THE REVELATION OF CHRIST
Lesson Number 19
THE SEVENTH TRUMPET #1
I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them." The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets. Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth." (Revelation10:1-8, NKJV)
The Significance of the Trumpet
We are witnessing the announcement of the judgments of God against His enemies. It is being presented as the sounding of seven trumpets. From the beginning of God's dealings with His people, the sounding of trumpets have been used to alert the people. The year of Jubilee was published by the sounding of a trumpet (Lev 25:9). The fall of Jericho was preceded by the sound of a trumpet (Josh 6:5,20). The ark of the covenant was brought up with the sound of a trumpet (2 Sam 6:15; Psa 47:5). Nehemiah rallied his wall-builders for battle with the sound of a trumpet (Neh 4:20). Jeremiah and Ezekiel spoke of the portent of coming war as the sound of a trumpet (Jer 4:19-21; Ezek 33:4-5). Joel declared coming Divine judgment as the sounding of a trumpet (Joel 2:1).
This is God's manner of alerting the people to His own activity-the sounding of a trumpet. This is not merely history announced in advance! It is a declaration of a Divine initiative. If we fail to remember this, our view of Revelation will become corrupted and we will descend into the arena of human wisdom. Language is the container in which thought is placed. In God's dealings with humanity, He Himself developed the nomenclature through which effective communication takes place.
Why Is Judgment Announced?
Here again, we are exposed to the Divine manner-God's way of doing things. As it is written, "Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). Whether He moves to bless or curse, the Lord alerts the people. In the texts we are considering, He is coming in judgment.
There are a number of reasons for this approach: i.e., announcing judgment well in advance of its coming. It will be profitable to mention a few of them.
The Divine forewarning gives opportunity to the offender to repent for opposing the Lord, and seek His forgiveness.
Advance warning leaves those engaged in war against the Lord without excuse.
By employing angelic hosts in the declaration of coming judgments, the Lord is alerting these heaenly principalities to the plan of the ages.
The recording of these judgments enable spiritual posterity to properly interpret history, and learn from the Lord's ways.
Giving heed to these prophecies will persuade succeeding generations not to oppose the Lord by rejecting His salvation and persecuting His people.
The consideration of these judgments will convince the saints they are not to avenge themselves. Vengeance belongs to the Lord!
We can learn from these declarations that sin leads to a condition from which repentance is not possible.
All opposition to God, whether on an individual or organized level, is destined to fail.
One of the traits of "all Scripture" is PROFITABILITY! As it is written, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16-17, NKJV). The book of Revelation is not excluded from that declaration. It is therefore to our benefit to seek profit from our exposure to the vision given to John. While it contains much information, that information is not an end of itself. Spiritual advantage must be realized, or nothing has really been gained. Everything must fit into the Divine objective to conform us to Christ.
"I saw . . . " Some suppose this to be a unique segment of the vision - a departure, as it were, from the message of the trumpets. But this is not the case. Here is a gradual transition from the sixth to the seventh trumpet. The seventh trumpet will not sound until the fifteenth verse of chapter eleven. That makes this seeming interlude quite lengthy (10:1-11:14). In this section, our attention will be focused upon the church, its deficiencies and strengths. This will serve to accentuate two things for us. First, the ungodliness of the world order, as revealed in its opposition to the people of God. Second, that some of the world's corruption has penetrated into the church, and will also be judged by God. The world order is coming down, whether it is found in aggression against the people of God, or in the corruption of the church.
A MIGHTY ANGEL
The Divine Manner
The involvement of the heavenly host throughout this book should be evident. Divine proceedings summon the heavenly host into activity. How often we have seen this!
There is a vital truth to be seen here. Principalities and powers are behind the affairs taking place upon the earth-and they are all governed by the Lord! The vision given to John underscores this. Those who have undue concern about what is coming upon the earth, and whether or not the saints will be present, overlook this fact. Trials are all controlled, with none of them spinning out of control. Even when fierce and decisive judgments are poured out, precise government is employed. This is confirmed by the consistent involvement of angelic hosts, all of which answer to the Almighty.
Consciousness of Angels
The Word of God encourages us to be conscious of the angelic order. Paul charged Timothy to carefully observe what he had said "before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels" (1 Tim 5:21). In the assembly of the saints, women are conduct themselves properly "because of the angels" (1 Cor 11:10). Solomon urged humanity not to speak rashly, saying "before the angel, that it was an error" (Eccl 5:6). The angelic order-particularly the elect angels-are among the fellowship into which we have been called (Heb 12:22). They are commissioned to minister to the heirs of salvation (Heb 1:14), and are "fellow servants" (Rev 19:10). All of this is gloriously confirmed in the book of the Revelation! The consistent involvement of angels confirms we are witnessing the government of God, not the uncontrolled anarchy of wicked men.
Why Make These Observations?
I do not want to be redundant, but these observations are necessary. Because angels are mentioned throughout this vision, and are key figures in the fulfillment of God's purpose, we must have a proper view of them. After all, we have been called into their fellowship, and they have been appointed to minister to us.
It is essential that we entertain a godly view of angels. We must not allow our hearts to consider them in an unlawful manner (Col 2:18).
It is consoling in troublous times to consider the unfailing involvement of holy angels in the affairs of men.
We are to regard the holy angels as part of the fellowship into which we have been called.
God's angels are fellow servants. They are involved on a different level than we, but it is the same battle.
Another Mighty Angel
"I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire" (Verse 1). This is "another mighty angel," the first one being introduced in connection with the seven-sealed book (a "strong angel," 5:2). We are dealing with matters so significant they can only be handled by unusually strong and mighty beings!
