"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Unless Jesus Does First
Revelation 11 - Quick Links
Revelation 11:7 - When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.
God will protect the two witnesses until they finish their testimony, giving the world evidence of God through His Word (Revelation 11:3) and through miraculous signs (Revelation 11:6). God will lift His hand of protection when the 1,260 days of the two witnesses' ministry end (Revelation 11:3). The beast, who is the antichrist that comes in the "last hour" of the Tribulation (1 John 2:18), he will overcome the two witnesses and kill them. We do not know how the beast will kill the two witnesses, but beheading is the reserved form of execution for Tribulation saints who testify of God's Word, which the two witnesses will also do:
Revelation 20:4 - And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God....
The beast will die of a mortal wound, go to the bottomless pit (Revelation 9:1), and rise from the dead, returning from the bottomless pit with his wound healed:
Revelation 13:3 - And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.
Revelation 17:8 - The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
As discussed in Revelation 11:3, John introduces the antichrist as "the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit," which has led many to believe that as soon as he ascends out of the pit, the beast overcomes and kills the two witnesses. However, the phrase "that ascends" is a present active participle, which in this case is a verb used as a noun. In other words, it is a title because it is not a continuing action. When the reader takes the phrase as an action instead of a title like the Greek indicates, the reader assumes that the beast kills the two witnesses in the middle of the Tribulation as soon as he ascends from the pit, when he takes full authority for the last 42 months, or 3 ½ years of the Tribulation and tramples the world:
Revelation 13:3, 5, 7 - And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.... And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months.... It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.
Daniel 7:23, 25 - "Thus he said: 'The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces.... He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.
However, as shown in Revelation 11:2, the Gentiles will trample Jerusalem the same time the beast overcomes and tramples the world. The context of Revelation 11:2-3 shows that the two witnesses' ministry also occurs during the trampling of Jerusalem in the second half of the Tribulation. Therefore, there will be about 3 ½ years between the time the beast ascends out of the bottomless pit and the time that he overcomes the two witnesses. Ironically, the beast "overcomes" and kills the two witnesses and most of the Tribulation saints, but believers are the true overcomers through Christ!
1 John 5:4-5 - For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Revelation 11:8 - And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
After the beast kills the two witnesses, their bodies will lie in the street of the "great city." There are several cities called "great" in Scripture, but this "great city" is the same city where Jesus died on the cross, which was Jerusalem. John calls Jerusalem "Sodom and Egypt," which shows the spiritual state of the city at the end of the two witnesses' ministry. Sodom was a city destroyed in the days of Abraham for their abominable sexual immorality (Genesis 19, Jude 1:7). Egypt is the nation associated with bondage and idolatry, as shown in the passage below and throughout the scriptures:
Deuteronomy 13:5-7, 10 - But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst. "If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods,' which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth.... And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage."
God compared Israel to both Egypt and Sodom when they turned away from Him:
Amos 4:10-11 - "I sent among you a plague after the manner of Egypt; your young men I killed with a sword, along with your captive horses; I made the stench of your camps come up into your nostrils; yet you have not returned to Me," says the LORD. "I overthrew some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; yet you have not returned to Me," Says the LORD.
Isaiah 1:9-11 - Unless the LORD of hosts had left to us a very small remnant, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been made like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah: "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats."
When Israel turned from God, they committed spiritual harlotry or idolatry like Sodom and Egypt:
Jeremiah 23:14 - Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: They commit adultery and walk in lies; they also strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah.
Ezekiel 16:2, 46-50 - "Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations... Your elder sister is Samaria, who dwells with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who dwells to the south of you, is Sodom and her daughters. You did not walk in their ways nor act according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you became more corrupt than they in all your ways. "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit."
Ezekiel 23:2-4, 8, 27 - "Son of man, there were two women, The daughters of one mother. They committed harlotry in Egypt, they committed harlotry in their youth; their breasts were there embraced, their virgin bosom was there pressed. Their names: Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister; they were Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah.... She has never given up her harlotry brought from Egypt, for in her youth they had lain with her, pressed her virgin bosom, and poured out their immorality upon her.... 'Thus I will make you cease your lewdness and your harlotry brought from the land of Egypt, so that you will not lift your eyes to them, nor remember Egypt anymore.'"
The sixth Trumpet judgment sounds before the beast kills the two witnesses and shows that immorality, idolatry, and sorcery (enchantments using drugs) are rampant on the earth:
Revelation 9:20-21 - But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Incidentally, Paul shows us that idolatry and sexual immorality, particularly homosexuality, characterize a society given over to a depraved mind before God's righteous judgment falls:
Romans 1:18-25 - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man - and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Romans 1:26-32 - For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Jerusalem is utterly depraved right before the last Tribulation judgments fall on Earth. However, many of today's societies are rampant in idolatry and sexual sin, and we see the world moving morally in the same direction as Jerusalem at the end of the Tribulation. More people put the creation above God today and disbelieve the truth about the Creator. Paganism is becoming more popular and mainstream. Also, sexual immorality on all levels is continually becoming worse, and acceptance of homosexuality has increased at an alarming rate globally in just the past few decades, with governments legalizing and embracing homosexual marriage. Truly, much of the world could be categorized as "Sodom and Egypt" today. This is another sign that the world is ripe for judgment and the Tribulation is not far off. Once God gives a society over to a "debased mind" (Romans 1:28), He hardens their hearts and judgment is not far behind.
Revelation 11:9 - Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves.
After the beast kills the two witnesses, several people groups gaze upon their dead bodies. Recall that Revelation 10:11 lists four types of people groups, showing that all people of the earth are in view. That means that all people groups of the earth will gaze on the dead bodies of the two witnesses lying in the street of Jerusalem. Only in the last century could the world view these dead bodies in Jerusalem through satellite technology and media, such as television and the internet.
