The Sounding of the Last Trumpet
October 14th, 1962 @ 8:15 AM
THE SOUNDING OF THE LAST TRUMPET
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-14-62 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Sounding of the Last Trumpet. In our preaching through the Bible we have come to the Revelation, and in our preaching through the Revelation, to chapter 11. And last Sunday we left off preaching at verse 13 [Revelation 11:13]. We begin now at verse 14, and the text follows to the end of the chapter. If you would like to turn in your Bible to the place, you can easily follow the message, for it is an exposition of Revelation 11:14-19.
“The second woe is past,” the blowing of the sixth trumpet, “and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly” [Revelation 11:14], the blowing of the final and seventh trumpet. Then it follows:
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 forever 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 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 proleptic; it is synoptic. This is a brief summary, a syllabus of all that shall happen to the end of time, to the completed redemption. For the glorious, cloud-robed angel who came down from heaven in chapter 10 [Revelation 10:1], raised his hand, and swore by Him that liveth forever and ever . . . that there should be delay no longer; but that “in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished” [Revelation 10:1, 5-7]. That would let us know that the sounding of the seventh angel, the last trumpet is not a piercing blast that is over in a moment, but the angel said, “In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished” [Revelation 10:7]. So there is here a period of time in the days of the voice of this last angel. All that God hath purposed for this earth and these heavens and for us will come to pass. So beginning here we have the overreaching of all that God purposes to the creation of the new heavens and the new earth.
This passage we have just read is an exergasia, it is a little synoptic for all of the Revelation beginning at chapter 12 through chapter 22 [Revelation 12-22]. That would include then, the harvest of the vintage of the earth [Revelation 14:14-16]. It would include the pouring out of the seven bowls, the seven vials of the wrath of God [Revelation 15:1-16:21]. It would include the great final battle of Armageddon [Revelation 19:19]. It would include the establishment of the kingdom of Christ in His personal appearing [Revelation 19:11-13]. It would include the great white throne judgment of the dead [Revelation 20:11-15]. It would include the coming down from God out of heaven of the New Jerusalem in those new created heavens and this new created earth [Revelation 21:1-22:21].
So the seventh angel in his sounding brings the grand climactic [conclusion] of all ages and of all time [Revelation 10:7]. And nowhere in Scripture is there delineated the intensity and the wonders of God’s works as we shall begin to see them unfold in the days of the voice of this seventh angel. Now we are going to follow the text. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying” [Revelation 11:15], and you will find that to be a characteristic of what you read in the days of the voice of that seventh angel. There are great voices that resound from the courts of heaven, for example in chapter 14, verse 2:
I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sang that glorious song of triumph before the Lamb.
There is the sound of the voice of the mighty angel of God flying through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth.
Then there is the sound of the voice of an angel who announces the fall of great Babylon [Revelation 14:8]. Then there is the sound of a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” [Revelation 14:13]. Then there is the sound of a voice out of the temple, crying that it is time for the great Reaper, the Lord Christ, to harvest the vintage of the earth [Revelation 14:15-16], all of that in the fourteenth chapter. In the sixteenth chapter, for example, out of the temple there comes a great voice saying to those seven angels with the last vials, bowls, of the wrath of God, “Go and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth” [Revelation 16:1]. Then there is the sound of a great voice out of heaven, out of the temple, saying, “It is done” [Revelation 16:17]. And there followed immediately voices, and thunderings, and lightnings; and a great earthquake [Revelation 16:18]. So when we come to this final consummation of God’s elective purposes in the earth, there are great voices that announce what God is intending and preparing to do.
