Authorship: John the Apostle
Occasion: Encourage believers to persevere and show that the wicked will be judged.
Date: ~95 A.D. during reign of Emperor Domitian.
Four Basic Approaches are found among conservative Bible scholars when interpreting the Book of Revelation:
1. The Non-Literal or Allegorical Approach: Doesn’t predict future events; it’s a picture of the cosmic conflict between good & evil. Symbolic
2. The Preterits Approach: Description of the historical past--description of the Roman persecution of the Church during the 1st century, emperor worship, and the divine judgment of Rome. Fulfilled History
3. The Historical Approach: An allegorical panorama of the history of the Church--specifically in the West--from the 1st century to the 2nd Advent of Christ. Dispensational History
4. The Futuristic Approach: With the exception of ch. 1-3, all the visions relate to a period immediately preceding and following the return of Christ at the end of the age. Future
Revelation is a book that claims to reveal the future--it’s the unveiling of that which would otherwise be concealed.
The book is given in code so it could reach Christians during their persecution. Most of it is explained as one reads the text. Ex. 7 stars=angels of the churches & 7 lamp stands = the 7 churches.
I. The things he has seen--ch. 1 (Past)
II. The things that are--ch. 2-3 (Present--Church Age)
III. The things that will be--ch. 4-22 (Future--End Times)
These 7 churches, located about 50 miles apart and forming a circle in Asia Minor (western Turkey today), were perhaps postal districts serving 7 geographic districts.
There are 4 different views among evangelical Bible scholars as to the interpretation of the 7 churches of Rev. 2-3:
View #1: These were actual existing local churches in John’s day. The situation in each church and the Lord’s corresponding address are applicable to local churches today.
View #2: These churches were representative of the various stages and conditions of the church universal throughout church history. Thus each of the 7 churches represent a particular period of church history.
View #3: Combination of 1 & 2 above; i.e., they represent the totality of professing “Christendom.”
View #4: These 7 churches represent churches of the end time only, at which time the visible church will be characterized by apostasy.
Dr. David Johnson holds view #3, and makes the following comments on the 7 churches:
The 7 churches of Revelation are representative of the totality of professing “Christendom” from the time of John’s day until the beginning of the Tribulation period. Rev. 1:3 says the book is a prophecy--hence, just as Rev. 4:1-22:21 is prophetic of all things subsequent to the Church Age, so also is Rev. 2-3 prophetic of all things presently during the Church Age.
> This includes the 7 historical churches of Asia Minor which illustrate all that characterizes the Church Age.
> This includes the true possessing Body of Christ called The Church.
> This includes the professing element of all who call themselves the church as long as the Church Age is in existence.
> This includes the interchange between saved addressees and unsaved addressees of each of the 7 letters. Note: Whether they are saved or unsaved as far as the addressees are concerned is only by way of emphasis in each letter.
> This includes the various eras of Church History as seen by the trends and changes as long as the Church Age is in existence:
33-100 Ephesus (working)
100-313 Smyrna (persecuted)
313-600 Pergamum (compromising)
600-1500 Thyratira (impure)
1500-1850 Sardis (dead, indifferent)
1850-20-- Philadelphia (living)
20-- Laodicea (self-satisfied, lukewarm)
Reasons for believing they represent the totality of professing “Christendom”:
> The number 7 represents completion.
> If we are still in the Church Age, then chapters 4 & 5 haven’t begun yet. Therefore, it follows that the conditions of chapters 2 & 3 are still present.
> Each letter begins with the singular word “church,” but closes with the plural “churches.”
Therefore, each letter is intended for broader reading than just that particular church. However, the 7 churches don’t accurately correspond to each period of church history, so some scholars do not accept view #2
The degree to which Christians will be persecuted by Anti-Christ and his ungodly forces in the last days (especially during the Great Tribulation) will be directly dependent upon the degree to which we are spiritually prepared.
The letters to the churches are examples of “Near/Far” prophecies. There were 7 literal churches in the first century to which the letters were addressed. But due to apocalyptic nature of Revelation, the repeated phrase, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22), and the rewards promised to overcomers clearly also places the messages to the churches of the End Times.
From beginning to end, this prophetic book is all about the return of Christ. Our Lord gave a series of messages to John that were sent to seven churches that existed in Asia Minor (modern western Turkey) in the latter part of the first century. He begins by exhorting churches of all ages, to carefully hear and faithfully obey “the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it” (Rev. 1:3). The book of Revelation is directed to “the churches” – not only to the seven churches of Asia Minor of John’s day, but also to all churches throughout the world who will encounter Satanically inspired an empowered trials and afflictions of the end times. While each message was directed to a specific church, each message includes a call to all believers from that day forward, especially those living in the end times, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22),
These seven letters exemplify perfectly the near/far prophecies common in both the Old and New Testaments. The seven churches do not represent stages in church history, but rather depict historical New Testament churches that exemplify various characteristic found in churches during all periods of church history and, as the language clearly states, will particularly characterize the condition of the church in the final days.
The seven churches can be grouped into three basic types. These three basic types might also be thought of as a three part continuum, with the faithful church (Philadelphia) at one end and the dead church (Sardis) at the other end, and the compromising churches (Smyrna, Ephesus, Pergamum, Thyatira and Laodicea), representing varying degrees of compromise, in the middle.
The three types are summarized as follows:
The Faithful Church – Philadelphia
This spiritual jewel receives several admonitions, but no warnings or rebukes. Christ encouraged those believers, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth” (Rev 3:10). In Rev. 3:10, “keep” translates a Greek verb that carries the basic idea of protection within a sphere of danger, and “from” has the basic meaning of deliverance “out from” or “out from within.” In other words, God promises faithful churches that He will guard them while they are within this particular sphere of danger, in the context of “the hour of testing,” promising them eventual safe deliverance “out from within” this danger. This danger refers to the Great Tribulation under the Anti-Christ as detailed in Rev. 13:15-16. “Then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the Day of Judgment” (2Pt. 2:9). Therefore, because of her perseverance—that is her faithfulness to Christ by not denying His name through either worshipping the beast or its image or taking the mark of Anti-Christ – the faithful church is promised God’s protection during the Great Tribulation and the eventual removal from that dangerous time.
Since Rev. 3:11 states, “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown,” and it was written after His first coming, that reference can only be to His second coming. Such language makes us understand that Christ’s message to Philadelphia is a near/far prophecy. It applies to both the historical church of the first century and to the faithful churches that will encounter the end time events revealed in the chapters of Revelation that immediately follow.
The main characteristics of the faithful church: First, it perseveres, keeps Christ’s Word, and will not deny His Name – in other words, she does not take the mark of the beast or worship His image. Second, due to her faithfulness, she receives a promise of protection within a sphere of danger and He will eventually deliver her out from within this danger when He Returns to “cut short” those days of terrible distress (Mt. 24:21-22), rapture the church and pour out His holy wrath on the unrighteous. Lastly, Christ promises He will give the faithful church a crown and a place of great honor and intimate fellowship with God in His eternal Kingdom (Rev. 3:11-12).
The Dead Church – Sardis
Not even the few genuine believers in this dead church are given any assurance of protection. Christ told them, “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1) – that is spiritually dead. They are the tares (counterfeit believers) who will have been sown in among the wheat (true believers) and will exist side-by-side with the wheat in the church until God’s time of harvest (Mt. 13:30). Since they have knowledge of the true gospel, they are admonished to “remember, therefore, what you received and heard, keep it, and repent” (Rev. 3:3a). They are warned, “if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you” (Rev 3:3b). Christ’s warning to the dead church to awaken or face condemnation is in the context of His second coming, which indicates it also applies specifically to churches in the end times. The unbelieving members of the Sardis church will suffer the judgmental destruction of God’s fury that will shortly follow. They will be blind to the immanence of the Day of the Lord. It “will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1Th. 5:2-3).
The characteristics of the spiritually dead church: First, the dead church will be totally oblivious to the consequences of worshipping Anti-Christ (the Beast) or his image and of taking his mark. Second, when God’s wrath is poured out on the satanic world kingdom ruled by the Anti-Christ, it will come upon these unregenerate church members “like a thief in the night.”
The Compromising Church – Thyatira
They aren’t spiritually dead, but they are less than spiritually faithful. They are composed of believers who are alive in Christ, but are not living in His will – decaying church. They have deeds and the deeds are growing greater than they were at first (Rev. 2:19). But they compromise by not being careful about what is being taught – instead preferring teachers who rationalize, allegorize, spiritualize, culturalize, or semiticize Scripture, anything but taking it for what it says at face value. Jesus says of them, “I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols” (Rev. 2:20). False teachers in the church were corrupting the gospel and causing many true believers to stray from right belief and right living. Just like the original Jezebel (1Ki. 16 & 2Ki. 9), these false teachers were dedicated to undermining God’s work and His people.
