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Displaying items by tag: The third part

13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

14 Saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, Loose the four angels who are bound in the great river Euphrates.

15 And the four angels were loosed, who were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men.

 

*** Voice coming from the golden altar ***: John heard a voice coming from the altar of incense. Why would the voice come from the altar, and whose voice was it? To answer this question, we need to understand the sanctuary language used here. We must first review the items in the earthly tabernacle. The golden altar John mentioned was in front of God’s throne (Revelation 9:13). The ark of the covenant represented God’s throne in the tabernacle of the Old Testament. The golden altar in verse 13 is clearly identified as the altar of incense. In the Old Testament, this altar was in the first chamber, the Holy Place, right in front of the ark (Exodus 30:6; Exodus 40:5, 26). The ark was in the Most Holy Place. The veil separated the Holy from the Most Holy Place, between the altar and the ark (Exodus 40:21). The lampstands and the table of showbread were also in the Holy Place (Exodus 40:22-25).

 

 

 

John said in verse 13 that the voice was coming from the golden altar, more specifically from its horns. During the sacrificial ritual, part of the blood of the sacrificed animal was poured under the altar of sacrifice outside the tent. Part of that blood was brought inside the tent and sprinkled on the horns of the altar (Leviticus 4:18). This symbolized the sins that were taken from the people, as they were being recorded in the sanctuary. Once a year, those records were cleansed during a special service on The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29-34). The priest would also bring coals from the outside altar to burn incense on the golden altar. This represented the prayers of the people being brought before God (Revelation 8:3,4). In the sequence of events portrayed in Revelation 6:9,10, we saw in the opening of the fifth seal the blood of the martyrs being poured out under the altar (Study #42). Their prayers were brought before God and placed on the golden altar. They were crying out for God’s justice to be poured out over His enemies. The voice John heard suggests that God has not forgotten the prayers of the saints. He heard those prayers, and His actions during the trumpets continue to be the demonstration of His justice, to avenge the blood of His innocent followers.

*** Order to loose the angels at the Euphrates ***: The order came to loose the four angels who are bound in the Euphrates. There are two key elements in this phrase: four bound angels and the Euphrates river.

The great river Euphrates: God established the boundaries of the land He gave to the Israelites: "And I will set your bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and you shall drive them out before you" (Exodus 23:31). The river Euphrates marked the separation between God's people and their enemies. Assyria and Babylon were located beyond the river (Isaiah 7:20; Jeremiah 46:10). They were two of the main enemies of Israel. Isaiah described their attacks on Israel as overflowing waters from the Euphrates, sweeping the land from Judah to Jerusalem (Isaiah 8:7-8). Some commentators have proposed that the Euphrates represents the boundary between the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire. This proposition is very weak. An actual invasion would be localized, whereas the sixth trumpet deals with an event which will happen on a global scale. The interpretation following the keys provided in the Old Testament seems to fit much better with the way John had been using Scripture up to this point.

Four angels: The four angels holding the winds seem to be the same angels of Revelation 7:1-3.

Revelation 7:1-3 Revelation
Four angels Four angels
Standing at the four corners of the earth Bound at the Euphrates river
Holding back the four winds from blowing on the Earth Holding back the enemy army of horsemen
Had received the power to harm the land and the sea Had the power to kill one-third of mankind
Were told not to release the winds until God's people were sealed on the forehead 

Were released, allowing the enemy army of horseman to attack

When we analyze these two texts, we can see a few interesting things. The parallel suggests that winds and the enemy horseman are equivalent. As we will see in the following studies, the actual killing is not accomplished by the angels, but by the enemy army those angels were holding back. God had given them authority to restrain the enemy. In Revelation 7, the angels were told to wait until God's people were sealed. The seal was their protection against the winds. In Revelation 9:15, only one-third of man is killed. As we saw in the first four trumpets, the term 'one-third' represent the people who have rejected God's truth. They do not have the seal of God.

*** The four angels were prepared ***: The four angels had a specific mission: to hold back the enemy behind enemy lines. The river Euphrates was the boundary separating God's territory and the enemy's. The angels were under orders. They were not to allow the enemy to attack until God's people had been fully protected. God had made His people immune to the demonic weapons. God was in control of the time when the angels were to be loosed. It was not up to the angels to determine when. It was up to God. God knew the "hour, and a day, and a month, and a year" (Revelation 9:15).

*** Overview ***: The sixth trumpet starts with the reminder that God has not forgotten about the prayers of the martyrs, which were brought before God as burnt incense (Revelation 6:9-11; Revelation 8:3,4 ). They were asking for His justice to be executed. The apparently strange event that follows the scene at the altar described in Revelation 9:14,15 must be understood under the concept that God allows judgment to happen when people decide not to follow His instructions and reject His protection. God does not force anyone to stay under His protection against their will. Those who want to follow God, are not the target of this fifth trumpet judgment. Only one-third of mankind was to be harmed by the release of the enemy forces. Only those without the seal were vulnerable to the demonic attack. The extent of enemy activity expanded in the fifth trumpet, under the limits set by God. The intensity of their work will increase to an all-time high once God loosens the angels holding them back. Once the angels let go, the world will see supernatural, evil activity as never witnessed before. Still, God's faithful people, who were sealed by the Holy Spirit, should not be afraid. God has always a way to protect those who seek to follow Him.

12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shined not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

 

*** The sun, the moon, and the stars ***: The first time in the Bible where the sun, the moon, and the stars are mentioned is during creation. God created them on the fourth day. “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” (Genesis 1:14-19). As God said, the sun, moon and stars were put in place in order “to divide the day from the night” (Genesis 1:14). The celestial bodies were the clear demarcation between different moments of the 24-hour earthly cycle. They were “to give light upon the earth” (Genesis 1:15). The sun, the moon, and the stars are the source of light for our planet.

