Revelation 8:7-13

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 8, 2012


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

The apostle John found himself caught up into heaven before the throne of God.

He saw Jesus take a scroll from the hand of God that had been sealed with seven seals.  As Jesus broke each seal and unrolled the scroll a little further, events begin to take place on the earth and the time that we call the Tribulation begins to unfold.

The Tribulation is a time when God’s wrath is poured out on an unbelieving world and God begins to make right all the things that have been so wrong.

Built within the seventh seal are seven trumpets.

As the seventh seal is broken, seven angels step up to blow seven trumpets and there is silence in heaven for a half hour.

8:7 Trumpet One:  Vegetation

:7 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.

:7 soundedsalpizo – to sound a trumpet

:7 hailchalaza – hail

:7 firepur – fire

This is most likely “lightning”.

:7 mingledmignumi – to mix, mingle

:7 bloodhaima – blood; of those things that resemble blood; blood shed

:7 was thrownballo – to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls

:7 treesdendron – a tree

:7 burned upkatakaio – to burn up, consume by fire

:7 grasschortos – the place where grass grows and animals graze; grass, herbage, hay, provender

:7 greenchloros – green

:7 The first angel sounded

There are some parallels in the structure of the seven trumpets compared with the seven seals.

They are both broken into groups of four and three.
The first four seals were considered a group and connected to the “four horsemen” of the Revelation 6.
Here we’re going to see the first four trumpets grouped together, and the last three trumpets are called the “three woes”.

:7 hail and fire … mingled with blood

This kind of reminds us 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.
(Ex 9:24 NKJV) —24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.

There is a phenomena known as “red rain” where the rain is as red as blood.  Cases throughout history have been documented back to the 8th century BC.  In recent history, the Indian state of Kerala has had several of these red rains since 2001.  In studying this particular phenomena, some think the red rains were caused by a meteor shower, even claiming that there were extraterrestrial spores in the rain, while the main view is that they were caused by airborne spores from a locally found algae.

:7 trees … grass … burned up

That would definitely be an ecological disaster, no?

8:8-9 Trumpet Two:  Sea

:8 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.

:8 soundedsalpizo – to sound a trumpet

:8 mountainoros – a mountain

:8 greatmegas – great

:8 firepur – fire

:8 burningkaio – to set on fire, light, burning; to burn, consume with fire

:8 was thrownballo – to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls

In verse 10, a great star “fell” from heaven.  This mountain , along with the bloody hail is “thrown”, as if something is propelling it.

:8 a great mountain burning with fire

Could this be something like:

A meteor or asteroid
PlayArmageddon” clip
A satellite or spacecraft burning up as it enters the atmosphere
A missile with a warhead “burning” because of the rocket engine

:8 the seathalassa – the sea; used of the sea in general; used specifically of the Mediterranean Sea or the Red Sea

In Israel, there are not a lot of words for bodies of water, probably due to the fact that it’s in a desert climate. Any pool of water can be a “sea”, like the bronze “sea” in front of the Temple (the size of a swimming pool).

It could be referring to all the oceans.
It does have a “definite article” (“the”), hinting that
It could be referring to a specific body of water like the Mediterranean Sea
It’s used for something as small as the Sea of Galilee, though the next verse (ships) wouldn’t make much sense if it were something that small.

:8 a thirdtritos – the third

:8 became bloodhaima – blood; of those things that resemble blood; blood shed

This could refer to the living things that will be killed.

It could be referring to literal blood.

It could be referring to something that looks like blood, whether it be an oil spill, or the “red tide” caused by plankton.

A red tide can produce toxins, deplete oxygen, and kill fish and plant life.