However, technology can be hugely unreliable and our vulnerable electrical grid system might not survive the Tribulation judgments. But perhaps new technology will emerge that could withstand such destruction. That does not mean the Tribulation is decades away, since new technology may already be developed but not yet implemented, or it may emerge with the demonic beast system during the Tribulation. Either way, technology capable of beaming video of the two witnesses' dead bodies across the globe is necessary to fulfill this prophecy.
The two witnesses will lie dead in the street dead for 3 ½ days, a day for each year they prophesied. Those who gaze on the witnesses' dead bodies will prohibit their burial:
Psalms 79:1-4 - A Psalm of Asaph. O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; Your holy temple they have defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps. The dead bodies of Your servants - they have given as food for the birds of the heavens, the flesh of Your saints to the beasts of the earth. Their blood they have shed like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. We have become a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and derision to those who are around us.
The following passages show indignity and dishonor associated with the dead who are not buried:
2 Kings 9:36-37 - "Therefore they came back and told him. And he said, "This is the word of the LORD, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 'On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as refuse on the surface of the field, in the plot at Jezreel, so that they shall not say, "Here lies Jezebel."'"
Isaiah 14:19-20 - But you are cast out of your grave like an abominable branch, like the garment of those who are slain, thrust through with a sword, who go down to the stones of the pit, like a corpse trodden underfoot. You will not be joined with them in burial, because you have destroyed your land and slain your people. The brood of evildoers shall never be named.
Jeremiah 14:15-16 - Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, 'Sword and famine shall not be in this land' - 'By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed! And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; they will have no one to bury them - them nor their wives, their sons nor their daughters - for I will pour their wickedness on them.'
Jeremiah 7:30-34 - "For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight," says the LORD. "They have set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart. "Therefore behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "when it will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Tophet until there is no room. The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the heaven and for the beasts of the earth. And no one will frighten them away. Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. For the land shall be desolate."
Jeremiah 8:1-2 - "At that time," says the LORD, "they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of its princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves. They shall spread them before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which they have loved and which they have served and after which they have walked, which they have sought and which they have worshiped. They shall not be gathered nor buried; they shall be like refuse on the face of the earth."
Jeremiah 16:3-9 - For thus says the LORD concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning their mothers who bore them and their fathers who begot them in this land: "They shall die gruesome deaths; they shall not be lamented nor shall they be buried, but they shall be like refuse on the face of the earth. They shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, and their corpses shall be meat for the birds of heaven and for the beasts of the earth." For thus says the LORD: "Do not enter the house of mourning, nor go to lament or bemoan them; for I have taken away My peace from this people," says the LORD, "lovingkindness and mercies. Both the great and the small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried; neither shall men lament for them, cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them. Nor shall men break bread in mourning for them, to comfort them for the dead; nor shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or their mother. Also you shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them, to eat and drink." For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will cause to cease from this place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride."
As we will see in the next section, the world hates the two witnesses so much for making their lives miserable that they not only leave their dead bodies in the street in scorn, they also celebrate their death.
Revelation 11:10 - And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
After the beast kills the two witnesses, the earth dwellers celebrate their death. As discussed in Revelation 6:10, the earth dwellers are God's enemies who follow the beast (Revelation 13:8-14), in contrast to believers who are citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20). Most of the earth dwellers fail the test of the Tribulation and continue to reject God, in spite of relentless judgment that God pours out on the earth:
Revelation 3:10 - Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
The fact that the earth dwellers celebrate the two witnesses' death shows that they place the blame for their misery on the two witnesses and reject their testimony of God, just like Pharaoh continued to reject Moses' testimony of God, and his heart became more hardened with each subsequent plague. Even when God pours out the last of the Tribulation judgments, the earth dwellers refuse to repent and even blaspheme God, recognizing He is the source of their misery:
Revelation 16:8-11 - Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
As a sign of the earth dwellers' jubilant relief following the death of the two witnesses, they exchange gifts and celebrate like the Jews did after Queen Esther saved them from their enemies:
Esther 9:20 - And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.
The earth dwellers feel tormented under the ministry of the two witnesses, which shows that the world and not just Jerusalem suffers under their plagues. This lends support to the two witnesses calling down the Trumpet judgments on the whole earth, which signals the angels to blow their trumpets, as discussed in Revelation 11:6.
According to the timeline proposed in Revelation 11:3 of the two witnesses' ministry, they will die close to the Feast of Trumpets, which is the Jewish New Year when Jews typically exchange gifts. While it is the world and not just unregenerate Jews who celebrate and exchange gifts, it would certainly be ironic, if not a deliberate act of disdain against God and the Jews, for this jubilee to take place during one of the Lord's feasts. As we will see in Revelation 11:15, this timeline fits, in that the seventh Trumpet and "coronation of the King" occur right after the two witnesses rise from the dead, which may fulfill the Feast of Trumpets:
Revelation 11:15 - Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"
While Job's friend Zophar was wrong about many things, he was right about wicked people who celebrate. The wicked earth dwellers' triumph over the two witnesses will definitely be a short-lived 3 ½ days before God pours out His final wrath on them:
Job 20:4-9, 23, 29 - "Do you not know this of old, since man was placed on earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment? Though his haughtiness mounts up to the heavens, and his head reaches to the clouds, yet he will perish forever like his own refuse; those who have seen him will say, 'Where is he?' He will fly away like a dream, and not be found; yes, he will be chased away like a vision of the night. The eye that saw him will see him no more, nor will his place behold him anymore.... When he is about to fill his stomach, God will cast on him the fury of His wrath, and will rain it on him while he is eating.... This is the portion from God for a wicked man, the heritage appointed to him by God."
Revelation 11:11 - Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.
After the world celebrates and refuses burial to the two witnesses for 3 ½ days, one day for each year they prophesied, God will resurrect them. Great fear will fall on those who watch the resurrection. The passages below show examples in the Old Testament where great fear fell on wicked people after witnessing or hearing about God's miracles:
Psalms 105:38 - Egypt was glad when they departed, for the fear of them had fallen upon them.