The lesson from this is that true salvation is not in itself a protection against false doctrine. The believer who is not regularly in God’s Word and continually seeking the guidance and strength of God’s Spirit is easy prey for those who teach falsehood under the guise of Christianity. Satan, the great counterfeiter, deceives with half-truths, often using Scripture out of context. He did it with Jesus in the wilderness (Mt. 4:1-11), he will do it with His followers. True believers in those churches will not lose their salvation, but they will endure immeasurable persecution and suffering from which faithfulness to their Lord and His Word would have protected them. Thus, they will experience the Great Tribulation
Christ warns the compromising church. First, the false teachers will be cast “upon a bed of sickness” because of their corruption of Christ’s “bond-servants.” Second, the true but unfaithful believers who have committed spiritual adultery by following those false teachers will suffer “great tribulation, unless they repent” (Rev. 2:22). Although they will not forfeit their salvation, the will be subject to the greatest satanic persecution of all time.
Contrary to what many believe, the church definitely will still be on earth during the Great Tribulation. This is confirmed by Rev. 2:23 which says, “Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” Which means “all the churches” will be present for the Great Tribulation. The message also clearly applies to the last days because Jesus tells the true believers to “hold on to what you have until I come” (Rev. 2:25). All three churches were cautioned about the coming of Christ and for that reason it is clear that the messages to all three types of churches are relevant to the end times.
The compromising churches that enter the last days are promised they will be spared God’s Day of the Lord wrath (Rom. 5:9; 1Th. 1:10; 5:9), but not the persecution by Anti-Christ during his Great Tribulation of God’s elect. However, before Christ terminates the affliction by Anti-Christ on the compromising churches, He will sovereignly and lovingly use that affliction to cleanse and purify those churches, “to present you before his glorious presence without fault” (Jude 24). “Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (Heb. 12:6) God’s holiness demands that Christ’s bride, which includes the Church, be made worthy by being absolutely holy and pure. Paul said, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him” (2 Cor. 11:2).
The compromising church, the typical church of the last days, will be tested and cleansed before she will be ready to assume the role of Christ’s bride free from willing submission to sin’s continuing influence and power. “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1Pt. 4:17) On the other hand, believers who are spiritually prepared (the faithful church) for Christ’s coming to rescue and receive them into Heaven will also be spiritually prepared for Anti-Christ’s coming to torment and torture them while they are still on earth. The faithful church will be protected from Anti-Christ and his attacks against the church, with the exception of those who voluntarily waive that protection and risk their lives to win others to Christ before the time of salvation is past (see Mt. 10:16-23; Rev. 6:9).
Three essential truths:
1) Faithful churches will be offered God’s protection within a sphere of danger, that is during the Great Tribulation, and then be delivered out from within it (raptured) just prior to the Day of the Lord
2) Spiritually dead churches are told that if they do not repent and turn to Christ, they will lose all opportunity for salvation and will endure the full wrath of His Day of the Lord judgment.
3) Genuine but unfaithful believers within the compromising church, however, are told they will face the full brunt of the Great Tribulation by Anti-Christ – the fearful “hour of testing” -- as a testimony to all the churches that Christ is the one and only true Lord who searches hearts and minds of men, the one who rewards or punishes with perfect justice and righteousness, as He permits the persecution by Anti-Christ to purify an prepare His bride to stand pure and blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These 3 truths are evidence of God’s grace, as God forewarns His own through His Word to understand and be prepared for the terrible events to come. Just like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the reason for it, which was given to Abraham, not only for his sake but also for the sake of those of “his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice” (Gen. 18:17-19), the warnings in Revelation are meant as a warning and prompt for holy living. Christians are cautioned over and over to live godly lives as we look for the return of Christ (see 2Pt. 3:11-14, 17, 18). Christ also exhorted, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man" (Lk. 21:36). To the degree to which a genuine Christian is prepared, he will either have the protection of God during the great persecution by Anti-Christ, or will feel the full brunt of Anti-Christ’s fur in his attempt to kill all who will not bow down to him.
(summary pgs. 39-50, The Sign by Robert VanKampen)
After John records the letters, he sees a door standing open in heaven and is invited to come and see what must take place after this (Rev. 4:2). After describing the throne room and hearing the continual worship, John sees a scroll sealed with seven seals and a mighty angel asking, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" (Rev. 5:2) No one was until the Lion of Judah, root of David, triumphed and a Lamb looking as if it had been slain is seen in the center of the throne (Rev. 5:5-6). The Lamb takes the scroll from the One sitting on the throne and everyone bows down and sings of His worthiness (Rev. 5:7-14).
Large Scroll with 7 SEALS:
[The Beginning of Sorrows (Mt. 24:8)]
1. White horse & rider holding bow & given a crown>Conqueror bent on conquest (Rev. 6:1-2)
2. Fiery Red horse & rider given sword>War (Rev. 6:3-4)
3. Black horse & rider holding scales>Famine (Rev. 6:5-6)
4. Pale horse & rider, Death with Hades following>power over 1/4 earth to Kill by sword, famine, plague & beast (Rev. 6:7-8)
[War in Heaven settled (Rev. 12:7)>Beast out of the Sea appears on earth (Rev. 13:1-2)]
[Convergence of Events at the Mid-point: Note: Mid-point of 70th Week begins the Great Tribulation/Time of Jacob’s Trouble:
5. Martyrs’ souls under the altar, “How long?” “Wait ‘til number completed” (Rev. 6:9-11)
6. Cosmic Disturbances>Sun black, Moon blood, Stars fall, Sky recedes, great Earthquake>Day of the LORD/Lamb’s wrath has come (Rev. 6:12-17)
[Saints of all eras Resurrected &/or Raptured/Harvested (Rev. 7:9-17; 14:14-16)]
7. 7 TRUMPETS=Day of the LORD’s Wrath (Rev. 8-9, 15-19)
1) Hail & fire mixed with blood hurled to Earth>1/3 earth, 1/3 trees & all of the grass burned up (Rev. 8:7)
2) Blazing Mountain hurled into Sea>1/3 sea turned to blood, 1/3 sea creatures die, 1/3 ships destroyed (Rev. 8:8-9)
3) Blazing Star, Wormwood, fell on 1/3 Rivers & Springs>waters turn bitter & many people die (Rev. 8:10-11)
4) 1/3 Sun, Moon & Stars struck & turn dark>1/3 day & night dark (Rev. 8:12)
5) 1st Woe: Locusts from the Abyss>torment people without the seal of God for 5 months (Rev. 9:1-12)
6) 2nd Woe: 4 Angels at Euphrates released to kill 1/3 mankind by fire, smoke & sulfur (Rev. 9:13-21)
[2 Witnesses killed, resurrected & raptured followed by a severe earthquake >1/10 city collapsed & 7,000 people killed (Rev. 11:7-13)/Grapes of Wrath Harvested for the Wine of Wrath served next (Rev. 14:17-20)]
7) 3rd Woe: Little Scroll (Rev. 10) prophesying 7 BOWLS completing God’s Wrath (Rev. 11:15-19; 15:1; 15:5-16:20)
(1) Land>Ugly, painful sores on people with the mark of the Beast (Rev. 16:2)
(2) Sea>Blood, every living thing in the sea dies (Rev. 16:3)
(3) Rivers & Springs>Blood of martyred saints & prophets to drink (Rev. 16:4-7)
(4) Sun>Scorch people with fire (Rev. 16:8-9)
(5) Throne of the Beast>kingdom in darkness (Rev. 16:10-11)
(6) Euphrates River>dries up & 3 demons gather earth’s kings for battle at Armageddon (Rev. 16:12-16)
(7) Air>lightning, thunder, 100 lb. hailstones & a severe earthquake >Babylon the Great split into 3 parts (Rev. 17-18) & nation’s cities collapsed, every island & mountain gone (Rev. 11:19b; 16:17-21)
Mt. 24:27 For as lightning comes out of the east and shines even in the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.
Mt. 24:30-31 At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Lk. 21:27-28 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
1 Th. 4:16-17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Rev. 1:7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
Mk. 13:26-27 At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
Mt. 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.
Lk. 17:34-35 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.
Rev. 14:14-16 I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.
Rev. 7:9-17 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"
Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes-who are they, and where did they come from?"
I answered, "Sir, you know."
And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Jn. 14:1-3 Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Ezek. 37:11-14 Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'"
Rom. 8:10-11 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Isa 26:19-21 But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.
Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.
Dan. 12:1-4 At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people — everyone whose name is found written in the book — will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
1 Cor. 15:50-55 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? "
Php. 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
1 Jn. 3:2-3 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
Col. 3:4 When Christ, who is you life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Heb. 9:28 So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
1 Th. 1:10 Wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
The Rapture will be announced with the “Trumpet of God” (1 Thess. 4:16), which Paul also refers to as “the Last Trumpet,” after which “the dead will be raised imperishable” (1 Cor. 15:52). If these passages are taken literally, the solution is easily found to the many problems some Bible students have regarding the identification of this last trumpet.
Contrary to what some interpreters maintain, the “Last Trumpet” mentioned in that passage cannot refer to the last 7 trumpet judgments. In the first place, those 7 trumpets are all blown by angels (Rev. 8:6; cf. 11:15), not by God Himself. Even more significantly, however, if the “Last Trumpet” were the last of the trumpet judgments, Christians obviously would have to endure the first 6 executions of God’s Wrath, from which we are repeatedly assured deliverance (see Rom. 5:9; 1 Th. 1:10; 5:9). however, if the “Last Trumpet:” is the last trumpet blown by anyone, it will not be the 7th trumpet of Revelation 11, but rather the trumpet blown initiating the return of Israel from Assyria and Egypt after the 70th Week is complete, just before the Millennial Kingdom (Isa. 27:12-13). To have the Rapture occur at this time would again completely negate all the promises to the Church that she would not undergo the wrath of God, in that this trumpet is after the 7 trumpet judgments, after the 7 bowl judgments, and after the battle of Armageddon. And yet that is the “last trumpet,” technically speaking, of the end-time events preceding the Millennium.
