Things to Come, Lesson 18, The Great Tribulation, Part 6, Revelation 8
We have witnessed by Godís word the opening of six of seven seals.
The seals kept truth from men until God was ready to reveal to John of things to come.
With the opening of the six seals we have seen the four horses of the Apocalypse, the martyred souls under the altar crying for vengeance, and Godís wrath poured out.
It is in the form of earthquakes, the darkening of both the sun and moon, with a cascading to earth of the stars of heaven.
All of the opening of the first six seals took place in chapter 6, within 17 verses.
Chapter seven told of Godís evangelical work throughout the world during the 7 year period of the Tribulation for even during this tribulation age God will have a witness.
Chapter 8 begins with the opening of the seventh and final seal and the description of what is to come as a result of this opening and this revelation takes place all the way through Chapter 11.
It is filled with great detail which sets it apart from the first six seal openings which it seems in part were brief summaries of what is greatly detailed by the opening of the seventh seal.
The seventh seal opening is filled with sub-sections which are announced by seven trumpets with the fifth, sixth and seventh trumpets describing one of three woes each.
We learned in chapter 7 that the four angels who stood on the four corners of the earth were told not to hurt the earth, the sea nor any tree until the 144,000 Jewish evangelists were sealed by God in their foreheads.
This sealing was done in order for them to perform the mission of God which is to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to all nations, kindredís and tongues.
God having accomplished this sealing task, releases the angels to hurt the earth and therefore we move into chapter 8 for the opening of the seventh seal where we are given to see the vast expanse of the hurting of the earth.
The 7th seal is divided into seven sub-sections, each introduced by a Trumpet blast.
We are not given 7 seals and then 7 trumpets for the 7 trumpets are within the seventh seal and are used to announce a great event which is revealed by the opening of the seventh seal.
Read Revelation 8:1,2, And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. 2And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
God has been silent since the completion of the New Testament almost two thousand years ago.
He has spoken all He needs to speak.
From this silence we can conclude that God has given us all we need to know.
And here with the opening of the seventh seal a heaven in silence is revealed.
God commands all of heaven to keep silent for the space of about one half hour.
Great events are about to take place and each will be announced by the blast of a trumpet.
But before the first trumpet of the seventh seal is sounded God is given a sweet smelling savor of the prayers of the saints.
Remember the martyred saints under the altar which were revealed by the opening of the fifth seal, saying How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
The prayers of the martyred saints have now been brought to God and God is about to answer their prayers.
It is interesting to see how the prayers of the saints have been collected and kept until this time and are now presented to God with incense and to our God it is a sweet smelling savor.
Revelation 8:3-6, And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angelís hand. 5And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
God announces his answer by His angel casting to the earth the very censer which assisted the prayers of the saints to come to God.
6And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
Revelation 8:7, The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
The hindrance not to hurt the earth has been lifted for at the sounding of the first trumpet of the seventh seal much of the earth is devastated.
At this Trumpet, great continents where millions of people live will be devastated by hail and fire mingled with blood.
The prophet Joel spoke of this in Joel 2:30,31, And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
God gave us a taste of His power in ancient times in Sodom and Egypt.
God rained hail and fire on mankind because of their grievous sins and stubborn refusal to acknowledge His authority.
The same thing on a much wider scale will happen at the 1st Trumpet.
We are also told that one third of the world's forests and all the green grass will be burnt up.
Again we are given a view of famine in vast parts of the earth for grass, in its forms of wheat, rice, and barley, is the greatest of food products this world produces.
This 1st Trumpet ushers in the terrible Time of Trouble announced by Michael in Daniel 12.
It will be a time of international turmoil and terror unparalleled in the history of humanity.
Revelation 8:8,9, And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
The first trumpet of the seventh seal hurt the land, the second trumpet will hurt the sea.
Great changes will occur on the earth because of this great mountain, which will cause a third part of the sea to be deadened.
Is this sea the Mediterranean Sea? I donít know.
Is this burning mountain a great mountain that erupts and casts itself into the sea? Could be.
Most of the commerce of the earth at some time travels the sea.
The sea is alive with life that supports the life of man and one third of the creatures in the sea will die, and in this portion of the sea that is affected by this great object a third part of the ships carrying commerce and people will be destroyed.
There will be a multitude of connecting ramifications to this event for world wide weather conditions will be affected.
It will affect rain water, fresh air and the movement of oil from the oil producing nations.
The oceans of the world regulate the weather and help purify the air we breathe.
So the death of even one sea is a catastrophe of unimaginable magnitude.
