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Revelation 11:14 tells us,
14 The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
Recall that the first woe, brought in by the fifth angel in Rev. 9:1, was the Saracen woe that brought Islamic judgment upon the church. It ended in 1063 (Rev. 9:12), when the sixth angel brought in the second (Seljuk Turks) woe, which culminated in the overthrow of Constantinople through the use of gunpowder and cannons.
The second woe, however, was then extended to include the Protestant Reformation, which was actually another form of divine judgment upon the Roman church. This woe was brought about by the use of the printing press, which created the “little book” (biblaridion, or “little bible”) in Rev. 10:2.
The time of the second woe then seems to continue into Rev. 11, which shows the two witnesses prophesying under persecution directed at them by “the beast that comes up out of the abyss” (Rev. 11:7). This is the beast or spirit of the earthly Jerusalem—carnal, legalistic religion whose foundation is some version of the Old Covenant.
Although this persecution may be traced back to the time when Cain killed Abel, the problem reached its crescendo during the time of the Inquisitions, when the Roman church killed and tortured multitudes of dissenters in its attempt to maintain power and unity of doctrine through fear and coercion. During this time, love was sacrificed on the altar of unity, as we might expect from any form of Old Covenant religion.
John then sees the martyrs represented by two witnesses who have the callings of the law and prophets, Judah and Israel, and having the scepter of Judah and the birthright of Joseph. The death of the martyrs in the spiritual streets of this spiritual city seem to coincide with the end of the Thyatira era (529-1517 A.D.), wherein Jezebel figures prominently (Revelation 2:20). Recall that Jezebel had killed the prophets, leaving only 7,000 as the remnant of grace (1 Kings 19:18; Rom. 11:4).
The end of the Thyatira era portrays the death of the martyrs (witnesses) for 3½ “days” from 1513-1517, when, at the Fifth Lateran Council in 1514, Cardinal Pucini proclaimed to the pope that all opposition had ceased. The two witnesses were “dead.” But then they rose again and ascended when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg, launching the start of the Sardis church era (1517-1776).
Sardis is the precious stone representing those Protestants who began to flourish and propagate the gospel of justification by faith alone. Because they found protection in Germany, England, and Holland, the Roman church was unable to stop this rising tide. The witnesses “ascended.”
During the Sardis church era, various Reformers studied the Scriptures and pondered the principles of Christian government. Some experimented on a small scale. Others wrote treatises on “natural law,” by which they meant “the laws of nature and nature’s God,” i.e., the Creator. All of these efforts reached a culmination in 1776 with the establishment of a new Christian Republic in the New World, a Protestant Christian Republic that was bitterly resented by the Roman church. The popes often attacked the idea of a Republic, for they backed the Catholic monarchies of Europe and believed this was the divinely-appointed form of government.
As for the start of the third woe, that is, the seventh trumpet, it is difficult to pinpoint a single beginning point—nor should we try. We have already seen how God sets up multiple starting points in order to provide us with double and triple witnesses.
Rev. 11:13 ends the second woe with the fall of “the city,” which must be the same city described in verse 8, where the two witnesses were killed. That city is called Sodom, Egypt, and (by implication) Jerusalem, but it is not called “Babylon.” The name “Babylon” is reserved for a later phase of carnal religion and does not appear until Rev. 18:2. Babylon appears to be the name used when the focus of prophecy shifts from the little horn, as Daniel saw it, to the extra beast that John saw in Rev. 13:11.
Daniel saw the beast which John described as coming out of the sea in Rev. 13:1, but John saw beyond Daniel’s revelation when he described a beast coming out of the earth in Rev. 13:11. This second banking beast, allied with the first religious beast, appears to be the final phase of tribulation prior to the coming of Christ. As we will see later, this final phase, known to historians as “The Holy Alliance,” lasted precisely 200 years from the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815 until the Dominion was given to the saints in 2014-2015.
When angels blow trumpets, they send a silent but effective message throughout the earth. So we see the message of the seventh angel given in Rev. 11:15,
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there arose 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 [aionios ton aionon, “for the ages of the ages”].
Such announcements come before the fact, not after they have been completed. This trumpet, then, is the divine Statement of Intent. More than this, it is a Statement of Fact in the sense that when God intends to do something, He always succeeds. Men may have good intentions when they make such statements, but God’s intentions form the divine Plan which has been predestined from the beginning to succeed.
