Revelation 8:7-13

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

 May 21, 1997

Introduction

Back in chapter 4, the apostle John was caught up into heaven to witness the time known as the "Great Tribulation", from the grandstands of heaven.

While in heaven, he saw as Jesus, the Lamb of God, took from God the Father, a scroll with seven seals on it, and began the process of opening up the scroll, and starting the events of the Tribulation.

Two weeks ago we saw the opening of the seventh seal, and there was a brief pause in heaven before the events of the seventh seal took place.

We now get into the seventh seal, which involves seven trumpets that will be blown by seven angels.

8:7-13 The first four trumpets- judgment by thirds

:7 The first angel sounded

Lit., "sounded a trumpet"

We suggested back in chapter seven that perhaps these first four out of the seven angels may be the same four angels that are holding back the winds in 7 -

(Rev 7:1-3 KJV) And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. {2} And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, {3} Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

First, there was a pattern established with the seven seals that the first four seals were unique, each having one of the four "horsemen" attached to them. So it wouldn't be strange to see these first four trumpets being together in a group.

Secondly, the things the angels in chapter 7 are told to prevent are the things that happen in chapter 8.

The problem is that the angels in chapter 7 are standing on the four corners of the earth, whereas in chapter 8 they are described as "the angels which stood before God" (vs.2).

:7 there followed hail and fire mingled with blood

Some of these judgments are reminiscent of the plagues that Moses brought on Egypt with God's power.

The first plague was turning the waters of Egypt into blood. (Exo 7:20)

The seventh plague (Exo 9:24) was hail mixed with fire.

(Exo 9:24 KJV) So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.

This is not a new phenomenon. Scientists have recorded other times when red rain fell from the sky. They never could explain it fully, but it actually left great puddles of water that were as red as blood.

Could this be from some kind of pollution? Acid rain?

We know that today, acid rain is supposedly destroying all kinds of forests.

Could this be some kind of advanced acid rain?

:7 and they were cast upon the earth

Meaning the hail, fire, and blood.

:7 and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

Interpretive note:

A lot of people have some interesting ideas about interpreting this passage.

Some people like to take this whole thing symbolically.

For example, we have places in Scripture where "trees" are used figuratively to describe people.

In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar is described as a large tree that is cut down.

The problem I have with this is that we aren't told that this is symbolic.

In contrast, look at chapter 12 -

(Rev 12:1 KJV) And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

wonder - "sign", the passage is meant to be symbolic of something, to point to and teach us something.

On the other hand, we need to keep in mind that John is witnessing things that are happening 2,000 years in his future.

In other words, how would a first century human describe something like a computer or a robot? How would he describe a nuclear missile?

The strontium 90 from an atomic fallout in the atmosphere affects vegetation and greatly endangers our lives. That's why the atmospheric testing of atomic weapons was stopped. If an atomic war breaks out, the by-product of radioactive fallout will do tremendous damage to crops and the earth.

:8 as it were a great mountain burning with fire

The language suggests that whatever John is seeing, it is something "as" a great mountain, not necessarily a mountain itself.

Some have suggested this is describing a volcanic explosion, such as we saw with Mount St. Helens, or what some are fearing might happen with this volcano down in Mexico.

But is could also be descriptive of something like a meteorite, burning as it enters the atmosphere, which would look like something "as" a mountain.

This comes from Newsweek, March 24, 1997, page 64 -

How to defend Earth against collisions By Adam Rogers

"It has happened before; someday, odds are, it will happen again. Sixty-five million years ago a five-mile-wide object hit the Yucatan Peninsula and wiped out the dinosaurs. In 1908 a 200-foot rock blew up over Tunguska, Siberia, flattening thousands of square miles of forest. A meteorite just half a mile wide could throw enough debris into the atmosphere to block out the sun, plunging us into a years-long night. It happens every 100,000 years or so, but it could happen any time."

Of the roughly 2000 Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) more than half a mile wide, scientists have charted about 300.

We've talked before how there are scientists developing plans of how to handle these possible collisions, but nothing is in place yet.

:8 was cast into the sea

The Greek has the "definite article", indicating a specific sea.

Some scholars have suggested that this is limited to the Mediterranean Sea, since this is the "sea" known to John.

Others see this as global.

: and the third part of the sea became blood;

Some have suggested this might be a "red tide"?

Tiny plankton multiply and choke out the oxygen in the water, killing off the fish.

:9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died

had life - psuche - breath (including animal life); the soul

Though this might simply refer to all animal life, I wonder if it could be applying to human life instead.

