The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 83

The Seventh Trumpet

Revelation 11:15.     And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 

     Here, finally, is the sounding of the last of the seven trumpets.  The first six had ushered in various events on the earth during the first half of the tribulation (Revelation 8 and 9).  The last will echo throughout the entire second half, the period of great tribulation.

     There is an important reference to “the last trump” in 1 Corinthians 15:52.  There it is said that, at this last sounding of the trumpet, the resurrection of the dead and the immortalizing of the living saints will take place.  In Revelation 11:15, and following, there is no specific reference to resurrection.  On the other hand, there is (verse 18) a reference to the judgment of the dead and the giving of rewards to His servants, both of which presuppose a resurrection.

     However, the “last trump” of this passage in 1 Corinthians is obviously the same as the “trump of God” of 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17, whereas the seventh trumpet of Revelation is the “trump of the angel.”  These are obviously two different trumpets.  In addition, of course, it has already been demonstrated that the resurrection and rapture of those who are in Christ, as described in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4, must take place before the tribulation period, whereas the seventh angel will sound his trumpet at the middle of the tribulation period.

     But if that is the case, why is the trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52 called the last trump, when at least the seven trumpets of Revelation will all be sounded later?  Furthermore there is even a trumpet which is to be blown near the end of the tribulation by God Himself.  “And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south” (Zechariah 9:14).  In context, this is a reference to God’s supernatural deliverance of Israel right at the end of the tribulation.  This event is probably the same one mentioned by Christ in Matthew 24:29-31.  “Immediately after the tribulation of those days . . . he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

     Thus, trumpets will be blown both by angels and by God Himself after the “trump of God” which is the “last trump” in 1 Corinthians 15:52.  The terminology in this passage is clearly intended not to imply an absolute chronology of trumpets, but one which is relative to its context.  Similarly the “last day” of such verses as John 6:40 (“I will raise him up at the last day”), John 11:24 (“… in the resurrection at the last day”), and others is not the final day of the cosmos, for time will never end.

     The “last day” in which the resurrection occurs, is the last day of the Church Age, and the last trumpet, which signals the resurrection, is the last trumpet blown by God at the end of the Church Age, but this does not preclude another last trumpet to terminate the tribulation, or even another last trumpet to end the millennium and gather all the unsaved for judgment at God’s throne.  Or, perhaps, one could infer that the “last day” will encompass over a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8), thus including all the resurrection events both before the tribulation, during the tribulation, after the tribulation, and after the millennium (Revelation 20:4-6) within its scope.  By the same token, the last trump may not merely be one brief burst of sound, but a trumpet whose sound continues long, as did the divine trumpet on Sinai (Exodus 19:19), enduring throughout the entire duration of the thousand-year long “last day.”

     In any case, this passage certainly provides no justification for so-called “posttribulationists” and others to contend, as they do, that the “last trump” of 1 Corinthians is identical with the seventh trumpet of Revelation.  The latter is sounded by an angel releasing great judgments, but the former is the mighty trump of God which raises the dead.

     The sounding of the seventh trumpet is accompanied by a great chorus of voices at the heavenly throne rejoicing in the approaching climax of the Lamb’s great work of reclamation.  The earth which He created, and which He redeemed with His blood, will soon be His own once more, never to be lost again.

     The testimony given by the voices in heaven anticipates and summarizes the results of the events set in motion by the seventh trumpet.  Like the assurance that there would be no more delay (Revelation 10:6), so the ascription of eternal dominion in this verse looks forward to the ultimate fulfillment, in certainty that it will be accomplished and that the events which will assure it have now been inexorably set in motion.

     Note the implied reference to Psalm 2, as quoted in Acts 4:26: “The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ” (Acts 4:26).  The age-long rebellion of the kingdoms of this world against the Lord and His Christ has been allowed because God is long-suffering, desiring men to come to repentance rather than to judgment, but He is not eternally suffering!  The time is coming soon when all these kingdoms will become His kingdoms, and He shall rule forevermore.

Revelation 11:16.     And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God.

     The four and twenty elders had last been noted at the beginning of the tribulation (Revelation 5:14), and now again at its midpoint (the reference to them in Revelation 7:11 is looking forward to the end of the tribulation, with all the tribulation saints gathered in heaven).

     As discussed earlier, these elders represent men and women who had been redeemed and raptured, believers of the ages prior to the return of Christ.  During all the judgments of the first three-and-a-half years, the elders had remained seated on the thrones, intently observing events on earth.  Just before the opening of the first seal on the great scroll, they had fallen on their faces to worship God (Revelation 5:14).  Now once again they dismount their thrones, falling down on their faces to praise the Lord.  This will happen once again at the end of the tribulation (Revelation 19:4).  

