Dr. Kurschner started a mini-series giving reasons why the bowl judgments follow after the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and not before as the recapitulation framework would have it. His first reason in this first part focused on the pronouncement of the reclamation of the kingdom of Jesus.
(*One correction: I said in the program, “The seventh trumpet commences God’s wrath.” I meant to say, “The seven trumpets commence God’s wrath.”)
John’s message of Jesus’s reclamation of the kingdom is not a simple event, but a complex event. This is conveyed by the series of trumpet and bowl judgments, including the final battle. John is signaling through this complex-comprehensive whole that God will be glorified, not by some instantaneous judgment where everything is recapitulated and thereby collapsed into a simple event but rather there is an unfolding of a series of increasingly devastating judgments.
Incidentally, this is similar to how the plagues executed upon Egypt functioned, each one in a linear progression intensified and hardened the hearts of the objects of wrath, as God was glorified in this complex series of judgments. And not surprisingly we have allusions to the Egyptian plagues in our judgment septets as well as the wicked progressively hardening their hearts more as the intensifying progresses. This progressive outworking is also seen through the process of kingdom reclamation. The trumpet judgments conclude with the pronouncement of the retaking of the kingdom of the world for the Lord:
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 Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.” Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, singing, “We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty, who are and who were, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.” (Rev 11:15–17; cf. 15:3–4)
However, recapitulation interpreters misconstrue the seventh trumpet, kingdom pronouncement in 11:15 as describing “the end” all wrapped up in that instantaneous moment, as if all the rebellion of the wicked and the kingdom of the beast is eliminated. Rather, the kingdom pronouncement is anticipating a complex phase of judgments. For example, Revelation 10:7 says, “but in the days when the seventh angel is to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, as he announced to his servants the prophets.” John, however, portrays this pronouncement as the de jure reclamation of Christ, but the consequences of such an pronouncement is yet to be seen.
The nations and the beast are defiant to this message of the kingdom pronouncement. In 11:18, they exclaim. “The nations raged, but your wrath has come” (Rev 11:18). Recall, the beast was given 1,260 days of authority to rule the world and persecute God’s people (Rev 13:5). However, the beast and the nations have not given up waving a white flag. This changing of authority does not go unopposed by the beast and the nations. They refuse to accept Jesus’s authority as king. After his authority of 42 months expires, the beast will attempt, unsuccessfully, to maintain his authority, kingdom, and his followers by waging war against Christ. The newly coronation of Christ will result in wiping out his enemies who oppose his kingship through the bowl judgments which climax at the battle of Armageddon. The bowls function as the transitional phase to the “last” of God’s wrath signaled through the bowls.
The defiance of the nations in the face of the new coronation of Christ is pictured in three key passages, the first being situated in the sixth bowl.
The sixth angel poured his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw three foul spirits like frogs coming from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet. These are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (“See, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and is clothed, not going about naked and exposed to shame.”) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Harmagedon. (Rev 16:12–16)
And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are united in yielding their power and authority to the beast; they will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful. (Rev 17:12–14)
From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and their riders—flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.” Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against the rider on the horse and against his army. (Rev 19:15–19)
In summary, the kingdom pronouncement is anticipatory not climactic.
Links mentioned in today’s program:
PREWRATH AUDIO BOOK!