The Hour of God’s Judgment Has Arrived
“Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived.”—REVELATION 14:7.
1. What do the opening chapters of Revelation include?
THE book of Revelation contains thrilling prophecies that have their fulfillment in our day. The previous article considered some of them, including the opening of six symbolic seals. These opened seals revealed the devastating ride of the four apocalyptic horsemen in these “last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1; Revelation 6:1-8) They also told about those who will rule with Christ in heaven and those who will survive “the great tribulation” to live on earth forever. The six seals show that God’s “appointed time” for executing judgment “is near.”—Revelation 1:3; 7:4, 9-17.
2. How are the seven symbolic trumpets of Revelation chapter 8 to be used?
2 But there is one more seal, the seventh. Revelation 8:2 tells us what is revealed when it is opened: “And I saw the seven angels that stand before God, and seven trumpets were given them.” Re 8 Verse 6 says: “And the seven angels with the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.” In Bible times, trumpets were used to signal important events. In the same way, these seven trumpet blasts call attention to matters of life-and-death importance in our time. And while angels sound the trumpets, human Witnesses on earth follow through by spreading abroad the vital news heralded by each trumpet blast.
What the Trumpet Blasts Mean
3. What is the meaning of the seven trumpet blasts?
3 These trumpet blasts remind us of the plagues that Jehovah poured out on ancient Egypt. Those plagues were expressions of Jehovah’s judgment on that first world power and its false religion, but they also opened the way of escape for God’s people. Similarly, the trumpet blasts of Revelation are modern-day plagues, this time on Satan’s entire world and its false religion. They are not, though, literal plagues but plaguing messages of Jehovah’s judgments. They also spell out the way of escape for God’s people.
4. How have the seven trumpet blasts found fulfillment in our time?
4 In line with these seven trumpet blasts, hard-hitting resolutions against Satan’s world were featured at seven special annual conventions of Jehovah’s people from 1922 to 1928. Hundreds of millions of copies of the resolutions were distributed. However, the trumpeting of those scorching messages was not confined just to those years, but it has been continuous throughout the last days. And today the heralding of them is more powerful than ever, as millions of the “great crowd” have added their voices to the small band of anointed ones initially preaching after World War I. (Revelation 7:9) Each year now, with increasing force and numbers, these millions declare that Satan’s world is utterly doomed.
5. Who is the “third” of the world that is adversely judged first, and why?
5 At Revelation 8:6-12, the first four trumpets sound. Hail, fire, and blood are poured out, resulting in devastation for “a third” of the world. Why is “a third” mentioned as the guilty part of the world that comes in for adverse judgment first? Because while all of Satan’s system is reprehensible to God, one part is more so. Which part? The part that took the name of Christ to itself—Christendom. And when God’s judgment messages came against her after World War I, the realm of Christendom at that time embraced about a third of mankind.
6. Why has Jehovah abandoned Christendom to destruction?
6 Christendom’s religion is the fruitage of the 1,900-year-old apostasy from true Christianity that Jesus and his disciples foretold. (Matthew 13:24-30; Acts 20:29, 30) The clergy of Christendom represent themselves as teachers of Christianity, but their doctrines are far removed from Bible truth, and their corrupt actions continually bring God’s name into disrepute. Their bloodguilt due to supporting the wars of this 20th century has been laid bare. Christendom is wholly a part of Satan’s system of things. Thus, she receives powerful, plaguing messages from Jehovah that show she merits no divine favor whatsoever. Jehovah has abandoned Christendom’s house to destruction as surely as he did the Jewish house of the first century!—Matthew 23:38.
Revived for Global Preaching
7, 8. (a) In Revelation chapter 9, what does the fifth trumpet blast reveal? (b) Whom do the locusts symbolize?
7 At Revelation 9:1 the fifth angel sounds his trumpet, and the vision reveals a star coming down to the earth. This star has a key in his hand. With it he opens a pit in which a swarm of locusts had been confined. The star is Jehovah’s newly installed heavenly King, Jesus Christ. The locusts are God’s servants, who were persecuted and seemingly put out of the way when their leading officials were imprisoned in 1918. But Christ, now in Kingdom power in heaven, releases them so that they can resume their global public preaching, much to the dismay of the clergy, who had plotted to kill their work.—Matthew 24:14.
