God’s Sacred Secret—Its Glorious Climax!
1. (a) How does John inform us that the sacred secret is brought to a finish? (b) Why do the angelic hosts speak loudly?
DO YOU recall the sworn declaration by the strong angel recorded at Revelation 10:1, 6, 7? He stated: “There will be no delay any longer; but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to blow his trumpet, the sacred secret of God according to the good news which he declared to his own slaves the prophets is indeed brought to a finish.” Jehovah’s due time has arrived for the sounding of that final trumpet! How is it, then, that the sacred secret is brought to a finish? John is truly overjoyed to inform us! He writes: “And the seventh angel blew his trumpet. And loud voices occurred in heaven, saying: ‘The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.’” (Revelation 11:15) Those angelic hosts have reason to speak loudly, even in thunderous tones! For this historic announcement is of universal importance. It is of vital concern to all living creation.
2. When and with what event is the sacred secret brought to a triumphant finish?
2 The sacred secret comes to its happy climax! Gloriously, magnificently, it is brought to a triumphant finish in 1914 when the Lord Jehovah enthrones his Christ as associate King. Acting for his Father, Jesus Christ takes over active rulership in the midst of an enemy world of mankind. As the promised Seed, he receives Kingdom power in order to bring to nothing the Serpent and his brood and restore paradisaic peace to this earth. (Genesis 3:15; Psalm 72:1, 7) As Messianic King, Jesus will thus fulfill Jehovah’s Word and vindicate his Father, “the King of eternity,” who must rule as Sovereign Lord “forever and ever.”—1 Timothy 1:17.
3. Why has Jehovah God, though always King, allowed other sovereignties to exist on earth?
3 But how did “the kingdom of the world . . . become the kingdom of our Lord,” Jehovah? Has not Jehovah God always been King? That is true, for the Levite Asaph sang: “God is my King from long ago.” And another psalmist proclaimed: “Jehovah himself has become king! . . . Your throne is firmly established from long ago; you are from time indefinite.” (Psalm 74:12; 93:1, 2) In his wisdom, though, Jehovah has allowed other sovereignties to exist on earth. Thus the issue raised in Eden as to whether man can govern himself without God has been fully tested. Man-rule has failed miserably. True, indeed, are the words of God’s prophet: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Ever since the defection of our first parents, the entire inhabited earth has been under the domination of “the original serpent,” Satan. (Revelation 12:9; Luke 4:6) It is time, now, for a dramatic change! To vindicate his rightful position, Jehovah begins to exercise his sovereignty over the earth in a new way, through his designated Messianic Kingdom.
4. When the sounding of the trumpets got under way in 1922, what was brought to the fore? Explain.
4 When the sounding of the seven trumpets got under way in 1922, the Bible Students’ convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, featured a talk by J. F. Rutherford based on the scripture “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17, King James Version) He concluded with these words: “Then back to the field, O ye sons of the most high God! Gird on your armor! Be sober, be vigilant, be active, be brave. Be faithful and true witnesses for the Lord. Go forward in the fight until every vestige of Babylon lies desolate. Herald the message far and wide. The world must know that Jehovah is God and that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. This is the day of all days. Behold, the King reigns! You are his publicity agents. Therefore advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom.” God’s Kingdom by Christ Jesus was brought to the fore, and that set off the great surge of Kingdom preaching that has included the judgments heralded by the sounding of all seven of the angelic trumpets.
5. In 1928, what happened at the Bible Students’ convention that highlighted the seventh trumpet blast?
5 The trumpet blast of the seventh angel was reflected in highlights of the Bible Students’ convention in Detroit, Michigan, July 30-August 6, 1928. At that time 107 broadcasting stations were tied in to what The New York Times described as ‘the most extensive and expensive radio hook-up in history.’ The convention enthusiastically adopted a powerful “Declaration Against Satan and for Jehovah,” pointing to the overthrow, at Armageddon, of Satan and his evil organization and the emancipation of all who love righteousness. Loyal subjects of God’s Kingdom were delighted to receive a convention release, the 368-page book Government. This supplied the clearest of proofs “that God set his Anointed King upon his throne in 1914.”
