Section: Chapter Seven - Deliverance
EIGHT - SEVENTH SEAL EVENTS
[Trumpet Judgments 1-4]
And when he broke (1) the
seventh seal, there was (2) silence in heaven for about half an hour.
And I saw (3) the seven angels who stand before God; and (4) seven trumpets
were given to them.
1. The seventh seal = is
the last of the seven seals which keeps the content of the scroll
hidden. Only now can the content of the scroll be known. The seventh
seal is of the nature of the last three seals. That is, the wrath
of God is in focus. The fifth seal requests the pouring out of the
wrath of God. The sixth seal announces the imminent outbreak of the
wrath of God. Now the seventh and final seal depicts the actual beginning
of Gods wrath in the form of seven trumpet judgments.
2. Silence in heaven =
has received wide discussion. Lacking explicit explanation wild speculation
has abounded about the significance of this period of silence. The
fact that the silence occurs in heaven is important. Since
the creation of the angelic host, the adorers of heaven have continually
praised and worshiped the great God of glory. That stops! There is
only one event at this point in human history that could possibly
render heaven silentthe wrath of God. Restrained since the Flood
and promised since Adam, the eschatological wrath of God is about
to finally begin. So dramatic is Gods wrath that all the eternal
activities of heavenpraise and worship of the Magnificentstop!
3. The seven Angels (who
stand before God) = is a definite group. A, and, and the
are articles. They are used with nouns to indicate general or specific
information about something. One can say, "An apple or the apple."
In the Greek language, the presence of the article the can
indicate several things. In the case of Revelation 8:2,the article
indicates a group known to the readers. Some argue that these seven
angles are archangels. However, John simply identifies these angels
as those who stand before God. The Greek perfect tense (which
is used with the verb to stand) suggests that these angels
are special. All angels at one time or another stand before God for
instructions, but these stand continually. Perhaps, these angels have
a special activity for which they have waited to do since the beginning
4. Seven trumpets were
given to them = is the special activity of these seven angels. They
will blow the trumpets, which will be specifically defined beginning
in verse 6 below.
And another angel came and
stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much (1) incense was
given to him, (2) that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints
upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of
the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out
of the angels hand. And the angel took the censer; and he filled
it with the fire of the altar and threw it to the earth; and there followed
(3) peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
1. Incense = in Israel
was usually a spice that produced a pleasing order when burnt.
2. That he might add it
to the prayers of all the saints = indicates the purpose of the incense
or spices. The purpose of an incense offering was to please God in
the hope that He would respond with favor regarding ones request or
need. The adding of incense to the prayers of the saints suggest the
final step in gaining Gods response.
The saints (ton
hagion) refers to believers, naturally. Some have suggested that only
living believers on earth at this particular point in human history
is the focus of the term. However, John states that "the prayers
of all the saints" are on this altar. What prayers is an obvious
question? The only prayers of all the saints unanswered and contextually
appropriate at this point are prayers of vengeance. Unanswered down
through the ages, the prayers for Gods ultimate judgment against
those who persecute the righteous has finally come.
3. Peals of thunder and
sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake = describe the first
evidence of Gods wrath about to fall on the earth. Because thunder,
sounds, lightning and an earthquake occur in connection with the seventh
bowl, some argue that the trumpets and bowls are synonymous. However,
this is a result of ignoring the textual details and focusing on generalities.
At this point, in the chronology of the Revelation, Gods wrath
has not begun. Only the sign of its imminent outbreak has occurred.
And the seven angels who
had (1) the seven trumpets (2) prepared themselves to sound them.
1. The seven trumpets =
is the sound cycle of seven that appears in the book of Revelation.
Like the seven seals, the trumpets can be divided into two cycles.
Like the first four seals, the first four trumpets are alike in nature.
Similarly, the final three trumpets are alike as were the final three
seals. As the final three seals dealt with the wrath of God, the final
three trumpets will deal with an intensified expression of Gods
wrath (the three woes).
Trumpets have a rich tradition
in the Old Testament Scriptures. Predominantly, trumpets were used
to (1) call Gods people together; (2) call to repentance; (3)
announce judgment; (4) call to salvation; (5) call to the kings
coronation; and (6) announce eschatological judgment. The apostle
Paul indicates that the trumpet of God will blow at the Parousia of
Christ (1 Thess 4:16, 1 Cor 15:52). A teaching reflected in the teachings
of Christ in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24:30-31). The seven trumpets
of Revelation clearly announce judgment.