The events taking place upon earth had their origin in heaven! The spirit keeps us in continual remembrance of this-"from heaven." As a matter of interest, the word "heaven" is mentioned 56 times in this book. God and the Lamb rule the earth from there. Earthly history is planned from there. Effective messengers are sent from there. Departed saints have gone there. Believers who overcome will go there. The destruction of all of our foes will come from there. It is the heavens that do rule!
The angel came down
In order for this mighty angel to do his work, he had to "come down from heaven." Any earthly activity is always "down," whether it is Jesus coming to save us, the Spirit coming to direct and empower us, or the angels to minister to us. For man to behold God work, or work for God, he has to "come up." But for the mighty angel to work in our behalf, he has to "come down."
Do not think this a small and insignificant observation. While we are "in the body," we are tempted to think too highly of the earth. And of our own involvement in it. Texts like this assist us in developing a sound perspective of what is occurring all around us.
Clothed with a cloud
The language is majestic. Often this kind of language is employed to show the glory of Divine involvement. " . . . they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud" (Ex 16:10). "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Lk 21:27). "Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9).
Satan is never said to come in a cloud, nor are any of his ministers. This is language denoting heavenly activity.
The cloud was glorious, yet veiled the angel's blinding glory from the eye of John. This was God's resplendent messenger, coming in the glory of God. This angel is on a Divinely appointed mission!
A rainbow was upon his head
This further emphasizes that the angel is a messenger of Divine intent. Remember, a rainbow encircled the throne of God (Rev 4:3). It denotes the grace and mercy of the Lord, which are over all of His works. As it is written, "His tender mercies are over all His works" (Psa 145:9). Even in the temporal judgment of the wicked, Divine mercy tempers their punishment. We have read of a fourth part of the world being stricken (6:8), a third part of men being stricken (9:15), the inability of attackers to kill, and torment limited to five months (9:5,10).
Were it not for the mercy of God, the wicked would have been totally removed. But there is now a rainbow around the throne-a token of Divine mercy and longsuffering. Those qualities are now ascribed to the descending angel, who will function with strict accord with the character of God, as well as His purpose. It is not until "the end" that the wicked will taste "the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation" (Rev 14:10). Too, because the church will be the subject in the next few verses, mercy is particularly emphasized.
His face was like the sun
Coming from the presence of the Lord, the angel is characterized by glory. The principle is the same as was revealed in Moses, when he talked to God on the mount. When he came out from the presence of the Lord, his face glowed with Divine glory (Ex 34:29-35). Too, when our blessed Lord prayed on the mountain "His face shone like the sun" (Matt 17:2). A personality, whether angel or man, cannot come from the presence of the Lord without having evidence he has been there!
His feet as pillars of fire
The description is much like that of the glorified Christ: "His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace" (Rev 1:15). This is a most vivid description of an angel coming from the presence of the Lord. The "mighty angel" has, as it were, walked up and down in the holy place, becoming familiar with the purpose of the almighty. He comes to fulfill the mandate and mission of the King of kings and Lord of lords. What we are about to see is an expression of the government of King Jesus! The appearance of this angel confirms he comes from the Lord. To put it another way, he is a fulfillment of the prophesy of Jesus to Nathanael. "Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John 1:51). Were it not for Christ Jesus, this angel would never have appeared to John! It is His salvation, His government, and His agenda that determines everything.
THE LITTLE BOOK
"He had a little book open in his hand . . . " (Verse 2a). The Revelation given to John is a book of books! We have already been introduced to the book of Divine purpose and providence-a book written within and without (5:1). Later we will be exposed to "the book of life" (20:12a), and the "books" out of which all men will be judged (20:12a).
The significance of "book"
Frequently the Word of God speaks of "books" or a "book" being maintained in heaven. This is an anthropomorphism-the ascription of traits, common to our world, to heavenly things, in order to accommodate our understanding. It is not that there are books, as we think of them, in heaven. Books are necessary upon earth because of the infirmity of our flesh and our forgetfulness. The Divine character, however, includes such things as unwavering purpose, unfailing remembrance, and due recognition. Several examples will suffice to illustrate this point.
In his powerful intercession for Israel, Moses reasoned with God. "Yet now, if You will forgive their sin; but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written" (Ex 32:32). Here, God's recognition and acceptance of Moses' person are emphasized.
David confessed his tears had been recorded in God's "book" (Psa 56:8). He also confessed that every aspect of his person had been written in God's "book" (Psa 139:16). In this text, the point is God's recognition of the sorrows related to living by faith.
Malachi spoke of those who feared God speaking frequently with one another. Such conclaves, he affirmed, had been recorded by God in "a book of remembrance" (Mal 3:16). The prophet was shown that God not only takes note of those choosing to think upon Him and communicate with those of kindred spirit, He will duly reward them in the final day.
A mighty angel unveiled the future to Daniel by showing him "what is inscribed in the book of truth" (Dan 10:21, NRSV). This text underscores that God's purpose was put into place before the foundation of the world. It is now being fulfilled in strict accord with the heavenly design.
A "book," therefore, speaks of something God has planned-something that is being carried out by His appointed messengers.
It Is A Little Book
The angel does not hold a large sealed book, like the one introduced in the fifth chapter (5:1). That book was large, requiring seven seals. It was a depiction of the full purpose of God. This book is a "little book," and it is "open."
