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Revelation 11:18 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:59 mins 26 secs

The Trinity: Judgment and Rewards; Rev. 11:18

 

Revelation 11:15 NASB "Then the seventh angel sounded; 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 will reign forever and ever'." Question: Who will reign forever and ever? Who is the "He"? We have to get into some issues related to the Trinity and how the Scripture talks about Jesus Christ as the Son, and the Father; and at times passages seem rather ambiguous as to who is being talked about. The term "Trinity" is not found anywhere in the Bible, it is a theological term that was coined by one of the early church fathers in the late second century AD. He used the Latin word trinitos to express his understanding of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. There was an understanding in the early church that the Father was God, the Son was God and the Holy Spirit was God, but they weren't asking those difficult questions of: How do we put that together? They were simply stating what the Scripture says in most cases but nobody was asking the tough questions until about the middle to the end of the second century. Then as Christianity spread throughout the Roman empire those who were the Greek philosophers and skeptics, and others who were in opposition to Christianity, began to ask: How many Gods do you have? So that forced the theologians and the apologists to begin to answer these questions and to define just what they meant by the statement that God is one and how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit related to each other. It took about 200 years to work that out—from 150 AD into the middle part of the fourth century—and a major step was taken at the Council of Nicea in 325, but there were still battles that continued for about another 125-130 years after that.

 

We have a definition for the Trinity: God exists as a unity of essence with three persons. These three persons are co-equal, co-eternal and co-infinite. Each person is distinct, yet the unity is not compromised. We can't really grasp that and so we usually say that God is one in essence and three in person. But it is suspected that when we conceptualize the Trinity where we tend to go is more toward the three persons than the one in essence and the unity. That is what is really brought out in this term perichoresis. It is a Greek term that simply means interpenetration. Another big word is circumincession. It was originally used in the early part of the church age and it became a technical term for explaining how the unity of the Trinity worked. Perichoresis in Trinitarian theology relates to the intimate union between these three members of the Trinity, their mutual indwelling and mutual interpenetration, so that each of these is always in the other two. What that means is that when you say something of one it can be said of all three. So there is this unity emphasized between the three. The term circumincession in the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church is stated that in Christian theology it is the technical term for the interpenetration of the three persons of the holy Trinity.

 

The point is that if we see one person we see all three because of this interpenetration of the members of the Godhead into one another. One figure on the throne portrays the unity of the triune God. Jesus can therefore say to Philip in John 14:7, 9 NASB "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him … Jesus said to him, 'Have I been so long with you, and {yet} you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how {can} you say, 'Show us the Father'?" There was no need for another manifestation, the Father and the Son were so close in that union.

 

Other passages that emphasize this: Deuteronomy 6:4 NASB "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one [echad]!" Echad means a unity of plural; it is not a singularity. When something is one we often think of a singularity. In Hebrew the word echad has the idea of a unity of pluralities, a unity of things viewed as one unified whole. One place where we see that word used is in Genesis 2:24 when God says of Adam and Eve that the two shall be joined together and be one [echad] flesh. The word is used several times in the Old Testament to describe the actions of a group. For example, when God is speaking to Gideon and tells him that he would the Midians "as one." The army of 300 would operates as a single operating force, a single unity operating as if they were just one. The entire nation is referred to as one in passages like Judges 20:8; 1 Samuel 11:7. So it has that idea of something that is integrally united. When it refers to God, of course, it is a unity beyond anything that we can imagine. John 10:30 NASB "I and the Father are one." That is a Greek word for "one" but He is communicating the same thing as stated in Deuteronomy 6:4, that God is one. In John 10:28 Jesus said, "and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand." Then He turns around and says the same thing about the Father: "My Father, who has given {them} to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch {them} out of the Father's hand." What the Son is doing the Father is doing; what the Father is doing the Son is doing; they are acting as one and the picture of us being held in their hand is a picture of the power of God, the omnipotence of God in keeping us. We are not literally being held in His hand, it is a picture of His power and ability. Jesus concludes by saying, "I and the Father are one." There is an integral unity there that makes it very difficult for us to understand because we have never seen anything like it.

 

An Old Testament example from Exodus: The situation in Exodus is that God has appeared to the nation. They had to be sanctified and they were all brought up before Mount Sinai and God began to give them the Law in chapter 20. Exodus 20:1 NASB "Then God [Elohim] spoke all these words, saying." When we see Elohim (plural) we need to think in terms of the Trinity because it is a plural noun that is a plural of emphasis, e.g. Genesis 1:26, 27 "Let us…" – one God but a plural pronoun is used. Exodus 20:2 NASB "I am the LORD [Yahweh] your God [Elohim], who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." So He introduces the Ten Commandments by reminding them of what He has done for them. He identifies Himself by the covenant name Yahweh and says that He is the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt. Chapter 20 describes the Ten Commandments and then chapters 21ff describe other laws. When we look at chapter 23:20, what happened at this point is that God is beginning to tell them what He is going to do for them. He has laid down the basic precepts of the civil law and a couple of aspects of the ritual law, the feasts and the Sabbath. Then He says in verse 20 NASB "Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared." There is not an article with the word "angel" there but that may not be significant. [21] "Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him."