However, the text says that this is the “Last Trumpet” of God! The only other occasion on which God is said to blow a trumpet was during the Maccabean period in the 2nd century B.C., when He came o Israel’s defense against the blasphemous and merciless Antiochus Epiphanes. In predicting that deliverance the prophet Zechariah wrote, “Then the LORD will appear over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning; and the Lord God will blow the trumpet, and will march in the storm winds of the south. The Lord of hosts will defend them. . . . And the Lord their God will save them in that day as the flock of His people; for they are as the stones of a crown, sparkling in His land” (Zech. 9:14-16).
It is remarkable that in both cases the Lord blows the trumpet to announce His direct intervention in order to destroy Antiochus, the foreshadow of Anti-Christ, or Anti-Christ himself in the last days. And in both instances, God blows the trumpet shortly after His holy Temple has been outrageously defiled.
It should be absolutely clear, then, that the trumpet spoken of in 1 Th. 4:16 is precisely what the text says--namely, the trumpet of God, His second and last personal blowing of a trumpet, which will immediately precede the Rapture of His Church and which will in turn initiate the final destruction of Anti-Christ and his followers. Because it will be so unique and worldwide, the “Last Trumpet of God” may also serve as a warning to the nation of Israel, which at that time will still be in unbelief (see Rom. 11:25) and about to experience the wrath of God.
(from The Sign, by Robert VanKampen, p. 493.)
(Also since God the Father alone knows the day and the hour of Christ’s return (Matt. 24;36), it makes sense that He would be the One to initiate the Rapture and the Day of the LORD by blowing His own horn.)
> The Great Multitude arrive in Heaven immediately after the Sign of the End of the Age (the Day of the LORD) is given at the 6th Seal (Rev. 7:9).
> This Multitude is made up of those “who come out of the Great Tribulation” (Rev. 7:14), when the Great Tribulation is “cut short” by Christ (Matt. 24:22).
> The next event following the arrival of the Great Multitude in Heaven is the 7th Seal (Rev. 8:1-6), the Day of the LORD.
> Both Christ and Paul taught that the Rapture will occur when the Great Tribulation is cut short, just before the Day of the LORD (Matt. 24:29-31; 1 Thess. 4:17; 5:2-3).
> Paul taught that the Church and the dead in Christ will receive their resurrection bodies at the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:52a).
> The Great heavenly Multitude has bodies, as they are standing before the throne, clothed in white robes, holding palm branches in their hands (Rev. 7:9).
> Because the Great Multitude has bodies, it cannot represent the 5th Seal souls (Great Tribulation martyrs), because they do not receive their resurrection bodies until the first day of the Millennium (Rev. 20:4).
> The only possible conclusion is that this Great Multitude must be both the “Raptured Church” and the “dead in Christ” for whom Christ “was slain” “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 7:9).
(from The Sign, by Robert VanKampen, p. 298)
The Day of the LORD is described in graphic detail by eight prophets in the Old testament and mentioned explicitly by three New Testament writers (Luke, Paul, and Peter), and it is essential that we have a thorough understanding of the End Times. It is the focal point of the End Times.
In reality, the second coming (parousia) of Christ and the Day of the Lord are one and the same. It will occur suddenly and unexpectedly when God intervenes to cut short the Great Tribulation by Anti-Christ. The parousia of Christ will simultaneously involve the deliverance of the righteous and the beginning of God's judgment on the wicked, as Christ returns as both Savior and Judge.
The Day of the LORD is:
> A time of destruction from the Almighty (Isa. 13:7; Joel 1:15).
> A time of Divine wrath and fierce anger (Isa. 13:13; Zeph. 1:15).
> A time when God will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity (Isa. 13:11).
> A time when God’s indignation and fury will be directed against the nations (Isa. 34:1-2; Zeph. 1:14-2:3; Zech. 14:3; Obad. 15).
> A time when vengeance will be revealed (Isa. 34:8).
> A time of darkness in the heavens (Isa. 13:9-10; 34:4; Joel 2:31; 3:14).
> A time of fire from the LORD (Joel 2:3, 5, 30; Zeph. 1:18; 3:8).
> A day of clouds, thick darkness, gloominess, wrath, trouble, distress & terror (Zeph. 1:15; Ezek. 30:3).
> The Day of the LORD will be a time of Judgment upon Israel when she will be brought to account for her sins (Isa. 17:4-8; 33:10-14; Zech. 13:8-9; Mal. 3:2-5; 4:1) and upon the Gentile nations for their rebellion, unrepentance, and persecution of Israel (Obad. 15; Rom. 2:3, 5-6, 8-9).
(p. 124, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthal.)
Day of the LORD Scriptures:
Ps 46:6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
Ps 97:5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
Isa. 2:12-21 he LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, for every trading ship and every stately vessel. The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear.
Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. In that day men will throw away to the rodents and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made to worship. They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanging crags from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.
Isa. 13:6-13 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this, all hands will go limp, every man's heart will melt. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame.
See, the day of the LORD is coming — a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.
I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make man scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the LORD Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.
Isa. 34:1-8 Come near, you nations, and listen; pay attention, you peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world, and all that comes out of it! The LORD is angry with all nations; his wrath is upon all their armies. He will totally destroy them, he will give them over to slaughter. Their slain will be thrown out, their dead bodies will send up a stench; the mountains will be soaked with their blood.
All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree.
My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed. The sword of the LORD is bathed in blood, it is covered with fat — the blood of lambs and goats, fat from the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah and a great slaughter in Edom. And the wild oxen will fall with them, the bull calves and the great bulls. Their land will be drenched with blood, and the dust will be soaked with fat. For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion's cause.
Isa. 64:1-3 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Ezek. 13:4-9 Your prophets, O Israel, are like jackals among ruins. You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the LORD. Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, "The LORD declares," when the LORD has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, "The LORD declares," though I have not spoken?
"'Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign LORD.
Ezek. 30:1-3 The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, prophesy and say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "'Wail and say, "Alas for that day!"
For the day is near, the day of the LORD is near- a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.
Joel 1:15 Alas for that day! For the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
Joel 2:1-2 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand- 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. NIV
Joel 2:10-11 Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?
Joel 2:30-31 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
Joel 3:14-16 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.
Amos 5:18-20 Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light-- pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
Amos 9:5 The Lord, the LORD Almighty, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn- the whole land rises like the Nile, then sinks like the river of Egypt.
Obad. 15 The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.
Mic. 1:3-4 Look! The LORD is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads he high places of the earth. The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope.
Nah. 1:5-6 The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.
Zeph. 1:7-9 Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near. The LORD has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited. On the day of the LORD's sacrifice I will punish the princes and the king's sons and all those clad in foreign clothes. On that day I will punish all who avoid stepping on the threshold, who fill the temple of their gods with violence and deceit.
Zeph. 1:14-18 "The great day of the LORD is near--near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the LORD will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD's wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth."
Zeph. 3:8 Therefore wait for me," declares the LORD, "for the day I will stand up to testify. I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms and to pour out my wrath on them- all my fierce anger. The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger.
Zech. 14:1-2 A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.
Mal. 4:5 See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.
Ac. 2:19-20 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
1Th. 5:2-4 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.
2Th. 2:1-4 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
2Pt. 3:10-13 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
"But in the days when the 7th angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as He announced to His servants the prophets" (Rev. 10:7). The events associated in and around the blowing of the 7th trumpet in the first 6 days following the close of the 70th Week, are the heart of the cosmic conflict between God and Satan. They are the focal point of our entire end times study. The sequence of events which transpire during the 70th Week of Daniel are recorded in proper chronological order in Revelation 5:1-9:21. The 70th Week ends with the death of the Two Witnesses after the 6th trumpet kills a third of mankind. Having been "tread under foot . . . for 42 months" (Rev. 11:2), "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Lk. 21:24), Israel's purging and purifying will now be complete. Now that the "fulness of the Gentiles has come in . . . all Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:25-26). The time of her full redemption, "to bring in everlasting righteousness" (Dan. 9:24), will begin with the opening of the "little scroll" as recorded in Rev. 10:2.
The contents of the little book reveal bittersweet truths. John reports, "I took the little scroll out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was in mouth sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. And they said to me, 'You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings'" (Rev. 10:10-11). The sweetness represents God's gracious redemption of Israel and the return of the kingdom of earth to God Almighty. The bitterness represents the final wrath of God, the worst ever to be poured out, that will be as swift as it is devastating upon unrighteous mankind.
The 7th trumpet judgment, the seven bowl judgments that follow, and the climatic battle of Armageddon all occur after the 70th Week is complete, in the following 30 days. Whereas the large scroll represented the events of the 70th Week, the little scroll with its bittersweet contents is a record of the events that occur after the 70th Week is complete.