It is called "little" because it signifies limited revelation -a part of the whole. It is also "little" because it represents a brief segment of time, as related to the whole of time. Additionally, it is "little" when compared to "the ages to come" (Eph 2:7). Scripture often speaks of a "little space" (Ezra 9:8; Acts 5:34), a "little while" (Job 24:24; Psa 37:10; Hag 2:6; Heb 10:37), or a "little time" (James 4:14). The idea is that of limitation or abbreviation. What the angel has in his hand is a portion of the purpose of God which is to be unveiled to John. It is gracious of the Lord to reveal "His secret" to the prophet (Psa 25:14; Amos 3:7). It is evident the Lord is acting in strict accord with His character, which is to unveil what He is doing to those with a heart to receive it.
In a day when largeness is the measure of nearly everything, a "little book" does not appear to have much significance. Yet, we will find that "little" can be exceedingly large.
It Is An Open Book
The first book John saw was "sealed" (5:1). The next book he beholds is "open." Jesus had to break open the seven seals of the first book, unveiling the execution of Divine purpose. As John as spends time in the presence of the Lord, he is given to see things more clearly. Now, a segment of Divine purpose is more readily apparent-it is revealed to John.
How glorious is the opening of Divine intent! In all of His marvelous doings the Lord preserves His glory, His promises, His character, and His people! There is safety in His purpose as well as blessing, security as well as benefit. This is an aspect of the heavenly rule we must see. He is always mindful of those in the Son-always!
It is the Lord Who "opens" the things of God to men, just as Jesus opened the Scriptures to Cleopas and his partner (Lk 24:32). This is an opening of the Book to the understanding, or hearts of men-not merely their minds (Lk 24:45). This is the experience described in Second Corinthians 3:18. "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Interlude does not equal idleness
You may recall there was a brief interlude between the opening of the sixth and seventh seals (7:1-17), so we are in an interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets. However, interlude does not mean idleness. During the time between the opening of the sixth and seventh seals, 144,000 servants of God were "sealed." There are no lulls in Divine activity-no stopping of the prophetic clock, so to speak. The Lord is ever at work!
The purpose of the intervals in Revelation is the development of perspective within God's people. It is as though the Lord moved us back to obtain a fuller picture. The value of this book is the larger picture that it brings to us. Here a segment of Divine intent will be illuminated that will tend to clarify the whole of revelation. Those who take hold of the things of God know this is a kingdom manner. The part can shed light on the whole.
The fact that this book is "open" places the responsibility upon men. If "what may be known of God" in creation rendered men inexcusable who ignored it (Rom 1:19), what will be the portion of those who close there minds to this "open" book?
A Thought on Revelation
The Word of God is given by God, and comes from heaven-whether in part or in whole. It is not a mere human production, and must not be approached as though it were. What is revealed from heaven involves things no mortal mind can conceive or concoct-that is, holy men "spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet 1:21).
The inspiration of Scripture cannot be effectively argued by men, and thus confirmed to the intellect. Although this observation contradicts much of what is called Apologetics, it is imperative that we see its truth. The Word of God speaks more to the spirit of man than to his intellect. It awakens a responsive chord within the soul, enlivening, challenging, and causing hope to rise. No mortal word can do this!
Faith is the "evidence" of the truth of God's Word (Heb 11:1). It, and it alone, is the confirmation that the Word has come from God. Faith brings proof to the soul of the reality of which god speaks. It substantizes the proclamation, making it real to the individual. Until the individual believes, no proof of inspiration can reside in the soul.
When it comes to revelation, we step into an arena that excludes the wisdom of men-effectively and completely. Either men believe the Lord, or there can be no acceptance of them or understanding of the Word. God will not allow the persuasion of the truth of His Word to be given to men in the container of unbelief! Believing truth is a preeminent matter.
THE MIGHTY VOICE
" . . . And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land . . . " (Verse 2b-3a). The picture is a riveting one. It transcends anything that can be imagined by man. This is a Divine working, and does not conform to human patterns of thought. Heaven is superior to earth, and this heavenly being is able to affect the entire world. This is not talking about a fourth part of the earth (6:8), or a third part (8:8-12; 9:15-18). It is not a tenth part, as in Revelation 11:13.
A global revelation
While men are prone to think provincially, and within the confines of geographical and social restrictions, this revelation expands our thinking to global proportions. The "mighty angel" put his right foot on the sea, and his left footon the land. The sea and the land represent the entirety of the world (Gen 1:10). The whole world is to be influenced by what is to follow!
A voice like a roaring lion
" . . . and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars . . . " The lion is mentioned frequently in this book. The first living creature had a "face like a lion" (4:7). The reigning Christ is called "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" (5:5). Later, an opponent of Christ and His people will have a "mouth like the mouth of a lion" (13;2). The language speaks of aggressiveness and effectiveness.
We are not told what the mighty angel said, simply that his voice was like that of roaring lion-riveting and demanding. It constituted a Divine intrusion into the affairs of men, as the roar of a mighty lion breaks the monotony of normal life. This type of language (i.e., the roar) is common when speaking of Divine disruption. "The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, He shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: He shall cry, yea, roar; He shall prevail against His enemies" (Isa 42:13); "The LORD shall roar from on high" (Jer 25:30); "He shall roar like a lion" (Hos 11:10); "The LORD also shall roar out of Zion" (Joel 3:16; Amos 1:2); "The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" (Amos 3:8).
This, then, is God's way of saying He is going to interrupt the course of nature and the affairs of men. When He does so, there will be no resistence on the part of men! They will be as helpless before Him as a frail doe before a roaring lion. God's people need this perspective when things appear to be going against them. All of their troubles can end in a moment of time! Their foes can be scattered suddenly and effectively by a roaring word from the King. The knowledge calms the soul.
THE SEVEN THUNDERS
"When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices" (Verse 3b). Upon the roar of this mighty angel, a heavenly response takes place. Seven mighty thunders utter their voices, harmoniously and effectively. How frequently thunders are mentioned in this book (6:1; 8:5; 11:19; 14:2,5; 16:18; 19:6)! Again, this is an expression of Divine intrusion!