Joshua 2:8-11 - Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: "I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath."
1 Samuel 12:17-18 - "Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves." So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel."
In the New Testament we find several examples where people glorified God or came to Christ after witnessing a fearful miracle or event attributed to God:
Luke 7:12-16 - And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen up among us"; and, "God has visited His people."
Matthew 27:54 - So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
Acts 5:3-11, 14 - But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?" She said, "Yes, for so much." Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things..... And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women....
Acts 19:13-20 - Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
After God resurrects the two witnesses, the beast will suffer defeat. As we will discuss in Revelation 11:13, right after the two witnesses ascend to Heaven, an earthquake will occur in Jerusalem and people will become more fearful and glorify God. With people glorifying God, the beast will lose credibility of being an all-powerful god after the Lord reverses the beast's victory over them, followed by a massive earthquake. Those who have taken the mark of the beast in allegiance to the beast with no hope of redemption (Revelation 14:11) will certainly become fearful when God defeats their beloved "god" who deceived them through the two witnesses' resurrection. This contradicts the theory that the beast kills the two witnesses at the beginning of his forty-two month reign, but supports the view that the two witnesses' ministry covers most of the second half of the Tribulation, ending in the final days before Jesus returns at the end of the antichrist's reign.
Incidentally, the word for "breath" is the same word translated "spirit" or "wind," also found in Revelation 7:1. When God gives the breath of life to something, He gives it a spirit, making it a living soul or being:
Genesis 2:7 - And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Genesis 7:21-23 - And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.
Death is separation of the body from the soul and spirit:
Ecclesiastes 12:6-7 - Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the well. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 - So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
So when God resurrects people He restores the soul and spirit to the body:
Acts 2:30-31 - Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.
After God resurrects the two witnesses, they stand on their feet, just like the Moabite raider who came back to life:
2 Kings 13:20-21 - Then Elisha died, and they buried him. And the raiding bands from Moab invaded the land in the spring of the year. So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.
It is unclear why those resurrected stand on their feet. When God resurrects Israel He will give them the breath of life and they will also stand on their feet:
Ezekiel 37:4-10 - Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD."'" So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live."'" So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
While this prophecy of the dry bones speaks of a spiritual revival of Israel as a nation, it accurately describes a physical resurrection from nothing more than bones and dust, with restoration of the spirit and soul to the body, yielding the breath of life. Incidentally, after God resurrects and raptures the two witnesses (Revelation 11:12), Heaven will announce the coming of the Messiah (Revelation 11:15), who will deliver and redeem Israel, fulfilling the prophecy of the dry bones:
Isaiah 59:17-20 - For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; the coastlands He will fully repay. So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him. "The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," says the LORD.
Romans 11:26-27 - And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins."
Ezekiel 37:11-12, 23 - Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!' Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel...." They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
Revelation 11:12 - And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.
After the world sees the two witnesses rise from the dead, a loud voice calls the witnesses to Heaven in the same way God called John to Heaven earlier in Revelation:
Revelation 4:1 - After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this."
This loud voice which sounded like a trumpet to John is Jesus Christ:
Revelation 1:10-13 - I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea." Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.
It is interesting that we find the phrase "come up here" in Proverbs, which shows that a king will humble people who exalt themselves:
Proverbs 25:6-7 - Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the place of the great; for it is better that he say to you, "Come up here," than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen.
This fits with the "Kingdom of Heaven" message, where those who are humble get exalted:
Luke 14:8-11 - "When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, 'Give place to this man,' and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, 'Friend, go up higher.' Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Jesus will exalt those who humbly come to the Kingdom when He calls them to come:
1 Peter 5:6-7 - Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Matthew 23:11-12 - But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Job 36:7 - He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous; but they are on the throne with kings, for He has seated them forever, and they are exalted.
On the other hand, the Lord will put down and humble those who exalt themselves, including kings, the antichrist, and Satan:
Luke 1:52 - He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly.
Isaiah 24:21-22 - It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in the prison; after many days they will be punished.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-8 - Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
Isaiah 14:12-15 - "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit."
God also called Moses to come up to the top of the mountain and will call the Church to come up to Heaven in the rapture with a loud trumpet sound, similar to His call to John and the two witnesses:
Exodus 19:19-20 - And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 - For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Interestingly, the two witnesses will go up to Heaven in a cloud like the Church. Jesus also went up to Heaven in a cloud and will return in a cloud:
Acts 1:9-11 - Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
Luke 21:27 - Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Certainly, the two witnesses will ascend to Heaven in a literal cloud, but as discussed in Revelation 10:1, these clouds also symbolize the glory of God. In Revelation 1:7, we see that Jesus also will come "with" clouds, which represents the heavenly host. Indeed we see chariots of Heaven within clouds or whirlwinds that took Elijah to Heaven:
2 Kings 2:11-12 - Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!" So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces.
Clouds, or a whirlwind also surround the vehicle that carries the throne of God:
Ezekiel 1:4, 26-28 - Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire..... And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.
Isaiah 66:15 - For behold, the LORD will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.
Psalms 104:3 - He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters, who makes the clouds His chariot, who walks on the wings of the wind....
If the clouds that receive the two witnesses look anything like the whirlwind that received Elijah or the cloud that carries the throne of God, it is no wonder people give glory to God after seeing such an awesome sight!
John tells us that the two witnesses' enemies see their ascension to Heaven. Since the two witnesses' enemies are all over the world, as we discussed in Revelation 11:9, most earth dwellers may watch the resurrection and rapture via broadcast through video technology.
On an end note, some believe that the 144,000 Jewish servants will go up to Heaven the same time as the two witnesses. These servants appear in Heaven before the throne of God sometime after the beast takes power in Revelation 13, but before the final harvest of souls and the last judgments come down on earth in Revelation 14:
Revelation 14:1-2 - Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
The timing certainly fits for the 144,000 Jewish servants to go up to Heaven with the two witnesses, though it is speculative. For a chart on all the various resurrections and raptures before, during, and after the Tribulation click here.