 

When we get into the name of God, the name of something, the Jewish idea was that name represented something about the essence of something. Jacob's name means "heal-grabber"; he was always grasping for things. Isaac [laughter] because Sarah laughed when she heard God say that she as an old woman was going to give birth to a son. So the names mean something, they are not just tags like we have for things; they are not simply nomenclature; they represent the essence of something. Likewise, when we get into the New Testament we see, "Believe in the name of Jesus." We are not just believing in those five letters, J-e-s-u-s, that somehow those five letters will save us; we are believing in the essence of who Jesus is as the second person of the Trinity who came to earth, became a man and died on the cross for our sins. So here we have a statement—the Father speaking, Yahweh speaking, "Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him…" and ascribing to this angel that which only deity can do—forgive sin. "…since My name is in him." He is saying, My essence is in Him. So this angel mentioned in verse 20 is distinct from the God who is speaking.

 

The problem that we have is that there is a verse in John chapter one where John writes, "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained {Him.}" We have taken that verse and have pushed it way too far. We have made it seem as if nobody ever had ever had interaction with God the Father in the Old Testament. In the past the personage who was speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai as the Son rather than the Father. But here there is a clear statement that the person speaking is divine, the angel He is speaking about who He is sending before the Israelites is divine, so the angel has to be the angel of the Lord which is clearly the second person of the Trinity.

 

Exodus 23:22 NASB "But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. [23] For My angel …" Now it is clear that it is not just any angel, it is my angel. "… will go before you and bring you in to {the land of} the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them." So who is this angel? If we go to Joshua we will notice that the Lord, Yahweh, speaks and gives direct commands to Joshua as to what he should do in terms of the conquest. (What is interesting is that in the entire book of Joshua we don't find the word "angel") But in Joshua 5:13 NASB "Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, 'Are you for us or for our adversaries?'" Notice that it is not clear to Joshua that he is looking at God; he thinks he is looking at a man and is not sure who this individual is even. It is a Christophany here, an appearance to the second person of the Trinity in the form of a man. This is the pre-incarnate Christ. [14] "He said, 'No; rather I indeed come now {as} captain of the host of the LORD [Yahweh].' And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, 'What has my lord to say to his servant?'"

 

This personage is clearly distinct from Yahweh but He has divine prerogatives. Joshua fell on his face to the earth. Any time there is an attempt by a human being to worship an angel in the Scripture the angel always stops them because only God is worthy of worship. Does this personage try to stop Joshua from worshipping Him? No, so the captain of the hosts of the Lord is clearly divine and Joshua recognizes this. Joshua 5:15 NASB "The captain of the LORD'S host said to Joshua, 'Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.'" Have we heard that anywhere else? Yes, on Mount Sinai when Moses came up into God's presence. Only God has that prerogative to make that command. So the captain of the Lord's hosts is clearly fully divine. It must be the second person of the Trinity who is distinct from the Father.  Joshua 6:2 NASB "The LORD said to Joshua, 'See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king {and} the valiant warriors'." A different person from this captain of the hosts spoke to Joshua—the LORD here is Yahweh. So in the first part of Joshua, on the one hand we have Yahweh speaking, communicating, directing, commanding Joshua, and then another person who is going to lead and direct them in their combat against the Canaanites—and that must be the second person of the Trinity. Exodus 23:23 NASB "For My angel will go before you and bring you in to {the land of} the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them."

 

Then after the major campaigns are completed and there is another gathering of the tribes for a covenant renewal ceremony at Gilgal the angel of the Lord came up to meet Joshua and said: "I will never break my covenant with you." Who said "I will never break my covenant with you"? If we go back to Genesis 12 and 15 and 17, all those passages where God makes a covenant with Abraham He asserts that he will never break that covenant. If we look at those passages it appears to be God the Father. It is unclear. But here we have the angel of the Lord saying, "I said to your fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) I will never break my covenant with you." He also said, "I brought you up out of Egypt." Well if God says to Moses in Exodus 23, I am going to send my angel before you and he is going to give you victory, and at the end of the campaign the angel of the Lord says, "I am the one who gave you victory," it has to be that same angel. Then when we add that to the passage we looked at in Joshua it has to be the captain of the Lord's armies which normally is the Lord Jesus Christ. So we have here passages where there appear to be certain ambiguities between the Father and the Son. Other passages have the Father claiming one thing and the Son claiming the same thing. This is the unity of the Trinity speaking, that what one says is ascribed to the other.