This 30-day period, which begins immediately after the end of the 70th Week, may be best described as the "30-day Reclamation Period." Simply stated, this will be the time when Christ reclaims the nation of Israel that survives the 70th Week to Himself, when God Almighty reclaims the rule over earth from Satan, and when Christ reclaims physical possession of earth at the battle of Armageddon.
"There will be no more delay!" (Rev. 10:6)
Although the first witness is almost certainly the prophet Elijah (Mal. 4:4-5; Matt. 17:1-12) returned to earth, the identity of the second witness is not as clear. It would seem, however, that Moses is the most likely candidate. At the Transfiguration Moses and Elijah appeared with a glorified Christ before Peter, James and John (Matt. 17:3). In his sermon at Pentecost, Peter reminded his mostly Jewish hearers: “Moses said, ‘The Lord God shall raise up for you a prophet like Me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed in everything He says to you. And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:22-23, emphasis added; cf. Deut. 18:15, 19).
We know that Moses died alone and was buried by the LORD Himself “in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day” (Deut. 34:5). We also know that the archangel Michael, the restrainer of Satan and the great protector of Israel, “Disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses” (Jude 9). The bodies of the great patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were interred in Hebron, and as far as we know from Scripture, their bodies were never of interest to Satan. If Moses is to be one of those two end time witnesses, it is obvious why Satan would want to steal his body and attempt to prevent a resurrected Moses from appearing with Elijah.
The prophet Malachi links those two Old Testament saints in one of his end-time predictions, saying, “Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible Day of the LORD” (Mal. 4:4-5).
Also the descriptions of their abilities match those two Old Testament characters. Elijah had the power to call down fire on his enemies (Rev. 11:5; 1 Ki. 18:25; 2 Ki. 1:10, 12) and to shut up the skies so it would not rain for 3 1/2 years (Rev. 11:6; 1 Ki. 17:1; 18:1; Jas. 5:17). Moses has the ability to turn water to blood (Rev. 11:6; Ex. 7:17-20) and to strike the earth with every kind of plague (Rev. 11:6; Ex. 8-11).
A final argument for identifying the second witness as Moses is the fact that he was the human instrument through whom God revealed His law to Israel. Scripture itself frequently refers to the law of God as the law of Moses. The Old Testament as a whole is often called the law and the prophets, and Moses was the great law-giver and Elijah arguably the greatest prophet.
Based on the text, “But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age” (Dan. 12:13), some interpreters believe that the second of the two witnesses could be Daniel.
Another possibility is Enoch, since “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27). The only two people mentioned in Scripture who have never died are Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah (2 Ki. 2:11), but the witnesses are killed in Rev 11:7 and resurrected 3 1/2 days later (Rev. 11:11:11-12). Some also see Enoch as representative of saints who are not Israelites since he lived before the time of Abraham.
(from The Sign, by Robert VanKampen, pp. 478-479.)
The “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars on her head,” who gives birth to “a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter” (vv. 1, 5), can be identified symbolically as Israel, based on the following three Old Testament texts:
Gen. 3:15 1st Messianic Prophecy
“And I will put enmity between you [serpent/Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers [Messiah]; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Gen. 37:9-11 Joseph’s Dream
“Then he [Joseph] had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.’
When he told his father [Jacob/Israel] as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, ‘What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?’ His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.”
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." (see also Rev. 2:27 & 19:15, which make clear that Jesus is the one who will “rule the nations” with an “iron scepter” and “dash them to pieces like pottery.”)
The use of the Old Testament symbolism was John’s way of getting his message past the prison guards and to the persecuted saints of his day. While he was in exile on the island of Patmos for spreading the Gospel, he wrote the Book of Revelation using much Old Testament symbolism and imagery so that those who received it and knew the Scriptures could understand and interpret the meaning of the book but his guards would not censor it because it appeared to be just the ravings of a crazy old man. Because of this, it is even more important than ever that we use Scripture to interpret Scripture.
The woman represents the unsaved, natural line of Abraham that exists at the midpoint of the 70th week and that refuses to worship Anti-Christ. When Satan is cast down to earth, “he persecuted the woman” (Rev. 12:13). He obviously has no need to persecute those of the natural line of Abraham that take his mark and worship his image. The woman will consist of 2 groups of Israelites. Those who heed the warning of the Jewish witnesses and flee to the wilderness in Edom (Rev. 12:6)--“the faithful woman”--and those who do not flee to the wilderness but remain in Israel (Rev. 12:13; cf. Zech. 12:6-7)--“the compromised woman”--only to be slaughtered by Anti-Christ. Eventually he kills 2 out of 3 remaining in Israel, all from the latter group. Those who do survive will escape into the remote areas of Israel, Egypt, or ancient Assyria (Isa. 11:10-16; 19:23-25; 28:12-13; Hos. 11:5; Mic. 7:12; Zech. 10:10).
Ezekiel explains that the Israelites that flee to the wilderness will be brought “into the bond of the covenant” (Ezek. 20:37), while in the wilderness, before the house of Israel, who will be saved later (Ezek. 20:39). Therefore, by definition the wilderness remnant--the “faithful remnant”--is the first fruits of “the woman” in general to come to Christ. This is the exact definition John gives to the 144,000, who “have kept themselves [spiritually] chaste . . . [and for that reason] have been purchased from among men as firstfruits [of Israel] to God and to the Lamb” (Rev. 14:4).
When we look at the description of the 144,000 given to us in Rev. 14, it becomes apparent that “the woman that flees into the wilderness” (Rev. 12:6) and the faithful 144,000 are one and the same. Speaking of the 144,000, John goes on to say, “These are the ones who have not been defiled with women [spiritual chastity], for they have kept themselves [spiritually] chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb” (v. 4, emphasis added). For several reasons this description of the faithful 144,000 perfectly describes “the woman that flees.” First, and most importantly, “the woman that flees” does not become saved until later, when she is in the wilderness (Ezek. 20:37). But the passage is quite clear that this wilderness remnant is saved before the house of Israel (Ezek. 20:39). Therefore, “the woman that flees” to the wilderness is by definition the faithful firstfruits of unbelieving Israel who enter into the 70th Week, the surviving remainder of the nation not coming to Christ until after the 70th Week is complete (Rom. 11:25; Dan. 9:24).
Secondly, the 144,000 are described as those who have “not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste”--in this context meaning spiritually haste, not morally. In other words, they have not sold out to Anti-Christ, especially during the first half of the 70th Week when most of the nation apostatizes to the covenant maker. This is a perfect description of “the faithful woman” who “fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for 1,260 days” (Rev. 12:6), thereby refusing the leadership of Anti-Christ before he shows his true intentions at the midpoint of the 70th Week. Therefore, in this writer’s [VanKampen] opinion the faithful 144,000 and the “woman that flees” must, by definition, be one and the same group. The reference to 144,000 only indicates “how many” and “which tribes” will refuse the covenant with Anti-Christ, flee to the wilderness, survive the purge of God (Ezek. 20:38), and be brought into the bond of the covenant (v. 37) while in the wilderness.
In the Olivet Discourse Christ specifically warns those fleeing to the wilderness, “Woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days” (Matt. 24:19). So does the 144,000 refer to just those [“who have not been defiled with women” (Rev. 14:4)], or does it refer to the men and their families? Scripture often identifies the entire family with the father, and many groups such as clans, tribes, or large multitudes are numbered according to the male “heads of households.” On one occasion Moses referred to “the sons of Israel” as numbering “about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children” (Ex. 12:37). When God commanded Moses to make a census of the Israelites, He gave explicit instructions about the numbering method to be used: “Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ households, according to the number of names, every male, head by head” (Num. 1:2). It seems perfectly legitimate, therefore, to consider the figure of 144,000 as representing the men of Israel, with an additional large number of women and children. An alternative would be to consider 144,000 to be single men only, or men who are given protection but not their families. On the other hand, the two passages describing the 144,000 make no mention directly of their gender, so the 144,000 could be the total size of the group, including men, women, and children. The latter is the position of this writer [VanKampen].
The rest of the woman’s offspring identification:
It is the identification of “the rest of her [the woman’s] offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” that is critical to our discussion at this point. This author [VanKampen] believes that there can be little doubt that “the rest of her offspring” must refer to the church. Obviously, because the rest of her offspring “keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus,” this rules out all of Israel that succumb to Anti-Christ. It is equally obvious that “the woman“ in general must be excluded, not only because she is still unsaved at this point, but also because, by definition, it is her offspring we are concerned with not her.
Therefore, there is only one group left that can fit the description--that is, Christians, Jews and Gentiles alike who “hold to the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus”--namely, those who are part of the church and not part of the other groups mentioned above. In several places Paul makes clear that every true believer is a spiritual descendant of Abraham, the father of Israel (Rom. 4:11; Gal. 3:7-9, 29), thereby indicating the connection between “the woman” and “the rest of her offspring.” No person can “hold to the testimony of Jesus,” which surely includes acknowledgement of His divinity and Lordship, without belonging to Him (1 Cor. 12:3). At the beginning of the book of Revelation, John (a part of the church) identifies himself with the woman’s offspring (i.e., with those who “hold the testimony of Jesus”) by referring to himself as one who holds “the testimony of Jesus” (1:9); similarly John is told later by a voice from the throne of God (19:5), “I am a fellow-servant of yours [John’s] and your brethren [the church] who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (v. 10).
