Verse 15: The seventh trumpet releases the third woe which is the personal arrival of Satan on the earth (Rev 12:7-9, 12, 13, 17). If the first and second woes brought horrific suffering through demonic torment and death, the third woe initiates a religious persecution beyond anything the world has ever seen (Mt 24:21). In effect, the seventh trumpet announces the end of Gods merciful restraint of evil. For the next three and a half years, the world will experience what would have happened throughout history had God let evil run its course. Thankfully, He has always put boundaries on the evil He would tolerate in order to provide an environment in which people might, as Paul said, seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and exist... (Ac 17:27, 28). Since the time of the tower of Babel (Ge 11:1-9), God has restrained the mystery of lawlessness (2Th 2:5-9), keeping evil within boundaries so that some measure of religious freedom might be preserved in human society. He wants people to be able to turn to Him if they choose. However, throughout history, the spirit of the antichrist has repeatedly tried to arise, and to some degree is always present (1Jn 2:18). But when the seventh trumpet finally blows, that which restrains will be removed (2Th 2:6, 7) and the world will experience oppression at a level it has never seen.
Verse 15 (continued): Along with the trumpet blast, John heard loud voices announcing that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, had at last taken control of the world. This final and complete transfer of dominion is declared to be an accomplished act before the events on earth are actually brought into line. From earths perspective, it will be another three and a half years before Jesus descends to destroy His enemies and set up His government (Rev 19:11-16). But as weve already seen throughout Johns revelation, redemptive events on earth begin as prior decisions in heaven. They are established spiritually before they are expressed in the material world. Verse 16: The twenty-four elders representing the Old and New covenants (Israel and the church) respond to this historic moment by falling to the ground and lying prostrate in worship. Verse 17: They are full of thanks that God will finally put an end to the era of human government which had lasted from Adam to the antichrist.
Verse 18: The elders declare that this is the moment foreseen in Psalm 2 in which the promised son of David (2Sa 7:1-17) would rule the nations of the earth. That psalm describes the Gentile nations rebelling against this son (Messiah) in order to cast off His rulership. Then in the midst of the turmoil, God empowers Him to shatter their militaries and force them to submit. Psalm 110 describes the same scenario as does Psalm 89:19-29. The statement made by these elders pictures this final conflict. The Gentile nations will be angry at God and will dare to try to stop the imposition of His government but He will pour out His wrath on them and sit in judgment over every human who has ever lived (Da 12:2). At the same time, He will reward His servants, from the small to the great with eternal blessings. Finally, He will destroy those who destroy the earth. The identity of this final group is revealed when we understand the meaning of the word translated as destroy. It means to destroy something by corruption, so it is pointing us to the underlying sources of spiritual evil which have been working behind the scenes to corrupt humans and even nature itself (Ro 8:19-22). These sources are Satan and his angels, along with the antichrist and false prophet (Rev 13:11-14). They are the ones primarily responsible for this final destruction. Therefore, they will be the ones destroyed first (Rev 16:13; 20:10).
Verse 19: Chapter 11 described part of Gods miraculous campaign to evangelize Israel, an outreach which would also include Jews worldwide. The actual ark of the covenant made by Moses has been lost or destroyed, however, John now sees it revealed in heaven. The main items it contained were two tablets of stone on which the Lord Himself had written the Ten Commandments (Ex 25:16; 40:20; Dt. 10:1-5). These served as physical memorials of the covenant God made at Mount Sinai. By revealing the ark in heaven, God is saying He has not forgotten His covenant with Israel. This explains why we are seeing such a special effort being made toward them in the last days. Their ancient covenant is still alive. As we will soon see, God will miraculously protect them from the antichrist like He did from Pharaoh (Rev 12:6, 13-17). Along with the ark, John also saw lightening, thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm Р foreboding symbols telling us God will unleash another storm of judgment on the earth.
Revelation 12:1, 2
Gods evangelization of Israel will not go unchallenged by Satan. Using vivid symbolism, God shows John the spiritual battle which will erupt when He revives many in Israel to become a vital spiritual community faithfully declaring Jesus as their Messiah (Eze 36, 37). Verse 1: Israel is depicted as a pregnant woman ready to give birth. The use of the sun, moon and twelve stars is an unmistakable reference to the same symbols in Josephs dream (Ge 37:9, 10). When Joseph related the dream to his father, Jacob instantly recognized that the symbols referred to himself, his wives and his sons. His sons, of course, were the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel (twelve stars), so by being clothed with the sun, Israel is still wrapped in the promises made to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob; Ro 11:28). Having the moon under her feet means they also stand on the promises made to the matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel; Ge 17:15, 16; 24:60). Verse 2: Like a pregnant woman, Israel will suffer severe labor pains and give birth. She has one more child to bear before the end, and the process will be filled with suffering.
Revelation 12:3, 4
Verses 3, 4: Not only will the birth be painful but the environment into which the child will be born will be highly dangerous. A great red dragon stands just in the front of the woman and is determined to devour the newborn baby as soon as it emerges. There is no mystery to the identity of the dragon. We need only read as far as verse nine to discover it is Satan himself. However, the form in which the dragon appears here is odd. The dragons image has been blended with symbols used elsewhere for the antichrist. It has seven heads and ten horns and on his heads were seven diadems (royal crowns). In chapters 13 (Rev 13:1) and 17 (Rev 17:3, 7), the antichrists kingdom is pictured as a beast possessing these same symbols. They differ only slightly in that the beast has ten diadems instead of seven. The number of heads and horns are still the same. In chapter 17 (Rev 17:9-13), an angel explains to John that the heads and horns represent empires and kings and should not be taken literally. We will try to identify to whom these refer later on, but at this point, its enough to realize the dragon (Satan), not a human being, will direct control of the antichrists kingdom. The dragon doesnt just help the beast, the dragon becomes one with the beast, a fact which will be explained soon (Rev 12:12; 13:2, 3). So the symbols here tell us that Satan himself will be in full control of the assault on the child Israel will bear.
Verse 5: Many interpreters of this passage assume the male child born by Israel must be Jesus. This makes the whole passage simply a symbolic depiction of Satans opposition to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. They reason that He alone is destined to rule the nations with a rod of iron, and the child being caught up to God must refer to the ascension (Ac 1:9). But, Jesus Himself promised those who overcome would someday participate with Him in His future government (Rev 2:26, 27). His authority over the nations which the Father promised Him in Psalm 2 (Ps 2:8, 9) will be exercised on His behalf by His faithful followers. Furthermore, the child which Israel bears seems to be caught up to God and His throne in order to escape the pursuing dragon. But when Jesus ascended into heaven, He wasnt escaping anything. By His cross and resurrection, He had completely defeated Satan, so He ascended into heaven only to take His position at the right hand of the Father (Ps 110:1, 2; Mt 28:18; Eph 4:8-10).