creatures living in the sea died, and a third of the ships were completely destroyed. (Revelation 8:8–9 NET)
In this second judgment, John describes a great mountain burning with fire thrown into the sea. The result is that one-third of the sea becomes blood, a third of everything in the sea dies, and a third of ocean-going vessels are destroyed. (10)
All of these judgments may show God doing something supernatural He has never done before or God disrupting the normal order of His creation. We know in the Bible and history that God has worked through nature to accomplish His purposes. In fact, most great battles in history were won due to the weather, not because of superior armaments—and we know who is in charge of the weather. (10)
As this “mountain” is to fall on the sea, and the Judgments poured forth by the “Trumpets” and “Bowls” are to fall mainly on that part of the world bordering on the Mediterranean Sea, the “Sea” mentioned here is probably the Mediterranean Sea. Notice that John does not say it was a “Mountain” that he saw cast into the sea, but that it appeared like a mountain, not a burning volcano, but an immense meteoric mass ablaze with fire. That was as near as John could describe it. (8)
This judgment reminds us of the first plague God sent in Egypt against Osiris, the god of the Nile. God turned all of the Nile River into blood, killing the fish in the Nile and making the Nile undrinkable. (10) However, only one-third of the water is affected here. (26)
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over Egypt’s waters—over their rivers, over their canals, over their ponds, and over all their reservoirs—so that it becomes blood.’ There will be blood everywhere in the land of Egypt, even in wooden and stone containers.” Moses and Aaron did so, just as the Lord had commanded. Moses raised the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile right before the eyes of Pharaoh and his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood.When the fish that were in the Nile died, the Nile began to stink, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood everywhere in the land of Egypt! (Exodus 7:19-21).
The Third Trumpet Blast
Then the third angel blew his trumpet, and a huge star burning like a torch fell from the sky; it landed on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. (Now the name of the star is Wormwood.) So a third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from these waters because they were poisoned. (Revelation 8:10–11 NET)
Whereas the second trumpet-shofar judgment is on salt water, this third trumpet-shofar devastates one-third of the earth’s fresh water. In John’s vision, he sees a phenomenon that he describes as a great burning star falling from Heaven into the rivers and freshwater sources. He says the name of the star is Wormwood. Whether this is a supernatural phenomenon or a natural disruption from God, the judgment makes the waters bitter and poisonous to drink. (10)
The word translated as “wormwood” actually indicates bitterness. It is a plant that has a very bitter taste used to manufacture absinthe. If a person ingested very much of the oil from the plant, they could die from the poison in the plant. Because of its bitter taste and potential as a deadly poison, people in the Bible spoke of wormwood as something bad, a symbol of God’s judgment or their suffering. (26)
For example, in Proverbs, the temptations of an immoral woman are likened to wormwood. On the surface, she is sweet, but if one “drinks” of her cup of sin, the supposed sweetness turns to wormwood:
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her seductive words are smoother than olive oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. (Proverbs 5:3-4 NET).
Because God’s people turned away from Him, the Lord told Jeremiah that He would give them wormwood as a judgment:
The Lord answered, “This has happened because these people have rejected my laws which I gave them. They have not obeyed me or followed those laws. Instead they have followed the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts. They have paid allegiance to the gods called Baal, as their fathers taught them to do. So then, listen to what I, the Lord God of Israel who rules over all, say. ‘I will make these people eat the bitter food of suffering [wormwood] and drink the poison water of judgment. I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have known anything about. I will send people chasing after them with swords until I have destroyed them.’ ” (Jeremiah 9:13–16 NET)
The Lord says, “I saw the prophets of Samaria doing something that was disgusting. They prophesied in the name of the god Baal and led my people Israel astray. But I see the prophets of Jerusalem doing something just as shocking. They are unfaithful to me and continually prophesy lies. So they give encouragement to people who are doing evil, with the result that they do not stop their evildoing. I consider all of them as bad as the people of Sodom, and the citizens of Jerusalem as bad as the people of Gomorrah. So then I, the Lord who rules over all, have something to say concerning the prophets of Jerusalem: ‘I will make these prophets eat the bitter food of suffering [wormwood] and drink the poison water of judgment. For the prophets of Jerusalem are the reason that ungodliness has spread throughout the land.’ ” (Jeremiah 23:13–15 NET).
When Jeremiah complained to the Lord about his ridicule and suffering as God’s prophet, he said:
He shot his arrows into my heart. I have become the laughingstock of all people, their mocking song all day long. He has given me my fill of bitter herbs and made me drunk with bitterness [wormwood]. (Lamentations 3:13–15 NET).
Just as Israel gave Jesus a bitter gall to drink when He was crucified, the Lord will now give Israel a bitter drink.
They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”)and offered Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink. But after tasting it, he would not drink it. (Matthew 27:33–34 NET)
The Fourth Trumpet Blast
Then the fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. And there was no light for a third of the day and for a third of the night likewise.(Revelation 8:12 NET)
This angel strikes a third of the natural lights, causing great darkness to come about earlier in the day. This is another cosmic disturbance similar to the sign of the sun, moon, and stars that announced the beginning of the Day of the Lord (Matthew 24:29 & Revelation 6:12-13). However, the fourth trumpet should not be confused with being the sign of the Day of the Lord. In this judgment, only a third of the light is struck, whereas there will be almost complete darkness when the sign of the end of the age, or Day of the Lord, is revealed. The fourth trumpet judgment will probably continue until the culmination of the Day of the Lord. (26)
God darkened the sun in the ninth plague against Egypt. The Egyptians worshiped the sun, and Pharaoh was thought to be the incarnation of Ra, the sun god. The One True God demonstrated His sovereign superiority over the Egyptian deity by darkening the sun. It was so completely dark that the people could not see anything. God’s judgment was not against His people Israel, so they had light. (10)
The Lord said to Moses, “Extend your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness so thick it can be felt.” So Moses extended his hand toward heaven, and there was absolute darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days.No one could see another person, and no one could rise from his place for three days. But the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. (Exodus 10:21–23 NET).
The prophets spoke of the day of the Lord when God would judge the world by darkening the lights in the sky. Isaiah wrote: (10)
At that time they will growl over their prey, it will sound like sea waves crashing against rocks. One will look out over the land and see the darkness of disaster, clouds will turn the light into darkness. (Isaiah 5:30 NET)
Joel spoke about these judgments in the day of the Lord: (10)
The earth quakes before them; the sky reverberates. The sun and the moon grow dark; the stars refuse to shine. (Joel 2:10 NET).
Amos, who was called by God from being a pincher of figs to become proclaimed of God’s prophetic Word, spoke to Judah, the southern kingdom, concerning the Day of the Lord. The Jewish people mistakenly thought the Day of the Lord would be a time of judgment on the nations but one of deliverance for Israel – that they would experience salvation without purification.
But Amos warned:
Woe to those who wish for the day of the Lord! Why do you want the Lord’s day of judgment to come? It will bring darkness, not light. Disaster will be inescapable, as if a man ran from a lion only to meet a bear, then escaped into a house, leaned his hand against the wall, and was bitten by a poisonous snake. Don’t you realize the Lord’s day of judgment will bring darkness, not light— gloomy blackness, not bright light? (Amos 5:18–20 NET).
In that day,” says the sovereign Lord, “I will make the sun set at noon, and make the earth dark in the middle of the day. (Amos 8:9 NET)
We would think that this clear demonstration of the sovereignty and supremacy of the One True God would cause people to repent of their sins and turn to Him. Unfortunately, it does not. It is truly difficult to understand the hardness of people’s hearts against God. They would rather curse God and die than acknowledge Him and repent. (10)
Once again, we turn to Pharaoh as an example. When God sent the first plague, how did Pharaoh respond? (10)
Instead of repenting, Exodus says,
Each man threw down his staff, and the staffs became snakes. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted.(Exodus 7:12–13).
He responded in the same way after the second plague:
The Lord did as Moses asked—the frogs died out of the houses, the villages, and the fields. The Egyptians piled them in countless heaps, and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted. (Exodus 8:13–15 NET).
After the third plague, even Pharaoh’s magicians understood that the One True God was sending the plagues. It did not matter to Pharaoh.
The magicians said to Pharaoh, “It is the finger of God!” But Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted. (Exodus 8:19).
Nothing changed after the fourth plague:
and the Lord did as Moses asked—he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. Not one remained! But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also and did not release the people. (Exodus 8:31–32).
Pharaoh responded similarly after each plague (Exodus 9:7,12,35; 10:20,27; 11:9-10).
We do not normally think of these plagues as a means of God showing His mercy. However, God could have sent one plague, which would have been enough. He could have judged them immediately. In fact, at Passover, the Jewish people sing a special song entitled, Dayenu, which means “It would have been enough.” But in His mercy, God exposed the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart by sending a succession of plagues until it was clear that Pharaoh would never repent.
Woe, Woe, Woe
(oo-ah’ee, oo-ah’ee , oo-ah’ee)
Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying directly overhead, proclaiming with a loud voice, “Woe! Woe! Woe to those who live on the earth because of the remaining sounds of the trumpets of the three angels who are about to blow them!” (Revelation 8:13 NET)
After this judgment, John is shown an angel flying in the sky proclaiming three “woes” [Gk οὐαί, oo-ah’ee] upon the earth. Note the pronunciation of the Koine Greek word for woe (οὐαί, oo-ah’ee), which sounds similar to the sound of an eagle. These woes signify that the next judgments are so severe that they will cause unparalleled misery and death for those who are still on the earth. (26)
As we will see in the following woes, the people experiencing these “Day of the Lord” judgments respond similarly to Pharaoh. Because God continues to show mercy by allowing people to repent, no one can say His judgments are unjust. He sends more judgments until it is clear the people will not repent. At that time, Jesus returns to bring the final judgment against the ungodly. (10)
Given the hardness of the people’s hearts, God announces three additional judgments called “woes.” (10) It will be these last three judgments that will bring to an end Daniel’s Seventieth Week. (26) These three woes are the fifth, sixth, and seventh trumpet judgments. Since these woes involve releasing demonic activity, they are directed against those who oppose God. They are not against God’s own people. God has already put the seal of protection on those who are His. Once again, we remind ourselves that these judgments are God’s answer to the prayers of His people for justice. This is the wrath of God against an unrepentant world.
The Fifth Trumpet Blast: The First Woe
Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the abyss.He opened the shaft of the abyss and smoke rose out of it like smoke from a giant furnace. The sun and the air were darkened with smoke from the shaft. Then out of the smoke came locusts onto the earth, and they were given power like that of the scorpions of the earth. They were told not to damage the grass of the earth, or any green plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their forehead. The locusts were not given permission to kill them, but only to torture them for five months, and their torture was like that of a scorpion when it stings a person. In those days people will seek death, but will not be able to find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them. Now the locusts looked like horses equipped for battle. On their heads were something like crowns similar to gold, and their faces looked like men’s faces. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. They had breastplates like iron breastplates, and the sound of their wings was like the noise of many horse-drawn chariots charging into battle. They have tails and stingers like scorpions, and their ability to injure people for five months is in their tails. They have as king over them the angel of the abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. The first woe has passed, but two woes are still coming after these things! (Revelation 9:1–12 NET)
In this first woe, John describes frightening tormenters that inflict terrible suffering on those with the Mark of the Beast. Using apocalyptic language, he sees a star falling from Heaven to Earth with the key to the bottomless pit. Since this is apocalyptic symbolism, we must do our best to correctly interpret the meaning of John’s words. (10)
First of all, John does not literally mean a star. He is talking about an angel. There are several reasons why we should think this is an angel. In the Book of Job, angels are called stars. God rebuked Job and said that angels sing His praises. God also refers to them as the “sons of God” in that He created them. God speaks of a heavenly praise service,
when the morning stars sang in chorus, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:7 NET).
This is Hebrew parallelism in which the morning stars and the sons of God are the same company of angels. Also, John says that he saw an angel coming down from Heaven with the key to the bottomless pit:
Then I saw an angel descending from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a huge chain. (Revelation 20:1 NET).
When John says the angel has the key to the bottomless pit, he means God has given the angel the authority and permission to release those in the bottomless pit. It will probably be one of the fallen angels God will allow to open the bottomless pit.
So what is the bottomless pit? Who is held in it? And why is God allowing them to be released? The bottomless pit that this angel opens should not be confused with hell. Hell is the abode of unredeemed humanity, who are awaiting their final judgment from God. The bottomless pit, in contrast, is the abode of a horrific class of fallen angels and demon spirits whom God has consigned to chains until this moment. (26)
In the Bible, the phrase “bottomless pit” or abyss refers to the abode of the worst of Satan’s angelic and demonic followers. These spirit beings followed Lucifer in his rebellion against God. They are so evil that God has bound or “chained them” in the bottomless pit until He releases them as part of His “Day of the Lord” judgments. (10)
Peter referred to these fallen angels and said:
For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but threw them into hell [Tartarus, an abyss or bottomless pit] and locked them up in chains in utter darkness, to be kept until the judgment, (2 Peter 2:4 NET)
You also know that the angels who did not keep within their proper domain but abandoned their own place of residence, he has kept in eternal chains in utter darkness, locked up for the judgment of the great Day. (Jude 1:6 NET).
These evil angels are also spoken of as those that had cohabited with women and polluted the human gene pool, thus creating a race of evil giants (1) (26)
the sons of God [fallen angels] saw that the daughters of humankind were beautiful. Thus they took wives for themselves from any they chose... The Nephilim were on the earth in those days (and also after this) when the sons of God [fallen angels] were having sexual relations with the daughters of humankind, who gave birth to their children. They were the mighty heroes of old, the famous men. (Genesis 6:2,4 NET)
This was Satan’s first attempt to thwart God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. Since Jesus was to come from the seed of a woman, Satan attempted to pollute man’s genes so that Jesus could not be born. God preserved Noah and his family, who were perfect in their generations while cleansing the earth by the flood. (26)(1)
This is the account of Noah. Noah was a godly man; he was blameless among his contemporaries. He walked with God. (Genesis 6:9 NET)
Again, after the time of the flood, God locked up these evil angels.
When Jesus was ministering in the area of the Gadarenes (the modern-day Golan Heights), He encountered a demon-possessed man. When Jesus confronted the demons, they begged Him not to send them into the abyss. (10)
And they began to beg him not to order them to depart into the abyss [bottomless pit].” (Luke 8:31 NET).
The Lord honored their request and sent them into a herd of swine (pigs). You recall from the story that when the demons entered the swine, the animals went crazy and ran off the cliff into the Sea of Galilee. (10)
Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and the demonic spirits begged Jesus to let them go into them. He gave them permission. So the demons came out of the man and went into the pigs, and the herd of pigs rushed down the steep slope into the lake and drowned. (Luke 8:32–33 NET)
When the angel opens the bottomless pit, a tremendous amount of smoke is released into the air. There is so much smoke that everything turns dark. Then out of the smoke, John sees locusts. The mention of the word locust was frightening to John’s contemporary readers. An invasion of locusts was a common plague in the world of the Bible. John’s readers knew that a swarm of locusts could consist of millions of hungry, winged creatures that darken the sky due to their great numbers. While their lifespan and the harvest season are only five months, locusts can strip the land of all the grass, trees, and crops, leaving behind them total devastation. With their massive numbers, they can quickly devour the land and move to destroy another location. (10)
We recall that the Lord used locusts in His eighth plague against Pharaoh.
So Moses extended his staff over the land of Egypt, and then the LORD brought an east wind on the land all that day and all night. The morning came, and the east wind had brought up the locusts! The locusts went up over all the land of Egypt and settled down in all the territory of Egypt. It was very severe; there had been no locusts like them before, nor will there be such ever again. They covered the surface of all the ground, so that the ground became dark with them, and they ate all the vegetation of the ground and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Nothing green remained on the trees or on anything that grew in the fields throughout the whole land of Egypt. (Exodus 10:13-15 NET).
One of the most devastating locust plagues occurred in the heart of the American breadbasket in 1875. While the agricultural production of the states of Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas has helped feed the world, a plague of locusts stripped the land leaving it barren. The states of Missouri and Minnesota were also devastated. It was a swarm of Rocky Mountain locusts estimated to number in the trillions. They came out of nowhere and, within hours, devoured every crop in their pathway. Observers estimated that the swarm was 1,800 miles long (yes, that number is correct) and 110 miles wide. Eyewitnesses say that the heavens were darkened. The locusts vanished as quickly as they appeared, leaving the country bare of vegetation. (29)
Again, the locusts in Revelation are not ordinary locusts. John’s description of them is terrifying. The prophet Joel compares an invading army to a swarm of locusts and gives a description similar to John’s: (10)
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm signal on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land shake with fear, for the day of the Lord is about to come. Indeed, it is near! It will be a day of dreadful darkness, a day of foreboding storm clouds, like blackness spread over the mountains. It is a huge and powerful army— there has never been anything like it ever before, and there will not be anything like it for many generations to come! Like fire they devour everything in their path; a flame blazes behind them. The land looks like the Garden of Eden before them, but behind them there is only a desolate wilderness— for nothing escapes them! They look like horses; they charge ahead like war horses. They sound like chariots rumbling over mountain tops, like the crackling of blazing fire consuming stubble, like the noise of a mighty army being drawn up for battle. People writhe in fear when they see them. All of their faces turn pale with fright. They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. Each one proceeds on his course; they do not alter their path. They do not jostle one another; each of them marches straight ahead. They burst through the city defenses and do not break ranks. They rush into the city; they scale its walls. They climb up into the houses; they go in through the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them; the sky reverberates. The sun and the moon grow dark; the stars refuse to shine. The voice of the Lord thunders as he leads his army. Indeed, his warriors are innumerable; Surely his command is carried out! Yes, the day of the Lord is awesome and very terrifying—who can survive it? (Joel 2:1–11).