Jehovah Takes Power
6. How does John report the announcement of Christ’s having been enthroned in God’s Kingdom?
6 Christ enthroned in God’s Kingdom—what joy this announcement calls forth! John reports: “And the twenty-four elders who were seated before God upon their thrones fell upon their faces and worshiped God, saying: ‘We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king.’”—Revelation 11:16, 17.
7. How were thanks given to Jehovah God (a) by the remnant of the symbolic 24 elders on earth? (b) by those of the symbolic 24 elders who had been resurrected to their positions in heaven?
7 The ones that offer these thanks to Jehovah God are the 24 elders, symbolizing the anointed brothers of Christ in their heavenly positions. From 1922 onward a remnant on earth of these 144,000 anointed ones got busy in the work that was set in motion by the trumpet blasts. They came to realize the full import of the sign at Matthew 24:3–25:46. Even earlier in the Lord’s day, however, their fellow witnesses who had already ‘proved faithful even to death’ had been resurrected to take their positions in heaven, so that they could now represent the entire group of 144,000 in falling upon their faces to render homage to Jehovah. (Revelation 1:10; 2:10) How thankful all of these are that their Sovereign Lord has not delayed in bringing his sacred secret to a climactic finish!
8. (a) What effect does the blowing of the seventh trumpet have on the nations? (b) Against whom have the nations expressed their wrath?
8 On the other hand, the blowing of the seventh trumpet brings no joy to the nations. The time has come for them to experience Jehovah’s wrath. As John relates: “But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time for the dead to be judged, and to give their reward to your slaves the prophets and to the holy ones and to those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:18) From 1914 onward the nations of the world have fiercely expressed their wrath against one another, against God’s Kingdom, and especially against Jehovah’s two witnesses.—Revelation 11:3.
9. How have the nations been ruining the earth, and what has God determined to do about it?
9 Throughout history the nations have been ruining the earth by their incessant warfare and bad management. Since 1914, however, this ruination has escalated to an alarming degree. Greed and corruption have resulted in expanding deserts and tremendous loss of productive land. Acid rain and radioactive clouds have damaged large areas. Food sources have been polluted. The air we breathe and the water we drink are contaminated. Industrial wastes threaten life on land and in the sea. At one time, the superpowers threatened complete ruination by way of nuclear annihilation of all humankind. Happily, Jehovah will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth”; he will execute judgment on those proud, godless humans who are responsible for earth’s sorry state. (Deuteronomy 32:5, 6; Psalm 14:1-3) Therefore, Jehovah arranges for the third woe, to bring these wrongdoers to account.—Revelation 11:14.
Woe to the Ruinous Ones!
10. (a) What is the third woe? (b) In what way does the third woe bring more than torment?
10 Here, then, is the third woe. It comes quickly! It is Jehovah’s means of bringing ruination to those who desecrate his “footstool,” this lovely earth on which we live. (Isaiah 66:1) It is set in motion by the Messianic Kingdom—the sacred secret of God. God’s enemies, and Christendom’s leaders in particular, have been tormented by the first two woes—resulting principally from the locust plague and the armies of cavalry; but the third woe, which Jehovah’s Kingdom itself administers, brings more than torment. (Revelation 9:3-19) It provides the death stroke in ousting a ruinous human society and its rulers. This will come as the climax of Jehovah’s judging at Armageddon. It is just as Daniel prophesied: “And in the days of those kings [rulers who are ruining the earth] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” Like an imposing mountain, God’s Kingdom will rule over an earth made glorious, vindicating Jehovah’s sovereignty and bringing eternal joy to mankind.—Daniel 2:35, 44; Isaiah 11:9; 60:13.
11. (a) What ongoing series of happy events does the prophecy describe? (b) What undeserved kindness is realized, how, and by whom?