2. Prepared themselves
to sound them = is not defined, i.e. we do not know what preparation
And the first sounded, and
there came (1) hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown
to the earth; and (2) a third of the earth (3) was burnt up, and a third
of the trees were burnt up, and all the green grass was burnt up.
1. Hail and fire, mixed
with blood = are the manifestations of the first trumpet. Because
of the results stated after this announcement, fire is the primary
characteristic of the first trumpet.
2. A third of the earth
= is clearly a defining trait of the trumpet judgments which should
not be overlooked or generalized. This point clearly distinguishes
the trumpet judgments from the seals and bowls. Only those who wish
to ignore textual details while overly pressing generalities would
equate the seals, trumpets and bowls.
3. Burnt up = the inhabitable
part of the earths surface has been reduced by one-third.
And the second angel sounded,
and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into
the sea; and (1) a third of the sea became blood; and a third of the
creatures, which were in the sea and had life, died; and (2) a third
of the ships were destroyed.
1. A third of the sea became
blood = focuses the affects of the second trumpet. Destruction is
focused against one-third of the salt water of the earth. Salt water
becomes blood. We see no reason not to take this text literally.
As the Nile became blood for Moses, one-third of salt water will do
the same. This naturally results in death for those creatures needing
oxygen. Blood is the only element of a dead body, which cannot be
2. A third of the ships
were destroyed = is a natural disaster resulting from the destruction
of the sea.
And the third angel sounded,
and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell
on (1) a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters; and (2) the
name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became
wormwood; and (3) many men died from the waters, (4) because they were
1. A third of the rivers
and on the springs of waters = indicates a progression from land,
to water (salt and fresh), to the heavens. The first four trumpets
share the same nature. The surface of the earth is dramatically reduced
by one-third. Since a single star could not literally fall on a third
of the fresh water sources of the earth, John intends the reader to
understand that the star affected one-third of the rivers and springs
on the earth. How? That is unknown.
2. The name of the star
is called Wormwood = is a unique phrase. There is no historical evidence
that a star by this name existed in the ancient world. Wormwood
is a medicinal herb of antiquity used to dispel worms from the intestines.
It is very bitter.
3. Many men died from the
water = is the natural result of fresh water made bitter. Wormwood
is known for its bitterness, however, death is not normally associated
with this herb.
4. Because they were made
bitter = indicates the reason for the death of many people. Dehydration
is not the cause of death, but drinking the water kills people. Thus,
the purpose of the third trumpet is to kill men with bitter water.
And the fourth angel sounded,
and (1) a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the
stars were smitten, (2) so that a third of them might be darkened and
(3) the day might not shine for a third of it, and the night in the
1. A third of the sun
were smitten = again indicates an affect on the heavenly light sources.
2. So that a third of them
might be darkened = Unlike the sixth seal where all light sources
were temporally darkened, here only a third of the stars are darkened.
3. The day
night (might not shine) = what the exact affect of the fourth trumpet
is not clear. Whether a twenty-four hour day becomes a sixteen hours
day or whether three eight hour segments (day, night, and darkness)
are intended cannot be dogmatically stated. At any rate, man loses
a third of his light.
And I looked, and (1) I heard
an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, (2) "Woe,
woe, woe, to (3) those who dwell on the earth, because of the (4) remaining
blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!"
1. I heard an eagle flying
in midheaven, saying = is obviously a figure of speech. One cannot
hear an eagle flying, but normally one sees an eagle flying. Equally,
eagles do not speak normally. It is possible that this particular
eagle will speak in the same way Balaams ass spoke (Num 22:22-30).
However, a solution that is more probable is that the eagle is a figure
of speech. The actions of an angelic being moving in midheaven can
be compared to an eagle flying in the sky. Flying suggests horizontal
movement rather than the descending/ascending movement typical of
2. Woe, woe, woe = a sign
of trouble. The three "woes" are critical to the debate
concerning the chronology of the Revelation. See the discussion of
the structure of the book for more details.
3. Those who dwell on the
earth = this is the third occurrence of this important phrase. The
eagle makes clear that the intended victims of the trumpet judgments
are the earth-dwellers. These individuals are consistently portrayed
throughout the Revelation as enemies of God and the objects of Gods
4. Remaining blasts = there
are three blasts or trumpets left to blow. These three trumpets are
the three "woes." The severity of the three last trumpets
is clearly emphasized.
Section: Chapter Nine - Completion of 70th Week [Trumpet Judgments 5-6]