In heavenly places, constant response is taking place. There are no insensitive or unexpressive personalities there! Whenever there is "silence" in heaven, it is remarkable and only for a short time (Rev 8:1). The four living creatures constantly respond to the presence of the Lord (4:8-9). The twenty-four elders are also noted for their expressive response (4:10-11; 5:9). Many angels responded to the Lamb (5:11-12). The praise of the angels was answered by a response from "every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them" (5:13). In the seventh chapter, we are introduced to a multitude responding in praise to God (7:10). Their praise is answered by a response from "all the angels" (7:12). At the announcement that the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ, the twenty-four elders respond in praise (11:16-17). Those gaining victory over conspirators of evil respond in insightful praise (15:2-3). At the overthrow of Satan's hosts, the voice of "much people" is heard praising God (19:1-3). The twenty-four elders join in the response of adoration (19:4-5), followed by the voice of a great multitude (19:6).
We are witnessing a Kingdom trait not common in many circles-RESPONSE! We live in the time of the silent church, when response is unusual-particularly insightful praise. But it is not so in the heavenly realms! Scripture informs us God inhabits "the praises of Israel" (Psa 22:3). Other versions say He is "enthroned on the praises . . . " (NKJV, NASB, RSV, NIV). This circumstance is but a reflection of the heavenly domain.
The Kingdom of God is a Monarchy, with One Sovereign reigning over it. His word, and His alone, governs that Kingdom. His will, and His alone, is effectively executed. But it is not a Kingdom characterized by silence among its subjects! The more the human spirit is tuned to the heavenly frequency, the more responsive it will become. While the response may take varied forms, it will always erupt!
Do Not Write!
" . . . Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, 'Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them'" (Verse 4). It is as though the Lord Himself confirmed the cry of this mighty angel (2 Sam 22:14; Psa 18:13; Rev 4:5; 19:6).
Before the sound of the seven thunders fades away, John begins to write. He has been told throughout the book to write what he sees and hears (1:11,19; 2:1,8,12,18; 3:1,7,14; 14:13; 19:9; 21:5). The heavenly Kingdom, however, is not a stereotyped Kingdom. It is not managed through routine, but through sensitivity and faith! Monotony and typecasting have no place in the reign of Jesus! He is a living Savior, employing a living Word, and administrating a dynamic Kingdom. Those who desire to serve the lord must do so in a spirit of attentiveness and watchfulness!
Now the Lord forbids John to write what he has heard! It is ever true, as Solomon said, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter" (Prov 25:2). Among other things, it confirms the necessity of Divine involvement if we are to understand His Word and workings. The fact that God can, and does, "conceal" a matter, confirms He can also open it up! He receives glory by both activities-revealing and concealing!
This is not the first time the Lord has concealed a matter. Daniel had the same experience. After being given a remarkable revelation concerning the future, the prophet was told, "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase" (Dan 12:4). It is not that the message would NEVER be known. It was that it would not be revealed prematurely! In this case, it would not serve God's purpose for His intentions to be uncovered before "the time of the end."
Perhaps some scribe or scholar thinks himself equal to deciphering the hidden message. Using language expertise, a supposedly infallible hermeneutic, or superior analytical skills, he might endeavor to open up what God has hidden. But all of his labor would be in vain. When God hides a matter, it is hidden. There simply is no way to unlock what God has locked!
Prior to His ascension, Christ's disciples thought to gain some insight into God's workings. Earnestly they asked, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). Had these men posed this question to many of the preachers and teachers I know, they would have been told, He will NEVER restore the kingdom to Israel! But that is not what Jesus answered, and it is not on the part of wisdom for His subordinates to give such an answer. Here is what Jesus said. "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority" (Acts 1:7). That aspect of the Kingdom has been "shut up," "sealed," and "hidden" to even the Apostles themselves. Such knowledge would not have benefitted the indispensable ministry of the Apostles, and thus it was not divulged to them. No amount of Scriptural expertise or disciplined study could have unlocked such "times or seasons" to the apostles. It simply was not appropriate for them to know these things.
The principle enunciated
The involved principle was enunciated under the Law, and is still applicable today. "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut 29:29). The things that "are revealed" are pertinent to the spiritual lives of those for whom they have been revealed. The "secret things," or matters unrevealed, are not essential for the generation to whom they are hidden.
Why things are hidden
The hiding of a matter can be for at least two reasons. The time is not appropriate, as in Daniel 12:4. The people are not able to receive it, as in John 16:12.
There is a proper time
However, when the times begin to be fulfilled, then the Lord begins to unveil things relevant to the life and ministry of His people. This was the reason for Paul's strong exhortation to the Romans. "And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light" (Rom 13:11-12).
Simeon, because of the times in which he lived, was given particular revelation of and involvement with the coming Messiah (Luke 2:25-28). At the same time, there were those who "looked for redemption in Jerusalem" (Lk 2:38).
Make no mistake about it, God does deal with times and seasons! Everything is NOT on automatic pilot! The prophets frequently spoke in terms of specific times when Divine purposes would be executed and fulfilled (Jer 3:17; 33:15; Zeph 1:12; 3:19). John the Baptist declared he was the harbinger of such a time (Mk 1:15). Paul spoke of an appointed time when the faithful would be praised by God (1 Cor 4:5). The Savior Himself was born "in the fulness of time" (Gal 1;4). And, the day of Pentecost was a day that "was fully come" (Acts 2:1).
