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Bible Study: The Book of the Revelation – LESSON 10

Calvary Bible Church Bible Study

The Book of the Revelation

 

LESSON 10:

THE SEVENTH TRUMPET (THIRD WOE). 11:15–19.

vrs     15                Verses 15–18 return to the trumpet judgments, last dealt with at 9:21.  Verse 19, it is generally agreed, belongs to the next chapter and the additional details that follow in the subsequent chapters. The seventh seal and the seventh trumpet are similar in that no judgment is directly announced under them (8:1; 11:15–18). Nothing is spoken of as coming from the sounding of the seventh trumpet; it is wrapped in silence. But loud voices in heaven have a vital declaration to make before the details of the last trumpet are revealed in the seven vials (bowls) of wrath in chapter 16. The heavenly announcement proclaims that the kingdom of this world (Greek “basileia” is singular, as in the New American Standard Bible, not plural as in the AUTHORIZED VERSION) has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.  This goes along with the idea that the scroll with the seven seals was a “title deed” that is now transferred.  The seventh trumpet does not bring in the kingdom; it only shows its proximity. The kingdom should be in the singular, because under earth’s final sinister political leader there will be an amalgamation of all kingdoms into one universal kingdom. Christ’s reign will be eternal. If His rule is eternal, then how can it be a thousand years, millennial reign? He rules a thousand years (20:1–7) IN TIME to vindicate and execute God’s purposes for earth, as well as to fulfill certain promises made to Israel and to the Messiah; then that kingdom is merged into the eternal kingdom. Verse 15 speaks of the kingdom anticipatively, as a preview; the actual realization is to be seen in chapters 19–20.

Referencing this seventh trumpet as being the LAST trumpet to sound, we also see in this culmination and transfer of kingdom a MAJOR event; the Rapture of the Church, taking all of God’s redeemed out of the earth so that the wrath of God which is to fall on the entire earth in the vial judgments will not fall on any of God’s children, as a fulfillment of Romans 5:8-9, 1st Thessalonians 1:9-10, and 1st Thessalonians 5:9-11.  Also, the timing of this event is given as being at the LAST trumpet, as per 1st Corinthians 15:50-58, and Matthew 24:29-31.

vrs     16–18                    As in chapter 4, the four and twenty elders worship God.  Exuberant praise is rendered that God is finally consummating events on earth and reigns in omnipotence.  Five significant factors are fulfilled at that time:

(1)   The rage of the nations. They have exhibited defiance and     arrogance against God many times before, but now it has reached its culmination (16:13–16; 19:19; Psalm 2). Here is the reason for the great battle.

(2)   The wrath of God. No longer will the patience of God be manifest.       The hour of His vengeance will have arrived (Psalm 2:5;  2nd Thess.  1:7–8).

(3)   The judgment of the dead. This is probably a reference to the future Great White Throne judgment (chapter 20).

(4)   The rewarding of the godly. It will take place at the resurrection of the righteous in the first resurrection (chapter 20).

(5)   The destruction of the destroyers of the earth. The reference amply covers those who carry out their evil purposes in the Tribulation Period.

vrs     19                “The temple of God was opened in heaven.”   With this verse John resumes the entire history from a different viewpoint, i.e., that of the chief participants in the soon-coming events.  A good number of scholars connect this verse with the next three chapters, thus making yet another parenthetical passage from 11:19–14:20, before the unveiling of the vial judgments in chapters 15–16.  There is much to be said in favor of this position.  God is seen in the full reality of HIS Temple (not the “shadows” of the ones made here on earth by man’s hands) and there is still judgment ahead as evidenced by the lightnings, voices, thunderings, earthquake, and great hail.

 

The Woman, the Red Dragon, and the Child. 12:1–6.

