The vision in this passage describes the world during its last stage; it has reached its end and the Kingdom of Christ is officially established on earth.
Later on in chapter 21, we will be able to see again when Christ assumes the throne and is crowned King. Chapter 21 focuses in describing the King, which is Christ. He has many names, emphasizing that the tabernacle of God is among men, He will dwell eternally among His people. The important point in this passage is to describe the appearing of the Ark of the Covenant in the Sanctuary. Focusing on the Covenant that God made with His people.
What people are concerned about is which country will be the most powerful one during the 21st century. Many Chinese people believe that China will replace the United States; Americans believe that the great power status of the United States will not waiver. Their views are based upon the feelings of the people. What people think is not important. What is important is what the Bible says. “The kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.”
The word “kingdoms” is plural, the world has many countries but in the future they will all disappear. There will be only one kingdom left which is the Kingdom of Christ. All the countries of the world will fall like the walls of the city of Jericho. All the powers of this world will pass away, only Christ’s Kingdom will last forever.
PROCLAIMING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NEW KINGDOM
15 第七位天使吹完號( 完了) ，天上就有大聲音說：世上的國成了我主和主基督的國，祂要作王直到永永遠遠。
15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,“ The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.”
那時候稱為Kingdom ，是王國。這是基督的王國，因為是基督作王。神的國甚麽時候開始？似乎也帶來很多混亂。有時像說神的國已經在地上( 路加17:21) 。｢人不得說，神的國在這里或那裡，神國就在你們心裡。｣天主教宣稱天國在地上，有時候，主耶穌說：神的國已經在地上，但逾越節晚餐的時候，祂又說：｢我不再吃這個，直到成就在神的國里。｣( 路加22:16) 。所以天國有兩段時期。
At that time it will be called the Kingdom of Christ because He will be the King. When did the Kingdom of God start? This matter has brought a lot of confusion. Sometimes it says that the Kingdom of God is already on the earth (Luke 17:21). “Nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ Or, ‘There it is!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Catholics claim that the Kingdom of God in on the earth. Sometimes Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is already on the earth, but during the Passover meal, He said: “For I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God .”( Luke 22:16). So the Kingdom of Heaven has two phases.
At present the Kingdom of Heaven is in its building phase, it is a temporary kingdom. You cannot say “here it is” or “there it is” because it does not have any boundaries, it is inside every believer that submits to God’s commands and follows His will. The territory of the Kingdom of Heaven is the place where God’s will is carried through.
The other one is the eternal Kingdom. At the end of the world, Christ will officially start His reign. When the tangible Kingdom of Heaven appears, the eternal Kingdom of God will be established. At that time the will of God will truly be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is a kingdom where everyone will obey the King and follow His will. In those days, only those who do the will of God will be there. The new Kingdom, the eternal Kingdom will be formally established .
All the kingdoms of the earth will disappear, only the Kingdom of Christ will last forever. The angels loudly proclaimed what truly came to pass. There was nothing the people of this world could do about it, what the angel proclaimed in a loud voice had become a fact. “Our Lord” and “His Christ” are two persons but the verbs that are used are in the singular form. The pronoun “He” is also singular. Therefore, this kingdom is the Kingdom of Christ and also the Kingdom of God the Father, and also the Kingdom of the Almighty God-in-Three Persons, Holy Trinity.
PRAISES AND THANKS FOR THE REIGN OF THE NEW KING
16 在神面前，坐在自己位上的二十四位長老，就面伏於地敬拜神，17 說：昔在今在的主神全能者阿，我們感謝祢，因祢執掌大權作王了。
16 And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
These twenty-four elders were already introduced in chapters 4 and 5. In the Sanctuary, each one of the twenty-four elders has a throne; these are living spiritual beings that have always had the position, the status and the authority to serve. On the earth our physical eyes are unable to see clearly how things run in the Kingdom of Heaven but they can because they have always handled the affairs of the Kingdom of Heaven. They have seen the Kingdom of Heaven grow until it reached its final phase, Christ has officially become the reigning King of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the whole universe is under His rule. That is why these twenty-four elders are thanking the Lord because He is in power. The just and righteous King has assumed the throne, which is something worth rejoicing for.
Every country in the world is criticized, every president, every head of state, even if they had not committed any crimes or been involved in any scandals, they have been a disappointment to the people. In those days, we will see the best head of state ever, the most impartial one, the most upright one, the most loving and kind-hearted King, He is Jesus Christ. Everyone is eagerly waiting to welcome Him. The regime that was oppressing God’s people will come to an end. Those who worshiped the Lord in ancient times gave praises to the One who is and who was and who is to come. Showing that from antiquity to eternity, God is and will always be in control.
The darkness is increasing; the world is getting more and more chaotic, there is more and more suffering on the earth. We can see how amazing His prophecy is, there is no place in this world worth reminiscing for anymore and there is nothing worth keeping .
Only the new King can satisfy the hearts of the people. In today’s generation, group leadership, which is governing through separation of powers, is common. Any issues proposed by the President needs to pass through Congress and the House of Representatives. However, people’s hearts still want to turn to a great leader. But when we take a look at the political leaders of the end times we see them falling one by one due to sex scandals, corruption, unrestrained lifestyle, etc. When famous high ranking officials lose their status and influence; they are forced to step down from office, they are a disappointment to their own people and they lose their support. That is why when a worthy ruler assumes the throne; the people can only give thanks.
