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Bible Study: The Book of the Revelation – LESSON 7

Calvary Bible Church Bible Study

The Book of the Revelation

 

LESSON 7:

Following the “commercial” (Parenthetical Passage) of chapter 7, we now return to the normal flow of the action, and pick up with the seventh seal judgment.

 

The Seventh Seal. 8:1–2.

vrs     1–2              At the opening of the seventh seal, an ominous silence pervades all nature, which is indicative of the solemnity of the things that are about to take place. It is the calm before the storm. The space of half an hour is not a reckoning according to a heavenly chronometer, but it does indicate a very brief period.  To give you an indication of the awesomeness of this moment, realize that there has NEVER been total silence in Heaven since the angels were created to praise God!  For the thousands and millions of angels to be TOTALLY SILENT for even a short time indicates that what they see when the seventh seal is opened is absolutely overwhelming.  The phrase, “the seven angels which stand before God”, refers to what is known in Jewish literature as “the angels of the presence”, the angels mentioned Biblically in Luke 1:19, and Ezekiel 9:2.  These  seven angels are entrusted with the service of blowing the seven trumpets (SHOFARS: Ram’s horn trumpets) of judgment (Zecheriah 9:14-16).  The blowing of the seven SHOFARS is what makes up the fulfillment of the seventh seal.

 

The Angel with a Golden Censer. 8:3–5.

vrs     3–5              This angel is entirely separate from the seven angels mentioned in verse 2, not so much because of added description, but by the very nature of the work involved.   Notice that there is only 1 altar in the heavenly Temple, since no brazen altar for the sacrifice of animals is there (the One, Perfect Sacrifice having been made once, for all).  The altar referenced here is the golden altar of incense, with the incense being composed of the prayers of the saints (see Acts 10:4 and Revelation 5:8).   The angel is invoking the judgments of God on the oppressors of the remnant of God’s People.   Fire, voices, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake all constitute a formula for catastrophe of universal proportions.

 

The First Trumpet Sounded. 8:6–7.

vrs     6–7              Once the mediating angel has performed His work, the seven angels ready themselves for their important task.  The trumpet judgments remind us of the plagues of Egypt in Exodus, but the present judgments are much more severe and universal.  The trumpet judgments, like the seals, are divided into two groups of four and three, indicating the number of the world, and the number of the Trinity. The last three trumpet judgments have the added designation of woe judgments because of their severity.  As symbols, hail speaks of sudden judgment from God (Isaiah 28:2, 17); fire, of God’s wrath (Deuteronomy 32:22 and numerous other times); and blood, of death (Ezekiel 14:19).  “Cast upon the earth.”  The casting of them (they did not just fall) to the earth indicates omnipotent power.   The scope of the ecological disaster seen here is immense.  When 1/3 of the world’s trees (which produce oxygen) burn up, as well as ALL of the “grass” (the literal word is “herbage”, indicating both wild and cultivated crops); the impact on air-quality, weather, food supplies (not only grain and vegetables, but the domesticated animals that EAT the grain as well), economies, and so on is beyond calculation.

 

Second Trumpet Sounded. 8:8–9.

vrs     8–9              With the sounding of the second trumpet, something like a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea.  What is this “mountain”?  Literal interpretations range from an asteroid/meteor/comet, to a volcanic catastrophe of some sort.  Whatever it is, it has the following after-effects:

A)   1/3 of the sea “becomes blood”, which could indicate Red Tide or

magma laden water.

B)   1/3 of sea life dies.  Imagine what this does to health as they

decay, and what it does to the fishing industry.

C)  1/3 of shipping is destroyed.  Depending on which ocean is directly

affected (Atlantic or Pacific, Indian, Mediterranean, etc.) this could

involve oil tankers, cargo vessels, cruise liners, etc.  What will this

do to an already hurting economy and food supply?

 

Third Trumpet Sounded. 8:10–11.

vrs     10–11                   Once again, it appears that an object of some sort falls from the sky, doing tremendous damage; this time to the FRESH water supply (as opposed to the oceans in the previous trumpet).  What is this object?  Once again, literal interpretations vary.  Because the word “Wormwood” (Greek “apsinthos”, from which we derive “absinthe”, a bitter substance that in sufficient quantities causes convulsions and death, compare to Jeremiah 9:15 and 23:15), is translated in Russian as “Chernobyl”, reminding us of the Russian nuclear site that released toxic radiation into the area; some literalist commentators believe that the “star” could be a nuclear missile that releases a large amount of “dirty” (radioactive) fallout, or a nuclear reactor that releases radioactive material into the water (such as Fukashima in Japan), contaminating the water sources down-wind.  Others believe that it is a literal “star” (meteor or comet).  In either case, 1/3 of the fresh water supply is contaminated, causing tremendous hardship and death.  Once again, the effect of agriculture, livestock, and food supplies is devastating, as well as the effect upon urban centers in the affected area.  Can you imagine Los Angeles with no potable water for several days?

 

Fourth Trumpet Sounded. 8:12.

vrs     12                When earth, sea, ships, rivers, and springs of waters have been touched, there are other areas that have not been involved.  “Sun … moon … stars … the third part of them was darkened.”  This reference is to the heavenly bodies. Notice once again the specific enumeration of one third. It is as though in infinite patience God touches just a part in order to bring it to repentance before everything is involved.  Literal interpretations range from dust and ash in the atmosphere darkening the light from the heavenly bodies (as happened in the 1800’s as a result of the Krakatoa explosion), to an actual “dimming” of the heavenly bodies by the hand of God.  Also, some interpreters believe that the rate of the earth’s rotation will change (perhaps as a result of a literal comet or asteroid strike in the previous trumpets), changing the literal length of the day/night cycle, which would account for the last part of the verse.

 

Announcement of Woe Judgments. 8:13.

vrs     13                Ample warning is given again. So terrifying are the last three trumpet judgments that they have the added name of “woe” judgments.  Once more, it is announced that the judgments are intended for those who have “settled down” on the earth (a characterization of the ungodly).  Man can never claim he has not been sufficiently warned of coming judgment.  As with the judgment on sin in Eden before the Flood in Noah’s day, and in every age since, God is infinitely patient and compassionate toward those deserving of His wrath (see 2nd Peter 3:9-10).