Lord Jesus, You are the crucified and resurrected One, the One who was rejected by Your people. Help us never to expect that we as Your people should be treated better than You were treated by this world. If we must suffer so that the gospel may be proclaimed, then help us to do it well, with perseverance and courage and hope. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Revelation 8:6-11:1
The vision of the seven trumpets actually has its origin back in Revelation 6, when the Lamb opened the fifth seal and His people under the altar cried out to God, “How long?” The answer comes back that they should wait a little longer, but then at the beginning of Revelation 8, their prayers rise to the throne, and God answers with final judgment. Mixed into that vision, however, are the seven angels being given their seven trumpets.
Through the rest of Revelation 8–9, then, six of the trumpets are blown, and judgments are thrown against the world. It’s important to remember these are not likely a second series of judgments that follow chronologically on the heels of the seven seals; rather, John’s timeline backs up to show us the same events again, but with heightened intensity. How do we know that? Because just as the seventh seal brought the final judgment (8:5), the seventh trumpet does as well (11:15–19). The seals and the trumpets end at the same place—the great and terrible day of the Lord.
In Revelation 7, there was an “interlude” between the sixth and seventh seals in which John was shown a vision of the church victorious. Here, there is another interlude in which John is shown a different vision of the church. This time, however, it’s not the church victorious he sees, but the church militant.
Revelation 10 opens with what John calls a “mighty” angel coming out of heaven. Many people have identified this angel in many ways, but the best interpretation is probably that this angel is Jesus Himself. Everything in the first three verses—from His physical description, to His dominion over earth and sea, to His voice roaring like the waters (cf. Psalm 29)—is meant to make us think of God and Jesus. This is not just any “messenger.” This is the One who took the scroll of history from God’s hand and now reigns over all.
But something extraordinary happens in 10:8–11. King Jesus offers John a “little scroll”—a smaller version of the scroll He Himself had taken from the Father’s hand! Do you remember what that larger scroll contained? It was the divine purpose for all of history, and Jesus was the One who would execute it as King. So now, just as the Father had given the scroll to the Lamb, so the Lamb now gives a scroll to us, His people, and it contains a plan God is unfolding for us.
But do you also remember what God’s plan entailed for Jesus? He was slain. And now Jesus tells John that he is to follow in His own footsteps, to take up his cross and follow. That’s why the scroll is sweet in John’s mouth but bitter in his stomach: The plan revealed in the scroll is good because it is God’s, but it’s bitter in the unfolding.
Watch John Piper give the reminder that you will suffer? (9:41)
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The vision in Revelation 11 develops this idea. In Revelation 11:1–2, an angel is shown carefully measuring the temple, which symbolizes the people of God, the church. The protected inner court is the soul and faith of the church, but the outer court—symbolic of the body—is left to be trampled by the nations. Do you see the point? God promises to protect the faith of Christians but warns they will face intense persecution from the world. Finally, there’s a vision of two witnesses—patterned after either Moses or Elijah—who bear witness and are killed and mocked but then resurrected and vindicated. Again, this is the story of the church in a rebellious and hostile world.
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.
- Do you see the point the Holy Spirit is making to His people through these visions? If you are a Christian, you should expect the world to reject your testimony, even to hate it—just as they rejected your King. The question is whether you’ll stand firm in the midst of that rejection. As the people of King Jesus, our purpose in the world is to bear witness to Him. So are you doing that? If not, what are you doing with your life? What are you aiming for? What greater purpose are you after than to bear witness to Jesus, to tell the world He is King and that He saves sinners?
- No, we as Christians should not expect to go from glory to glory, victory to victory, in that endeavor. We will lose; we will be shattered; we will cry to God for vindication and rescue from this hostile world. But we will bear witness; we will speak; we will tell of King Jesus. And then, at the end, the seventh trumpet will sound and the raging of the nations will be accounted as nothing. Power will be stripped from the world and given to Jesus. For “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
- Go back over the book of 1 Peter. What kinds of persecution are the recipients of that letter facing? Is it death, or is it mocking and ridicule and derision? Do you think you face persecution or hostility from the world in any way? If so, how do you respond?
- Make it a point this week to tell the gospel of King Jesus to someone even though you might be frightened for some reason. Pray and ask the Lord to help you overcome fear, to realize that as a child of the King, you should expect to be treated no differently from your Lord.
- Read the last two sections of the Baptist Faith and Message: on stewardship and the family. Again, note any questions or topics to pursue. [Basic Doctrine]