One of the best and worst things about a good show is the show that begins “Part 1”. You know the show is going to be intense, heart-wrenching, intriguing and it will ultimately have little to no resolution. It draws you into seeing what’s next in “Part 2”, the conclusion of the show and so you are stuck in a cliff-hanger mode just waiting around for part 2. This is why I love watching shows on Netflix so much, because part 2 can come up in seconds, not having to wait for a whole week!
This passage is kind of like that. It is a look back at what Christ has done, and it displays what this part 1 in all it’s fullness will look like in part 2, but we must wade through the muck and the mire before we see the fullness of Heaven realized. This picture gives us a beautiful description of what the More to come will be as well as what already is. Revelation is a Here but Not Yet reality!
14 The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.
The Seventh Trumpet
15 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 Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
18 The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants,[a] the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings,[b] peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
The Woman and the Dragon
12 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child wascaught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. (Revelation 11:14-12:6 ESV)
Let’s take a look at what all of this now but not yet looks like, because when Jesus died and rose again, these things happened and were put into motion
Jesus Reigns (vs. 15-17)
They (the elders) gave thanks for three special blessings: the first was that Christ reigns supremely (Rev. 11:17). When we look at the book of Revelation as we’ve stated repeatedly before, we get easily entrapped into thinking the end isn’t secure in the declaration of who will win. Yet, when Jesus died and rose again, he became the ruler. He crushed the head of the serpent, but allowed the dying beast time to flail about. We are currently in the backlash of the enemies flails and his goal is to take out as many people as possible, but the fact still remains that Jesus Reigns. No matter what the enemy attempts, this will always be the truth of the matter. This is why we need not fear the enemy, this is why the Spirit of God living within us gives us the ability to call out the lies of the enemy and give us the ability to call out the demons that still attempt to take people over. When we focus on anything else but Jesus, we begin to allow his ruling reality to slip our minds and we become weaker than we were meant to be. C. S. Lewis says it this way:
“If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next…Aim at Heaven and you will get the earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither” C.S. Lewis- Mere Christianity bk. 3, ch. 10
There is little peace on earth, but Heaven is a tranquil reality. Jesus rules over the earth but he has not yet come in His fullness…this doesn’t mean we can’t focus on Heaven and what that entire scene means. When we look to Him as our source, we look to Him as our ruler all of the sudden our ability to do much for the Kingdom increases. We give over to the Spirit’s urges within us and get a taste of our inheritance (Eph.1:13-14). Giving over to the rulership of Jesus just does something in us that people notice (1 Peter 3:15) and this is only the beginning! I think we believe the lies the enemy assails us with far too often and forget the real, true power we have! When Jesus is ruling and reigning in our life, we don’t forget this as often.
Tozer said in Pursuit of God: “Christ may be “received” without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is “saved,” but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little.” When Christ is reigning, a hunger deep down within us wants more, when he’s just “saved” us, we tend to be content with little and too often our “church systems” push for contentment, rather than a deeper, truer hunger for the Lord
Jesus Judges (vs. 18a)
He judges righteously (Rev. 11:18a), The fact is that the very thought of Jesus sends many people into a fit of rage, rather than a sense of deeper hunger. Jesus to many is not attractive, nor will he ever be attractive to all. Jesus came to reveal “The Kingdom” of God, he did not come to “rule” over the divided Kingdoms. He is the ruler of “The Kingdom”! In that, come judgments of the wicked, which he must implement. Yet, he is patient. This time between times we are in, is proof of his patience. He will ultimately judge the entire world. In this is also a promise and a blessed truth that in the end He wins the war. The battles rage around us, but the war was already won at his resurrection! He defeated Satan, took the keys of death from him and won! Why do we see all the battles around us? Why isn’t the world the way in which it should be if Jesus is truly reigning and judging? His Kingdom is both here and not yet.
Churchill said of WW2 when the U.S. entered the fray: “The war is over, it’s just a matter of when”. When Jesus died and rose, it was declared: “The War is over, it’s just a matter of when!” This sometimes isn’t the answer you’re looking for, it’s sometimes difficult to trust such open ended ideas, but remember when our eyes and hearts our fixed upon the reigning of Jesus in our lives, it changes everything in us. If Christ has the power to change us, why can’t we trust that one day He will change everything?
Jesus Rewards (vs. 18b)
He rewards graciously (Rev. 11:18). We come to this amazing portion of another promise, where God rewards us, small and great. Those of us who have trusted his name, whether we are prophets or simple followers will be rewarded by the King; and we can trust his promises! One of the biggest rewards is that he will destroy the destroyers. Those who by the power of the enemy were made to make our lives hell on earth, he will repay and avenge us. He loves His children and He will lash out at our attackers like any loving daddy would!
Jesus Opens Heaven (vs. 19-12:6)
We next see this beautiful picture of Heaven being opened and the ark of the covenant on display for all to see and to know that God is the only person/thing worthy of true worship! It harkens one back to when Jesus died and the curtain blocking off the Holy of Holies was torn in two and we, by the blood of Jesus now have access to the throne room of the living God! Jesus, opens the heavens for us to have access to the throne of God, by His sacrifice we have this ability…further proof of his defeating the enemy, the serpent, or as we now read: a Dragon. This portion of chapter 12, is a new look at the nativity. Here we see that the very birth of Jesus was so threatening to the dragon that he wished to devour the child, but God protected both the mother (Israel) and he child (Jesus) so that by Jesus death, Heaven could be opened as we saw in verse 19 of chapter 11!!
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Re 11:15). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.