Now this first voice—“There came out of heaven a great voice, saying”—now you have it translated here, “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ” [Revelation 11:15]. The apostle John wrote it like this: he basileia, singular, “the kingdom of this world.” Again it is singular: “is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ”; the kingdom. In God’s point of view, as God brings this ultimate age and consummation, there is a sovereignty down here in this earth. These multiplied kingdoms are just units in that great overall suzerainty. But from God’s point of view, and as God writes it here in the Book, there is a world power. There is a world kingdom in which we are forced to dwell and to live our lives. And without exception, the Scriptures present the king of that kingdom and the lord of that suzerainty, He presents it, God presents it in the Scriptures as Satan himself [2 Corinthians 4:3-4]. Always that is done.
When the devil took Jesus up on a high mountain and showed Him all of the kingdoms of the world and their power, Satan said to Him, “All of their glory will I give unto Thee, if Thou dost wilt only fall down and worship me. All of it I will give to Thee” [Matthew 4:8-9]. Now when somebody comes along and he interprets that passage and he says, “Now, Satan did not have that power, that glory to offer to Jesus,” then if he didn’t it was no temptation. How would it be a temptation for a thief to steal money if there were no money there to steal? There’d be no temptation in it at all if Satan could not have given it to Jesus. Satan said, “It is mine, all of the glory of these kingdoms” [Matthew 4:8-9]. In the second chapter, in the fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians and the fourth verse, Paul says, “The god of this world is Satan” [2 Corinthians 4:4].
And back of all that you see developing in this world, inevitably and always the Bible presents the point of view that Satan works, always works. And in the presentation of the governments of this world, without exception, all the way through they are delineated as fierce and savage beasts. For example in the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, “I saw four great beasts come up from the sea” [Daniel 7:3], and then he says they represent governments presided over by kings. Now look at those as he describes those governments. The first was like a lion and had eagle’s wings [Daniel 7:4]. And the second was like a bear who raised himself up on his side, and there was in his mouth three ribs between his teeth. And the third was like a leopard which had four wings and four heads [Daniel 7:6]. And the fourth was a beast, dreadful and terrible, and it had great iron teeth [Daniel 7:5]; and it devoured and brake in pieces [Daniel 7:7].
Isn’t that an unusual thing how God looks upon this world, and how God delineates this world? As the Lord looks down from heaven upon this world, to God it is a fallen humanity, and it is a fallen earth, and it is filled with death, and God looks at these cemeteries, and it is filled with suffering. Yesterday, visiting the hospital, one of the patients said, “You know you don’t realize how much of illness, and agony, and pain, and suffering there is in this world until you spend time in a hospital.” And God looks upon it. And God looks upon this world, and there is all kinds of depravity, and iniquity, and evil all through it. And it is in all governments. We love our country, and our government, and our people, but oh, oh, the things that break your heart in our own government and the iniquity that is in it!
I was walking down the street of one of the capital cities of one of the seven nations south of the border, and the missionary walking by my side, he said, “Look at that woman,” and I looked at that woman. She looked like a prostitute, she looked like a gutter rat, she looked like a rag—a thing. I said, “Who is she?”
He said, “She is the wife of the ambassador of the United States, and she is a confirmed alcoholic! She represents the finest in America, and she goes from one drunken orgy in Washington to another drunken orgy in the capital city to which the United States government has sent her; she represents us.
A, we used the word “alcoholic”; when I was a boy they called them “drunks,” drunks. God says that this will not always continue. God says—and we’re going to look at it in a moment a little more closely—God says that the kingdom, the sovereignty of this world that is now seized by the destroying hands of Satan and his evil angels, God says, “And the time is come when those that destroy shall be destroyed” [Revelation 11:18]. There is coming a time when there’ll not be a grave dug on this planet. There’ll not be a funeral hearse go its way down through any village or street in this world. There is coming a time when there’ll not be a tear, there’ll not be a pain, there’ll not be an agony, there’ll not be a violence, there’ll not be a sin, there’ll not be a war, there’ll not be a sword. “There is coming a time when righteousness will fill this earth as those waters cover the sea” [Isaiah 11:9]. And there is coming a time when the great Lord and King of this earth will be our God manifest, Jesus Christ on His throne. And we shall look into His face, and be His subjects and His servants and live forever [Revelation 22:3-5]. “In the days of the voice of the sounding of the seventh angel, the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever” [Revelation 11:15]. Ah, what a prospect, what a prospect!