Revelation 11:13 - In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.
A massive earthquake strikes Jerusalem within an hour after the two witnesses ascend to Heaven, causing great destruction and loss of life. Earthquakes have always been a fearful sign from God among other catastrophes that often lead to geopolitical upheaval:
Luke 21:10-11 - Then He said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven."
The earthquake occurs in the "same hour" of the two witnesses' resurrection and rapture to Heaven, which further authenticates the witnesses' testimony. The following verses show that the "same hour" is a figure of speech indicating that a short span of time occurs between events:
Daniel 5:5 - In the same hour the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
Matthew 8:13 - Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour.
John 4:53 - So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives." And he himself believed, and his whole household.
Acts 16:33 - And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.
Acts 22:12-13 - And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
John tells us what fraction of the city falls and the number of people who perish. As shown in the "Prophetic Patterns in Numbers" study, numbers in Scripture are full of meaning. One-tenth of the city will fall. Ten is the perfect number of divine order. The tithe Abraham gave to Melchizedek and Saul's tax on the people were both "one-tenth":
Hebrews 7:1-4 - For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated "king of righteousness," and then also king of Salem, meaning "king of peace," without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils.
1 Samuel 8:15-18 - "He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day."
When the people returned from exile, one-tenth of the people, including the leaders lived in Jerusalem:
Nehemiah 11:1-2 - Now the leaders of the people dwelt at Jerusalem; the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to dwell in Jerusalem, the holy city, and nine-tenths were to dwell in other cities. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.
So we see that "one-tenth" has to do with divinely appointed order. Interestingly, when Jesus healed ten lepers, only one-tenth gave glory to God. Perhaps it is a symbolic act of reparation for the nine lepers who did not glorify God, that nine-tenths of Jerusalem remain standing after the earthquake and its inhabitants give glory to God:
Luke 17:12-18 - Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?"
John tells us that 7,000 people die in the earthquake that strikes Jerusalem. This number is a multiple of seven, which means "perfection," and ten, which means "perfect divine order." This shows that the number of people who will die is divinely chosen. The number "7,000" appears in Scripture in only a handful of places. In a few passages, the number is found in lists of things counted (men of war - 2 Kings 24:16, horsemen - 1 Chronicles 18:4, charioteers - 1 Chronicles 19:18, talents of refined silver - 1 Chronicles 29:4, and sheep - 2 Chronicles 15:11, 30:24, Job 1:3). Since these items listed are among several others that are listed with different counts, the number "7,000" doesn't seem to have any significance. That said, there is one example that might be significant. Paul notes that God reserved 7,000 prophets who did not bow to Baal to show that He always keeps a believing Jewish remnant:
Romans 11:1-4 - I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down you altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life "? But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
Right after God told Elijah that He had reserved 7,000 prophets, He sent a prophet to Ahab to tell him that he would win a battle against the king of Syria where 7,000 Israelites killed 100,000 Syrians after seven days:
1 Kings 19:18 - "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him."
1 Kings 20:1, 13-15, 29 - Now Ben-Hadad the king of Syria gathered all his forces together; thirty-two kings were with him, with horses and chariots. And he went up and besieged Samaria, and made war against it.... Suddenly a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today, and you shall know that I am the LORD.' " So Ahab said, "By whom?" And he said, "Thus says the LORD: 'By the young leaders of the provinces.' " Then he said, "Who will set the battle in order?" And he answered, "You." Then he mustered the young leaders of the provinces, and there were two hundred and thirty-two; and after them he mustered all the people, all the children of Israel - seven thousand. And they encamped opposite each other for seven days. So it was that on the seventh day the battle was joined; and the children of Israel killed one hundred thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians in one day.
On the surface, this still might seem insignificant, but it is interesting to note that Jewish tradition cites the date of the golden calf incident and giving of the Law on Pentecost. Many believe it is no coincidence that 3,000 perished after the calf incident and 3,000 got saved on presumably on the same feast day of Pentecost, ten days after Jesus ascended to Heaven:
Exodus 32:17-20 - And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, "There is a noise of war in the camp." But he said: "It is not the noise of the shout of victory, Nor the noise of the cry of defeat, But the sound of singing I hear." So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses' anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it.
Exodus 32:25-28 - Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, "Whoever is on the LORD's side - come to me!" And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.'" So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day.
Acts 2:41 - Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
Correspondingly, God preserved 7,000 prophets and defeated the Syrians with only 7,000 Israelites after seven days, but 7,000 inhabitants of Jerusalem perish in an earthquake near the end of the 7-year Tribulation. In both cases of this divinely chosen number, God gets the glory. And similar to the groups of 3,000 rebels lost and 3,000 saints saved on Pentecost, God preserved 7,000 prophets in the past, but 7,000 rebels will perish in the future.
While the survivors of the earthquake in Jerusalem are afraid and give glory to God, it does not mean they all get saved, as the unbelieving Philistines gave glory to God (1 Samuel 6:5) and all people will eventually give glory to God whether they are believers or not:
Philippians 2:9-11 - Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
However, fear and giving God glory can certainly lead to salvation, or an angel wouldn't give the Gospel to the world at the end of the Tribulation, with the plea to fear God and give Him glory before God pours out His final judgment:
Revelation 14:6-7 - Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people - saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water."
Perhaps the two witnesses' resurrection and the earthquake become a turning point for some of the inhabitants in Jerusalem and they get saved, which means that there are some people in Jerusalem that don't take the mark of the beast because everyone that takes the mark is eternally damned (Revelation 14:9-11). It is difficult to see how anyone living in such a prominent city, and apparent center of beast worship during the Tribulation, will survive without the mark in the Tribulation. But if God can protect 7,000 prophets, He can also protect a remnant in Jerusalem who don't take the mark of the beast.
