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The Trumpet Judgments

Revelation 8

The first parenthesis dealing with salvation in the Tribulation is now over and the narrative
sequence begins again with chapter 8. Remember that the seven seals ultimately contain all the
judgments needed to usher in the rule of the Lamb and the kingdom of God. This includes both
the trumpet and bowl judgments. With the opening of the seventh seal, there is silence in heaven.
In place of the choruses of the elders, the cries of the angels and the multitudes, all is quiet. This
is a silence of expectancy, for this is the last seal. The seventh seal contains within its scope all
the rest of the judgments of the Tribulation that will restore the kingdom of God to earth.

The seven angels, who stand in the presence of God, are given seven trumpets that are
symbolically for Gods provision and authority for these seven angels to pour out these
judgments.

Trumpets were used by Israel on all their national occasions: for assembly to battle, public
assembly, to signal important events of the calendar year and almost any important occasion. In
this context, they symbolize the announcement of judgment and the number seven signifies the
completeness or perfect accomplishment of these judgments.

An Angel with a Golden Censer

Revelation 8:3-6

There is no way to determine who this angel is. Some believe it is an angel of high rank carrying
out the priestly duties of Christ. Others believe that it is Jesus Christ, because He is seen often in
the Old Testament as the Angel of the Lord (Genesis 16:7; Exodus 3:2; Numbers 22:22), and
because here this angel is ministering in a priestly function which is not the normal role of angels
in Scripture. It is possible an angel could perform such a function as this in Christs behalf,
symbolically, just as the Old Testament priests did.

n the Old Testament, the altar of incense was located before the Holy of Holies just outside the
veil. It was kept outside of the veil because it had to be serviced and the high priest could only go
within the veil once a year. The priest would burn incense on the altar of incense. The smoke
would fill the temple or tabernacle and then ascend upward to heaven. The live coals on this altar
originally came from the altar of brass, the altar of sacrifice or of judgment, the brass symbolized
judgment. This spoke of Christ our sacrifice that was judged for us. Anyone who rejects Christs
sacrifice must face Gods judgment (John 3:16-19).

The sweet incense ascending heavenward was symbolic of worship and prayer. The incense
poured on the coals from the altar of sacrifice producing the smoke and sweet odor pictures both
Christs person and work together. The coals spoke of Christs death, the incense of Christs
person.

In Revelation 8:3-4 much incense is given to the angel that is added to the prayers of all the
saints upon the altar of incense. The point is that the incense gives efficacy, meaning, and
acceptance to the prayers of the saints because it represents the sweet savor of Christs person
and work.

We are not specifically told who these saints are, but the implication of the passage is that the
saints here are Tribulation saints, both Jew and Gentile believers who are living on earth during
the Tribulation. Their prayer is that God would pour out His wrath on a rebellious world, but
their desire is to establish His kingdom and will on earth. However, they may include the saints
of all time whose longing petitions for the coming of the kingdom of the Lord are now about to
be answered.

Note that when this angel filled the sensor with fire from the altar and threw it to earth
immediately, there were peals of thunder, flashes of lightning and an earthquake (Revelation
8:5).

The First Trumpet

Revelation 8:7

In chapter eight, there is nothing to indicate we should take verses 7-13 in any way other than in
their literal sense. If the literal sense makes good sense and if there is no indication in the
passage that suggests a symbolical interpretation, then these verses should be taken literally.
These are literal judgments.

Many Bible students believe that four is the number of the world. It marks Gods creative works.
On the fourth day God finished the material creation (Genesis 1:14-19). Revelation 7:9 gives us
four divisions of humanity: nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues. There are four directions or
regions: north, south, east, and west. There are four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. In
presenting the Lord Jesus to men, there are four gospels. There are four kingdoms: animal,
mineral, vegetable, and spiritual.

In this regard, the seven trumpets are divided into four and three. The first four bring devastation
to the world, Gods creation. The last three are aimed more directly at man though humanity is
affected and hurt by all the trumpets. This is significant since these first four are areas of Gods
common grace intended for mans blessing.

The judgment of the first trumpet presents a grim picture of devastation on the vegetation of the
world.

With the sounding of the first trumpet, hail and fire are cast to earth mingled with blood. These
results in the burning of one-third of the earth, specifically burned are the trees and the green
grass. This would also refer to the various crops of the earth like wheat, barley, rice, corn, etc.
Imagine the famine because of this.

Each aspect of this judgment represents certain spiritual concepts in the wrath of God. Hail
represents the source as well as the suddenness (Isaiah 28:2). Fire represents the consuming
character of Gods wrath. These judgments consume and destroy the meaning and purpose of life
on earth. Blood is naturally descriptive of death. It not only reminds us men will be killed by
these judgments, but that the wages of sin is death. God is judging moral and spiritual death on
the earth by the physical death caused by the hail and fire.

