Rev. Chapter 8
There is much to be said about this verse, but I will limit this discussion to three points.
1) The opening of the seventh seal is a transition to the second set of judgments of which there are three sets, the seal judgments, the trumpet judgments and the bowl judgments.
2) Silence in heaven! God is all about peace, but this sounds (pardon the pun) like an intense, deafening silence! There appears to be a couple of reasons for this sudden silence, but all have to do with the inhabitants of heaven being in awe of what the moment reveals. First of all, I believe that the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders and the myriads of angels have all fallen silent as they recognize the reality of what is about to take place. Also, there is a holy silence as God listens intently to the prayers of the saints!
3) …about half an hour. Time is always an interesting topic as it relates to heaven. Even though God is omnipresent, present in all places at all times, and He exists outside of the boundaries of time, all creation, including heaven, apparently do not. In my humble opinion, time will continue to exist in heaven and earth, as well as the universe as a whole, until the end of the millennial kingdom when all things are made new. At that point, eternity will be as it should be, timeless!
2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.
Seven angelous, the infantrymen of angels. Seven angels with trumpets, commissioned by God to announce impending judgment! The second set of judgments which are more intense as the first set, but not as devastating as the third set of judgments which will occur in the final three and one half years of tribulation, or the “Great Tribulation!”
3 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.
In the old testament, the Levite’s, or Priests who were chosen by God to perform the duties of Temple Worship, would transport hot coals from the brazen alter to the alter of incense in a censer, or a golden pan, suspended by a chain or rope. The incense would be symbolic of the prayers of the people. However, in heaven this is not symbolism! The incense are the prayers of the saints and God is not only intensely listening to the prayers of His children, but in this scene He is about to answer those prayers with the vengeance! It is so wonderful how God places such importance on our prayers! If you ever think that God isn’t listening to your supplications (and the enemy would certainly want you to believe that He does not listen) then remember the scripture we are now studying! God places so much importance on your prayers! I think that if we truly understood just how important our prayres are to God, we would live 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18!
1 Thess 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; God is obsessed with the very thought of you!
5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.
Don’t ever think that your prayers don’t make a difference, or that God is casual about answering them! We are taught that a mustard seed of faith will move mountains, but prayer, especially intercessory prayer, praying for the well being of others, will motivate God to action! It is the stuff that miracles are made of! Want a miracle in you life? Pray, step back and watch the power of God motivated by His incredible, unconditional love for you!
6 So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
It is as if God’s command went out, “Ready? Aim, Fire!!”
What is about to happen is incredible! A series of rapid fire events that will forever change the world we live in! The question that is somewhat difficult to answer is this; Are these events natural phenomenon brought about by God for the purpose of pouring His judgment out on an unsuspecting world? Or are these events man made catastrophic acts of war which God will allow and use to glorify Himself and bring judgment to a lost and sinful world?
The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.
What exactly is going on here? Is john struggling to describe a firestorm resulting from a nuclear exchange? Is he witnessing World War III in all of it’s fiery destruction? That would certainly explain the fire as it destroyed a third of the trees of the earth and the hail as the waters of the earth were exploded high into the atmosphere, freezing and returning to earth as large hailstones. Or, is he witnessing a more natural phenomenon as God awakens the volcanoes of the world, calling them to explosive life and causing catastrophic destruction on the earth? Whatever it is, God has moved and judgment has resulted!
Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. 9 And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
I have read that at any given time one third of the world’s ships can be found in the Atlantic Ocean. A very large meteor exploding into the earth’s atmosphere, crashing into the Atlantic Ocean could cause a huge tsunami and destroy a third of the ships. The effect of the impact could possibly kill so much sea life that a phenomenon known as red tide may occur, giving the sea the appearance of blood. Red tide is a result of millions of dead micro organisms which would poison the waters and kill even more sea life.
Another possibility is that God supernaturally turns the ocean to blood! He has demonstrated this before in the book of Exodus when He brought plagues upon Egypt in order to demonstrate His sovereign power to Pharaoh.
Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.
A great metaphor regarding wormwood is found in Deuteronomy 29
18 so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; 19 and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’ — as though the drunkard could be included with the sober.
As judgment is cast down on the earth, God is also demonstrating the corrupting power of a bitter root! How sin will creep in and take over the whole land with corruption, drunkenness and eventually death! Wormwood is just such a bitter root. With the imagery of a giant asteroid, God casts to earth what we have been killing ourselves with from the beginning! And now our life giving water has become bitter and deadly to drink!
Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.
Some might think that with all that is going on in the world as a result of these first three trumpet judgments, that the dust has really gotten stirred up! What with all the volcanoes and nuclear explosions, perhaps the atmosphere has become thick with volcanic ash and smoke, that the light from the sun, moon and stars have become one third dimmer. Or, it may be that we are attributing too much of God’s judgment to the manipulation of natural or man-made phenomenon. When God parted the Red Sea He didn’t need us to build a dam to restrain the waters, did He? When God created the heavens and the earth, did He require a project manager? No! He spoke and it was! God doesn’t need us at all, but the good news is that He loves us and delights in us! Having said that, do you think that God has the ability to simply turn down the light of the sun, moon and stars? Absolutely! We must remember the omnipotence of God and not doubt that He will do just fine without our help!
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
9 When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band;
10 When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors;
11 When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!”
God, forgive me when I doubt! Help me with my unbelief!
13 And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice,”Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”
Woe, woe, woe! Three more trumpet blasts! What has taken place up to this point has been unbelievably devastating! What is coming next is unimaginable! One blasts will bring forth demons who will issue unbelievable pain to mankind! Another blast will unleash the most unholiest of demons, given power to kill a third of mankind! The last trumpet blast reviels the bowl judgments, the worst of all! These will take place during the final three and one half years of tribulation, or the “Great Tribulation!”