There is one item to note concerning the 7,000 killed in the earthquake that is lost in most English translations. The English word "people," as in "seven thousand people," is not in the Greek. Instead, John uses the word typically translated "names." Young's Literal Translation captures the essence of the Greek better, though the word for "men" isn't in the Greek either:
Revelation 11:13 (YLT) - And in that hour came a great earthquake, and the tenth of the city did fall, and killed in the earthquake were names of men--seven thousands, and the rest became affrighted, and they gave glory to the God of the heaven.
Here is a better example in Acts with the same Greek word for "names" that shows a distinct number of people:
Acts 1:15-17 - And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, "Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry."
As discussed in Revelation 3:1, "having a name" in Scripture shows notoriety. The congregants in the church of Sardis had a name, or reputation based on their own merit, but God identified a few "names" led by the Holy Spirit. It is interesting that Jesus ends His letter to Sardis with a promise to not blot out names of overcomers from the Book of Life:
Revelation 3:1-5 - And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, 'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.'"
While we can't possibly know the hearts of those "names" who perish in the earthquake, it is intriguing that Christ confesses "names" that are not blotted out of the Book of Life before the Father, but He blots 7,000 "names" out of Jerusalem, suggesting that these were notable people of Jerusalem who worship the beast and not God. Perhaps the 7,000 are dignitaries under the beast or celebrities who lead the people into revelry and prevent the two witnesses' burial. Either way, it is certainly ironic that 7,000 names are buried in an earthquake after the world refuses to bury the two witnesses.
15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"
18 The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth."
Recall from Revelation 8:13 and 9:12, that a woe can describe grief, affliction, anguish, deep distress, and lamentation. We find these three woes are not just cries of distress like those expressed by the prophets in the Old Testament. In context of judgment, "woe" characterizes enormity of what will befall the inhabitants of the earth. In other words, these three woes are specific judgments that are increasingly severe, compared to other judgments already come.
As discussed in Revelation 8:13, the fifth, sixth, and seventh Trumpet judgments are the three woes:
Revelation 8:13 - And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!"
Revelation 9:12-13 - One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things. Then the sixth angel sounded...
Revelation 11:14-15 - The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly. Then the seventh angel sounded...
The seventh Trumpet is the "coronation of the King," but Jesus does not return to rule as King until the Bowl judgments and God's wrath are complete. Therefore, it is generally accepted that the last Trumpet judgment, or the final "woe," is God's final wrath and includes all the Bowl judgments that herald the return of the King:
Revelation 15:1 - Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.
This makes sense, as the calamity after the Bowl judgments is the worst "woe" ever experienced on Earth. The last "woe" completes the "coronation of the King" in the seventh Trumpet discussed in the next section, when Jesus returns to Earth to rule as King after God's wrath is complete:
Revelation 19:11, 15-16 - Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.... Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
The last and third woe will come quickly. As discussed in Revelation 3:11, the Greek word translated "quickly" means swift, speedily, or without delay. In other words, the Bowl judgments in the third woe will occur rapidly, which supports God pouring them out over the course of a few days or weeks at the end of the Tribulation, as discussed in Revelation 11:3, and not spread over years as some believe.
Revelation 11:15 - Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"
After the angel sounds the seventh trumpet, Heaven announces that Jesus is about to come and set up His Kingdom on Earth. These verses describe His dominion:
Psalms 22:28 - For the kingdom is the LORD's, and He rules over the nations.
Psalms 72:8 - He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Zechariah 14:9 - And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be "The LORD is one," and His name one.
Recall from Revelation 8:2, the only other place in Scripture we see seven trumpets is in the capture of Jericho:
Joshua 6:2-6 - And the LORD said to Joshua: "See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him." Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, "Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD."
Joshua 6:7-10 - And he said to the people, "Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the LORD." So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the LORD advanced and blew the trumpets, and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets. Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, "You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, 'Shout!' Then you shall shout."
Joshua is a type of Jesus. In fact, the name "Joshua" in Hebrew is "Yeshua," which transliterates to Jesus. The seven priests are a type of the seven angels who announce judgment by sounding seven trumpets. The Hebrew people were silent until the sounding of the trumpets. After the priests sounded the trumpets, the people shouted and God destroyed Jericho and Joshua took the city. Likewise, after a "half-hour of silence," seven angels will sound seven trumpets, and after the seventh trumpet Heaven will shout in a loud voice what is about to take place - God will destroy the kingdoms of this world in His wrath in the Bowl judgments and His Son will reign over the earth:
Psalms 2:1-12 - Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion." "I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.' " Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
1 Corinthians 15:24-28 - Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
The Lord's Kingdom on Earth will last forever:
Isaiah 9:7 - Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Daniel 2:44 - And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
Daniel 6:26 - I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end.
Daniel 7:14 - Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.
Luke 1:32-33 - "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
In short, the seventh Trumpet judgment is the coronation of the "King of kings" (Revelation 19:16) right before He physically returns to Earth to begin His eternal reign. At the coronations of Judah's kings they blew the trumpet, or the horn, and the people erupted in jubilation:
1 Kings 1:39-40 - Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said, "Long live King Solomon!" And all the people went up after him; and the people played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with their sound.
2 Chronicles 23:11-13 - And they brought out the king's son, put the crown on him, gave him the Testimony, and made him king. Then Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and said, "Long live the king!" Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she came to the people in the temple of the LORD. When she looked, there was the king standing by his pillar at the entrance; and the leaders and the trumpeters were by the king. All the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets, also the singers with musical instruments, and those who led in praise....
Similarly, after the angel blows the seventh trumpet, Heaven erupts in praise and worship, celebrating the King who is about to come to Earth to rule. The coronation continues through the end of the chapter.
