1  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.

2  And 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.

3  And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

 

Part 1 - Revelation 9:1-3

 

*** Star fell from Heaven ***: We saw the star that fell from Heaven when we talked about the third trumpet (Revelation 8:10-11). In study #54, we saw that the star that fell from Heaven was Satan. He was known as Lucifer before he was cast out of Heaven. We read about his fall in Isaiah 14:12-21. “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, who did weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12). Based on Revelation 9:1 and Revelation 9:11, we can see that the star that fell from Heaven is also identified as the angel of the bottomless pit (or the abyss, depending on the translation). His fall happened prior to the sounding of the trumpets. In the third trumpet, the fallen star was called Wormwood, and it poisoned the original message of the Gospel (symbolized by the term ‘waters’). It mixed the truth with false teachings and gave that mix for people to drink. The poisonous waters caused the spiritual death of many.

*** The key to the bottomless pit ***: Before we talk about the key, we need to understand what that the abyss (or bottomless pit) is in the first place. The Greek expression used here is “phreatos tēs abyssou”. It means the pit of the abyss.The word abyss is also found in Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The Hebrew word translated as “deep” is the word ṯə-hō-wm, which also means sea and abyss. We see the word ṯə-hō-wm being used during the account of the Flood. The Bible says that the “all the fountains of the great deep [were] broken” (Genesis 7:11, see also Genesis 8:2). These are not the only instances where the word abyss is used. It was used to describe a place of emptiness and desolation (Jeremiah 4:23-30). A similar concept is found in Ezekiel 26:19, with the word void; and in Isaiah 24:21-23, with the word dungeon, referring to the prison where the rebellious hosts of Heaven and kings of the earth will be confined before their punishment.

Now, let’s talk about the key to this place. The key is the instrument that can open or close the abyss. By itself, any key is just an object. Its importance comes from knowing who has it and can use it. ‘Key’ is a symbol of authority and control. We read in the New Testament, that Jesus is the One with the power to send demonic forces to the abyss. One time, Jesus cast many demons out of one man (Luke 8:26-39). They were subject to Jesus’ command to leave that man. The power of God was, and still is, greater than the grip that fallen angels may have over people. The demons begged Jesus not to “command them to go out into the abyss” (Luke 8:31). Jesus not only had the power to order them out of the man but also to order them to go to the abyss. Jesus is the one who has the keys to the bottomless pit. Jesus is also the One with the keys to death and the graves (Revelation 1:18, please see study #10).

The word abyss is a symbol for the ability that God has to confine and restrict the evil angels while they await their judgment. It is more important that we understand this concept of the abyss as the power that God has over them, than a physical place or underground cavern where they gather. The point here is that God is in control (Jude 1:6; 2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 20:1-3). They cannot move about, unless God allows them to. Revelation 9:1-3 tell us that Satan was given permission to move out of the abyss, and initiate his work of covering the Earth with his smoke. At first, this action may sound very strange. The fact is we don’t understand all that God understands of the situation we are in. Just as when God gave Satan permission to test Job (Job 1:6-12), He is giving Satan permission to prepare his attacks on Earth. Job came out of his experience with a much stronger relationship with God and a with a more invigorated trust in the Lord. In the same way, the enemy’s attacks will not knock people off the path to Eternity if they keep their truth entirely on God, even when they don’t understand what is going on.

*** Smoke came out of the pit, and darkened the sun and the air ***: As soon as Satan was permitted to act, a series of symbols is used to tell us what happened next. The first symbol is smoke, which came out of the pit of the abyss. John describes this smoke as the one that comes out of a furnace. In the Old Testament the term “smoke of a furnace” appears in the description of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra (Genesis 19:28), and when the Lord descended on mount Sinai, to give Moses the 10 Commandments (Exodus 19:18).The end of the verse in Revelation 9:2, we see that the smoke coming out of the pit is responsible for darkening the sun and the air. Unlike the darkness in the fourth trumpet, which was partial and affecting one-third of the celestial bodies, the darkness seen in the fifth trumpet are not measured. We have the impression that the darkness is complete. Even the air is affected. This type of darkness reminds us of the darkness described in the 9th Egyptian plague (Exodus 10:21). At this point in the verse in Revelation, we still don’t know what the smoke is all about. We only know its effect: it causes darkness on the Earth.