Revelation 11:17.     Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

     Even though the Lord is not yet literally reigning, the resurrection of His two witnesses has demonstrated beyond question, at least to those in heaven, that He has power to do so.  The last great judgments, irrevocably inaugurated by the blowing of the seventh trumpet, will certainly accomplish His purposes.  The elders and all the saints in heaven acknowledge Him again as the Almighty One, the only self-existing God, the one who alone has been God from eternity, before the world was.

     And this God, of course, is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.  The same identity, in the same terminology, was claimed by the glorified Christ at the beginning of John’s encounter with Him (Revelation 1:4, 8).  The one on the heavenly throne had also been described in the same terms by the four cherubim (Revelation 4:8).

     The term “reigned” is better rendered “shown thyself as king.”  Christ at this point has not yet actually taken the earthly kingdoms and inaugurated His millennial reign, but He has demonstrated Himself to be the eternal and omnipotent Creator, and therefore absolute sovereign of all.

Revelation 11:18.     And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

     Seven great events are thus anticipated by the elders as they worship on their faces before Christ, the Almighty Lord:

1.     He has displayed His mighty power over all creation;

2.     He has demonstrated Himself to be King of all kings;

3.     He has observed the implacable anger of all nations against Himself;

4.     He has manifested His righteous wrath against all those living in rebellion;

5.     He has prepared the final judgment for all the unsaved dead;

6.     He has provided a gracious reward for all who believe and obey Him;

7.     He has ordained eternal destruction for all who have corrupted the earth.

This is the same Lord Jesus who was meek and lowly (Matthew 11:29) and from whose lips proceeded words of grace (Luke 4:22).  But He is also the one to whom all judgment is committed (John 5:22) and who will tread the great winepress of the wrath of God (Revelation 14:19, 20; 19:15).

The nations have all sealed their rejection of Christ by willfully yielding their own sovereignty to His greatest enemy, the beast, the one who executed His two witnesses (see Revelation 13:7; 17:13).  Though there may be still some hope of snatching individuals from the fire, as it were, the nations as such have all passed far beyond the point of no return and can only experience now “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:27).

     The time (or “season”) of the dead, when they will be raised for judgment, is not to be consummated for a thousand years (Revelation 20:11-15), but the time is set and the judgment sure.  The rewards for His prophets, and the saints, and for all who fear His name, have in some measure already been given at the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10) which followed the rapture, but there are still tribulation saints and millennial saints who are to be rewarded, possibly at or near the end of the tribulation and the end of the millennium, respectively.

     It is significant that special attention is called to the judgment of those who “destroy the earth.”  God’s first great commandment to mankind had included an injunction to “subdue the earth” (Genesis 1:28).  Man was to exercise dominion over all the earth, but this was to be a dominion of stewardship and service – not one of despotism and exploitation.  Adam and his descendants were to organize and utilize the creation for man’s benefit and God’s glory.

     Furthermore, this great commission had been renewed to Noah after the Flood, and it has never been withdrawn.  Mankind is still responsible under God and this primeval mandate to exercise proper stewardship over the earth and all God’s creation.

     But instead, men have all but destroyed the earth.  Instead of caring for the animals and plants committed to his dominion, man has become their enemy, and many kinds have been exterminated.  Wars have devastated the forests and scorched the lands.  Human greed has yielded polluted waters and noxious air.  Nutrients have been leached from the soils and lands have been overcultivated and overgrazed.  Landscapes have been blighted with open mines and urban slums.

     All of these deteriorative processes have even been hastened by God’s judgments on man’s sin.  The great Flood, for example, had not only demolished the ideal antediluvian environment which God had created for man’s use, but had left behind tremendous numbers of dead plants and animals in the thick sediments deposited by the deluge.  Many of these had, as a result of intense heat and pressure, been converted through various physical and chemical processes, into materials which, in the latter centuries of man’s occupation of earth, would be burned as his fuels.  These so-called “fossil fuels” are notoriously inefficient and pollution-generating, for God had certainly not created at least His animals for such purposes.

     Worst of all had been man’s wickedness, both to his fellowman and against God.  The word “destroy” is the same, actually, as “corrupt.”  Man had destroyed the earth by corrupting the earth, using it not for God’s glory, but instead to satisfy his own greed and lust.  Therefore God must finally destroy the destroyers and corrupt the corrupters.  “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still,” he will say; “and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still” (Revelation 22:11).  For it is He who “is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Revelation 11:19.     And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

     John’s attention is still directed heavenward, where he has just heard the praises of the twenty-four elders bowing before the throne.  Shortly before, however, the Lord had called his attention to the earthly temple in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:1-2) which now had been completely taken over by the beast for his own uses.

