LESSON XXVII (Revelation 11:14 -19) The Seventh Trumpet
1. vss. 14, 15a
a. “The second woe is past”; The last three trumpets are three woes.
1) The first of these was the plague of the locusts out of the abyss; 9:1-11
2) The second was the judgment of the triple monsters; 9:13-21.
3) Now, after the interlude of ch. X and the general, ideal picture of the testimony, reproach and glorification of the Church (11:1-13), there follows a general description of the judgment of the seventh trumpet.
b. “Behold, the third woe cometh quickly.”
1) As to the time of this “third woe,” it is evident that it belongs to the period of “the same hour,” vs. 13. This is evident from the earthquake, vs. 13 cf. vs. 19.
2) It comes quickly: the events of the very last days will follow one another in quick session.
c. “And the seventh angel sounded.”
1) What we have in this passage is a general description of the seventh trumpet and its effect in heaven and on earth.
2) The detailed description of it is found in chapters 15, 16. This seventh trumpet will reveal itself as seven vials.
3) That this is correct is evident from:
a) A comparison of ch. 10:7: “the mystery of God should be finished” in the days of the seventh trump, with 15:1: in the seven vials is filled up the wrath of God.
b) A comparison of 11:19: “the temple of God” opened, with 15:5, 6: the seven angels with the vials come out of the open temple.
2. vs. 15b
a. “And there were great voices in heaven.”
1) Whose voices they are is not mentioned. Judging by what they say they may be either angels or glorified saints or both.
2) They are great voices: there is a great multitude here.
b. “And they said, The kingdom (not kingdoms, the R.V. is correct here) of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.”
1) The praise here offered presupposes that the judgment of the seventh trumpet is finished. All is ended.
2) The world is conceived as one kingdom over which God rules. It is now the dominion of our Lord.
3) And of His Christ. It is God’s anointed that is to have dominion, and that now has it. God reigns through Christ.
4) And that forever and ever. Notice, that Christ shall reign eternally.
3. vss. 16-18:
a. “And the four and twenty elders,” etc.
1) Representing the whole church.
2) They sit on thrones, i.e. they reign with Christ.
3) Before the face of God, i.e., as servants of God. See ch. 4:4.
b. “Fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,” i.e. in their attitude and speech they humbly acknowledged the power and glory and sovereignty of God.
c. “Saying, We give thanks,” etc. Concerning this thanksgiving of the church, notice (vss. 17,18):
1) That they address God as the Lord almighty: all the emphasis is on God’s sovereign power, because this has been fully revealed now. And as the One “Who art and Who wast.” Also here the revised version is correct: the words “who art to come” do not belong here; the reason is evident: He is now come.
2) That the reason for this thanksgiving is:
A) “Thou hast taken to thee thy great power,” i.e., the power which is always God’s, now is fully revealed: the world is become the kingdom of God and of His Christ, according to His purpose.
3) That a further explanation of this reason is given in vs. 18:
a) “And the nations were angry” (Ps 11), that is they raged against God and His anointed, and His “witnesses,” see vss. 7-10.
b) “And thy wrath came, i.e., God’s wrath was now fully revealed and poured out in the judgment of the seventh trumpet.
c) “And the time of the dead to be judged.” Here follows a description of the final judgment. Evidently, with the blowing of the seventh trumpet all is finished. And by this judgment the eternal reward is given to all the people of God his servants the prophet: all the saints (in Christ), them that fear God’s name, small and great (literally and figuratively). And the wicked are destroyed. They are here described as those that “destroy the earth.” The wicked always work destruction of the earth and of all earthly life in every relationship. And it is but just retribution, therefore, when they are destroyed, i.e., from the earth and from all God’s world, in everlasting desolation.
4. vs. 19:
a) “And there was opened the temple of God that is in heaven.”
1) The temple is the inner sanctuary (the ark is seen), where God dwells.
2) The ark of the covenant is a symbol of
a) God’s throne.
b) His everlasting covenant mercy.