Some of our people are all twisted with arthritis. What a prospect when they shall be well and whole again. And all of us feel, all of us feel the drag of the weight of this mortality, all of us. There is not any home where shadows do not come. And there are not any families without tears and sorrow. Think of the ultimate and final day when God shall cast out Satan and with him death and the grave and all that hurts and destroys [Revelation 20:10, 14-15]. And the Lord gives us a new world, and a new heaven, and a new city [Revelation 21:1-7], and a new body, and a new and a resurrected life in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel [Revelation 10:7]. “Then shall the mystery of God be finished,” that mystery of why He delays and He delays, but there’ll come a time when the angel swears He shall delay no longer [Revelation 10:6-7], and our completed redemption is bestowed upon His believing children [Luke 21:28]. Ah! What a hope!
Now this is proleptic; this is in prospect. He uses that prophetic present: “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and His Christ” [Revelation 11:15]. And upon that announcement—hasn’t come to pass yet—we have all of these chapters, all of the delineation of the woe and agony yet the world is to go through in that travail, but, but at the very announcement of it, when that angel sounds, at the very prospect of it look what happens. “The four and twenty elders, who sat before God on their thrones, fell down upon their faces”; that’s the only time you’ll ever read that in the Bible, “they fell upon their faces” [Revelation 11:16].
Several times in the fifth chapter of the Book of the Revelation [Revelation 5:8-10], and other places you will find those four and twenty elders falling down to worship God. But at the marvelous incomparable announcement from the Lord about the kingdom and its coming and the reign of Christ [Revelation 5:15], they not only fall down and worship, they fall prostrate on their faces! [Revelation 11:16]. Now those four and twenty elders are we because we’ll not be in those days of its agony [1 Thessalonians 5:4]. Those four and twenty elders represent God’s redeemed of all ages and of all time who have been gathered up, who have been gathered up in a snatching away, in a rapture, who have been gathered up unto God, translated, immortalized, quickened, changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, there we are [1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. And these four and twenty elders, representing all of God’s sainted, raptured, resurrected people, they, when they hear that announcement of our final redemption and the kingdom of this world given to the Lord and His Christ [Revelation 11:15], they fall down on their faces [Revelation 11:16]. And in their thanksgiving they say the most remarkable things—now we’re not going to discuss these anymore. We’re just going to outline them and then close. We must. Our time is gone—“Saying, saying,” as these four and twenty elders of God’s saints fall down before the Lord, “Saying, We give thanks unto Thee, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast” [Revelation 11:17]. And then a scribe put ho erchomenos there. In Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 1:8, why, that ho erchomenos was written there, so he just thought, “John left it out. John left it out.” So he put it in. Oh no, that is erroneously there. Saying, “We give thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast,” and no “art to come” [Revelation 11:17], for there He is. Isn’t it remarkable how the Word of God in its little tiniest detail, it, by inspiration, will say these great marvelous things just exactly, just exactly? “O Lord God, who art, and wast,” and not “and are to come” [Revelation 11:17], for He is already here in His great power, and the kingdom is His—“Because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned,” the Lord is present. “And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come” [Revelation 11:17-18].
Look at the difference in the tenses there: “And the nations were angry” in these days and generations and centuries past, oh, what things of blood and war, preparing for it all the time, are in it. “And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged” [Revelation 11:18]. A man doesn’t die when he dies. That looks forward to the great white throne judgment at the end of time, when even the wicked dead out of the sea, out of the earth, out of the dust of the ground out of Hades, when they stand before God and are judged, and are judged [Revelation 20:11-15]. “And that Thou shouldest give the reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to Thy saints, and them that fear Thy name” [Revelation 11:18]; and that is our judgment before the bema, the mercy seat, the gladness and glory of Christ [2 Corinthians 5:10]. There is a time coming when the Lord says, “And My reward is with Me; Behold, I come quickly” [Revelation 22:12]; and the Lord comes for His own and His reward is with Him; not here, not here, there.
