At the end of chapter 11 a major transition point happens in the Revelation narrative of the Cosmic Conflict and God’s Covenant with humanity.

Before we move on to the next section I want to review the whole Revelation timeline to show where we are in the Revelation story and where we are going. I also want to look at the theme of the next section, which is prefigured in the imagery of the seventh trumpet.

First of all, to understand the Revelation timeline it would be helpful to check out video 13. In it, I suggest that there are actually two timelines in the book of Revelation, one concerning events that take place on earth, and the other concerning events that take place in the heavenly realm. It would also help to review videos 26 and 27 that show how the seven seals fit with the timeline, and videos 36 and 37 that correlate the Seven Trumpets with the timeline.

The Revelation timeline begins with John in exile on the island of Patmos in the AD 90’s. On the Lord’s Day, he is transported in vision to the heavenly realm where he sees “the Son of Man” walking among Seven lampstands in the heavenly sanctuary.

Jesus explains that the seven lampstands symbolize seven churches in Asia Minor, which in turn symbolize seven eras of the universal Christian church. At this point the focus shifts from the heavenly back to the earthly realm where the messages to the seven churches outline the challenges the Christian Church has faced through the centuries.

In the late apostolic age, the Ephesus church struggled to love those who persecuted them, especially the Jews. In the second and third centuries, the church of Smyrna embraced formalism and hierarchy to survive severe persecution from the Romans. In the Pergamos era of the fourth and fifth centuries, the church became the official religion of the empire, but the masses of unconverted people who became Christians for social and economic reasons brought idolatry into the church with them.

During the Thyatira period of the dark ages, the Christians who were faithful went underground, resisting the apostate union of church and state. In the Sardis period after the protestant reformation, the church descended into dead formalism. But during the Philadelphia era of the mid 18th and 19th century, the church woke up and took the gospel and God’s word all over the world. Finally, in the present Laodicean era, the church has become apathetic and lukewarm, unprepared for the crisis that awaits her.

Chapter 4 shifts back to the heavenly sanctuary as John is told to “come up here” and see what God is doing while the church is struggling on earth (Revelation 4:1). The symbolism and scriptural links show that this is the beginning of the first stage of the final judgment, which began during the Philadelphia era in the mid 19th century.

The four categories of people whose names have been written in the Book of Life are symbolized by colored horses, each having a rider who symbolizes either Jesus or Satan. The martyrs who are pictured under the altar have a special place of honor in the judgment. Finally, the sixth seal shows the judgment of those who will be alive when Jesus comes. These include the people who reject Jesus, the 144,000, and a Great Multitude that no one can number.

As we approach the end of the Laodicean era, John sees four evil angels who want to release the winds of chaos and destruction. They are commanded to wait until the 144,00 are sealed. This is where we are right now, and there is a lot happening, including birth pains and the latter rain.

When the sealing is complete an angel who is offering incense at the golden altar takes fire in his censer and throws it to the earth, showing that God will no longer protect the world from the destruction that Satan wants to bring about.  With this, the focus shifts back to events on earth, and the Seven Trumpets begin.

The first six trumpets in chapters 8 and 9 describe a sudden and catastrophic war that constitutes the first half of the Great Tribulation. Scriptural links show that this war is also described in the Book of Daniel as the final battle between the king of the south and the king of the North. A comparison of Revelation and Daniel suggests that the war begins with what is probably a nuclear attack by the king of the South.

Out of the chaos emerges the angel of the bottomless pit, later known as the beast, who leads a vicious retaliation by the king of the north.  The sixth trumpet alone involves an army of 200 million, with a third of mankind being killed.

In the meantime, many of God’s faithful followers have heeded the wake-up call, they’ve thrown off their Laodicean lethargy and they have been preparing to be His final messengers by eating the little book and measuring the temple. Symbolized by two witnesses in chapters 10 and 11, they take the gospel to every corner of the world through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Their powerful faith is shattered by stubborn resistance and persecution, but finally “the breath of God enters them… they stand on their feet… and they ascend into heaven” (Revelation 11:11,12). In other words, they cling so closely to God that it is as if they are already in heaven. Their final witness influences a multitude of people to “fear God and give glory to Him”. These are the last people to make a decision for Christ and this concludes the great commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). This massive change of allegiance is summarized by an announcement from heaven, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

At first glance it would seem like this would be the end of the story. But we still have half of the book of Revelation left. Although everyone has made their decision to accept or reject Jesus, the beast from the bottomless pit and his deluded followers are still around. They still believe that those who refuse to submit to the beast are the cause of the chaos and destruction of the Great Tribulation.