Jeremiah also speaks of these creatures: (26)
The Lord says, “Yes indeed, I am sending an enemy against you that will be like poisonous snakes which cannot be charmed away. And they will inflict fatal wounds on you.” (Jeremiah 8:17 NET)
The point of John’s description is for his readers to understand that, like locusts, this is a powerful swarm, or army, which cannot be stopped. While literal locusts eat everything in their way, these locusts do not eat the crops. They torment people, specifically people who have taken the Mark of the Beast. John likens the pain they inflict to the sting of a scorpion. While the sting of a scorpion is extremely painful, it is not normally fatal. (10)
Likewise, those tormented by these locusts suffer great pain for five months. They are in such anguish that they try to kill themselves but are restrained from doing so. John adds that the locusts are ruled over by an angel who is the king of the bottomless pit. (10)
They have as king over them the angel of the abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. (Revelation 9:11).
Both the words Abaddon and Apollyon have the same meaning of “destroyer.” (10)
We should be able to understand by all that John says about these locusts: they are not literal locusts but demonic armies released by God as a judgment on those who oppose Him. John gives us a big clue when he says they have a king over them because literal locusts do not have a king, according to Proverbs: (10)
locusts have no king, but they all go forward by ranks (Proverbs 30:27 NET).
The fallen angel, who is the king of the bottomless pit, is most likely Satan. (10)
John’s readers would have also been familiar with the imagery of smoke coming out of the bottomless pit. Laodicea, Colosse, and Hierapolis were tri-city areas within a few miles of each other. Hierapolis was the city with the hot mineral springs that constantly bubbled at the top like we see at Yellowstone National Park. These springs appeared like a “lake of fire” that could erupt at any moment, much like Old Faithful, the geyser at Yellowstone that erupts like clockwork to the amazement and amusement of tourists. (10)
The chief deity of Hierapolis was the Greek god Apollo. There was a temple to Apollo, and underneath this temple was a deep cave that the people believed to be the home of Hades (Greek) or Pluto (Roman). In Greek mythology, Hades or Pluto was the god of the underworld or the god of the dead. Since the cave was believed to be the home of Pluto, it was called “the Plutonium.” (10)
There was an entrance from the temple into the Plutonium, which emitted a dense fog of poisonous gas from the cave. The priest of Pluto knew how far down into the cave they could go before inhaling the gas. To influence and control the people, the priests would take an animal with them into the cave to sacrifice to Pluto. Of course, the animal did not know how far down to go before inhaling the gas. It would die, but the priests would live. As you can imagine, this was most impressive to superstitious people with a primitive understanding of the earth’s natural resources. (30)
When John wrote about seeing fiery smoke coming out of the bottomless pit with locusts released to torment the people, they understood what he meant. The people lived in constant fear of the demonic spirits of the underworld. The imagery of steaming hot springs flowing out of caves, lakes of fire, earthquakes, and volcanoes spewing smoke and fire surrounded them.
Ironically, the very people these fallen angels and demons are attacking in Revelation 9 are the ones who took the Mark of the Beast. They are the ones who sold their souls to Satan. They are tormenting their own followers. And that is the way Satan operates. While he appears as an angel of light, his destructive nature and that of his demonic army destroy his own people.
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14 NET)
Those who take the Mark of the Beast, thinking they will escape persecution, will, in the end, be tormented and killed by the evil ones they thought would later protect them from harm. What a tragic miscalculation!
It is interesting to note that we are given a time frame of five months for the duration of the judgment. This indicates that the Great Tribulation can, at most, last 3 years and one month before being cut short by Jesus. (26)
3 years, 1 month + 5 months = 3 years and 6 months, or 3.5 years
The period of the fifth trumpet will be unbelievably awful for those who have not been sealed by God Almighty. Taking the seal of the Antichrist may have protected someone from the great tribulation, but it will be useless during the Day of the Lord. John notes this is the first woe, but two more are coming. Yet, no matter how many woes God sends, like Pharaoh, the people still refuse to repent. (26)(10)
The Sixth Trumpet Blast: The Second Woe
Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a single voice coming from the horns on the golden altar that is before God, saying to the sixth angel, the one holding the trumpet, “Set free the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates!” Then the four angels who had been prepared for this hour, day, month, and year were set free to kill a third of humanity. The number of soldiers on horseback was two hundred million; I heard their number. Now this is what the horses and their riders looked like in my vision: The riders had breastplates that were fiery red, dark blue, and sulfurous yellow in color. The heads of the horses looked like lions’ heads, and fire, smoke, and sulfur came out of their mouths. A third of humanity was killed by these three plagues, that is, by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur that came out of their mouths. For the power of the horses resides in their mouths and in their tails, because their tails are like snakes, having heads that inflict injuries. The rest of humanity, who had not been killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so that they did not stop worshiping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk about. Furthermore, they did not repent of their murders, of their magic spells, of their sexual immorality, or of their stealing. (Revelation 9:13–21 NET)
Before John can finish contemplating the horrors of the first woe, he hears a voice from the altar’s four horns calling the sixth angel to sound the trumpet for the second woe. In Revelation 6:9-11 we learned that those who gave their lives for their faith were seen under the altar crying out for God to avenge their deaths. (10)
Now when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been violently killed because of the word of God and because of the testimony they had given. They cried out with a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Master, holy and true, before you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?” Each of them was given a long white robe and they were told to rest for a little longer, until the full number was reached of both their fellow servants and their brothers who were going to be killed just as they had been. (Revelation 6:9–11 NET)
They are said to be “under the altar” because when the sacrifices were made at the Tabernacle and Temple, the blood of the sacrifices poured out under the altar. The Lord told them to wait a little while, and their prayers would be answered. (10)
Earlier in Revelation 8:3-6 an angel presented the prayers of these faithful to the Lord as it was time for God to answer them. Again, the judgments are God’s answer to the prayers of His people. All true believers cry to God to vindicate their lives, judge evil and establish righteousness on earth. While God has answered these prayers in part throughout history, these judgments are the final answer to our prayers. While we are saddened at the suffering the judgments bring, we rejoice in the final destruction of evil. (10)
The angel’s voice at the altar now instructs the sixth angel to signal the sixth trumpet judgment. The sixth angel is told to release the four angels bound at the Euphrates River. Who are these four angels, and why the Euphrates River? (10)
John is made to understand that God has bound these angels for a specific time in history until He is ready to release them. In the Bible, the angels who serve God are never bound, only fallen angels who followed Lucifer in his rebellion against God. While God has allowed many of these fallen angels the freedom to be active in our world, He has restrained others.
To our understanding, God has bound these four powerful angels throughout history just as He had bound the angelic and demonic spirits in the bottomless pit. Since it is time for God to use them for His purposes, He releases them to attack those who oppose Him. Again we see the irony: the people the demons attack are those who unwittingly serve them.
Recall during the opening of the Sixth seal:
Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, who had the seal of the living God. He shouted out with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given permission to damage the earth and the sea: “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees until we [angels] have put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” (Revelation 7:2–3 NET)
The Archangel Michael commanded these fallen angels to not damage the earth, sea, or trees until the 144,000 Jewish servants of God were marked with a seal on their foreheads by the Angels of God. The sealing has occurred, and now these fallen angels will be set free to kill one-third of humanity with fire, smoke, and brimstone.
These infernal horsemen, and the river Euphrates, are mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah:
“Who is this that rises like the Nile, like its streams turbulent at flood stage? Egypt rises like the Nile, like its streams turbulent at flood stage. Egypt says, ‘I will arise and cover the earth. I will destroy cities and the people who inhabit them.’ Go ahead and charge into battle, you horsemen! Drive furiously, you charioteers! Let the soldiers march out into battle, those from Ethiopia and Libya who carry shields, and those from Lydia who are armed with the bow. But that day belongs to the Lord God who rules over all. It is the day when he will pay back his enemies. His sword will devour them until its appetite is satisfied! It will drink their blood until it is full! For the Lord God who rules over all will offer them up as a sacrifice in the land of the north by the Euphrates River. (Jeremiah 46:7–10 NET)
We hoped for good fortune, but nothing good has come of it. We hoped for a time of relief, but instead we experience terror. The snorting of the enemy’s horses is already being heard in the city of Dan. The sound of the neighing of their stallions causes the whole land to tremble with fear. They are coming to destroy the land and everything in it! They are coming to destroy the cities and everyone who lives in them!” (Jeremiah 8:15–16 NET)
John informs us that these powerful demonic spirits are bound at the Euphrates River. Why the Euphrates River? There are several reasons. In the ancient world, the Euphrates River was the natural boundary separating the East from the West. When the invading armies from the East attacked the Western nations, they had to cross the Euphrates River. The Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and Medes came from the East. The Euphrates River was also the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire. The powerful Parthian army was on the other side, ready to attack Rome. (10)
There was also a spiritual connection to the Euphrates River as it was the eastern boundary of the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 15:18). In Bible times, God’s people considered the nations to the east of the Euphrates to be pagans who worshiped demons. For example, Babylon was where Nimrod attempted to establish the first organized religion against God (Genesis 11:1-9). The Babylonian religion was spread to future empires, including Rome. It became the “Mother Religion” of all religions, contrary to the worship of the One True God. So the Euphrates was a natural and spiritual barrier separating God’s people from those opposed to God. (10)
These four fallen angels are so powerful they can send a great army to attack those who have the Mark of the Beast. John says their number is 200 million. (10)
The four angels had been prepared for this hour, day, month, and year to commence their destruction against mankind. They are to slay a third of mankind with an immense army of two hundred million. There has been much speculation that this army is to come from China. There are a number of
problems inherent in this belief. First, if one is to remain consistent with the plain meaning of Scripture, the text must be understood as referring to a spiritual army led by these four angels. Second, there is no mention of this army coming from China. And, if this were a human invasion, it would most likely be an army from the nations surrounding the Euphrates and not the Far East. These points are mentioned as evidence that it is often better to understand God’s word in its simplest and clearest meaning, no matter how supernatural it may seem. These supernatural beings, unlike the last, are given the authority to kill with fire, smoke, and brimstone(26)
This is the ultimate in spiritual warfare. Whether this number is literal or an apocalyptic way of saying “more than we can number,” their evil, destructive nature causes the death of one-third of all human life. (10)
Any reasonable person would think people who survived this horror would turn to God. But unfortunately, they do not. There is nothing rational or logical about sin. It is willful rebellion against God. John says they do not repent of their worship of demons and idols, their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or thefts. Like the Pharaoh, they harden their hearts against God. (10)
Even with this mighty show of God’s power, it is stated that those who live through this will still not repent. Rather, these men will continue to put their trust and faith in their idolatrous images of the beast. They also will not repent of their sorceries, sexual immoralities, and their thefts. This is because God has sent them a strong delusion that they should believe the lie of the Antichrist.
The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false. And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned. (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12 NET)
Interestingly, John mentions “sorceries” (Revelation 9:21). This English word is translated from the Greek word “pharmakeia.” You can probably recognize the English words derived from “pharmakeia.” They are the words pharmacy or pharmaceutical. Now, what do we get at the pharmacy? We get drugs. The occult use drugs to alter the minds of their followers so they can control them. (10)
What we see here is a description of a world of people who have sold their souls to the devil, cannot make sound decisions due to the influence of drugs, and have no moral constraints. They are totally controlled by evil spirits. While God, in His mercy, has made every effort to bring these people to repentance, they continue to refuse to acknowledge and submit to Him. Since they will not accept redemption, what choice does a just God have but to bring further judgment? (10)
It is, therefore, impossible for them to repent. Consequently, there will not be a great revival during this period. In fact, the total opposite wIll occur. Only one-third of national Israel, the 144,000, and those Gentiles who were not believers but refused to take the mark will come to salvation. The rest of mankind will go headlong into destruction. This will be one of the saddest and most bitter moments the world has ever witnessed. (26)
Looking at the beginning of God’s wrath, one sees a vast difference between the trumpet judgments and what occurred at the opening of the seven seals. The trumpet judgments are literal supernatural events That wIll be unleashed directly by the Hand of God Almighty. He alone will be magnified through these judgments, and everyone will know His power is behind them.
The Religious Festivals / Feasts of Israel
The Lord has just unleashed the first six trumpet judgments, which included the first and second woes. When the seventh and final trumpet sounds, the third woe will be completed, and God will have finished His redemptive plan for the nation of Israel and the world. The Seventieth Week will be ended during the second woe (sixth trumpet), and those of national Israel who have repented will be grafted back into God’s olive tree, as was declared by the Apostle Paul. Israel will then be restored as God’s people. (26)
And even they—if they do not continue in their unbelief—will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. (Romans 11:23 NET)
Before the seventh trumpet is sounded, John is presented with some incredible happenings on planet Earth that occur in relation to the nation of Israel during the second woe. To fully comprehend what is taking place in Revelation chapters ten and eleven, one must understand the seven religious feasts (1) or festivals given to Israel by God in the Old Covenant. During this portion of the Apocalypse, the Lord Jesus Christ will finally fulfill the last of Israel’s great feasts. The feasts played a crucial role in the first coming of Jesus, and they will play an equally important role during His second advent. (26)
In the Lord’s first advent, the first four of these religious feasts were fulfilled in His ministry. The instructions about their celebration are given to us in the book of Leviticus, chapter 23. Their celebration was divided into two periods on the Jewish calendar. The first four were to occur in the spring months of the Jewish calendar, while the last three were celebrated in the fall. They were primarily agricultural feasts that celebrated the harvest in the periods known as the “former rains” and the “latter rains.” There were two major rainy seasons in the land of Israel: the spring, known as the former rains, and the fall, referred to as the latter rains. (26)
The relevance of these celebrations is that they were decreed to Israel to give them understanding and teaching on the first and second advents of the Messiah. These festivals contained pictures and types of what Jesus would accomplish in His ministry to the nation of Israel. It must be stressed that these feasts were to be fulfilled only by the nation of Israel. Therefore, one must not look to their fulfillment in the church. Believers are also specifically told by the Apostle Paul that these feasts are to be fulfilled in the ministry of the Messiah: (26)
Therefore do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days—these are only the shadow of the things to come, but the reality is Christ! (Colossians 2:16–17 NET)
As stated above, the lessons the festivals teach concerning the Messiah were all to be literally fulfilled by His ministry. The Jewish Rabbis failed to recognize that these feasts would not all be fulfilled in His first advent but that there would be two comings of the Messiah. The prophet Hosea clearly teaches that Messiah shall come to Israel as the former and latter rains: (26)
So let us acknowledge him! Let us seek to acknowledge the Lord! He will come to our rescue as certainly as the appearance of the dawn, as certainly as the winter rain comes, as certainly as the spring rain that waters the land.” (Hosea 6:3 NET)
This passage also substantiates that the two comings of the Messiah would relate to the spring and fall festivals. In fact, in our Lord’s first advent, His crucifixion, death, and resurrection fulfilled the spring feasts of the former rains. The spring feasts, which are four in number, take place in the spring months of Nisan and Sivan (April and June). Looking at how these feasts saw their fulfillment in the Lord’s ministry will give a complete picture of how the last three will be fulfilled in His second advent. (26)
The first of the spring feasts, spoken of in the book of Leviticus (Leviticus 23:4-5), is the Feast of Passover (1).
God’s calendar is lunisolar (1) based on the moon phases and the earth’s orbit around the sun. Each month starts with a new moon, reaching a full moon in the middle of the 29.5-day cycle. Thus Passover always falls on a full moon on the 14th of the month – the first full moon of spring (usually April).
This feast commemorated the time in Egypt when God was going to kill all the firstborns of Egypt. He told the Jewish people that each household would take a lamb without spot or blemish and kill it on the fourteenth day of Nisan at 3 p.m. The blood of this innocent lamb was to be applied to the doorframe of their doors. When the angel of death came to kill the firstborn, he would pass over all the households with blood on the doorframe. These households would be spared, while those that did not have the blood would not. The amazing fulfillment of this festival is pictured in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. (26)
Jesus, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29), was a Lamb without spot and blemish due to His sinless character. Jesus was the Lamb who was to be slain so that God could pass over the sins of those who put their trust in Him. What the lamb in Egypt was representative of, Jesus, was the fulfillment of. Amazingly, our Lord was crucified on the morning of the 14th of Nisan. Jesus was nailed to the cross at the third hour (9:00 AM). This was the same moment the high priest would bind the lamb to the altar in the Jewish temple. At the ninth hour (3:00 PM), the high priest would kill the lamb, pronouncing the words, “It is finished.” It was at this very moment that we are told Jesus died on the cross, yelling, “It is finished.” (John 19:30). As the blood of the Passover lamb allowed the angel of death to pass over, the blood of Christ allows God to forgive and pass over our sins. The Jewish people did not realize that the feast celebrating their deliverance from Egypt would commemorate their deliverance from sin. Jesus fulfilled this feast by being the Lamb who took away the world’s sins. This fulfillment occurred on the exact day and moment that the feast events occurred. It is no different with the next three feasts. (26)
We do not keep the feast remembering the exodus from Egypt since that was a shadow of the greater redemption to come. We take communion (1), a part of the original Passover feast, in remembrance of the Lord (1) (Matthew 26:27. John 1:29).