:9 And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

:9 creaturesktisma – created thing

:9 living – literally, “having souls” – psuche – breath (of animals or men); the soul

It could refer to animals that have “breath” or men who have “souls”

:9 shipsploion – a ship

:9 third … ships destroyed

destroyeddiaphtheiro – to change for the worse, to corrupt; to destroy, ruin

The word is used in:
(Lk 12:33 NKJV) —33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.
(2 Co 4:16 NKJV) —16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
(Re 11:18 NKJV) —18 The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth.”
Maybe not destroyed as much as "corrupt", like rust or decay

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

:9 a thirdtritos – the third

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.
(Re 16:3 NKJV) Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.
The judgment is increasing in intensity.


When judgment gets worse

There will be times when we are going down the wrong path in life and God will allow difficult times to get our attention.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”
Sometimes God has to do painful things to get our attention.
CAUTION-not all difficulty is due to our sin.
God tends to usually show mercy to us at first.
Sometimes we don’t know what to do when God isn’t harsh with us because we know we are doing the wrong things, and we’re expecting a spanking.  Paul wrote,

(Ro 2:4 NLT) Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

This is one of the big reasons why these Revelation judgments haven’t happened yet …

(2 Pe 3:9 NKJV) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Yet when God’s mercy doesn’t work, sometimes God will turn up the heat on us to get our attention.
This is what God warned Israel about concerning disobedience.  He warned that if they disobeyed Him, that He would make things difficult for them.

(Le 26:18 NKJV) ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.

Don't wait for it to get tougher.  Have you been wrestling with God over an area of your life where you’ve been disobedient?
This is the time to turn around.
This is the GOSPEL - Jesus came to die for sinners like us

8:10-11 Trumpet Three: Water

:10 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.

:10 soundedsalpizo – to sound a trumpet

:10 fellpipto – to descend from a higher place to a lower; to fall (either from or upon); to be thrust down

:10 staraster – a star

:10 greatmegas – great

:10 burningkaio – to set on fire, light, burning; to burn, consume with fire

:10 torchlampas – a torch; a lamp, the flame of which is fed with oil

:10 riverspotamos – a stream, a river

:10 springspege – fountain, spring; a well fed by a spring

:10 a great star … burning

Again, this could be a satellite, a meteor, or an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Remember that this is a first century man describing events that could involve things specific at least to our 21st century.

: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.

:11 bitterpikraino – to make bitter

:11 A third of the waters became wormwood

This “star” pollutes the water supply and many die.  More about this later…

8:12-13 Trumpet Four:  Heavens

:12 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.

:12 soundedsalpizo – to sound a trumpet

:12 was struckplesso (“plague”) – to strike, smite

:12 darkenedskotizo – to cover with darkness, to darken

:12 did not shinephaino – to bring forth into the light, cause to shine, shed light; shine

:12 sun … moon … stars … darkened

I guess this could be talking about the day and night being shorter, but I think it’s more likely that the brightness of the sun, moon, and stars will be decreased by 1/3.

We sometimes think of the possibility of human causes to these events like a nuclear explosion, or even pollution.

It could be a non-human event as well, such as a volcano.

: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!”

:13 an (angel)heis – one

:13 flyingpetomai – to fly

:13 midst of heavenmesouranema (“middle” + “heaven”) – 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

This word is used in Rev. 19:17 where an angel cries out …

(Re 19:17) …to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven
It would seem that this “angel” is flying up in the atmosphere.

:13 inhabitantskatoikeo – to dwell, settle

:13 remainingloipoy – remaining, the rest

:13 blastsphone – a sound, a tone

:13 trumpetsalpigx – a trumpet

:13 to soundsalpizo – to sound a trumpet

:13 woeouai – alas, woe (“oy” if it’s a Jewish angel)

There are three remaining trumpets and there are three “woes”.  One woe for each trumpet.  The point is this – if you think these things are bad, just wait for what’s ahead!


