The Sounding of the Last Trumpet
October 14th, 1962 @ 10:50 AM
THE SOUNDING OF THE LAST TRUMPET
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-14-62 10:50 a.m.
On the radio, you’re listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled, The Sounding of the Last Trumpet. After these many years preaching through the Bible, we have come to the Apocalypse, the last and the climatic book. In our preaching through the Revelation, we have come to chapter 11; and last Sunday we stopped at verse 13; and this Sunday, we begin at verse 14, and follow the passage to the end of the chapter. If you would like to turn in your Bibles, you can easily follow the message which is the exposition of the passage in Revelation 11:14-19:
The second woe is past – and the sounding of the sixth trumpet – and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly – the seventh trumpet.
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.
And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces and worshiped God,
Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
And the nations of the earth were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant; and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
This is a proleptic synopsis of the ultimate and final work of God in the earth. This is the great climacteric toward all of the elective purposes of God inevitably and inexorably move. In the tenth chapter, the preceding chapter, John saw the vision of the cloud-robed angel, coming down from heaven; and as he stood with one foot on the sea and one foot on the earth, he raised his hand toward heaven and swore by God that liveth forever and ever, that there should be delay no longer: "But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished – in the earth" [Revelation 10:7]. Therefore, the blowing, the sounding of that seventh trumpet is not one shrill blast in a moment and it is over. But rather, "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished." So, this comprises a period of time – the days of the voice of the seventh angel. And as we look at the Revelation, the unveiling, we learn – we see that the seventh angel and its sounding and all of the repercussions that follow thereafter are the entire programs and judgments of God until the final and completed redemption, until the creation of the new heaven and new earth.
Chapters 12 to 22 – the second half of this Revelation is nothing but a delineation of what is taken place in synoptic form here in the passage we have just read. Chapters 12 to 22 are but an exergasia of all of these summations that we see here in reading of the sounding of the trumpet of this seventh and final and last angel. So these chapters are the over-spanning of what is said here in this passage of our text. The vintage and the harvest of the earth; the pouring out of the seven last bowls of the wrath and the judgment of God; the great final battle of Armageddon; the personal appearing of the Lord Christ and the establishment of His kingdom in the earth; the great, final white throne judgment of the dead; and the re-creation of heaven and earth and the descent of the New Jerusalem, our final and ultimate home, into that re-created earth: all of these things in their wonders and if their stupendous, miraculous, marvelous proportions, all of this is encompassed in the days of the voice of this seventh and last angel.
Now, we shall take the text and follow it as it is written here in the Book: "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven," [Revelation 11:15]. And as we turn through the following chapters, how many times is that reiterated? "And there was a great voice out of the heaven which said," "And a great voice out of the temple which announced," "And there were voices," For example, in the fourteenth chapter and the second verse: "I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters,and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps," [Revelation 14:2]. And then they sing a glorious song of victory and triumph unto God. In that same chapter, there is the voice of a great angel flying through the midst of the heaven with the everlasting gospel to preach to those that dwell in the earth. In the same chapter, there is the voice of a mighty angel crying the fall of Babylon, great Babylon. In the same chapter, there is the voice of an angel out of the temple crying to the Lord of the harvest: "Thrust in thy sickle, and reap,for the earth is ripe to the gathering" [Revelation 14:15]. When you turn to the sixteenth chapter, for example, there is heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go forth and pour out the vials of the wrath and judgment of God upon the earth." Seven of them. In that same chapter, there is heard the voice of those who cry, "It is done, it is done. And there were voices, and lightnings, and judgments, and thunderings, and a great mighty earthquake."
So we are entering here this final agony of the earth, its travail, its pain, and its judgment in the hands of a furious and wrathful God. When I read and listen to these soft, easy sermons, oh, I don’t know where they come from. Because the Revelation of God in this Book from its beginning to its end is always that announcement that there is a great and a final and a ultimate day coming in which God shall deal with this world, when His judgment shall fall upon sin and unbelief and rejection and unrighteousness. "For," as the eloquent preacher in the Book of Hebrews said, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" [Hebrews 10:31],"for our God is a consuming fire" [Hebrews 12:29], and "he shall burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" [Matthew 3:12]. All these things in the Word and the revelation of God. These men in soft clothing and in philosopher’s chairs and in polished pulpits who seek to speak of ease and delectable and soft and quiet things when God says there are thunderings and lightnings and judgments and unquenchable fire! Ah, that we might be warned and listen to the whole counsels of God!
