Chapter 8: Opening the Seventh Seal and Sounding the First Four Trumpets
When the LORD Jesus Christ opens the Seventh Seal Judgment, the
immediate effect is silence in Heaven. "But
the LORD is in His holy Temple: let all the Earth keep silence before Him" (Habakkuk 2:20). The "angels
desire to look into" (1Peter 1:12) both the Gospel plan
of man's Salvation and the righteous plan of God's Judgments. "With my soul have I desired Thee in the night; yea, with my
spirit within me will I seek Thee early: for when Thy Judgments are in the Earth,
the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness"
The presence of God is a naturally joyful place. "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for Evermore" (Psalm 16:11). Therefore, any period of absolute "silence in Heaven" (8:1) must indicate the awful gravity of what is about to unfold. "As I live, saith the LORD GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" (Ezekiel 33:11).
A picture of the Judgments of the Tribulation Week would begin
with the Seal Judgments (6:1-17; 8:1) occupying the First Half of the Week. The Seventh
Seal Judgment (8:1) contains the Trumpet Judgments (8:2-13; 9:1-21; 11:15-19), which
dominate the Second Half of the Week. And, the Seventh Trumpet Judgment (11:15-19)
contains the final seven Vial Judgments (16:1-21), which occupy the final handful
of days of the Tribulation Week (after the Pre-Wrath Rapture). "And to wait for His Son from Heaven, Whom He raised from the
dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come"
The angels are God's messengers-- of the Gospel and of Judgment "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (Luke 2:10). Trumpets are more than a musical instrument, but a means of announcing:
(1) Old Testament Israel's New Year, which is the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShanah), i.e., "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month [Tishri, e.g., September], in the first day of the month [e.g., September 11th 1999], shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation" (Leviticus 23:24),
(2) the time for Old Testament Israel to begin their march in their wilderness wanderings, i.e., "Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps" (Numbers 10:2), and
(3) the alarm for war, i.e., "And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies" (Numbers 10:9).
The angel that "stood at the Altar" (8:3) would be one of the four divisions of Holy Angels described in Scripture:
(1) Angels, in general, are "ministering spirits" (Hebrews 1:14), who are a numerous, i.e., "ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" (Revelation 5:11), but separate class of created beings, superior to man, i.e., man was made a "little lower than the angels" (Psalm 8:5), possessing greater Knowledge and Wisdom than man, i.e., "the Wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the Earth" (2Samuel 14:20), and having greater strength than man, i.e., "His angels, that excel in strength, that do His Commandments" (Psalm 103:20).
(2) Cherubim are commonly identified in the Old Testament as appearing around the person of the LORD of Hosts, i.e., "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth" (Psalm 80:1), possibly guarding His Throne as they guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden, i.e., "So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the Tree of Life" (Genesis 3:24), and aiding in the execution of the Almighty's will , i.e., "And He rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, He did fly upon the wings of the wind" (Psalm 18:9-10).
(3) Seraphim are briefly mentioned as directing Heaven's worship of the LORD of Hosts, i.e., "3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of Hosts: the whole Earth is full of His glory... 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the Altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged" (Isaiah 6:3, 6-7). And,
(4) Archangels, of which Michael (Jude 6) alone is named in the Scriptures, are represented as protecting and prospering Israel, i.e., "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people" (Daniel 12:1), and heralding the return of Jesus Christ, i.e., "For the LORD Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the Trump of God" (1Thessalonians 4:16).
The angel at the "golden
Altar" (8:3) before the Heavenly Throne of God holds a
(8:3) to offer incense upon the Altar of incense, which is the Heavenly foreshadowing
of the earthly anti-type used by the priesthood. "And
thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it" (Exodus 30:1). And, "Aaron shall
burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn
incense upon it" (30:7). The incense of the earthly altar
was composed equally of stacte, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense (30:34).
It was forbidden to reproduce the incense for ordinary purposes, i.e., "whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto,
shall even be cut off from his people" (30:38). Certainly,
the incense would perfume the air to take away the smell of all the animals sacrificed;
but more importantly, the incense represented the intercession of the appointed high
priest, i.e., "Let my prayer be set forth
before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice" (Psalm 141:2).
The "prayers of all Saints" (Revelation 8:3) are the wonderful sacrifices offered upon that Heavenly Altar. We have been proffered a look at the very place that the God That Hearest Prayer (Psalm 65:2) receives our petitions as a sweet savour. Our praise of God has been declared a sacrifice to God. "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15). It is an important encouragement to our intercession that we understand and believe that God does not lose even one of our prayers. "And shall not God avenge His own Elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?" (Luke 18:7).
The "smoke of the incense" (8:4) represents the sweet savour of the LORD's acceptance of the "prayers of all Saints" (8:3). Acceptance by God of ourselves and our prayers is the highest honor that mortal man can receive. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). Our voluntary presentation of ourselves to God enables Him to make us-- and our prayers-- well pleasing in His sight. "20 Now the God of Peace, that brought again from the dead our LORD Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the Sheep, through the blood of the Everlasting Covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20-21).
Notice that the angel offered the incense with a "golden censer" (8:3)-- used to take the burning coals into the Holy of Holies once a year for the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:12)-- now uses the same censer to execute the answer to those prayers. The angel fills the censer with the "fire of the Altar" and casts "it into the Earth" with resulting "voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake" (Revelation 8:5). It appears that the Saints have been praying for the judgment of the Earth, as will be seen in the immediate sounding of the Trumpet Judgments. "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O LORD, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the Earth?" (6:10).
