“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet,
and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
“The kingdom of the world
has become the kingdom of our Lord
and of his Christ,
and he shall reign forever and ever.”
And the twenty-four elders
who sit on their thrones before God
fell on their faces and worshiped God,
saying, “We give thanks to you,
Lord God Almighty,
who is and
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants,
the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and a for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple.
There were flashes of lightning,
peals of thunder,
and heavy hail.”
We left off considering the nations giving glory to God. As we zoom in, the question becomes, is this the end of Earth or the beginning of the millennial kingdom? We are in chapter 11 of Revelation, essentially halfway through the book. One may assume that this can’t be the end of the world because it is only halfway through the book. Another argument that is convincing, is that the third woe has yet to happen; the bowls of wrath have yet to be poured out. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that this is the end of the world. This is a fair argument, yet we cannot call it a conclusion. Perhaps the bowls are a re-telling of the trumpets. Using the CAGED method, we are unable to jump to conclusions, like, “this is the Antichrist.” We must read Revelation as a whole.
Another argument is that this is the millennium, where Christ reigns for a thousand years. That would make sense–the nations finally give glory to God, the 24 elders say that he has begun to reign. Problem: they also say, “The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and a for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” If his wrath came, the dead are to be judged, and the destroyers have been destroyed, how could this scene be anything but the ushering in of the New Heavens and New Earth? In addition, they state, regarding this kingdom, “he shall reign for ever and ever,” not a thousand years. Can we come to a conclusion? We need more information, we need more context. I would venture a guess, that my two readers lean towards different sides. One of you thinks; millennial kingdom and the other; New Heavens and New Earth. In order to clear up the confusion, we must read Revelation as it was written; using the CAGED, or some other hermeneutical, method, making sure we take into account the context and use proper exegesis. We must consult our Old Testament tutor.
Have we read about a millennial kingdom yet? No. If I were on TBN, I would say, “this is the millennial kingdom.” Much in the same manner as I would have to say, “this is the Antichrist,” to any verse of Revelation that mentions the beast. Why? Because the context never states specifically that the beast is the Antichrist, therefore, a thousand times I have heard it said that, “this is the Antichrist,” yet never once have I read it in Revelation. On the contrary, one has to read it into Revelation. If it has to be added because it isn’t there, that should give us pause. We all know I am never one not to beat the proverbial dead horse–I cannot stress this enough. John, who is the only writer to ever mention the Antichrist, never mentions the Antichrist in this text. This should send chills cascading through our entire being. John, who actually saw these visions, the one hand-picked by the Lord, a witness to his ministry, death, and resurrection, who wrote the Gospel defending Christ’s deity, who warned the early church about many antichrists, never, ever calls the beast the Antichrist. In the same way, we should neither name the scene in Revelation 11, the millennium or the New Heavens and New Earth, yet. We have many chapters left to read.
In the meantime, we use the CAGED method to unlock the text as it is presented to us. I would like to give one prevalent example of drawing a conclusion without they entire context; maybe two. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
You probably have that verse memorized and even know the reference–Matthew 18:20. You may even know the context. Nevertheless, I have a sneaking suspicion that you have used the verse out of context to refer to anytime two believers are gathered together; I know I have, on more than one occasion. However that thought is not supported by the context: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Two witnesses, that sounds familiar. The point I am awfully attempting to make, is that rarely does one verse stand alone. Moreover, we cannot take verses out of context, rearrange them, then string them together to prove a point; proper exegesis eliminates this.
One more quickly; I did a lot of research in 2012-15. It was at this time that I truly began to awaken to the fact that I only knew what I was taught. Ironically also, I was regurgitating that which I had been taught to impressionable young teenagers. I became part of the status quo, and everything was great until my eyes opened and the chains fell off; but that’s a tale for another time. While on my transformation to the dark-side, I researched that year’s most searched verse on the internet (to get an accurate answer is much more difficult than one might imagine). After much metaphorical legwork, I discovered the verse to be, Romans 12:2. Globally, using a search engine, Romans 12:2 was the overwhelming winner. Understand this; my research only involved one, single, solitary verse. In other words, people predominantly searched for and received only the verse for which they searched–no context. Romans 12:2, a feel good verse that tells the reader to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Now remembering that the vast majority only looked up 12:2, guess Romans 12:1’s rank; the verse that tells us to be a living sacrifice? Your guess is as good as mine. It ranked so low that I couldn’t even rank it. Again, if context is king, and it is, why do a majority of christians ignore it? I’ll let you come up with your own answer to that.
I have previously stated that one should rarely look at what is not there, then ignoring my own wise counsel, zoom in on what is not there. This is another one of those times. Revelation 11:17, the elders are worshiping the one who is and was, listen to their words: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.” Remembering all the way back to Revelation 1:8 what’s missing? “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and was and is to come–the Almighty.” The elders leave off the future tense of to be, seemingly signifying some sort of culmination and confirmation of a conclusion. Very interesting.
The next verse builds on the previous, the elders say: “The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” Notice: wrath came, the time for judgement came, the time for reward came, and the time for the destruction of the destroyers came. Certainly we begin to see the end of something and the beginning of something entirely different.
“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.” I want to say, “look, it’s just like when Christ died on the cross, when the veil was torn in two and the holy of holies was opened for all to see.” But once again, something is missing between the two. At Christ’s crucifixion, there was no ark of the covenant inside the holy of holies. In fact, it wasn’t even the original temple. At present, this verse is caged, the CAGED method is needed, we will consult our Old Testament tutor. In the most difficult book of the Bible to understand, the book of Ezekiel, a colasal temple is described with no court for the gentiles, no court for women and you guessed it, no ark of the covenant. In fact, the temple of Ezekiel is too large to fit on the current temple mount. Once again, I am pointing out what is not there. We cannot assume that the temple that Ezekiel describes is the temple in heaven. Where does that leave us?
Many, myself included, believe that a third temple will be constructed on the temple mount before the return of Christ. This is mere speculation on my part, based on the excitement and ambition of a group of people that desire to build this third temple. Where I differ in opinion is that although I believe it will in full, or in part, be built, Spiritually speaking, it will be nothing. God is sovereign and it cannot be built without his ordaining it, however, his presence will not dwell in it. Once again, no ark of the covenant. I base this belief on Hebrews 9 “…Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.” The old is gone, only the new remains–acknowledging that Hebrews states that animal sacrifices never atoned for sin. An argument is often made that since sacrifices never atoned for sin and they were purely ceremonial, they could return in the millennium. However, I believe reading Hebrews using the CAGED method nullifies that belief. The whole theme of the book is the new, better covenant found in Christ Jesus.
KISS, keep it simple stupid, I always forget. What does the ark represent in Scripture? Right, it’s sublimely simple, God’s presence. Again, when we consider the genre, clearly the imagery is that God in heaven has once again made his presence known on earth. This really reads like the millennial kingdom; and the New Heavens and New Earth. Maybe the “flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail,” will give us a better clue.
Consulting our OTT; What does thunder represent? Many, if not most times, it represents God’s presence–more specifically–his voice, much like in Revelation. In Job God’s voice is like thunder. In Exodus his presence is confirmed by thunder as it is in Psalm 18:13. Psalms also has much to say about lightning; usually it refers to judgement. Hailstones are also used in a similar fashion, as are earthquakes.
Are you as confused as I am? That’s good. Like ginger between sushi, or a saltine between beverages, I am trying to clear our pallets of our presuppositions. With our tastes buds cleansed, we’ll continue to delve deeper into the imagery in Revelation. Congratulations, we’re halfway there.