Not time to understand the thunders
Thus, our text manifests that a response had been heard by John which bore no immediate relevancy to his time and ministry. Nor, indeed, was it appropriate for those who read his "book" to know what the seven thunders uttered.
TIME SHALL BE NO MORE!
"The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever . . . " (verses 5-6a). Everything in the Kingdom of God is Theo-centric: i.e, God-centered. No perceptive personality proceeds independently of the will and blessing of God Almighty. This mighty angel, who had influence over both land and sea, "raised up his hand to heaven," recognizing the Commander of the universe. With one hand he held the opened "little book," while the other is raised to heaven in solemn acknowledgment of the Sovereign Lord.
The angel swears "by Him Whom lives for ever and ever." It is as though he is saying, What is about to occur is by Sovereign decree. It is the working of the Lord, with which I concur, and which cannot be resisted.
The angel speaks as a representative of the King. What he is about to say is an announcement of something determined by God.
" . . . Who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it . . . " (Verses 6b). Because the coming event has to do with the earth, the angel reminds the universe that the Lord is its Creator. Men may speculate about the origin of the universe, but angels, "who are greater in power and might" do not engage in such foolish speculations. Nothing has come into existence of itself. The heavens were created by God, as well as everything within them. The earth is His creation, including all things in it. The sea is also the work of His hands, together with everything in it.
Much made of the Creator
The Holy Spirit makes much of the Creator. He affirms God "created all things through Jesus Christ" (Eph 3:9), and that for a purpose. Namely, "to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph 3:10-11). Of "the Word," John affirms, "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John 1:3). Paul extends the matter by saying, "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him" (Col 1:16).
Not only, therefore, were all things made by the Lord, they were also made FOR Him. The creation is the arena in which the great purpose of God is being fulfilled in most meticulous detail. In the end, everything will have served HIS purpose. This mighty angel recognizes that as he raises his hand to heaven, and swears by "Him Who lives forever." He is acknowledging the rule of heaven (Dan 4:26).
Although things appear chaotic, and often without form or pattern, yet they are under the control of the Almighty. How frequently this is stated in Scripture. A sampling of these affirmations will be profitable. "O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?" (2 Chron 20:6). "For the kingdom is the Lord's, And He rules over the nations" (Psa 22:28). "He rules by His power forever; His eyes observe the nations; Do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah" (Psa 66:7). "The LORD has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all" (Psa 103:19).
Notice the perceptive description of the Lord. -"Who lives forever" (Psa 92:8; Isa 40:28; 44:6; 1 Tim 6:15-16). -"Created the heavens and the things therein" (Gen 1:1,14-19). -"The earth and the things therein" (Gen 1:1; Psa 95:4-5; Jer 10:12; Acts 17:25). -"The sea and the things therein" (Gen 1:20-22). Nehemiah joins in the angelic affirmation with a remarkable summation of the Divine nature. "You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You" (Neh 9:6).
Any view of history, contemporary events, or the future, that does not allow for the preeminence of Deity is false. Whether we are assessing the past, perusing the present, or contemplating the future, it must be within the context of an eternal ruling Lord!
The higher we are, the more careful and thoughtful we are in our words about God and Christ. The closer we are to the earth, the more haphazard our speech becomes concerning the Lord. We are not to think of God in lowly terms of this world! This is one of the objections some of us have to contemporary religion. It has humanized God in its speech and concepts. Those guilty of such thoughtlessness need to learn from this mighty angel.
A key observation
One further observation. Presently, there are three major divisions of the creation: heaven, earth, and sea (Ex 20:11; Psa 146:6; Ezek 38:20; Amos 9:6; Acts 4:24; 14:15). In the world to come, there will be a "new heavens and a new earth" (Isa 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet 3:13). However, there will be "no more sea" (Rev 21:1).
The fact that our Lord is the Creator justifies His involvement in earthly affairs. It is His world, and "all souls" belong to Him (Ezek 18:4).
Time Has Run Out
" . . . that there should be delay no longer . . . " (Verse 6c, NKJV). The KJV reads, "that there should be time no longer." There is a two-fold meaning to these words. First, this is the language of prophet fulfillment; i.e., there will be no further delay in the sounding of the seventh trumpet. Second, the purpose for the earth has been served, and the time for the termination of all things has arrived.
The thought is that everything has been progressing to an appointed conclusion. Now the appointed time has arrived, and the inhibition of time will be removed-no more delay! There appears to be a reference to the word given to the souls under the altar. "It was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed" (Rev 6:11).
An interesting perspective
There are several different views concerning what needs to be fulfilled before time is rendered obsolete. Each of them has some merit.
That the Gospel must first be preached throughout the whole world. This is based on Matthew 24:14. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."
That the fulfilling of the words of the holy prophets-all of them--is what must first take place. This is based on Acts 3:20-21. "And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."
That when the last soul believes the Gospel, the end will come. Although myself subjected to this teaching, I do not know of a text upon which it is based.
That when the last martyrs are slain, the Lord will conclude what we call "time." This is based on the text in Revelation 6:11. "It was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed."
The Word is Fulfilled
While there is an element of truth to each of these views, they do not provide a perspective that is large enough. We find the question of WHEN time will end in this very text. It will be when "the mystery of God" is "finished," or "accomplished" (NIV). That is, when the grand purpose of God has been brought to its fruition.
" . . . but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets" (Verse 6d-7). There will burst upon the horizon of time a realization among all peoples of what God was doing in the world. For some, it will be the culmination of everything they have hoped for. For others, it will be the conclusion of every benefit, advantage, and purpose.
The temporality of this realm, and the eternality of the world to come will then become apparent. As time winds down, the vanity of life without God will be clearly seen.