And the seventh angel sounded, and there were those great, mighty voices from heaven announcing judgment and triumph for the Almighty and these great voices said, “The kingdom of this world – singular, as John wrote it – he basileia, the kingdom, the sovereignty of this world – is become – singular, egeneto – Is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever" [Revelation 11:15]. Isn’t that a remarkable conception? When we think of this world, why, we multiply the kingdoms, here, here, here, here and there and on the map and the globe and there they are all the way around. But when God looks at it from the standpoint of eternity and from heaven, there is a kingdom in this world, and it is presided over by a prince ruler. And you meet that again and again in the Scriptures. It isn’t just a single, unique solitary conception here, it is through the whole Word of God. When Satan took Jesus on the top of the great, high mountain and showed him all of the kingdoms of the world and their glory, he said, "All this will I give thee if thou will bow down and worship me" [Matthew 4:9]. All the glory of all of the kingdoms of the world, Satan offered Christ. And if He did not possess it, it was no temptation. How could it be a temptation to Jesus if it were not Satan’s to offer? Satan said in his mind, "It is mine, and all of it will I devote to thee, if thou will bow down and worship me."
In the second Corinthian letter, chapter 4, verse 4, Paul says the God of this world is Satan. And when you read this Bible, you will find that the portrayal of the governments of this world are in terms of vicious and savage and wild beasts. That is uniform through the whole Scriptures. I take one instance in the seventh chapter of the prophecy of Daniel. He sees four great beasts come out of the sea, this restless mass of humanity. "And the first was like a lion with eagle’s wings,And he beheld another beast like a bear and as it raised itself on its side, there were three ribs in his mouth between his teeth,And the third I beheld like a leopard and had four wings and he had four heads,And the last, the fourth I saw dreadful and terrible. And it had great iron teeth and it devoureth and break in pieces" [Daniel 7:4-7]. But God in His righteousness and in His holiness, from the third heaven, from the heaven of heavens – as God looks down into this earth, there is a sovereignty here, there is a sovereignty here, there is a kingdom here, a kingdom here, and it is a kingdom of death and of darkness. But God looks down into this earth, here are the cemeteries. This whole planet is no other thing than a place to bury God’s people in. Made in the image of the Lord God Almighty, made in the likeness of the Lord, and yet full of death and buried here in this earth. And there is iniquity and darkness and unrighteousness and violence and savagery everywhere. And however a kingdom may revolt, its revolution is still just about the same as it was before. The revolutionary regime in Soviet Russia today is as vile and as wicked as it was in the days of the Czars. And the revolutionary regime in Red China today is as bloody and as terrible and as awful as it was in the days of any of the dynasties before. However the sick man may turn in his bed, it is the same agony and the same pain, however he’s placed.
That is God’s delineation of this earth and of this world. There is a kingdom and it is presided over by the prince of the power of the air and by the powers of darkness. But God says not forever – not forever will sin reign in this earth. And not forever will Satan reign unchallenged. And not forever will the grave open its arms to receive my people. And not forever will they dig in the earth in order to plant my children in the heart of the ground. There is coming a day, says the Lord God, when death will be no more and sin will be no more. And Satan will be no more. There will be a day when these are cast out, for, says this great voice from heaven, the kingdom, the sovereignty, the sovereignty, the reigning, the authority – "the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever – world without end" [Revelation 11:15]. What an announcement! What an announcement! What an amazing announcement!
And what follows after is in keeping with that glorious triumphant word. And when the great voice out of heaven made that announcement – in the days of the seventh trumpet, the kingdoms of this world is become the kingdom of the Lord and of his Christ. When he made that great triumphant announcement, the four and twenty elders – they represent us, they are God’s resurrected immortalized, raptured, taken away, transfigured ones in heaven – the four and twenty elders who sat before God on their thrones fell down upon their faces and worshiped God. It is the only place in the Bible where you will find that: "and they fell on their faces" [Revelation 11:16]. In the fifth chapter of the Revelation, for example, these four and twenty elders – God’s sainted, resurrected children – they fall down before God and worship Him [Revelation 5:5]. But at the announcement of this amazing and celestial and heavenly word, they fall upon their faces and say – then comes in their prayer of thanksgiving] – "We give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Pantokrator Almighty – we give thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who art and wast," [Revelation 11:1 7].
And then some scribe came along as he copied the Bible, and he remembered over there in Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 1:8, why it was the Lord who was, is, and is to come – ho erchomenos, ‘the one coming." So he thought, Well, John did not know what he was talking about, so – so he thought, Well, John just left that out. So he put it in "ho erchomenos, the one that is coming" [Revelation 11:17]. No, this is just a little instance of the inspiration of every syllable and every Word of God – for the Lord is already come. He is here at the sounding of the voice of that seventh trumpet – "Oh, Lord God, who art and wast." – not the One who is coming; the One who is already here.
