The Little Book of the Revelation - Sixteenth in a series
The Day and Hour, known only by the Father (Mat 24:36), arrive now for the witnesses.
- For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Cor 15:22)
- VERSE 11
And after the three days and a half the breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them that beheld them.
The three and a half days epitomize the three and a half years of the Great Tribulation that has now ended. After this comes final destruction, not more tribulation. Tribulation is to an end; it is to accomplish the purpose of God in our lives, and it is very different from annihilation. The Trumpet blasts call us to take the side of the Lord and to suffer with Him, but the Bowl judgments are thoroughly devastating. (Rev 16:1-21)
- VERSE 12
And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they went up into heaven in the cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
From rotting corpses, whole, living men arise and are raised to heaven — Is this not the promised Resurrection of the dead, after which the living shall also be changed in the twinkling of an eye? (1 Cor 15:52)
- VERSE 13
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.
This earthquake and its death toll are not massive, as noted in Post 10. In fact, if Jerusalem is “the great city” of Revelation 16, that is, the seat of the end-time Babylonian religion of the world, it will be split into three parts when the seventh bowl of God’s wrath is poured out— a much greater leveling. (Rev 16:19)
The remarkable message of this verse is that some, a remnant, feared God and gave him glory when the two witnesses were resurrected. The same hour suggests a cotemporal event.
The salvation of the remnant is an awakening of hearts by the Holy Spirit, an irresistible grace, yet assisted by the two witnesses. The remnant, too, will rise to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thess 4:17)
- VERSE 14
The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
The third woe is composed of the bowl judgments, so it would seem that the second woe relates to the end of any prospect for salvation. It is not so woeful that an earthquake has toppled a tenth of the city or that seven thousand have perished; it is dreadful and a shock that there is now no more hope of salvation. The door to the ark has been shut.
Verse 14 marks the finish of the little Book, and it coincides with the sounding of the seventh trumpet in verse 15:
- 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. (Rev 11:15)
Would this not be the ‘last trump’ that Paul mentions in his first letter to the Corinthians?
- Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor 15:51-52)
Paul explained to the Corinthians,
- For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (I Cor 15:23)
The Thessalonians learned from Paul:
- For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thess. 4:16, 17)
Paul taught the Romans that God gave the Jews a spirit of slumber (Rom 11:8) yet they did not stumble to eternally fall but rather through their fall, salvation came to the Gentiles, provoking the Jews to jealousy, and as ‘the diminishing’ of the Jews meant riches for the Gentiles, so their salvation will mean ‘life from the dead’. (Rom 11:15)
Perhaps also, the change of heart described could be viewed as the salvation of the 144,000. Those whom we first met in Chapter 7 come into view again in Chapter 14.
- And I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing on the mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty and four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads…
and they sing as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders: and no man could learn the song save the hundred and forty and four thousand, even they that had been purchased out of the earth. (Rev 14:1, 3)
In contrast, in Chapter 15 those who ‘had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name,’ stood on the sea of glass where the Lord was, and sang the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. (Rev 15:2-3). They loved both Old and New Testaments.
Why was the song of the 144,000 a different one from the larger group’s— one that only they could learn? This is something to reflect upon as we see both groups in the safe surroundings of God’s home before the ‘bowl’ judgments of Revelation 16 are poured out.
It would seem that the two witnesses obtained a measure of success by God’s plan and grace. Their testimony helped to achieve the change of heart in the remnant of Jews who were marked for security before the seventh seal was opened. (Rev 8:1)
An Aside: When The Lord gets the credit for our successful accomplishments, it is called Calvinism, but if we believe we have achieved mighty works as our own gift to God, it is called Arminian. The outcome of the praise either lifts up the Lord as sovereign or lifts up man as a free agent. Let us always lift up the Lord.
‘God is doing many things at one time.’ In revealing to John the events of the end, he has a pattern of assuring him that all will be well before he shows him the destruction of the earth and the martyrdom of the Christians.
We saw the saints in heaven having come out of the great tribulation before we were told what they must endure in Chapter 13. Likewise we were told the Jews will be with the Lord in heaven before the ‘bowl’ judgments of God’s wrath. And in the Little Book we see the resurrection of the righteous.
John tasted this prophecy and it was sweet but then bitter; we, too, are happy that a resurrection awaits the faithful and those who are beloved for the fathers' sakes. (Rom 11:28 ), but we are grieved that the day of grace must end. “Multitudes in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14) —or, more accurately, The harvest is past, the summer is ended, … (Jer 8:20) Salvation is no longer possible.
Let’s pray more than ever for loved ones and all who do not know the Lord.
In the next and final post we will wrap up any loose ends of this series.