GOD’s ULTIMATE JUSTICE will PREVAIL in ETERNAL FUTURE: And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One 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.” (Rev. 11:16-18)
Here in the vision of Apostle John, God triumphs over evil as He holds the ultimate power (v. 17). The second cycle of God’s judgments (8:2–11:19) closes with a focus on the last judgment (v. 18) and the triumph of God’s kingly rule (vv. 15, 17) as He shall reign forever and ever (v. 15). The blowing of the seventh trumpet reveals that the Great Tribulation is over and the ultimate reign of Christ has begun. Falling on their faces before God, the twenty-four elders express thanks to Him because He has assumed His great power and inaugurated His reign.
The famous Bible preacher Charles H. Spurgeon has once remarked the following: “No doctrine in the whole Word of God has more excited the hatred of mankind than the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God. The fact that ‘the Lord reigneth’ is indisputable, and it is this fact that arouses the utmost opposition in the unrenewed human heart.” Let us understand that God will ultimately reign over all the earth and His ultimate justice will prevail in the eternal future!
In the above passage, God is worshiped by the twenty-four elders because what He promised has now been accomplished. They praise God’s power and wrath and the corresponding distribution of reward and judgment. God has finally consummated events on earth and now reigns in omnipotence. Significantly, God has already fulfilled five important parts of His ultimate justice in His millennial kingdom:
- Subjugation of the Gentile nations: The Gentile nations had exhibited defiance and arrogance against God many times in the past, but now God has subjugated the Gentile nations with Armageddon as an epitome (16:13–16; 19:19; Ps. 2:1, 2).
- Vengeance inflicted on God’s enemies: God will no longer manifest His patience against unrighteousness and the wicked people who oppose His purposes. The hour of God’s vengeance against His enemies has finally arrived (Ps. 2:5; 2 Thess. 1:7, 8).
- Judgment of the dead: The dead of all ages will be judged at the Great White Throne in the distant future (20:11–15).
- Rewarding of the godly: This will occur for the church at the Rapture; for other saints it will take place at the resurrection of the righteous in the first resurrection where Old Testament and Tribulation saints who have died will be raised and rewarded (Is. 26:19, 20; Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25; Rev. 20).
- Destruction of the destroyers of the earth: Those who have tried to destroy the earth and those who carry out their diabolical purposes in the Tribulation Period will themselves be destroyed by God eventually (19:20, 21).