Isn’t that an amazing, astonishing thing that you and I live to see a day like that? When the Lord God in presence, in personal appearance, in actuality will be here and we shall look upon Him? It is almost unbelievable that these mortal eyes should ever see God, and that this dull stolid world should ever vibrate to the light and the glory and the presence of the Almighty. But that has been the faith of the Book from the beginning. "Yea," said Job, "though worms through my skin destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom mine eyes shall behold" [Job 19:26, 27] – not somebody else just telling me about Him. We, we creatures of the dust, worms of this earth, moving toward the grave – we shall live in that hour, and in that day, and see God "Who is," who is present, the Lord God Almighty.
"Thou hast taken thy great power and hast reigned. And the nations of the earth were angry and thy wrath is come" [Revelation 11:17, 18]. Look at those tenses – "the nations of the earth were angry." Savage and full of iniquity and sin and violence and war. If they are not at war, [they are] getting ready for war, beating their swords, sharpening their implements of destruction. "Thy judgment is come and the time of the dead that they should be judged" [Revelation 11:18]. When a man dies, he does not die. When a man dies, that is not the end. Even these wicked dead shall be raised at the great, final, white throne judgment. And [they] shall stand, and God shall judge them according to their works and send them away into darkness and everlasting perdition. Oh, God! Oh, God! "And the time of the dead that they should be judged – the wicked at that great white throne judgment day – and thou shouldest give rewards unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that tremble before thy name" [Revelation 11:18].
There’s another conception all through the Word of God – the beginning of wisdom is the trembling before God, the fear of the Lord. The awesome reverence by which a man stands in the presence of the Almighty. I want to parenthesize here just to say that is why I do not like in song or in prayer or in sermon a man’s familiarity with God. Oh, oh, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so is God above every man. And the place of a mortal man who is dying and made out of the dust of the earth is always one of reverential awe and fear and trembling. "Behold," said Abraham, "I have taken upon myself to speak unto thee, I, who am but dust and ashes" [Genesis 18:27]. Who am I, oh, Lord God, to come into Thy presence and to call upon Thy great name? The awe and the reverence that God’s children have, who fear Thy name. And we do not take it in vain, do we? We do not curse by it, do we? That is God’s holy name and "thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for God will not hold him guiltless who taketh my name in vain" [Exodus 20:7] – "they who fear thy name" [Revelation 11:18].
And the day is come, and the seventh angel when he sounds, that God has the reward for His servants, the prophets, the saints, and those that tremble before Thy presence. Isn’t that glorious? Look, there is no reward for God’s people here. That is why I had you read the passage at the Scripture reading in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. I guess the people wondered at the 8:15 o’clock service why I had them read that passage – because I never got to this part of my sermon. I never got to it. I never got to what I was preaching about at the 8:15 o’clock sermon. (Ah, some of these days, praise the Lord, we are going to get us a planet all to ourselves and we are going to make announcement: The pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas is going to preach a thousand years. And he is not going to have any interruptions and there is not going to be anything to stop him. He is just going on for a thousand years and it is going to be interesting to see how many of my flock gather over there, over yonder, over yonder.) Look at this. Look at this. God says down here we do not have our reward. And the books of history say the same thing. How the world has treated God’s people! Some of them they burned at the stake; some of them they crucified upside down; some of them they threw in boiling cauldrons of oil; some of them they despised and rejected. Isn’t it strange how these things come?
In the last few days, I have come across two young men. One is in the army who says, "I have given up my Christian separateness for I cannot rise in the army," he says, "and not drink. So I am going to drink. And we serve the stuff in our home." Isn’t that strange? Isn’t that strange? So a man cannot rise in the army. He cannot be a big officer in the army without drinking and serving liquor. Don’t you know God delights in that as He looks down upon our beloved America to see whether or not we live or die? The second I came across it was in the State Department. A young fellow said to me, "And you cannot rise in the State Department, you cannot rise in the Ambassadorial Counselor’s Service of the American government unless you serve liquor and drink." And don’t you know when the Lord sees that He delights to keep America and in the imponderables of our destiny, God says: These are my beloved people and I put my arms around to protect and keep them? Oh, the Lord looks down from heaven and says, "I have a day of reckoning. Some things are right and some things are wrong. And all of the extenuating circumstances that a man can conceive of does not make wrong right or right wrong." They may be in our sights gray, but not in God’s sight. It’s either black or it is white. It is either right or it is wrong. And God judges according to the rightness and the wrongness. And the destiny of our country does not lie in our armies or our navies or our air force or our atomic space achievements, but it lies in the hands, the elective choice of the Almighty God who judges the nations as the fine dust in the balance. Oh, how your heart trembles.
