March 21, 2021

"The Seventh Trumpet: The Future is Now"

The Book of Revelation
Scripture Reading: Revelation 10 & 11

Our reading today concludes the first half of Revelation, and in a way, it is the conclusion of everything. With the sounding of the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11:15-19, the Kingdom of God is revealed and the End has come. The One who is seated on the throne is called the “Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was.” The future ascription “and is to come” is no longer needed because the End is here and the future is now. What follows in Chapters 12-22 of the book of Revelation is a retelling of the same Story from a different perspective, all with the same conclusion: God returns to establish his Kingdom on earth in fullness and glory.

In the beginning God created the Kingdom of God and ever since this Kingdom has been the goal of everything. Revelation 10 and 11 concludes the sounding of the seven trumpets and it is a picture of “Homecoming”. In the biblical sense, this is God and humanity together. You are not alone. Every time the Church prays “Thy Kingdom come” we are praying for homecoming because we are praying for God’s dwelling to be among us. This is why Jesus came as the “Immanuel” which means “God with us”. “Homecoming” is why Christ is able to say that with his arrival the Kingdom of God was at hand.

However, all this talk of the Kingdom and Christ being present among us, is often misunderstood. Too often the Church preaches a gospel of “escape”. We consider our present sufferings to be a prelude to a great and glorious escape from this earthly place to some ethereal, matter-less “heavenly existence”. We denigrate bodily life and the Creation. This is wrong. This is not in keeping with the Revelation of John that shows the Kingdom of God among us through the Risen and Victorious, Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is King and the future is now.

Questions:

How does Revelation 21:3 describe “homecoming”?
Do we already experience the fullness and glory of the Kingdom? For what are we waiting?
Who brings the scroll of John? What is he told to do with it? What other prophet did the same thing with the scroll?

The Church is called to “witness” but what does this mean? Too much Christian talk, music, and social media is nothing more than gossip and opinions about God. We are called to bear witness to something deeper and greater than the yammering voices of this world can ever conceive. We witness to the grace and truth of God that is revealed in Jesus Christ. To bear witness to him is to have our every thought, word, and action in line with his Kingdom vision. “Nothing matters but the Kingdom, and because of the Kingdom, everything matters.” In our text, this begins by “eating the Word of God”.

Questions:

What does it mean to “eat” the Word of God? How did it taste to John? What does this mean?
Who do the two witnesses represent in Revelation 11? What happens to them?

Moses is the giver of the Law and Elijah is seen as the chief among the prophets. Revelation 11:6 says that the two witnesses could “shut up the sky” and stop the rain, and they could turn the waters into blood. Moses turned the Nile river into blood at the first plague. Elijah “shut up the sky” and prevented the rain before his showdown on Mount Carmel. Together these two witnesses represent the entire Word of God: The Law and the Prophets. Eugene Peterson writes, “The Law is the revelation of God’s truth.” “Prophecy is the call to live the revealed truth, not merely acknowledge it, and to discover new ways to live it in every aspect of life” This application of “truth to life” is Kingdom living in everything from how we raise our families, our educational choices, how we vote, causes we support, and how we understand the issues of the day.

Questions:

What is the final object that John sees in God’s heavenly temple? (Revelation 11:19)
What does it represent?

The Conclusion:

The final picture reminds us that God is with us now and always. The future is now. We are not so much waiting to be taken home to heaven as God has brought home to us. The world in which we live, work, and play has become the Kingdom of Christ. How will you live your life? What choices will you make for your family? How will you invest your time and money? The powers and voices of this world are shouting for your attention and loyalty. The book of Revelation reminds us that we belong to Jesus Christ. It’s a revelation that commands our full attention, undivided loyalty, and full confidence that the Kingdom of God has come and will be revealed in fullness and glory. Amen.