Unleavened Bread (Hag Hamatzah)
The next feast on the Jewish calendar began on the morning of the fifteenth of Nisan and was celebrated for seven days. This was the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1) (Leviticus 23:6-8). This feast would have begun at 6:00 PM Wednesday, the same day our Lord was crucified (1). A Jewish day was reckoned from sunset to sunset. So sunset on Wednesday, the fourteenth of Nisan, would have been considered the early morning of the fifteenth of Nisan. This day was to be a high Sabbath in which no work could be done (Leviticus 23:7). This is why Jesus, who died at 3:00 PM Wednesday, had to be buried quickly before 6:00 PM, which would have signaled the beginning of the high Sabbath day of the fifteenth of Nisan. (26)
God performed this exact ceremony with the burial of Jesus (1) on the exact day of the feast. Men have speculated how Jesus died so quickly on the cross. Crucifixion normally took three days, but Jesus died in 6 hours. Again, our Lord died in time to be buried at sundown that day. He was placed on the cross at 9:00 a.m. and taken down at 3:00 p.m. There was time enough to wrap the body and bury it at sundown. Jesus said that no one could take His life from Him – “I lay it down and I take it up again.” (John 10:17,18)
Many mistakenly understand this Sabbath as the weekly Saturday Sabbath that the Jews would celebrate. This is why Friday is the celebrated day of the Lord’s crucifixion. There are two major problems with Friday being the day on which our Lord was crucified: (26)
1. Jesus said He would remain in the tomb for three days and nights (Matthew 12:40). This would be impossible if Jesus died at 3:00 PM on Friday. (26)
2. In his gospel, John specifically states that this Sabbath was to occur after the preparation day of Passover and that this particular Sabbath was a high holy day (John 19:31). The only high holy day that follows the preparation day of Passover, and is also a Sabbath day, is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. (26)
God told the Jews to eat only the pure unleavened (1) bread during the week following Passover. Leaven (1) in the Bible typically symbolized sin and evil (1 Corinthians 5:7,8). As leaven corrupts and permeates dough, so sin corrupts and permeates our life. (26) Unleavened bread, eaten over a period of time, symbolized a holy walk with the Lord. In the New Testament, the unleavened bread is the body of our Lord (John 6:33). The piece of bread, Jewish matzo, used by the Jews during this week of Unleavened Bread was striped (just like Jesus’ body, Isaiah 53).
The celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread also included consuming the Passover lamb, which was roasted and eaten with bitter herbs. During this meal, a ceremony is celebrated in which a piece of unleavened bread, or matzah, is broken, wrapped in linen, and buried. Jesus had told His disciples, only days before, that this piece of matzah was representative of His body (Matthew 26:26). The bread was unleavened just as Jesus was also unleavened, or sinless. The bread was also striped and pierced through with holes because of the process needed to bake it. Jesus Himself was also pierced on the cross and beaten with many stripes for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5). This piece of unleavened bread buried in the linen symbolized our Lord’s burial. Later, the piece of bread was brought out during the feast while drinking the third cup of wine called the Cup of Redemption. It becomes very clear that our Lord’s burial fulfilled this feast. (26)
The Passover ceremony of breaking, burying, and then resurrecting a piece of this bread presents the Gospel amid the modern Jewish Passover celebration.
The Feast of First Fruits
Next comes the Feast of First Fruits (1), which is to occur on the day after the weekly Sabbath, following the Feast of Passover (Leviticus 23:9-14). This Feast of the First Fruits would then have been celebrated early Sunday, the eighteenth of Nisan, during the week of our Lord’s crucifixion. This third festival commemorated the barley harvest of that year. During the festival, the Israeli farmers were to bring the initial harvest of their barley crops to Jerusalem. A priest would then wave the “first fruits” before the temple. This occurred on the exact day that Jesus was the first to be raised from the dead. He is, in effect, the first fruits of all those who would rise after Him. Just as the priest’s blessing on the initial harvest would provide for a greater harvest later, God’s blessing during His Son’s resurrection would guarantee a greater future resurrection. (26)
Paul points out that Jesus fulfilled this great feast:
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But each one in his own order:
For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. (1 Corinthians 15:22–23 NET)
Our Lord rose from the dead in literal fulfillment of the Feast of First Fruits. The next feast that was fulfilled in His first advent was to take place fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits. (26)
Again, Jesus celebrated the Sunday of the week of His crucifixion by rising from the dead (1). It was not another day He chose but the day of First Fruits. First Fruits was the last of the feasts that the Lord was seen personally fulfilling on earth. But His ministry to the Church was to go on, of course, in the feasts to follow, each on their appropriate days.
The Feast of Weeks (Shavuot)
The final spring feast, the Feast of Weeks (1) or Pentecost, was to occur fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits in the Hebrew month of Sivan (Leviticus 23:15-22). The feast of Pentecost celebrated and brought to remembrance the giving of the law on Mount Sinai.
God gave precise directions for counting the proper number of days until the Feast of Harvest, which we call Pentecost. It would occur exactly 50 days (7 weeks and 1 day) after First Fruits (usually late May or early June). It actually marked the summer harvest. Here two “wave loaves” of equal weight were baked with new leaven (1) and called “firstfruits,” thereby representing redeemed or resurrected men. God predicted that the Church would comprise two parts, Jew and Gentile.
Out of His sovereign desire to reveal Himself to us, the Creator of the universe needed a people through whom He could make Himself known. He could not reveal Himself to us in the fullness of His glory without destroying us with His manifested presence. He needed a people group. God could have chosen any people group. As we learn in the Bible, He chose Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants as the ethnic people through whom He would reveal His redemptive plans and purposes on the earth. (21)
God did not choose the Jewish people because they were better than any other group. He chose them because He found in Abraham, a man who believed in the One True God and followed Him. Abraham’s descendants, later known as the Jews, were not unique because of some inherent superiority but because of their high calling:
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. He has chosen you to be his people, prized above all others on the face of the earth. It is not because you were more numerous than all the other peoples that the LORD favored and chose you—for in fact you were the least numerous of all peoples. Rather it is because of his love for you and his faithfulness to the promise he solemnly vowed to your ancestors that the LORD brought you out with great power, redeeming you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So realize that the LORD your God is the true God, the faithful God who keeps covenant faithfully with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, but who pays back those who hate him as they deserve and destroys them. He will not ignore those who hate him but will repay them as they deserve! So keep the commandments, statutes, and ordinances that I today am commanding you to do. (Deuteronomy 7:6–11)
While the Jews were the first of God’s people, the Creator made it clear that He would also call a people to Himself from among the Gentiles. In all three divisions of the Hebrew Bible, the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi’im), and the Psalms (K’tivim), the Lord revealed that He would include Gentiles as part of “My people.”
From the moment God called Abraham, He told Abraham that he would be a blessing to all the families of the earth.
I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.” (Genesis 12:3 NET)
God’s covenant people would include “whosoever will” as they responded to the revelation He gave through Abraham.
Before God even brought the Hebrews into the Promised Land, He reached out to the Gentiles and said,
Cry out, O nations [Gentiles], with his people, for he will avenge his servants’ blood; he will take vengeance against his enemies, and make atonement for his land and people. (Deuteronomy 32:43 NET)
The psalmist calls the Gentiles to worship the Lord:
Praise the Lord, all you nations! Applaud him, all you foreigners! (Psalm 117:1 NET)
Isaiah spoke of the Messiah who would come from the seed of Jesse, the father of King David. (21)
He prophesied that the Gentiles would seek Him:
At that time a root from Jesse will stand like a signal flag for the nations. Nations will look to him for guidance, and his residence will be majestic. (Isaiah 11:10 NET).
Luke tells the story of Simeon, a devout Jewish man waiting for the Messiah to appear. The Lord told him he would not die until he saw the Messiah.
When Jesus was presented at the Temple, Simeon prophesied:
“Now, according to your word, Sovereign Lord, permit your servant to depart in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: a light, for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32).
Simeon was referring to Isaiah’s prophecy where the Lord said of the Messiah:
he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant, to reestablish the tribes of Jacob, and restore the remnant of Israel? I will make you a light to the nations, so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6 NET)
It is evident, from the writings of Paul, that God has not called two separate peoples but one people. Paul says that true Israel is made up of those who are the children of faith in Christ, not merely those who are born of Jewish descent:
Now this secret was not disclosed to people in former generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, namely, that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:5–6 NET)
Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh—who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed on the body by human hands—that you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11–22 NET)
As Western believers, we must understand that Christians are part of “the Israel of God” and have become “one new man” with them. The Church is not Israel but is joined with Jews as the “one new man,” also known as the new “Israel of God.”
But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! And all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14–16 NET)
Speaking symbolically, Jewish believers are not grafted into the Christians’ wild olive tree, but Christians are grafted into the cultivated Jewish olive tree. Furthermore, the Jewish branches that were broken off will be grafted back into the Jewish olive tree.
Now if some of the [Jewish] branches were broken off, and you, a [Gentile] wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them and participated in the richness of the [Jewish] olive root, do not boast over the [Jewish] branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the [Jewish] root, but the [Jewish] root supports you. Then you will say, “The [Jewish] branches were broken off so that I [a Gentile] could be grafted in.” Granted! They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear! For if God did not spare the natural [Jewish] branches, perhaps he will not spare you [a Gentile branch]. Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God—harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And even they [Jewish branches]—if they do not continue in their unbelief—will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a [Gentile] wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated [Jewish] olive tree, how much more will these natural [Jewish] branches be grafted back into their own [cultivated Jewish] olive tree? (Romans 11:17-24 NET)
While Abraham is the natural father of the Jewish people, he is the spiritual father of all true believers.
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26–29 NET)
He is “Our Father Abraham.”
For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants—not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (Romans 4:16 NET)
It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel, nor are all the children Abraham’s true descendants; rather “through Isaac will your descendants be counted.” This means it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God; rather, the children of promise are counted as descendants. (Romans 9:6–8 NET)
But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac. (Galatians 4:28 NET)
But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! And all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14–16 NET)
All Christians are Jews:
For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something that is outward in the flesh, but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit and not by the written code. This person’s praise is not from people but from God. (Romans 2:28–29 NET)
Zechariah saw this “One New Man” company of people when he wrote:
The Lord who rules over all says, ‘In those days ten people [a representative number] from all languages and nations will grasp hold of—indeed, grab—the robe [tzitzit] of one Jew and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” ’ ”
Through Messiah, God has made way for all people to be His people, regardless of ethnic or national background, skin color, gender, economic status, social position, education, life achievements, age, language, customs, or traditions. No human barriers keep us from being in God’s Kingdom family. All of His people will be forever in His glorious presence.
Only those who have faith in Christ are considered God’s people. According to Paul, if one is born Jewish and rejects Christ, he is not considered part of God’s people. This is the same for a Gentile who also rejects Christ.
God has only provided one way of salvation: through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. (1)
Jesus rejoined His disciples after His resurrection and taught them for forty days. Then He told them to wait at Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit would come upon them in power. He then ascended into heaven and told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. And He did (1), exactly on the feast of Pentecost (Acts 1:3).
It was a great “harvest” of souls as 3000 people joined that day (Acts 2:1. Exodus 32:28). Of course, that is only a token of the harvest that will occur at the church’s rapture. From the Feast of Pentecost onward, this period signaled the great harvest period, culminating in the latter rains of the fall festivals.
God then gave a sign to the unbelieving nation of Israel that His Spirit was upon these men who followed Jesus. It is said in the book of Acts that the disciples spoke with other tongues, and all the Jews who were in Jerusalem, from all over the world, heard these men praising God in their own language. (26)
The prophet Isaiah predicted this sign, as the Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians:
In the law, it is written:
“By people with strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, yet not even in this way will they listen to me,” says the Lord. So then, tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. (1 Corinthians 14:21-22 NET)(cf. Isaiah 28:11,12)
The sign of tongues would be God’s last sign to unbelieving Israel to bring them to national repentance before the Day of the Lord. On this very day, Peter made the last attempt to offer the Messianic Kingdom to national Israel in his great sermon. Unfortunately, the leadership of Israel did not repent and accept Peter’s message. However, there were three thousand who did repent and put their faith in Jesus (Acts 2:41). This is in direct contrast with the first Pentecost, in which three thousand were killed at the time the law was given on Mount Sinai (Exodus 32:28). The “letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). ” Since Israel did not as a nation repent, God took His plan of salvation primarily to the Gentiles. With the fulfillment of the Feast of Pentecost, God ended his dealings with national Israel, and the great harvest period of the church age began. Yet, God has not forsaken Israel. For during the Seventieth Week, He will again offer the kingdom to them if they repent. (26)
As the first four spring feasts were fulfilled in our Lord’s first coming, the last three will be fulfilled in His second coming. There are some important items to note concerning fulfilling these first four feasts. These items also should be true for the fulfillment of the second set of feasts: (26)
- Their fulfillment will occur specifically in Israel while the Lord is physically present on the earth.
- As the first four were fulfilled in chronological succession, within exact days of each other, so will the last three. It will not be during the Second Advent that the first of these feasts will be fulfilled, and then a year or a couple of years later, the next one will be fulfilled. Since God is always consistent, the feasts must be fulfilled the same way as they were at His first coming, within days of each other. (26)
Four coincidences are hard to explain away, especially when each one is so completely appropriate to its purpose. Because we have not yet seen the fulfillment to feast number five, we remain under the orders of Pentecost, continuing the summer crop cultivation as we work in the field until the great harvest is marked by the next feast.
Moving back into the text of Revelation, with the blowing of the sixth trumpet, John is brought to the closing days of the Seventieth Week. In this period, the last three feasts will be fulfilled chronologically and within days of each other. Beginning with chapter ten, John describes an incredible sight: (26)
The Powerful Angel with the Little Scroll
Then I saw another powerful angel descending from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun and his legs were like pillars of fire. He held in his hand a little scroll that was open, and he put his right foot on the sea and his left on the land. (Revelation 10:1–2 NET)
The angel described here is none other than the Angel of the Lord of the Old Testament: our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is accepted by a majority of biblical scholars that the Angel of the Lord of the Old Testament was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. One may notice that the description of this angel is very similar to the description of Jesus given in Revelation. (26)
I turned to see whose voice was speaking to me, and when I did so, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands was one like a son of man. He was dressed in a robe extending down to his feet and he wore a wide golden belt around his chest. His head and hair were as white as wool, even as white as snow, and his eyes were like a fiery flame. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp double-edged sword extended out of his mouth. His face shone like the sun shining at full strength. (Revelation 1:12–16 NET)
The angel is described as being clothed in a cloud of glory, with his face shining as the sun and his feet like pillars of fire, much like the burnished brass. Also, it is revealed that this angel has a rainbow around his head, much like the rainbow previously seen above the throne of God Almighty.
And the one seated on it was like jasper and carnelian in appearance, and a rainbow looking like it was made of emerald encircled the throne. (Revelation 4:3 NET)
This passage also matches the description given of Jesus Christ by the prophet Ezekiel:
Above the platform over their heads was something like a sapphire shaped like a throne. High above on the throne was a form that appeared to be a man. I saw an amber glow like a fire enclosed all around from his waist up. From his waist down I saw something that looked like fire. There was a brilliant light around it, like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds after the rain. This was the appearance of the surrounding brilliant light; it looked like the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I threw myself face down, and I heard a voice speaking. (Ezekiel 1:26–28 NET)
The description of the angel is not as important as the function he serves. Yet, the description is breathtaking. I am sure that seeing an ordinary angel is overwhelming. But seeing an angel like this would certainly be a defining moment in life that none of us would ever forget. (10)
This may be the angel Daniel saw when God gave him a vision of the end times. Daniel described that angel with these words:
I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen; around his waist was a belt made of gold from Upaz. His body resembled yellow jasper, and his face had an appearance like lightning. His eyes were like blazing torches; his arms and feet had the gleam of polished bronze. His voice thundered forth like the sound of a large crowd. (Daniel 10:5–6 NET)
No wonder the vision of this mighty angel so overwhelmed Daniel that he could not stand in his presence (Daniel 10:8-9). Anyone who has had an overwhelming experience with the manifested presence of the Holy Spirit can understand this. (10)
Many passages identify the Angel of the Lord as God. On the other hand, in many of his appearances throughout sacred history, this angel is presented as the Lord Himself, as the writer of Genesis apparently does in Genesis 16:3. It was the Angel of the Lord (Yahweh) who appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2). Yet, the text almost immediately states that “God” spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:4) and quotes Him as saying, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:16). The being who commissioned Gideon to save his people is identified as the Angel of the Lord (Yahweh) in Judges 6:12. As the Lord in Judges 6:14. It is also significant that while the New Testament mentions “an angel of the Lord,” the Old Testament’s “the Angel of the Lord” is absent. The strong implication is that, in most cases, the Angel of the Lord is indeed the Lord Himself, cloaked in a way that permits human beings to experience His presence. Moreover, the appearances of the Angel of the Lord are closely linked with a significant feature of the Old Testament: the unique covenant promises that God made to one man – Abraham. (27)
This name, “Yahweh,” reveals God’s nature in the highest and fullest sense possible. It includes or presupposes the meaning of the other names. Yahweh particularly stresses the absolute faithfulness of God. God had promised the patriarchs that he would be their God, that he would be with them, deliver and bless and keep them, and give them land as a place of service and inheritance. God tells Moses that Israel is about to behold and experience the unchangeableness of God as he steadfastly and wondrously remembers his word and executes it to the fullest degree. God would prove to be faithful, redeeming, upholding, and restoring God. In working out this redemption, God would demonstrate that He is all His name implies merciful, gracious, patient, full of loving-kindness, truthful, faithful, forgiving, just, and righteous (Exodus 34:5, 6). Truly, Jacob had received an insight into the meaning of the name when he exclaimed, “I wait for thy salvation, O Yahweh” (Genesis 49:18). Yahweh, then, is the name par excellence of Israel’s God. As Yahweh, he is a faithful covenant God who, having given his Word of love and life, keeps that Word by bestowing love and life abundantly on his own. (28)
Since Yahweh is the name of God most closely associated with the carrying out of His covenant promises, it is not surprising that when the Angel of the Lord appears, his involvement in the situation has a direct, and sometimes dramatic, link to God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants. (27)
Was the Angel of the Lord Yahweh Himself appearing cloaked as an angel? And if so, was the Angel of the Lord an appearance of Christ before His incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth? Yes, it is possible, even probable. An awareness of this adds even more significance to each appearance of the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament. He is the Lord Himself, cloaked as an angel, and personally present to see that His covenant promises to Israel are faithfully fulfilled. (27)
Besides these observations, there are other major reasons for this Angel being a picture of Jesus Christ as the Angel of the Lord.
