Bible Study Series: Revealing Jesus in Revelation
Revelation Chapter 8 Trumpets - The Greenie's Worst Nightmare
by I Gordon
Welcome! We are onto Revelation chapter 8 today which could be called the Greenie's worst nightmare. If you are a tree hugger you won't like this chapter. Sorry about that. But if your hope is in an eternal heavenly home you will be fine and do well. Revelation chapter 8 sees seven angels given seven trumpets and in this chapter the first four trumpets will be blown bringing judgement upon this earth and its ecosystem. By the end of this chapter the grass, sea, river, moon and the sun will all take a hit. A big hit. And most, it seems, will be struck by something from outer space. This chapter will bring up the following questions:
- Why trumpets? What were they used for in the Old Testament and how does that relate to what is coming in Revelation?
- How is prayer seen in Heaven and how does God respond in the last days?
- An important question... Why would God destroy part of the creation He has made and called 'good'?
- Heard of Apophis? Does 'Apophis' in 2029 have anything to do with what's coming?
- And where is the believer's hope to be? In other words, is there a plan(et) B?
Seven's Everywhere... and God's use of trumpets
Rev 8:1-2 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 to them were given seven trumpets.
With the opening of the 7th seal there was half an hour of silence. We spoke about this seal in the study from Revelation 6 tying it in with the events of the 6th seal. Someone once said that 30 minutes of silence in heaven proves, once and for all, that there are no women in heaven. I'm pretty sure that person has now gone missing so I best not comment on that! : ) All joking aside, here we see seven angels that are given seven trumpets. God likes His sevens as we have seen before. In terms of judgements we have seen that there are three sets of seven in the book of Revelation. There are seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowls and combined they contain the wrath of God. The number seven speaks of perfect completion and is seen throughout the book of Revelation1.
As a side note on the number seven, the number seven is also prominent in the gospels. For example, John's gospel includes seven signs that Jesus performed, seven discourses He gave, and seven 'I AM' statements that He made. Another example comes from the genealogy of Jesus given in the book of Luke 3:23-38. Luke lists 77 generations from Adam to Jesus. So you might ask - 'Well, if God likes 7's, who was the 7th generation from Adam?' Well that is Enoch who walked with God and God took him! We also know that God likes multiples of 7 so who was the 21st generation (3 x 7)? Well that is Abraham! Ok, so 5 is the number of grace... who is the 35th (5 x 7) generation? Well that is King David! Ok, so let's go big... who would be the 77th (11 x 7) generation as that is obviously a prominent number? That is One called Jesus... the Savior! God does all things well.2
So let's look at these seven trumpets. Just as a reminder, trumpets in the Old Testament were used for various means. The main passage is Numbers 10:1-10 where we see four main reasons for blowing the trumpets. Let's compare the reasons from the Old Testament with what will happen with the seven trumpet blasts in Revelation:
|O.T Trumpet Use
||Fulfillment in Revelation
|To blow an alarm
|Each trumpet blast in Revelation is one of alarm. It is a clear signal that things are not right between heaven and earth! It is a warning to all within the land as it says in the book of Joel:
Joe 2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand.
|To announce war against their enemies
|In like manner, each trumpet blast is an announcement and act of war. It is heaven pouring out judgement and wrath upon a sinful Christ rejecting world. Each trumpet will bring forth a judgement on a different area of the world leading up to the 7th trumpet.
|To gather the congregation before setting out
|The trumpets bring judgement leading up to the seventh and final trumpet that announces three things:
1. That the mystery of God is complete (Rev 10:7)
2. That the kingdoms of this earth have now become the kingdom of God and of Christ (Rev 11:15)
3. Jesus has begun His reign on earth (Rev 11:17)
Thus we see that like the end of the seals, the 7th trumpet brings us to the time of the end when Jesus and the saints will set out, from heaven to earth!
|To announce the feast of the Lord
|Just as the spring feasts all fell on a significant event concerning Jesus' first coming (Passover when Jesus died on the cross, First-fruits when Jesus arose from the dead, Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended in Acts), the fall feasts will also coincide with important events leading up to the return of Jesus Christ. I believe that the feast of trumpets is linked to the rapture of the Church but it could also find a fulfillment in the last days at the second coming with this 7th monumental trumpet blast.
The Angel at the Altar
Rev 8:3-5 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 the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand. 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.
