Song of Triumph
“Inscribed over the high altar in Westminster Abbey, one of the most famous churches in the world, is the KJV translation of Revelation 11:15, which reads, “The kingdoms of this world are become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.”
“It is an impressive text for an impressive location, looking down as it does not only on the altar and its magnificent surroundings but on the decorative pavement in front of it, where for a thousand years kings and queens have been crowned. The text is designed as a solemn reminder to these monarchs, and to their subjects, that their crowns are at best temporary and in any case borrowed. The sovereignty, the Kingdom, belongs to the one true God and to his Messiah.”
This climactic and decisive moment could well have come, towards the very end of this book. Indeed, parts of Revelation 19 resemble what we have here (Revelation 11:14-19). But this reminds us that we are not dealing, in Revelation, with a single sequence of events, in which the seals come first, then the trumpets, then all the material in chapters 12-14, culminating in the bowls of wrath, and so on.
What we are dealing with is several different angles of vision on the one single great reality: that through the awful turmoil and trouble of the world, God is establishing through Jesus a people who, following the Lamb, are to bear witness to God’s Kingdom through their own suffering, through which the world will be brought to repentance and faith, so that ultimately God will be King over all.
There are, no doubt, a thousand different ways of saying this; John has chosen three or four. Here we have the climax of one of them, which also functions as the climax to the whole of the first half of the book. Verse 19, which finishes this passage, also prepares the way for the very different scene in chapters 12 & 13, where the story as it were begins all over again so that, from quite a new angle, we may see the same drama acted out, and with the same eventual result.
Revelation, like the book of Daniel, is all about the Kingdom of God. Sadly, far too many Christians have understood ‘the kingdom’ simply in terms of ‘God’s kingdom in heaven’, meaning by that that God is in charge in a place called ‘heaven’ (as opposed to this messy place called ‘earth’, from which God wants to rescue us), and that the main aim of life is to ‘enter the kingdom of heaven’ in the sense of ‘going to heaven when you die’.
God’s Kingdom is not simply designed for ‘heaven’, because God is the Creator of the whole world, and his entire purpose is to reclaim that whole world as his own and to set it on the way to become the place he always intended it to be, before human rebellion pulled it so disastrously off track.
Ours is not a private spirituality in the present, or an escapist ‘salvation’ in the future. This is about the living God confronting the powers of the world with the news that he is now in charge, and that the mode of his rule is that which was established by ‘his Messiah’, the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world.
We trust that you can join us this week as we consider the song of triumph in Revelation 11:14-19. We invite your prayers for the work of God’s Spirit as we take part in the ordinance of baptism this Lord’s Day. I encourage you to bring along a friend as we learn more clearly about covenant baptism.
Grace upon Grace,
Don’t forget your canned goods and other staple items to donate for Good Shepherd food pantry ministry. Bring them along with you to church and we will deliver them for you. Thank you.