One third of the earth is destroyed by fire, why not one fourth, or one fifth, perhaps, because
three is one of the numbers of perfection as with the number seven. Three is the number of God
or the trinity. God is referred to by the formula, Who was, Who is, and Who is to come.
During the last half of the Tribulation, the trinity from hell, Satan, the beast, and the False
Prophet, will rule the world. In other words, the world has sought a solution to its problems not
in God, the Trinity, but in the satanic trinity. Therefore, it appears that by the number one-third,
God is stressing the impotence of the satanic trinity and the perfection of Gods wrath to
establish His eternal purposes.

These are literal judgments, but they also seem to represent some very basic spiritual truth.

The Second Trumpet

Revelation 8:8-9

We must be very careful and note exactly what is said and what is not. It does not say that a great
mountain, burning with fire was cast into the sea. Rather, it says Something like a great
mountain The object that is cast into the sea is compared to a great burning mountain. A huge
mountain-like ball of fire was cast into the sea. It is the perfect picture of what we know today
about asteroids. Asteroids are literally mountains hurling through space. These asteroids are
masses of rock that vary in size from just a few miles to several hundred.

What would happen if even a small asteroid struck the earth? First, as it entered our atmosphere,
as with shooting stars, it would begin to heat up and glow white with fire by friction. It would
actually begin to burn. Then, when it hit the sea, it would cause tidal waves and devastation for
hundreds of miles.

The Devastation

A third of the sea became blood refers to the open sea or ocean. What sea we are not told,
though it could very well be the Mediterranean Sea.

Became blood, the sea becoming blood refers to a tremendous loss of life. When the second
bowl of Revelation 16:3 is poured out into the sea, in that part of the world, either the sea is
turned to blood, or it is chemically changed so as to have the appearance of blood. Here there is a
change in the color of one-third of the sea. In the next trumpet, there is an effect on the taste of
one-third of the fresh water supply.

A third of the sea means that one-third of the sea is affected, whereas in the second bowl
(16:3) all the sea, or open water is affected with all its sea life. The third appears to be in one
portion of the earth, the portion near the impact of the burning object.
Verse 9 tells us one-third of all sea life dies and one-third of the ships are destroyed. This again
means one-third of all in the oceans, but all in that specific area. Sea life is killed by the change
in the water and the ships are destroyed by the impact of the burning object, probably by both the
shock waves and tidal waves.

The Third Trumpet

Revelation 8:10-11

As the star enters our atmosphere, it begins to burn, to break up, affecting a very large area of
land and especially the lakes, rivers and streams. This will cause a chemical change making the
waters bitter. The star is called wormwood. Wormwood was a type of wood growing in the
Middle East that had a very strong and bitter taste. The star is called wormwood because of the
affect the star has on the water. It makes the water like wormwood, bitter, but it appears that
while the wormwood is not poisonous, this star will poison the water because those who drink
this water die. Thus one-third of the fresh water supply of the Earth is made unfit for human
consumption.

The reference to wormwood seems to draw the parallel of the experience of the children of Israel
at the waters of Mariah (Exodus 15:23-25). There the tree cast into the bitter waters made them
sweet. Here the wormwood cast into the sweet water made it bitter. Such also is the contrast
between Christ on the cross atoning for sin and making that, which is bitter sweet, and Christ
coming in judgment which turns the vain hopes and ambitions of men into bitterness and despair.

The Fourth Trumpet

Revelation 8:12

In contrast to the first three trumpet judgments against the land, sea, rivers, and fountains of
water, the fourth trumpet is aimed against the heavens. It is interesting that it was on the fourth
day that God created and made visible to the Earth the sun, the moon and the stars.

Jesus said prior to His return to earth, There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the
earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves (Luke 21:25).

The point is that God strikes one-third of the light-bearing bodies of the universe that hinders
their light-giving capacity in some way. The statement, so that one-third of them might be
darkened, focuses our attention on both Gods purpose or design and the result. The rest of the
verse gives us the result.

And the day might not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way. The daylight hours
are reduced by one-third and even the light of the night from the moon and stars will likewise be
eclipsed for one-third of the night.

The sun, moon, and stars now so obedient and consistent in their orbit will then be moving out of
their orbit. This is all tremendously frightening, and to live in these days will be beyond
description.

The Flying Eagle


part of a Bible study by Paul George

Revelation 8:13

This eagle, by the power of God, will speak from heaven as it flies about the earth like a flying
sound-truck giving warning of the coming last three trumpets.

The first four trumpets seem to serve not only as judgments, but also as warnings of the last three
trumpets since they are far worse. This is supported by the effects of the fourth on the heavens
which the Lord referred to as great signs in the heavens (Luke 21:11), and by the warning of
the eagle flying in heaven. Then, by the cry of the eagle, Woe, woe, woe, these last three
trumpets are designated as woes because of their severity. As bad as the first four will be, these
last three will be even worse.