*** The third part of the sun, the moon, and the stars was darkened ***: In the Old Testament, the darkening of the sun, moon and stars is often associated with the execution of God’s judgments over His enemies (Ezekiel 32:7-8; Isaiah 13:9-11; Joel 3:15), as well as His own people (Amos 5:18; Joel 2:1-2,10). One of the first examples of this is the 9th Egyptian plague (Exodus 10:21-29), the plague of darkness. The darkness was so intense in the land of Egypt, that it could be felt (Exodus 10:21). For three days, the light did not shine in Egypt. But the darkness was not global. It was targeted and focused only on those rejecting God’s commands. One of the main points of this passage is that only those rejecting the truth stand in darkness. Exodus 10:23 tells us that the Israelites “had light in their dwellings”.

In the New Testament, we read about how Satan has blinded the non-believers in such a way, that they are unable to see the “light of the glorious gospel of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Jesus is the light of the world (2 Corinthians 4:6; John 1:9; John 8:12; John 12:46; Luke 1:79). Jesus said: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19). People bring on darkness and God’s judgment upon themselves because they reject the Source of Light. When we follow Christ, we will not be left to walk in the darkness (John 8:12).

As we saw in the previous three Trumpets, the judgment that comes with the blowing of the fourth trumpet is partial and falls over one-third of the celestial bodies. As people move away from God and rejected the truth, they bury themselves deeper and deeper into darkness. Our rejection, disbelief, and disobedience block the connection between God's light and ourselves. We can no longer see His truth the way He intends His message to be presented because we are not allowing His light to flow. The day turns into darkness when our connection with God is interrupted (Micah 3:6). God respects our right to choose, even if that means rejecting Him. But He urges all of us to know the truth before coming to a final decision. He warns us against being deceived by false teachings (Matthew 24:11). There is no light in the spiritual matters being promoted if they are not based on principles and teachings contained in scripture (Isaiah 8:20).

*** A third part of the day was dark, “and the night likewise” ***: In this part of Revelation 8:12, we see an interesting consequence of the darkening of the third part of the sun, the moon, and stars. It is the darkening of the third part of the day and night. This section reminds us once again, about creation. The separation between day and night did not happen on the fourth day, when God created the sun, moon, and stars. It happened on the first day, when He created light: "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day." (Genesis 1:3-5). This text says God was the One who divided the light from the darkness. In the fourth day of creation, we read about the function of the sun and the moon: "the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night" (Genesis 1:16). In Revelation 8:12, the rulers sun and moon are partially blocked from shining. But the effects are only felt over one-third of the day and one-third of the night. The partial blocking of the light did not affect the entire day. This emphasises the fact that the judgment brought with the blowing of the fourth trumpet is not global. It affects only a portion of the people, during a limited period of time. Darkness and night in this analogy are not equivalent. According to the verse, the night was also affected by the darkening of the moon. The idea underlined here is more so on the barriers we place between ourselves and God. Those barriers interfere with our ability to receive spiritual light directly from the source.

*** Prophetic application ***: In Study #54, we saw how the third trumpet portrayed the period known as the Dark Ages. During this time of history, people had very limited access to scripture and to the Truth. As a result, apostasy and false teachings flooded the Church. A movement of Reform raised, and many people once again became interested in finding out Biblical truths. This movement took a direction that was likely not part of the vision of the original Reformers. Theological discussions turned into polemics, and about winning arguments. Religion became less and less about developing a personal relationship with Christ. This frame of mind led people to move away from faith, belief in God, and dependence on the Savior, who is the ultimate source of spiritual light. Ironically, this period following the Dark Ages and Reform was called Age of Enlightenment, which lasted from 16th to 18th centuries. People valued reason, as they completely rejected Bible truths. The rejection of religious beliefs generated a host of philosophical approaches, such as rationalism, skepticism, humanism, and liberalism. All of these ultimately led to the development of a new principle: secularism. Without going into much detail, Secularism is the concept of separation of church and state. It is the idea that government business should not be connected to religious affairs. A number of incorrect meanings have been assigned to this term over time, but this is the meaning it was intended originally and is still what it means. There is no doubt that secularism brought about many positive results to the Western Civilization, like religious liberty, art, education, medicine, and more. But it surely had a significant negative impact on Christianity. There was a shift in focus from the spiritual to the material. Human reason replaced Bible authority and faith. ‘Self’ became the center of attention, instead of God. Under this line of thought, Christ could no longer be the only path to a spiritual life.

*** Overview ***: When the Source of Light is being rejected, the lines that demarcate the truth become blurry. When we are not looking at our existence in this world through God’s light, it becomes much harder to identify what is right and what is wrong. Without the Word of God, it is very hard to remain on the path of the overcomer or to find that to begin with. Psalm 119:105 says: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." The effects of the partial blocking of the truth after the Dark Ages are still being felt today. But God is calling us out of the darkness, to arise and shine, because the glory of the Lord is risen upon us (Isaiah 60:1-3; Matthew 4:16; Colossians 1:12-14). The first four trumpets came in pairs. The first two dealt with the punishment poured on the two nations responsible for the rejection of Jesus, in a general scale. The following two trumpets deal with the judgment cast on the apostate Church, and the consequences of that rejection on a more personal level. The fourth trumpet identifies the darkness people will find themselves in when they deny God’s teachings. It happened in the past. I can still happen today. Once we understand that this is the situation we may be in, we can do something about it. We must hear what the Father has called us to be: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9).

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; 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: #11 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).

   
   
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