 

Isaiah 6:1 is the same kind of scene that we have in Revelation 4 & 5, which is the throne room of God. NASB "In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple." This is the scene where Isaiah is transported to the throne of God. [2] "Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. [3] And one called out to another and said, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory'." Who is on the throne? The Father because the Son doesn't take the throne until the end of the Tribulation. Who is the head of the hosts of the Lord? This is where we get into this unity thing between the two. It is God, the triune God, sitting on the throne.

 

John 12:41 NASB "These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him." Whose glory? The glory of the Son. When did Isaiah see the glory of the Son? The only time that Isaiah saw the glory of God was in Isaiah chapter six. John says that was when he saw the glory of the Son, but we can't say that is the Son sitting on the throne. It drives us to say that what we have is the Godhead as God without distinguishing persons on the throne—God as God. What this does is allow us to preserve the unity of the Godhead and also to realize that we actually have the Father showing up a lot more in the Old Testament than sometimes people ascribe to Him because of this doctrine of perichoresis, emphasizing that inner penetrating unity so that what is said of one is ascribed to all three.

 

Revelation 11:15 NASB "Then the seventh angel sounded; 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 will reign forever and ever'." There is a knee-jerk reaction that we have when we first read that, that the "he" refers to Christ. Basically the grammar is that when we have a pronoun it refers to its nearest antecedent. But here it doesn't refer to Christ, it refers to "the Lord" who is God the Father, not to Christ. We tend to think of it as Christ because we come to the text with this pre-Millennial understanding that Jesus is coming and He is going to establish His kingdom. He is, but His kingdom is also the kingdom of God the Father. It is the Son who is reigning but it is also the kingdom of God. That is that perichoresis.

 

Revelation 11:17 NASB "saying, 'We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign'." The term "the Almighty" always refers to the Father in the book of Revelation. And in numerous passages there is the distinction between the one of the throne and the Lamb who is before Him. The term "the Almighty" is always used of the one on the throne because ultimately it is God the Father exercising His sovereign justice over the earth that is bringing all things to a conclusion, and then He will give (John 5) all judgment to the Son, and the Son in turn will take up then reigns of power and rule over His kingdom on the earth. "You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign" refers to God the Father here. When? At the end of the Millennial kingdom.

 

Revelation 15:3 NASB "And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,  'Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!'" Here this is a term related more to God's sovereign rule—the Father's sovereign rule, not the Son's messianic rule. The Father rules over creation.  

Revelation 19:6 NASB "Then I heard {something} like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, 'Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.'" This is at the time of the battle of Armageddon when the Son is about to come to the earth. This is not the Son because the Son is coming on a horse. This is talking about the Almighty on the throne. Verse 15 talks about the Son: "From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty." It is very clear that the one who is going to rule with the rod of iron is distinguished from God the Almighty who is the Father. The phrase "rule them with a rod of iron" is one which comes out of Psalm two, verse nine. The speaker, starting in verse 7 is the Father NASB "I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. [8] Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the {very} ends of the earth as Your possession. [9] You [the Son] shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.'" So as we pull this together we see that the Father is the Almighty. He is going to begin His reign and He reigns through the Son, the second person of the Trinity, in His establishment of the messianic kingdom upon the earth.

Revelation 11:18 NASB "And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came…" There is one reference to the wrath of the Lamb in the 6th seal of Revelation chapter six, and then elsewhere there is just a reference in 19:15, the wrath of God the Almighty, and this describes the judgments that are poured out on the earth during the Tribulation period. It is summarized here. "… and the time {came} for the dead to be judged…" Wait a minute! "Your wrath came"—Tribulation; "and the time came for the dead to be judged" – isn't that the great white throne judgment? How do we understand this? It is a summary statement that the 24 elders are praising God and are summarizing what God has done in history—He has brought this judgment to finalize this rebellion against Him and with that and the culmination of the seventh trumpet, which are the bowl judgments, there will be a time of reward and a time of judgment. He is not specifying the distinctions, he is just making a summary statement that there is going to be a judgment coming and there is future accountability.  "… and {the time} to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth."