- This angel is seen holding a little scroll open in his hand. In Revelation 5, John was told that Jesus alone was worthy to open and hold the scroll containing the trumpet judgments. It is then consistent with God’s word that Jesus is also the only one worthy to open and hold the little scroll. That the scroll is open suggests that God will reveal its contents.
- In Revelation 11, this angel speaks to John and states, “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophecy one thousand two hundred and sixty days clothed in sackcloth.” (Revelation 11:3). The angel refers to these men as His “two witnesses,” and also declares that He is the one who gives them the power to witness. No mere angel has this type of authority.
- In the Old Testament, the Jews were led through the wilderness by the Angel of the Lord with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day (Exodus 13:21). The Angel of Revelation is said to have a cloud of glory surrounding him, and pillars of fire for feet. This same angel will stand upon the earth, and as the feasts of Israel are fulfilled, he will lead the faithful Jews out of their hiding in the wilderness areas of Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Assyria back to Israel.
The Messiah’s Bodily Return to Earth
John sees that this angel sets his right foot on the sea and his left foot upon the land, which is the first time Jesus returns physically to earth. Three times in Revelation 10, John mentions that the angel has one foot on the sea and the other on the land. The fact that this angel has one foot on the sea and another on the land is John’s way of saying that the angel has a message of salvation for national Israel and the whole world. This description of how the angel is standing is a clear and powerful statement that: (10)
The Lord owns the earth and all it contains, the world and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1 NET)
What appears to be presented in this passage of Revelation is Jesus returning to earth as the Angel of the Lord to finally take possession of His kingdom. Jesus has already poured out the trumpet judgments on Israel. This occurs in Christ’s coming as a “thief to kill.” He previously came as a “thief to steal” His elect from the hands of the Antichrist. From this point until Armageddon, Jesus now comes as a “thief to destroy” those who have persecuted His people Israel and have taken the mark of the beast. (26)
Realize Jesus stands upon the earth and takes possession of it on a very special day.
The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)
The Feast of Trumpets (1) is the first feast of the fall season or the latter rains. This jump in time from the Summer months from the last feast Spring feast of Pentecost to the Feast of Trumpets represents the Church Age. This festival was to be celebrated on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishri (Leviticus 23:23-25). The feast commemorated the beginning of the Messianic kingdom and the disastrous fate of the unbelieving Jews and Gentile nations. From the beginning of Rosh Hashanah until the Day of Atonement are ten days. These ten days are known as “the days of awe,” according to Jewish tradition, they are the final period of time that the world and Israel have to repent before God’s final judgment is unleashed. The Feast of Trumpets is also believed to be the birthday of the world, the beginning of the Messianic kingdom, and the day in which the Messiah will reveal Himself and re-gather Israel back to the land since the first day of Tishri was the day in which God created the earth, it seems very appropriate that Jesus, as the Angel of the Lord, stands upon the earth on this same day, reclaiming its possession for His kingdom. The events of this great feast are fulfilled in Revelation chapter 10. (26)
The Messiah’s Roar
Then he shouted in a loud voice like a lion roaring, and when he shouted, the seven thunders sounded their voices. When the seven thunders spoke, I was preparing to write, but just then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders spoke and do not write it down.” (Revelation 10:3–4 NET)
When the angel gives a mighty shout, John likens his voice to that of a roaring lion. When a lion roars, everyone nearby is alerted. The language of these verses parallels a similar set of verses in the book of Hosea, which also speak of the Messiah’s return for the salvation of Israel:
He will roar like a lion, and they will follow the Lord; when he roars, his children will come trembling from the west. They will return in fear and trembling like birds from Egypt, like doves from Assyria, and I will settle them in their homes,” declares the Lord. (Hosea 11:10–11 NET)
Another passage in Isaiah also closely parallels the beginning of Christ’s kingdom on the Feast of the Trumpets:
At that time the Lord will shake the tree, from the Euphrates River to the Stream of Egypt. Then you will be gathered up one by one, O Israelites. At that time a large trumpet will be blown, and the ones lost in the land of Assyria will come, as well as the refugees in the land of Egypt. They will worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 27:12–13 NET)
In this text is pictured the blowing of the Great Shofar (1), or ram’s horn, which occurs during the celebration of the Feast of Trumpets. Isaiah also states that those who have escaped to the wilderness will return to worship the Lord at the Holy Mount in Jerusalem. This mountain is very likely Holy Mount Zion, where Jesus will later be seen standing.
As Jesus returns to the earth and roars to His people to return from the wilderness to Israel, it is stated that the seven thunders will sound.
Then he shouted in a loud voice like a lion roaring, and when he shouted, the seven thunders sounded their voices. When the seven thunders spoke, I was preparing to write, but just then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders spoke and do not write it down.” (Revelation 10:3–4 NET)
John hears seven thunders uttering their voices. John does not literally mean the physical phenomenon of thunder. It is his apocalyptic way of describing heavenly voices that are as loud as thunder. The voices reveal the contents of the seventh trumpet. As John is about to write down what he hears, another voice from Heaven tells him to seal up, or keep to himself, the words of the seven thunderous voices. Later, John will learn what the seven thunder voices are saying. But for now, God does not want John to reveal their words. (10)
Returning to Daniel, we see a similar exchange between Daniel and the powerful angel talking with him. After the angel gave Daniel prophetic revelation, the angel told Daniel to seal up the vision until the time of the end: (10)
“But you, Daniel, close up these words and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will dash about, and knowledge will increase.” (Daniel 12:4 NET)
When asked how long it would be before the prophecies were fulfilled, the angel lifted his hands to Heaven and swore by Him, who lives forever and ever, that the end-time events would occur in God’s time. When Daniel inquired further, the angel said to Daniel: (10)
I heard, but I did not understand. So I said, “Sir, what will happen after these things?” He said, “Go, Daniel. For these matters are closed and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made clean, and refined, but the wicked will go on being wicked. None of the wicked will understand, though the wise will understand. (Daniel 12:8–10 NET)
It should seem obvious that this final revelation to John fulfills the words the angel gave to Daniel. The seven-sealed scroll has been opened. All but the Seventh trumpet has been blown. The contents of the last judgment are sealed for now but will soon be revealed. (10)
As Peter wrote:
For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer. (1 Peter 4:7 NET)
The angel then confirms that the mystery of God will be finished when the seventh trumpet sounds. While the angel does not say what he means by “the mystery of God,” he does say God declares it to His servants, the prophets. What is the mystery of God? What did God declare to the prophets? (10)
The mystery of God is His divine plan or secret, which He is either yet to reveal or has already revealed to those who do not fully understand it. It is a mystery. But the mystery will be understood at some point in God’s timing. (10)
The angel says that God has revealed His mystery to His prophets. The angel means the prophets in the Old Covenant. The angel is referencing Amos, who says: (10)
Certainly the sovereign Lord does nothing without first revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7 NET)
Peter explains the mystery that God revealed to the prophets: (10)
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully. They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory. They were shown that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things now announced to you through those who proclaimed the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things angels long to catch a glimpse of. (1 Peter 1:10–12 NET)
God’s mystery is the eternal covenant He made with Himself by which He would bring salvation to mankind. He would reconcile Jews and Gentiles to Himself and each other through the blood of an everlasting covenant He would make with Himself on our behalf. He would put His own Spirit within us so we could share His divine nature and live forever with Him in eternity. (10)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, (1 Peter 1:3–4 NET)
From Simeon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, have been granted a faith just as precious as ours. May grace and peace be lavished on you as you grow in the rich knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord! I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. Through these things he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire. (2 Peter 1:1–4 NET)
The writer of Hebrews explains:
Now may the God of peace who by the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, equip you with every good thing to do his will, working in us what is pleasing before him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20–21 NET)
The prophets in the Hebrew Bible predicted it but did not fully understand everything they were prophesying. This is because its fulfillment would come later when God prepared for Himself a body and became one of us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. (10)
Peter further explains:
He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was manifested in these last times for your sake. Through him you now trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:20–21 NET)
Moreover, we possess the prophetic word as an altogether reliable thing. You do well if you pay attention to this as you would to a light shining in a murky place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you do well if you recognize this: No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:19–21 NET)
God continues to reveal more of this divine mystery to His prophets, including John, who recorded it in the Book of Revelation. And not only did He reveal the mystery to His prophets, but to all of God’s people who revere Him. (10)
King David explains:
The Lord’s loyal followers receive his guidance, and he reveals his covenantal demands to them. (Psalm 25:14 NET)
A good example of this is recorded in the Book of Second Kings. There we learn that the King of Syria sent his army at night to surround the city where the prophet Elisha was staying. The next morning, Elisha’s servant went outside and saw the Syrian army surrounding the city. In a panic, he ran to Elisha and told him the situation. Elisha told his servant not to worry because they had more fighting for them than the King of Syria did. Of course, the servant was completely confused by this answer. It was only him and Elisha. Then Elisha asked God to open his servant’s spiritual eyes so he could see the angelic army ready to fight on behalf of Elisha: (10)
Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he can see.” The Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw that the hill was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17 NET)
So it is in the Book of Revelation. While we might not be able to see it with our physical eyes, God has a mighty army of angels fighting on our behalf. Although many are martyred during this time, they overcome death and stand in the presence of God, crying out for justice. The final answer to their prayers will soon manifest in blowing the seventh trumpet judgment.
This revealing of the Messiah, the calling of the assembly of Israel back to the land, and the beginning of the Messianic kingdom on the first day of the month Tishri is a perfect fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets. With its initiation, the ten days of repentance begin, and soon John will be shown the end of the Seventieth Week on the tenth of Tishri. Its culmination will fulfill the next feast on the Jewish calendar: the Day of Atonement. (26)
The Time for Final Judgment is Announced
Then the angel I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by the one who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, and the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, “There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God is completed, just as he has proclaimed to his servants the prophets.” (Revelation 10:5–7 NET)
The mighty angel then lifts his hand to Heaven and swears, or makes an oath, in the name of the One True God that the time for His final judgment has come. God will no longer offer His mercy to those who have opposed Him. Their time to repent is over. (10)
This action of swearing an oath is mentioned in the Old Covenant:
“ ‘When a person sins in that he hears a public curse against one who fails to testify and he is a witness (he either saw or knew what had happened) and he does not make it known, then he will bear his punishment for iniquity. (Leviticus 5:1 NET)
The Lord says that if someone is put under oath as a witness, they must speak the truth of what they have heard, seen, or know to be true. This is the Scripture that the high priest used to coax Jesus to defend Himself just before His crucifixion: (10)
But Jesus was silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63–64 NET)
We still follow this custom today when witnesses are sworn in at court. Each witness places his left hand on the Bible and raises his right hand, promising to tell “the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me, God.” (10)
Jesus then swears before the Almighty Father that there will be no more delay in establishing His kingdom. John also states that in the days of the sounding of the seventh trumpet and final woe, the mystery of God will be completed, which was spoken of by His servants and prophets. This mystery is the completion of God’s redemption of national Israel and the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom as the days of the Seventieth Week come to a close. Israel had rejected her Messiah and refused to repent at His first advent. It will be during our Lord’s return that the nation of Israel will finally be redeemed, fulfilling all that was predicted by the prophets. In Romans, Paul speaks of this great mystery: (26)
For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25–27 NET)
As the Lord returns physically to earth, He will cry out to those Jews who have not received the mark that they should repent. As stated in Hebrews, Jesus will come a second time not to put away sin but for the salvation of Israel.
so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation. (Hebrews 9:28 NET)
These compromising Jews will have a ten-day period, the Days of Awe, to accept Christ’s offer before the Day of Atonement, which will close or end the Seventieth Week. Upon their repentance, Jesus went forth to rescue the 144,000 and the other Jews who were hiding in Assyria and Egypt. This great roar of the Messiah will signal the Jews should now return to the land of Israel. The prophet Zechariah tells us that there will be a great mourning in the land during this period of repentance: (26)
“I will pour out on the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn.On that day the lamentation in Jerusalem will be as great as the lamentation at Hadad-Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, clan by clan—the clan of the royal household of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the clan of the family of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; the clan of the descendants of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; and the clan of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves—all the clans that remain, each separately with their wives.” (Zechariah 12:10–14 NET)
Eating the Little Scroll
Then the voice I had heard from heaven began to speak to me again, “Go and take the open scroll in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take the scroll and eat it. It will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.” So I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it, and it did taste as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. (Revelation 10:8–10 NET)
Before the next feast is fulfilled, John is told to take and eat the little scroll that is in the hands of the Angel of the Lord. This scroll is said to taste like honey in John’s mouth but becomes bitter in his stomach. (26)
The mighty angel gives John the book, tells John to eat the book, and warns him that, although the words will be sweet in his mouth, they will turn bitter in his stomach. Sure enough, this is what John experiences. The words in the little book are sweet to the taste but upset his stomach. Now, what is this about? Is John literally eating a book? I think we know the answer. John does not literally eat the book; he internalizes the words so that they become part of him. (10)
The Little Scroll reveals a bittersweet truth. While it is sweet that the kingdom of Christ has finally come, it will be bitter for all those who will soon suffer God’s final judgments. The scroll’s judgments will vent God Almighty’s final wrath upon those who “dwell upon the earth.” John is told that he will again have to prophesy “about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” This scroll is most likely the same flying scroll that was seen by the prophet Zechariah: (26)
Then I turned to look, and there was a flying scroll! Someone asked me, “What do you see?” I replied, “I see a flying scroll thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide.”The speaker went on to say, “This is a curse traveling across the whole earth. For example, according to the curse whoever steals will be removed from the community; or on the other hand (according to the curse) whoever swears falsely will suffer the same fate.” (Zechariah 5:1–3 NET)
This scroll contains within it the final curse on the earth against all mankind who have followed after the Antichrist.
We discover this same idea of eating God’s words in the Hebrew Bible. The prophet Jeremiah used the same phrases, saying:
As your words came to me I drank them in, and they filled my heart with joy and happiness because I belong to you. (Jeremiah 15:16 NET)
When the Lord spoke to Ezekiel, He told him to eat God’s words. He meant that Ezekiel should spiritually digest God’s Word so that it would become part of Ezekiel. The Lord said: (10)
As for you, son of man, listen to what I am saying to you: Do not rebel like that rebellious house! Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.” (Ezekiel 2:8 NET)
Then I looked and realized a hand was stretched out to me, and in it was a written scroll. He unrolled it before me, and it had writing on the front and back; written on it were laments, mourning, and woe. He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you see in front of you—eat this scroll—and then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth and he fed me the scroll. He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll I am giving to you.” So I ate it, and it was sweet like honey in my mouth. (Ezekiel 2:9–3:3 NET)
King David likened the Word of God to honey, saying it is:
The commands to fear the Lord are right and endure forever. The judgments given by the Lord are trustworthy and absolutely just. They are of greater value than gold, than even a great amount of pure gold; they bring greater delight than honey, than even the sweetest honey from a honeycomb. (Psalm 19:9–10 NET)
Psalm 119 is a great chapter that explains the many benefits of the Word of God. In this psalm, we read: (10)
Your words are sweeter in my mouth than honey! (Psalm 119:103 NET)
There was a Jewish tradition to use honey on the first school day for children just beginning their studies. The teacher would give the children an object containing the words of God coated with honey. The children were then instructed to lick the honey off the object, thus associating God’s Word with the sweetness of the honey. (10)
We are to digest God’s Word so that it becomes part of us. God’s Word should become the bone of our bones and the flesh of our flesh. God’s Word should be alive in us with His very own life and power working in us, through us, and out of us. (10)
God’s Word is sweet to the soul. It is the real “comfort food” or “soul food.” It gives us love when we feel unloved, peace when we are troubled, joy when we are depressed, hope when we are hopeless, faith when we are doubting, rest when we are stressed, and comfort when we are burdened. (10)
Jesus, Himself said,
But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”(Matthew 4:4 NET).
The living Word of the living God can impart God’s own life into us. This is because God’s spoken Word has His life in it. Just as when we speak, and our life or breath comes out of us to form our spoken words, when God speaks, the breath of His life comes out to form His words. When the Holy Spirit imparts those words, God’s life enters us through them. (10)
Yet, God’s Word can also be bitter when we have to speak His Word of judgment or correction to others or when He speaks it to us. That is not pleasant. God’s Word of rebuke can cause us great grief and give us a spiritual stomach ache, so much so that we lose our physical appetite. We can become so anguished and heartsick about sin and its consequences, the fact that the wicked seem to prosper, or the immorality all around us that a time of prayer and fasting is the only thing that can console us.
This is what is happening to John. He is glad to receive the Word of God. It is sweet to the taste but gives him spiritual heartburn when he digests it. The words he will have to prophesy are unpleasant; they are words of more suffering and judgment. (10)
A Bittersweet Commission
Then they told me: “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings.” (Revelation 10:11 NET)
The angel tells John that he will have to speak more prophecy. His audience will be the whole world, or as the Bible states it, “many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings [emperors].” (10)
The rest of the Book of Revelation contains further prophecies John is to speak. Much of what John prophesies is bitter because it is about the further judgments of God in an anti-God world. However, the end of the prophecies is sweet, as they tell about the coming of the Lord to establish His Kingdom on the earth. (10)
As today’s believers, we have the prophetic words of John available to us. We are responsible for speaking these words to our generation, as God commissioned Ezekiel to do. God put His words in Ezekiel and called him to be a watchman:
Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must give them a warning from me. When I say to the wicked, “You will certainly die,” and you do not warn him—you do not speak out to warn the wicked to turn from his wicked deed and wicked lifestyle so that he may live—that wicked person will die for his iniquity, but I will hold you accountable for his death. But as for you, if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wicked deed and from his wicked lifestyle, he will die for his iniquity but you will have saved your own life. (Ezekiel 3:17-19).