Later John refers to “the rest of her offspring” as “saints”--e.g., “it was given to him [Anti-Christ] to make war with the saints [the rest of her offspring] and to overcome them” (Rev. 13:7). The same Greek word, hagios, translated saints in 13:7, is again used by John in describing the bride of Christ (Rev. 19:8), which certainly includes the church. To emphasize that warning to the saints, John then adds, “If anyone has an ear, let him hear” (v. 9)--which is the same warning, almost word for word, that Christ gave in His letters to the 7 churches in ch. 2-3. This language is found nowhere else in John's writings. It is found only eight times, all of them in Revelation, 7 times addressed to the 7 churches and the last time as a final warning to the saints who “keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” during the Great Tribulation by Anti-Christ.
Therefore, the church fits the description perfectly and for that reason will be the secondary target of Anti-Christ’s persecution.
 Robert VanKampen, The Sign, p. 479.
 Ibid., pp. 470-471.
 Ibid., p. 471.
 Ibid., pp. 479-480.
Dan. 7:7-8 “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast — terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
“While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.”
Dan. 7:19-25 “Then I wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws — the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell — the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.
“He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.”
Dan. 9:27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him."
Dan. 11:36-39 “The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.
2 Th. 2:3-12 Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
Rev. 12:3-4 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.
Rev. 12:7-9 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Rev. 13:1-8 And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea.
And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?"
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast — all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
Rev. 17:3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.
Rev. 17:8-14 “The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.
“This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
“The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings — and with him will be his called chosen and faithful followers."
7th Trumpet: Rev. 11:15-19
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever."
And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:
"We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.
The nations were angry;
and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your saints and those who reverence your name,
both small and great —
and for destroying those who destroy the earth."
Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. NIV
Begun to Reign
Wrath has Come
Nations Were Angry
(9:20-21; 11:8-10, 18)
(11:18; ch. 8-9; 15-16; 18-19)
(11:18; ch. 20-22)
Judge the Dead
Kingdom of Earth has become the >Kingdom of Christ(11:15)
Saints Sing (15:2-4)
Temple in Heaven Opened (11:19a; 15:5)
Grapes of Wrath (14:17-20)
7 Angels with 7 Last Plagues (15:1, 6)
> Temple filled with smoke from God’s Glory--No one can enter until the 7 Plagues are completed (15:8)
[Bema Seat Judgment of Raptured & Resurrected Saints during Bowls of
Wrath (Rom. 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10)]
Celebration of Fall of Babylon (19:1-5)
Wedding of the Lamb (19:6-8)
Wedding Supper of the Lamb (19:9)
Rider on White Horse from Heaven >>
[Day of the LORD burning of Tares (Mt. 13:39-42) from the Harvest of the Earth (14:14-20) begun at Rapture/7th Seal completed with this event.]**
Satan Bound 1,000 yrs. (20:1-3)
Satan Released (20:7)
Satan > Lake of Fire (20:10)
Great White Throne Judgment (20:11-15)
> Death & Hades > Lake of Fire (20:14)
> No Name in The Book of Life > Lake of Fire (20:15)
Israel's National Salvation(Zech. 12:10)
Lamb & 144,000 on Mt. Zion > Sing a New Song (14:1-5)
[1st Angel: Proclaim Eternal Gospel & Judgment has come (14:6-7)]*
3rd Woe: 7 Bowls of Wrath (ch. 16)
1. Land > Painful Sores
2. Sea > Blood
3. Rivers & Springs > Blood
4. Sun > Scorches
5. Throne of Beast > Darkness
6. Euphrates River > Dries Up
> 3 Evil Spirits gather Kings of Earth at Armageddon
7. Air > It Is Done!
> Thunder, Lightning, Rumblings, Great Earthquake & 100lb. Hailstones (16:18, 20)
> Fall of Babylon (16:19; ch. 17-18)
[2nd Angel: Fallen, Fallen is Babylon the Great! (14:8; 18:1-3)]*
[3rd Angel: Worshippers of Beast will drink from the Cup of Wrath (14:9-11)]*
KING of Kings & LORD of Lords
Battle of Armageddon (17:12-13; 19:15-21)**
> Beast & False Prophet > Lake of Fire (19:20)
> God’s Enemies Killed (19:21)
Tribulation Martyrs Resurrected (20:4)
[Sheep & Goats Jdgmt. (Mt. 25:31-32)]
1,000 yr. Reign with Christ (20:4-6)
Battle of Gog & Magog (20:8-9)
Earth & Sky Flee (20:11)
New Earth, & New Jerusalem (21:1-22:5; Isa. 65:17-25)
*Note: The 3 Angels make their proclamations at the midpoint of the 70th Week (when the Beast overthrows all religions and begins his campaign as “God”), as a warning to the inhabitants of the Earth, not merely as an announcement of events as they occur.
**Note: The 7th Trumpet ends at the close of the Battle of Armageddon when Christ is victorious.
“Babylon the Great” refers to both a false religious system(s) (the mother/child worship that originated in Babylon) and to the corrupt city situated on seven hills from which this mother/child worship will emanate in the last days. From the description given in Revelation 17 we can come to a reasonable hypothesis about who she will be:
1. The “woman” is a harlot (v.1). Spiritual harlotry, which is what is in mind in this passage, is always a reference to false gods and their false religions. The words harlot and harlotry are used very often, especially in the prophetic books, to describe idolatry. The Babylonian Harlot represents, in part, a false religious system that competes with the true Gospel of Christ.
2. The woman not only represents an actual false religion, a but a false religion that has its roots in Babylon (v.5). Although this religion has found many expressions through the centuries, it has embodied one religious common denominator that has not only threatened Judaism (Jer. 44:16-19, 24-28), but has dominated much of the world since its inception in Babylon. This common denominator is some form of mother/child or mother/goddess (queen of heaven) (18:7) worship. The Babylonians supremely worshipped a Goddess Mother and a Son, who was represented in pictures and in images as an infant or child in his mother’s arms.
3. This false religious system will sit upon many waters (v.3), which we are told represent peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues (v. 15). In other words, it’s world-wide.
4. As a dominant religious factor world-wide, it will also have political clout, so that the Harlot “reigns over the kings of the earth” (v. 18) with whom she “committed adultery” (v. 2 & 18:3, 9).
5. This false religious system will vehemently oppose biblical Christianity--i.e. it will be “drunk with the blood of the saints & with the witnesses of Jesus” (v. 6).
6. This false religious system will also represent “the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth” (v. 18). Obviously, a particular city by itself does not classify as a harlot, does not rule over the kings of the earth, and does not kill the saints and witnesses of Jesus. But a city closely aligned to a particular religious system can do all those things. Thus the Harlot represents both a false religious system promoting mother/child worship as well as a specific city that specifically identifies with this false religious belief. Together the ideology and the people of the city control many kings of the world.
7. The seven heads upon which the Harlot sits (v. 3) are not only the seven kings that will provide the leadership for the first seven beast empires, but they also represent seven hills upon which this particular great city (v. 9), with its religious affiliation to the Harlot, sits.
8. Plus, we are told twice, v. 4 and in 18:16, that she is “dressed in purple & scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones & pearls.” This may not be just a reference to her luxurious lifestyle (18:3), but to actual robes and other trappings of office.
When we look especially at the last fifteen hundred years, the facts of history clearly indicate a strong correlation between the characteristics of the Babylonian Harlot, as described above, and the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church that sits upon the seven hills of Rome. Truly, if there were ever a religious ideology tied uniquely to a city, Roman Catholicism and the city of Rome fit the bill. But in like manner, it is also interesting to note that Eastern Orthodoxy, which dominates much of Eastern Europe, not only venerates Mary but originally was closely aligned to and promoted from the Turkish city of Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), Constantine’s “new Rome.” Like the city of Rome, Constantinople was built upon seven hills and is a seaport (18:17, 19). Throughout the Middle Ages and well into the seventeenth century (during the Crusades & Inquisition), Catholicism was notorious for its vicious persecution and slaughter of Bible-believing Christians. Similarly the veneration of Mary has been central to Catholic dogma for many centuries. In addition to this, since the fourth century Catholicism has dominated most of the European nations, through the Roman church in the west and the Byzantine church in the east--in a direct parallel to the description in Revelation which depicts the Babylonian Harlot as riding on the final beast empire with its “seven heads and ten horns” (17:3).
The Babylonian Harlot is not the laity or even some of the priestly constituency of the Roman or Byzantine Church. It is instead the ungodly system that dominates its leadership. Roman and Byzantine dogma includes much that is in serious contradiction to Scripture--which, of course, is what the Reformation was all about. We cannot say that the Roman or the Byzantine Church is or will be the Babylonian Harlot per se. The distinction here is that the Babylonian Harlot is a false religious system that embodies something more comprehensive than any one specific religious system and that no specific religious system (whether Catholic, Protestant, ecumenical, or otherwise) presently corresponds, or will in the future correspond, directly to the Babylonian Harlot. However, to the extent that the Catholic religious system (or any other religious system) affirms the characteristics of the Babylonian Harlot, such a system will certainly be incorporated into the final false religious system represented by the Babylonian Harlot in the book of Revelation. Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy (Byzantine), although sharing the same beginnings, are separate and distinct religious systems today, both of which venerate Mary as queen of heaven and both of which operate through cities seated on seven hills. Both could therefore be a part of the Babylonian Harlot that will associate with Anti-Christ in the last days, the common denominator being their elevation of Mary alongside of or in place of Jesus Christ.