What we should notice about verse 18 is that two different forms of orge [o)rgh] are used: orgizo [o)rgizw] the verb, which means to become angry, and orge which means wrath or anger. "…the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came…" So there is the conflict between the nations, the kings of the earth, gathering against God, and "… and the time {came} for the dead to be judged…" It just summarizes very briefly what happens at the end of the Tribulation period. The use of the word orge is important, it has the idea of wrath or anger as a state of mind. It is a mental state, it is not God being emotional, it is an expression for the execution of justice. It is in contrast to the Greek word thumos [qumoj] which is sometimes also translated "anger" or "indignation" but it has the idea of anger as an outburst of a vengeful mind or more of an emotional state. Verse 18 ties back to what we see pictured in Psalm 2:1, 2 NASB "Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying," So Psalm two is a prophecy, it is proleptic, the writer is looking at this future end-time event as if it is happening in his present time situation. [3] "Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!" This is the motto of the nations; they view God as restricting them.

Revelation 11:18b NASB "and {the time} to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth."  The "bond-servants the prophets" refer to Old Testament believers and "the saints and those who fear Your name" would refer to Tribulation believers. The church isn't present here because the church has already been raptured and rewarded at the bema seat, and they return with the Lord. This is a reference to Old Testament believers who are resurrected at the end of the Tribulation and the Tribulation martyrs who are resurrected at that time. "…and to destroy those who destroy the earth" would include judgment on both the fallen angels and on the earth dwellers who have rebelled against God.

There is another similar summary passage in Daniel 12:1, 2 NASB "Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands {guard} over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time [Jesus says the same thing in Matthew 24]; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued [salvation of the living Jews at the end of the Tribulation period]. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake [resurrection of Old Testament saints], these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace {and} everlasting contempt."

There is a judgment at the end of the Tribulation called the judgment of the sheep and the goats. Just before this judgment the Antichrist and the false prophet are cast into the lake of fire. At the sheep and the goats judgment the surviving Gentile are judged and separated (believer and unbeliever); surviving Jews are judged and separated (believer and unbeliever); Old Testament saints will be judged and will be rewarded, and Tribulation saints will be judged and rewarded. Then there is the Millennial kingdom which is followed by a second resurrection of the unsaved. At that time there is the final judgment which is the great white throne judgment which is composed of the unsaved dead. Just prior to that Satan will be cast into the lake of fire for his eternal punishment, then the present heavens and earth are destroyed and the new heavens and new earth are set up.

At the judgment seat of Christ (Bema seat) there are going to be a variety of different rewards that are handed out to those believers who have advanced spiritually. It doesn't matter how far you have advanced, but that you are advancing. Some believers will not have been believers for very long but they will have been positive and will have been growing; other believers will have been believers for a long time, and maybe they will have spent some time in disobedience but recovered and matured, and on that basis there will be a handing out of rewards. A series of these are listed at the end of the seven letters to the seven churches. For example, to the church at Ephesus the Lord promised to him who overcomes—to a mature and victorious believer—he will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God. Access to the tree of life is a special privilege in a special area within heaven known as the paradise of God. To the church at Smyrna Jesus said that to him who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. This is a way of saying that they will not be hurt but will be rewarded and will receive the crown of life. Revelation 2:17 NASB "… To him who overcomes, to him I will give {some} of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it." The white stone represents access to special privileges. In 2:26, to Thyatira NASB "He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS"—ruling and reigning responsibility. Revelation 3:5 NASB "He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." [12] To the church at Philadelphia "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name." [21] "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." Revelation 21:7 NASB "He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son."

Then we have crowns mentioned: crown of righteousness, 2 Timothy 4:8; crown of life, James 1:12; crown of glory, 1 Peter 5:4.

The final judgment for unbelievers is at the great white throne judgment. The dead are brought out of Hades and torments where they have been kept, and they will be brought before the great white throne where it will be determined whether their names are in the book of life. If it is not then they will be evaluated to see if their works are good enough to get into heaven. The term "works" is a neutral term. It can mean good deeds; it can mean bad deeds. If it means good deeds then the word "good" is in front of it; if it means bad deeds or dead works then a negative adjective is in front of it. If there is no adjective it just means works, it includes everything done, good and bad. And it is all piled up and God somehow has the deficits and the credits all organized in such a way that he is going to come up with the sum total and say, Okay you have this much but you have to have 100 miles higher before you can come into heaven because your righteousness doesn't meet the righteousness qualification of God. It is not that they are judged for their good works per se, or human good, it is whether they have enough works to measure up to the righteous standard God demands for anyone who is going to come into heaven. It doesn't matter of sin is there or not because it is the sum total of their work. They are not being judged for human good, they are not being evaluated for sin; they are being evaluated to see if they have enough brownie points to get into heaven. And they don't! So they are sent to the lake of fire because they are still spiritually dead and under condemnation, and because they lack the righteousness of Christ.    

Illustrations