As a side note, the seventh and last Trumpet judgment is not the "last trumpet" of the rapture:
1 Corinthians 15:52 - ...in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
The "last trumpet" is the voice of God, not an angel heralding judgment:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 - For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Psalms 47:5 - God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Revelation 1:10, 12-13 - I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet.... Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.
The Lord also spoke with a voice of a trumpet when He called Moses up to the mountain and met with Israel:
Exodus 19:16-20 - Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
Therefore, the "first trumpet" was when God met with Israel and the "last trumpet" is when God calls the Church home. So we see that these trumpets have nothing to do with the Tribulation judgments. But the seventh and last Trumpet judgment is the "coronation of the King" and God's final wrath on the world in the Tribulation.
Revelation 11:16 - And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God...
The twenty-four elders continue the "coronation of the King," falling on their faces in worship and praise. The pattern of their worship suggests that the "loud voices in Heaven" who began the coronation in Revelation 11:15 are the living creatures, angels, and saints because the elders fall down after their "loud" praises:
Revelation 4:9-11 - Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created."
Revelation 5:11-14 - Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.
Revelation 7:9-12 - After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen."
Revelation 19:1-4 - After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, "Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her." Again they said, "Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!" And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, "Amen! Alleluia!"
For more on the twenty-four elders and who they represent, click here.
Revelation 11:17 - ...saying: "We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned."
The twenty-four elders give praise and thanksgiving to the "king of Kings" in His coronation. The following Psalm of Asaph shows that the saints give thanks because God will bring justice on the wicked, and He will also humble the wicked and exalt the righteous, as discussed in Revelation 11:12:
Psalms 75:1-10 - To the Chief Musician. Set to "Do Not Destroy." a Psalm of Asaph. A Song. We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks! For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near. "When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly. The earth and all its inhabitants are dissolved; I set up its pillars firmly. Selah "I said to the boastful, 'Do not deal boastfully,' And to the wicked, 'Do not lift up the horn. Do not lift up your horn on high; do not speak with a stiff neck.' " For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another. For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is fully mixed, and He pours it out; surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down. But I will declare forever, I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. "All the horns of the wicked I will also cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted."
The twenty-four elders call the Lord: "God Almighty," and the "one who is and who was and who is to come." Recall from Revelation 1:4, the title: "Who is and who was and who is to come" describes the eternal nature of the Lord (Micah 5:2, Isaiah 9:6, John 17:24). The Old Testament version of this eternal title for God is "from everlasting to everlasting" (1 Chronicles 16:36, Psalms 41:13, 90:2, 103:17, 106:48). As discussed in Revelation 1:8, the Greek word translated as "Almighty" can mean ruler of all, the one who holds all, the one exercising absolute dominion with unrestricted power, or "omnipotent," as translated in Revelation 19:6. In short, the title "Almighty" shows God's sovereignty. These titles are also found together in the following passages:
Revelation 1:8 - "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
Revelation 4:8 - The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"
Revelation 16:4-7 - Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying: "You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due." And I heard another from the altar saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments."
The Lord has always been all-powerful, but He has refrained from taking power over the Kingdoms of the world. However, when Christ returns, He will come in great power, tear down the worldly kingdoms, and set up His righteous Kingdom:
Mark 13:24-26 - "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
Daniel 7:13-14 - "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.
In our verse of discussion, the Greek form of the word "reigned" is aorist indicative active, meaning it is a verb that takes place at a point-in-time:
Revelation 11:17 - ...You have taken Your great power and reigned.
While aorist words are typically past tense, sometimes they are not. However, the Greek form of the word translated "have taken" is perfect indicative active, or a verb in the past tense, so it makes sense to take the aorist word in the same sentence in the past tense. In other words, after the angel blows the seventh trumpet, Jesus will take power and begin His reign after defeating the beast. The future indicative active verb "will reign" in Revelation 11:15, shows that His reign over the world is not complete until Jesus physically takes the kingdoms of the earth.
For example, God chose David as king over all Israel and rejected Saul (1 Samuel 15:26-28). Even though Saul continued to rule, David was the true king of Israel. As soon as Saul died, David began to reign. However, David initially reigned only over Judah for the first 7 ½ years. The rest of Israel paid tribute to Saul's son Ishbosheth during that time (2 Samuel 2:8-11). David's reign over the full kingdom was not complete until Saul's house fell (2 Samuel 4-5).
While the Lord created all dominions and powers (Colossians 1:16) and always had the power to reign, He has not taken power to reign yet, but has allowed Satan to rule the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8-9), just as David had a few opportunities to kill Saul and take the power to rule, but he did not (1 Samuel 24 & 26). In the Tribulation, Satan will give his power to the beast and he will reign over the kingdoms of the world during the last half of the Tribulation (Revelation 17). Then Jesus will begin to take power to conquer the kingdoms He already has sovereignty over after defeating the beast by resurrecting the two witnesses. Similarly, David did not reign until Saul died and did not take power to rule over all of Israel until the house of Saul fell, even though he was the rightful king for years before he began to rule.
The fact that Jesus relinquished His authority to Satan and the beast until He defeats them, is more evidence that the two witnesses' ministry and Trumpet judgments cover most of the second half of the Tribulation and not the first half, as discussed in Revelation 11:3, because Jesus takes the power to reign after He defeats the beast, who has authority for forty-two months until his defeat (Revelation 13:5). The "coronation of the King" after the angel blows the seventh Trumpet fits this timeline. In short, while Jesus begins His rule in Heaven, the "coronation of the King" in the seventh Trumpet judgment shows He is about to return and completely defeat His enemies so He can firmly establish His rule and reign on Earth.
Revelation 11:18 - "The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth."