*** Locusts came out of the smoke ***: The fact that the darkness of Revelation 9:2 also affects the air, is not a coincidence. The reason for that becomes clear in the next verse: out of the pit of the abyss, came flying a cloud of locusts. Going back to the Egyptian plagues, we see the plague of locusts (Exodus 10:1-20), which came right before the plague of darkness that we just talked about. During the plague of the locusts, the land of Egypt was also covered with darkness (Exodus 10:15). Darkness and locusts are symbols of God’s judgments (Joel 1:1-12). The consequence of rejecting light is spiritual darkness (John 3:18-21).

*** Locusts with scorpion power ***: The locusts coming out of the pit weren’t ordinary locusts.They received power to be like scorpions. Here we have, once again, the expression “received power”. These locusts were permitted to do their locust work carrying scorpion abilities. They seem to be on a deadly mission. The nature of this scene is very symbolic. This is accentuated by the fact that these locusts behave in a manner different from what would be expected naturally. But this will be more clear in the next studies.

*** Overview ***: The bottomless pit, or abyss, is the circumstances by which the fallen angels are restricted and bound under the power of God. They are not allowed to act and obliterate humanity. God’s respect for human free will is so profound that He allows people to choose who and what they want to believe in. Sometimes, He allows for the demonic forces to act. People will have to make a choice. Do they want to believe in the contaminated waters and in the cloud of locusts and, at the same time, reject the Light of Life? Or do they want to receive Christ in their lives, and follow God’s truth? The first three verses of the fifth trumpet may seem frightening. But the main point we must take from this section, is that God is the one in control of the situation. He knows how much to limit the actions of these fallen angels that are swarming out of restriction. We must keep the story of Job in mind, and remember that if we are faithful, our salvation is guaranteed. We may not understand God’s methods. We may not even understand God but we can trust in His power and holiness. We can be assured that everything He does is with the intention to make us know He is God.

10 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;

11 And 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.

 

*** A great star fell from Heaven ***: In lesson #9, we studied about the mystery of the seven stars in Jesus’ hand. Those starts were the churches messengers, and Jesus called them angels (Revelation 1:20). The word "angel" in Greek is angeloi, and the word in Hebrew is mal·’aḵ. The word angel means messenger or representative. Even though we see, in the Old Testament, a reference to the church leader as being “the messenger [mal·’aḵ] of the Lord” (Malachi 2:7), the meaning of this section of Revelation seems to agree with the more common meaning. In the Old Testament, the word mal·’aḵ is most often than not translated as the celestial being “angel”, as we can see in Judges 2:4. The angel/star of the third trumpet is, however, different. He was great, and he fell from Heaven as if he were a lamp. Isaiah 14:12-15 talks about the fall of Lucifer, who became known as Satan after his fall: “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, who did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the farthest sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to sheol, to the sides of the pit.” Lucifer was one of the highest angels in Heaven. But his selfish thoughts took control of him, and he began to desire the position that is only God’s. He wanted to be God. His behavior no longer fits with the way God operates. Lucifer’s rebellion led him to be cast out of Heaven. Jesus mentioned Satan’s fall in Luke 10:18: “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

*** The star fell upon one-third of the rivers and fountains of water ***: We will see the term “one-third" over and over in the first four trumpets. The judgments are to fall on only one-third of the group. In this case, the text mentions “rivers and fountains of water”. Please see the full explanation about the meaning of ‘one-third’ in lesson #53. In summary, one-third is always the incomplete picture and is related to those opposing the truth. This is the case in the third trumpet as well. The ones who have rejected Jesus’ message are the target of this trumpet plague. And so, the judgment continues to be partial. The judgment itself is coming in the form of rivers and fountains. The great star fell on those waters. Some versions translated ‘fountains’ as ‘springs of water’. Jesus said: “He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38). He also said in Revelation 21:6: “And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.” Spiritual nourishment comes from the spiritual Living Water, which keeps alive those who accept the source of that water: Jesus. Springs of water represent the teachings that can enrich the spiritual growth of a person. It is the knowledge that comes from the truth.