As watchmen, believers must contemplate God, His plan of redemption, His counsel and decrees, and His prophetic season and words. We are to listen to what God is saying, and we are to say it. We are to watch what God is doing and do it. We are to partner with God to observe, guard, protect, warn, and proclaim who He is in His nature and what He is doing in our world today. We must be alert to the prophetic season in which we are living. We must be single-minded, spiritually sober, and focused on the things of God. We must avoid being foolishly caught up in the things and cares of the world. We must be faithful and vigilant, particularly as we approach the “Day of the Lord.” (10)
Measuring the Temple of God
Then a measuring rod like a staff was given to me, and I was told, “Get up and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and the ones who worship there. But do not measure the outer courtyard of the temple; leave it out, because it has been given to the Gentiles, and they will trample on the holy city for forty-two months. (Revelation 11:1,2 NET)
John is told to measure the temple of God, which is in the city of Jerusalem. He is also told to leave out measuring the outer court, which shall be trampled by the Gentiles for 42 months. This parenthetic passage now times itself because it is known that the Antichrist defiles the outer court and the sanctuary at the midpoint of the Seventieth Week.
His forces will rise up and profane the fortified sanctuary, stopping the daily sacrifice. In its place they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. (Daniel 11:31 NET)
It is also known that the Antichrist will lead an invasion of Gentile forces into Jerusalem simultaneously. (26)
John will be an actual participant in this part of his vision. The angel gives John a measuring rod and tells him to measure the Temple, the altar, and the worshipers at the Temple. However, he tells John not to measure the outer court because that is the Court of the Gentiles. The angel further informs John that the Gentiles will attack the holy city of Jerusalem for 42 months or three and one-half years. (10)
This is the last three and one-half years of Daniels’ 70th week. It is composed of The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, a period of time Jesus mentioned:
For then there will be great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. (Matthew 24:21 NET)
This time period is also referred to by the phrase “time, times, and half a time:” (10)
Then I heard the man clothed in linen who was over the waters of the river as he raised both his right and left hands to the sky and made an oath by the one who lives forever: “It is for a time, times, and half a time. Then, when the power of the one who shatters the holy people has been exhausted, all these things will be finished.” (Daniel 12:7 NET)
But the woman was given the two wings of a giant eagle so that she could fly out into the wilderness, to the place God prepared for her, where she is taken care of—away from the presence of the serpent—for a time, times, and half a time. (Revelation 12:14 NET)
In addition to the number of months (i.e., 42) and years (i.e., 3.5), John also refers to this time in terms of days (i.e., 1,260): (10)
And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3 NET)
So the woman gave birth to a son, a male child, who is going to rule over all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was suddenly caught up to God and to his throne, and she fled into the wilderness where a place had been prepared for her by God, so she could be taken care of for 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:5–6 NET)
The Third Temple
The Old Covenant says the Jews will rebuild the Temple in preparation for the coming of Messiah.
In the future the mountain of the Lord’s temple will endure as the most important of mountains, and will be the most prominent of hills. All the nations will stream to it, many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mountain, to the temple of the God of Jacob, so he can teach us his requirements, and we can follow his standards.” For Zion will be the center for moral instruction; the Lord will issue edicts from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2–3 NET)
The prophet Daniel discusses an evil person, the Antichrist, who will commit the “abomination of desolation,” which includes stopping sacrifices at the third Temple built at the end of times.
...As for the city and the sanctuary, the people of the coming prince [the Antichrist] will destroy them. But his end will come speedily like a flood. Until the end of the war that has been decreed there will be destruction. He will confirm a covenant with many for one week [7 years]. But in the middle of that week [3.5 years] he will bring sacrifices and offerings to a halt. On the wing of abominations will come one who destroys, until the decreed end is poured out on the one who destroys.” (Daniel 9:26 b; Daniel 9:27 NET)
The ships of Kittim will come against him [the Antichrist], leaving him disheartened. He will turn back and direct his indignation against the holy covenant. He will return and honor those who forsake the holy covenant. His forces will rise up and profane the fortified sanctuary, stopping the daily sacrifice. In its place they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. (Daniel 11:30–31).
Jesus referred to Daniel’s prophecy and warned the believers to flee Jerusalem when they saw the Abomination of Desolation standing in the holy place. (10)
“So when you see the abomination of desolation—spoken about by Daniel the prophet—standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. The one on the roof must not come down to take anything out of his house, and the one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen. And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:15–22 NET)
Paul also refers to the Abomination of Desolation and says that he is the one: (10)
Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters,not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God. (2 Thessalonians 2:1–4 NET)
John talks about the Temple of God and clearly puts it in the time of the Great Tribulation at the end of the age before the coming of Messiah. (10)
Then a measuring rod like a staff was given to me, and I was told, “Get up and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and the ones who worship there. But do not measure the outer courtyard of the temple; leave it out, because it has been given to the Gentiles, and they will trample on the holy city for forty-two months. (Revelation 11:1–2 NET)
When we put all the Scriptures together, it is clear a third Temple will be built before the coming of the Messiah. It is a prophetic sign of the end times. (10)
Why would God want to rebuild a Temple in Jerusalem? As non-Jewish believers, we know that when Jesus said, “It is finished or completed!” (10)
When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30 NET)
He meant He was the once-and-for-all perfect sacrifice for sin. We know that, but Jewish people do not, and this is a Jewish Temple. (10)
As is true of the Christian Church, the Jewish people need a great spiritual awakening and revival. The Temple will be a great catalyst for this spiritual renewal. It will be like a magnet drawing Jews back to Israel and back to their covenant God. The Temple and the sacrifices offered at the Temple will be an important visual aid for the Jewish people to understand the necessity of a blood covenant sacrifice for sin. From a Christian view, this could point the Jewish people to Jesus and His death as the ultimate sacrifice for their sins. (10)
Building a Temple at the end of days is not just a Christian understanding. The core prayer of Judaism for thousands of years is called The Amidah. In this prayer, the Jewish people connect the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple with the coming of Messiah. The 14th blessing says: “And to Jerusalem, Your city, may You return in compassion, and may You rest within it, as You have spoken. May You speedily establish the throne of David within it. Blessed are You, Hashem, the Builder of Jerusalem.” (10)
The seventeenth blessing says: “Be favorable, Hashem, our God, toward Your people Israel and their prayer and restore the service to the Holy of Holies of Your Temple. The fire-offering of Israel and their prayer accept with love and favor, and may the service of Your people Israel always be favorable to You. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who restores His presence to Zion.” (10)
God will restore His presence to Zion, that is, Jerusalem. While most of our Jewish friends do not realize it, and many Christians are ignorant of who Jesus really is, the Jewish Messiah, the Christian Savior, and the Lord are one and the same person. He is the Jewish Yeshua returning to His people in the land of Israel. The rebuilding of the Temple will hasten this glorious event. (10)
As we observe prophetic events, do we see any sign of this Temple being built? Absolutely, yes! Most of any Christian group who goes to Israel today will visit the Temple Institute under the direction of Rabbi Chaim Richman. Rabbi Richman tells us that 80 percent of all the vessels needed for Temple use have been made. (10)
Furthermore, thousands of young men are being trained in the Yeshivas (Jewish Seminaries) in Israel to serve as priests at the Temple when it is built. All who attend the Christian celebration of Succot in Jerusalem see this for themselves at the Western Wall celebration led by these priests in training. This celebration is attended by many thousands of Israelis and hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of Christians. (10)
Why does the angel tell John to measure the Temple, the altar, and the worshipers? There are several instances in the Hebrew Bible when God told His prophets to measure the Temple and Jerusalem; the earlier instructions were similar to what John is told to do by the angel. (10)
For example, an angel told Ezekiel to measure the Temple, which most likely represents the Temple during the Messianic age, commonly called the Millennium Temple (see Ezekiel 40). Zechariah saw a man who would measure Jerusalem (Zechariah 2:1-2). In three other references, the Bible mentions stretching out a line for measuring, both in building and destroying (2 Kings 21:12-14; Isaiah 34:11; Lamentations 2:8). (10)
By reading these passages in context, we learn that when God speaks about measuring something, He marks off territory—whether for blessing or judgment, protection or destruction. We do this today when determining the size of a lot for building purposes or when we plan to demolish a structure. We mark off the land or building to separate it from the adjoining area. (10)
Since John is told to measure the Temple, the altar, and the worshipers, we would understand this to mean that God is marking off the Temple and the people for protection. In the Zechariah passage, God says He will be a wall of fire around Jerusalem. (10)
But I (the Lord says) will be a wall of fire surrounding Jerusalem and the source of glory in her midst.’ ” (Zechariah 2:5 NET)
Because John is told not to measure, or mark off, the Court of the Gentiles, we would understand that God will allow this area to be devastated by the Gentiles when they attack Jerusalem for 42 months. This could be the time that Daniel, Jesus, and Paul wrote about in the Scriptures we referenced earlier. (10)
To better understand this situation, it helps to know that the Holy Temple courtyard was divided into two different areas. In the outer Court of the Gentiles, both Jews and devout Gentiles could assemble. But in the inner Court of the Jews, only Jews were allowed. To keep this separation, the Jews built a 4.5-foot high wall called the Soreg, which divided the Court of the Gentiles from the Court of the Jews. The Jews placed many signs on the wall strategically warning Gentiles in Greek and Latin not to proceed, or they would be killed. Several of these “stone billboards” have actually been discovered by archaeologists. (10)
There is a story in the Book of Acts relating to this. The Jews erroneously believed Paul had brought Gentiles into the Temple beyond the Court of the Gentiles. As a result, they sought to kill Paul: (10)
When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from the province of Asia who had seen him in the temple area stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this sanctuary! Furthermore he has brought Greeks into the inner courts of the temple and made this holy place ritually unclean!”(For they had seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him previously, and they assumed Paul had brought him into the inner temple courts.) (Acts 21:27–29 NET)
During the time of Jesus, greedy merchants had set up their shops and booths in the Court of the Gentiles, turning it into a marketplace. They took over the area so that there was no room for the Gentiles to worship God. This situation angered Jesus to the point of overturning their product tables. (10)
Now the Jewish feast of Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables.So he made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple courts, with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold the doves he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!”(John 2:13-16 NET)(cf Matthew 21:12-13.)
Western theologians and ministers tell us that God did away with His holy laws when Jesus died for our sins. Of the many Scriptures they quote to support their belief, one is Paul’s statement in Ephesians which says:
For he [Jesus] is our peace, the one who made both groups [Jews and Gentiles] into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition [the Soreg], the hostility, when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. (Ephesians 2:14–16 NET)
By misunderstanding the historical setting and misreading the rest of Paul’s statement, they tell us that the middle wall of separation that Jesus broke down is the law of God. Paul’s statement has nothing to do with the law of God. He is talking about the Soreg which separated Jews and Gentiles. He is talking about a physical wall in the Temple courtyard. (10)
Because the Jews had a covenant relationship with God and the Gentiles did not, the Jews were the chosen ones, and the Gentiles were the pagans. This is what caused the enmity between Jews and Gentiles. God’s covenant and laws were just an outward manifestation of enmity. But because Jesus died for both Jews and Gentiles, His death has made way for Jews and Gentiles to be reconciled to God and to one another. We both have access to God. There is no more wall of separation. Spiritually speaking, the wall of separation has been torn down. Gentiles can now enter God’s holy presence through Jesus’s sacrifice for our sins. (10)
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:17–18 NET)
FLASHBACK: The Two Witnesses (Circa: The Opening of the Fourth Scroll Seal)
After John consumes the little scroll, he describes the two witnesses’ ministry from the midpoint of the Seventieth Week until its culmination. (26)
And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth. (These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.) If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes out of their mouths and completely consumes their enemies. If anyone wants to harm them, they must be killed this way. These two have the power to close up the sky so that it does not rain during the time they are prophesying. They have power to turn the waters to blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague whenever they want. (Revelation 11:3–6 NET)
Amid all the fighting, John is shown two men who will witness Jesus as Messiah to the nation of Israel, preaching a message of warning and repentance to the Jews who have not fled Jerusalem. Just as John the Baptist called Israel to national repentance, so likewise will these two men. During the last half of the Seventieth Week, they will no doubt perform these great miracles to turn away the blindness of Israel. (26)
They will prophesy for 1,260 days, three and one-half years, or 42 months. They appeared at the opening of the Fourth Scroll Seal, which started the Great Tribulation. These two witnesses also will be protected by God from the trumpet judgments. Their ministry will be terminated at the end of the Seventieth Week when they are killed. (26)
These men are said to be given power over the weather, the earth’s waters, plagues, and fire. During the last half of the Seventieth Week, they will no doubt perform these great miracles to turn away the blindness of Israel. (26)
In Revelation chapter 11, written in context, John presents the background of the beginning of their ministry up until their deaths at the end of the Seventieth Week, which precedes the blowing of the seventh trumpet judgment. (26)
John does not give the names of the two witnesses. Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:1;2:9-12) are the only people we know of in the Bible who never died. So they could come back and die since everyone must die and afterward be judged.
And just as people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment, (Hebrews 9:27 NET)
It was a commonly held Jewish belief that the prophet Elijah would return to earth before the arrival of Messiah. At Passover, leaving an open seat and place setting for the prophet Elijah is customary. Elijah never died but was taken bodily into heaven by God (II Kings 2). Because of this, it was believed that he would return bodily to proclaim the coming of the Messiah.
The apostles also knew of this belief and questioned the Lord about it after some o f them saw Elijah at the transfiguration: (26)
The disciples asked him, “Why then do the experts in the law say that Elijah must come first?” He answered, “Elijah does indeed come first and will restore all things. And I tell you that Elijah has already come. Yet they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wanted. In the same way, the Son of Man will suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:13 NET)
Jesus does not rebuke the disciples for their inaccuracy but confirms that Elijah would come first and restore everything before His return. Jesus then informs them that if they could comprehend it, John the Baptist was, in a special way, Elijah who was to come. If Israel had not rejected Jesus as their Messiah, John’s ministry would have fulfilled the scriptures that spoke of the coming of Elijah. Since the Jews killed John the Baptist and did not accept Jesus, God will, at a future moment in time, send Elijah to give Israel a second chance. In the book of Malachi, we are told when Elijah will be sent and what his ministry will be: (26)
Look, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives. He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me, so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment.” (Malachi 4:5–6 NET)
These two witnesses can shut heaven so that it does not rain in the days of their prophecy. This can refer to no other than Elijah, who had power in the days of King Ahab to shut up the heavens for the space of three years and six months (1 Kings 17:1. Luke 4:25. James 5:17), and this is the same length of time, 42 months, or 1260 days, or 3.5 years, that these “two witnesses” are to prophesy. Then we know that Elijah was translated, and did not see death, that he might come back before “The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” for the purpose of “encourage fathers and their children to return to Me,” and this is the purpose of the prophesying of these “two witnesses.” It is clear from when the Prophet Malachi said that Elijah would come again, just before “The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord,” that this prophecy was not fulfilled in John the Baptist. He announced the “First Coming” of Christ, but no “Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” followed. That event is yet future and follows the testimony of these “two witnesses.” (8)
When the Jews sent Priests and Levites from Jerusalem to John to ask him,
Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you? ”He confessed—he did not deny but confessed—“I am not the Christ!” So they asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not!” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No!” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Tell us so that we can give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John said, “I am the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) (John 1:19–24 NET)
It is clear from John’s answers to these questions that he was not Elijah. When Gabriel announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias,
An angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense, appeared to him. And Zechariah, visibly shaken when he saw the angel, was seized with fear. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you will name him John. Joy and gladness will come to you, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go as forerunner before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.” (Luke 1:11–17 NET)
He said he shall go before Him (Christ) in the “spirit and power” of Elijah. He will not be Elijah but shall be like him in spirit and power. When John from his prison cell sent messengers to Jesus to ask Him if He were the Christ, after Christ had dismissed those messengers, He said to the multitude of John,
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds Christ had done, he sent his disciples to ask a question:“Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go tell John what you hear and see:The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them. Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” While they were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fancy clothes? Look, those who wear fancy clothes are in the homes of kings! What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ “I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and forceful people lay hold of it. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John appeared. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, who is to come. The one who has ears had better listen! (Matthew 11:2–15 NET).
Jesus affirms that John was Elijah if men would receive “it.” Not receive “him” (John), but receive “it.” What did Jesus mean by “it”? The context shows that Jesus was talking about the “kingdom,” and if they had received “the kingdom” that John announced was at hand, then John, instead of being John, would have been Elijah come back, but because God foresaw that the Jews would not receive the Kingdom, He could not send Elijah at that time, so He had to send a substitute with the “spirit” and “power” of Elijah in his place, so He sent John the Baptist. (8)
Whatever this may mean, it cannot contradict John’s declaration that he was not Elijah or Christ’s statement that if God had foreseen that the Jews would have received the Kingdom, He would have sent Elijah instead of John. And Christ’s statement in the above reference that Elijah’s purpose in coming is to “restore all things,” which John did not do, and Malachi’s declaration that Elijah would not come until just before the ‘great and terrible day of the Lord arrives,’ makes it clear that John the Baptist was not Elijah, and that Elijah is yet to come. (8)
It is said of these “Two Witnesses” that they have power—
1. “To shut heaven, that it does not rain in the days of their prophecy.”
2. “And have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with ALL PLAGUES, as often as they will.”
Furthermore, we know that Moses had the power to turn water into blood and to smite the earth with plagues, but we are not told that Enoch had such power.