 

vrs     1–2              The great wonder in heaven is something pointing to a definite subject or object. The woman is actually on earth; but the wonder or sign is seen in heaven, so that God’s purposes concerning her may be made known from heaven. Two distinct features are indicated concerning her: her clothing and her condition. The sun … the moon … a crown of twelve stars. She is clothed brilliantly with the heavenly bodies and a crown; she is a mother with child and is in labor. When the Revelation is studied, it will be seen that the book pictures four women, all of them in a representative capacity. In 2:20 the woman Jezebel was seen, not only in her individual and historic position, but as representing the clerical (separate priesthood) system at its highest, such as in the papal system, or other female-based “goddess” religions (including much of the New Age and Earth Mother movements).  In 17:1 the great whore, as will be shown later, is all corrupt, apostate religious systems, especially professing (but false) Christendom. The wife, the church in heaven, is indicated in 19:7.  The fourth woman is considered in verses 1–2. Various views of her identity have been put forth. There are three positions as follows: (1) She is the virgin Mary. Nowhere in Scripture is Mary pictured as in verse I. She is not portrayed in the Gospels as verse 4 indicates. There is no biblical ground to believe Mary underwent the experience of verse 6. Moreover, how could verse 17 apply to her? She does not fit the picture. (2) She is the church. This view has many adherents and defenders.   H. Alford; Matthew Henry; J. A. Seiss represent this view, along with numerous others. The difficulty here is that the church did not give birth to Christ; He is the builder of the church (cf. Matthew 16:18) and its foundation (cf. I Corinthians 3:11). (3) Many commentators (including myself) hold the woman is Israel. A. T. Robertson  holds that John must have had Isaiah 7:14 in mind. Even more, under the direction of the Spirit, he knew Isaiah 9:6; 66:7–8; Micah 5:2; and Romans 9:4–5. The sun, moon, and stars indicate a complete system of government and remind the reader of Genesis 37:9. God had caused royal dignity to rest in Israel in the line of David. The number twelve appears with the twelve patriarchs, twelve disciples, and twelve thrones (cf. Matthew 19:28). In verse 1 Israel is seen, not as she has been or is now, but as she will be. It is the nation as God had intended her to be, a condition that will be fulfilled in the reign of her Messiah. When the child, who is Christ, was born, the people of Israel were not in a place of power and dignity, but under the yoke of Roman domination.

 

vrs     3–4              The scene now shifts to heaven where another wonder is closely observed. The symbol is a great red dragon. It is called great because it is not a minor or insignificant creature. He has great power. He is red because he is eager and ready to shed blood. A dragon is a winged (for speed) serpent (for deception). The figure is meant to bear out great cruelty and hatred. Undoubtedly, this is Satan (cf. vs. 9 and 20:2). This is the first place in the Bible where Satan is called a dragon. But the description is enlarged: (1) he has seven heads; (2) ten horns; and (3) seven crowns. Some try to connect the seven heads with the seven great world monarchies of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Roman Empire in its restored condition (cf. J. A. Seiss).  A head is a symbol of wisdom; seven speaks of fullness and completion. Satan is indeed wise and powerful. Horns represent power in Scripture (cf. I Sam 2:1; Zecheriah 1:18–21; especially Dan 7:7–8, 24–25; Rev 13:1; 17:3, 12–16). Ten is the number of universality, and the goal of Satan is nothing less than world domination. Such is his objective, as will be seen in chapter 13. The seven crowns indicate Satan’s objective to be crowned; he would reign over all men at all costs.  The tail symbolizes delusive power (cf. Isaiah 9:15), which Satan uses to accomplish the moral ruin of those in highest position (in this specific case, the angels at the time of their rebellion against God, with those fallen angels becoming demons). But he is not successful with all, only a third. Upon whom was the venom of Satan to be poured out? The answer is clear: the woman’s child as soon as it was born (cf. Matthew 2 with Genesis 3:15). Herod was merely a tool of Satan’s power, but he was nevertheless responsible.

