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Rev 8 The Seven Trumpets

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Review

last week we took a look at the seven seals that were opened by the lamb of God the only one worthy to open the seals.
We also saw a continued theme of difference between what John hears vs. what John sees.
He hears the lion from the tribe of Judah but he sees a lamb that was slain.
He hears an army census from the tribes of Judah but He sees a multitude of worshippers from every tribe and every nation worshipping the lamb who are sealed so that they will not be harmed in the “Great Day of The Lord” that we see in and we also noted that we don’t see a “rapture” at this point. But that doesn’t matter because God’s people are sealed and will not experience the wrath of God.
We saw the 4 horseman (which is imagery taken from Zechariah Chapter 1) and talked about the fact that what they were bringing onto the earth you can see every day somewhere around the globe.
And we see that there is a tremendous amount of persecution placed on the believers and God responding to their cries by pouring his wrath on the earth in judgement.
Then the 7th seal is broken but before the scroll is opened we hear the start of the trumpet warnings (very similar to the normal use of trumpets in that day)

8 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.

The first angel brings the “Great Day of the Lord” to completion with fire taken from the incense altar (where the voices of the martyrs were rising) symbolizing God’s response to their earlier prayer. This is the same imagery we read before where their cries were rising from the altar to God but now he is reacting (as we say in the sixth seal).
Now there are different ways to read and interpret this next section. Either you can see it as a repeat from a different perspective or you can see it as a continuation of what was happening as the seal was opened.
Many people think John is backing up and telling the same story but using different imagery but this time from the the Exodus plagues.
One supporting truth to that theory is that we see the similarities in the plagues to Egypt each with an opportunity to repent and each resulting in non-repentance on the part of the people of this earth - just like Pharaoh. This perspective comes from the idea that as we mentioned these are warning trumpets and so the perspective of this vision is that God is giving warnings to everyone. All of the things that are happening are warnings for people to repent and escape God’s judgment. Just like they were for Pharaoh.
Hail
Blood
Poison Water
Darkness
Locusts (demon locusts)
And finally the four horseman (but wait) these have already been released, yep and therein lies the rub. This is why many people think this is just a retelling of the same stuff as before.
Regardless of how you interpret it, the safest thing to do is to talk in generalities that there will be difficult times and people are going to rebel against God he will judge them as is the usual response and they will respond with more disobedience (big surprise) and finally there will be a final judgement where His wrath will be poured out but only on those who don’t know him.
There is another way to look at this passage and that is that it is a continuation of what was happening in the seals now that that the scroll is opened and this in an okay way to look at things because things aren’t identical however that doesn’t answer a couple of issues, first it ends with the wrath of God judging the earth and that has already happened, secondly even though the seals are broken the scroll isn’t opened until chapter 10 and then you have the issue of the horsemen who have already been released with no explanation by the text to tell whey they were called upon again.
What we should note are the repeated series of 4 so we see 4 judgement types in the first 4 seals and we see the same thing with the first 4 trumpet blasts but picking up the scene from the 6th seal. This time as we said before using themes from Egypt this theme keeps right on moving even up until chapter 15 where those that are spared “sing the song of moses”

6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.

7 The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.

7 The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

8 The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, 9 a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

10 The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky 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 turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.

12 The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, 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 turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.

One thing to remember is that as has been the case so far John is not talking about a literal 1/3 but it is rather symbolic of the drastic step God is taking to warn His creation as well as the fact that He is giving them an opportunity to change their ways (that is why it is ALL)
As in all prophecy that we see in scripture we aren’t seeing literal things but rather pictures and symbols of things.
The first angel hail and fire mixed with blood (fire mixed with blood was a very common description of lightening) killing the primary growth on the earth which was grass.
The second angel brings about destruction that these churches and the people in that day would have been very familiar with and that was something like a huge mountain on fire and thrown into the see - By the way this would have been a very fresh image with the Mt. Vesuvius disaster that had taken place not long before Revelation was written.
The second angel
This destruction is also presently hard hitting for the Romans considering it destroys much of their primary economic source which was trade and military might on the sea.
The third brings waring once again from above something like a great star falling from the sky and calling it wormwood which is a non poisonous bitter plant. This could very well be as many people thing a meteorite hitting the ground or it could be just symbolic of contaminated waters we just don’t know. But they would have understood the reference.
And the fourth angel blasts his trumpet and we see a celestial reaction once again as nature responds to the rebellion of mankind and is further described as a third of the day and a third of the night (referring to a third of the moon and a third of the sun).

13 As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!”

So we the introduction to the 3 woes by an eagle
The first woe:

9 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. 8 Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 10 They had tails with stingers, like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).