8 The locusts are described this way at Revelation 9:7: “And the likenesses of the locusts resembled horses prepared for battle; and upon their heads were what seemed to be crowns like gold, and their faces were as men’s faces.” Re 9 Verse 10 adds: “Also, they have tails and stings like scorpions.” These locusts well picture the revived remnant of Kingdom heirs going again into spiritual battle from 1919 onward. With renewed energy, they proclaimed God’s stinging judgment messages, especially against corrupt Christendom.
9, 10. (a) What does the sixth trumpet blast reveal? (b) Who are included in the myriads of powerful horses?
9 Next, the sixth angel blows his trumpet. (Revelation 9:13) This reveals the letting loose of armies of cavalry. Re 9 Verse 16 says that they number “two myriads of myriads,” which is 200 million! And they are described in Re 9 verses 17 and 19 as follows: “The heads of the horses were as heads of lions, and out of their mouths fire and smoke and sulphur issued forth. . . . Their tails are like serpents.” These armies thunder forth under the direction of the King, Christ Jesus. And what a fearsome spectacle they are!
10 What do these powerful horses represent? Since they number into the millions, they could not just be the anointed remnant, of whom there are now only about 8,800 on earth. These myriads of horses must include the “great crowd” of Revelation chapter 7, those who have the hope of living forever on earth. In the Bible, the word “myriad” often refers to a vast, indefinite number. Thus, these symbolic horses would include not only the diminishing number of anointed ones but also the growing and powerfully vocal millions of the “great crowd” of “other sheep” who continue the public work begun by the locustlike anointed remnant.—John 10:16.
11. Why is it said that “the authority of the horses is in their mouths,” and how do they ‘do harm with their tails’?
11 Revelation 9:19 states: “The authority of the horses is in their mouths,” and “with [their tails] they do harm.” In what way is authority in their mouths? In that for decades, through the Theocratic Ministry School and other meetings, God’s servants have been taught how to preach his judgment messages authoritatively by word of mouth. And in what way do they do harm with their tails? In that they have distributed billions of Bible-based publications worldwide, thus leaving behind stinging messages against Satan’s world. To their opponents, these armies of cavalry truly seem like myriads of myriads.
12. What must the symbolic locusts and horses continue to do, and with what effect?
12 Thus, the symbolic locusts and horses must sound God’s judgment messages more clearly and loudly as his day of vengeance approaches. To those of honest heart, those messages are the best news on earth. But to those who prefer Satan’s world, they are bad news, for they mean that their world is soon to be destroyed.
13. “The third woe” associated with the seventh trumpet blast involves what, and how is it a “woe”?
13 The plaguing locusts and the armies of cavalry are described as the first and second of three divinely determined “woes.” (Revelation 9:12; 11:14) What is “the third woe”? At Revelation 10:7 we are told: “In the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, . . . 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.” This sacred secret involves the “seed” first promised in Eden. (Genesis 3:15) That “seed” is primarily Jesus but it also includes his anointed associates who will rule with him in heaven. So the sacred secret concerns the heavenly Kingdom of God. This Kingdom will bring the third divinely purposed “woe,” for it will execute God’s judgments against Satan’s world to a finality.
The Kingdom Is Established
14. What did the seventh trumpet blast of Revelation 11:15 announce?
14 Then it happens! Revelation 11:15 says: “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 [Jehovah] and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.’” Yes, it is announced that God’s Kingdom by Christ was established in heaven in the year 1914. And when the remnant was revived after World War I, they brought this news to the fore.
15. In 1922, what event signaled a new surge in Kingdom preaching?
15 At a 1922 convention of Jehovah’s servants in Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A., the thousands in attendance heard the thrilling announcement: “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.” That set off the great surge of public Kingdom preaching that has included the judgments heralded by the seven angelic trumpeters. Today, about three-and-a-half-million servants of Jehovah in over 57,000 congregations throughout the world are involved in this global Kingdom preaching. Myriads indeed!
16. In Revelation chapter 12, what further development involving heaven and earth was revealed by the seventh trumpet blast?