     It is in this context that John first sees (or at least writes about) the temple in heaven.  He had noted the throne and the sea of glass (Revelation 4:6) as well as the altar (Revelation 6:9; 8:3-5).  He had also made reference to the future service which would be rendered by the tribulation saints in the heavenly temple (Revelation 7:15).  Here, however, he first calls attention to the temple itself and to its chief component, the holy place.

     That there is indeed a temple in heaven is confirmed in both Old and New Testaments.  Isaiah the prophet saw it in his vision (Isaiah 6:1), and the writer of Hebrews makes it clear that the earthly tabernacle (and, later, Solomon’s temple) had been patterned after “the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man” (Hebrews 8:2).  The service of the priests in the temple on earth were “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5).  The sacrifices on the earthly altar were mere types of the one sacrifice for sins forever on the heavenly altar, for it was “necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:23, 24).

     This is the real physical temple, in a real physical city, where Christ now appears in His real physical, glorified resurrection body.  The city, with its temple, had been brought with Him by Christ when He “descended from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 4:16) to resurrect and rapture His saints into His presence there.

     And, like the earthly temple when the price for sin had finally been paid (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 10:19-20), the very holiest place in the inner heart of the temple is now opened, in the heavenly temple as well.

     There, in the holy of holies, where God Himself dwells (and where He met with the high priest in the earthly tabernacle), John saw an amazing thing.  There was the ark of the covenant!  The ark was the most sacred aspect of the temple, for it was there that God could commune with His people, above the mercy seat which covered the ark, between the overshadowing cherubim.  Within the ark was a pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod, and (most importantly) the two tables of God’s law (Hebrews 9:3-5).

     The ark of the covenant disappeared when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple and carried Judah captive into Babylon 600 years before Christ.  At that time “all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord” were also taken to Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:18), as were the brass and other metals that adorned the temple (2 Kings 25:13-20).  No mention, however, was made of the ark, the most important and perhaps most costly (the ark was overlaid with pure gold, and the mercy seat and cherubim were of pure gold) item in the temple, as well as certainly the most significant item to the writers of the accounts in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Jeremiah (chapter 52, as well as the book of Lamentations).  Neither was there any mention of the ark when Cyrus commissioned the rebuilding of the temple and sent back all its vessels as well (Ezra 1:1-11).

     It seems impossible that God would have allowed the ark to be destroyed.  When it was captured earlier by the Philistines, in the days of Samuel, Saul, and David, God saw that it was providentially kept for almost a hundred years until David finally returned it to the tabernacle in Jerusalem (1 Samuel 4:4, 11, 22; 1 Chronicles 15:28; 16:1).

     Men through the centuries have been almost as intrigued with the search for the ark of the covenant as they have with the search for Noah’s ark.  The ark was not in the restoration temple, nor the temple of Herod, nor in the tribulation temple.  Neither is there any mention of it even in the millennial temple described in Ezekiel 40 – 48.  People have rumored it is preserved somewhere in a cave in Ethiopia, or in the Arabian desert, or somewhere else.

     But there is no mystery as to where it is.  God showed John, when He revealed to him the Apocalypse, that it was safely stored in the heavenly temple.  No doubt the two tables of the Ten Commandments are there as well.  If God could translate Enoch and Elijah to heaven, and if the resurrected Christ could ascend to heaven, He would be quite able to have an angel remove the ark from Jerusalem before Nebuchadnezzar’s armies sacked the temple, and then have him carry it safely to the true tabernacle in the New Jerusalem under construction in heaven.

     And there it will remain, until after the millennium, when the New Jerusalem (which itself is the true tabernacle – Revelation 21:3) will descend from God out of heaven to the earth.  Since the city is itself a tabernacle, and especially “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” (Revelation 21:22), there will be no temple within the city.  But the ark of God’s covenant will be there, with its mercy seat possibly constituting His very throne, or at least representing the throne whereon He will meet with His people forevermore.

     Accompanying this grand revelation once again are manifested lightnings and voices and thunderings in heaven, accompanied by a great earthquake and hailstorm on earth.  These heavenly phenomena occur at the beginning of the tribulation (Revelation 4:5), here at the middle of the tribulation, and finally at the end of the tribulation (Revelation 16:18).

     The great storm and earthquake that occur at this time presumably affect the whole earth, supplementing the earthquake in Jerusalem at the resurrection of the two witnesses.  The later had pronounced a three-and-a-half year drought on the earth, and the inhabitants had cried for rain.  But the drought is broken instead with a great hail.  The angels who had restrained the winds and rains suddenly release them as the witnesses return to heaven, resulting in a terrible storm on earth which still further testifies of God’s power and His wrath against all ungodliness of men. 

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