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Bible Commentaries

Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 8

Verses 1-4

THE Lion of the tribe of Judah now opens the seventh seal, which reveals the contents of the volume of the book. So now we enter upon the wonderful revelations of the book itself. So momentous are the contents of the book that seven trumpet-bearing angels are now called out to proclaim them to the world.

3, 4. Here is another specification of the significant fact that the terrible retributive judgments executed against a wicked world and fallen Church actually take place in answer to the prayers of martyrs and saints.

Verse 5

5. Thunders, voices, and earthquakes all vividly symbolize the mighty agencies employed by Omnipotent Jehovah in the execution of these terrible castigatory judgments.

Verse 7

7. The seven trumpet bearing angels are now ready on the stage of the celestial theater, prepared to sound. Pursuant to the sounding of the first trumpet, hail and fire, mingled with blood, are cast upon the earth, and terrible destruction follows.

Verse 8

8. When the second angel sounds his trumpet, a great mountain, flaming with fire, is cast into the sea. Appalling are the consequences.

Verse 10

10. When the third sounds his trumpet, a flaming star, called “ wormwood,” falls on the rivers and fountains of water.

Verse 12

12. When the fourth angel sounds, the calamity reaches the sun, moon, and stars.

These diversified descriptions delineate the progressive character of the catastrophes destined to come upon the earth, destroying a third of the property and people, which is certainly a very large proportion. We see the calamity begins with the county and spreads out indiscriminately, infecting the social, political, and religious atmosphere. In all these prophecies, “sea” means the people. When tranquil, it emblematizes the people flourishing in prosperity and peace. When racked with storms and swept by cyclones, it typifies the people dashing hither and thither in bloody revolution The destruction of the ships symbolizes great and fearful havoc among the people. The rivers and fountains of water emblematize the subordinate departments of the government, while the sun represents the king, the moon the queen, and the stars the provincial governors. In the proclamation of the third trumpet, the star called “wormwood” falls on the earth, embitters and poisons the waters, and kills multitudes of people. The Greek word for wormwood is absinthe. It is well known in chemistry that absinthe is the poisonous element in intoxicants. Hence, this prophecy reveals Satan’s invention of whisky, which took place in the Dark Ages, and has flooded the world with crime and misery, and populated hell with countless millions.

The Roman Empire was the upholder of civil government. With her fall ancient civilization passed away, and a period of darkness in history, significantly denominated the Dark Ages, came on, flooding the world with anarchy, bloodshed, and every species of crime, while ignorance and superstition everywhere threw a dismal nightmare, obliterating every vestige of ancient civilization. During this awful period of desolation, robbery, murder, rapine, debauchery, and lawlessness, not one man in a thousand could read or write. This was Satan’s millennium, during which time he sat upon the throne of the world, and reigned without a rival.

The four first trumpets proclaim the sad inauguration of Satan’s millennium in progressive stages. Pursuant to the first trumpet, the infection comes upon the whole earth, contaminating the atmosphere of every nation annunciated by the second trumpet. The malady reaches the people, infecting all classes of society with an incorrigible revolutionary spirit, disrupting all the foundations of the social fabric. At the time the third angel sounds his trumpet, the infection has interpenetrated all the subordinate departments of national governments, so the proconsuls, satraps, and deputies can no longer enforce their authority. The fourth trumpet is the general signal for the toppling of thrones and the falling of kingdoms, till the world is left without a government competent to protect its citizens. Meanwhile, marauding bands of robbers and murderers take possession, and life and liberty are held only by the stern arbitrament of the sword.

The four first trumpets thus proclaim the progressive disintegration of all human governments, till they literally topple and fall; and the devil’s millennium, fully inaugurated, inundates the world in an ocean of anarchy, heresy, bloodshed, and every species of crime. Meanwhile, universal political corruption and dilapidation flood all nations. A corresponding infection everywhere settles down on the visible Church, transforming it from apostolic simplicity and purity first into the proud, worldly ecclesiasticism of the Constantinian Age, and then into the appalling corruptions, shocking barbarities, bloody persecutions, and atrocious criminality of the diabolical papacy, outraging Satan himself with the horrific Inquisition. When I was in St. Peter’s Church at Rome, I saw the bronze statue of St. Dominic, cruel horror depicted on his grim visage, and the infuriated dog standing by, with a firebrand in his mouth. This is the historic symbol of the Inquisition, of which St. Dominic was the author. And you see how the Catholic Church has canonized him as a paragon saint!

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Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 8". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".