In heaven, right now, there is an altar. The earthly temple and tabernacle were but a copy of the heavenly one according to Heb 8:5, 9:23. So we read here of an eighth angel that ministered at this heavenly altar. And all the prayers along with incense are seen coming before God. Incense is a sweet smelling offering which points to the perfection of Christ's offering upon the cross. That is being joined by the many prayers of the saints and not one prayer is missed. All the prayers for judgement, for justice, for 'Thy kingdom come...' - even those being offered up right at this very moment, come before the throne3. And it seems that these prayers offered up to heaven come back down to earth with a little extra sting in the tail for the angel takes fire from the altar and returns it to earth leading to thunder, lightning and an earthquake. This is a 'shot above the bow' as a warning of what is to come.
Application - Zacharias, prayer and incense - Delayed but answered prayer
Now while we are speaking about prayer, sometimes we feel that our prayers are not heard. Have you felt that? I wonder if Zacharias felt that? In Luke we read of an interesting earthly event linking incense and answered prayer:
Luk 1:5-13 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. (6) They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. (7) But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years. (8) Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, (9) according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. (10) And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. (11) And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. (12) Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. (13) But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.
As Zacharias offered incense before the Lord in his priestly role, an angel appeared and told him that his petition had been heard and he would have a son. So do you think he just prayed and received an instant answer or had he been praying for years? Consider that He and Elizabeth were now advanced in age. They were likely over 60. Elizabeth was barren and scripture tells us she had felt shame of not having a son for a long time (Luke 1:25). It is likely that they prayed for a child for decades... and nothing. No answer. Heaven was silent. Was God not listening because of sin? No - they were righteous in His sight. It is likely that they gave up hope as they were now past the age of conceiving. Yet God still remembered. He had heard their prayer, even their many prayers over many decades! And He knew that He would answer, and when He answered, it would be with someone special. And that someone special could only come when the time was right to bring forth someone even more special! John the Baptist would be their child but his arrival had to wait for the time of the promised Messiah. As scripture says, but 'when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman' (Gal 4:4).
Sometimes we have to wait, maybe a long time, but there is a good reason for it. Trust in God's wisdom and sovereignty and always remember that God often rewards those that wait patiently for a long time with something, or someone, special!
The Seven Trumpets - Old Testament Picture
Rev 8:6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
As the seven angels prepare to sound the seven trumpets, it is worth thinking where we have heard of seven trumpets before... Do you know? Ringing any bells, or trumpets, in that brain of yours? Like most events in the book of Revelation, is there an Old Testament picture of this event? I would suggest that it is in the book of Joshua with the defeat of Jericho. You might recall that the Israelites had to walk around the city for seven days, blowing the trumpet each day. And on the 7th day they had to go around it 7 times before finally blowing the trumpet. And what happened then? Well, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down (Josh 6:6-8,15,20).
Jos 6:15-20 On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. (16) The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, "Shout! For the LORD has given you the city! (17) The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent... (20) When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city.
So these seven trumpet blasts in Joshua's conquest of Jericho point to the seven trumpet blasts in Revelation. Jericho is a picture of the world. And what happens when the 7th trumpet is blown in Revelation? Well, the walls of these earthly kingdoms come down and Christ begins His reign! Jumping ahead a little in Revelation we read:
Rev 11:15-17 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever." (16) And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, (17) saying, "We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.
The Green agenda undone in one blast
Now the rest of Revelation 8 verses 7-13 deal with the first four trumpet blasts and they all have something in common. The first 4 trumpets are all judgements aimed at creation and ecology and as I pondered that I kept thinking 'why would God target His own creation?' Doesn't Revelation 11:18 say that He will destroy those who destroy the earth?' Well, yes it does, so why would God target this planet's ecosystem and creation? Didn't He say that His creation was 'good'? As I pondered this and asked the Lord, another question came to mind - Has not man turned creation into their god? Creation is now a 'she' and 'she' is "mother earth". She even has a name - "Gaia" named after the Greek goddess of the earth. We see this in Hollywood movies like Avatar where the 'divine spirit' is in everything from water and trees to all living beings. The fact is that having largely rebelled against God, the world now worships creation instead of the creator. The whole climate change agenda that we hear non-stop about has become a religion. In fact if you were to say the biggest agenda's currently prompted by this world it would be saving and worshipping the planet (instead of saving humanity and worshipping God) and the promotion of all sorts of sexual sins and confusion in the name of 'freedom' and 'love' (instead of freedom in Christ and loving God). And in case you didn't know, these are the two things specifically mentioned in Romans 1:18-32 which show that God has given a people or nation over to a depraved mind. Think about that for a moment!
