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 Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.’
Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshipped God, singing,
‘We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty, who are and who were, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for judging the dead, for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints and all who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying those who destroy the earth.’
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
The seventh trumpet sounds a jubilant fanfare; God reigns! Now we know that God has been reigning from the beginning of time. His power was revealed above all in the Cross of Christ. But up to this moment, he has reigned over a rebellious world. Now, as the last trumpet sounds, it is answered by the acclamations of a loyal people, rebellion is at an end, God’s sovereign power is manifest in the here and now.
In John’s vision; it is judgment time, ‘wrath’ John calls it, thinking doubtless of the wording of Psalm 2. But this is not wrath as you or I know it! How does God whose purpose is creation, exercise judgement over a sinful world? This just and merciful God spared neither his Son nor his saints to redeem the world. His judgment holds no terror for those who suffered death because they witnessed to their faith. And as for those who were convicted by the witness of these martyrs, and turn to God, they have no cause for fear either. They see the ark, the symbol of God’s presence, in their midst, assuring them that their sins are blotted out and God’s covenant stands firm.
What then of the destroyers? Surely no one can be secure as long as these implacable forces of evil are at large, ravaging the earth? Their death throes are signalled by a spectacular display of weapons from the armoury of heaven. But God’s victory over them is only won through human agents, when followers of Jesus witness to the power of the Cross. God does not offer the Church security from suffering or death but he sustains it in faith, love and hope through the crucified and risen Lord.
Gracious God, you lead us in the path of Christ our crucified and risen Lord. In communion with all your people, past, present and yet to come, we praise and glorify your name. Amen
The Rev’d Fleur Houston, retired minister, member of Macclesfield and Bollington United Reformed Church.