*** The star was called Wormwood ***: The word wormwood comes from the Greek absinthes, and from Hebrew la-‘ă-nāh. They refer to a plant known to be very bitter (Deuteronomy 29:17-18; Lamentations 3:19). We read in Jeremiah 9:13-15, God warnings about how He would give the people wormwood and gall because of their disobedience to God’s Law. In the Old Testament, wormwood is a symbol of God’s punishment due to disobedience, and apostasy. The waters mentioned in Revelation 8:10 are different from the original and pure source offered by Jesus. When the bitter wormwood fell on part of the waters of the Earth, it turned that portion of water into poison (only a third of the water became poisonous - Revelation 8:11). The water became contaminated, and people started to drink from a spiritual message that was mixed with impurities. And bitter water represents a spiritual message that is incomplete or filled with half-truths and lies. The waters became bitter as a consequence of people falling back into apostasy. Revelation 8:11 says that the star itself was called Wormwood. Satan is the one responsible for introducing false teachings mixed with the real message of God. Satan poisoned the message, and he is serving it up to anyone who will drink from his lies.

*** One-third of the waters became wormwood and many died ***: The punishment of impure water does not fall over the entire population. It only affects one-third of the waters. Just like the first and second trumpets, the third trumpet is not final or complete towards humanity (please see study #52 for a more detailed explanation on the one-third of the Earth). The truth of God became mixed with human tradition. Twisted arguments poisoned God’s message as an attempt to spiritually starve and murder those who do not seek to drink from the unaltered, full strength, Living Water straight from the hands of Jesus. As we saw in the studies of the Seven Churches, false prophets started to introduce messages contrary to the original teachings of God. These false teachings were not easily identifiable as false, or inherently bad. They made sense and sounded good. The overcomer can only identify such lies through careful examination of Scripture. This is the only way to shield ourselves from being poisoned with Satan’s wormwood water. Revelation 8:11 says that many who drank from this poisonous water died. Spiritual death is inevitable if we are not plugged into the source of Life.

*** Prophetic application ***: At first, it seems strange that God is the one in charge of the water pollution when in fact Satan is the one actually polluting God’s truth. Jeremiah 9:13-15 says: “And the LORD says, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked in it; But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them: Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water poisonous to drink.” (See also Jeremiah 8:14; Jeremiah 23:15). God is not polluting the water, but He is allowing it to happen. He is allowing the consequences of people’s choices to take place. He is allowing all the participants in this great spiritual rebellion taking place on Earth to show their character, to reveal who they actually are. It will be clear to the entire Universe, that God is who He says He is. God is love, and He wants to give everyone a chance to know Him and to search the Bible for the truth. We saw this historic and prophetic period of spiritual famine when we studied the church in Thyatira. Just to recap: the first trumpet dealt with the fall of Jerusalem, and the second trumpet referred to the fall of the Roman Empire. The third trumpet represents the period following the second trumpet, which historically was the period known as the Middle Ages or Dark Ages. During that time, the people had little to no access to scripture. Persecution, actual famine, diseases, were the norm. The church experienced apostasy and spiritual deterioration, as altered doctrines began to flood the pure message of the Gospel. Bible truths began to be replaced with traditions and non-biblical teachings.

*** Overview ***: Paul talked about this great period of apostasy that would come over the church (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). He mentioned “the restrainer” (verse 6 and 7), in reference to the Roman Empire, which was delaying this process. Prophetically, the period of the third trumpet could only occur after the fall of the pagan Rome (second trumpet). The historical events that happened during the period of the second trumpet led to the changes inside the church during the Middle Ages. The shifting away from the original message of God, towards human tradition and teachings that were not based on Scripture, led the people astray, and right into their spiritual death. The polluted waters were poured right inside the church, and people were encouraged to open their minds to accept false teachings. Although this reflects a situation that happened in the past, many of the false teachings introduced at that time are still being passed along today. Our only shield against such poisonous and deadly teachings is to dive completely inside God’s word, which is the true and pure fountain of Living Water. If a doctrine is not Bible based, it is not worth following.