The twenty-four elders continue to praise and worship the "king of Kings" in His coronation. They summarize what the King will do now that He has started His reign. First, He will finish the wrath that started at the beginning of the Tribulation in the Seal judgments, as discussed in Revelation 6:17:
Revelation 6:15-17 - And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
Due to affliction in the Tribulation judgments, the nations become angry:
Psalms 2:1-12 - Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion." "I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.' " Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
In God's final wrath, people become so enraged that they blaspheme God and gather together in a vain plot to battle against the King of kings:
Revelation 16:9, 11, 21 - And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.... They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.... And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
Revelation 19:11, 16, 29 - Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war..... And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS..... And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
Psalms 46:6-10 - The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah Come, behold the works of the LORD, who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
After the Lord completes His wrath, He will judge His people:
Psalms 50:1-6 - A Psalm of Asaph. The Mighty One, God the LORD, has spoken and called the earth from the rising of the sun to its going down. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all around Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people: "Gather My saints together to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice." Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is Judge. Selah
God resurrects and judges the saints who died in the Tribulation. These saints are part of the "first resurrection." The "first resurrection" is to eternal life. Therefore, the second kind of resurrection is to eternal death, which is the "second death" and punishment of the lost (Revelation 20:11-15):
Revelation 20:4-6 - And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
The Tribulation saints' resurrection includes the Jewish believers who died:
Daniel 12:1-3 - "At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.
The Lord judges the Tribulation saints and Jewish believers based on their works just as He judges the Church saints on their works after the rapture, as discussed in "The Pre-Tribulation Rapture" study:
2 Corinthians 5:10 - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Revelation 22:12 - "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work."
When God judges the righteous dead He gives them rewards (Psalm 58:10-11), but the rest of the dead only receive punishment:
Revelation 20:11-15 - Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Therefore, unbelievers are not in view in the judgment cited by the twenty-four elders, because only believers receive rewards from the Lord. Also, this judgment is specific to dead saints and prophets, though the Lord will judge both the living and the dead in His Kingdom (2 Timothy 4:1). The Lord judges the saints who survive the Tribulation in the "Sheep and Goat judgment" and enter the Kingdom without dying:
Matthew 25:31-34,41,46 - "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world....' "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels....' And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
The saints who die in the Tribulation also enter the Kingdom. The Lord resurrects these dead saints and rewards them as overcomers who will rule and reign with Christ on the earth over those who survive the Tribulation and are born in the Millennium:
Revelation 21:7 - He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
Revelation 20:6 - Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
The dead saints who the Lord resurrects and rewards include His servants the prophets and the rest of the saints who fear the Lord's name, which describes His character and who He is (Revelation 3:1). These saints are small and great, of all statures, as defined in Revelation 13:16 and 19:18:
Psalms 115:11-16 - You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield. The LORD has been mindful of us; He will bless us; He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless those who fear the LORD, both small and great. May the LORD give you increase more and more, you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's; but the earth He has given to the children of men.
Malachi 3:14-18 - "You have said, 'It is useless to serve God; what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the LORD of hosts? So now we call the proud blessed, for those who do wickedness are raised up; they even tempt God and go free.' " Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. "They shall be Mine," says the LORD of hosts, "On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him." Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.
On a side note, all the various resurrections and judgments can cause confusion for some. Some try to force all the resurrections and judgments into one event based on verses like these:
Acts 17:30-31 - Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
John 6:40, 44, 54 - And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.... No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.... Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
However, it is impossible to fit all these resurrections and judgments into one event. The following chart shows these different events and where they fit in the chronology of Revelation:
While the timing of the rapture is not clear in Revelation, the timing of the other resurrections and judgments that appear in Revelation prove that these are not all one event. Paul defines the appointed "day" of judgment:
2 Timothy 4:1, 8 - I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom.... Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
This "day" is not a literal twenty-four hour day, but a time that begins with the Lord's "appearing" at the rapture and spans the 7-year Tribulation and 1,000-year Kingdom Age, also known as the Millennium. Incidentally, the Lord sees 1,000 years on Earth as one day in Heaven, as discussed in the "Prophetic Patterns in Numbers" study:
Psalm 90:4 - For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.
2 Peter 3:8 - But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
In other words, the "day" of judgment, also called the "day of Lord," is equal to a thousand years on Earth in God's eyes. Strictly speaking, there will be at least 1,007 years between the rapture and the "Great White Throne" judgment, taking into account the length of the Tribulation and the Millennium between these two events. But since God rounds throughout Scripture, undoubtedly He still sees this period as one "day." This explanation harmonizes with the different resurrections and judgments all occurring at the "last day."
After the Lord judges and rewards His saints, He will "destroy those who destroy the earth." God did give Adam dominion over the earth and commissioned him to tend to the garden:
Genesis 1:26 - Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
Genesis 2:15 - Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
Man has certainly failed in maintaining good stewardship of the earth. Pollution, deforestation, and other abuses of the land are just a few black eyes on the human race. Widespread nuclear contamination from energy plants or nuclear warfare could potentially wipe out large parts of life on Earth. And if even a few of the many conspiracy theories are true, then more sinister powers are at work deliberately trying to destroy life on Earth. Truly life is fragile and humans do have an effect on the environment to some extent, but the Lord will return before we can annihilate ourselves:
Mark 13:19-20 - For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.
In our day, when the "global warming" or "climate change" propaganda teaches us that humans are wrecking the environment that could lead to our demise, it is easy to see how one might interpret this verse to mean that God is going to judge the earth because man has ruined the environment and potentially could wipe out life on this planet. However, there is no place in Scripture that supports this notion. Also, consider that those who promote "global warming" with insufficient or skewed data are typically the same people who put the creation before God:
Romans 1:20 - For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man - and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
So how is the earth destroyed by men? It isn't. The Greek word for "destroy" is also translated as "corrupt," as shown in this passage:
1 Timothy 6:3-5 - If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
This meaning for the word "destroy" brings to mind the Flood and why God destroyed the earth:
Genesis 6:6-13 - And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
We saw in Revelation 9 how morally corrupt the world becomes by the end of the Tribulation:
Revelation 9:20-21 - But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
The world will also become filled with violence as it was in Noah's day. In addition to the widespread violence depicted in Revelation 6:4 that starts at the beginning of the Tribulation, and the massacre of the saints throughout the Tribulation, the beast who is the "king of the North" will try to destroy the world:
Daniel 11:40-44 - "At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels. But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.