 

vrs     5–6              The identity of the woman and her child is assured beyond question in verse 5. The man child is to rule (Greek “poimainoµ”, to shepherd) all nations with a rod of iron: He is unmistakably the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Ps 2:7, 9). As the Son of Man, He has sovereign rights of world rulership (cf. Ps 8; Dan 7:13-14). What is remarkable is that the entire period in the life of Christ from His birth until His ascension is omitted here. But, as has been seen many times in Scripture, the record contains not only history, but divine history, and that from a specific viewpoint. History as such is not the aim, but the moral and spiritual purpose of God in the earth. The church age is omitted also in verse 6 because the purpose of God in Israel is at the center of the book. What the woman in Genesis 3 was not able to accomplish, namely, victory over Satan, the woman here did accomplish in her all-victorious, ascended Lord.

Again, a large span of history is not mentioned, that is, from the ascension of the Savior to the flight of Israel in the Tribulation Period. Here is proof again that from the vantage point of the Old Testament the entire church age is an unrevealed mystery (cf. Ephesians 3:1–7). The same satanic fury unleashed at the birth of Christ is still operative against the godly of the nation that gave Him birth. A place prepared of God, that they should feed her. The same faithful Father, who watched over His people in the time of the Savior’s birth, provides a place and nourishment from the relentless fury of the dragon. A wilderness is a place lacking human resources. It may have reference to Ezekiel 20:35, but there is no valid reason why it cannot refer to the literal wilderness south-east of the holy city, Jerusalem.  Some literalist commentators refer to the city of Petra as the designated place of refuge.  Petra [PET ruh] (rock) is situated about 170 miles southwest of modern Amman and about 50 miles south of the Dead Sea. Petra is not mentioned by name in the Bible, but many scholars believe it was the same place as Sela (Judges. 1:36; 2 Kin. 14:7).  Petra is one of the most spectacular archaeological ruins in the Near East and is a popular attraction on Holy Land tours. Most of the buildings and tombs of Petra are cut into the rose-red rock cliffs of the area.  Petra’s ruins consist of about 750 monuments, most of them dating from the second half of the first century B.C. to the second century after Christ. In A.D. 131 the Roman emperor Hadrian (ruled A.D. 117–38) visited the city and ordered construction to begin on the so-called treasury, which has been called “Petra’s gem”—a temple to Isis.  Many ruins of Roman construction may be seen at Petra: a triumphal arch, an amphitheater, remains of baths, temples, tombs, and sections of a road. Above the city is the great high place, containing sacrificial altars hewn from the solid rock. Such open-air sanctuaries have thrown light on the High Places mentioned in the Old Testament.  Petra is reached from the west by ascending the Wadi Musa and passing through a narrow, high-walled gorge, known as the Siq. Over a mile in length, this gorge provided Petra with excellent defense. The city is situated in a basin that is about 3,000 feet wide and about one mile long. The city is surrounded by massive sandstone cliffs of a dark red color.    The time of the fulfillment of this vision is the latter half of the Tribulation (1,260 days), what Daniel refers to as the “final period of the indignation” (NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE) In the AUTHORIZED VERSION Daniel 8:19 reads “the last end of the indignation.” Chronologically, verses 7–12 occur before the flight of the woman into the wilderness and explain, at least in part, the reason for the flight.

 

 

War in Heaven. 12:7–17.

This conflict is not said to be a sign, because the presence of Satan in heaven is a reality (cf. Ephesians 6:10–12). The first step in the execution of the final judgment on Satan is depicted here.

 

vrs     7–8              In this section of the chapter another important personality of the Tribulation is introduced, namely, Michael the archangel. Notice these features:

(1) His name. It means “Who is like God?” This bears testimony to the                            uniqueness of the God he serves.

(2) He is clearly designated as “the archangel” (cf. Jude 9). Nowhere in                           Scripture is there a plural to this noun (cf. I Thessalonians 4:16                               Jude 9).

(3) He has the added description of “the great prince” (cf. Dan 12:1).

(4) He has power even to challenge Satan (cf. Jude 9).

(5) He has angels at his command (cf. 12:7).

(6) He will be present at the Rapture of the church when it occurs (cf. I                            Thessalonians 4:16).

(7) He is the champion of Israel and the espouser of their cause (cf. 12:7;                       Dan 12:1).  He appears when they are in question and their                                   interests are involved. His presence immediately alerts the reader                              that the events relate to Israel and her enemies.

