The Kingdom

After the interlude, the seventh angel sounded the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11:15-19, closing this series of visions.

Revelation 11:15 records this proclamation in heaven at the sounding of the seventh trumpet:

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.

The seventh trumpet introduces the worship that will take place in God’s throne room when his victory over all the kingdoms of earth is secure and when he renders his final judgment on all creation. Christ will return to renew the earth; his glory will be fully revealed; and God’s reign will be fully manifested throughout all creation.

The third series of visions dealing with coming events is the seven symbolic histories in Revelation 12:1-14:20.

Structurally, the vision of the seven symbolic histories mirrors the visions of the seals and trumpets: the first six histories are grouped together, followed by an interlude, and then the seventh symbolic history. But while the visions of the seals and trumpets focused on divine judgments, the seven histories portrayed the spiritual conflict between Satan and the people of God. The histories in this series revolve around key symbolic characters: the woman, the dragon, the beast from the sea, the beast from the earth, the 144,000 believers, the angelic messengers, and the Son of Man.

The first symbolic character is a pregnant woman clothed in the sun. Her history is found in Revelation 12:1-17, and resembles the birth of Jesus and Herod’s attempt to kill him. The woman, who represents faithful Israel, gave birth to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Her child was taken into heaven, which may refer to Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven. But the woman remained on earth and was persecuted by a great dragon. God protected her so that the dragon couldn’t defeat her, but she still suffered because of the conflict. This symbolic history represents the fact that Jesus descended from God’s faithful people, and that true believers continue to suffer because of Satan and his kingdom. John’s original audience would have understood that this conflict was at the root of their problems, and would have drawn encouragement from God’s protection and care for the woman. At the same time, they would have understood their need to persevere, since the struggles wouldn’t end any time soon.

The next symbolic history revolves around a huge red dragon, and appears in Revelation 12:3-17. This history is presented simultaneously with the woman’s history, but is identified in Revelation 12:3 as a separate sign. The dragon is described as enormous and red with seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads. And in verse 9 he is identified as Satan himself. In John’s vision, the dragon’s tail swept a third of the stars from sky and flung them to the earth. This action may represent angels falling to become demons, or simply political upheaval as in Isaiah 34:4 and Mark 13:25. The dragon attacked the woman and her child, highlighting the intense struggle between Satan and God’s people.

In the dragon’s history, there was also a war in heaven, in which Michael and the angels fought the dragon. Michael threw Satan and his angels down to the earth. Once cast to earth, Satan pursued the woman to persecute her. But God protected her, so Satan turned to attacking her offspring — believers who obey Christ and keep the testimony of Christ. This symbolic history would have helped John’s readers understand that they were being persecuted because of Satan’s hatred of God, and in the course of a spiritual war. Even so, Satan was already defeated, and the church would suffer persecution only until the dragon’s limited time on earth was done.

Bible Reading: Revelation 11:1-19, 12:1-17