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The Kingdoms of this World

May 14th, 2015

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”

Revelation 11:15

The overcoming nature of the Christian faith is proclaimed in this verse. It expresses a sentiment, an idea, an emotion, and a thought that can be in our hearts at any time. Anywhere in any soul along the timeline of this world’s history, someone may proclaim through faith that his “kingdom” is now surrendered to the Lord Christ. My kingdom and my rule and my economy can be surrendered to Him and become His completely. This is the question of our faith and the standard of our commitment to Christ every day of our lives. Is my life committed to Him? Has my kingdom become His? Does He sit on the throne of my life? Or do I rule and reign over my own and shove Him off to the side. Christ is to be Lord overall the universe, and our hearts should not be contested ground for our own rights, but surrendered ground for His reign.

But the passage of Revelation speaks not only of the principle of faith, but of a specific future event in real time, of the future establishment of His kingdom on earth. This is not a victory that can be later challenged, for “He shall reign forever and ever.” This is the declaration of a settled matter, that the earthly powers are overthrown and never to be in power against Christ again on a worldwide scale. The nations each, while retaining their individual identity, become His. The declaration is made in heaven and the hymn sung by the twenty-four elders mirrors the second Psalm, which is a Messianic psalm emphasizing His rule and reign. In fact, the phrase “Of our Lord and of His Christ” also points to Psalm 2.

Revelation 11:18: The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged.

Psalm 2:1: Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His anointed … He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure.

As I mentioned in the session on the wrath of God, the Bible uses anthropomorphic language for us to relate to the anger and wrath of God, but His wrath is not like the wrath of mankind. (See James 1:20 and Romans 12:19.) God will do right and will act in righteousness. What is different is that He does answer. For so many centuries He has either been silent toward the nations, or silenced by the nations when He spoke through His Word and His prophets, but now comes the authoritative, kingly voice of God that will not keep silent nor be silenced by others. The nations wish to accuse God, but He in His holiness will judge them!

The temple on earth was a pattern of the heavenly temple (Hebrews 8:1-5) and it is the heavenly temple that is referred to in verse 11:19, “Then the temple of God was opened in heaven.” This is an opening not to allow entrance into the temple but to announce the exit of God out of the heavenly temple. And as He comes, later described in chapter 19, He comes to reign and to rule, and the Church comes with Him.

This proclamation takes place in heaven, and now, like an ancient drama being acted out, the Lord rises to come – a dramatic action like a great earthly king stepping off his throne, putting on armor, taking up his weapons, assembling his soldiers to go to war. The heavenly host knows of the pending doom of the earth before those on earth know. In fact, this passage also emphasizes the power of heaven over earthly powers – for the earthly kingdoms go on their business ignorant of this heavenly movement. They are about to be invaded from heaven and all their of plans will come to nothing, but the earth moves on in total unawareness.

But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. for as in tyhe days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the Ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of man be. (Matt. 24:37-39)

From this point on in Revelation, chapters 12-18, describe either spiritual realities or are a summation of the final downfall of the Antichrist rule.

The goal of Revelation is not only to assure us of the final victory of Christ, but to also show us the true nature of the evil in the world and, thereby, reveal the justice, holiness, and righteousness of God. The words of Revelation 11:15 above are “the kingdoms of this world,” and not singular “kingdom,” though some scholars translate it so. They choose the singular over the clear Greek plural because of the nature of the sentence in the original language. In the second part of the sentence, “have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ,” the words “the kingdoms” are implied through the text but not in the original Greek, and it makes perfect sense in Greek that way but they must be added to make sense in English, and the King James Version would put such words in italics, not for emphasis but to clarify that they were added for clarity based on the difference in the rules of Greek and English grammar.  A literal translation would be “The kingdoms of this world have become of our Lord and of His Christ.” This means that the nations shall retain their national and ethnic identity through the Millennial Reign of Christ.

The Bible often mentions the nations of the earth, and God knows every one of them. Genesis 10 and 11 describe the multiplication of people and of nations. Zechariah describes a great battle in which the nations fight against Jerusalem and the Lord fights against the nations (Zech 14:2-3). The Great Commission commands us to take the gospel to the nations, every ethnic group (Matt. 28:19-20). We learn in Romans that the powers of the world are ordained of God, so God has watched over them even then the people did not believe in Him (Rom. 13:1-3). And we also read the prophecy of Zechariah that the nations that fought against Jerusalem will go up to Jerusalem to pay homage and worship the Lord (Zech 14:16).

A matter to ponder is the suddenness of the day of the Lord. The world’s powers and people in general are unaware of its coming, and they assume that they will never be held accountable for their sins, nor answer to God. It has been a long standing joke of seeing the body of an atheist dressed out in a casket: “All dressed up with no place to go.” But that is not the future reality in history, for even the unbeliever must give an account of himself before God. We should be sure that we are dressed with the righteousness of Christ through faith.

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