 

It is unusual to read of war in heaven, a place where peace and bliss prevail. But here the ultimate doom of Satan must begin, just as his first sin did (cf. Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12–15). In pre-time, his early fall was from the immediate presence of God to the second heaven (cf. Ephesians 6:10–12). Just as Michael has a retinue of angels at his command, Satan has his followers. The battle will be no dress rehearsal or sham encounter; it will be mortal conflict. But Satan, already defeated at Calvary, is no match for Michael and his angels.  “Neither was their place found any more in heaven.” The weaker foe will be permanently dislodged, never to regain access to heaven. Doubtless, Christ foresaw this in Luke 10:17–18. Satan’s forceful eviction from heaven is a chief cause of the Great Tribulation. The three steps in Satan’s ultimate doom are in 12:9; 20:3; and 20:10.

 

vrs     9                  Twice it is stated that Satan … was cast out, and once that his angels were cast out with him. Now he will be identified to the full. First, he is the great dragon. Here power and cruelty are the forefront. Second, as that old serpent, called the Devil, he is the master of cunning, as with Eve in Eden. The added characterization, old (some versions have “ancient” or “original”), directly relates him to Genesis 3. In the Greek “Devil” (Diabolos) conveys the force of slanderer or false accuser. Recall his blasphemous insinuations concerning God in tempting Eve. “Satan” means the adversary or opposer. All these attributes are employed toward the one great objective of all his activities, namely, to deceive the entire world into worshipping him as god.

 

vrs     10–12                    In the Revelation, when earth mourns (cf. 18:11; 19:1), heaven rejoices, an indication of how out of tune with heaven the earth is. The loud voice … in heaven is not identified, but the message is filled with good news. The consummation of God’s gracious purposes for His people draws nearer. Satan is called the accuser of the brethren, and he is tireless at his occupation (cf. Job 1:11; 2:5; Zecheriah 3:1; Luke 22:31; see also I John 2:1 with its implications). The godly of all ages have been the target of his slander.  Surely, the 144,000 “sealed” Jews and the saved “saints” (cf. chapter. 7) will be especially the objects of his unbounded fury for his expulsion from heaven.  The manner of the victory of the godly over Satan, as has always been the case, and different from the victory of Michael and his angels, will be threefold:

1) the blood of the Lamb (their justification before God on that basis)

2) the word of their testimony (faithful witness) to the work and grace of God

3) and their willingness to be martyred (loved not their lives) for their faith.

 

No wonder heaven is called upon to rejoice. No earth-originated faith could accomplish this. But a warning is sounded. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea (heaven now being inviolate without the sinister presence of Satan and his own), in view of the increased wrath of the devil because he knows that he has only a short time to attempt to gain his goal of usurping God.

 

vrs     13–17                    Verses 7–12 explain why the woman had to flee and why Satan is so furious on earth. In short, verse 13 resumes the thread of thought in verse 6. If further proof were needed, it is to be found in a comparison of the notations of time in verses 6 and 14. They treat of the same time, namely, the Great Tribulation; the 1,260 days are identical with the three and a half years. (Note: in reckoning prophetic years, the Bible uses the Levitical year which is 360 days.) Throughout the account it is clear that the objective of the hatred of the dragon is the woman, Israel. What he could not accomplish at the birth of Christ, i.e., the extermination of the Savior, he now seeks to do by the persecution of Israel (vs. 13) and the remnant of her descendants (vs. 17).

But as the Lord undertook for Israel during His earthly ministry, so He does now. The wings of a great eagle are known for their strength; here they represent God’s enablement of the godly in Israel (perhaps as the result of the witness of the 144,000 among them). In Exodus 19:4 God indicated to Israel that He had borne them on eagles’ wings and had brought them into the wilderness, from the hostile Egyptians. Here He will grant them eagles’ wings to flee from Jerusalem to the wilderness to escape the deadly venom of their archenemy Satan. His past faithfulness is a pledge of His fidelity in the then present hour.  “She is nourished for a time.”  Nourishment (same as in vrs. 6) will be given to her in her extremity.   “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood.”  Satan does not relinquish his evil schemes so easily. In a final desperate thrust, he now tries to engulf the godly in Israel as by a flood. Continuing the symbolism, this may refer to Satan’s activating hostile nations on earth against the Jews. Again, he will be foiled by the alertness and activities of those who come to Israel’s aid. Defeated repeatedly, Satan’s rage will be unbounded. His goal now is to annihilate the remnant of her seed who remained in Jerusalem. That they are redeemed ones is manifest from the characterization of them in the last words of the chapter.