8 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;

9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

 

*** A great mountain on fire ***: Once again we have to look back to the Old Testament in order to understand the symbolism used in this verse. The word mountain is often used to refer to a kingdom or empire (Psalm 48:1-2; Psalm 78:68; Isaiah 2:2-3; Isaiah 13:4; Isaiah 31:4; Isaiah 41:15; Isaiah 65:25; Jeremiah 17:1-3; Jeremiah 51:24-25; Obadiah 8-9; Daniel 2:35,44). The kingdom mentioned in Revelation 8:8 is not just any kingdom. It was not only burnt with fire but also cast into the sea. We have now two other elements that should help us narrow down our search for this mountain or empire. The book of Jeremiah has a prophecy against a powerful kingdom, that seems to fit very well with the verse in Revelation, as well as with the symbology used in the rest of the book of Revelation. The kingdom referenced as a great mountain was Babylon.

 

Jeremiah 51:24

And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, says the LORD.

Jeremiah 51:25

Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, says the LORD, who destroy all the earth: and I will stretch out my hand upon you, and roll you down from the rocks, and will make you a burnt mountain.

Jeremiah 51:42

The sea has come up upon Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of its waves.

Jeremiah 51:63-64

And it shall be, when you have finished reading this book, that you shall bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates: And you shall say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.

 

In this prophecy of Jeremiah, Babylon would be cast into the waters, and sink to never rise again from the punishment God would bring against her. Later in Revelation, John is talking about the spiritual Babylon, and he used the same imagery: “And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” (Revelation 18:21, see also Revelation 14:8). In the time of John, the Babylonian kingdom had already fallen. The trumpets come in sequence. We studied that the first trumpet represented the destruction of Jerusalem, and the judgement brought upon the Jewish nation. The second trumpet portrays something that happened after the destruction of Jerusalem. With this in mind, we can see that mountain was used as a symbol for Babylon, and Babylon is also a symbol for another power - a power that opposes God’s sovereign authority (Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:2; Revelation 18:5; Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:21). Also, we are still left with the symbols for fire and water. Let’s look closely into these symbols:

- Babylon: John was not the only one to mention Babylon in his writings. Peter also mentions Babylon as a symbol for the current power in his time: “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.” (1 Peter 5:13) As we mentioned before, there was no more Babylon in the time of Peter and John. Peter referenced ancient Babylon, which was the kingdom responsible for taking the Jewish people into Exile, in the time of Daniel and Jeremiah. Peter and John used, symbolically, the name of their former oppressor to the Jewish nation to refer to their current one: the Roman empire. The early Christians suffered tremendous persecution by the Romans. Many were sentenced to death, thrown onto arenas, and even burnt up alive. Paul suffered this perception first hand, and so did some of the Christians in the churches in Asia Minor (Please see the studies on the Seven Churches: #13 to #27).

- Burning with fire: As we saw in study #52, fire is one of the weapons God uses against the ones who oppress His people. Both the Jewish and Roman leadership persecuted Christ and the early Christian church. The trumpet judgment started “at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17), and followed with the Roman Empire. God is the one setting the great mountain on fire. In other words, God is the one bringing on His judgement on these nations. God is the one who “removes kings, and sets up kings” (Daniel 2:21).

- The sea: We often find in the Old Testament, the term sea being used as a symbol for the people opposing God (Isaiah 57:20; Isaiah 17:12-13; Jeremiah 51:41-42; Daniel 7:2-7,17). The verse in Revelation and the passage from Jeremiah tell us how the great mountain was to sink and be engulfed in the waters. The demise of the Roman Empire came about on many fronts, such as political, economic, and military. Religious tensions between the Western and Eastern portions of the Empire also aggravated the problem. Waves of barbarian tribes came and swallowed Roman territory.

*** The sea became blood ***: The throwing of the burning mountain on the sea brings about a terrible consequence. The sea turned into blood. The turning of water into blood reminds us of the first Egyptian plague (Exodus 7:14-24). “Thus says the LORD, In this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, I will strike with the rod that is in my hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that are in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river.” (Exodus 7:17-18). In the case of the Egyptians, God wanted the enemy of His people to know that He was the Lord. Once again, we see the redemption aspect of the judgments falling over God’s enemy. God is interested in saving everyone, and He works to give everyone an opportunity to choose to follow Him. As the Roman Empire was sinking deep into the waters, they became covered with blood. The Empire fought many battles during their demise, and bloodshed was abundant.

