This week, continuing the series on Revelation, David focused on chapters 8 and 9, reading Revelation 8:1-5, 9:20,21. He began by underlining two points:
- The 7th seal and the blowing of the trumpets reveal a frightening and disturbing scenario. The reality of judgement and justice is central to these passages.
- Though judgement and justice are found throughout the Bible, here we have a different view. God takes evil and sin seriously and justice will be served but at this point in Revelation the judgements are to be viewed as good news for those who are willing to repent.
The opening of seals 1-6 posed the question: ‘Who can stand?’ The answer (see last week’s Deep Dive) is those who are sealed by God and saved by Jesus. The picture painted of the huge multitude before the throne of God contrasted with the judgements to come emphasises the need to be right with God.
With the opening of the 7th seal there followed silence in heaven for half an hour (8:1). Why? It is clearly significant, with a sense of everyone holding their breath. During the silence 7 angels are given trumpets but do not blow them. Another angel appears before the altar with a golden censer. Smoke from the censer is added to the prayers of all the saints which rise before the throne of God.
Points to note:
- All Christians are saints because we are in Christ.
- The prayers rising to God and smelling sweet give a fresh perspective and encouragement to pray.
- In chapter 6, the cry of the martyrs for justice was ‘How long?’ and the answer was ‘Wait’.
- Chapters 8-11 show that judgement is being worked out now on the stage of history.
The angel with the burning censer throws it on the earth, breaking the silence (8:5). Thunder blasts, lightning, spasms in the earth all send out a warning: ‘Repent!’
Before the blowing of the trumpets, it is important to note that the judgement isn’t total or final. This is shown by fractions and time scales:
- The judgements affect 1/3 of earth, sea, rivers, water, light.
- The time span for the torment of the locusts is limited to 5 months.
- The point is NOT TOTAL JUDGEMENT. 1/3 is a symbol of mercy.
Note that with seal 4 (6:8) the fraction was ¼. The fractions are getting bigger, indicating that judgement is intensifying, but still there is mercy and time to repent.
Blowing the trumpets
Throughout the Bible the blowing of trumpets represented different announcements but mostly trumpets were sounded to warn people.
Who is being warned?
- Those who dwell on the earth – expression that means unbelievers.
- Those who don’t have the seal of God on their foreheads (9:4)
Trumpets 1-4 are sounded in quick succession:
T.1 – Hail and fire mixed with blood thrown down – 1/3 of earth and vegetation burnt.
T.2 – A burning mountain into the sea – 1/3 sea and creatures affected.
T.3 – A great star falls from heaven – 1/3 rivers and springs affected.
T.4 – 1/3 sun, moon, stars darkened.
Creation ‘groans’ and even today we see climate change causing extreme conditions.
T.5 – Demonic forces are let loose with a very disturbing description. Another star, probably Satan, falls from heaven and is given the key to the abyss. (Note ‘given’ – God allows it.)
The leader of the demonic forces is Abaddon, meaning destruction and destroyer. His aim is to kill, steal, destroy but at this point he is not given the power to kill but can torment for a limited time.
T.6 – 4 angels are released from the Euphrates with an army of 200,000,000. They kill 1/3 of mankind. The picture painted is inconceivable, horrifying, revolting – but so is judgement.
The trumpets are blown to get our attention, to warn and to call to repent. However, people choose to ignore the warnings that final judgement is coming and still live for anything and everything that is not God (9:20-21).
The offer of mercy is refused.
- Divine judgement is a necessary but bitter reality.
- The core issue is justice.
- God the One and Only always does what is right.
- The warning is not aimed at those who are sealed and belong to God, but how should we react?
- As we view those who are not believers we should be driven to pray, intercede, plead for mercy, take the opportunities provided to warn.
- ALL WITH GREATER URGENCY!