In previous videos, we have seen that the seventh of each series of seven in Revelation gives a preview of the following section. For example, with “the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Revelation 8:1). We saw that this was a preview of the Seven Trumpets, the first half of the Great Tribulation, in which God would be silent, allowing Satan to have his way with the world. Likewise, the seventh trumpet gives a preview of what comes next with an important announcement.

“We give thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who is and who was and who is to come, because you have taken Your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:17, 18).

This pivotal passage is crucial for understanding the rest of the Book of Revelation. First of all, it announces a change in God’s activities: “You have taken Your great power and reigned” (Revelation 11:17).

God has never lacked power, but this verse shows that up until this point He has not “taken” His great power, but instead has allowed another to reign on earth. That other is the evil usurper, Satan, whom Jesus repeatedly called “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). God has allowed Satan to rule, not because he had any right to, but because mankind unwittingly chooses Satan to be their ruler in order to maintain their sinful lifestyle.

God has always placed the highest honor on humanity’s freedom to choose, even if it has meant having to endure seeing His beloved children suffering at the hands of their chosen ruler. But the choice of the great multitude to abandon Babylon and follow Jesus will settle the issue and bring the cosmic controversy to an end.

God will no longer be silent—“The nations were angry but Your wrath has come” (Revelation 11:19). He will end the destruction that Satan and his followers have been carrying out—[God] will destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18). He will also “reward [His] servants the prophets and the saints” (Revelation 11:18).

In the next three chapters, the Revelation timeline will take an extensive detour that will unpack the details of this passage. We will see how Jesus entered enemy territory where Satan reigns and rules, and at the Cross defeated Satan with what he had thought was going to be his greatest victory. We will see the “war in heaven” following Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and how it became a war on earth when Satan was permanently banished from the heavenly realms.

We will see how the enemy sought to annihilate God’s faithful followers through the centuries, and the trap he has set for us at the end of this age. We will identify the beast from the sea, the beast from the earth, the image, the mark, and the number of the beast, and what we can do to avoid being deceived.

We will also look at the details of the final messages of mercy that God will send through His faithful servants to an enslaved and perishing world. We will see what we need to know to not just avoid the mark of the beast, but to be a part of God’s victorious army. This section ends with the final harvest of the faithful and the wicked.

We have touched on these themes when we studied the sixth seal and the seven trumpets, but our next section gives us a comprehensive viewpoint from the past and from the future that will help us navigate the greatest challenge God’s people have ever faced. The book of Revelation itself uses literary devices to emphasize the critical nature of this section.

Chapter 12 begins with the statement, “A great sign appeared in heaven” (Revelation 12:1,3). It ends with the same words, “I saw another sign in heaven” (Revelation 15:1).

Although many heavenly visions are seen in Revelation, these are the only two places where the phrase “sign in heaven” is used. This phrase brackets Revelation 12-14, showing its critical importance. To give even further emphasis, this section also begins and ends with a vision of the temple of God opened in heaven (Revelation 11:19, 15:5).

These kinds of brackets highlighting a particular passage are called literary inclusio. “An inclusio is a literary device, also known as bracketing, which consists of creating a frame by placing similar material at the beginning and end of a section… Many instances can be found in the Bible” (Wikipedia p. 300). As far as I know, this is the only instance in the Bible of a double inclusio, giving super emphasis to the information contained in Revelation 12-14. The double inclusio looks like this:

{Temple opened {Sign in Heaven—Chapters 12-14 – Sign in heaven} Temple opened}.

If this were not enough, Revelation uses another literary device, the chiastic structure, to show that this section is the climax of the Book of Revelation.

As we saw in video 4, the chiastic structure is a mirror-image pattern. It uses words, phrases, symbols, or ideas in the first half that are mirrored by the same or similar elements in the second half, progressing and building toward a climax.

Chiasms are common in the Old Testament. The Book of Revelation is the most extensive and amazing chiasm in the Bible, and the complex details make it clear that God Himself inspired John to write in the way that created it. Revelation can be divided into 8 sections which are like chapters in a book. Since there are 8 chapters this means that there are actually two climaxes.

The climax of the first half is Revelation 13, including the image, mark, and number of the beast, in other words, the culmination of Satan’s attempts to defeat God’s kingdom on earth.

The climax of the second half is Revelation 14,  a vision of the Lamb on the heavenly Mount Zion with “the 144,000 who have been redeemed from the earth… the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:3,4) in other words the evidence of God’s victory in the cosmic controversy.

The chiastic structure shows that chapters 12-14 are the climax of Revelation. The double inclusio brackets this section as being of extra-special importance. If there is any part of Revelation that we need to get right, this is it.

With that in mind, let’s see what else we can learn about this section from the final verse of the Seventh-trumpet preview.

“Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple” (Revelation 11:19). The ark of the covenant from the ancient Hebrew sanctuary was used as a symbol to introduce the section of Revelation that deals with the culmination of Satan’s plans to overthrow God’s kingdom on earth.  In this section, we will first see in chapter 12 what Satan has been doing for the past 2,000 years to set the stage for his final campaign. In chapter 13 we will see the outworking of his plans in the image, mark, and number of the beast.

We saw in video 32  that Satan appears on earth during the fifth trumpet as the angel or beast from the bottomless pit. We also saw that the beast is the final antichrist of 2 Thessalonians 2, where he is called “the lawless one,” bringing to fruition “the mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12). In the face of this campaign of lawlessness Jesus directs our attention to the ark of the covenant which contains the law of God.

The ark of the covenant got its name because the law of God is one of the main features of God’s covenant with His chosen representatives. I have written a more extensive article about God’s everlasting covenant and will put a link in the description.

In God’s covenant at Mt. Sinai, He gave the children of Israel the privilege of being His special representatives. “You shall be a special treasure to Me above all people, and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5,6).

A priest is God’s representative to sinful humans, bringing them closer to God and to each other. God intended that Israel would be priests to the world. He would place them at the crossroads of the earth where they could have the greatest exposure, and bless them to such an extent that the whole world would take notice.

God’s requirements for them were summarized in the Ten Commandments. “The Lord… wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments” (Exodus 34:28).

God wanted His representatives to have a radically different lifestyle from the people around them based on His character of love. He summarized His law in a love-based, concise version that Jesus quoted: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:8, Matthew 22:35-40).

He also gave an expanded version, the “law of Moses” which gave details of how the law would apply to an agricultural nation of former slaves. God understood that despite their best intentions, they would not always manage to keep the law, so along with the law he gave a provision for sin with the sacrificial system. These sacrifices are called “a shadow” of the true sacrifice of Christ in the book of Hebrews.

Finally, God selected the Sabbath commandment out of the ten to be the sign of His covenant. “Keep the Sabbath… as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel… that I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Exodus 31:13-17).

God did not want anyone to think that the blessings, prosperity, and sterling character of His representatives were because of their own goodness. The Sabbath commandment in Exodus 20 identifies the Sabbath as a memorial to His creation of the universe, showing that anything good in His representatives is because of His creative work.

And in the second giving of the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5, the Sabbath is a memorial to God’s rescue of His people from slavery in Egypt. In other words, God’s people are special because they have been redeemed.

The book of Hebrews points out that Israel never really managed to keep their end of the covenant. Rather than being priests to the world, they became exclusive with God’s blessings and considered the rest of humanity unclean. Rather than keeping the commandments, they multiplied them until they were an overwhelming burden of rules and regulations.

The sacrifices became a convenient way to maintain their sinful lifestyle and still be religious. And the Sabbath was so perverted that it became one of the main tools of the religious leaders to condemn Jesus.

God proposed a new covenant, not because there was something wrong with the old covenant, but because they had never made it a living reality in their hearts. “For if the first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them He says, ‘Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant” (Hebrews 8:7,8).

The surprising thing is that the new covenant is almost exactly the same as the old covenant, except that it is empowered by the Holy Spirit. God still promises that He will bless us to be His representatives. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NKJ).

As in the old covenant, God’s requirement is that His people will keep His law of love, not because they try harder but because they have received a new heart. “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel… I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts” (Hebrews 8:10).

The new covenant, just like the old, makes provision for us when we break God’s law, but with the reality of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross rather than the symbolic depiction of an animal sacrifice. And Hebrews 4 informs us that keeping the Sabbath continues to symbolize the rest that we have in Jesus, trusting in God’s creation and redemption to make us new creatures.

Revelation brings the everlasting covenant into focus with the announcement, “the temple was opened in heaven and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple” (Revelation 11:19).

As Satan’s masterpiece of deception and coercion is unmasked in chapters 12 and 13, God reminds us that He has made an everlasting covenant with us; we are His chosen people, and He will never leave us or forsake us.

This is one of the scariest parts of the Bible and many people don’t want to think about it, let alone study it in depth.  But it is a future that we may experience soon; We can hold on to Jesus’ promise, “I am with you always, even till the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

If you were blessed by this video, I would appreciate it if you would like it, share it with someone, and subscribe to my YouTube channel; that really encourages me to keep on making more videos.

And to find out in advance where this is all going, you can order the book A Revelation of Jesus by David Lackey, available from online bookstores.

Order the book “A Revelation of Jesus”

A Revelation of Jesus by David Lackey is available from Barnes and Noble (free shipping), Amazon, and many other bookstores.
ISBN-13: 978-1479603923