3) That the temple is opened signifies
a) That God is about to issue forth to make of all the world His dwelling place.
b) That from that open heaven the final judgment will come upon the earth. See ch. 15:1ff.
b) “And there were lightnings, and voices, and thundering, and earthquake, and great hail.”
1) All signs of judgments on the earth. See 8:5.
2) The detailed realization of which is described in the judgments of the seven vials. ch. 16.
LESSON XXVIII (Revelation 12:1-6) The Woman and Her Child, and the Dragon
1. Relation of this chapter to the rest of the book:
a) In chapters 12-14 there follows a series of visions that must be regarded as an interlude in the scheme of the seals, trumpets, vials.
b) Chapters 12, 13 are closely connected with each other, as they present a detailed description of the beast first mentioned in ch. 11:7.
1) In chapter 12 this beast is described from the viewpoint of his essentially satanic background and character.
2) In chapter 13 from the viewpoint of his historical appearance as an antichristian world-power.
2. vss. 1,2
a) “And there appeared a great wonder (sign, R.V.) in heaven.”
1) By a sign something is obsignated; we are warned against a literal interpretation of the vision here.
2) This sign is “great,” i.e. in magnitude and in significance.
3) And it is in heaven, the place of glory, denoting the essentially heavenly character of the thing signified.
b) “A woman, clothed with the sun,” etc.
1) The general figure of the sign is that of a woman.
2) The heavenly luminaries serve to adorn her and to bring out her glory: she is clothed with the sun, the moon is her footstool, and she is crowned with twelve stars (cf. twelve tribes, apostles).
3) And she is with child and about to be delivered.
Note. Who or what is represented by this woman? The key to the answer is, on doubt supplied by vss. 5, 6. It is the Church of all ages: before she is delivered of her child (the Christ) she represents the Church of the old dispensation; after she has been delivered she represents the Church of the New Testament. In the old dispensation the Church lived and labored in the hope of the promise of Gen. 3:15. The Church is described from the viewpoint of her essential heavenly character and glory, as a mighty queen.
3. Vss. 3, 4. The sign of the dragon.
A) “And there appeared another sign in heaven.” That also this sign is in heaven certainly has no reference to the character of the thing represented, but must be explained merely from the position the dragon occupies with relation to the woman.
B) “And behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads,” etc.
1) The general figure of the second sign is that of a dragon, a mythical figure, a monster, whose general figure is that of a serpent. According to vs. 9 this dragon represents the devil or satan, “that old serpent.”
2) His color is red, the color of wrath and anger, blood-shed, murder. This denotes him as “the murderer from the beginning” as well as the hateful enemy of this woman and her child.
3) He is described as having seven heads, ten horns, and on his heads seven crowns, or royal diadems. This description is similar to that of the beast in ch. 13:1. The explanation of these heads and horns can better be given in connection with our interpretation of that chapter. It is sufficient now to call attention to the fact that this similarity of description represents the devil as “the power behind the throne” of the beast and as operating through the antichristian world-power.
4) “And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth.” The angels are sometimes called stars (Job 38:7). The reference here is probably to the fall of the angels by the instigation of satan.
5) “And he stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” These words express the attitude of the dragon over against the woman: one of watchful waiting, till her child shall be born. And his intention is to destroy the man-child at his birth.
Note. This refers, evidently to the constant attempt on the part of the world-power in the old dispensation to destroy the seed of the woman.
4. Vss. 5,6 The Child and the Woman.
a) “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.” From the description of this man child it is evident
1) That he is the Messiah. “He shall rule all nations with a rod of iron” is taken from Ps. 2:9. That He will judge and destroy the antichristian world-power, for this is the meaning of the expression “to rule with a rod of iron.”
b) “And her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
1) The general meaning of this expression is that the purpose of the dragon to devour the child is frustrated: the child escapes his wrath.
2) Specifically it means that this Child is exalted and clothed with power: realized in the ascension and exaltation at the right hand of God in heaven.
c) “And the woman fled into the wilderness,” etc.
1) The child having escaped him, the wrath of the dragon is now directed against the woman, see vs. 13. Hence, she flees into the wilderness (the world, no longer in Canaan), where God has prepared a place for her, and cares for her throughout this dispensation, 1260 days. See for this period on ch. 11:2, 3..
