What are you drinking today? Jesus said that He gives the water of life. Is that what you have been drinking from? He offers that pure, life-giving water that refreshes, quenches and brings eternal life. Or are you drinking from bitter waters – poisoned waters that are killing you? “Come!” Revelation 22:17 says, “Whoever is thirsty let him come; and whoever wishes let him take the free gift of the water of life.”
Have you met Wormwood, the angel of bitterness? Have you ever heard an eagle preach? Have you ever come face to face with one of the demon-locusts? Or their king, whose name is Abaddon? Have you ever beheld an army of 200 million?
If not, then welcome to the Trumpet judgments. These are the new characters you will be introduced to in chapters 8 and 9. The interlude in chapter 7 is over. We are now back to our regularly scheduled programming. Chapter 6 left us with the 6th seal, chapter 7 took us to a different scene, and now chapter 8 brings us back to the seals – the 7th and final seal. Although it is the 7th seal, it is not the end of God’s judgments. With the 7th seal a new series of judgments are initiated: the 7 trumpets. The 7 trumpet judgments are telescopically contained within the 7th seal, so, really, the 7 trumpets are the contents of the 7th seal.
Intriguingly, when the 7th seal is broken there is silence in heaven for half an hour. The first 4 seals were immediately followed by the sound of thundering hooves as angelic riders on horses were summonsed. The fifth seal was immediately followed by the sound of martyred souls crying out to God under the altar to bring judgment on the earth. The sixth seal brought the sound of mankind shrieking in terror that the mountains and rocks would fall on them to hide them from the wrath of God and the Lamb.
Now, the 7th seal is broken, and nothing. Not a sound is heard in all of heaven. No one does anything or says anything for a full half an hour. This silence is swollen with suspense. This is just me speculating here, but, I think this silence is the sound of control. Heaven is in control. It is not in disarray, it is not in chaos, it is not in upheaval. It is in perfect control by a perfectly sovereign God. But, silence can be a way of seizing attention too….. (be silent for 10 seconds). This heavenly hush is transitioning us into the subsequent trumpets that are on their way.
When the silence was over we read that there are 7 angels who are given 7 trumpets. These angels it says are the seven angels who stand before God. The further we go into Revelation the more we realize how surrounded God is by such a diverse holy company. He has arrayed Himself with 4 Living Creatures, the 24 elders, and then from there groupings of seven: 7 lamps (4:5), the 7 spirits of God (1:4) and now there are 7 angels. Psalm 89:5-8 says:
The heavans praise your wonders, O LORD,
Your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD?
Who is like the LORD above among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
He is more awesome than all who surround him.
O LORD Almighty, who is like you?
These 7 angels, part of this most holy company, take their trumpets. Feeling in their hands the enormous power handed over to them they ready themselves to blow their instruments of Judgment.
But before they can do their thing a ritual must occur. A ritual at the golden altar, probably the same altar from the 5th seal. At this altar we see there is an angel priest ministering his duties. His role is very much like that of the human priests at the earthly altar in ancient Israel. The angel priest does two things: first he takes the prayers of the saints and incense and offers them on the golden altar before the throne of God. Then, he takes the emptied censor and fills it with fire from the altar. Taking that fire he hurls it towards the earth and thunder, lightning and an earthquake result. It may be silent in heaven, but, it is noisy on earth.
Now, we may have an application here: God answers prayer. You see, we saw this altar in chapter 6 when the 5th seal was broken. The souls of the martyred saints were collected beneath the altar. That growing population of martyred saints was in a sense a prayer meeting. They kept praying imprecatory prayers – prayers to God begging Him to bring His judgment on the earth. Now here in the trumpet judgments we are going to see God answer those prayers. With this priestly ritual, their prayers are collected by the angel and he formally offers them to God because now is the time He is going to answer those prayers.
Trumpet #1: Burning
The first angel steps forward and blows his trumpet and we see Burning occurs. Read verse 7.
God is going to send a storm of hail, fire and blood. There is no reason not to take this literally. Sodom and Gomorrah were literally burned to the ground by fiery sulfur from heaven (Gen. 19:23-28). The 10 plagues God brought on Egypt were real. Actually according to Exodus 9:23-24 the seventh plague sounded similar to what God will do at the 1st Trumpet [Read].