16 But the seventh angel has more to reveal. Revelation 12:7 says that then “war broke out in heaven.” Re 12 Verse 9 gives us this result of Christ the King’s action: “So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.” Re 12 Verse 12 adds: “On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them!” Yes, the heavens were cleansed of Satan’s influence, a cause for great rejoicing among the faithful angels. But what does it mean for humankind? That same verse answers: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”
17. Why is depicting world government as “a wild beast” in Revelation chapter 13 appropriate?
17 Revelation 12:3 describes Satan as ‘a great dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,’ a monstrous beastlike destroyer. This shows that he is the designer of the earthly political “wild beast” described in chapter 13, verses 1 and 2. That beast also has seven heads and ten horns, in imitation of Satan. Re 13 Verse 2 says: “The dragon [Satan] gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority.” Depicting the political governments as a wild beast is certainly appropriate, for in just this 20th century, more than a hundred million people have been killed in the wars of the nations.
18. What is the two-horned beast of Revelation 13:11, and how do its actions help identify it?
18 The next scene in Revelation 13:11 reveals, as verse 11 says, “another wild beast ascending out of the earth, and it had two horns like a lamb, but it began speaking as a dragon.” This two-horned beast is the Anglo-American political combine. It is lamblike in that it pretends to be inoffensive, the most enlightened form of government. But it speaks like a dragon, like Satan, and is called “another wild beast” because its ruling actions are beastlike. It pressures and threatens and even uses violence wherever its version of rulership is not accepted. It encourages, not submission to God’s Kingdom, but, rather, subservience to Satan’s world. That is why Re 13 verse 14 says: “It misleads those who dwell on the earth.”
19, 20. (a) What does the integrity of Jehovah’s servants demonstrate? (b) How do we know that the anointed remnant will certainly triumph over Satan’s world?
19 This world under Satan’s domination is a difficult place in which to live for those who, in harmony with Jesus’ command to true Christians, are no part of it. (John 17:16) Thus, it is an outstanding demonstration of Jehovah’s power and blessing that his servants throughout the world today keep integrity and unitedly continue to magnify Jehovah and his righteous ways. They do this in the face of intense opposition, persecution, and even death.
20 The anointed remnant in particular have been targets of Satan because they are to be corulers with Christ. But Revelation chapter 14 shows that the full number of them, 144,000, are triumphantly gathered with Christ in Kingdom power. They have loyally clung to their Master, for as Re 14 verse 4 says: “These are the ones that keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes”—this in spite of the cruel persecution Satan has brought upon them.
Receiving God’s Judgments First
21, 22. (a) What announcements do the angels make at Revelation 14:7, 8? (b) Why does an angel announce religious Babylon’s fall when she is still in existence?
21 At Revelation 14:7 an angel cries out: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.” Who receives God’s adverse judgment first? Re 14 Verse 8 answers: “And another, a second angel, followed, saying: ‘She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen, she who made all the nations drink of the wine of the anger of her fornication!’” Here for the first time, but not the last, Revelation speaks of “Babylon the Great,” the global empire of false religion.
22 Since religion still exercises influence in various parts of the earth, why does the angel announce that Babylon the Great has already fallen? Well, what resulted in 539 B.C.E. when ancient Babylon fell but was not yet completely destroyed? Why, Jehovah’s captive servants returned to their homeland two years later and restored true worship! In the same way, the restoring of God’s servants to the renewed activity and spiritual prosperity that began in 1919 is clear evidence that then, in 1919, Babylon the Great experienced a downward tumble as viewed by Jehovah. He there condemned her to a later extermination.
23. (a) How is the way being paved for Babylon the Great’s destruction? (b) What further prophecies will be considered in the next issue of The Watchtower?
23 As a prelude to her approaching annihilation, modern Babylon has already come into deep trouble. Her corruption, gross immorality, dishonesty, and political meddling have been exposed everywhere. In most of Europe, few people go to church anymore. In many socialistic countries, religion is regarded as “the opium of the people.” Also, modern Babylon is disgraced in the eyes of all lovers of God’s Word of truth. So she now waits, as it were, on death row for her merited execution. Yes, “the appointed time is near” for world-shattering developments! And in the next Watchtower issue, further study articles will discuss the prophecies in Revelation regarding the impending destruction of the religious “harlot,” as well as of Satan’s entire system of things.
How Would You Answer?
□ What do the seven trumpet blasts that begin at Revelation chapter 8 mean for our day?
□ Why does Christendom come in for adverse judgment first?
□ How is the preaching work of the anointed remnant and the “great crowd” described in Revelation chapter 9?
□ What did the announcement at Revelation 11:15 mean for heaven and earth?
□ As described at Revelation 14:8, how did religious Babylon fall in 1919, and what does this mean for her?