If we carefully study what happens during the period, the “Two Witnesses” shall testify, which, as we have seen, will be the last half of the “Week,” or 3.5 years. Elijah will probably shut up the heavens so that there shall be no rain during the 3.5 years of their witnessing, for we read that there is to be a “Fire Test” such as Elijah appointed on Mount Carmel in the days of King Ahab (1 Kings 18:17–40). The contest will be between Elijah and the “False Prophet,” and the “False Prophet” shall have the power to do what the Priests of Baal could not do, bring fire from Heaven. The crucial question on Mt. Carmel was, who is God, Yahweh, or Baal? In the days of the Antichrist, it will be, who is God, Yahweh, or the Antichrist? The test will be the power to bring down fire from Heaven. As the “False Prophet” will imitate the power of Elijah and bring down fire from Heaven, the test will not be decisive. The true Israel of God, however, will acknowledge the claim of Yahweh, while the followers of “The Beast” will continue to believe in him. But Elijah shall not be as fortunate as he was in the days of Ahab, for then he escaped the vengeance of Jezebel, but he will not be able to escape the vengeance of Antichrist who will see to it that both he and Moses are slain. (8)
As the four future plagues are similar to the “Plagues of Egypt,” who is more likely to bring them to pass than Moses? (8)
Because of the similarity of the miracles performed, Moses and Elijah are most likely. However, Moses died, so how could it be him? What if God raised Moses from the dead and then took him to Heaven like He did Elijah (2 Kings 2:1;2:9-12)? Recall Michael the Archangel argued with Satan over the body of Moses.
But even when Michael the archangel was arguing with the devil and debating with him concerning Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a slanderous judgment, but said, “May the Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9 NET)
Perhaps Enoch was sent back from Heaven to Earth during the debate over Moses’ body and died? That would balance the ledger for the one who, at that time, had the power of death.
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in their humanity, so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), (Hebrews 2:14 NET)
Any scriptural evidence that Enoch might have known about the end-time plans of God?
Now Enoch, the seventh in descent beginning with Adam, even prophesied of them, saying, “Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all, and to convict every person of all their thoroughly ungodly deeds that they have committed, and of all the harsh words that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:14–15 NET)
Again, recall that Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus at His transfiguration.
Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them privately up a high mountain. And he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. Then Moses and Elijah also appeared before them, talking with him. (Matthew 17:1–3 NET)(cf. Mark 2:9-4)
If Moses had not been raised from the dead, he would have been held captive in Paradise within Hades (1) (Luke 16:22-26) along with all the other believers that died before Jesus moved Paradise (aka, Abraham’s Bossom or the Garden of Eden) back to Heaven (1).
Furthermore, there is no scriptural ground for declaring that Moses cannot die again. Lazarus was raised from the dead, and he died again, and the “Wicked Dead” shall be raised from the dead, and after Judgment at the “Great White Throne,” they shall be sentenced to die again, which is the “Second death.” (Revelation 20:12–15). (8)
In passing, it is worth noting the “title” of these two men. The “Mighty Angel” (Christ) calls them My “Two Witnesses.” This implies that “Witnessing” was their business.
And when we recall:
- Their witnessing on the Mount of Transfiguration,
Then two men, Moses and Elijah, began talking with him. They appeared in glorious splendor and spoke about his departure that he was about to carry out at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:30–31 NET)
- That it was Two Men that witnessed to the women at the Tomb that Jesus had risen (Luke 24:4–7) and
While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood beside them in dazzling attire. The women were terribly frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” (Luke 24:4–7 NET)
- That it was Two Men who stood by and witnessed to the Disciples as Jesus ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:10–11),
As they were still staring into the sky while he was going, suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10–11 NET)
In all three incidents, the Men were clothed in “shining garments,” it seems clear that Moses was resurrected and Elijah translated for the express office of “Witnesses.” (8)
John says the two witnesses are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. He refers to a Scripture in Zechariah where we are told that Zechariah had a vision of a lampstand with two olive trees, one on the right and the other on the left of the lampstand. Zechariah did not know what his vision meant, so he asked:
Next I asked the messenger, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the menorah?” Before he could reply I asked again, “What are these two extensions of the olive trees, which are emptying out the golden oil through the two golden pipes?” (Zechariah 4:11,12 NET)
The angel answered
He replied, “Don’t you know what these are?” And I said, “No, sir.” So he said, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:13–14 NET)
For Zechariah, the two anointed ones were Zerubbabel and Joshua. Zerubbabel was the governor of Judah, while Joshua was the high priest. Both were involved in the rebuilding of the second Temple. They both became discouraged in their efforts, so the Lord raised Zechariah to encourage them. (10)
The olive trees supply the oil for the lampstand; in the Bible, oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. This is why the angel made the following statement to Zechariah: (10)
Therefore he told me, “These signify the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord who rules over all.” (Zechariah 4:6 NET)
In other words, Zerubbabel and Joshua would successfully complete their task of rebuilding the Temple because God’s Spirit would empower them. God would enable them to do what they could not do in their own strength.
The two witnesses John sees are like Zerubbabel and Joshua in that God will empower them to do miraculous signs and wonders. The “Two Witnesses” whose work it will be to proclaim that the time has come to rebuild Jerusalem and re-establish the Temple worship, for the “Kingdom of Heaven” is at hand. And they will have to do it in the face of the opposition of Satan, who at that time will have incarnated himself in the Antichrist. The miracles testify to the living God judging the people for their sin of rejecting Him. John notes that they are wearing sackcloth, a garment of sadness and mourning. Even though the haters of God and His people seek to kill the two witnesses, God protects them for the three and one-half years of their ministry; they are immune from death. If any man tries to hurt them, then fire comes out of their mouths and completely consumes their enemies (21)(8)
Again, it is very important that we understand that Elijah will be sent “before” the Day of the Lord begins. During this time, they are given the ability to do incredible miracles and will eventually be killed by the Beast from the Abyss. The events of their ministry must then occur during a time after the Antichrist has revealed his true colors and has begun the great tribulation. It becomes inescapable that these two witnesses, Elijah and Moses, must appear at the midpoint of the Seventieth Week. Furthermore, the miracles performed by the second witness are very much like the ones that Moses performed in Egypt. (26)
Whatever the case, they will appear at the midpoint when the 4th Seal is Broken, preach for 1260 days, and then be killed by the Beast from the Abyss at the end of the Seventieth Week. This then allows Elijah and Moses to appear before the “coming great and dreadful Day of the Lord,” which does not occur until the great tribulation is cut short by God. As we have seen, the Day of the Lord begins sometime after the midpoint but before the end of the Seventieth Week. (26)
It then follows that the seven seals cannot possibly be God’s wrath because Elijah is to be sent before the wrath of God begins. The two witnesses are sent to bring Israel to the realization that Jesus was their Messiah before He returns to pour out His vengeance upon the unbelieving nation of Israel and the unbelieving Gentile world. It will, most likely, be through their testimony that the rest of Israel that does not flee to the wilderness will come to be saved. (26)
God will make the choices very clear to the world when the fourth seal is opened, and the great tribulation of the Antichrist begins. Yet with all this, they still will not believe God and will be caught unaware when the great Day of the Lord begins. There will even be those who bear the name of Jesus Christ who refuses to believe that the Day of the Lord is upon them. There will be no mistaking it because an incredible sign in heaven will signal that the end has arrived. (26)
The Two Witnesses are Killed
When they have completed their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will make war on them and conquer them and kill them. Their corpses will lie in the street of the great city that is symbolically called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was also crucified. For three and a half days those from every people, tribe, nation, and language will look at their corpses, because they will not permit them to be placed in a tomb. And those who live on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate, even sending gifts to each other, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. (Revelation 11:7–10 NET)
When their appointed ministry testimony time is over, God allows the Beast from the Abyss to kill them. He will do this after they have finished their testimony, which will last 1260 days or three and one-half years. John explains that the Beast is the one that ascends out of the bottomless pit. Who is this Beast? Interestingly, the word beast, when referring to evil, is mentioned thirty-seven times in the Book of Revelation. There is the Beast From the Sea, the Beast From the Earth, and in this reference, the Beast from the bottomless pit. In the Book of Revelation, the bottomless pit is also referred to as the sea (Revelation 11:7; 13:1; 17:8.) (10)
We previously discussed that the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:1-12) released tormenting demons from the bottomless pit, also called the Abyss. The abyss is the biblical name for the abode of demons. The Beast coming out of the Abyss is Satan. The Beast from the Sea refers to the Antichrist, who is the earthly incarnation of Satan the beast from the Abyss. The Beast from the Earth refers to the False Prophet. With God’s permission, the Satan-possessed Antichrist stirs up his followers to kill the two witnesses. (10)
John explains that this is happening in Jerusalem. It is sad to read that John compares the spiritual condition of Jerusalem to Sodom and Egypt. Sodom represents the worse in immorality, while Egypt is the biblical symbol of idolatry. This is not only a battle for physical Jerusalem but also for the heart and soul of Jerusalem. (10)
God made many promises in the Bible that He would return to Jerusalem. At that time, Jerusalem will become the throne of God.
At that time the city of Jerusalem will be called the Lord’s throne. All nations will gather there in Jerusalem to honor the Lord’s name. They will no longer follow the stubborn inclinations of their own evil hearts. (Jeremiah 3:17 NET)
Satan will be desperate to kill them, knowing that Jesus has now taken possession of the earth, and has called His elect back to meet Him in Israel. This will be Satan’s last-ditch effort to consolidate his power, by showing his ability to have the Antichrist kill these two men of God. These two witnesses are killed on the Day of Atonement (the tenth of Tishri), exactly 1260 days from the midpoint of the Seventieth Week, thus ending the “ten days of awe,” which is the name given to the ten days between the Feast of Trumpets (Feast of Blowing) (1) on the 1st of Tishri (1) and the Day of Atonements on the 10th of Tishri.
The battle for Jerusalem is Satan’s last desperate effort to rule the city instead of God. Since the two witnesses’ ministry is happening during the last three and one-half years of Daniel’s 70th week, they are killed only a few days before the coming of Jesus. (10)
Bible-believing people have great respect for the dead. Because of their beliefs about the next world, they must honor the dead by burying them as quickly as possible. In Psalm 79, the writer laments that the dead were not given a proper burial. This was after the Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C. He describes a situation similar to the scene John sees in Jerusalem: (10)
O God, foreigners have invaded your chosen land; they have polluted your holy temple and turned Jerusalem into a heap of ruins. They have given the corpses of your servants to the birds of the sky; the flesh of your loyal followers to the beasts of the earth. They have made their blood flow like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury them. (Psalm 79:1–3 NET)
Because of their satanic hatred of the two witnesses, those who killed them refused to bury them. Instead, they left their bodies on display for three and one-half days. This was the greatest show of hatred, insult, and humiliation to the dead. Those who opposed God and His servants celebrated the death of the two witnesses with a party and exchanging gifts. This will most likely be seen around the world via satellite. (10)
This revealing of the Messiah, the calling of the assembly of Israel back to the land, and the beginning of the Messianic kingdom on the first day of the month Tishri is a perfect fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets. With its initiation, the ten days of repentance begin, and soon John will be shown the end of the Seventieth Week on the tenth of Tishri. Its culmination will fulfill the next feast on the Jewish calendar: the Day of Atonement.
The Day of the Atonements (Yom Kippur) (31)
Indeed, any person who does not behave with humility on this particular day will be cut off from his people. (Leviticus 23:29 NET)
The next feast, which takes place ten days after the Feast of Trumpets, is the Day of Atonements (Leviticus 23:26-32). This is to occur on the tenth day of the month of Tishri. Again, the ten days between the two feasts are for the repentance of national Israel and the rest of the world. When the Day of Atonement has been reached, those who have not repented and have not placed their trust in Jesus as the Messiah will be judged with the rest of the world. This is confirmed in Leviticus, where God states that those who do not afflict their soul or repent will be cut off from His people (Leviticus 23:29).
The Day of Atonements is considered to be the holiest day of the Jewish year. This was the only day in which the high priest was allowed to enter the inner temple. On this day, God would grant or deny redemption to the nation of Israel. On this same day, God will accept the repentance of the nation of Israel and return for their deliverance. It is this period that Daniel refers to in his prophecy of the seventy weeks:
“Seventy weeks have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to put an end to rebellion, to bring sin to completion, to atone for iniquity, to bring in perpetual righteousness, to seal up the prophetic vision, and to anoint a most holy place. (Daniel 9:24 NET)
The Seventieth Week will come to a close as Israel repents and is grafted back into the family of God.
And even they—if they do not continue in their unbelief—will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree? For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:23–27 NET)
This final redemption of Israel fulfills the Day of Atonement, in exact chronology, precisely ten days after Jesus took possession of the earth on the Feast of Trumpets. (26)
The Lord’s March to Israel
Believing Israel has, upon reaching the Day of Atonement, repented of its sins, and the two witnesses, having finished their testimony, are then slain by the Antichrist. The followers of the Antichrist will rejoice greatly for three and a half days, thinking that their Antichrist still has the power and authority to stand against God Almighty. During the three days of their celebration, the Lord Jesus will rescue His people and lead them back to the land of Israel. Isaiah reveals that Jesus will eventually come to Mount Zion.
“And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 59:20 ESV)
In Hosea, we are told that the afflicted, or repentant Jews, will seek the Messiah after His appearance on the Feast of Trumpets, and He will restore them on the third day after the Day of Atonement:
I will return again to My place Till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight. Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth. (Hosea 5:15; 6:1-3 NKJV)
On the third day after Israel accepted the first covenant of God, the Lord came down upon the top of Mount Sinai (1) to speak of His commandments to the nation of Israel (Exodus 19:16-25). In much the same way, three days after Israel accepts the new covenant of God, the Lord Jesus will come down upon the top of Mount Zion to appear to them in Israel.
It is also confirmed by the scriptures that Jesus, as the Angel of the Lord, will indeed visit Israel. This time, it will be for their salvation:
For he said, “Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely.” And he became their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. (Isaiah 63:8-9 ESV)
From Edom to Jerusalem
After the repentance of Israel, on the Day of Atonement, Jesus will first go to Petra in Edom to save the 144,000, leading them on a triumphant march to Jerusalem. Isaiah the prophet speaks of this return to Jerusalem from Edom: (26)
Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah [the capital city of Edom], he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me. I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” (Isaiah 63:1–6 ESV)
In this passage from Isaiah, Jesus is pictured as He heads through Edom Himself, destroying those who have come against Israel. In these verses, it is emphasized that He is traveling alone. Later, at the battle of Armageddon, the armies of heaven will accompany Jesus. Jesus will also be wearing the same garment, which becomes soaked with the blood of His enemies. The Lord will pour out great vengeance as He clears the way for the 144,000 to march back to Israel. The prophet Habakkuk speaks of this great march: (26)
You marched through the earth in fury; you threshed the nations in anger. You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah (Habakkuk 3:12–13 ESV)
Jesus, as the Angel of the Lord, is viewed marching from Teman and Mount Paran in Edom, with great indignation. He will march for the salvation of His people and will eventually destroy the Antichrist, “the head of the house of the wicked.” With those from Edom, Christ will lead His people through the wilderness to Israel, just as He had led them to the Promised Land in the time of Moses (cf. Numbers 14:20-35).
Jesus will lead the Jews across the Jordan through the Judean wilderness where, as we are told by Zechariah, He also will gather the faithful from the tribes of Judah before marching into Jerusalem: (26)
“And the Lord will give salvation to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not surpass that of Judah. On that day the Lord will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the Lord, going before them. And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. (Zechariah 12:7-9 ESV)
As Jesus heads through the Judean hills, He also will be joined by the remnant Jews who had fled to Assyria and Egypt and had begun their return as He roared for them to return on the Feast of Trumpets. The events of this gathering are spoken of in greater detail in Zechariah: (26)
I will signal for them and gather them, for I have already redeemed them; then they will become as numerous as they were before. Though I scatter them among the nations, they will remember in far-off places—they and their children will sprout forth and return. I will bring them back from Egypt and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them to the lands of Gilead and Lebanon, for there will not be enough room for them in their own land. The Lord will cross the sea of storms and will calm its turbulence. The depths of the Nile will dry up, the pride of Assyria will be humbled, and the domination of Egypt will be no more. Thus I will strengthen them by my power, and they will walk about in my name,” says the Lord. (Zechariah 10:8–12 NET)
Jesus, with this great crowd, will again enter Jerusalem through the eastern gate, as He did in His first coming. The gates will swing wide open as Jesus enters Jerusalem. At the Lord’s first coming into Jerusalem, He was rejected by national Israel. At that time, He stated: (26)
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! Look, your house is left to you desolate! For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (Matthew 23:37–39 NET)
On this day, about three and a half days after the Feast of Atonement, He will be welcomed by the surviving one-third of the nation of Israel, who now have accepted Him as their Messiah. (26)
The Two Witnesses are Resurrected
But after three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and tremendous fear seized those who were watching them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them: “Come up here!” So the two prophets went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies stared at them. Just then a major earthquake took place and a tenth of the city collapsed; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. (Revelation 11:11–13 NET)
The world’s celebration of the death of the two witnesses does not last very long. By killing the two witnesses, they think they have killed God. Yet, God will show the world that they cannot kill Him. (10)
As Jesus enters Jerusalem, He will likely come upon the bodies of the two witnesses who have been lying dead in the streets of Jerusalem for three and a half days. It is probable that Jesus Himself will breathe the breath of life into these men, resurrecting them. (However, this cannot be stated dogmatically, since the text of Revelation does not necessitate that Jesus revives these two individuals.)
When the two witnesses are resurrected, the world’s people hear a loud voice from Heaven calling God’s servants to ascend to Heaven. The whole world sees this take place. (10)
Similar language is used to describe the ascension of Jesus to Heaven as recorded in the Book of Acts:
After he had said this, while they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud hid him from their sight. As they were still staring into the sky while he was going, suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9–11 NET)
The two witnesses are the last of God’s faithful disciples who will die by martyrdom. As they ascend toward heaven, there will be a great shout, and all of their enemies will view their ascension to heaven.