*** Death of one-third of the sea creatures ***: The consequence of the bloodshed from the battles was the death of one-third of the sea creatures. In study #52, we saw that ‘one-third’ is the incomplete picture of a group of beings (people and even angels). The judgment of the second trumpet was to fall over only part of the sea population. In this case, the marine life is a symbol used to represent the people who lived in those regions of the Empire and neighbouring areas, who were in conflict during the fall of Rome.

*** Destruction of one-third of the ships ***: With the demise of the Roman political order, came economical decline as well. In the Old Testament, ships are mentioned as a reference to a nation’s commercial pride and dominance (Isaiah 2:16-17; Ezekiel 27:25-27). The economic impact was partial, but it was significant and brought with it social devastation.

*** Prophetic Application and Overview ***: With the analysis of each of the symbols used in these two verses of Revelation, we can see that the second trumpet refers to the fall of the Roman Empire. The prophetic application is strongly embedded in practically every word of the text. The role ancient Rome played in Christ’s crucifixion and in the persecution of the Christians did not go unnoticed by God. It is important that we recognize that the judgments contained in the first and second trumpets did not fall one any one particular individual. They were the consequences applied to the nations. First with the apostate Jewish nation (first trumpet), and then with the Roman Empire (second trumpet). God revealed Himself to those nations and gave them an opportunity to see that He is the Lord, just as He once did with the Egyptian nation during the 10 plagues. God is merciful. God is also just. His justice cannot be avoided. The judgment of the second trumpet is not aimed at God’s faithful people, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t feel the shockwave from the burning mountain falling into the water. The fact that God is dealing justly against His enemies should assure His people that God will never forsake them, and is always ready to defend them.

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 angel sounded the trumpet ***: In studies #50 and #51, we learned that the Seven Trumpets are God’s judgements cast on those who rejected the Gospel message during the same prophetic period of the Seven Churches and of the opening of the Seven Seals. The text talking about the first trumpet is only one verse long, but it is packed with information and symbolism. The verse starts with an angel sounding the trumpet that was given to him by God. If the angel is sounding the trumpet, it is because God has determined it is time for him to do so. God is in control of the sounding of the trumpets.

*** Hail and fire mixed with blood ***: In the Old Testament, hail and fire are God’s response to those who stand against Him and His people. Let’s look at some examples from the Old Testament:

- Plagues of Egypt: When Moses was dealing with Pharaoh, to get the people to leave Egypt, one of the plagues God sent was the plague of the hail mixed with fire. It brought tremendous destruction. Exodus 9:16-19,23-25 says: “And indeed for this very cause have I raised you up, to show in you my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. And yet exalt you yourself against my people, that you will not let them go? Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as has not been in Egypt since the foundation of it even until now. Send therefore now, and gather your cattle, and all that you have in the field; for upon every man and beast that shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field.” God had raised Egypt up, so His glory would be seen. But Egypt directly opposed the chosen people of God, and defied God’s authority. His judgement came over the land. It destroyed the animals that were not sheltered, and destroyed every herb and every tree. And yet, Egypt, in the person of Pharaoh, refused to turn to God in obedience. There are some interesting aspects of the plagues that apply to the trumpets as well. They were only aimed at those who were refusing to follow God’s commands, and who opposed God’s people. The Hebrew camp was not the target of the catastrophic plagues in Egypt, and it was no different during the hail storm (Exodus 9:26). With every plague, God was taking away from the Egyptians, the things that the people held in such high regard, that took the place of God in their society. God was destroying their idols, and that was the judgement being cast on them.

- Prophecy against Gog: Gog was Israel’s enemy that came from the North. In Ezekiel 38:22-23, we read this portion of the prophecy against Gog: “And I will enter into judgment against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his hordes, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.” God’s judgements on His enemies serve to magnify God’s name, so He would be known throughout the World. People would have an opportunity to know that He is the Lord. Once again, we see how the trumpets have a redemption quality to them.

- God’s weapons against the ones who oppress His people: Hail, and fire are weapons of judgement God uses to deal with disobedience and persecution of His chosen ones (Psalm 18:12-14; Isaiah 10:16-19; Isaiah 30:30). In the Old Testament, God sometimes used fire (Palm 80:14-16; Jeremiah 21:12-14; Ezekiel 15:6-7) or hail (Isaiah 30:30; Ezekiel 13:11-13) as judgement against Israel, when they broke God’s covenant. But fire mixed with hail is consistently God’s weapon against the enemies of His people. God told Job that He has hail stored in Heaven for the time of trouble, and that He is even in control of lightning (Job 38:22-23,35). And so, based on the texts from Job, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and others), these judgments come from God, and they are aimed at the Earth (Revelation 8:7).