The "seven angels" (8:6) were ready to sound their trumpets because they had "prepared themselves" (8:6). "Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not" (Luke 12:40). If we will be ready, as the Apostle Paul was, i.e., "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand" (2Timothy 4:6), then the LORD will answer our prayers to take us Home to dwell in His presence. "LORD, Thou hast heard the desire of the humble: Thou wilt prepare their heart, Thou wilt cause Thine ear to hear" (Psalm 10:17).
1/3 of all "trees" and "green grass" will be "burnt up" (8:7), when the First Trumpet Judgment sounds. Combined with fire and smoke, the air will be difficult to breathe. But, God will make a difference between His Tribulation Saints and the world He is judging. "And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the Earth" (Exodus 8:22). "Hail and fire mingled with blood" (Revelation 8:7) are an unnatural combination; and therefore, would be supernaturally provided by the LORD to accomplish the First Trumpet Judgment. But, the "LORD shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His Heavenly Kingdom: to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (2Timothy 4:18). [See our article, "Tribulation Timeline: When Shall These Things Be? (Part 3), Or, The Seven Trumpet Judgments" ---New Window , for additional discussion on the Trumpet Judgments.]
Again, 1/3 of something is affected-- this time by the Second Trumpet Judgment, i.e., the "third part of the sea became blood" (8:8). The LORD will wisely judge the Earth, e.g., incrementally affecting only 1/3 of the sea, giving space for repentance for those who remain. An example of God's Wisdom in Judgment is Solomon's Wisdom in calling for the dividing of the baby. "All Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the Wisdom of God was in him, to do Judgment" (1Kings 3:28). Ultimately, the LORD will completely destroy the Nations of the Earth. But, first He will restore the Backslidden Church, then He will redeem Israel. "Fear thou not, O Jacob My servant, saith the LORD: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished" (Jeremiah 46:28).
Additionally, in the Second Trumpet Judgment, 1/3 of sea creatures and ships will be destroyed by the "great mountain burning with fire" (8:8) that is cast into the sea. This approximates an asteroid striking the Earth, causing 1/3 of the sea to become blood (8:8). The destruction of 1/3 of sea creatures will provide the blood that the Apostle John describes here. "Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come" (Joel 1:15). This Second Trumpet Judgment occurs approximately 4 prophetic years into the Tribulation Week, where the Seventh Seal Judgment coincides with the Abomination of Desolation at the Middle of the Week. [See our Tribulation Chart ---New Window for a projected timeline of the Judgments of the Tribulation Week.]
Aster is the Greek word for "star" (8:10). Our word asteroid is derived from this. In modern times, the "Tunguska Event" of June 30th 1908 at 7:40 AM in the remote region of central Siberia in Russia, is the closest thing to a "great star from Heaven" (8:10) falling to the Earth. Scientists theorized that a comet fragment-- dust and ice weighing between 100,000 and 1,000,000 tons-- collided with the upper atmosphere of the Earth at 62,000 miles per hour. An aerial explosion occurred, creating a fireball that was visible 500 miles away. The energy of the shock wave from the aerial explosion was estimated to be equivalent to 10 to 15 megatons. It shook buildings and flattened 500,000 acres of trees, but it left no crater or cometary fragments. Abnormally bright nighttime skies resulted in Europe and Siberia for some time after the event, from the gases of the vaporized object. "9 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. 10 Then said He unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: 11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from Heaven" (Luke 21:9-11).
This Third Trumpet Judgment is an act of God, resulting from the impact of a star "called Wormwood" (8:11). The bitterness of the water kills many, just as bitterness of soul inclines us to iniquity and death. "For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity" (Acts 8:23), were the words of warning spoken to Simon the Sorcerer, after he attempted to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit. Bitterness is a state of discontentedness with God. "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled" (Hebrews 12:15). But, during the Second Half of the Tribulation Week, God will repay the world's discontent with His vengeance, i.e., "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" (Jeremiah 9:15).
In our article, "For the Elect's Sake", we hypothesized that the Almighty would speed up the rotation of the planet by 50% during the Fourth Trumpet Judgment to cause night and day to come quicker and be shorter by 1/3. [To see this idea developed in detail, please read "For the Elect's Sake, Or, That a Merciful God Will Shorten the Tribulation Week" ---New Window.] "Is any thing too hard for the LORD?" (Genesis 18:14). The overall effect of this Fourth Trumpet Judgment is a shifting of man's perception of time, as well as, utter chaos and confusion; while not breaking His Word that He gave in the Noahic Covenant. "While the Earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (8:22). As we approach the end of this age, the very weather we experience in our different localities will continually vary to the extreme, while technically not breaking His Word about the divinely appointed pattern of "seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night" (8:22). "The Earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalms 24:1). Our God is still a Sovereign God. And, "Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own?" (Matthew 20:15). Unfortunately, our tendency is to underestimate just what the LORD will do to fulfill the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars by 1/3 in the Fourth Trumpet Judgment. But, the prophet Jeremiah had the right idea. "Ah LORD GOD! behold, Thou hast made the Heaven and the Earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee" (Jeremiah 32:17).
If the LORD was only designing to annihilate mankind at this time, why would He warn the wicked, "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" (8:13)? Though these are the "days of vengeance" (Luke 21:22), God still is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2Peter 3:9). Multitudes will perish, "but for the Elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matthew 24:22). When was the last time that an angel from the LORD was seen "flying through the midst of Heaven", much less, warning mankind? How can anyone not believe that God is judging the Earth, and that these days are unique, i.e., "such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21)?
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