God called His two witnesses to Heaven before He sends further judgment on those who oppose Him. John tells us that a great earthquake destroys a tenth of Jerusalem, causing the deaths of 7,000 people. Those who remain alive clearly recognize the hand of God and give Him glory. This does not necessarily mean that they repent, but they simply acknowledge the obvious: the God of Heaven is the One True God, the supreme sovereign Lord of the universe. (10) Those who have taken the mark of the beast, continue to refuse to repent during the mighty judgments of the Day of the Lord. (26)
The rest of the faithful remnant of Israel will have great fear and give glory to God. The reverence of the faithful remnant is a certification of their salvation and trust in the true Messiah. (26)
The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot)
The last and final feast, which will be fulfilled on the fifth day following the end of the Seventieth Week, will be the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-43). This feast occurred on the fifteenth day of the month of Tishri (1). It commemorated the time when the Lord led his people through the wilderness to the land of Israel. In remembrance of this period, the Jews were to erect tiny makeshift booths and live in them. This reminded them that their forefathers had little shelter during their wilderness trek. This feast also celebrated the Messianic kingdom’s commencement and the fall harvest’s end. It was traditionally observed atop Mount Zion.
It was previously revealed by Isaiah that Jesus would head toward Mount Zion as He returns for the salvation of Israel.
“And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 59:20 ESV)
Obadiah also prophesies that,
Those who have been delivered will go up on Mount Zion in order to rule over Esau’s mountain. Then the Lord will reign as King! (Obadiah 21 NET)
Since Jesus has fulfilled the other six feasts perfectly, He should next be fulfilling the Feast of Tabernacles atop Mount Zion.
The Feast of Tabernacles concludes the fulfillment of the seven feasts of Leviticus.
(The Feast of Tabernacles will be expounded upon in the next blog article in this series)
The Second Woe from the Sixth Trumpet Blast has Passed
The second woe has come and gone; the third is coming quickly. (Revelation 11:14 NET)
This brings an end to the second of the three woes. John learns that the third woe is at hand. (10)
The Seventh Trumpet Blast – The Third Woe
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 will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 NET)
It will be very likely that while Jesus is on Mount Zion in Israel, the seventh trumpet will be blown, signaling the third woe:
The seventh trumpet judgment in Revelation 11:15-19 proclaims that the kingdoms of this world are judged and replaced with the Kingdom of God, which is coming to the earth. The overall story of the book of Revelation is concluded with the blowing of the seventh trumpet. John is then given “backstory” (23) and “flashback” (22) details, which he records in the remainder of the Book of Revelation. (21)
The Book of Revelation provides progressive revelation similar to the creation of man account in Genesis.
Overview of Male and Female Creation:
God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 NET)
Detailed “Flashback” after Overview of Male and Female Creation:
The Lord God formed the man from the soil of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7 NET)
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.” (Genesis 2:18 NET)
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was asleep, he took part of the man’s side and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the part he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:21–22 NET)
Again, Revelation 11:15-19 tells us that the seventh angel blows the seventh trumpet to announce the last judgment. The angel does not give the details; he only announces the judgment. (21)
The announcement is that:
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 will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 NET)
This same information will be given as a “Flashback” with more details in Revelation 14:6-20.
This same information will be given again in a “Flashback” with the final details in Revelation 15–18 (chapters).
This means we can overlay Revelation 11:15-19 on Revelation 14:6-20 and Revelation 15–18 as they all tell the same story with differing levels of detail.
These chapters outline God’s plan for the ages and the outcome for three groups of humanity:
- national Israel,
- the church, and
- the unbelieving world.
This process of progressive revelation is called “prophetic telescoping.” For example, looking at a distant mountain range through a telescope or binoculars, the mountains look next to each other. However, when you fly over them or check a map, you discover there are often miles and miles between them. Prophetic telescoping is a key principle to interpreting foretelling-type prophecy (i.e., a prophecy that talks about events yet to happen).
In Revelation, chapters 12 and 13, John will outline the entire spiritual history of the nation of Israel. At the beginning of Revelation chapter 14, he will show the 144,000 who are the firstfruit of national Israel to believe in Jesus Christ as Messiah. Thus, he contrasts those who are sealed with the name of God with those who are sealed in the name of the Antichrist.
When reading these parenthetic verses, it must be understood that they are written in the period after the seventh trumpet of God’s wrath is blown, ending the Seventieth Week in Revelation. Since Israel has concluded the Seventieth Week, John gives a brief spiritual overview of how the salvation of national Israel came to pass earlier. John gives greater details on how these events unfolded from the midpoint of the Seventieth Week to its conclusion when the seventh trumpet was blown. (26)
At the seventh trumpet, it is proclaimed that the “times of the Gentiles” have ended. The kingdoms of the world are now the kingdoms of Jesus Christ. The prophet Daniel had described that a great stone would crush the statue, symbolizing the Gentile empires (Daniel 2:31-45). Jesus Christ, the stone the builders rejected (Luke 20:17), will now pour out the bowl judgments, crushing the Beast’s empire to fulfill the vision. Before He performs this, He will lead the faithful remnant of Israel to the Mount of Olives. The prophet Zechariah discloses what will then occur: (26)
On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which lies to the east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, leaving a great valley. Half the mountain will move northward and the other half southward. Then you will escape through my mountain valley, for the mountains will extend to Azal. Indeed, you will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come with all his holy ones with him. (Zechariah 14:4–5 NET)
The verses preceding these tell of the siege of Jerusalem by the Antichrist and its deliverance through Jesus: (26)
A day of the Lord is about to come when your possessions will be divided as plunder in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to wage war; the city will be taken, its houses plundered, and the women raped. Then half of the city will go into exile, but the remainder of the people will not be taken away. Then the Lord will go to battle and fight against those nations, just as he fought battles in ancient days. (Zechariah 14:1–3 NET)
It then moves on to describe the Lord’s Second Advent. As Jesus leads the remnant to the Mount of Olives, it will split in half, creating a great gully. The faithful remnant is instructed to flee into this gully to Azal. Azal is an unknown place where the house of Israel will hide as the bowl judgments are poured out. (26)
Then the twenty-four elders who are seated on their thrones before God threw themselves down with their faces to the ground and worshiped God with these words: “We give you thanks, Lord God, the All-Powerful, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun to reign. (Revelation 11:16–17 NET)
When the elders hear the long-awaited news that God is about to fully establish His Kingdom on the earth, they fall on their faces and worship God as “the One who is and who was” (Revelation 11:17). He is the Almighty, the Great I AM who transcends time and space. His Kingdom that is forever will now be fully manifested in time on the earth in the person of the King Himself—Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, and King of kings and Lord of lords. The great prayer Jesus taught us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come to Earth is being fully answered. (10)
As world leaders realize their rule without God is over, they are filled with anger and rage against Him. God will now pour out His final wrath against them, forever destroying their godless “One World System.” This transfer of kingdoms from the rule of man to the rule of God is the final fulfillment of Psalm 2. (10)
The writer of that great psalm looked into the future and proclaimed:
Why do the nations rebel? Why are the countries devising plots that will fail? The kings of the earth form a united front; the rulers collaborate against the Lord and his anointed king. They say, “Let’s tear off the shackles they’ve put on us! Let’s free ourselves from their ropes!”(Psalm 2:1-3 NET).
These world leaders are so deceived as to think they can defeat God. The Lord’s response is to laugh at their foolish arrogance:
The one enthroned in heaven laughs in disgust; the Lord taunts them. Then he angrily speaks to them and terrifies them in his rage, saying, “I myself have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill.” [Jerusalem]” (Psalm 2:4-6 NET).
The psalmist then sees God proclaiming His Kingdom:
The king says, “I will announce the Lord’s decree. He said to me [the Messiah]: ‘You are my son! This very day I have become your father! Ask me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the ends of the earth as your personal property. You will break them with an iron scepter; you will smash them like a potter’s jar!’ ” (Psalm 2:7–9 NET)
Writing with clear spiritual eyes, the psalmist sees God giving His final warning to world leaders:
So now, you kings, do what is wise; you rulers of the earth, submit to correction! Serve the Lord in fear! Repent in terror! Give sincere homage [bow down in humble submission]! Otherwise he will be angry, and you will die because of your behavior, when his anger quickly ignites. How blessed are all who take shelter in him! (Psalm 2:10–12 NET)
When Messiah comes to set up His Kingdom, the righteous dead will be raised and rewarded for their faithfulness to worship and serve the One True God through their faith and trust in His Son. They will rule and reign with Him, as explained throughout the Scriptures. But the unrighteous will be judged and forever banished from the presence of God. (10)
Looking forward to this time, an angel gave the following words of comfort and assurance to Daniel:
Many of those who sleep in the dusty ground will awake— some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence. (Daniel 12:2 NET).
Jesus explained it this way:
“I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming—and is now here—when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life in himself, and he has granted the Son authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out—the ones who have done what is good [acceptable to God] to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil [unacceptable to God] to the resurrection resulting in condemnation. (John 5:24–29 NET)
Almost as a footnote to this proclamation and worship, John sees the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies of the Temple in Heaven. Bible students recall that when God delivered the Hebrews from Egypt, He instructed them to build a tabernacle or tent where He would dwell among them. God’s glorious presence resided in the inner room—the Holy of Holies above the Ark of the Covenant. (10)
The Ark of the Covenant was a small chest with statues of cherubim attached to the lid. This represented the throne of God on earth at that time. It was the way God chose to dwell among His people. Later, David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the City of David and placed it in the tent he built to worship the Lord. When Solomon built the Temple, he had a great dedication service when he moved the Ark from the City of David to the Temple. The glory of the Lord so filled the Temple that the priests could no longer minister. All they could do was worship God.
The priests left the holy place. All the priests who participated had consecrated themselves, no matter which division they represented. All the Levites who were musicians, including Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and relatives, wore linen. They played cymbals and stringed instruments as they stood east of the altar. They were accompanied by 120 priests who blew trumpets. The trumpeters and musicians played together, praising and giving thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they loudly praised the Lord, singing: “Certainly he is good; certainly his loyal love endures!” Then a cloud filled the Lord’s temple. The priests could not carry out their duties because of the cloud; the Lord’s splendor filled God’s temple. (2 Chronicles 5:11-14 NET).
The connection between the worship when Solomon dedicated the Temple to what John sees in Heaven should be obvious. When John says that he sees the Ark of the Covenant, his readers would understand that he sees the throne room and the presence of God. Like the priests at the dedication of the Temple, the 24 elders (the number of course or groups of priests (1 Chronicle 24:1-19) representing redeemed Israel) fall down and worship God. (10)
As He did with the opening of the seventh seal and later the pouring out of the seventh bowl judgment, God endorses what John has written with lightning, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail (Revelation 8:5; 16:18-21). This is God’s way of saying, “Amen!” (10)
The Bema Seat
The nations were enraged, but your wrath has come, and the time has come for the dead to be judged, and the time has come to give to your servants, the prophets, their reward, as well as to the saints and to those who revere your name, both small and great, and the time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth.” Then the temple of God in heaven was opened and the ark of his covenant was visible within his temple. And there were flashes of lightning, roaring, crashes of thunder, an earthquake, and a great hailstorm. (Revelation 11:18–19 NET)
Before the bowls begin, Jesus will return to heaven to reward His prophets, saints, and those who revere his name. Jesus, upon returning to heaven, will now judge the elect who have been resurrected and raptured into heaven. Believers will not have their sins judged at the Great White Throne, as they were already judged at Calvary.
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. (John 3:16-18 NET)
“I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming—and is now here—when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. (John 5:24–25 NET)
However, all believers must appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat [Gk, bema] of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:10 NET)
This will be a judgment of the believer’s faithfulness as he or she served God on earth. The Apostle Paul teaches that every believer must stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and receive rewards for the deeds done while on earth. (26)
But you who eat vegetables only—why do you judge your brother or sister? And you who eat everything—why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat [Gk, bema] of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.”Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10–12 NET)
This judgment, known commonly as the Bema (32) Seat Judgment, is outlined more explicitly in First Corinthians:
For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, each builder’s work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what kind of work each has done. If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:11–15)
Jesus will look at each individual Christian’s works that have been performed while on planet Earth. Many of these works will have been done unselfishly to serve and build God’s kingdom (i.e., good works). Other works will have been performed out of greed and self-ambition (i.e., dead works). These Dead works, done out of self-gain, will be discarded and burned. Though a person’s works may be burned, he himself will still be saved; for this is not to be a judgment of a believer’s sins. (26)
The believer whose works pass the test will be given rewards by Jesus, as stated in Revelation 11:18. As disciples, it is important that we serve God out of pure motives and for the furtherance of His kingdom. I believe there will be a number of surprises as Jesus reveals our rewards. Many of those considered great men and women of God will likely be eclipsed by lesser-known faithful believers. As our Lord said, in the kingdom of God, the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. (26)
Then people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and take their places at the banquet table in the kingdom of God. But indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:29–30 NET)
After these rewards are distributed to His servants, the last of God’s great vengeance will be unleashed.
The Kingdom of our Lord and His Christ
What is the Gospel of the Kingdom? What do we mean when we talk about the Kingdom of God? We must understand that the Kingdom of God does not relate to time. It is not a question of when. For example, the question of when Jesus will come and establish His Kingdom is not the issue. People erroneously want to relate the Kingdom of God to time. Therefore, they ask the question, “When?” The result of this thinking is to relegate the Kingdom of God to the future only. In the Bible, the Kingdom of God is not related to time. It is related to space. It is not a question of when but where. What is the Kingdom of God, and where is it? (10)
The Kingdom of God is the rule of God over His creation. His Kingdom is everywhere present. It is expressed through the lives of His people who have chosen to live under His rule and obey His royal decrees and commandments. By so doing, they manifest His Kingship on the earth. This is called “taking on the Yoke of the Kingdom.”
When Jesus said,
Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” (Matthew 11:29–30 NET),
He meant we should acknowledge the Kingdom of God in our lives. (10)
God has always had a people living under His rule. In this sense, the Kingdom of God is past, present, and future. But since God is outside of time, His Kingdom is always present. It always was, always is, and always will be. All people can experience God’s Kingdom when obeying His commandments and living under His rule. (10)
Since Western Christians often and erroneously believe that grace means “no commandments,” few experience Kingdom life. While all true believers live in God’s Kingdom, they do not all experience God’s Kingdom blessings because they do not keep His commandments. (10)
God’s commandments (1) are His instructions for living in His Kingdom. His commandments are not the legalism of man-made rules. When Western preachers and teachers say that God “did away with the law,” they can give Christians the impression that being saved by grace means God places no demands on their lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, salvation is by grace alone, but that grace empowers us to be liberated from ourselves, not from the rule of God. (10)
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. (John 14:15 NET)
The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.” (John 14:21 NET)
Can anything be clearer than this statement by Jesus? (10)
God’s Kingdom Past
Adam and Eve
In the past, God’s Kingdom rule was delegated to Adam, who was given dominion over all of God’s creation. He was only given one commandment, which he did not keep. Adam and Eve no longer enjoyed God’s Kingdom blessings after they sinned. While God’s Kingdom fills Heaven and Earth, we can only operate in it when we obey Him. Adam and Eve’s descendants chose not to live in God’s Kingdom except for Noah. (10)
Around 4,000 years ago, God created a new company of people through whom He would express His Kingdom to the world. Jewish tradition teaches that Abraham was the first person to address God as Master or Adonai (Lord), thus declaring His Kingdom over the world. (10)
God declared that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be a unique people who would be a kingdom of priests to the nations. They would manifest His Kingdom to the nations as they lived under His Kingship and obeyed His commandments. (10)
And now, if you will diligently listen to me and keep my covenant, then you will be my special possession out of all the nations, for all the earth is mine, and you will be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you will speak to the Israelites.” (Exodus 19:5,6 NET)
God’s chosen people said:
He took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people, and they said, “We are willing to do and obey all that the Lord has spoken.” (Exodus 24:7 NET).
History teaches otherwise. The Jewish people have not lived up to their high calling as a company of people. Even so, they acknowledge God as King, even when not operating in His Kingdom. (10)
Many believers have learned the first part of the Jewish blessing, which says, “Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Haolam,” meaning, “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe.” God is King of the universe, even though we may not personally acknowledge Him as King in our lives. (10)
A central theme in Judaism is Tikkun Olam which in the Hebrew language means “repairing the world morally and spiritually.” It is the vision of the prophets in the Bible to make the world a better place where justice, righteousness, and peace—that is, Kingdom conditions—prevail over evil. We are not put on this earth as mere spectators to live a certain number of days on the earth and accumulate things. We are to actively partner with God in establishing His Kingdom on Earth, knowing that it will not fully come to Earth until Messiah comes to Earth as King and Lord of the nations. (10)
The Kingdom of God manifested on the earth is the focus and plan of the Bible. When God appointed David as king, David prayed to the Lord: (10)
David praised the Lord before the entire assembly: “O Lord God of our father Israel, you deserve praise forevermore! O Lord, you are great, mighty, majestic, magnificent, glorious, and sovereign over all the sky and earth! You have dominion and exalt yourself as the ruler of all. (1 Chronicles 29:10-11).
The Kingdom of God was frequently acknowledged in the Book of Psalms.
“All kings will bow down to him; all nations will serve him., all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him.” (Psalm 72:11 NET)
Let all the people of the earth acknowledge the Lord and turn to him! Let all the nations worship you! For the Lord is king and rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:27–28 NET)
The prophets also spoke about a golden age when God’s Kingdom would be fully manifested on earth. (10)
Daniel’s words are an example:
In the days of those kings the God of heaven will raise up an everlasting kingdom that will not be destroyed and a kingdom that will not be left to another people. It will break in pieces and bring about the demise of all these kingdoms. But it will stand forever. (Daniel 2:44 NET).