11 The third woe is accompanied by an ongoing series of happy events that will proceed progressively through the Lord’s day. It is the time ‘for the dead to be judged, and for God to give their reward to his slaves the prophets and to the holy ones and to those fearing his name.’ That means a resurrection from the dead! For the anointed holy ones who had already fallen asleep in death, this takes place early in the Lord’s day. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) In due course the remaining holy ones join these by an instantaneous resurrection. Others too are to be rewarded, including God’s slaves the prophets of ancient times and all others of mankind who come to fear Jehovah’s name, whether they are of the great crowd who survive the great tribulation or of “the dead, the great and the small,” who are raised to life during Christ’s Millennial Reign. Since God’s Messianic King has the keys of death and of Hades, his Kingdom rule opens the way for him to dispense everlasting life to all who reach out for that precious provision. (Revelation 1:18; 7:9, 14; 20:12, 13; Romans 6:22; John 5:28, 29) Whether it is immortal life in the heavens or eternal life on earth, this gift of life is an undeserved kindness from Jehovah, for which each recipient may be forever thankful!—Hebrews 2:9.
Behold the Ark of His Covenant!
12. (a) According to Revelation 11:19, what does John see in heaven? (b) Of what had the ark of the covenant been a symbol, and what happened to it after Israel went into captivity to Babylon?
12 Jehovah rules! Through his Messianic Kingdom, he is exercising his sovereignty toward mankind in a marvelous way. This is confirmed by what John sees next: “And the temple sanctuary of God that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen in his temple sanctuary. And there occurred lightnings and voices and thunders and an earthquake and a great hail.” (Revelation 11:19) This is the only mention in Revelation of the ark of God’s covenant. The Ark had been the visible symbol of Jehovah’s presence with his people Israel. In the tabernacle, and later in the temple built by Solomon, it was kept in the Most Holy. But when Israel went into captivity in Babylon in 607 B.C.E., Jerusalem was desolated and the ark of the covenant disappeared. That was when representatives of the house of David ceased “to sit upon Jehovah’s throne as king.”—1 Chronicles 29:23.*
13. What is denoted by the fact that the ark of God’s covenant is seen in the heavenly sanctuary of God?
13 Now, after more than 2,600 years, the Ark is seen once more. But in John’s vision this Ark is not in an earthly temple. It appears in the heavenly sanctuary of God. Once again, Jehovah rules by means of a king in the royal line of David. This time, however, the King, Christ Jesus, is enthroned in heavenly Jerusalem—the exalted vantage point from which he executes Jehovah’s judgments. (Hebrews 12:22) The following chapters of Revelation will unveil these to us.
14, 15. (a) In ancient Jerusalem, who only got to see the ark of the covenant, and why? (b) In the heavenly temple sanctuary of God, who get to see the ark of his covenant?
14 In ancient earthly Jerusalem, the Ark was not seen by the Israelites in general, nor even by the priests serving in the temple, for it was within the Most Holy that was screened off from the Holy Place by a curtain. (Numbers 4:20; Hebrews 9:2, 3) Only the high priest got to see it when he entered the Most Holy on the annual Day of Atonement. Nevertheless, when the temple sanctuary in the heavens is opened, the symbolic ark is visible not only to Jehovah’s High Priest, Jesus Christ, but also to his underpriests, the 144,000, including John.
15 Those first ones who have been resurrected to heaven see this symbolic ark at close range, for they have taken their place as part of the 24 elders around Jehovah’s throne. And the John class on earth have been enlightened by Jehovah’s spirit to discern His presence in His spiritual temple. There have also been signs to alert mankind in general to this wonderful development. John’s vision speaks of lightnings, voices, thunders, an earthquake, and hail. (Compare Revelation 8:5.) What do these symbolize?
16. How have there been lightnings, voices, thunders, an earthquake, and a great hail?
16 Since 1914 there has been a tremendous upheaval in the realm of religion. Happily, though, this “earthquake” has been accompanied by dedicated voices giving a clear message about God’s established Kingdom. Thunderous ‘storm warnings’ from the Bible have been sounded. Like lightning, flashes of insight as to God’s prophetic Word have been seen and publicized. A hard pounding “hail” of divine judgments has been unleashed against Christendom and false religion in general. All of this should have caught people’s attention. Sadly, though, the majority—like the people of Jerusalem in Jesus’ time—have failed to discern the fulfillment of these Revelation signs.—Luke 19:41-44.