*** One third ***: The quantity “one third” is a contrast to the quantity “one fourth” that we saw in study #47, about the 144,000. The angels were holding one fourth of the Earth (Revelation 7:1). Unlike the four parts that form the entirety of the planet, the third part does not represent the complete picture. When the effects of the first trumpet start to be felt on Earth, only a portion of it is affected. The trumpets are not God’s final and complete judgments on the planet. When the ancient Israel turned to paganism and disobedience, God used His prophets to deliver a message about God’s judgements that would fall over them. Those judgments were to affect one third of the nation (Ezekiel 5:11-12; Zechariah 13:8-9). According to these passages, the goal of the judgments was redemptive: to make the people know that “the Lord has spoken in [His] zeal” and so they would “call on [His] name, and [He] would hear them”. The judgements contained in the first 4 trumpets are always aimed at just one third of the Earth (revelation 8: 7-13), never over all the planet. Revelation 12:4 talks about yet another instance where a third of a group was involved. Satan, the red dragon, took with him one third of the angels, who were referred to as stars. Satan was able to convince them to follow him and be under his control. Revelation 16:19 tells us something interesting about the symbolic Babylon and how God is sending his judgment agains it: “And the great city was divided into three parts”. Based on these texts, it seems that one third of the Earth, as referenced in the trumpets, means that a portion of Satan’s domain will be the target of God’s judgments, as an opportunity for the people to repent and turn to God.

*** Trees and green grass burnt up ***: Here we have another interesting symbol. It holds the key to the understanding of this verse. In the Old Testament, we often see people being compared to trees (Psalm 1:3; Psalm 52:8; Psalm 92:12-14; Isaiah 61:3; Jeremiah 11:15-17; Jeremiah 17:7-8; Ezekiel 20:46-48; Daniel 4:20-22) and grass (Psalm 72:16; Isaiah 40:6-8; Isaiah 44:2-4). These symbols were used to describe God’s people who turned away from Him. While on Earth Jesus also used the tree symbolisms, and said that “every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Matthew 7:19). In Luke 23:31, we read about en event that happened on the way to Calvary. Jesus was carrying His cross, when Simon was told to carry it with Jesus. Christ turned to the crowd following Him, and one of the things He said was: “For if they do these things with a green tree, what shall be done with the dry?” Jesus referred to Himself as the green tree, and to the rebellious Jews as dry trees. Now that we have these verses in mind, let’s go back to the text in Revelation. The reference to trees and green grass seem to refer to the spiritual state of the people. When the chosen people of God were still faithful and spiritually alive, there were compared to trees and green grass. But when the abandoned the truth, the became as burnet trees and burnt grass, spiritually dead. This people had
broken their covenant with God, and rejected God’s commands. 1 Peter 4:17 says that “judgment must begin at the house of God” (the Israelites). With the sound of the first trumpet, a portion of the apostate church was to be destroyed.

John 1:9-13 says that “[Jesus] was the true Light, that lights every man that comes into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name: Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” In John 3:17-21, Jesus said: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are worked in God.” Love of the darkness is the condemnation that people who reject the Light suffer. Jesus’ own people (the Jewish nation) did not receive Him when He came as a baby and ministered on Earth in person. They were not prepared to receive Him or accept His message, despite all the scriptures and prophecies about the Messiah that were available to them. In a similar way, many people who call themselves christians, but have not truly surrendered their hearts to God, will not be prepared when Jesus comes the second time. They may even be out in the world, apparently preaching about Jesus. But the reality is they never really developed a true relationship with the Lord. Jesus calls the evildoers, and they will be left out of the Kingdom (Matthew 7:21-23).