The MYSTERY will be concluded
The Spirit speaks frequently of "the mystery." Jesus told His disciples they had been granted the privilege of knowing "the mystery of the Kingdom" (Mk 4:11). Paul reminded the Romans that the Gospel involved the opening of "the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began" (Rom 16:25). Through Christ Jesus and His great salvation, God has "made known to us the mystery of His will" (Eph 1:9). In particular, Paul affirmed, God has "made known" unto him "the mystery" (Eph 3:3). That "mystery" was localized in the Person of Christ, through Whom it is being fulfilled and made known (Eph 3:4). In fact, redemption involves a participation in this mystery, called "the fellowship of the mystery" (Eph 3:9). Other versions translate this expression "the administration of the mystery." This is a good translation if we understand the "administration" is realized by bringing the sons of God into the outworking of the "mystery."
This "mystery" is presently being "revealed to His saints" (Col 1:26). In the conforming of them to the "image of His Son" (Rom 8:29), they are made familiar with both the nature and work of God. As the Spirit of God changes them "into the same image, from glory to glory" (2 Cor 3:18), what God is doing through Christ becomes more apparent to them.
An overview of the mystery
The word "mystery" describes a Divine objective that must be revealed to be known. It corresponds to the word "secret," which is used by Moses and the prophets (Deut 29:29; Dan 2:19,22,30; Amos 3:7). The use of both words presumes the opening of the matter by God to His people. Appropriately, Daniel described the Lord as "a God in heaven who reveals secrets" (Dan 2:28,29).
From one perspective, the "mystery" is the utter frustration of the powers of darkness (Gen 3:15; Heb 2;14; 1 John 3:8). From another vantage point, it is to conform the people He foreknew to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18). Still another viewpoint is related to the display of Divine wisdom to principalities and powers through the church (Eph 3:10-11). Yet another aspect of this purpose is the gathering of everything in heaven and earth into one, in Christ Jesus (Eph 1:9-10).
These are but different facets of Divine purpose, determined before the world began, and which has always been resident in the Divine nature. Everything is progressing to the fulfillment of this purpose, with all of its facets.
Our text announces the finishing, or completing of the mystery. This refers to the completion of the purpose, the conclusion of the objective regarding the reclamation of humanity.
Clarity is coming
Although God's plans are being steadily and certainly accomplished, it is not always obvious to the sons of men. We are given glimpses of the purpose itself, and occasionally are blessed with insights concerning its fulfillment. But when "the mystery is finished," total clarity will break through the clouds of obscurity! Until then, our hearts are comforted in the understanding that Christ is on the throne, governing in righteousness.
The thought of time being no more, and of the completion of God's purpose no longer being delayed, is worthy of our consideration. Jesus said some men commit iniquity, treating the servants of the Lord with contempt and indulging the flesh. They reason, "My master is delaying his coming" (Matt 24;48; Lk 12:45). But there is coming the time of the seventh trumpet, when "He who is coming will come and will not tarry" (Heb 10:37).
This is the time that demons fear. As it is written, they cried out, "What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?" (Matt 8:29). This is "the time of the harvest" (Matt 13:30). It is "the time" when the Lord will make manifest the counsels of the heart, and every faithful person shall have "praise of God" (1 Cor 4:5). Later in Revelation it is called "the time of the dead" (11:18). It is the time when the present heavens and earth shall have served their purpose, and the "ages to come" will commence (Eph 2:7).
As Declared to His Servants the Prophets
The finishing of the mystery or the completion of His purpose, will be in strict accordance with what was declared "through His servants the prophets." This confirms the truth declared by Amos. "Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).
Who are these prophets?
Who "His servants the prophets"? Is this a generic term for everyone throughout the ages that has spoken a word for God? I think not. The expression "the prophets" is mentioned no less than 54 times from Matthew through Revelation. It represents a particular class of people, chosen by God, to announce His intentions-particularly as relating to the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
The saints of God are "built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone" (Eph 2:20).
These are not prophets like Agabus (Acts 21:10), or Philip's four virgin daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). Nor, indeed, is the angel referring to the prophets placed in the church for the edification, comfort, and exhortation of the body (1 Cor 14:3). All of these are certainly legitimate and valuable. They do NOT, however, form the foundation upon which we are built.
These are "the Prophets" whose writings Jesus expounded to the two on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:27,44). They are the ones who wrote of the coming Messiah and His kingdom (John 1:45). They were witnesses to the "righteousness of God," as revealed through Jesus Christ (Rom 3:21). The Spirit reminds us, through Peter, they "prophesied of the grace that would come to you" (1 Pet 1:10).
Though laboring in general obscurity, these holy prophets spoke of things far beyond their time. Their eagle eye of faith pierced into the future, as God spoke through them of His "eternal purpose." Their view was partial, and they were not granted to comprehend the fulness of what they affirmed. But God has not forgotten those holy prophets, and will bring every syllable they uttered to fulfillment. For your consideration, the following sampling of prophetic references is given. They speak of a Divine purpose that will not fail of fulfillment. Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:11-16; 65:44-25; Jeremiah 3:16-19; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 8:23.
God has declared, and there will be no contradicting of it, "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it" (Isa 55:10-11, NKJV).
How This Truth Inspires Us
The news of time being "no more" is refreshing, indeed, to the saints of God. It speaks of the conclusion of their trials, the overthrow of their enemies, and the realization of their hope. What a joyful sound! "The mystery of God is finished!" That is what brings a conclusion to time.
Those in Christ Jesus live in prospect of the grand consummation. Time is a precious commodity, given to us to use wisely. How sensible the admonition, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Eph 5:15-16).
