For the Love of God, Volume 1/December 20

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By D.A. Carson About Devotional Life
Chapter 356 of the book For the Love of God, Volume 1


2 Chronicles 24; Revelation 11; Zechariah 7; John 10

THROUGHOUT THE BOOK OF Revelation there are occasional visions of the end or of the throne room of God that anticipate the last two chapters. In other words, the line of development in Revelation is not always linear. The anticipation of victory, glory, and the perspective of the Almighty are sometimes placed in the context of the darkest scenes of judgment: e.g., Revelation 14:1-5, in the context of chapters 12—14.

When the seventh trumpet sounds (Rev. 11:15-19), the veil is rolled back a little to permit a glimpse of just such a scene—not in this case of the new heaven and the new earth, but of the reign of God over these scenes of terrible judgment. I may draw attention to two elements.

First, the notion of the kingdom of God is a dynamic one and changes its precise significance in various contexts. Here loud voices in heaven proclaim: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (11:15). This suggests that there was a time before which this divine “kingdom” over this lost world had not begun. So what is in view is certainly not the universal kingdom of God’s providential rule. Nor is this the onset of Jesus’ reign, as inaugurated by his resurrection and exaltation. True, at that point all authority became his in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18). Nevertheless, that reign is so exercised that it is still contested. What the following verses suggest is that God now so takes his great power as to destroy those who have destroyed his people. “The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great—and for destroying those who destroy the earth” (11:18). What this announces is the imminence of the final exercise of authority that shatters all residual opposition and judges all with perfect justice.

Second, we have already seen that mixed metaphors are characteristic of apocalyptic literature. Here in 11:19, God’s temple in heaven is opened, and within the temple the ark of the covenant is seen, accompanied by an awesome storm. Terrible storms accompanying God’s great acts of self-disclosure spring from what took place at Sinai; something similar is found in the vision of 4:5. The point of temple, ark, and storm in this verse is that God himself is present and reigning. By contrast, in the vision of chapters 21—22, there is no need for a temple in heaven, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple (21:22). Only pedants will perceive a contradiction.

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