Look up

All this stuff looks pretty scary. Jesus said,
(Lk 21:25–28 NKJV) —25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
If for some reason you should be around on the planet’s surface when these things take place, do what Jesus said – look up.
Our eyes need to be on Jesus and not on the fearful things that might surround us.
We live with the goal of eternity, not surviving for the next five minutes.
It might not be with these kinds of difficulties, but when any difficulty comes our way, we need to “look up”

:11 Wormwoodapsinthos – wormwood

Artemisia absinthium is a plant that produces a bitter oil.  Pure wormwood oil is very poisonous, but when used in certain ways can be used for various medicinal purposes.  It is used in some alcoholic drinks and wines.  One of its medicinal uses was to cure intestinal worms, and hence the English name “wormwood”.

The key to understanding “wormwood” is the word “bitter”.

There is a related plant, Artemisia vulgaris, which is known as wormwood or also “mugwort”.  The technical Russian word for the wormwood plant is Polyn obyknovennaya, and the word Polyn is the word used in the Russian translation of our passage here. But the Russians have another word, a common word for the plant:  Chernobylnik.  It kind of sounds like “Chernobyl”, doesn’t it? 

Some have claimed that the nuclear accident at Chernobyl was a fulfillment of Rev. 8:11.  I’m not so sure.  Coincidence??  Hmmm.
Perhaps this trumpet judgment will remind us of Chernobyl, where a Soviet nuclear reactor melted down and exploded.  350,000 people were evacuated, and the death toll ranges from the 32 official deaths, to one estimate that places the toll near 1 million in premature cancer deaths.

In Jeremiah’s day, wormwood was connected to the judgment on Israel’s rebellion:

(Je 9:13–15 NKJV) —13 And the Lord said, “Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, 14 but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them,” 15 therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.
The idea is that “bitterness” is a result of rebellion against the Lord.
(Dt 29:14–19 NKJV) —14 “I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, 15 but with him who stands here with us today before the Lord our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today 16 (for you know that we dwelt in the land of Egypt and that we came through the nations which you passed by, 17 and you saw their abominations and their idols which were among them—wood and stone and silver and gold); 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.


Bitter Danger

The writer of Hebrews warns us:
(Heb 12:14–15 NKJV) —14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

We may not be living in the day of this falling “star” yet, but this passage reminds us we still need to watch out for bitterness.

When you refuse to let go of your grudges and you hold on to your bitterness, it will “spring up” and cause you and others trouble.

What do you do with bitterness?
(Eph 4:31–32 NKJV) —31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
On the moonless night of November 15, 2002, five boys ran across a park, jumped a 61-year-old man, bound his wrists … and beat him with pipes until his heart stopped. All for his wallet. That man was Nathaniel Jones, the grandfather of future NBA star Chris Paul.
Play Chris Paul clip.
[Nathaniel Jones], the man everybody called “PaPa Chili,” was the first black man to open a service station in North Carolina, and both Chris and his brother worked at it. PaPa Chili was known to let people run tabs when times got tough. Plenty of times, he’d hand people money out of the cash register to get by. Paul called him “my best friend.”
[After learning of his grandfather’s death], Paul, [who at the time was] a high school senior, was so sad he was literally sick. Two days later, he scored 61 points for West Forsyth High School, one for every year of PaPa Chili’s life. He purposely missed a free throw at the end, then collapsed into the arms of his father in tears.
Today, [the boys who murdered PaPa Chili] are men, sitting in prisons across the state of North Carolina, some serving 14-year terms, some life …. The five are about the same age as Paul, same race, same height, and from the same hometown … Paul, now 26, said: “Those guys were 14- and 15-years-old at the time, with a lot of life ahead of them. I wish I could talk to them and tell them, ‘I forgive you. Honestly.’ I hate to know that they’re going to be in jail for a long time. I hate it.”
Why could Chris Paul forgive his grandfather’s killers?  Because he’s a Christian.  When one fan asked him if he was a Christian, Paul answered, “Yes. I grew up in the church and still go every Sunday if I don’t have practice. It’s always something that my parents instilled in me. I’ve grown to be pretty devout in my faith.”
Rick Reilly, "The Lessons of Nathaniel Jones," ESPN (4-27-11)