 

 

 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL:  I am NOT saying that the following material accurately predicts the timing of the mid-point of the Seventieth Week of Daniel.  I am merely providing it to demonstrate that we live in a time when the ACTUAL and LITERAL fulfillment of Biblical prophecy is very possible.  For generations, various “scholars” have insisted that the prophetic events in the Bible HAD to be symbolic, which allowed for a large number of interpretations (many of them completely contradictory) of the events.  However, God is not the author of confusion, and we must remember that the prophecies of the FIRST coming of Christ were fulfilled literally.  Thus, the closer to an actual and literal understanding of Scripture we hold, the more likely that we will be accurate.

 

Does Revelation Show The Tribulation Midpoint Celestial Date? (edited)

By Daniel Valles, 07/10/2013

In Revelation chapter 12, apparently at the mid-point of the Tribulation time, John gives an astronomical description that fits celestial events that will be in place several years into the future, within the prophetic framework and window that Christ has indicated He would return in.  We are going to look at some Scriptural guidelines, the celestial events, timeline and dates, thoughts as to whether they are symbolic or not, and then some concluding thoughts to dwell on.

 

 

Scriptural Guidelines

Christ told His disciples that the event that would mark the start of the end times countdown would be the re-formation of Israel (which happened in 1948). He then told His disciples that the same generation that saw this one event would also see the end of the prophetic events that He described to them – which included the Tribulation. He also told them that He would return for His saints (the Rapture) sometime within this generation, although He told them that no man knows that date.

In addition to the start event, He had clarified in previous scriptures that an average lifespan of a man is seventy years, eighty if they are healthy and strong (Psalm 90:10). So, here we are in 2013, with Israel having just celebrated their 65th anniversary. Keep in mind that some of this generation will also see the Tribulation, so we have to add that additional 7-year segment. This means we have just a few years maximum for Christ to return in.

Celestial Events

So, if this celestial event is the one spoken of in Revelation, we must make sure that it fits into the timeline. Revelation 12:1-3 says, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.” According to astronomy computer programs (stellarium.org), on September 23, 2017, the moon will be in position under the feet of Virgo (Virgo Constellation), the sun will be over the constellation overlaying it in sunlight (“clothed with the sun”), Jupiter will be between Virgo’s legs (“with child”) and Mercury, Mars, and Venus will be in alignment next to her head, adding three ‘stars’ to the constellation Leo, forming a crown of twelve above Virgo’s head. All four of these events and celestial bodies will be in place on that date, fitting John’s apparent description. This is a notable celestial event.

Also, the third verse makes another celestial observation of the Draco constellation, noting that it is “a great red dragon.” The constellation Draconis (The Dragon, or Serpent) is also called the red dragon because one of its stars (R Draconis) is a red Mira-type variable star – a pulsating variable star characterized by very red colors. It is a red giant star.

Now, as the chapter continues, it becomes clear that the imagery is used to illustrate that God will protect Israel during this time; however, the physical and visual events are first used and then explained what they mean.

In the very beginning of the Bible, at the very beginning of time (Genesis 1:14), God tells us what the stars are for: “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” It should not surprise us then that in the last book of the Bible, near the very end of time (Revelation 12), God uses stars as a sign and an indicator of year and day.  I think it is amazing that only as we are close to the threshold of time remaining in this generation that mankind and even the common man now has ready access to astronomical tools that can clearly show events that line up with this Biblical description in Revelation.