This act of God announced by the second trumpet of the seventh seal will disrupt the weather, the agricultural output, the economy and the physical welfare of those upon the earth
Then God directs the third trumpet to blast it message to the earth.
Revelation 8:10,11, And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; 11And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
Like the 1st and 2nd Trumpets before it, the 3rd Trumpet announces untold damage and distress on earth.
This is a great star burning as it were a lamp.
This appears to be a meteor entering the atmosphere bringing with it something that will make rivers and fountains of waters polluted and poisonous causing many deaths.
Again one third is emphasized.
One third of the trees are already gone, one third of the sea and one third of the creatures of the sea and one third of the ships have been affected.
And now because of the great star, one third of the rivers and fountains of water are now polluted and many people die as a result.
The star is called wormwood, which means bitterness.
Wormwood is a perennial herb, extremely bitter, used in the making of absinthe, which is a French liquorí.
How the star caused bitterness in the rivers and the fountains of waters is not understood but it causes great hurt to fresh water sources.
Revelation 8:12, And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
Jesus spoke of this day in Luke 21:25,26, And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26Menís hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
The punishment revealed in opening this seventh seal to this point has been confined to earth but now we see heavenly changes.
The sun, moon, and stars are now commanded to shine with greatly diminished light.
How God accomplishes this almost unimaginable catastrophe is not explained, but it is obvious that if this trumpet is understood in a literal sense, then physical light as we know it will be greatly reduced on earth.
This could be the result of enormous amounts of dust, ash and smoke being produced by the catastrophes mentioned prior but it will have a great effect upon living and growing things.
Again the third part is mentioned.
This fourth trumpet sets the stage for a dark age of light.
It is an age of great Satanic activity on earth for Satan and one third of the angels will be cast to earth.
I donít know if this one third has any connection with the frequent uses of one third we have seen in our study.
But light is being withdrawn from the earth for remember Jesus said, Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Yes, He will to a certain extent find faith for He will have witnesses going forth to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, however we know that many will be martyred and as this takes place light will dim on the earth.
But God will provide divine protection to these sealed ones until He chooses to take them home.
In the midst of these judgments and calamities many things will take place on the earth which will provide hope to the faithful.
A perfect example of the protection afforded the 144,000 sealed believers in the Time of Trouble is given in Revelation chapter 9, which outlines the event of the 5th Trumpet.
In verse 4 we note with great hope that at that time all sealed believers will be supernaturally protected from torture and abuse.
Protection during the Great Tribulation, will be reserved for those who obey God and bear Godís Seal.
Of all mankind, they alone will be kept from Satan at the time of the end, and will walk unscathed through the fiery trials just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did in Babylon.
It is interesting to note that as we study end times we can find in the scriptures seed plots on a local scale that will come to fruition on a world wide scale.
Those deliveranceís of His people in the past can be looked upon as examples of what will take place on a world wide basis in end times to come.
Now the last three trumpets, 5, 6 and 7, of the seventh seal are connected in the degree of fear they release that they are denoted by classifying them as Woes.
These trumpet announcements are so fearful they are given a prelude announcement of their own where they are warned to those who inhabit the earth as Woeís which is a primary exclamation of great grief.
Revelation 8:13, And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
So three woes are about to come to the earth each announced by the trumpet sound.
John tells us that he beheld and he heard.
No doubt his eyes and ears were riveted to the angel and the voice of the angel who is flying though the middle part of heaven which in this case I believe to be the firmament which we know as the sky above us.
The warning of the three woes is given to the inhabiters of the earth.
The triple cry of Woe, woe, woe, announces the most horrible judgments ever announced, judgments far beyond the imaginations of men.
Notice to whom these woes are aimed.
To the inhabiters of the earth.
Abraham looked for a city whose builder and maker was God.
Abraham was a pilgrim and found no home on the earth for he looked for a better place.
These who are the recipients of Godís woes, look not for a better place for they look not through the eyes of Abraham.
These are those who have settled and invested their all on the earth.
These are those who refuse to hear the solemn warnings from Heaven, and in spite of the announcements of judgment they cling to this earth as their home and their dwelling place, as if they would abide here forever.
This of course is the prevailing way of life we find on the earth today and will find in the Day of the Lord.
Revelation 9:1-6, And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 3And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. 5And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. 6And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
Indeed this is a call for woe to come upon the earth.
This is a call whereby great grief will result.
Indeed this is a Woe for all the earth for we are given a picture of absolute terror when for five months God directed and God equipped locusts will roam the earth hurting all those on the earth who have not the seal of God in their foreheads.