*** Prophetic Application ***: In general, biblical scholars agree that when Jesus referred to himself as the green tree that was being cut, and to the nation of Israel as dry tree, Christ was referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The Bible says that “judgment begins at the house of God” (1 Peter 4;17; similar concept found in Ezekiel 9). The first trumpet seems to mark the judgment falling over Jesus’s own people “who received him not” (John 1:11). In the first century, the Jewish nation rejected God’s covenant, and actively opposed and persecuted those who accepted the Gospel. Jerusalem was sieged and destroyed by the Romans.

*** Overview ***: The sounding of the trumpets is under God’s control. Because of the disobedience and rejection of the Gospel, the people who had originally been chosen for a covenant with the Lord were the first to suffer the consequences of their choice. We can clearly see the prophetic timeline parallel with the Seven Churches and the Seven Seals. The first trumpet is the pouring of God’s judgments, starting with His own, but apostate, house. As it was with all God’s judgments in the Old Testament, He wants to save the people, and bring them back to God. The destruction of the Jewish capital and nation was massive, but it was not complete. Many were still alive and were scattered throughout the world. As a prophecy, the message of this trumpet has already been fulfilled. But it serves as a warning for the end-time people. Outward demonstrations of an apparent belief in the Gospel does not guarantee salvation. Jesus Himself called them evildoers (Matthew 7:21-23). The only way to salvation is to open our hearts to Jesus and accept His sacrifice. We need to receive Him. As we grow spiritually, we will develop a relationship with Him, and we will not need to be afraid of God’s judgements. As Jesus said, “he that believes on Him is not condemned” (John 3:18).

1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

 

The opening of the sixth seal ends in chapter 6 of Revelation. The question raised at the end, of "who is able to stand?" is answered in chapter 7. Chapter 7 also brings the reader to the time of the seventh seal and is an interesting bridge between the sixth and seventh seals. We will study chapter 7, starting with study #46. In today's study, let's continue with the opening of the last seal, on chapter 8, verse 1.

*** Silence ***: Silence is a direct translation from the Greek word sigē. There are a number of possible different interpretations to what this silence actually could be. There could be something true in many of them. But before we look at the possibilities, we must keep in mind that the seventh seal comes after the Second Coming of Jesus (which happens at the end of the sixth seal), and certainly after the sealing of God’s people (Revelation chapter 7).

The Greek word for Heaven used in this verse is ouranō, which can mean: the atmospheric sky, the starry Heaven, or the spiritual Heaven. We must consider that most of the verses using this word, refer to the spiritual Heaven. Regardless of the exact meaning, the action itself of opening the seal happens in Heaven, but its effects could be expected to be felt on Earth. Just as the horsemen were sent out from Heaven to complete their mission here on Earth, the silence of the seventh seal could be viewed in the same manner. The silence that started in Heaven could spread all the way down to our planet.

Amos 8 help us understand one aspect of the situation in the seventh seal. In his vision, he saw a basket of summer fruit, symbolizing the ripeness of God's people. It was time for the harvest. In other words, people were ready for God. We see a parallel to this in Revelation 14:17-20. Jesus explained the parable where He used this analogy of His people being harvested at the end of times (Matthew 13:37-40): “He that sows the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.” In the case of Amos, he was primarily prophesying about the captivity of the Israelites. But the language used and imagery revealed by God are the same used for the end times. In Amos 8:4-14, we see a similar situation of what we saw in the first 4 seals, but from the perspective of those who rejected the message. There was the spreading of the word, it's rejection, famine, and ultimate death. Amos 8:3 says that there would be so many dead bodies, that the songs in the temple would turn to wailings; and the bodies would be cast off in silence.

Another passage of the Bible that sheds some light on what this silence could be is found in Isaiah 47, where it reveals the prophecy about the destruction of ancient Babylon. Isaiah 47:3-5 tells us that Babylon would sit silently in the darkness after her shame had been revealed. She would no longer be called "the lady of kingdoms".

Based on the texts in Amos 8 and Isaiah 47, and in the context of Revelation 8:1 and the seven seals, silence will follow the Second Coming of Jesus. At that time, the armies of the enemies of God will be revealed, defeated and put to death (Revelation 19:17-21). These verses tell us about what will happen to Satan’s allies (the political powers representing the false religious systems), they are cast in the Lake of Fire right after the return of Christ: “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” This text also tells us that the rest of the people, the unfaithful people, will be killed by the sword that comes out of Jesus, which is His truth and His glory (Revelation 1:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10; Hebrews 4:12). They will remain dead until the time they are resurrected again, after the saints have spent 1000 years in Heaven (Revelation 20:5). The full execution of God’s judgement starts at Christ’s return, but ends after the 1000-year period.