So back to the important question - why will God target creation and ecology? Because God will judge that which man turns into an idol and that is what they have done with creation. So in these first four blasts we shall see (1) the earth (2) the sea (3) the rivers and fountains of waters (4) and the Sun/Moon all targeted, and all my one third.
One third of the earth burned up
Rev 8:7 The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon 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.
So hail mixed with blood is thrown towards the earth causing one third of the trees and all the green grass to be burned up. The Old Testament background to this passage is Exodus 9:
Exo 9:23-26 When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the LORD sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt; (24) hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. (25) Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields--both men and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. (26) The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.
So here you have the green agenda gone in one trumpet blast! Because in contrast to the Exodus judgement in Egypt, this judgement is worldwide. Now "grass" in this passage includes grains like wheat, rice and oats. So we're not just talking about a third of your favorite football park gone... we are talking about a third of the world's produce as well. In short, losing one third of food production means instant inflation. Think also about the fires as one third of the trees are burned up. Recently forest fires in Canada caused the worst air quality in the northern and western parts of the US in years. Now imagine if the whole globe had these fires!
One third of the sea becomes blood
Rev 8:8-9 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, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
As the second trumpet is blown John sees 'something' like a huge burning mountain thrown into the sea. It is possible that this is a huge volcanic eruption but is more likely to be another heavenly object like an asteroid or meteor hurled to the earth. And a third of the sea turned to blood, killing one third of the living creatures in the sea and destroying one third of the ships. The water turning to blood was also pictured in the judgements upon Egypt:
Exo 7:19-21 The LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt--over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs'--and they will turn to blood. Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in the wooden buckets and stone jars." (20) Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. (21) The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.
John MacArthur writes on this event saying:
"Probably a huge meteor or asteroid surrounded by gases that will ignite as it enters earth's atmosphere. Its impact will create a tidal wave, destroying one-third of the world's ships... And the sea became blood. This may refer to an event known as red tides, caused by billions of dead micro-organisms poisoning the water—in this case the result of the meteor's collision. Or it may be actual blood, a clear act of eschatological judgment."
And what about the ships that are destroyed? Doing a search on 'how many ships are in the ocean at one time?' returns a 2016 estimate of 50,000 traveling with over 100,000 ships in general. If we just take the ships that are actually on the ocean then around 17,000 will be destroyed, including their crew and contents. So if you thought the supply lines were terrible during Covid19, wait until the second trumpet blast!
Now NASA tracks the paths of asteroids and one that caught their attention back in 2004 was called 'Apophis'. The L.A Times wrote: "Apophis was discovered in 2004. After calculating its potential orbits, astronomers were startled to realize it had a 3% chance of hitting Earth in 2029." According to NASA's own website 'Apophis is named for the demon serpent who personified evil and chaos in ancient Egyptian mythology.' Lovely! : ( Another website, speaking of Apophis, states: "A collision with the Earth by an object of this size would release the energy of 1000 atom bombs of the size dropped on Hiroshima, and depending upon where it hit, could cause massive destruction. Fortunately, astronomers have calculated that Apophis is unlikely to impact the Earth." This asteroid comes closest to earth on, oddly, Friday the 13th, April 13 2029. While it is not predicted to hit earth, we can see from these quotes the damage that will occur and what this chapter of Revelation tells us is that asteroids, meteors and comets will be used in the Tribulation period and earth will be hit. Also remember that man can make all the mathematical calculations and predictions that he wants, but God is the One who says whether this planet will be struck or not.
One third of the rivers become bitter
Rev 8:10-11 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-- 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.
The third trumpet sees another great star hurled at the earth. This one is burning like a torch so many think it is a comet. This one fell on the rivers causing a third of the waters to become bitter. Now this burning torch-like star is given a name - Wormwood. Wormwood has been said to be the bitterest herb in the Middle East. It is also a poison so we see that many people died from drinking these waters.4 So in the coming days this bitter judgement will involve the world. They, as a whole, will reap the bitter consequences of their sin, rebellion and bitterness towards God. They will drink, quite literally, that which they have been producing (metaphorically) throughout the earth.