It is at that place that Jesus has gone to prepare for us [John 14:1-3]. And it is at that hour and at that place that Paul will receive the crown of righteousness, which the Lord hath in store for those who love His appearing [2 Timothy 4:8]. And it is at that place that the apostles of Christ will be given their twelve everlasting thrones [Matthew 19:28]. And it is at that place that Moses will receive the recompense for which he had respect, when he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season [Hebrews 11:24-25]. And it is at that place and that hour that God would give us a hundredfold with everlasting life, “when God shall reward His servants, and His saints, and when God shall destroy them which destroy the earth” [Revelation 11:18]. That’s a universal presentation of the Word of the Lord: “And the Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all that offend, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire” [Matthew 13:41-42].
And that same thing is said by Simon Peter when he speaks of that final and ultimate new heaven and earth, “who are, these wicked kept in store, reserved unto fire against that day of judgment and the perdition of ungodly men” [2 Peter 3:7]. Oh, how the Lord shall do, how God shall remake in that final day of judgment when He destroys them that hurt and offend and destroy in the world [Revelation 11:18]. And then in the conclusion, “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” [Revelation 11:19], that epithet “great,” added there to “hail,” the sharp penetrating judgments of God in this final moment. But lest you be filled with anxiety and fear, in the midst of those thunderings, and lightnings, and voices, and earthquakes, and the great hail of the judgment of God, when He remakes this earth and casts out all of its evil; lest you be taken with fear, God opens the temple in heaven, and there is seen the ark of His promises, the ark of His covenant, the ark of His testament [Revelation 11:19], lest you might tremble as you face these great, mighty judgments through which this earth by God’s Word shall inevitably pass [Revelation 11:19]. And there it is. There it is.
You know the author of Hebrews in the ninth chapter says that those things that Moses was commanded to make were hupodeigmata—hupodeigma—they were copies [Hebrews 9:23], they were likenesses of the things that Moses saw in heaven. And in the [twenty-fifth] chapter of Exodus and the last verse God said to Moses, “Moses, be sure that you make everything according to the pattern that I showed thee in heaven” [Exodus 25:40]. So all of those things that Moses made, they were likenesses of the things in heaven and that ark was one of them; Moses saw it in heaven [Revelation 11:19]. And he made a likeness of it. He made a copy of it after the pattern that he saw in heaven [Exodus 40:33].
And in that golden chest were the covenant promises of God, the covenant of the Lord [Exodus 25:21]. And there it is, he sees it in heaven [Revelation 11:19]. Isn’t it a strange thing, in 2 Maccabees, the second chapter, one of those apocryphal books, it says that when the Babylonians came and took away the people and destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BC, the Book of Maccabees says that Jeremiah took the ark of the covenant and hid it, saying that it will be seen again in the day of the blessing of Israel [2 Maccabees 2:1-8].
Of course I don’t believe in 2 Maccabees. But isn’t it an unusual thing that in the day of this awful, awful judgment of God, there appears this covenant of the Lord [Revelation 11:19], lest we might lose heart in these tragic and agonizing days that lie ahead? However these things may turn, death, and sorrow, and judgment, and the overwhelming of the people of the Lord, however they may come, God remembers His promises to us. And His faithfulness to us endures forever [Psalm 136:1]. Oh, bless His name, and what He hath in store for God’s people both here and in the new world that is yet to come!
Now on the first note of this first stanza, somebody you giving his heart in trust to Jesus or putting your life with us in the fellowship of this dear and blessed church, while we sing this song of appeal, would you come and stand by me? “Pastor, we’re all coming this morning. This is our whole family.” Or just one somebody you, or a couple you, or a child, a youth, as God shall say the word and lead the way, would you make it today? Would you make it now? While we stand and while we sing.