Silence could be the contrasting point to the Second Coming, which is described as not only being a very visible event, but also a very loud one, with earthquakes, signs involving the sun moon and stars (sixth seal), and elements melting with fervent heat (2 Peter 3:10-14). The seventh seal would function like a resting period for the sky/Earth. At that time, all eyes will be awaiting God's judgement. In Zephaniah 1:7, we read God commanding that the people await quietly in the presence of the Lord, because His Day is near. In Zachariah 2:13 and Habakkuk 2:20, we see, once again, God telling the people to be silent before the Lord.

There are other views to the meaning of the silence in the seventh seal. Some scholars propose that there will be silence in Heaven because Jesus and all His angels will leave Heaven to come to Earth during the Second Coming (Matthew 25:31). Others suggest that it refers to the period of desolation the Earth will go through during the 1000 years Satan and his angels will be bound (Revelation 20:1-3). Some propose that the silence has to do with the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:3-4) since the execution of His judgment is the answer to their loud cry in the 5th seal. Others believe that the silence is an allusion to the silence at the beginning of creation, as implied in Genesis 1:2. As we saw in the beginning of the sixth seal, the Earth had been going through the reverse process of Creation. Under this view, the process reverted all the way to a similar point of the beginning of creation.

***About half an hour ***: This period was not revealed as an exact period of time, or a defined number of days. It is “about half an hour”. Symbolically, it means a short period of time. Prophetically, taking 1 day = 1 year rule (Ezekiel 4:6-7; Numbers 14:34; Leviticus 25:8; Luke 13:32), this period is about 1 literal week. For more examples about the 1 day = 1 prophetic year, please read study #20. The Bible mentions some interesting events that lasted 1 literal week. Here are just a few examples: creation (Genesis 1 to Genesis 2:3), the period Noah waited inside the Arc before the rain came on those who were lost (Genesis 7:4), the period Jacob had to wait after marrying Leah in order to marry Rachel (Genesis 29:27-28), the time the Israelites had to wait before taking down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-5 ), and the amount of time needed for the consecration of the priests (Leviticus 8:33). Many, if not most of these are examples of short waiting periods. Either way, symbolically or prophetically, the period of silence will be a short period, when compared to the eternal life that the saved is about to experience.

*** Overview ***: At the time of the seventh seal, Jesus will have already come, the signs on the sky and the shaking of the Earth will be over. The Earth will be silent, awaiting for God to begin His judgment on the wicked, as the answer to the prayers of the saved (Revelation 6:9-11). There will be silence before the Judge, who left Heaven to rescue His people and cast His wrath on His enemies. The silence before the new creation reflects back on the silence before the first creation. The important thing, however, is not the exact amount of days or hours the silence will last, as the word “about” suggests. The point of the message in the seventh seal is that this will be a short period of time. Eternal life with God is about to start!

 

Summary of the Seven Seals

 

*** 1st Seal - Gospel being spread throughout the world

*** 2nd Seal - Accepting the Gospel may bring about persecution, because the Word of God prevents His true followers from blending in with the people following false teachings.

*** 3rd Seal - Rejecting the Gospel brings about spiritual famine. But even then, God has promised to keep the Holy Spirit and His salvation available for anyone who seeks Him.

*** 4th Seal - A warning is sent out for people to repent and return to the path that leads to life. The opposite direction leads to death.

*** 5th Seal - Those who served and suffered for Christ need to be avenged in the name of the blood Jesus shed in His death. Their martyrdom is a cry for God to deliver His justice on the wicked.

*** 6th Seal - Many signs in the sky and on the Earth announce the imminent coming of Christ. The Earth is going through the reverse process of Creation. The sealing of the faithful people is then concluded. The wicked mourn and cannot stand the glory of God. The Second Coming of Christ happens. He comes in all His glory, on the day of His wrath.

*** 7th Seal - Everyone is silent, awaiting God's judgment in favor of those who chose Him. The wages of sin will be made known and the wicked will be sentenced, in answer to the question raised in the 5th Seal.

   
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