LESSON XXIX (Revelation 12:7-12) War in Heaven
1. Vss. 7-9
a) “And there was war in heaven,” etc.
1) Must remember that heaven was originally the abode of the angels, also of the devil and his angels before their fall.
2) They were not, immediately after their fall, cast out of their abode in the sense that they had no more access to heaven. See Job 1: Luke 10:18; John 12:31. Their casting out did not take place till the exaltation of Christ.
b) “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon:” etc.
1) of Michael we read in Dan. 10:13; 12:10; Jude vs. 9. All these passages teach that he is archangel, a prince among the angels (if not the chief of all the angels): that he contends with Satan, whose special opponent he appears to be; and that he contends for the cause of the people of God, defending them. This seems to be his special function.
2) His angels may refer to a special group of angels over which he is prince, or, if he be the chief of all the elect angels, it refers to all.
3) The dragon and his angels are the devil and the evil spirits or demons that have fallen with him.
4) These spiritual armies are presented in the text as waging war, as fighting in heaven. There is nothing in the text that suggests an allegorical meaning of this battle. Hence, we have to think here of a real warfare, although we must remember that it is a battle of spirits and, therefore, fought on a spiritual plane and by spiritual means and methods.
c) vss. 8, 9: “And prevailed not,” etc. That is, the devil and his angels prevailed not.
1) This expression suggests that the devil and his angels took the offensive; they attacked Michael and his angels; or rather they sought to attain a certain object in heaven, but they failed because Michael and his angels opposed and prevented them.
2) What is more, they were cast out of heaven, so that their place was found in heaven no more. Notice that the dragon is here called:
a) The old serpent: this with reference to his first temptation in paradise where he appeared in the form of a serpent;
b) The Devil (diabolos) meaning “mudslinger” or slanderer. He slanders God and His people and cause; and
c) Satan, that is adversary, opponent. He is anti-God, God’s adversary, and therefore the arch-enemy of His people.
d) He is said here to “deceive the whole world.” His great deception is based on the lie that in the way of disobedience men shall be like God, and that they shall attain to highest blessedness and glory in the way of opposition and rebellion against God. That is the lie that motivates “the whole wicked world.” And in this they are deceived.
3) He is cast into the earth. Although he is utterly and finally defeated in heaven, he is cast into the earth. This will now become the sole sphere of his operations.
2. Vss. 10, 11.
a) “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven,” etc.
1) The text does not state whose this loud voice is. That the voice is loud suggests that there were many speaking. And that they speak of “our brethren” suggests that they were the glorified saints in heaven.
2) They announce that now is come (i.e. revealed and established in heaven): “salvation” here to be taken in its comprehensive sense: redemption and glorification; “strength,” i.e. the power of God is now revealed: “the kingdom of our God,” i.e., the kingdom in which God rules by grace over His people is now established; and “the power of his Christ.” Christ is here called God’s Christ, His anointed Servant. He has now all the power, authority, and that without dispute.
3) The reason is that “the accuser of our brethren” etc. is cast down. That the devil is here called the accuser of the brethren suggests the objective he sought in his war in heaven: to overcome the saints.
4) But the saints overcame him “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their life even unto death.” The R.V. is more correct here: “because of the blood of the Lamb,” etc. The atonement of Christ is the deepest cause and ground of their victory. But as the fruit of this atonement also their faithful testimony (of Christ) and their sanctified walk in the world (even unto death) is the reason for their victory over the devil.
3. Vs. 12. “Therefore, rejoice, ye heavens,: etc.
a) The loud voice calls upon all the heavenly creation, and upon all the inhabitants of heaven to rejoice (the angels and the saints), because of this great victory and because the devil is cast out.
b) On the other hand: “Woe to the inhibitors of the earth,” etc.
1) The inhabitants of the earth are mentioned in general, because it will bring woe to all that the devil is cast to the earth; but especially the believers are meant.
