July 3: Revelation 11:15-19
We’ve launched our third and final mini-series in Revelation, and as we move into this final phase we’re going to explore the climax of all redemptive history, the coming of the kingdom of God. For John’s original audience, the juxtaposition of the kingdom of God and the “kingdom of the world” would be a source of supreme hope, both for the future and in the present considering the persecution they faced at the hands of the Roman empire.
As a reminder, we’ve spent the entire year considering what it means to be a citizen of the kingdom of God. But for the five weeks of July we’re going to be looking at what the kingdom of God is, how it differs from the kingdom(s) of men, who its citizens are, and its ultimate form and future. To do that we’ll be bouncing around the last third of the book to look at it thematically, starting in Revelation 11:15-19.
One last introductory comment: we’ve already noticed how Revelation talks about the End of Time in a cyclical fashion, visiting and revisiting the same moment to view it from different angles (see Revelation Resources for more on this). This week we’ll see, again and not for the last time, the return of Jesus and arrival of the kingdom of God. This is what the Bible calls the Day of Christ, or Judgment Day. One way we know this is by the phrase used in verse 17 which calls God the one “who was and is.” Elsewhere in the book (1:4, 1:8) that same phrase is “who was and is and is to come.” The absence of “is to come” is quite loud, and indicates he is no longer “to come” but has in fact, in the moment this passage describes, finally come.
In this moment, Jesus’ kingdom fully and finally breaks into the world, establishing his reign over the whole earth. When we read “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord” it might leave us asking, “but isn’t Jesus already in charge of everything?” Absolutely, see Col. 1:15-19, Hebrews 1:3, Acts 7:56, etc. However, what the passage is talking about is the climactic fulfillment of God’s reign on earth which will permanently banish all sin, death, and suffering, closing the distance between God and mankind forever and bringing eternal peace to the world (Rev. 21:1-8). This is where everything is headed, and it is a source of supreme hope.
But there are a few core aspects about the kingdom of God that we should grasp if we want to understand and live in this hope. First, the kingdom of God is not merely a spiritual reality but a physical one. This world was created to be God’s kingdom and is being restored to that purpose. Second, the kingdom of God is the exultation of Jesus over all earthly authorities and powers, all of which ultimately fall short of his holiness and glory. Third, the kingdom of God comes with two things simultaneously, 1. judgment on “the nations” (v.18), meaning those earthly kingdoms and forces of evil, and 2. vindication for the righteous people of God. Finally, with the kingdom of God comes the presence of God with his people, which is the central hope and promise of the gospel.
As we’ll mention in discussion, this is both a future hope and a hope for today. We live in a world that is more and more skeptical of the goodness of Jesus and in a broader culture that implores you to hope in the power of the state or particular social movements (no matter the party affiliation). Only a hope firmly fixed in the certainty of king Jesus will give us the strength to stand in the face of persecution and societal pressure to conform the ways of this world, and only hope in his kingdom will prepare us to properly engage with the “kingdom of the world” as emissaries of the world to come.
• Could someone read Revelation 11:15-19 for us?
• What stood out to you from the passage?
• How does this passage describe the arrival of the kingdom of God?
• What do you think is the contrast here between the “kingdom of the world” and the kingdom of God?
• What do you find challenging about this passage?
• How can this passage help us think through what it means to live as citizens of God’s kingdom?
• How can the certainty of Jesus’ coming kingdom give us hope for today?