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Bible Studies in the Book of Revelation 12

Revelation 8                        Study 12

After the vision of the crowds in ch 7, John sees the next part of the vision related to the opening if the seals. The six seals already open had shown the judgments that were to be poured out on the earth, but the final seal produces a dramatic pause in the vision with a silence for half an hour in heaven. All of the heavenly beings that had been praising the Lamb are silenced, is this in anticipation of what is to come? But he firstly sees an angel before the altar offering incense; note much incense and this is identified as the prayers of God’s people ascending to him. It seems the prayers are accepted, as the censor is now empty and filled with fire from the altar, which is thrown on the earth with dramatic results, loud noise and lights, a precursor to the judgment. This is a direct response to the cry of God’s people down the ages, ‘How long?’

Then seven angels appear and each in turn sounds his trumpet, tradition has identified them as ‘archangels’ and would include Michael and Gabriel as they stand before God. [Jude 9, Luke 1.19]

The First Trumpet: hail and fire mixed with blood is thrust on the earth. This produced devastating effects to the vegetation, the trees and the earth.

  • In our day we can imagine these things happening, e.g. the nuclear accident at Chernobyl.
  • John doesn’t deal with the mechanism other than it came from the hand of God, judgment from the altar.
  • This judgment or plague is devastating but not fatal.

The Second Trumpet: a mountain on fire; is cast into the seas, they turned to blood. This had an effect on the shipping and the animals of the sea.

  • Possibly a volcano type eruption, which comes from the hand of God.
  • The sea, here it is singular, so could refer to the Mediterranean Sea, coloured red as a result of pollution.
  • Now a human toll is mentioned with the loss of the third of the ships.
  • Losses are critical but not fatal

The Third Trumpet: a great star falls from the sky, destroys the viability of the rivers and water supplies, they become bitter- wormwood is a bitter shrub but has its uses in medicine and alcoholic drinks.

  • Oceans are devastated after trumpet two, now the fresh waters are ruined.
  • Human lives would be lost with this judgment, remember the Egypt plagues, the Nile became undrinkable, the waters at Marah, were bitter and needed a miracle to make them pure, and Naomi said call me bitter because of the way the Lord had dealt with her.
  • With the loss of vegetation and water there would be a dreadful impact on the animal kingdom.
  • A reverse order of man’s contamination of nature, from the land to the sea to sea to the land.

So we have three destructions affecting the earth’s surface, but now come the next:

The Fourth Trumpet: the sun, the stars and moon are reduced by a third, again not fatal.

  • Not objects from the heavens to earth, but the heavens are subject to some destruction
  • The three elements here are necessary to life on earth, but begin to be destroyed. Remember God’s promise that ‘as long as the earth remains… day and night will not cease’, Gen 8.22, so here is the beginning of end for the earth.
  • The mechanics are not explained, so it could be that a part of the light-giving source is reduced by some atmospheric condition, or, as it is linked with a third of the day and the night without light i.e. 8 hours in every 24, it could be an eclipse. It doesn’t matter, as the effect is the same; life is interrupted.

Note with these four events there is no mention of a time-scale, however, if you look at the sequence of these trumpets again there is a logical sequence of events. However it does relate to the OT judgments that were powerful, speedy and swift judgments.

Then he sees the next manifestation, a promise of devastation to the inhabitants of the earth. An eagle flying shouting, [the flying eagle only appears in Revelation] some early manuscripts use the word ‘angel’ not ‘eagle’, but it is the message that is important not the messenger. The four living creatures cried, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty’, here it is, ‘Woe, Woe, Woe to the earth’s inhabitants’. There were three more trumpets to sound with their judgments, three more devastating outpouring of the wrath of God. The eagle was in mid-air, which means at the top of the sky, where the sun shines. Again, we see protection for God’s people as ‘inhabitants of the earth’ refer in Revelation only to those who are hostile to God. Joel 2 is the early connection between the blowing of trumpets with the coming Day of the Lord. A Judgement Day with disasters that are unique!




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