There was another "king of the North" who set out to destroy the earth in conquest - the king of Babylon. God used Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon to judge the nations for their corrupt ways, including Israel:
Jeremiah 25:6-9 - Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will not harm you.' Yet you have not listened to Me," says the LORD, "that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt. "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Because you have not heard My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' says the LORD, 'and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations.
Ezekiel 20:39, 43-44 - "As for you, O house of Israel," thus says the Lord GOD: "Go, serve every one of you his idols - and hereafter - if you will not obey Me; but profane My holy name no more with your gifts and your idols.... And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have dealt with you for My name's sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel," says the Lord GOD.' "
Just as God judged Nebuchadnezzar, He will judge the last "king of the North" and destroy the kingdoms of the world:
Daniel 2:31-35 - "You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image's head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
Daniel 2:44-45 - And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold - the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure."
Nebuchadnezzar was also a destroying mountain, but his kingdom fell and God rejected him as the cornerstone for the eternal kingdom:
Jeremiah 51:24-26 - "And I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all the evil they have done in Zion in your sight," says the LORD. "Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, who destroys all the earth," says the LORD. "And I will stretch out My hand against you, roll you down from the rocks, and make you a burnt mountain. They shall not take from you a stone for a corner nor a stone for a foundation, but you shall be desolate forever," says the LORD.
Jesus Christ, the King of kings, is the destroying mountain and chief cornerstone who will judge the world, reward his saints, and destroy those who corrupt the earth:
Luke 20:17-18 - Then He looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written: 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone?' Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder."
Isaiah 28:16-17 - Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily. Also I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the plummet; the hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters will overflow the hiding place.
Revelation 11:19 - Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.
After the "coronation of the King" that started in Revelation 11:15, the temple of God in Heaven opens, revealing the ark of His covenant. This is not the ark of the covenant made by Moses which held the ten commandments; this is the heavenly ark that set the pattern for the earthly ark:
Hebrews 8:4-5 - For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."
The heavenly ark is in the Most Holy Place in the heavenly temple, where Jesus offered His blood to redeem men:
Hebrews 9:11-12 - But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
The ark of the covenant serves as a sign for Israel. Just as the temple reminded Israel of their iniquity, as discussed in Revelation 11:1, the ark of the covenant also reminds Israel of their corruption. The contents in the ark stood as a testimony of their rebellion against God:
Deuteronomy 31:26-27 - "Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you; for I know your rebellion and your stiff neck. If today, while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD, then how much more after my death?
Numbers 17:10 - And the LORD said to Moses, "Bring Aaron's rod back before the Testimony, to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put their complaints away from Me, lest they die."
Exodus 16:33 -34 - And Moses said to Aaron, "Take a pot and put an omer of manna in it, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations." As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
Numbers 11:4-10 - Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: "Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!" Then Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, everyone at the door of his tent; and the anger of the LORD was greatly aroused; Moses also was displeased.
Numbers 11:31-33 - Now a wind went out from the LORD, and it brought quail from the sea and left them fluttering near the camp, about a day's journey on this side and about a day's journey on the other side, all around the camp, and about two cubits above the surface of the ground. And the people stayed up all that day, all night, and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers); and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was aroused against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very great plague.
After Israel turns back to God, acknowledging their transgression against God's covenant, the ark of the covenant will no longer come to mind:
Jeremiah 3:13-17 - Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice,' says the LORD. "Return, O backsliding children," says the LORD; "for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. "Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days," says the LORD, "that they will say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. "At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts.
God will make a new covenant with Israel, and the Law will no longer be kept in an ark, but written on the hearts of men in a new covenant:
Jeremiah 31:31-34 - "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah - not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
The ark is a reminder of the covenant between Israel and God, which Israel broke, but the Gentiles broke the everlasting covenant God made with Noah:
Isaiah 24:5-6 - The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left.
Genesis 9:16-17 - "The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." And God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth."
This everlasting covenant defiled by the inhabitants of the earth is also known as the "natural law," where the laws God placed in nature help guide the conscience, acting as a law to follow for those not under the Mosaic Law:
Romans 2:12-16 - For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
God will judge the world for breaking the everlasting covenant. God judges the world in the Tribulation from His throne in the heavenly temple, as shown throughout Revelation and in the following Psalm:
Psalms 11:4-7 - The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The LORD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.
An earthquake and great hail follow the lightnings, noises, and thunderings in Heaven. As discussed in Revelation 11:13, earthquakes stand as fearful signs from God among other catastrophes. Massive hail, like that which God dumped on the Egyptians, not only wiped out all vegetation, but also had the power to kill (Exodus 9). The earthquake and great hail storm before the Bowl judgments is merely a taste of the earthquake and hail storm after the Bowl judgments:
Revelation 16:17-18, 20-21 - Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
The noises, thunderings, and lightnings that follow the revealing of the ark of the covenant in Heaven also appear before the Seal judgments and the Trumpet judgments, and after the Bowl judgments:
The narrative of the Bowl judgments begins in Revelation 15, but first we will go through a second interlude that covers additional events that occur during the last half of the Tribulation, as discussed at the beginning of Revelation 11.
In conclusion, it is fitting that the ark of the covenant appears as a sign to Israel at the end of this interlude near the end of the Tribulation, because the next chapter takes us back to the middle of the Tribulation with another sign in Heaven. After this sign, God calls out a Jewish remnant who will enter the Kingdom when the King of kings returns to lead them:
Micah 2:12-13 - "I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, like a flock in the midst of their pasture; they shall make a loud noise because of so many people. The one who breaks open will come up before them; they will break out, pass through the gate, and go out by it; their king will pass before them, with the LORD at their head."
Unless Jesus Does First
Revelation Flow Chart:
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