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The Seventh Angel Sounds
In the Bible God often describes events from more than one perspective, thereby providing additional information which helps immensely in interpreting and understanding scripture. We see this in the story of creation in the first and second chapters of Genesis, as well as in the NT gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This is a technique used also in the book of Revelation. As we begin this chapter we note that the vision reverts to the time near the close of the period identified earlier as the beginning of sorrows (see Table 1). Revelation 11 begins with John being given a reed with which to measure the temple of God, the altar, and those that worship therein. He is told to leave out the court located outside of the temple, for it is given to the gentile nations to trample underfoot for 42 months. In this passage of scripture the temple and altar are thought to refer to the Holy Place (Sanctuary) and the Holy of Holies. The outer court is the large enclosure that encloses the temple where all Israelites could come to worship. We understand from this that God claims as His own and protects the temple (the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies), and those that worship therein, but the antichrist’s confederacy (gentile nations) will be in control of Jerusalem (everything outside the temple) until the time that Christ returns to earth. When God measures something it usually means that He is about to claim ownership: He wants to establish clearly 114
what He is claiming and what He commits Himself to protect. To God, the temple is the believers who are committed to, and worship within, the temple. Revelation 11:3-13 tells about two witnesses in Jerusalem, whose prophesies start during the period we have identified as “The Beginning of Sorrows”, after the antichrist begins his persecution of the Jews and continues for fortytwo months, ending just before the seventh angel sounds. “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed with sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, 115
and make merry, and shall send gifts to one another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwell on the earth. And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them that saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them; Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. In this scripture we see God fulfilling prophecy by bringing His two witnesses to prophesy and preach the gospel. They are described as the two olive trees and two candlesticks: very similar to the description of the Golden Candlestick located in the Sanctuary of the Tabernacle, that symbolizes the continuous existence, uninterrupted worship, and unceasing light provided by God’s people. This seems appropriate to the mission of these two witnesses who make a last appeal to the Jews in Jerusalem, and others throughout the world that hear their prophesies through the medium of radio and television, to receive Christ. Their ministry is accompanied by miracles, undoubtedly to validate their message. When they have finished their work, the antichrist is given power to kill them, and their bodies are left in the street for three-and-one-half days, probably for the antichrist to make the most political mileage he can out of what he 116
sees as a great victory. Imagine his chagrin when after the three-and-one-half days the two witnesses arise and stand on their feet, and at the beckoning call of a voice from heaven, they ascend in a cloud. What had appeared as a great victory for the antichrist was turned into a great defeat. The question associated with the two witnesses is, who are they? The names most often heard in response to this question are Moses, Elijah, and Enoch. Neither Elijah nor Enoch died, thus they are considered candidates. Moses died, but was buried by God, thus he is considered a possibility. Moses was also the prophet associated with the plagues in Egypt. Since the two witnesses have power to smite the earth with plagues, Moses has more than one reason for being considered. Likewise, Elijah prophesied and it did not rain in Israel for three years. This is similar to the miracle performed by the two witnesses when they shut heaven for the period of their prophecy. Moses and Elijah were both with Jesus at the transfiguration, which may be another argument in favor of their being the two witnesses. Malachi 4:5-6 also predicts that Elijah will appear on earth before the great and terrible day of the Lord. John 1:21 also supports the contention that Elijah and/or Moses was expected to return to the earth in the future. Although we do not know the identity of these two witnesses for certain, the preponderance of the evidence seems to point to Moses and Elijah. When these two witnesses ascended up to heaven there was a great earthquake and a tenth of the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, and 7,000 men were slain. This frightened the Jewish remnant and caused them to glorify God. Al117
though the remnant had supposedly fled to the wilderness earlier, near the middle of the seven-year period, they are apparently close enough to Jerusalem to feel the effect of the earthquake, and to be aware of the events concerning the two witnesses. They appear to be drawing nearer to God and His Christ as a result of these events. Revelation 11:15-19 brings to a close Christ’s first telling of the events that occur during Daniel’s 70th week. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”
We see our Lord Jesus Christ claiming the kingdoms of the earth as His own in this passage of scripture, to reign forever and ever. Actually, as we will see in the retelling of this prophecy in Revelation 13 -22, Christ will reign as King over the earth for 1000 years, and will then assume His reign in the new heaven and new earth, forever. As we noted in Revelation 10:7, when the seventh angel prepares to sound, God’s kingdom will no longer be within man’s heart, as it is in this present day, and shortly thereafter Christ will assume His reign with and over us as our earthly King, who can be touched, embraced, and worshipped: we can talk to Him face-to-face. Although there are no details of the battle of Armageddon in this passage, we see that this chapter brings the seven-year period to a close, for the time of the judgment is at hand, the time for God to reward His saints, and the time for God to destroy those that destroyed the earth. There has been considerable interest, and no small amount of conjecture in recent years about what happened to the Ark of the Covenant, herein referred to as the Ark of His Testament. The Ark was symbolic of God’s presence, and it was located in the Holy of Holies within the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple built by Solomon. According to scripture the Ark contained the two tables of stone inscribed with the ten commandments (Ex. 25:21; De. 10:3-5), a pot of manna, Aaron’s rod that blossomed, and the book of the law (Ex. 16:33-34; De. 31:26; and Heb. 9:4). In spite of the conjecture about its location, the whereabouts of the Ark have remained unknown since the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans in 586 BC. We assume that 119
God removed His presence from Israel at this time, reappearing as the Anointed One (Jesus) in 4 BC. With the crucifixion of Jesus in 30 AD, God turned His attention to the church, the bride of Christ. Although God was no longer represented by the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple after 586 BC, the Jewish nation remained God’s chosen, the apple of His eye. God’s covenants are everlasting, and he brings them to fruition in spite of our failures and rebellion. In the book of Revelation we see God calling the Jewish people to recognize Jesus as the Messiah through the efforts of the two witnesses, and the sealing of the 144,000 virgins. God promises to save a remnant (one-third) of the Jews at the end of this seven-year period. To return to the above scripture, how can the Ark of the Covenant be in heaven when the last mention of it was seemingly with the Chaldeans? The Ark represents God’s presence and it seems logical that it should be in heaven where God is in His throne room. During the OT when God led the Israelites, He ministered to them spiritually through His presence in the Holy of Holies, where He would be seated on the mercy seat, the cover over the Ark. During the church age, God is present within believers in the person of the Holy Spirit; He is no longer seated on the mercy seat ministering through the high priest to the Israelite nation. The vision of the Ark in the temple is the first time that a material artifice from earth has been mentioned as being in heaven, so it stretches our understanding of the nature and material substance of created things to another level. God could have transported the Ark from earth to heaven, but more likely the Chaldeans destroyed the earthly Ark (only with 120
God's permission, of course), and what is observed here is a heavenly, or perfected (resurrected) version.
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