Think of the things that belong to "time." This is when some men do not endure "sound doctrine" (2 Tim 4:3). It is when we experience "the time of need" (Heb 4:16). Now is the period of our sojourn, in a land where we are strangers and pilgrims (1 Pet 2:11). The "now" is when we often need to be awakened, due to the tendency to slumber and become lethargic in the good fight of faith (Rom 13:11). All of our trials belong to "time," as well as all testings, sufferings, discipline of the body, and battles.
Lay up a good foundation
The spirit gives an admonition to those who are "rich in this world." The exhortation is appropriate for most us. "Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim 6:18-19).
The logic of living godly
Building upon reality of the coming demise of the natural order, the Spirit speaks candidly to believers. "Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pet 3:11-13).
The church has been translated into the eternal order. It is an order where the words of the angel are a welcome sound! Time will give way to eternity! Praise the Lord! Even now, our trials are "working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor 4:17). Our resurrection bodies are awaiting us in heaven now. They are our "house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor 5:1). The salvation which we have by grace through faith is "with eternal glory" (2 Tim 2:10), and is itself an "eternal salvation" (Heb 5:9). We are told of "eternal redemption" (Heb 9:12), an "eternal inheritance" (Heb 9;15), and the promise of "eternal life" (1 John 2:25). We have been given "everlasting consolation," and have believed an "everlasting Gospel" (2 Thess 2:16; Rev 14:6).
We have not been created in Christ Jesus for time, but for eternity! That is why this book is for our comfort-it tells of events that lead to the consummation. The purpose of God is being brought to a glorious conclusion in the very midst of His enemies.
The next significant event
This text teaches us that once the Scriptures are open to us, the next truly significant event will be the dissolution of time. What a day of rejoicing it will be when the veil of time is torn asunder, and we enter into the endless ages to come!
Our text speaks of "the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound." It is then that the finishing of the mystery, or the completion of Divine purpose, begins.
The winding down of time is preceded by an "open book"-by the unfolding of the Word of God. This speaks of illumination, particularly through the Scriptures, and is initiated from heaven.
The experience of Daniel
Daniel was told to conceal what he was given, shutting up the book "until the time of the end." The words to Daniel are arresting. "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase" (Dan 12:4). Although there are an impressive number of variant views of this text, mainstream thinking has generally perceived it in the same way.
The words of Daniel were closed, like a sealed fountain (Song of Sol 4:12), until the time when earnest inquiry would characterize the times. The "increase of knowledge" is related to men running "to and fro," i.e., in a fervent quest for knowledge.
The Amplified Old Testament captures this sense of the text. "But you, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end. Then shall many run to and fro and search anxiously [through the Book], and knowledge [of God's purposes as revealed by His prophets] shall be increased and become great."
The meaning of these words
The meaning of the vision, therefore, is that prior to the conclusion of all things, the knowledge of the Lord will break forth, and a broader understanding of Divine purpose will be obtained. This will occur because men's hearts will be stirred to search out the truth of God. They would no longer be content to dwell in a state of spiritual ignorance concerning the "eternal purpose" of God.
Some of you are experiencing the opening of the Book. Your hearts have been thrown into a fervent quest for the truth. The blessedness of this condition cannot be overstated! You are a meaningful part of a prelude to the bringing down of time.
Later, in the twelfth chapter of Daniel, "the end" is defined more precisely. "But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days" (12:13). What a wonderful promise! Here is a pledge of Daniel's involvement in the world to come, following the resurrection. There are few passages of Scriptures that speak with greater clarity on the subject. This is the conclusion that is being introduced in our text.
A principle to be seen
There is a principle to be seen here that is of incalculable value. Truth cannot be perceived through systematic methods, which tend to be impersonal, not requiring the involvement of the heart. The impact of systematic theology, hermeneutical approaches, and stereotyped interpretations has been devastating to the Christian community. These have vaunted scholars instead of Jesus, and attributed Divine traits to methods rather than God. Spiritual poverty and ignorance are in their wake, proving they are not of God.
The apprehension of truth must be preceded by a fervent quest for understanding. The failure to engage in such a quest will close the volume of the book, making it mysterious and inconsequential to the individual. The prophet Jeremiah enunciated this principle of understanding. "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer 29:13, NKJV). This premise was expressed by others throughout Scripture (Lev 26:40-45; Deut 4:29-31; 30:1-20; 1 Kgs 8:47-50; Psa 91:15; Isa 55:6-7; Hos 5:15; 6:1-3; Amos 5:4-6; Zeph 3:1-3; Lk 11:9-10).
The fervency depicted requires all of the heart. It is not a casual quest for knowledge, or a mere academic thrust that is described in the words "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." God requires that "the whole heart" be engaged in a quest for Himself and His truth (Deut 30:2,10; 1 Kgs 2:4; 23:3; Jer 3:10; 24:7; Psa 119:2,10,58,69,145; Joel 2:12; Acts 8:37).
Confirmed by History
History confirms a fervent quest for the truth has always been honored by God. The book has been "opened" to those with burning hearts. Great revivals have always been attended by such a spirit. Some of them are recorded in Scripture. The time of Joshua (Josh 5:1-9). The time of Samuel (1 Sam 7:1-6). The time of Elijah (1 Kgs 18:17-40). The time of Jehoash and Jehoiada (2 Kgs 11-12). The time of Hezekiah (2 Kgs 18:1-7). The time of Josiah (2 Kgs 22-23). The time of Asa (2 Chron 14-15). In the latter part of Manasseh's life (2 Chron 33:12-19).
Such awakenings are fitly described in the book of Acts, when the knowledge of God was spreading rapidly. That growth was associated with an apprehension of the Word of God. " But the word of God grew and multiplied" (Acts 12:24).