REVEALING THE JUDGMENT OF THE NEW KING
18 And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”
In ancient times, the king of a country was also the highest judge. At the time of assuming the throne the king was given some cases to judge in order to determine his reigning authority. King Solomon was also given a case to judge at the time he assumed the throne. He had to judge the case about two women who were disputing the custody of a child. At that time there was no DNA testing, it was hard to decide which mother the child belonged to. Solomon used the distinguished feature of maternal love to decide who the real mother was. Everyone admired his quick and wise judgment. 。
The Jews conspired to murder Paul; the Roman officials seized him with the purpose of protecting him. He said he wanted to make an appeal to Caesar, the emperor. He did this not only to avoid being murdered by the Jews but also to have the opportunity to go to Rome to preach the Gospel. He had not committed any serious crimes therefore he was put under house arrest as he waited to see the emperor. He could preach God’s Word in the house where he was detained. As we can see, not all matters presented to the King were necessarily big legal cases.
One of the duties of a king includes judging human conflicts. Here it tells us that the Lord will judge three things:
( 一) 審判死人- 古代所有歷史人物，無一人能逃脫，人人都要面對這審判的王。他們所做過的事，無論好壞，全都要受到公平的審判。現在的法庭審斷，不一定是公平的。所以人人上法庭前，忐忑不安，沒有做錯事的人也都害怕。
(1) Judge the dead –No one will be able to get away with it, everyone, since the beginning of history, will have to face the Judge King. Whatever things they did, no matter good or bad, will be judged fairly. Nowadays, when a court gives a verdict, it might not be fair. That is why when people have to go to court they feel uneasy and afraid, even if they have not done anything wrong.
( 二) 聖徒得賞賜- 叁種人得賞賜：1. 先知與眾僕人。2. 聖徒，每一個信耶穌的人。3. 敬畏主名的人，沒機會聽卻敬畏主的，他們也會得到公平的審判。因著他們的忠心、愛心、敬畏的心，會得到主不同層次的賞賜。凡在天國里有份參與事奉的人，都必得到賞賜。人所做一切美好的事，都會得到主的回報。沒有一件會遺漏。現在可能沒有人看見，將來必定顯明。
(2) Reward the saints – three kinds of people will receive a reward: 1. Prophets and servants of the Lord. 2. Saints, every person who believes in Jesus. 3. Those who fear the Lord, those who did not have the opportunity to hear the Gospel but fear the Lord; they will also be judge fairly. They will get different rewards according to their faithfulness, love, and reverence toward God. Those who take part serving the Lord in the Kingdom of Heaven will be given a reward. The Lord will repay every good deed done. Not one thing will be overlooked. Maybe now no one can see what has been done but in the future everything will be revealed.
( 叁) 審判毀滅世界的人- 神所造的世界，本來都是好的。歷代有很多人破壞世界，使環境受污染，肥沃土地變沙漠。到末世之時，問題更嚴重。科學越發達，越懂得毀滅世界。這些毀滅世界的人，將會受到製裁。外邦發怒，世界上的人充滿怒氣。於是神的忿怒也會臨到他們。他們的怒氣破壞了世界，也將會受到嚴厲的審判。
(3) Judge those who destroy the earth – The world which God created was originally good. Over the ages many people have damaged the world, they have contaminated the environment, and fertile lands have turned into deserts. During the end times, the situation will be more serious. The more advance science gets, the faster will be to find ways to destroy the world. Those who destroy the world will be punished. The nations were enraged and God’s wrath came upon them. Their rage destroyed the world, and so they will receive a severe judgment.
REVEALING THE NEW COVENANT OF THE KINGDOM
19 當時神天上的殿開了，在祂殿中現出祂的約櫃，隨後有閃電、聲音、雷轟、地震、大雹。19 And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.
Another thing a king will do when he assumes the throne is to establish a new covenant with his subjects. That is what Liu Bang (the founder of the Han Dynasty) did after defeating Chu Ba Wang (Hegemon King of Western Chu); Liu Bang’s army marched into Xianyang and the Qin army surrendered. Then Liu Bang said to the people: “You all suffered for a long time under the tyranny of Qin. I now decree a three-point law “Yue Fa San Zhang”: Those who kill shall be executed; those who cause injury shall be punished; and those who steal and rob shall be convicted. All other laws of Qin are abolished.” Of course, three laws are not enough to rule a country; people tend to go to extremes . At the time a kingdom is established, the king will set up a covenant with the people.
Another important task when a king ascends to the throne is to affirm his covenant. Thus, the Ark of God’s Covenant appears. The most important object inside the Most Holy Place is the Ark of the Covenant. This is the first time that the Ark of the Covenant is seen in Revelation. This is not the Ark of the Covenant on the earth. John had never heard about the Ark of the Covenant in his whole entire life, because the Ark of the Covenant on the earth had been missing for a long time. Hence, the Ark of the Covenant that is seen here is the one that is in the heavenly Sanctuary, it is the real Ark of the Covenant, and it is the evidence of God’s presence, indicating that God keeps His covenant. The Ark of the Covenant accompanied the Israelites through the desert until they entered into the land of Canaan, until they conquered the land and overcame all their difficulties. God’s covenant is not like the covenants between human beings. People’s agreements change, like a marriage contract which is supposed to be forever; but nowadays, they very often just last for a few years. God’s covenant never changes.
Our relationship with God is established on the covenant. People say it is very unfair, why are believers in Christ saved while I will have to perish when my morals are better than theirs? Don’t be mistaken, it is not based on behavior or morals; it is based on whether or not it is in the covenant.
Covenant and testament are similar words. When Jesus started the work of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, He set up a covenant. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe in the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. God had established that those who are in Jesus have eternal life; it is not about morals. A millionaire writes down his testament, all those born from his son will inherit his legacy. Why are you jealous ? You want to get his inheritance? There is only one way, which is to become his son’s son. Whoever is born of Christ is in God’s covenant. No matter how good your morals are if you are not in the covenant, you will not get a share of the inheritance. At that time, the Lord will affirm His covenant so that everyone who belongs to Him will forever enjoy the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven.