When the Future Is No More
The conclusion of Revelation 11 looks forward to the day when judgment ends and God’s rule and reign is established forever and ever. In fact, Revelation 11:14–19 is our first glimpse into God’s perpetual Kingdom. Chapters 19–22 will cover in greater detail what is announced here. This is the view from an airplane; those later chapters will come down to the height of a helicopter. However, the theme remains the same: Jesus wins and reigns forever.
You may remember the elders from earlier portions of the book (Revelation 4:4–11; 5:5–14). This special order of angels is regularly falling down before the throne of God in reverent worship. Their words of praise and adoration in Revelation 4:8 conclude with the expression that the Lord God is the One “who was and is and is to come.” In 11:17, they continue to praise the Lord God, but the phrase changes. Now, they only exclaim that He is the One “who is and who was.” By this point in the story, the “who is to come” finally has come. All of the promises of the future, of victory, of Christ’s Kingdom are at last realized. From that point forward, there is no more future—only the eternal present of God’s presence with mankind.
This presence is demonstrated in this passage with the opening of God’s heavenly Temple (Revelation 11:19) as the Ark is revealed. In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was so holy that it was only seen by one person, once a year. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies to sprinkle blood upon the mercy seat of the Ark. The vision in Revelation 11:19 shows that the Ark is now visible to all people, all of the time. This image is representative of God’s presence with His people, which will last forever in His new Kingdom.
Come, Lord Jesus! We await the day that all of our future hope will be the present. Amen.
Revelation 11:15-19 (ESV):
15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. 18 The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
19 Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.