Application - God makes the bitter sweet through the cross
This reminds us of what happened to the Israelites as the crossed the Red Sea and came to Marah in Exo 15:22-27. Do you remember the story? Hot and tired they came to Marah hoping to find refreshing waters to quench their thirst. Instead what they found were bitter and undrinkable waters. Almost instantly the water wasn't the only thing bitter... The Israelites were as well! As Moses cried out to God, the Lord showed him a tree to throw into the bitter waters which made the bitter waters sweet. This is, of course, a picture for all of humanity. We are all bitter by nature and only Christ can make the bitter sweet. And that happens through the cross - His death upon that tree. When we accept that and look to Him even our bitter hearts and the bitter experiences of our life can be redeemed and made useful.
So God can make the bitter sweet. But what if humanity doesn't want it? What if humanity rejects God's provision? Then the opposite happens and that which was sweet will become bitter. That is what we see in this judgement. But it doesn't have to be that way if a person would but believe, repent and accept God's provision provided on that tree 2000 years ago!
One third of the sun, moon, and stars become dark
Rev 8:12-13 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. 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!"
The last of the four trumpets causes something to hit the sun and stars so that one third of their light turns dark. If this is to do with the intensity and power of the sun then the earth's problems aren't now limited to the solar panels on their roof being less productive than hoped! Just staying warm will be the world's biggest issue! But there is an interesting note here - whatever it is that happens affects both day and night. One third of the day was without light, but also one third of the night. Some have wondered if the rotational speed of the earth is increased so that there is 1/3 less day and 1/3 less night. In other words, a 16 hour day. Jesus did say unless those days were shortened, no one would survive, so could that be speaking of the actual length of a day and not the number of days? We'll have to wait and see how this judgement plays out. It may be that somehow the light from the sun is blocked or removed for one third of the day and night leading to pitch darkness. In the days of the Exodus there was a judgement upon Egypt that caused thick darkness. It says of that time:
Exo 10:21-23 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt." (22) So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. (23) They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.
It certainly makes you think that there was a spiritual or demonic element to this darkness in the days of Egypt as it was a darkness that could even be felt. And, to be fair, however this judgement plays out in the Tribulation, none of the options sound great and you don't want to be there. Make sure you know the Lord, are saved, and if you do get to see it, let it be from Heaven!
So what have we seen? Three out of the four trumpet judgements involve something being 'thrown' from outer space, hitting the earth. And the other trumpet has something affecting the sun. The US government spends a lot of money to try to divert and destroy meteors and the like from hitting the earth. The movie 'Armageddon' was about that very thing where thankfully, somehow against all the odds, Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck saved the day. Hooray! But this is not Hollywood and it's not fiction. Despite the money pumped in, Revelation 8 says the US government will fail. And sorry, Bruce and Ben are too old and too slow to help now. The events of this chapter again bring into focus the words of Jesus for the end of the age:
Luk 21:25-26 "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, (26) men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Application - Where is your hope? Is there a plan(et) B?
So what is the take away from this chapter for the believer? It is the question of 'where is your hope?' Young people throughout the Western world are living in fear that climate change will cause unparalleled devastation and that they personally might have no future as the planet warms to unsustainable levels. There are even climate change clocks in various cities, New York being one of them, that show less than 7 years left to avert this devastation. You would have seen the young people with their 'There is no plan(et) B' signs. Though they are purposely being used and made fearful to fulfill an agenda, I can understand their fear if one truly believed they only had years left and there is no planet B. Now the Christian knows that this world is on limited time for other reasons, but we have the hope of something far better! King David, the Psalmist, wrote that this current planet will wear out like old clothing and will be changed:
Psa 102:25-27 "Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. (26) "Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. (27) "But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.
In a similar manner Peter wrote of what is to occur to this planet and the practical application for believers now:
2Pe 3:10-13 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (11) Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, (12) looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! (13) But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
For the believer, there is a planet B. The Lord Jesus went to prepare a place for us. We have the sure hope of His promise that He will come and take us to be where He is. So while we are to be good stewards of this wonderful planet that He gave us, our hope is somewhere else. Our citizenship and home, as Paul wrote, 'is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.' (Phil 3:20) We are to be like Abraham who, despite all that he had in this life, desired 'a better country, that is, a heavenly one.' And of all those that follow Abraham's example, 'God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.' (Heb 11: 10,16) That is where our hope is. That is our planet B. That is the believer's destiny!