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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Revelation 8

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-13

The Seven Trumpets

Revelation 8:1-13

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

1. The seventh seal. The sixth seal was opened in the closing statements of Revelation 6:1-17 . The seventh chapter, which was studied in our last two chapters, was a parenthesis. We now approach the opening of the seventh seal. The opening of this seal led to a "silence in Heaven about the space of half an hour." We judge by this that the seventh seal was filled with momentous judgments.

There is no more said, however, of the seventh seal, because that part of its message which God wanted us to know is told under the vision of the seventh trumpet and the seven vials.

This message, therefore, concerns the sounding of the seven trumpets, which immediately follow the statement of the seventh seal. The Spirit, as we understand His message, has, in the seven seals, carried us through the whole period of the Tribulation. He now goes back, and covers, under the trumpets, the same period of time. There is this dual vision of events covering more or less the same period of time, because there is a distinction in the happenings of that hour.

The seals and the trumpets are as if the Spirit took us to see one side of the Temple, and afterwards led us to see another side of the same Temple. We could not, with our eyes, see both sides of the same building at once.

2. The seven trumpets. These reveal the sevenfold judgments of God which are determined against the rule of the beast and his fellows.

The antichrist will not have smooth sailing as he wreaks out his vengeance against the saints of the Most High, and as he endeavors to set himself against the Lord and His Christ. God will vex him. He that sitteth in the Heavens will laugh at the maneuvers of the man of sin; He will hold him in derision. No hand lifted against the Lord can prosper. None can prevail against Him.

As we think of this supreme effort of Satan and the antichrist and false prophet, together with Satan-driven men, against God and against His people we cannot but speak the word of warning spoken by David, the Prophet: "Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little" (Psalms 2:10-12 ).

God is indeed gracious. He is slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. However, He will not restrain His anger forever. Sin must be judged and punished. The angel of God's wrath may fly upon one wing; he may move slowly, but he still moves, Judgment must ultimately fall upon the ungodly.

3. The seven trumpets remind us that the Lord has always visited judgments upon the ungodly.

There are some who bemoan the fact that a God of grace and love will execute judgment, on so great a scale, as is set forth in this chapter.

We have only to remind our readers that God has always visited wrath, against the disobedient and the ungodly. Adam was driven from the Garden of Eden because of his sin. Cain was sent out a vagabond upon the face of the earth, because of his sin. The flood came upon a world of ungodly, because of their sin. The tower of Babel fell because of the sins of the people. The city of Nineveh was destroyed because the cry of its iniquity had reached the ears of God in Heaven. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire because the cup of their iniquity was full.

We might go on and on. God has always been a God of justice, and of judgment. Shall the" wicked of today expect, therefore, to escape? How shall we think to evade the just judgments of God when we remember that God spared not His own Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all? If God spared not Christ, when He was made a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins; will He spare us if we reject that substitutionary work, and remain in our sins?

I. THE SOUNDING OF THE FIRST TRUMPET (Revelation 8:2-7 )

1. The golden censer. Before we enter into the vision of the first trumpet, we find another angel distinct from the seven "trumpet angels" standing at the altar. He has in his hand a golden censer, and he is given much incense that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which was before the throne.

The centuries have sent many prayers to God from the lips of saints who were being persecuted for the Truth's sake. Their prayers had come up before God, but the hour in which God should judge their adversaries had not yet come. With these prayers now before the Almighty, the angel takes the censer, and, filling it with fire from off the altar, casts it upon the earth. The result was that there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

2. The first trumpet sounds. The day of the wrath of the Lamb had come. The first angel prepared to sound, and when he sounded there followed hail, and fire, mingled with blood. The third part of the trees were burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

We have seen the results of hail and of fire many times in our experiences. Where is he who has not seen, the ravages of some localized hailstorm? Here, however, is a hailstorm that will sweep away one-third of earth's trees, and all of its grass.

There is a Scripture which says that he that kills with the sword, by the sword shall he be killed. Even, therefore, as sinners have meted out to others, must they receive of the hand of God.

Hail and fire mingled with blood is enough to make any one's blood run cold; yet, such is the first judgment that shall fall, as the first angel sounds his trumpet.

II. THE SOUNDING OF THE SECOND TRUMPET (Revelation 8:8 )

It is marvelous how much meaning can be inclosed in one short verse of Scripture. What agonies, what bitter woes are wrapped up in the words, "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."

The judgments are not universal but partial. They place the curse of God upon a "third part" of things.

The deeper meaning of all of these sayings we may not fathom. It is not hard for us, however, to accept this as a literal judgment. In the days of Pharaoh the waters of Egypt became blood. Read Exodus 7:17-21 .

No one will doubt that the curse in Pharaoh's day was literal. Then, why doubt that the curse prophesied in Revelation is literal?

The thing cast into the sea is stated in figurative language, because we read, "As it were a great mountain burning with fire." The word about the blood is not in figura-live language. It reads, "A third part of the sea became blood."