The Reformation Movement is an example of what an energetic quest for truth can do. That was a movement which broke the back of a religious system that had successfully stifled the Word of God for centuries. It was a movement of the open book! Not only were the Scriptures made accessible to the people, there was a remarkable resurgence of spiritual understanding. Some have concluded the same type of thing occurred during the beginning of, what is called, the Restoration Movement.
It is generally acknowledged (among those with whom I have been identified) that a disinterest in the Word of God prevails in their churches. Cunning men concoct schemes to awaken the interest of their people, whom they acknowledge are Scripturally illiterate, and content with the situation. Preaching has been modified and curtailed to meet this condition. Brevity, shallowness, and casualness characterize much of what is falsely called "preaching." But all of this has been ineffectual to change the situation.
A Spiritual Resurgence
This vision is proclaiming that a spiritual resurgence will take place before the curtain of time is brought down. The book will be open, and the words of the prophets will be fulfilled down to the finest detail. This does not mean that everything will end with truth dominating in the earth. We know, from a variety of passages, this will not be the case (Matt 24:12,37-39, etc. ). However, there will be an unprecedented spread of the Gospel. Isaiah said it this way, "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea."What a blessed promise!
He further affirmed this would not be due to an energetic evangelistic effort. It would come "For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious" (Isa 11:9-10). Habakkuk also spoke of that day (Hab 2:14). The Gentile initiative is prophesied several places. "The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising" (Isa 60:3). "In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, 'Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you'" (Zech 8:23). "Many nations shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion the law shall go forth, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem" (Micah 4:2).
This type of renewal took place at the preaching of John the Baptist. He did not go to the people, but the people came to him. As it is written, Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins" (Matt 3:6; Mark 1:5). Speaking of this unprecedented awakening, Jesus said, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it" (Matt 11:12, NIV). This was not the result of a missionary effort, but of spiritually hungry people taking hold of the truth!
Our text affirms we have not seen the last of this type of thing. May the Lord hasten the day when this again occurs-and may it do so in our time, and in the place we occupy!
TAKE THE LITTLE BOOK!
"Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, 'Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth'" (Verse 8). God will not allow John to be a mere bystander-an observer only, as it were. He is called into participation, summoned to involvement. Though old in years, suffering in tribulation, and isolated on a desolate rock, John must engage in spiritual initiative. That is the manner of the Kingdom! A lack of involvement in the working of the Lord is wholly unacceptable.
Deliberate action required
John is not forced to take the book, but commanded to take it! His will must enter into the matter. He is to be characterized by the same spirit of which this interlude had spoken-a seeking of the Word of the Lord. The book must be taken voluntarily!
The command is specific
There is no ambiguity here! He is told WHAT book take: "the little book." The book is further identified: "which is open." The location of the book is made clear: "in the hand of the angel." The particular angel is specified: "which standeth upon the sea and the earth."
The closer we are to the Lord, and the more sensitive we are to His voice, the more clarity prevails. Those who delight in mystery do well to take heed to these words.
Boldness is required
John is not told the angel will come to him, and give him the book. He is to "Go, take the little book." He was not taking the book from a fellow mortal. That might have been difficult enough. He is taking it from the hand of a mighty angel that has called for the cessation of time. There is no academic posture that can fulfill such a word!
We learn from this that Divine commands are always attended by Divine strength. You will recall that Christ's words to the infirm were accompanied by Divine power; i.e., "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house" (Matt 9:6), "Stretch out your hand" (Matt 12:13), "Lazarus, come forth!" (John 11:43), etc., etc. It is still the same today! The commandments of the Lord are always accompanied by His power. That is what makes them doable!
Thus, the stage is set for the next section of this book. John is now involved in the Divine purpose at a new level. He will join in the working with both heart and mind. Thus, the Apostle will set an example for us all. As we sit at the feet of Jesus, allowing faith to dominate our hearts, we will be drawn into the Divine working.
The plan of the ages is being unfolded to us, as well as the manner in which it is being fulfilled. Under the governing hand of King Jesus, the purpose of God is being brought to its culmination. That purpose involves the exposure and punishment of evil doers as well as the enlightenment and reward of saints. No action of man has been overlooked. Too, no facet of the "eternal purpose" has been frustrated or abandoned.
God's involvement of other personalities in the completion of His determined objective is noteworthy. The conquering Lamb is the primary One involved. But there are also holy angels, mighty angels, and strong angels. The four living creatures are participants, as well as the twenty-four elders. Even wicked angels are summoned into association with this purpose. The prayers of the saints and the pleas of the martyrs under the throne are also instrumental in the completion of the Plan. Even the kings of the earth are drawn into it.
God is working everything together for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28). Also, everything is working against the ungodly, even though, from time to time, that does not appear to be the case.
All of the universe, and all the activity of created personages, are moving toward the consummation of the ages. Everything is being orchestrated from the Throne in meticulous detail - without compromising the nature of God, or violating the Divine imagery in mankind. It is ever true, "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen" (Rom 11:36).
Not a history lesson
These things are not a mere history lesson! Rather, they are calculated to bring "everlasting consolation and good hope by grace" to those engaged in the good fight of faith (2 Thess 2:16). The warfare into which we have been called requires a high level of confidence, a goodly measure of joy, and a dominating hope. In order to possess these things, God has unveiled something of the future to us. He has not told us everything, but He tells us enough to assure our hearts that all will be well for the righteous.
As we run the race that is set before us, the Lord holds the goal before our hearts!
Those who are suffering for righteousness sake-companions, as it were, in tribulation-are to take heart! There has been no interruption of Divine purpose! God is still working everything together for their good, and their reward is still great!