Related to this, Time Magazine also chronicles the growing spiritual movement of “goddess worship.” In particular Time links the “goddess resurgence” to the ecology movement and “worshippers of mother earth.” “Though such ancient goddesses as Isis and Astarte are often invoked,” Time reports, “most worship occurs in the name of a vague generic “Goddess,” often depicted as Mother Earth or Gaia in line with environmental awareness.” (Time, May 6, 1992). In addition to this, we might add the widespread presence of goddess worship in the New Age Movement.
Although we do not know what specific form the false religion of the Babylonian Harlot will take in the last days, we do know that the groundwork of its acceptance is already being laid by a growing revival of mother/child worship, especially within the Roman and Byzantine churches, and through the related widespread influence of mother/goddess worship in the environmental and New Age Movements. This predisposition will surely become the easy prey of the Babylonian Harlot in the last days, which Anti-Christ will use (17:3) to establish his final beast empire.
Babylon the Great--The Great City
During the 7th bowl judgment, Babylon the great--the great city of Rome which perhaps includes Constantinople (modern Istanbul), will be destroyed. The context of 16:19 is the destruction of the “cities of all of the nations of the world, and “Babylon, the great city,” “the seven mountains on which the woman sits” (17:9), will be destroyed, along with the city of Jerusalem, at this precise time. This “great city” represents the seat of the false religious system(s) of Babylon, distinct from but controlled by “the harlot” [the religious system (or systems) itself], which also will have exerted considerable influence over all ten nations in the final beast empire. Because of her competing efforts for world worship, “the harlot,” will already have been destroyed by Anti-Christ, who will tolerate no rival, at the mid-point of the 70th Week (17:16).
(from The Sign, by Robert VanKampen, pp. 466-470, 500.)
Nimrod was ruler of ancient Babylon. “He was a mighty hunter before the LORD” (Gen. 10:9). Nimrod was a hunter of the souls of men. God commanded that men be spread abroad across the earth (Gen. 9:19). Nimrod, in defiance of God, was the prime mover in building the tower of Babel, a presumptuous attempt to “reach into heaven” (Gen. 11:4). The zodiac and astrology trace their origin to Nimrod and the tower of Babel. It was with Nimrod that the pervasive “mother and son” worship had its origin. History records the fact that Nimrod’s wife, Semiramis, came to be called the “Supreme One,” the priestess. Early in their religion the legend developed that she was impregnated by a sunbeam and gave birth to a son named Tammuz--clearly an attempt at a counterfeit virgin birth. One day, while out hunting, Tammuz was killed by a wild boar. Semiramis was so bereft that she wept and cried and would not eat for 40 days, and at the end of those 40 days, Tammuz rose from the dead--an attempt at a false resurrection. It was from this 40 day period, when Semiramis mourned for her son, that the observance of Lent, with its mourning and self-denial, had its origin--not from the Bible. This was the beginning of the systematic “mystery” religion of Babylon. In time, the worship of Semiramis, who came to be called “the Queen of Heaven” (see Jer. 7:18; 44:15-30), spread across the civilized world. In Assyria, her name was Ishtar (also where “Easter” came from), and her son was Bacchus; in Egypt, she was known as Isis, and her son as Osiris; in India, she was Isi, & her son was Iswara; in Asia Cybele and her son Deoius; in Greece, Aphrodite and her son Eros; and in Rome, Venus and her son Cupid.
The belief in Mary as the perpetual virgin and her co-mediatorship with Christ, her Son, as enunciated by the Roman Catholic Church, is the ultimate perpetuation of the false religious system begun by Nimrod, the great hunter of the souls of men. It is for this express reason that the Apostle John identified Rome as “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS” (Rev. 17:5). She seduces men to commit spiritual adultery with her rather than to experience true spiritual union with the Son of God (the seed of the woman promised in Gen. 3:15). Not without reason, then, John identified Rome, seated on 7 mountains (Rev. 17:9), as “MYSTERY, BABYLON” (Rev. 17:5). She perpetuated the false religious system begun by Nimrod, founder of Babylon. At the end time, out of a revived Roman Empire, will come her most diabolical progeny, the Anti-Christ. Empowered by Satan, whose offspring he will be, the Anti-Christ will be the ultimate hunter of the souls of men. During the Great Tribulation men will be commanded to bow to the image of the Anti-Christ. Those who comply will receive his mark and give him their allegiance. Those who do not comply will be hunted down and slain (Matt. 24:15-22;. Rev. 13:11-18).
(from The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church, by Marvin Rosenthal, pp. 69-70.)
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great."
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. (Rev 19:11-21)
The word “millennium,” in the prophetic sense, refers to 1,000 years. Revelation chapter 20 specifically refers 5 times to this literal 1,000 year period of time which follows the Battle of Armageddon.
Many Scriptures give us a glimpse into what the Millennium will be like. For the believer, these include some of the most wonderful promises in the Bible. Thus the Lord tells us that there will be a “new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1) & God’s “holy city, new Jerusalem” (v. 2)--where the “river of the water of life [flows] clear as crystal” (22:1), where the “tree of life” bears eternal fruit (v. 2), where the curse is forever gone (v. 3). The Bride of Christ will dwell in the heavenly New Jerusalem in the presence of the Lamb, and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed. . . . Behold, [God will make] all things new” (211:4-5a).
On the earthly level, the Millennium might be likened to the earth at the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The new earth will be populated by “nations,” or more correctly by those “peoples who have survived the Day of the LORD and, through faith in Christ, are given the right to live in the earthly millennial kingdom of Christ. Then there will be the nation of Israel, comprised of all those who have survived the 70th Week and have come into a saving relationship with their Messiah, Jesus Christ, after the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25). These will again dwell in the land of Israel, renewed and restored by God when He makes “all things new.” The center will be Mount Zion, now elevated above all the mountains of the world, the top of which will be absolutely pure and holy. Resting on the very top of Mount Zion we see God’s Spectacular holy city--that is, New Jerusalem which crowns the earth, as it were, the magnificent city where His Bride dwells in the glory and splendor of her Bridegroom’s presence. Stretching the limits of human language, John describes the New Jerusalem as “coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper” (Rev. 21:10b-11). This holy city will, in fact, be the very “Throne of God and of the Lamb,” the place from which Christ, in the presence of His Bride, will rule forever over the new earth (Rev. 22:3; cf. Dan. 7:27).
And we, the Scripture continues--that is, all for whom Christ truly is LORD and Savior, the Bride of Christ--we “shall see His face” (Rev. 22:4)! There we shall be with Him forever--dwelling in the glory of His presence, drinking from the waters of like, eating from the tree of life, living in the “mansions” He has prepared for us (John 14:2), serving in His resplendent holy courts! And though we can barely begin to comprehend all God has in store for those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb, we have a hope and reality that cannot be shaken by anything in this life because it is anchored in the sovereign God of the universe and His unchanging Word.
The Millennium will begin 70 days after the blowing of the 7th Trumpet, 75 days after the close of the 70th Week of Daniel. When Satan’s rule over the earth is taken from him, God will then “set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms [of Satan], but will itself endure forever” (Dan. 2:44). For those who accept the inerrancy and the literal interpretation of Scripture, this kingdom which shall “endure forever” can only refer to that time when Christ will literally return to earth in the end times to establish a literal kingdom encompassing the entire earth over which He will rule as King of kings and Lord of lords. Clearly this is the intent of Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that the child to be born to her “will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Lk. 1:32).
Yet, although God the Father will give full authority to the Son, the Son will still be subject to the Father. As the Apostle Paul explains, “For He [the Father] has put all things in subjection under His [Christ’s] feet. But when He [the Father] says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is evident that He [the Father] is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him [Christ]. And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One [the Father] who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:27-28).
Christ will rule the earth from His throne in the Temple, on top of elevated Mount Zion. The Father, “the Lord God, the Almighty” (Rev. 21:22), will be present there with the Son, the Lamb, when the New Jerusalem descends from Heaven. And because of the divine glory that will forever encompass all redeemed creation, the New Jerusalem will have “no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God [will illumine] it, & its lamp [will be] the Lamb. And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it” (vv. 23-24).
David will be given political rule over Israel (and only Israel) during the millennial kingdom. As Jeremiah foretold, Jews in Israel will “serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I [the Lord] will raise up for them” (Jer. 30:9). Similarly the Lord revealed through Ezekiel, “My servant David will be king over them [Israel], and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in my ordinances, and keep My statutes, and observe them” (Ezek. 37:24). Thus David will rule solely over Israel, whereas Christ will rule supremely over all the earth (including Israel) from His throne in the Temple which Christ shares with the Father in the center of the great and expansive holy area on the summit of Mount Zion.