The burning of the whole earth and heavens in the future will be real. Here, during the 1st Trumpet judgment, ⅓ of the earth’s vegetation will be burned. Imagine how this will reduce an already short food supply. Gardens, fields, farms, trees, vegetables, fruits are all going to burn up and send already panicked people into despair.
Trumpet #2: Blood
The second angel steps forward and blows his trumpet and next we see blood. Lots of it. Read veres 8-9.
A massive object, likened to a blazing mountain, is going to come careening into earth’s atmosphere. I like how it says that its “thrown” down to earth. Someone in heaven is assigned to hurling this thing down to the earth. Could it be a meteorite or a comet? Who knows. But when it hits its target in the sea it is going to be devastating. A third of the sea will be turned into blood. Jesus turned water into wine, but, in this judgment water will turn into blood. Between the impact of this massive, flame-engulfed object and the subsequent blood a third of the sea creatures will be killed and a third of the ships will be destroyed. It can’t get any worse. Or can it?
Application: This blood is horrifying, but, there is another blood that is precious. The blood of Jesus Christ, which was spilled for you. He gave His life on the cross for your sins, spilling His own blood to spare you, to give you eternal life. Ah! The world has despised His blood, and, now blood will reign down on it.
Trumpet #3: Bitter
So trumpet #1 resulted in widespread burning of earth’s vegetation. Trumpet #2 resulted in much of the sea turning into blood. Next, the third angel steps forward and blows his trumpet. Read verses 10 and 11.
Out of the sky another object, another object on fire came speeding towards the earth. A star it says. A star named Wormwood. Wormwood in the Greek means “bitter”, literally its the word absinthos, referring to the deadly liquor ingredient absinthe (Morris, pg 149). So, Wormwood won’t simply change the taste of the water, it will change the water to a new deadly chemical structure. A full one-third of the world’s fresh-water supply is going to become a bitter and deadly drink.
Now, rather than some comet, asteroid or meteor, I believe that this star is actually an angel. For one thing, this star has a name. The mountain-looking object didn’t have a name. Persons have names. This star is an angelic person whose name is Wormwood. Actually, throughout Scripture angels are referred to as stars. Look at the next chapter, 9:1-2a. This star is given a key and this star is referred to as “he” and this star goes and performs the act of unlocking the shaft to the Abyss. But this isn’t the first time in the Bible angels are referred to as stars. In Isaiah 14:12-14 Satan, an angel, is called “morning star”. In Job 38:7 the morning stars – the angels – sang when God created the earth.
Now this star, this angel named Wormwood, when he comes down will be the cause of many more deaths when people drink the water he has poisoned.
Question: What are you drinking today? Jesus said that He gives the water of life. Is that what you have been drinking from? He brings that pure, life-giving water that refreshes, quenches and brings eternal life. Or are you drinking from bitter waters – poisoned waters that are killing you? “Come!” Revelation 22:17 says, “Whoever is thirsty let him come; and whoever wishes let him take the free gift of the water of life.”
Trumpet #4: Blackout
The fourth angel steps forward and blows his trumpet, bringing blackout. Read verse 12.
It won’t be a total blackout, but, it will be a 33% blackout. It’s interesting that the light will be affected both in duration and quantity. A third of the sun, stars, and moon will become dark, reducing the quantity of light given off by these celestial bodies. But their duration will be reduced too as a third of the day will go without light and a third of the night too. The light will be dimmer, and whatever does shine will not shine as long.
This judgment parallels the moral condition of the world at that time: dark. Over and over Scripture tells us that this world is dark, without the light of God, the light of truth and holiness. And over and over we are told that only through Jesus Christ may anyone find that light. He is the light of the world (John 8:12). He is the true light that gives light to every man (John 1:9). He is the light that shines in the darkness that the darkness has not understood/overcome (John 1:5).
Is your life dark today? Do you grope about in the darkness, hoping to touch something that is real? Something to give you hope, meaning and life? Then you must come and grab hold of Jesus Christ. You have to turn your eyes to the one true light. When He shines His light on you never again will you be in the darkness. Come out of the dark now, today!
A strange thing now occurs: an eagle is sent to fly over the earth and pronounce the last 3 trumpets. Now, I must say that in the book of revelation there is no such thing as strange! It is all beyond our everyday experience here and now. Nonetheless, the last 3 trumpets are going to be terrible. They are unique from the first 4 trumpets in their destruction, and, thus, they are called the 3 woes.