Many theologians have presented God as One who tries many tactics, hoping to find one that is successful—but in the end, He loses most of humanity and must resort to an iron fist of total destruction of all who resisted His will. Such a portrayal, of course, does not describe the God of Scripture. To fail is to sin, for the Hebrew word khawtaw (“sin”) literally means to fail to hit the mark, to fall short of the target or goal. God never fails. Hence, when men resist the will (thelema) of God, we know that their resistance was built into the plan (boulema).
In the end, God’s will is always fulfilled, but only after God raises up opposition, making it appear that God is struggling to succeed. When we add the Time factor to the will of God, it is equal to the plan. I wrote about this in chapter 4 of my book, The Problem of Evil.
So Rev. 11:15 should be understood as a divine decree that precedes the fulfillment of that decree. God speaks of it in the past tense, as we so often see in the Hebrew language. A good example of this manner of speech is found in the Abrahamic promise in Gen. 17:5 (KJV). Paul comments on this promise in Rom. 4:17, saying,
17 as it has been written, “A Father of Many Nations I have constituted thee,”—in the presence of that God whom he believed, who makes alive the dead, and calls things not in being, as though existing.
The KJV catches the essence of this idea, telling us that God “calleth those things which be not as though they were.” In other words, God speaks of future things as if they already existed. He speaks of promised things as if they had already come to pass. Such is the viewpoint of the timeless God, the alpha and omega, the One who sees the end from the beginning, the God who guarantees success.
It is the language of a God who is confident in His power and ability to succeed in all that He sets out to do. Men—even religious men—often have less confidence in God than God has in Himself, for they think that the success of the divine plan depends (at least in part) upon the will of man. They do not understand that even man’s will was created by God and is, therefore, subject to—and subservient to—God’s will.
So when the seventh angel proclaims that the world kingdom has come under the dominion of Jesus Christ, it is simply a revelation of the divine plan from the beginning. Though men and their beast nations have been raised up, like Pharaoh, to resist God’s will for a time (Rom. 9:17), not even Pharaoh could resist God’s plan. Paul asks in Rom. 9:19, “for who resists His plan?” Here Paul uses the word boulema, not thelema. Rom. 9:16 says,
16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
John continues in Rev. 11:16, 17, 18, with a restatement by the twenty-four elders:
16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying, “We give Thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who art and who wast, because Thou hast taken Thy great power and hast begun to reign. 18 And the nations were enraged, and Thy wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to Thy bond-servants the prophets, and to the saints and to those who fear Thy name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”
These elders expand the message of the seventh angel. In fact, they help us interpret its meaning and implication. They thank God because He has “begun to reign.” God has always reigned, of course, but this statement comes in the context of man’s rebellion. Men and nations have usurped power, thinking God has given them ownership of His creation. But the seventh angel signals that the end of men’s usurpation is in sight. The corner has been turned. Rightful dominion is about to be restored to the one true King who has proven His love for all of mankind.
The twenty-four elders tells us in verse 18 that “the nations were enraged” for losing their usurped sovereignty. They also see that “the time came for the dead to be judged.” Again, the Great White Throne judgment was not to come until the end of the thousand years following the return of Christ, but the elders can already see it coming and treat it as an accomplished fact.
The elders also see rewards being given to the saints and prophets, as well as judgments upon “those who destroy the earth.” Sin is always destructive in some way. Men are under the illusion that true freedom is having the right to sin, not realizing that sin enslaves them. God knows better and intends to set them free from such childish nonsense.
God’s intent is to save the earth, while the rebellious systems of men work to destroy it. As we now approach the end of the age, the self-destructive governmental policies are becoming more and more obvious to those who have insight into such things. Scientists are hired to genetically modify food in order to promote ill health, and to destroy biodiversity which is viewed as a competitor. Science has created the means to destroy the earth many times over. By normalizing homosexual behavior instead of finding ways to heal it, men again promote death. There is even an agenda that promotes killing 90% of humanity in order to “save the earth from humans.”
All of these and more are the results of man’s rebellion against God’s right to rule what He has created. Men’s disagreement with God’s law is the path of death. Moses told Israel in Deut. 30:15-19,
15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it… 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.
Heaven and earth are the ultimate manifestation of the two witnesses. When the earth bears witness to the decrees of heaven, then all things are established in earth as in heaven.