The Lord Reigns (Revelation 11:15-19)
Former Attorney General John Ashcroft almost lost his confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate because of a speech he made at Bob Jones University, while he was still a US Senator. In that speech, the Ashcroft said, “We have no King but Jesus! We have no King but Jesus!”
That statement may be problematic for a politician, but Scripture abounds with this truth. “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28). Jesus is “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).
Our text this evening speaks much of the kingship of the Lord Jesus as well as the kingship of the Father. We want to think of their joint kingship together.
The Lord Reigns in Eternity, v 15
The seventh angel sounded, and John heard loud voices in heaven proclaim, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
One would have expected the seventh trumpet blast to have brought disaster. The other six trumpet blasts were pictures of God’s judgment, but this trumpet blast is an interlude expressing God’s sovereignty.
The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ. Although we read of this trumpet blast in the middle of the book, the events of this trumpet blast depict events after the end of the world. Chronologically, this blast would be at the very end of Revelation. We know this to be the case because in verse 18 we find that God has judged the dead, rewarding his servants and destroying the evildoers.
The kingdoms of the world have been dissolved and only God’s kingdom now exists—the world, along with all the kingdoms have been destroyed. The demonstrates the sovereignty God has over the world. He has the authority to overthrow the other kingdoms and make his kingdom supreme. That must have been a great comfort to the early Christians who read this book—they were part of a kingdom whose king would overthrow all other kingdoms.
The kingdom is of our Lord and his Christ—this is the heavenly kingdom where God and the Son reign.
The Lord shall reign forever and ever. The “he” here is a joint singular and shows that the Father and Son have joint authority. The Son will give the kingdom back to the Father at the end of the age (1 Corinthians 15:28), but in some way the Father and Son will have joint authority in heaven. This joint authority will be evident, for the will of God will reign supreme; everything in heaven will be as God deems fit.
The Lord Reigns Among Opposition, vv 16-18
The 24 elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God. The elders’ falling on their faces before God to worship him demonstrates reverence for him. We need to demonstrate reverence, honor, for God. When we worship, we need to concentrate on what we do – we can’t come to worship and allow our minds to wander. When we worship, we need to mean what we sing.
The elders praised God, because he had taken his great power and reigned. God took his power and reigned. God could have rolled over and played dead when he faced opposition, but he did not. In fact, the premillennialists tell us this is exactly what God did. They tell us that Jesus came to this world the first time around to establish an earthly kingdom. But, the Jews rejected his lordship, so he established the church in its place, and he’s going to come back at the end of the world to establish an earthly kingdom for a thousand years. But, God doesn’t have to ask the Jews whether he’s going to establish a kingdom. If God wanted to establish an earthly kingdom, he would have established that kingdom when Jesus came to the earth regardless of whether or not the Jews accepted his authority. If God couldn’t establish his earthly kingdom the first go-around, why do we believe he’ll have the power to do so the second go-around.
The truth is that God has taken his power and reigned. There is a sense in which God reigns now.
- He reigns in the world. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he would be like a beast until he knew “that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (Daniel 4:25). In his song after the crossing of the Red Sea, Moses said, “The LORD shall reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:18).
- He reigns in the church. God is over the church. Although Jesus is the King, Jesus received his authority to reign from the Father (Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 28:18). “Christ is the head of the church, his body” (Ephesians 5:23).
God will reign in a different sense in heaven. He will have exercised his authority through the judgment of man. He will have exercised his authority through the destruction of the universe. “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).
The nations were angry. The nations were angry with God, and they demonstrated their anger. The nations demonstrated their anger through their mistreatment of Christians. God did not allow the anger of the world to stop his power. We live in an era where if people believe others will be angry with them for standing up for what they believe is right, they won’t stand up. But, God, even though the nations were angry, began to reign.
God’s wrath has come. God’s wrath was seen in the judgment of man—God has judged the dead—at the last judgment the dead, “great and small,” will be judged (Revelation 20:12). God has rewarded his servants. There are three classes of servants in this verse:
- The prophets were those who spoke the word of God; they were not necessarily those who spoke the future, but they did speak with a miraculous measure of the Spirit. Since the Scriptures were not yet completed God needed men to speak with the Spirit.
- The “saints” literally means “holy ones” and refers to Christians in general. “Saint” is not a special office in the church one obtains after he dies. The Christians in Corinth were “called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Those who feared the name of the Lord are those who honor him, revere him, do his bidding.
- God rewarded his servants. God rewards those who do his will. Paul said of our reward, “There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). The crown of Queen Elizabeth Il has 2,783 diamonds, 277 pearls, 18 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 5 rubies, but think of how much greater our reward, our crown, will be!
God has destroyed the destroyers of the earth. “Destroy” here means to corrupt. The meaning is that God has sentenced those who were corrupting the earth. What a comfort that is to us! There are many who are attempting to corrupt our children, this country, and this world. They will receive their due reward!
The Lord Reigns in Faithfulness, v 19
The temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of his covenant was seen in his temple. This verse stands in response to the song of praise by the elders and teaches us about God’s faithfulness. In both the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple, the ark of the covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies; it stands to reason that the ark here is in the Holy of Holies. Since the original ark contained the tablets containing God’s covenant, we should likely see this as a symbol of God’s faithfulness.
And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. These cosmic disturbances refer to God’s wrath, and tells the world once more that God’s wrath is coming. God’s wrath is coming. Will you be ready?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Alum Creek church of Christ in Alum Creek, West Virginia.