This refers to the rage of the nations (Ps. Ps. 2:1) exhibited throughout the Tribulation by an unrelenting opposition to God. The response of God to the anger of the nations was predicted long ago: He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure (Ps. Ps. 2:5). The nations of the Tribulation are ruled by unwise kings (Rev. Rev. 17:12+; Rev. 19:19+) who fail to Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way when His wrath is kindled but a little (Ps. Ps. 2:12). The wrath of God speaks of the entire period of the judgments which are being loosed upon the earth, beginning with the first seal loosed by the Lamb (Rev. Rev. 6:1+). Even the earth dwellers understood that Gods wrath was being poured forth at the time of the opening of the sixth seal (Rev. Rev. 6:16-17+). Yet, this statement is made in response to the sounding of the seventh trumpet which proclaims a period of intensified judgment specifically characterized as seven bowls of the wrath of God (Rev. Rev. 15:7+; Rev. 16:1+). In these impending seven last plagues . . . the wrath of God is complete (Rev. Rev. 15:1+). See Delivered from the Wrath to Come.
the time of the dead that they should be judged
Time is καιρὸς [kairos] . Here it denotes a specific character of time1 the time during which God will judge the dead. Every man, once dead, will face judgment (Heb. Heb. 9:27). To Daniel it was revealed that the time of Jacobs trouble would precede the time of the judgment of the dead and that there would be two categories of resurrection: to everlasting life and to shame and everlasting contempt (Dan. Dan. 12:1-3). Later in the book of Revelation, we will find that the timing of these two categories of the resurrected dead differs by at least one thousand years. All the righteous dead are resurrected by the advent of the Millennial Kingdom in order to participate therein, whereas the unrighteous dead are not resurrected until after the final rebellion at the close of the Millennial Kingdom. The resurrection of the unsaved dead and their final judgment is referred to as the second death. For the saved dead who participate in the first resurrection preceding the Millennial Kingdom the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years (Rev. Rev. 20:6+). Although the righteous dead will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, it is for reward rather than punishment and those who trust in Christ cannot themselves be lost (1Cor. 1Cor. 3:13-15; 2Cor. 2Cor. 5:10). It is in this sense that Jesus said, Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life (John John 5:24). Believers will not undergo judgment for their sins because Christ has taken their sins upon Himself in their stead. The judgment of all those throughout history who reject Christ occurs at the Great White Throne (Rev. Rev. 20:11+). This judgment cannot transpire until every last rejecter of Christ has met physical death. This is one of the purposes found in the loosing of Satan for the final rebellion at the end of the Millennium (Rev. Rev. 20:7-9+)to manifest the last generation of Christ-rejecters prior to the judgment. The result of the Great White Throne Judgment is the assigning of varying degrees of punishment, based on works, and the casting of the unsaved dead into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death (Rev. Rev. 20:14+). See commentary on Revelation 20:11. Jesus promised that the overcomer would not participate in the second death. See commentary on Revelation 2:11. Since the judgment of the dead does not occur until the close of the Millennial Kingdom, it can be seen that this passage is very forward-looking, taking in a long period of history within its purview. Thus, it is describing the results which flow from the outworking of the seventh trumpet. This includes the outpouring of the seven bowls of wrath (Rev. Rev. 16:1+), the return of Christ (Rev. Rev. 19:1+), the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. Rev. 20:4-6+), and the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. Rev. 20:11-15+).2
that you should reward your servants the prophets and the saints
The reward of the prophets and saints is associated with Christs return (Rev. Rev. 3:11+; Rev. 22:12+) and is to be contrasted with the judgment of the dead just mentioned. The prophets refers to both OT and NT prophets.3
(1) Thy servants the prophets evidently points to those who have in all ages witnessed for God. . . . Servants is here qualified by the additional noun, prophets. Thy servants the prophets. To witness for God in a dark and evil day is a service which God never forgets. All such are peculiarly His servants. (2) The saints. This term is the common one in the New Testament to designate the general body of believers, and is nowhere used in the New Testament Scriptures to express a select company. It is the common appellation of the redeemed in both Testaments.4The rewards include the many promises found throughout Scripture (Dan. Dan. 7:18; Mtt. Mat. 5:12; Mat. 10:41; Mat. 16:27; Mat. 25:34; Luke Luke 14:14; Rom. Rom. 2:7; 1Cor. 1Cor. 2:9; 2Ti. 2Ti. 4:8; Heb. Heb. 4:9; Heb. 11:10; 2Jn. 2Jn. 1:8) including those related to the inheritance of the believer (Acts Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18; Rom. Rom. 8:17; Eph. Eph. 1:11-14; Eph. 5:5; Col. Col. 1:12; Col. 3:24; Heb. Heb. 9:15; 1Pe. 1Pe. 1:4). This includes all the promises made to the overcomer (Rev. Rev. 2:7+, Rev. 2:11+, Rev. 2:17+, Rev. 2:26+; Rev. 3:5+, Rev. 3:12+, Rev. 3:21+; Rev. 21:7+) and the blessings which attend the Millennial Kingdom (see The Arrival of Gods Kingdom ) and the eternal state (Rev. Rev. 21:1+, Rev. 22:1+).5 See Believers Crowns.
those who fear Your name both small and great
A healthy, reverent fear undergirds the attitude of those who trust in the Lord (Jos. Jos. 24:14; 1S. 1S. 12:24; Ps. Ps. 34:9; Ps. 85:9; Ps. 102:15; Ps. 103:11; Ps. 115:13, Ps. 115:14; Ps. 147:11; Ecc. Ecc. 8:12; Ecc. 12:13; Mic. Mic. 6:9; Luke Luke 1:50; Rev. Rev. 19:5+). Both small and great describes every category of mankindall variations in physical stature, wealth, or positionare found in His kingdom (Ps. Ps. 115:13; Rev. Rev. 19:5+).6
destroy those who destroy the earth
Destroy is from διαφθείρω [diaphtheirō] which can denote either physical or moral destruction.7 Here is Gods assessment of modern environmentalismwhich purports to radically care for the earth while denying the Creator behind the creation and creatures which it panders to. At the Second Coming, the condition of the earth has reached the equivalent of the time of the flood where the earth is filled with violence (Gen. Gen. 6:13). This corruption was due to the great wickedness of man in that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen. Gen. 6:5). This is the predictable end of unregenerate men once the Restrainer is removed and the mystery of lawlessness reaches full flower (2Th. 2Th. 2:7). The word destroy is the same, actually, as corrupt. Man had destroyed the earth by corrupting the earth, using it not for Gods glory, but instead to satisfy his own greed and lust.8 Some take those who destroy the earth as a separate category from the nations, as if denoting fallen angels which are under the rule of the Destroyer, that is Abaddon and Apollyon (Rev. Rev. 9:11+).9 But the object of their destruction would seem to be men rather than the earth as stated here.
1 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: Uersity of Chicago Press, 2000), 395.
2 The sounding of the seventh messenger is a prolonged blast which covers the announcement of events to take place in the distant future, even after the millennial reign of Christ has been completed.Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), Rev. 11:2.
3 The linking of prophets with apostles in Rev. Rev. 18:20+ and the angels reference to them as your [Johns] brethren in Rev. Rev. 22:9+ shows the impossibility of excluding NT prophets from the term.Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 11:18.
5 The reward of the believer is a vast topic spanning innumerable Scriptures from which only a small sample is listed here.
9 The event is a fulfillment of the double prophecy, And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth (Isa. Isa. 24:21). There can be no doubt that here is a division that recognizes Satan and his followers on the one side and the earthlings on the other.Barnhouse, Revelation, Rev. 11:18.