2) The reason is that the devil’s sphere of operation is limited both as to space and time. He is limited to the earth, and he has but a short time. The final victory is near for the people of God. This he has learned from his defeat in heaven. Hence, he has great wrath!
LESSON XXX (Revelation 12: 13-17) The Woman in the Wilderness
1. Vss. 13, 14. The woman escapes.
a) “And when the dragon saw that he was cast into the earth, he persecuted the woman,” etc.
1) Here the narrative of the vision is resumed as left off in vs. 6
2) The devil realizes his defeat with respect to his main purpose: the destruction of the Man-child. He now directs his attention to the woman. The woman is
a) Is not the Church of the O.T. nor the Jews of the N.T.
b) But the Church of the new dispensation, after the birth and exaltation of the Man-child.
3) The dragon now persecutes that Church. His purpose is, evidently, to destroy that Church as such. In this attempt he still reveals his hatred of the Christ. Now he cannot reach the Christ directly, he will wage war against Him indirectly by persecuting the Church on earth.
b) “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly,” etc.
1) The wilderness is here, evidently, a place of refuge from the assaults of the dragon. It is also evident that by this wilderness is meant the present place of the Church among all nations in the world. In the old dispensation the Church was one nation (Israel) and lived in one country, the land of Canaan. This made it possible for the dragon to attack the Church directly by attacking the nation of Israel through the world-powers. In the new dispensation the Church no longer has her Canaan; hence, she is in the “wilderness” of the world through which she travels to the heavenly country. At the same time this position of the Church among all nations is also her place of safety: the nations can no longer harass the Church by making war upon a single nation.
2) The two wings of a great eagle:
a) The figure is probably derived from Ex. 19:4. The wings here are symbols of a God-given power the Church receives to escape into “the wilderness,” i.e. to establish herself among all nations. The fact that they are “eagle’s wings” and that of a great eagle, denotes the power of these means.
b) If we may think of anything definite here, these wings may be said to represent the power of the Spirit and the Word.
3) In the wilderness the woman is “nourished for a time, and times and a half a time from the face of the serpent.”
a) “Time, times, half a time” is 3 ½ times, i.e., years, not days; it is the same as the 1260 days of vs. 6 and refers to the whole present dispensation.
b) During this time the Church is nourished (spiritually) by God through Christ and by the Spirit and Word.
c) That she is nourished “from the face of the serpent” indicates that she is safe from the attacks of the devil, out of his reach.
2. Vss. 15, 16. Attack on the Church by the dragon
a) “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman,” etc.
1) The picture is that the serpent takes up his position at the edge of the wilderness. In her spiritual isolation the devil cannot reach the Church.
2) And now he attempts to force her out of her isolation by sending a veritable flood of water out of his mouth after her, in order “that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. What this means is not difficult to conjecture:
a) Out of the mouth of the dragon proceeds the lie in all its forms: false doctrines and corruptions of the flesh.
b) If by these the devil can carry away the Church out of her spiritual isolation she will be swallowed up of the world and be destroyed.
c) “And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth,” etc.
1) The presentation here still belongs to the symbolism of the wilderness and the flood of water sent after the woman. The earth opens itself and swallows up the stream of water, so that it never reaches the woman.
2) The meaning is evident the Church is built on the “petron,” the Rock; the gates of hell cannot overwhelm her. Many may be seduced by the flood of corruption sent after the Church in the world by the devil: but the true people of God will stand.
3. Vs. 17. Persecution of the remnant of her seed.
a) “And the dragon was wroth with the woman,” etc.
1) For the second time the devil is defeated and his efforts are frustrated.
a) First the Man-child escaped his fury.
b) Now the Church proves to be beyond his reach.
c) Hence, he is angry with the woman.
b) “And went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
1) Distinction is here made between the Church as a whole and the individual believers.
2) These are called the remnant of her seed in distinction from
a) The Man-child.
b) The saints of the old dispensation.
3) They are in the world, and they are recognized
a) By their walk: they keep the commandments of God.
b) And by their confession they have the testimony of Jesus Christ. How the dragon now makes war with them we are told in the next chapter.