Last time we examined chapter 7 and observed the first parenthetical chapter in the book of Revelation. It gave necessary background information from the vantage point of the spirit realm as to what was about to occur on the earth. The 7th chapter basically sets the stage for all that is going to occur from the opening of the 7th seal until the end of the Great Tribulation. The opening of the 7th seal unleashes the seven trumpet judgments and the seven vial judgments, which are more severe and intense than those which have come before.
The trumpet blowing angels who were told to “stand down” for the sealing of the 144,000 Jewish servants of the Lord, are now permitted to start blowing their trumpets as we come to the 8th chapter. We read first however, And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. [Rev. 8:1 KJV] This seems to be a silence born out of awe and anticipation for what is about to be unleashed on the earth. Since no particular judgment is mentioned in connection with the opening of the 7th seal, it is presumed that it contains the seven trumpets, just as the 7th trumpet contains the seven vial judgments. It is as if God silences Heaven so as to zero in on the prayers of the suffering saints that are being offered up to Him.
Interestingly, verses 2 – 6 are the second parenthetical section of the book of Revelation giving us information as to what is occurring between the opening of the 7th seal and the sounding of the seven trumpets, thus completing the first 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation. We read,
And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. [Vv. 2 – 6] This again allows us to see what is happening in the realm of the Spirit as the angels prepare to blow their trumpets. Notice especially verse 5 of this section. It seems that the prayers of the saints return to the earth in judgment.
The first four of these trumpet judgments affect man’s environment. The final three directly affect man himself. We read in verse 7, The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. Some see this, as well as many of the other judgments, as figurative of some deeper truth. I see no reason to apply a figurative interpretation to this. Would it be impossible for God to do this? If you think the answer is yes, then explain Exodus 9:22 – 26, where during the plagues of Egypt exactly the same thing occurred.
Look at the next two verses. The Bible says, And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. [Rev. 8:8, 9 KJV] Imagine for a moment how utterly astonishing all of this that John was seeing must have been to him. Here was a first century man seeing events and technologies at least two thousand years in the future, and attempting to describe them in the terminology he knew at the time. This shows the wonder of the divine inspiration of the Word of God. On the one hand, the Holy Spirit superintends the writing of the text, guaranteeing the accuracy of writing and transmission, while on the other hand giving John the freedom to frame the words and phrases in his own style of language, writing, and understanding.
An example of this of course is right here in verse 8, when John describes something that appears to him as a “great mountain” burning with fire being cast into the sea. This is a perfect description of a giant asteroid or meteorite, surrounded by flaming gases ignited by the friction of entering earth’s atmosphere. There have been doomsday predictions for years concerning such a scenario, and they will come to pass with a vengeance at this time. It seems feasible that everyone on earth will see it, either in person or on television. There will no doubt be those viewing the approaching monster through telescopes or at observatories and making predictions about exactly where it will strike. It will strike somewhere in the earth’s oceans, quite possibly in the Mediterranean Sea region, with a force greater than an atomic bomb. Since all of the earth’s oceans are connected, the devastation will spread across one-third of the ocean’s waters, causing one-third of the sea to become blood.
Three catastrophic, supernaturally designed effects result from the collision: 1) one-third of the sea becomes blood, 2) as a result of that, one-third of the creatures in the sea will die, 3) giant tsunami waves will destroy a third of the ships on the world’s oceans capsizing huge vessels and completely swamping ports.
John continues, And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. [Rev. 8:10, 11 KJV] The Greek word translated, “star”, is aster, and refers really to any heavenly body with the exception of the Sun or the Moon. This will probably again be an asteroid or meteorite which will disintegrate in earth’s atmosphere and fall in the rivers over a third of the rivers, primarily in the Old Roman Empire region, which will be the seat of the Beast and his operation. This is a considerable area, equaling about the size of the State of Texas. This asteroid has a name, Wormwood. This most likely refers to this asteroid having Wormwood like properties. Wormwood is a bitter, nauseous plant. Jeremiah 9:15 says, Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. We know that many will die as a result of the pollution of the waters.
Keep in mind that these first three trumpet judgments dealt directly with man’s environment. The focus now shifts to the planetary bodies, which will have great affect on the inhabitants of earth during the Great tribulation. The Word continues, And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. [Rev. 8:12 KJV] Lets break this down, shall we?
At the sounding of the fourth trumpet, the heavenly bodies are hit with a plague from God so hard that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way. We know that this partial eclipse will be temporary, because later God will increase the amount of heat coming from the Sun. [See 16:8, 9] At this point, the loss of heat from the Sun will cause temperatures to plunge drastically all over the world. That will seriously disrupt the earth’s weather patterns and the seas tides , leading to violent, unpredictable storms and tides, the destruction of crops, and further loss of animal and human lives.
A student of God’s Word really shouldn’t find these happenings surprising. The Old Testament Prophets associated such signs in the heavens with the Day of The Lord. For example, Ezekiel declared by the Word of the Lord, And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD. [Ezek. 32:7, 8 KJV] Prophets Isaiah, Joel, and Amos also wrote of the sun going dark. [See Isa. 13:9, 10; Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15; Amos 8:9]
Our Lord added His own prediction, warning that “There will be signs in the Sun and Moon and Stars.” [See Luke 21:25; cf Mark 13:24]
This dimming of the celestial lights sets the stage for a really startling and ominous announcement. As John looked , And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound! [Rev. 8:13 KJV] This is an interesting verse. Many translations render this, “eagle” rather than, “angel.” The Greek here is, angelos, the simple word for “messenger” whether human or angelic. However, in some old translations such as the Syriac, Vulgate, and Coptic, they opted for eagle, literally, one eagle; as opposed to angel. Although the KJV Textus Receptus Greek doesn’t really support this translation, some translators may have looked at the fact that angelos can simply be translated as any messenger sent by God, and looked at the context of the verse where this message deals with the wrath or vengance of God being poured out in greater intensity; and noted the fact the eagle is used in other scriptures to denote a symbol of vengance; and chose to use it here. [See Deut. 28:49; Hos. 8:1; and Hab. 1:8]
If indeed the author’s intent was to convey the imagery of the eagle in the pronouncing of these three, “Woes;” the thought then is that of a strong bird of prey rushing to consume its victim. In this case, it refers to the rapid approach of God’s final vengeance. In being depicted in the vision as flying in mid heaven, the bird would be at the height of the noonday Sun, visible to all. His loud voice assures that everyone will be able to hear his pronouncements. The eagle’s dire warning is that the last three trumpet judgments will be even more devastating than the first four.
Double woes are used for emphasis [18:10, 16, 19; Eek. 16:23], the eagle’s triple pronouncement of “Woe, woe, woe” introduces one threat for each of the remaining three trumpets that are about to sound. [9:21; 11:15ff] Woe is used throughout scripture as an expression of judgment, destruction, and condemnation.
We will have much more to say as next time we pick up with the blowing of the fifth trumpet. Please plan to join us then!