17, 18. (a) The sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels has brought what responsibility to dedicated Christians? (b) How are Christians fulfilling their commission?
17 The seven angels continue to sound their trumpets, signaling historic events here on earth. Dedicated Christians have a great responsibility to continue proclaiming these announcements to the world. How joyfully they are fulfilling that commission! This is indicated in that during the 20 years from 1986 to 2005, they almost doubled the hours spent yearly in the ministry—from 680,837,042 to 1,278,235,504. Truly, “the sacred secret of God according to the good news” is being made known “to the extremities of the inhabited earth.”—Revelation 10:7; Romans 10:18.
18 Other visions now await us as God’s Kingdom purposes continue to be unveiled.
Roman historian Tacitus reports that when Jerusalem was captured in 63 B.C.E. and Cneius Pompeius entered the temple sanctuary, he found it was empty. There was no ark of the covenant within.—Tacitus History, 5.9.
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Highlights of Jehovah’s Trumpetlike Judgment Proclamations
1. 1922 Cedar Point, Ohio: A challenge to Christendom’s leaders in religion, politics, and big business to justify their failure to bring peace, prosperity, and happiness. Messiah’s Kingdom is the panacea.
2. 1923 Los Angeles, California: The public talk, “All Nations Now Marching to Armageddon, but Millions Now Living Will Never Die,” called on peace-loving “sheep” to abandon the death-dealing sea of humanity.
3. 1924 Columbus, Ohio: Ecclesiastics indicted for self-exaltation and refusal to preach Messiah’s Kingdom. True Christians must preach God’s vengeance and comfort mourning humanity.
4. 1925 Indianapolis, Indiana: A message of hope contrasting the spiritual darkness in Christendom with the bright Kingdom promise of peace, prosperity, health, life, liberty, and eternal happiness.
5. 1926 London, England: A locustlike plaguing of Christendom and its clergy, exposing their rejection of God’s Kingdom, and hailing the birth of that heavenly government.
6. 1927 Toronto, Canada: An invitation, carried as by armies of cavalry, calling on people to forsake ‘organized Christianity’ and give heart allegiance to Jehovah God and to his King and Kingdom.
7. 1928 Detroit, Michigan: A declaration against Satan and for Jehovah, making plain that God’s anointed King, enthroned in 1914, will destroy Satan’s evil organization and emancipate mankind.
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Ruining the Earth
“Every three seconds a portion of original rainforest the size of a football field disappears. . . . The loss of primary forest is destroying thousands of plant and animal species.”—Illustrated Atlas of the World (Rand McNally).
“In two centuries of settlement, [the Great Lakes] have also become the world’s biggest sewer.”—The Globe and Mail (Canada).
In April 1986 an explosion and fire at a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, U.S.S.R., “was the most significant nuclear event . . . since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” emitting “as much long-term radiation into the world’s air, topsoil and water as all the nuclear tests and bombs ever exploded.”—JAMA; The New York Times.
In Minamata, Japan, a chemical plant discharged methylmercury into the bay. Eating fish and shellfish contaminated with the discharge caused Minamata disease (MD) a “chronic neurological disease. . . . To date , 2578 people throughout Japan have officially been verified to have MD.”—International Journal of Epidemiology.
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The weighty pronouncements at Revelation 11:15-19 are a prelude to the visions that follow. Revelation chapter 12 is a flashback that amplifies in detail the grand announcements at Revelation 11:15, 17. Chapter 13 gives background to 11:18, as it describes the origin and development of Satan’s political organization that has brought ruination to the earth. Chapters 14 and 15 detail further Kingdom judgments tied in with the sounding of the seventh trumpet and the third woe.
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Jehovah will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth”