The Third Woe

THE THIRD WOE (11:14). The second woe (two hundred million mounted troops, the angel and the little scroll, the two witnesses, a severe earthquake in Jerusalem) has passed; the third woe is coming soon. The third woe extends to the end of the Tribulation Period. It covers the final three and one-half years.

THE SEVENTH TRUMPET: JUDGMENTS AND REWARDS (11:15-19). Undoubtedly, the sounding of the seventh trumpet looks forward to the end of the Tribulation Period when Christ establishes His kingdom. It would seem, therefore, the seven bowl judgments must be included in the seventh trumpet.

CHRIST’S KINGDOM COMES (11:15). The kingdom of the world up to this point belongs to the prince of this world, Satan (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). The world is now Christ’s kingdom—the petition of the Lord’s Prayer is answered: “Thy kingdom come.” This triumphant shout of victory comes from an unnamed chorus of loud voices.

THE SONG OF THE TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS (11:16-18). The response in Heaven by the twenty-four elders is a hymn of thanksgiving and anticipation. There are six statements made by the elders:

1. Thanks to God for using His power to reign
2. The nations are angry
3. The time of God’s wrath is come
4. The time to judge the dead saints
5. The time to give rewards to saints
6. The time to destroy earth’s destroyers

The first three statements are rooted in the Second Psalm. The next two statements deal with the Judgment Seat of Christ. And the final statement with the events leading up to and including Armageddon. Prophecy sometimes appears in reverse chronological order; this might be the case here.

GOD’S TEMPLE OPENED IN HEAVEN (11:19). An actual Temple exists in heaven (Revelation 14:15, 17; 15:5-6, 8; 16:1, 17; Isaiah 6:1-8; Hebrews 8:2, 5; 9:24) and it served as the pattern for the earthly Tabernacle and Temple (Exodus 25:8-9, 40; 1 Chronicles 28:11-12, 19). These worship centers represent God’s desire to dwell with His people. As eternity begins, the Temple will no longer be needed since God will dwell with His people (Revelation 21:3, 22).

There are seven great openings in the Apocalypse:

1. A door is opened in Heaven, 4:1
2. The seven seals of the scroll are opened, 6:1-8:1
3. The Abyss is opened, 9:2
4. The Temple of God in Heaven is opened, 11:19
5. The Tabernacle of the Testimony is opened, 15:5
6. Heaven is opened, 19:11
7. The Books of Judgment and Life are opened, 20:11

THE ARK OF THE COVENANT is also known as the Ark of God (1 Samuel 3:3), the Ark of Your Might (Psalm 132:8), the Sacred/Holy Ark (2 Chronicles 35:3), and the Ark of Testimony (Numbers 4:5). Historically, the Ark had four main functions:

First, the Ark served as a container for three objects that typified Christ (Hebrews 9:3-5):

1. The two stone tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai
2. The gold jar of manna that God provided during the desert wanderings
3. The staff that budded to confirm Aaron’s exclusive call to Israel’s priesthood

Second, the Ark’s COVER was the place where the sacrificial blood was sprinkled once a year on the Day of Atonement to make atonement “for all the sins of the Israelites” (Leviticus 16).

Third, the Ark was viewed as the site of God’s presence with His people. Years later, King Hezekiah did not dare to go into the Holy of Holies in the Temple where the Ark rested. Hezekiah prayed to the God of Israel who was “enthroned between the cherubim” (2 Kings 19:14-15).

Fourth, the Ark was carried into battles, signifying the presence of Yahweh with His people (Joshua 6).

THE ARK disappeared around the time Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple in 586 B.C. Archaeologists have searched in Egypt and the Middle East looking for the Lost Ark, thinking that the priests moved it before the Temple was destroyed. In Ezekiel 8-11, the prophet is lifted up by the Spirit between earth and heaven and in visions of God, the Spirit takes Ezekiel to Jerusalem, where He sees the glory of the LORD depart from the Temple and go to the Mount of Olives to return to heaven. Ezekiel 12:22 probably describes the Ark being taken to heaven in 586 B.C. This foreshadows Jesus’ ascension to heaven in A.D. 33, from the Mount of Olives, after Israel rejected Him. Heaven is opened and the Ark of the Covenant seen, typifying Israel finally perceiving Christ for whom He is.

In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,” declares the LORD, “men will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts (Jeremiah 3:16-17).

However, one must not overlook the fact that the earthly sanctuary is a copy and shadow of what is heaven (Hebrews 8:3-5). It is possible that John saw the original of which the Ark on earth was only a copy and it is lost or destroyed! Alternatively, John saw Jesus Christ in heaven and described Him as THE ARK!

The Ark of the Covenant was an earthly sign that God would guard and protect His people from evil forces. It went with Israel into battle and it was where atonement was made for the nation. It is only fitting that John saw the Ark at this point since all Israel has been saved and the LORD is taking up the battle, as the forces of evil move against God’s covenant people. Verse 19 ensures the fulfillment of Jeremiah 30:7:

How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.

That the battle is Yahweh’s is signified by the “artillery of heaven”—flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. Psalm 99:1-3 declares:

The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.

Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name—he is holy.

The inhabitants of the earth have cause to tremble, but the Redeemer still waits to be gracious. Let all who hear, take warning, and seek His mercy. Repent and Believe!

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