I will go back now. And that day is coming when the reward will be to God’s servants and prophets and saints "and them that fear thy name" [Revelation 11:18]. Not now, not here. The inequalities in this life are endless. It’s over there. The Lord says, "When I come, I have my reward with me" [Revelation 22:12]. And Paul says. "We shall all stand at the bemaof Christ, at the judgment bar of the Lord, and there we receive our reward" [2 Corinthians 5:10]. When that time comes – when that time comes, then Paul shall receive his "crown of righteousness, which" he said that God hath in store for "all of them also who love His appearing" [2 Timothy 4:8]. At that time shall Moses receive the recompense to which he had respect when he chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. And at that time shall Daniel stand in his lot at the latter place. And at that time shall the apostles be seated upon their twelve and everlasting thrones. And at that time shall all who love the Lord, who have forsaken houses or land or brethren, shall receive a hundredfold and everlasting life. Not here, but there. In this world, we suffer tribulation, and we have conflict and agony and war in our souls. And the world is so much against the devout, the holy and the pious life. But there shall God own His own. And God shall crown and reward those who have walked in His way and have loved His name and done humble menial service to our blessed Lord.
And in that last, "and shall destroy them which destroy the earth" [Revelation 11:18]. There is another conception all through the Word of God. For example, our Lord said in the parable of the tares: "The son of man shall send forth his angels and they shall gather out of his kingdom all of them that hurt and do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire" [Matthew 13:41, 42]. And that same thing you find in 2 Peter, his last chapter. There where he says, "this world now is reserved for that hour when it shall be swept by fire in the judgment day and the perdition of ungodly men" [2 Peter 3:7]. Always that. The destruction of those who destroy the earth. And in the chapters that follow, there is the Beast and there is the False Prophet and there is the Dragon, Satan himself, cast into the lake of eternal and burning fire. That’s God purging this earth, to destroy them which destroy the earth.
Then, lest again the people of the Lord be discouraged in the violence and in the horror and in the agony of those terrible days, then there is a vision for us: "And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in the temple the ark of his covenant" [Revelation 11:19]. In the lightnings and in the voices and in the thunderings and the earthquake and the great hail – the epithet "great" add there because of the sharp, sudden, piercing judgments of God. But lest you be afraid, and lest you be discouraged, "the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant." The ark of His covenant – in that golden chest, the promises of God – all of them. And not a one will fall to the ground. Not a one will fail. Every word God hath said and every promise the Lord hath made will He faithfully keep. And in the midst of His judgment and the outpouring of His wrath, there was seen a temple of God in heaven, and in the temple, the ark of His promises – the ark of His covenant. The ark of those things He said to us, I will keep you for ever: "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" [Hebrews 13:5]. "If I go away, I will come again and receive you unto myself" [John 14:3]." "If we sin, we know we have an advocate with the Father" [1 John 2:1]. And "when we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" [1 John 1:9]. And I have a heavenly home for you: "for if the earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a house, a new home, made without hands, eternal in the heaven" [2 Corinthians 5:1]. "And I saw opened in heaven, the temple of God, and there was in his temple, the ark of his covenant" [Revelation 11:19]. These are His promises to us and they never fail. They never fail.
Our time is gone and we are already off the air. Just for us here, somebody you giving his heart to Jesus; somebody you coming into the fellowship of His church, while we sing this song of appeal, and while we wait before the Lord, would you make it today? "And here I am, pastor, and here I come." In the throng in this balcony round, there is a stairway at the front and at the back and on either side. You come. You come. There is time and to spare. If you are on the last row of that top balcony, come. And on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front. "Pastor, this is our whole family, we are all coming today." Or a couple or just one somebody you in this hour of grace and appeal, when the Holy Spirit speaks to our heart and the door is wide open to enter in, come. Come and be saved. Come and let God write your name in the Book of Life. Come and let the Lord wash our sins away. Come and rejoice in our great salvation. Come and march pilgrimage with us on the way to the heavenly kingdom. We are going to is sing: "When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more," when they call the roll "up yonder, I’ll be there." And while we sing the song, make it now. Make it now. While we stand and while we sing.