Scripture makes it clear that there will be nations during the thousand years and that each will, presumably, have its own ruler and its own particular governmental organization--all under the world rule of Christ. During the Millennium, God’s glory will illumine not only Jerusalem, but all other “nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory [that is, their honor and praise of God] into it” (Rev. 21:23-24). [As the parable of the talents (Mt. 25:14-30; Lk. 19:11-27) indicates, the saints will rule and reign with Christ (Rev. 20:4), and will be assigned authority in keeping with their faithfulness with the talents God has given them in this life.]
The other nations of the world not only will serve and glorify God, but they will also serve His chosen people Israel, rather than afflict them as they had for thousands of years. God revealed, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold I will lift up My hand to the nations, and set up My standard to the peoples; and they will bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. And kings will be your guardians, and their princesses your nurses. They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth, and lick the dust of your feet; and you will know that I am the Lord; those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame’” (Isa. 40:22-23).
Where will these nations come from? There will be a remnant of these Gentile nations that will survive the wrath of God and who ‘will come trembling out of their fortresses; to the Lord our God they will come in dread, and they will be afraid before Thee” (Mic. 7:17) at the Sheep and Goat Judgment of Christ on the 1st day of the Millennium. Those who, in addition to surviving God’s wrath, survive Christ’s judgment of the nations (Mt. 25:31-32; cf. Rev. 20:4) will become the citizens of the non-Jewish nations that go into the millennial kingdom on earth ruled by Christ.
Chapters 20 and 21 of Revelation record a series of events which will occur on the 1st day of the millennium. Except for the parenthesis found in Rev. 20:7-15, these events described by John occur in succession, one right after the other. There are 5 :”And I saw” phrases in these chapters which give the sequence of events that occur at the beginning of the Millennium as follows: 1) Satan is bound, 2) the judgment of Christ, 3) the resurrection of the “beheaded” tribulation martyrs, 4) the New Heavens and New Earth, and 5) the descent of the New Jerusalem, the Bride, down to earth.
Satan Bound. Since the purpose of Christ the Redeemer, in part, was to reverse the consequences of the Fall--when mankind and all the rest of creation were cursed because of Adam’s sin, which allowed Satan to have limited but powerful authority over the earth--He will have to deal with Satan, before He can have absolute, divine, sovereign control over the earth as King. Therefore, Satan will be bound and thrown into the Abyss for the duration of the Millennium “so that he should not deceive the nations any longer” (Rev. 20:3).
Sheep and Goats Judgment. Now that Anti-Christ and his armies have been destroyed, and Satan bound for 1,000 years, the only thing left, before God will restore the earth to the original splendor it enjoyed prior to the fall is to eliminate all the “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:2) who survived the Day of the Lord.
In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus describes the Sheep and Goats Judgment. From this passage many things are evident. First, the Lord makes clear that He will personally conduct the judgment from His throne, which is in the Temple on Mt. Zion. Second, “all the angels [will be] with Him” (Mt. 25:31)--which seems to indicate that the angels who have been His reapers during the Day of the Lord) will again be part of this final judgment (v. 32). It is important to note that the word used for “nations” is the Greek word ethnos, which can be translated as “nations,” “heathen,” or simply “peoples;” it was used by Jews to refer to any non-Jewish people. Thus, it refers to all non-Jewish people who survive the Day of the Lord, rather than to “nations” in the modern sense of independent political states.
Judgment will be based on 2 issues. First, whether or not the survivors of the Day of the Lord have worshipped the Beat or his image or have taken his mark (if indeed any of these do survive). Second, will be their individual treatment of Israel--that is, their treatment “Of these brothers of Mine” (Mt. 25:40). In other words, the way in which the “nations” treat the Jews will be considered the same as their treatment of Christ himself (Mt. 25:40, 45; cf. Gen. 12:2-3). The witnesses at this trial (as it was during the Holocaust trials) will be the survivors of Israel themselves--the very people that the world has so long ridiculed and persecuted. After “all the nations have gathered together” and Christ permits “them to present their witnesses that they may be justified,” God then declares that “you [Israel] are My witnesses” (Isa. 43:9-10). Those who have done Israel harm in any way will be condemned. [Note: While VanKampen thinks that only the treatment of Jews will be considered here, I believe Jesus also included the treatment of Christians by the nations, when He said, “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is by brother and sister and mother” (Mt. 12:50). Plus, a quick examination of any concordance will show dozens of verses where Christians are referred to as “brothers.” And I also believe that the Tribulation Martyrs are resurrected at this time to serve as witnesses against those who betrayed them to death at the hands of Anti-Christ.] “Then He [Christ] will . . . say to those on His left [the goats], ‘Depart from me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Mt. 25:41). Those who have befriended Israel will be spared: “ . . . but the righteous into eternal life” (v. 46).
Obviously everyone present at the Sheep and Goats Judgment will realize who Christ is and, if given a second chance, would be willing to sacrifice all for the sake of Christ rather than spend eternity in the lake of fire. Thus everyone present will recognize who Christ is, as seen in Paul’s quotes in Romans and in Philippians, taken from Isaiah 45:23: “Every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God” (Rom. 14:10-11; Phil. 2:10-11). But that belated confession and praise will not bring salvation after the fact, so to speak. The mere acknowledgement of Christ’s Deity, Saviorhood, and Lordship--whether professed before or during the time of judgment--will not save a person, no matter how outwardly religious he may be. In a similar vein, it is important to note that some who believe they have merited salvation because of their rejection of Anti-Christ will not be saved, and amazingly, others who believe they have no claim to salvation will be saved. Thus some astonished “sheep” whom the Lord calls “righteous” will say to Him in great wonder, “’Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see you a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say unto you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me’” (vv. 37-40). Similarly, those who refused to worship the Beast or take his mark, who will not have directly oppresses or harmed the Jews [or the Christians] but nonetheless will have stood by indifferently, permitting others to persecute them, will be ranked with the goats. These will have had many opportunities to help the primary target of Satan’s wrath, but did not. To them the Lord will say, “’Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment” (Mt. 25:45-46).
It is essential to understand, however, that the ultimate basis for salvation of the “sheep” as they stand before Christ on the 1st day of the Millennium is not founded on works. The Scriptures teach without exception that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in response to God’s sovereign election before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5; 2:8-9). It would seem that the “sheep” will not have trusted in Christ before coming face to face with Him at the Sheep and Goats Judgment, and yet they will be given their saving faith (that will be accounted unto them as righteousness) “when the Son of Man comes in His glory” (Mt. 25:31).
Beheaded Martyrs Resurrected. After Satan is bound and after the judgment thrones appear, the souls of those who have been “beheaded” during the Great Tribulation by Anti-Christ will be resurrected, “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God, and those who had not worshipped the Beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for 1,000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:4-5).
What does the “first resurrection” refer to? When studied carefully in the context of Rev. 20, it is clear that the first resurrection in this instance refers to the general resurrection of all believers “unto life.” At the same time, however, this specific resurrection “unto life” will occur on the 1st day of the Millennium and is limited to the martyrs who have been “beheaded” because they are the only ones referred to in verse 5.
How can we maintain that the church is raptured and resurrected sometime during the 2nd half of the 70th Week, and at the same time maintain that the resurrection of these “beheaded” martyrs is the “first” resurrection even though it occurs much later on the 1st day of the Millennium? The answer is quite simple. There are only 2 kinds of resurrections that this passage speaks directly to--the first resurrection being the resurrection unto righteousness [i.e., unto life (Jn. 5:29)] and the second resurrection which is a “resurrection of judgment” (Jn. 5:29), which is really “the second death” (Rev. 20:6, 14). Scripture teaches that the resurrection unto righteousness (unto life) involves several different phases. First, there is the resurrection of Christ Himself, specifically called the first fruits of this first resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-21, 23), then the resurrection of the Old and New Testament saints at the Rapture, then the resurrection of the 2 witnesses at the end of the 70th Week (Rev. 11:11-12), and finally the resurrection of the “beheaded” martyrs on the 1st day of the Millennium. Someday there will be a fifth phase of the 1st resurrection as well, when the believing men and women who go into the Millennium receive their resurrection bodies. All these phases of the resurrection unto life are all part of the first resurrection. This first resurrection, then, stands in complete contrast to the second resurrection, which is the resurrection unto death which will take place at the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennium. It is interesting to note that the first fruits of the 2nd resurrection unto death will be the Anti-Christ and the False Prophet who, after the Battle of Armageddon, “were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (Rev. 19:20).
These are the Martyrs who have died by beheading and are seen under the throne of God at the 5th seal. They are the faithful 70th Week witnesses who were “slain because of the Word of God, and because of the testimony they had maintained” (Rev. 6:8). Though they will be hated on account of Christ’s name, they will be obedient to their Master, going from city to city in the land of Israel (right under the nose of Anti-Christ), warning the nation and proclaiming the gospel (Mt. 10:22-23). For such witness many, if not all, will forfeit their lives by beheading. We know their witness will be complete when “the Son of Man comes” (v. 23), but for some reason those witnesses who die during the 70th Week before the Son of Man comes will not receive their resurrection bodies at the Rapture of the Church (when the “dead in Christ rise first”) but later, on the 1st day of the Millennium.