One thing to keep in mind here is that the imagery blends from one thing to another, many people miss that reality and so view each imagery as separate for instance we see an angel falling from the sky (not to be confused with the star imagery of Satan) this was given authority and keys to open the Abyss which would have been considered as hell and the smoke rising from that blocked the sun (not literally) but giving us a picture of the enormity of this judgement which is another echo of the Egyptian plagues as the smoke imagery shifts to locusts which merge to more of a scorpion type of plague (again make note of the “likes” ) to harm those “not sealed by the lamb” so you aren’t going to experience this, whether you are here on earth or in heaven) the imagery here is out of Exodus where the people of Israel were sealed and watched as God judged Egypt) You will not experience this. That being said some people wonder about the 5 months actually 5 months is the normal duration of locust plagues so it is pretty logical.
Essentially we see those who had tortured God’s people now being tortured by God’s judgement.
Understand that this circumstance is completely under God’s control.
Then the locust imagery melts into horses prepared for battle echoing . We have eight features being described here all of them seem to point to the greatest fear against Roman might “The Barbarian Hordes”
Crowns of God = Could mean blonde hair might be symbolic for political authority we don’t know (note the word “like”)
Human faces = Most likely meaning human but needed to be specified because of the previous imagery again the imagery of the locust could just be symbolic of the fact that they are plagues used by God.
Long Hair = very much imagery of the barbarian hordes from the north as well as the east but could also be symbolic of wildness.
Their teeth = could just be imagery of a ferocious enemy to strike fear, could be symbolism of their hordes loving meat as well as the fact that locusts use their mandibles or teeth to do their damage.
Breastplates LIKE breastplates of iron = could be imagery from Joel, could just be symbolism for army imagery.
Wings = continuing the locust imagery but also now including army/cavalry imagery
Tails = imagery continuing with the scorpions.
The point is not what the literal interpretation means rather the impact of the imagery. God has released a hellish judgement on those that persecuted his people. That is the point.
And these tormentors whether they be literal or figurative have a king of them and that is the King of the Abyss who many feel is Satan
Again It doesn’t matter the nature of the actual beasts understand that the judgment they inflict is horrendous regardless of what they are it is horrendous but very limited.

12 The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.

13 The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the four horns of the golden altar that is before God. 14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number.

17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. 18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. 19 The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.

20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

So John is tipping his hand in a sense moving forward that there are two more “woes” that correspond to an interlude that will be taking place in chapter 10 and 11
Now we have the sixth trumpet warning and a singular voice coming from the altar that we have seen before but now it is the imagery from the Old Testament (gold and horns) and we see once again the 4 angels (implied by the definitive article in the Greek) but not at the 4 corner of the earth but this time bound at the Euphrates.
We see now imagery of a battle beginning with troops beginning to assemble probably echoing in his prophecy against Gog and Magog but also possibly hinting at the fear of Rome towards Parthia.
We see another 3rd here as well keeping in line with the other warning judgements.
But the destruction is not done by the angels but rather their release cues an army that was completely unimaginable to 1st century readers thus meaning HUGE uncountable (further emphasized by him hearing the number and not seeing it).
With the aural description of the numbers the vision narrow focus on the the riders and horses specifically. The breastplates of the riders are described either as multicolored or a different color on each rider we don’t know.
coming out of the mouths of the horses (with heads like lions) corresponded to the colors red-fire, dark blue- smoke, and yellow-sulfur)
What is interesting is that the pain and punishment isn’t from the riders but rather the horses.
John finishes the vision with a parallel response to the pharaoh’s response in the exodus account which is that those that were not killed by the judgements still did not repent. Those that God himself created decided to make a god for themselves and thus brought judgement on themselves from the one who created them.
What is striking is that in the midst of all of this judgement God is still gracious and patient giving these people a chance to repent before the final judgement which is about to come.
As we move on we need to note that there is no appearance of the eagle again yet and still we have more woe to go. That should tell us that what is about to happen corresponds to what we just read. So the sixth judgement is not over until this interlude is over.
We see a very interesting part of John’s vision here with the eating of the little scroll introduced to us in verse 2 this echoes very closely to .
We see 3 parts 1-4, 5-7 and 8-11

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. 2 He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3 and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. 4 And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.”

Here we see John’s placement has changed again from heaven back down to earth and he sees an angel with a divine mission (coming from heaven).
Some people have interpreted this angel as being Christ himself but that is unlikely do to the consistent image of Christ as the lamb throughout the rest of revelation.
We see 3 parts 1-4, 5-7 and 8-11
Rather we see someone who reflects the image of Christ and therefore represents his divine authority.
He has planted his foot on the sea and another on the land - this is mentioned several times and because of that repetition we should take note of it’s importance possibly foreshadowing the arrival of the beast and the dragon.
The angel gives a loud shout and the seven thunders spoke - we don’t know what this means. It is no where else in biblical literature we have not other examples anywhere

5 Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. 6 And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, “There will be no more delay! 7 But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”

8 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”

9 So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’” 10 I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”

We see here that the angel is giving John the ability to speak God’s message in the same way as the Prophets of the Old Testament.
The angel announces the coming of the Great Day of the Lord. But before that we see a couple of interludes.
Understand though that even though the angel says “there will be no more delay” he doesn’t mean that the end is now or even immediately following, but that the great mystery of God (probably referencing what happens in Chapter 11) will happen around the same time as the 7th trumpet.
All of this could serve to remind John’s readers and us that things are not over, there is still much to do. Which could be why then, that John needs to eat the scroll
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