Can any one estimate the quantity of blood that flowed during the world war, when millions of men were slain? We have heard much of how our boys, by their blood, nurtured the poppies on the fields of Flanders.

Christ shed His Blood for us, the Just for the unjust. Now those who have spurned the Blood of Christ, will behold, in judgment, a sea turned to blood.

We read of blood to the horses' bits. We read of blood staining all of the garments of our Lord, as He comes in His Second Advent treading the wine press of His wrath. It behooves us all to know the Blood of the Cross, and its saving and sheltering power, lest we come to know the "blood" of God's wrath, when His judgments are on the earth.

III. THE SOUNDING OF THE THIRD AND FOURTH TRUMPETS (Revelation 8:10-13 )

1. The third trumpet wormwood. We have all read of the waters of Marah. The Children of Israel had gone three days into the wilderness, and they found no water. Then they came to Marah, but they could not drink the waters, for they were bitter. Here in Revelation, as the third trumpet sounds, we discover that a third part of the rivers became bitter; for a great star fell from Heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the fountain of waters. The result was that the waters became wormwood, and men could not drink of them because they were bitter.

As Christ hung upon the Cross they gave Him vinegar and gall to drink. Thus, will He give unto the earth-peoples, the waters of bitterness. Many men will die under the curse of the third trumpet.

2. The fourth trumpet darkness. The Lord Jesus Christ, through Peter, voiced the message of the Prophets when, in speaking of the signs of His Corning, He said, "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come."

In this trumpet, the third part of the sun is smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so, as the third part of them is darkened. The day shines not for a third part, and the night likewise.

Sin always brings darkness darkness of soul; darkness of mind. Here it brings a partial physical darkness. Those who reject the light of life will be cast into outer darkness, where will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. To the ungodly, there is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

IV. THE SOUNDING OF THE FIFTH TRUMPET (Revelation 9:1-5 )

Before the fifth angel sounded there was heard the yoke of an angel who was flying in the midst of Heaven, saying, "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!"

With the warning given, the fifth angel sounded his trumpet and a star fell from Heaven unto the earth. This was not a literal star, for we read, "And to him was given the key of the bottomless pit." This star then is an angel, who conies down to earth to open the bottomless pit. The. result was that demon locusts were turned loose upon the earth. They were allowed five months to torment the peoples of the earth. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. During their days men will seek for death and find it not.

The shape of these "locusts" was like unto horses prepared unto battle. On their heads seemed to be crowns like gold. Their faces were as the faces of men. Their hair as the hair of women. Their teeth as the teeth of lions. They wore, as it were, breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots and many horses rushing to war. These locusts had a king over them, whose name was Abaddon, that is to say, a destroyer.

It may be difficult for us to grasp the meaning of all these judgments, which shall befall men. We may endeavor to liken these locusts to those great armies of locusts which have, at times, swept our Western plains, but the comparison is faulty. Here is something that forebodes a greater ill. These locusts do not attack the grass of the earth, nor any green thing. Their attack is upon those men who have not the sea! of God upon their foreheads.

It is when God's judgments are upon the earth that the peoples learn to know righteousness. We must remember that during the time of the sounding of the trumpet, Satan and the antichrist and the false prophet will be sweeping the world with their denials of God and of Christ. It is then that the Lord will arise and terribly shake the earth. It is then that the judgments of God will fall, not merely upon some local part of our globe, but upon the whole earth.

V. THE SOUNDING OF THE SIXTH TRUMPET (Revelation 9:13-21 )

We have now the second of the three woes, which were announced by an angel. "One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter." The sixth trumpet, the second woe, is described as the loosing of four angels, which were bound in the great river Euphrates. They have power to slay a third part of men, and they continue until their judgment is accomplished. The four angels which were loosed head an army of two hundred thousand thousand horsemen. We may call these Hell's Demon Cavalry.

The horses of this vision, and their horsemen are thus described: "Having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone." By these was the third part of men killed, by fire, by smoke, and by brimstone. The power of the horses was in their mouth, and in their tails. Here is the description of their tails: "Their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt."

One would imagine that under this terrific judgment, men would have repented, yet, they repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and wood. Neither did they repent of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

Do we wonder that God gave them over to judgments? Have we not read that the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men? If men worship and serve the creature more than the Creator; if men change the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things, God will surely give them up to judgments, for such men are worthy of death.

AN ILLUSTRATION

Rev. "F. C. Spurr, of Birmingham, declared that throughout Europe, there is a reign of fear. In spite of the Kellogg Pact, the world is spending £200,000,000 per year more in armaments than in 1913.

Certainly the world is in a troubled, desperate state. We have reached the time of "distress of nations, with perplexity," foretold by our Saviour. In that time, He declared, "men's hearts (would be) failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth." "And then," He continued, "shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:25-28 ).

We are, then, living in the days just preceding the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. What a solemn time is this! With what earnestness, then, should we seek to obey the admonition that comes from the Saviour's lips: "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:34-36 ).

 


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Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Revelation 8:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/revelation-8.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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