Without the faithfulness of those martyrs, the remnant of Israel that follows the Messiah into the Millennium, from man’s perspective, would have died in unbelief. But God knows that in those terrible last days He will have faithful believers to accomplish His will--believers who, at the cost of their own lives, will nevertheless continue steadfastly to ward His nation of he impending danger. Because of their faithfulness, these martyrs will come to life and will reign with Christ for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:4). Daniel, speaking directly to these faithful martyrs, refers to them as “those who lead the many to righteousness, [who will shine brightly] like the stars, forever and ever” (12:3).
(from The Sign, by Robert VanKampen, chapter 22, pp. 381-398)
New Heavens and New Earth. The creation of a new heavens and a new earth is among the most beautiful promises in God’s Word. More than 2,500 years ago the Lord proclaimed through the prophet Isaiah: “For behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create” (65:17-18a). Likewise, Peter tells of the “new heavens and new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13b), while John also tells that he “saw a new heaven and a new earth” in his vision (Rev. 21:1).
Why will the Lord create a new heavens and a new earth? The first reason, of course, is that the earth will be in a state of total devastation when the battle of Armageddon is over and the Day of the Lord is completed. As we have seen already, the type of destruction is represented by the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the extent of the destruction is represented by the worldwide Flood of Noah’s day. As Peter writes, “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth will be filled with death and destruction.
The destruction of the heavens and the earth will be so devastating, in fact, that a new heavens and a new earth will have to rise from the ashes, so to speak, before the Millennial Kingdom can be inaugurated and the earth made inhabitable. This “creation,” however, will not be ex nihilo, but rather a radical renovation or reconstruction of the remaining creation. The Greek term translated “new,” therefore, does not refer to something that has never existed before, but rather to the renewing of something that already exists. This radically renovated creation than will bring the heavens and earth back into an interrelationship with one another that was enjoyed by Adam and Eve before the Fall. It will be a “new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13, emphasis added). In other words, the heavens and earth so terribly corrupted by the Fall and devastated by the Day of the Lord will be remade and perfected by Christ into a splendid new and uncorrupted form. This ,then, will be the time for which all “creation waits eagerly” (Rom. 8:19), the time that Jesus referred to as “the regeneration,” the time that Peter called “the period of restoration of all things, about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient times” (Acts 3:21).
It is important to note that the renovation of the heavens and earth will begin on the first day of the Millennium, but only after the wicked who survive the Day of the Lord have been sent to their eternal punishment at the Sheep and Goats Judgment. Only then--after the earth has been completely eradicated of any and all who were a part of Satan’s kingdom of darkness--will the earth be renovated and reinstated to its original splendor as it existed before the Fall.
Obviously we cannot begin to comprehend how the Lord will renovate the heavens and the earth--especially with the presence of God’s elect still upon the earth with their earthly bodies, with the eternal fires still burning in Edom throughout the Millennium, and with the dead from Armageddon still remaining unburied seven months (Ezek. 39:14), well into the millennial reign of Christ. But we do know that “the anxious longings of creation . . . subjected to futility [at the Fall of Adam] . . . will be set free from its slavery to corruption” (Rom. 8:19-20). As it was in the days of creation, when “God saw all the He had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen. 1:31), so it will be once again in the recreation in the Millennium, directly benefiting all of mankind inhabiting the millennial kingdom of Christ. We know that the new heavens and the new earth will be perfect in every detail--yet renovated in such a way that somber reminders will be left behind God’s judgment of the wicked on the earth. However our sovereign and omnipotent God chooses to accomplish this renewal, the result will be a magnificent new heavens and new earth, worthy of the New Jerusalem (the mansions of God housing the bride of Christ) that will come down out of Heaven, from which Christ will rule with His saints in perfect justice and righteousness.
New Jerusalem. And so we come to the closing scene of Christ’s holy work on the 1st day of the Millennium, the climactic event of human history, the crowning occasion of God’s sovereign plan which He in His inscrutable wisdom and grace determined before the foundation of the world. Words cannot begin to capture the significance, the grandeur, the magnificent splendor of this crowning event. For in this final scene something beyond our comprehension will happen. The New Jerusalem, the heavenly mansions prepared for the Bride of Christ (Jn. 14:2), in brilliant beauty beyond anything we can imagine, will descend from Heaven. And within this holy city the Old and New Testament saints--those taken to Heaven together, and rewarded together at the Bema Seat--will now descend together adorned in resplendent garments as Christ’s own Bride--married to the very Son of God, to the Lamb Who shed His precious blood to make us pure and holy, to the One Who suffered, bled and died to redeem us from our sins.
As seen in John’s account we begin to capture a glimpse of what this will be like:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Rev, 21:1-8, NIV)
There are a number of important truths within these verses--truths which fulfill God’s promises to his Bride throughout Scripture, truths which should provide great encouragement to every believer.
Fist, we see the truth that we will be with the Lord forever in the most intimate kind of relationship. This fulfills the Lord’s promise to his own, given through Paul, concerning the Rapture; “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thess. 4:17, emphasis added). Likewise, we have Jesus own promise that “In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:2-3, emphasis added). This is perhaps the Lord’s most heartwarming promise to His own--that we will always be with him, wherever He makes His home. That home, we see, is in fact the New Jerusalem, where Christ has made “dwelling places” for His Bride. John writes, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). As part of this, we see without question that the New Jerusalem must descend from Heaven as the beginning of the Millennium (rather than at the end). This is true because if the New Jerusalem, the dwelling of Christ’s Bride, were to remain in Heaven during the Millennium while Christ is ruling on the earth, then He and His saints would be separated from each other throughout the 1,000 years, directly contradicting the two divine promises just mentioned.
Second, we see the truth that there will be “no Temple in [the New Jerusalem], for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its Temple” (Rev. 21:22). When the New Jerusalem descends from Heaven, it will hover directly above the earth, with its center encompassing the newly built Temple on top of Mount Zion, their bases adjoining at the same elevation on the summit of Mount Zion. The Temple of God will therefore be the focal point both of the New Jerusalem and of the entire earth. In other words, Christ will rule over Earth from His throne room in the new Temple, which will be an inseparable part of the New Jerusalem. The elect of the Earth in their natural physical bodies will have full access to the throne room of Christ via Mount Zion.
Third, we will be the Bride of Christ, having been married already to Christ after the Rapture and Resurrection during the reclamation period. Thus John writes, “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband“ (Rev. 21:2); and a little later in the same chapter, “one of the 7 angels” tells John, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb" (Rev 21:9). It is clear that the wedding has already taken place because the saints are described as “the wife of the Lamb.” But it is also clear that the saints are still dressed as a bride “adorned for her husband” in anticipation of the great marriage supper of the Lamb that will take place immediately on God’s holy mountain. In addition to this we see how closely the Bride of Christ is also associated with the New Jerusalem, descending together as one, in a way that parallels Christ’s own presence in the New Jerusalem--suggesting again the intimacy of the Lamb with His Bride, perfect communion as they dwell together in God’s holy city, the New Jerusalem.
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb. With the Bride of Christ now together with her husband in the New Jerusalem, all that remains is the magnificent celebration that will follow--the marriage supper of the Lamb.
What will this celebration be like? Although we can hardly begin to imagine, we are given a small glimpse in the book of Isaiah:
“On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine--
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken” (Isa. 25:6-8).
This will indeed be a resplendent scene, rivaled only by the actual marriage of the Lamb and the Bride that will have taken place previously in the heavenlies. Once again we would expect God Almighty, the maker of Heaven and Earth and every galaxy in the universe, to display His glories in magnificent splendor. It will indeed be a “lavish banquet” which the finite language of even the prophet Isaiah can barely begin to express.
And who will come to the marriage supper? The angel said to John, “Write, ’Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9). The Bride of Christ will. of course, be there, “adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2)--that is, the raptured and resurrected saints of all ages. But there will also be invited guests in addition to the Bride. These will include those will have come to faith in Christ after the Day of the LORD begins--those who survive the Great Tribulation by Anti-Christ, the Day of the Lord’s wrath, and the Sheep and Goats Judgment. These too will be invited to the marriage supper; but more than this, they will be invited to spend eternity with the One who has become their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
And so, in celebrating the marriage supper of the Lamb, we have come full circle. The cosmic conflict has forever come to an end; Satan has been defeated, and all who gave their allegiance to him have been destroyed; God Almighty has reclaimed His eternal rule over the Earth, and Christ in turn has received the kingdom from the Father; the elect of the nation of Israel have been saved; the saints of all ages have become the Bride of Christ to live forever in intimate communion with their Lord; and the heavens and earth have been restored to the original beauty and perfection they once knew. As these now familiar words of Scripture proclaim so powerfully:
"The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever‘" (Rev. 11:15). “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns‘” (Rev. 19:6). “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’” (Rev. 21:3-4)
(from The Sign, by Robert VanKampen, chapter 22, pp. 381-398)
Isa. 54:11-12 "O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.
Isa. 61:10 I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Isa. 65:17-18 "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
Zec. 9:16 The Lord their God will save them on that day as the flock of his people. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown.
1 Ti. 2:9-10 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
Rev. 21:1-5 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
Rev. 21:9-14 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Rev. 21:18-21 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
Isa. 25:8 He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.
Hos. 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?
1 Co. 15:26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Co. 15:54-55 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
Isa. 35:10 and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Rev. 7:17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Rev 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
Ps. 116:8-9 For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:11-15)