So, if this celestial event marks the mid-point of the Tribulation, on what date does it appear that the Antichrist would (possibly) sign the peace treaty?  Revelation 12:6 tells us that after this celestial event there will be a “…thousand two hundred and threescore days.” – this is 3.45 years. So, if we count backwards 1,295 days (time remaining from 7 years minus 1,260), that would bring us to March 8, 2014 as the possible signing of the peace treaty of Israel (give or take a day).  But, how do you know the description in Revelation 12 is not just symbolic?  While many Bible scholars are pretty much agreed that the narrative of this chapter describes God’s protection of Israel during this Tribulation time, there are several things that strongly suggest that the opening scene in the chapter is a literal, physical celestial scene that sparks the discussion and explanation and other references.

Firstly, several specific details are included in the description that are not referenced again during the chapter. For the woman, those details include: clothed with the sun, moon under her feet, crown of twelve stars upon her head. These are specific visual descriptions that are not referenced again. It is interesting to note that to an observer on earth, they will not be able to see this formation because the sun’s brightness will clothe the entire constellation during the day, and the moon will only be illuminated eleven percent. It will be more of a specific astronomical indication.

The dragon is interesting because it has several details as well.  The dragon being described as red, which is not mentioned again – anywhere in scripture. Eltanin, the brightest star in the constellation, is an orange giant star, with a companion red dwarf star.

The head of Draco actually does has seven stars (“seven heads”), even though it is commonly displayed as only four stars on most charts (Gamma Draconis – companion red dwarf star, Nu Draconis – binary v1 & v2 Draconis, Beta Draconis – Binary with dwarf star companion).

The constellation used to be called the Great Dragon, as one of its stars, Thuban, used to be the pole star around 3000 B.C.

The only other details for the dragon are that he has ten horns and seven crowns upon his head, but it appears that those are symbolic references to power and kings associated with the dragon (Daniel 7:24). There may be other physical tie-ins for these two, but perhaps the first three descriptions are enough for one to identify that this constellation sign represents the beast’s kingly puppets who now (in the Tribulation) control the 10 kingdoms. Their delegated power is the crowns that they have received from the dragon. Because this language was referenced before in Scriptural prophecy, and would be familiar to the average student of prophecy, I believe it is a non-literal description at this point, similar to how the woman was described as about to give birth.

Secondly, another reason to believe the initial three verses are a literal sight, is the incredible celestial lineup event that matches this description happening (as expected) within and toward the end of the generation timetable. There is still time for the Tribulation period to conclude and still be within the timetable of the generation of a seventy-five year old person who was five years old they saw Israel re-formed.

Thirdly, Scripture in other places uses physical objects to start symbolic discussions of what it represents. One example is Zechariah 5:1-4 where the prophet is shown a scroll, describes its exact dimensions, and the angel tells him what the scroll represents. Even though it was a physical and visual scroll, its meaning was symbolic. Twice, Revelation 12:1,3 use the word “wonder” to describe what John saw. This word, in the Greek, has the idea of ‘an indication.’ So, while there is great symbolic significance in this chapter, it appears they are based on literal, visual events that the prophet saw in the heavens as indications of what was going on in a larger scheme of things.

When we see the entire Middle east going through varying degrees of unrest and instability, the decadence of society, the rejection of all things right and godly, and the signs and descriptions of the last days bold before our eyes, it is not a stretch to see that these celestial events and John’s writings could be one and the same.

When Jesus reminds His disciples that the last days will be like the days of Noah, we can see many similarities. Noah knew judgment was coming, but he apparently did not know the exact day; they did have a pretty good clue that when Methuselah died, that judgment was coming. So, in one sense, they did not know when judgment was coming (and God graciously waited 120 years, I Peter 3:20) but they knew Methuselah was really getting up there and that there was only a matter of time left. So we also find ourselves toward the very end of the generation allotment, and we know that Christ tells us that no man knows the day or the hour.

Matthew 25:13 reminds us, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Jesus Christ continues by telling the parable of the stewards, with the admonition being that we should strive so that one day we may hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” – vs.21.

We do not know when Christ will return, just that we should be expectant and ready to meet Him as if He were to return today. Are you ready?