Another thought, if the "red" sea was a "red tide", then it would make sense killing all that have "breath", since the oxygen supply is cut off.

Third part - note that the judgments under the trumpets seem to affect 1/3 of everything.

In contrast, the seals brought judgment on 1/4 of the world (Rev. 6:8), killing 1/4 of the population.

Later on, with the bowl judgments, every thing in the sea dies.

(Rev 16:3 KJV) And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul died in the sea.

The judgment is increasing in intensity.

Lesson:

When you feel under God's chastisement, and it's increasing, pay attention!

God's desire is often to try being merciful to us first, but when that doesn't happen, He has to get our attention.

Don't wait for it to get tougher.

:9 and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

Destroyed - diaphtheiro - to change for the worse, to corrupt; to destroy, ruin

Maybe not destroyed as much as "corrupt", like rust, decay???

Implications: Fishing industries wiped out, food supplies dwindle more, U.S. Sixth Fleet is in the Mediterranean, other nations too.

:10 there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp

This could be descriptive of just about anything that is coming into the earth's atmosphere.

Perhaps a large meteorite, a satellite, or maybe even some kind of intercontinental ballistic missile.

:10 and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

The fresh water supply

:11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood they were made bitter.

Wormwood - ayinqon - wormwood

This is the only place this Greek word is found in the New Testament.

Chuck Missler (and Ray Stedman) says that the Russian word for "wormwood" is "Cherynobyl"

Bitter - pikraino - to make bitter; to produce a bitter taste in the stomach

Apparently this "star" causes a great deal of pollution to the world's fresh water supply.

:12 the third part of the sun was smitten

Smitten - plesso - to strike, smite

:12 and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars;

It sounds as if this trumpet is affecting all type of objects that give light in the sky.

I don't think this would be an eclipse, because it affects all the heavenly objects.

:12 so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

Darkened - skotizo - to cover with darkness, to darken

Lu 23:45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

and the day shone not for a third part of it -

Lit. - "the day did not shine forth a third of it"

This could be talking about the brightness of the sun being cut back by 30%.

Perhaps this is talking about some kind of air pollution that is blocking a third of the light reaching earth.

Jesus described this:

(Luke 21:25-28 KJV) And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; {26} Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. {27} And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. {28} And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

:13 And I beheld, and heard an angel

Lit., "one angel"

Some translations (NIV, NAS) have "eagle".

It's not a translation mistake, there are some Greek manuscripts that contain the word "eagle", and some that contain "angel".

This is someone separate from the seven angels with the trumpets.

He's got a message to warn the people about what's yet to come.

:13 flying through the midst of heaven

the midst of heaven - mesouranema (a single word) - mid-heaven; the highest point in the heavens, which the sun occupies at noon, where what is done can be seen and heard by all

I've heard it suggested that this word might be describing outer space, since Paul describes three heavens (atmosphere, space, God's throne) (2Cor.12).

This word is only used two other places:

Re 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,

I've seen this verse applied to the TBN satellite.

Re 19:17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;

Since this word is used to describe the place where birds fly, it seems that this angel is simply flying up in the sky.

:13 saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe

Note, there are three "woes", one for each trumpet.

This angel is shouting a warning to the earth.

Lesson:

God always gives fair warning.

People like to criticize God for thinking that He has the right to judge the world, and the way He will do it, but He always gives us fair warning.

:13 to the inhabiters of the earth

better translation, "those who make their home on the earth"

Lesson:

Where's your home?

This world shouldn't be our home.

(1 Pet 2:11-12 KJV) Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; {12} Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

We ought to be living differently than the people in the world, we're only passing through.

You can tell the people that don't make Orange County their home, they dress like foreigners, wearing plaid shorts, striped shirts, black socks and tennis shoes at Disneyland, with a big camera around their neck.

Can people tell that you don't belong in this world?

Can they tell by the clothes you wear? Can they tell by the way you speak? Can they tell by how you live?

:13 by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!

In other words, if you think this is bad so far, you ain't seen nothin' yet!

Lesson:

Learn from judgment.

We don't often like to talk about God's judgment.

People like to joke about "fire and brimstone" preachers.

But the truth is that we as men will be held accountable to the God who created us.

C.S. Lewis well says that fear or pain or judgment is "God's megaphone to reach a deaf world."

(Heb 12:10-11 KJV) For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. {11} Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Will you be "exercised" by God's judgment?

Will you allow God to mold you in holiness?