Then the kingdom, authority, and greatness of the kingdoms under all of heaven will be delivered to the people of the holy ones of the Most High. His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; all authorities will serve him and obey him.’ (Daniel 7:27 NET)
Zechariah’s words are an example:
The Lord will then be king over all the earth. In that day the Lord will be seen as one with a single name. (Zechariah 14:9 NET)
The Kingdom of God was also a major emphasis between Malachi and Matthew. Somewhere during that time, the Jewish people, out of reverence for God, were afraid they would misuse His name. A simple solution to their concern was simply not to say it. So instead of saying God’s name, the Jews substituted other words they considered synonyms for God’s name. (10)
For example, instead of saying the Kingdom of God, they would say the Kingdom of Heaven. Western scholars not connected to their biblical Hebraic roots have written volumes of pages and books trying to explain the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven, not realizing they are the same thing. This name substitution is similar to the respect children show to their parents; they don’t call their parents by their first names but by titles such as Father and Mother or Dad and Mom. (10)
The following are examples of this practice:
It is for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of Heaven, there is no difference between saving by many or by few. It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven (1 Maccabees 3:18–19 (NRSV).
And now, let us cry to Heaven, to see whether he will favor us and remember his covenant with our ancestors and crush this army before us today. (1 Maccabees 4:10 NRSV).
Clearly, God’s people do not cry out to the place called Heaven but to God Himself.
God’s Kingdom Present
John the Baptist and Jesus
While Christianity in America has not emphasized the Gospel of the Kingdom, it is the emphasis in the New Testament, which continues what was proclaimed in the Hebrew Bible. In between the writings of the two sections of the Bible, people often substituted the word Heaven for the name of God. (10)
The Kingdom of God and the idea of grace and faith are not new to the New Testament. All the writers of the New Testament, with the possible exception of Luke (15), were Jews who received their concepts and understandings of the Kingdom of God and grace and faith from the writers of the Hebrew Bible, beginning with the Book of Genesis. God’s grace and mercy operating through His kingdom are central to the teaching in the Hebrew Bible, what Christians call The Old Testament or Old Covenant. The Kingdom of God is not only a past reality; it is a present reality extended to Gentiles who acknowledge Jesus as their King and live, by God’s mercy and grace, under God’s rule. (10)
The New Testament opens with John the Baptist proclaiming,
In those days John the Baptist came into the wilderness of Judea proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” For he is the one about whom Isaiah the prophet had spoken: “The voice of one shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ” (Matthew 3:1–3 NET)
Jesus had the same message,
Now when Jesus heard that John had been imprisoned, he went into Galilee. While in Galilee, he moved from Nazareth to make his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way by the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and on those who sit in the region and shadow of death a light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach this message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:12–17 NET)
In Hebraic thinking, the phrase “at hand” means “imminent, bursting forth, ready to be revealed.” Whenever Jesus did a miracle, it was a manifestation of the Kingdom of God in their midst. Jesus preached the Kingdom of God and demonstrated it by healing people and delivering them from demons.
Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23 NET)
The most famous “Christian prayer” is a Jewish prayer called the Lord’s Prayer (1). In this prayer, Jesus prays to the Father, saying,
“may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10 NET).
God’s Kingdom is manifested on the earth when God’s people do God’s will.
In His greatest recorded teaching in the Bible, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained how to live as Kingdom people.
But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33 NET)
After this teaching, Jesus sent His talmidim (students/disciples) to preach the same Gospel of the Kingdom.
As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near!’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7–8 NET)
Similarly, Luke says,
Heal the sick in that town and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come upon you!’ (Luke 10:9 NET)
Now at one point the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, so he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20–21 NET)(16)
In Matthew, Jesus said that the Gentiles would enter His Kingdom and become part of the Commonwealth of Israel.
I tell you, many will come from the east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, (Matthew 8:11 NET)
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14 NET)
Paul and the Kingdom of God
Paul also focused his preaching on the Kingdom of God. Because we put so much emphasis on his message of faith and grace, we don’t realize that this message was presented within the context of his central message of the Kingdom of God. Let’s read Paul’s words and those of Luke, James, and Peter.
They strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions.” (Acts 14:22 NET)
Paul bid the believers farewell at Ephesus and reminded them that he preached to them the message of the Kingdom of God.
“And now I know that none of you among whom I went around proclaiming the kingdom will see me again. (Acts 20:25 NET)
When the Jews in Rome came to see Paul in prison,
They set a day to meet with him, and they came to him where he was staying in even greater numbers. From morning until evening he explained things to them, testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus from both the law of Moses and the prophets. (Acts 28:23 NET)
Paul lived there two whole years in his own rented quarters and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete boldness and without restriction. (Acts 28:30–31 NET)
In those verses, we discovered an incredible truth: the Gospel of Jesus is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and this message is found in the Law of Moses and the prophets’ lips.
But when they believed Philip as he was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they began to be baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12 NET)
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? (James 2:5 NET)
For thus an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for you. (2 Peter 1:11 NET)
God’s Kingdom Future
As the Scriptures declare, God’s Kingdom is past, present, and future. In Matthew, Jesus said that those (the sheep) who give social assistance to His brethren (the Jews) will inherit God’s Kingdom.
All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:32-34 NET)
The following verse is most interesting:
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 will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 NET)
These loud voices seem like the angels of heaven proclaiming the final message of the Gospel of the Kingdom. (10)
The Revelation gives further clarification:
So the one seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. (Revelation 14:16 NET)
This last trumpet judgment will bring the full measure of the Kingdom of God to Earth. As was just shown, it has always been here in part, but with the King coming to Earth in person, the Kingdom of God will be fully manifested on Earth. (10)
The Revelation tells us that God’s covenant Kingdom people will reign with the Lord for 1,000 years on this earth:
Blessed and holy is the one who takes part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6 NET)
Finally, we learn in Revelation that God’s Kingdom is everlasting, existing before the beginning of time and continuing after time is no more. The Lord God will reign into eternity over His creation as sovereign King and Master.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life—water as clear as crystal—pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, flowing down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river is the tree of life producing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month of the year. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations. And there will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him, and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more, and they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will shine on them, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1–5 NET)
As we awaken to this shift of emphasis from the Gospel of Salvation to the Gospel of the Kingdom, from “Churchianity” to Kingdom life, we will soon see biblical kinds of miracles as being commonplace for ordinary believers who are willing to submit themselves to the Yoke of the Kingdom of God. The greatest outpouring of God’s supernatural manifestations is at hand. While evil will increase, the glory of God’s Spirit will anoint His people with His presence and power as in the days of the first coming Messiah. We see this happening in the ministry of the two witnesses. (10)
We will soon see the time when the Kingdom of God in Heaven will so fill the earth that God’s people will be ready for the coming of the Lord. God’s Kingdom is past, present, and future. It was, it is, and it is to come. May His Kingdom come, and may His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. (10)
may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10 NET)
May we all embrace the Yoke of His Kingdom. (10)
Revelation Chapters 12 thru 14
Please see the following link for a detailed description of Revelation Chapters 12 thru 14.
His-Story (History) Series:
- Part I: The Lord of the Scroll – Fellowship Lost!
- Part II: The Lord of the Scroll – The Two Kingdoms
- Part III: The Lord of the Scroll – The Revelation of the King!
- Part IV: The Lord of the Scroll – The Death of the King
- Part V: The Lord of the Scroll – The Re-Birth of the King!
- Part VI: The Lord of the Scroll – Salvation
- Part VII: The Lord of the Scroll – Revelation of the King’s Bride!
- Part VIII: The Lord of the Scroll – Revelation of the King of Kings!
- Part IX: The Lord of the Scroll – The Lord of Hosts
- Part X: The Lord of the Scroll – When will the King of Kings Return?
- Part XI: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (God’s Throne Room)
- Part XII: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (The Beginning of Birth Pains (BBP))
- Part XIII: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (The Great Tribulation (GTrib))
- Part XIV: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (The Day of the Lord (DOL))
- Part XV: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (GTrib and DOL Revisited)
- Part XVI: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (BBP, GTrib, DOL, and The Days of Mourning (DOM) Revisited)
- Part XVII: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (DOM, Cleansing the Temple (CT), The Kingdom Age (KA), Great White Throne Judgment (GWTJ) Revisited)
- Part XVIII The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (KA, GWTJ, and Ages of the Ages (AoA) Revisited)
(Security, Wholeness, Success)
Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 1:2 NET)
(1) Select the link to open another article in a new tab with additional information.
(2) Note: Those not able to choose for themselves (1) (e.g., aborted babies, mentally challenged, etc.) are also in Heaven.
(3) The Greek word used here for air is “aer,” which refers to the lower denser atmosphere. This contrasts with the Greek word “aither,” speaking of the upper thinner atmosphere. For example, a Greek would stand on Mount Olympus (6,403 feet high) and point up to “aither” and down to “aer.”
(4) Realize God does, at times, approximate by rounding off numbers. For example, Exodus 12:40,42 states that Israelites were in Egypt for 430 years, but Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6 approximate this by rounding it down to 400 years. Based on this, the Church Age could last until 2300 AD or whatever the highest number is that rounds down in God’s math (e.g., 2400 A.D.).
(5) Maranatha is the transliteration of the Koine Greek word that means “Our Lord Come!” (KJV 1 Corinthians 16:22). This word captures what our attitude should be concerning our Lord’s return. That is, while we are not to be complacent or anxious about His return, we should live such that if Jesus were to return at any moment, we would not be ashamed but rather prepared, excited, and filled with joy to see Him! (1 John 2:28. Ephesians 5:15,16).
(6) Rogers, A. (2017). Mustard Seeds and Mountains. In Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Mt 16:27–17:21). Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust.
(8) Larkin, C. (1919). The Book of Revelation: A Study of the Last Prophetic Book of Holy Scripture (p. 124). Philadelphia, PA: Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate.
(9) Got Questions Ministries. (2002–2013). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Logos Bible Software.
(10) Booker, R. (2012). The lamb and the seven-sealed scroll. Destiny Image.
(11) The addition of “and see” (καὶ ἴδε or καὶ βλέπε [kai ide or kai blepe]) to “come” (ἔρχου, erchou) in 6:1, 3–5, 7 is a gloss directed to John, i.e., “come and look at the seals and the horsemen!” But the command ἔρχου is better interpreted as directed to each of the horsemen. The shorter reading also has the support of the better witnesses
Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Re 6:1). Biblical Studies Press.
(12) (www.hearthstonelegacy.com/ when the skies turned to black the locust plague of 1875.)
(13) Traditionally, we have called this event “The Rapture,” although this word does not appear in most Bible translations. The word rapture comes from the Latin, Rapare, which means to “take away” or “snatch out.” The word with the meaning of rapture in the Bible is the Greek word harpozo. This Greek word harpozo is literally translated as “caught up” and has the following meanings: to carry off by force or rescue from the danger of destruction.
The catching away or rapture of the Church will occur during the Great Tribulation before God’s wrath is poured out during the Day of the Lord.
Jesus will carry us off by force when He removes us through the territory of the Prince of the Power of the Air (lower denser atmosphere (3)) who will apparently attempt to interfere with our leaving Earth (Ephesians 2:2). Jesus will rescue us from the danger of destruction by taking us to Heaven before the outpouring of God’s wrath during the Day of the Lord.
(14) Matthew, a Jew, wrote primarily to the Jews, presenting Jesus Christ as King of the Jews. Mark, a Jew, presented Jesus as a Servant and wrote to the Romans. John, a Jew, presents Jesus as the Son of God and writes to all men. Luke, a Greek, writes primarily to the Greeks. And because the Greeks were fascinated with Aristotle’s ideal republic and Plato’s ideal man, Luke writes of Jesus as the Son of Man, the perfect Man.
Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 295). Thomas Nelson.
(15) Luke’s Ethnic Background. Scholarly opinion has been divided on the question of Luke’s ethnic background. In general, two views are proposed:
(a) Luke was a Gentile Christian: This view is based mainly on the internal evidence of the Gospel and Acts: the superior quality of the Greek language, the avoidance of Semitic words (except Amen), the omission of gospel traditions about Jesus’ controversies with the Pharisaic understanding of the Law and about what is clean or unclean, the transformation of Palestinian local color and details into Hellenistic counterparts. These and similar factors have been cited to identify the author as a Gentile Christian, i.e. one converted to Christianity from paganism.
The argument is sometimes pushed still further to maintain that the author was actually a Gentile Christian of Greek origin or an Antiochene Greek. This is based on Paul’s statement in Col 4:11–14, where three persons are listed as his Jewish-Christian co-workers, but Luke seems to be listed among other, presumably, Gentile-Christian collaborators. For instance, K. Lake years ago claimed that the early tradition identified Luke as “an Antiochene Greek” (“Luke,” in Dictionary of the Apostolic Church [New York: Scribner, 1922] 1. 719); and more recently, K. H. Rengstorf (Evangelium nach Lukas, 11) has called him a Gentile Christian, indeed of Greek origin. Many others have followed this view (e.g., W. K. Hobart, A. von Harnack, P. Vielhauer, G. B. Caird, W. G. Kümmel, A. Plummer, W. Manson, J. Schmid).
(b) Luke was a Jewish Christian. The view that the author was a Jewish Christian, i.e. a convert from Judaism, is based mainly on the interest displayed in Luke-Acts in the OT and its phraseology, the author’s alleged Palestinian language, and the Epiphanian tradition (Panarion 51.11) that he was one of the seventy-two disciples; sometimes the mention of Lucius as among Paul’s “kinsmen” (Rom 16:21) is also invoked. Among supporters of this view, one may cite A. Schlatter, B. S. Easton, E. E. Ellis, W. F. Albright, N. Q. King, B. Reicke.
For reasons that I shall try to set forth below, I regard Luke as a Gentile Christian, not, however, as a Greek, but as a non-Jewish Semite, a native of Antioch, where he was well educated in a Hellenistic atmosphere and culture.
Fitzmyer, J. A. (2008). The Gospel according to Luke I–IX: introduction, translation, and notes (Vol. 28, pp. 41–42). Yale University Press.
(16) …The emphasis here would be that the Pharisees confront the kingdom in Jesus. They do not need to look all around for it because its central figure is in front of their eyes…
Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51–24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1416). Baker Academic.
(17) A Full Circle Rainbow over Australia, Image Credit & Copyright: Colin Leonhardt (Birdseye View Photography)
(18) Rosenthal, Marvin (1990). The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. World Publishing
(19) “Warren’s findings, together with the discovery of Reich and Shukron described in the recent news reports, fully support Josephus’s statements relating to the tunnels beneath Jerusalem and the use to which they were put during the Roman siege of 70 A.D. These underground passages enabled many inhabitants of Jerusalem to exit the city and flee both south to Masada and, via Nahal Qidron and other wadis heading from Jerusalem eastward toward the Dead Sea, to the Machaerus fort lying just east of that sea, which was actually closer to Jerusalem than was Masada. (Josephus describes the large number of refugees who gathered at Machaerus.). The circumstances as now known leave little doubt that quite likely beginning even before the siege had begun, groups engaged in hiding the Temple treasures, the books, and other items listed in the Copper Scroll — as well as those ancient writings of the Palestinian Jews known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found centuries later in caves near the wadis leading out of Jerusalem. Norman Golb is the Ludwig Rosenberger Professor of Jewish History and Civilization at the University of Chicago and the author of “Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?” (Simon & Schuster, 1995).” Read more here: https://forward.com/opinion/11873/newly-discovered-tunnel-may-once-have-carried-dead-00675/
(21) Booker, R. (2013). the Victorious Kingdom. Destiny Image.
(22) interruption of chronological sequence (as in a film or literary work) by interjection of events of earlier occurrence…
Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). In Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Merriam-Webster, Inc.
(23) 1984: a story that tells what led up to the main story or plot (as of a film)
Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). In Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Merriam-Webster, Inc.
(24) Booker, R. (2011). The overcomers: series- understanding the book of Revelation. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.
55 tn BDAG 352–53 s.v. ἐξουσία 2 [potential or resource to command, control, or govern, capability, might, power] states, “Also of Satan’s power Ac 26:18.” It is also possible to translate this “the domain of Satan” (cf. BDAG 353 s.v. 6 [the sphere in which power is exercised, domain]) Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Ac 26:18). Biblical Studies Press.
(25) Reid, A. (2004). Daniel: Kingdoms in Conflict (P. Barnett, Ed.; p. 146). Aquila Press.
(26) Salerno, Jr., Donald A., (2010). Revelation Unsealed. Virtualbookworm.com Publish-ing, Inc.
(27) Richards, L. (1997). Every angel in the Bible (p. 18). T. Nelson.
(28) Van Groningen, G. (1988). God, Names Of. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 884). Baker Book House.
Yahweh, then, is the name par excellence of Israel’s God. As Yahweh he is a faithful covenant God who, having given his Word of love and life, keeps that Word by bestowing love and life abundantly on his own.
(29) “When the Skies Turned to Black,” Hearthstone Legacy Publications
(30) Understanding the Revelation, Jim Fleming
The tenth day of the seventh month is called by several names, but it is usually called Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. However, the Torah actually calls it Yom HaKippurim (יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים), or ‘The Day of the Atonements (plural).’
(32) Brown, D. R., & Twist, E. T. (2014). Romans (D. Mangum, Ed.; Ro 14:1–23). Lexham Press.
Bēma, “Judgment Seat.” In the Graeco-Roman world, a bēma was a raised platform in a public setting that was used for official business. Often, this platform would have a bench or official chair where magistrates or judges would sit while they pronounced legal decisions.
Paul uses bēma twice in reference to the final judgment before God: “We will all stand before the judgment seat (bēma) of God” (Rom 14:10); “We must all appear before the judgment seat (bēma) of Christ” (2 Cor 5:10). In both contexts, the bēma is a symbol of final judgment, and the main point is everyone’s accountability before God for what they have done.
(##) For a higher number reference, see: The Feasts of Israel – Passover (1) references