Sermon: The Trumpets: Warning of Judgment (Part One) Revelation 8-9

The Trumpets: Warning of Judgment (Part One)

Revelation 8-9

Introduction

As we leave chapter 7 and enter 8, we are reminded that God’s judgment has been delayed in order to seal all the people of God Jews and Gentiles as means of protecting them from the coming judgment. Much like the Israelites were protected from the plagues in Egypt so to will God’s people be protected from the wrath to come.

Throughout Old Testament history God has announced His presence and/or coming times of judgment with trumpet blasts…

Exodus 19:16–17 (ESV)

16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain.

 

We read about the two silver trumpets (Numbers 10:2-3) that summon Israel to worship. There was a great trumpet blast to signal the beginning of the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:9). There will be a very loud blast of the trumpet signaling our Lord’s return (Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).

We can also read about the future trumpets, the ones found here in revelation in the Prophet Joel 2, which warns or signals the great wrath of God…
As Joel predicts and lays out these great events we are to read about this morning there is a great wailing and mourning on the earth at the Day of the Lord and Joel asks that same question John asked, who can stand? Or as Joel says, who can endure?

All these great events are announced with the blast of the trumpet. Today we are beginning the second cycle of judgments. Remember the first cycle were the 7 seals being opened one by one releasing God’s judgment. Now the second cycle begins with the 7 trumpets being sounded one by one.

The purpose of these trumpets is to announce and also sound a warning. Much like the watchman on the wall would blast the trumpet to warn the city of coming army so too these trumpets sound the warning that judgment is, in fact, coming.

For God’s enemies, all who are lost, these trumpets sound destruction. For the church, they sound the call to repentance and faith.

While the seals released, as we said before, judgment that has been taking place throughout the church age, now we move to a time which for the most part is to be future. This is what Joel predicts at the Day of the Lord.

It seems from Scripture that these trumpet warning of judgment go unheeded. None who are lost repent but remain in their sin. But God still sounds the trumpet to warn, just like the watchman who if He did not blow the trumpet the blood of those killed would be on His head, so God as the most faithful of all watchmen blasts the trumpet one last time.

TT- God hears and responds to the prayers of the saints to punish the world of unbelieving sinners.
Human need met by text

We often find ourselves looking at the lost world and wonder as the Psalmists often did, why is it that the enemies of God seem to be blessed and we as God’s people seem to struggle more in this life.

Here in this passage we will see the fact that God has heard our prayers and the prayers of the great multitude that could not be numbered wanting justice. We must conclude from this account that our prayers are heard by God and they will be answered when the time is right.

Revelation 8 (ESV) The Seventh Seal and the Golden Censer

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.

The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.

12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night.

13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

Silence in Heaven

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

At the opening of the 7th seal, God listens. There are no orders given, no decrees made, no questions, comments, or words of any kind, the chorus of praise ceases and all fall silent. Heaven, as it were, listens to the prayers of the battle weary church who is made of Jews and Gentiles alike. The great multitude of God’s people on earth who are sealed with the Holy Spirit are doing what the church needs to always be doing and that is praying to God for help.

The smoke of the incense is merged with the prayers of the church on earth and both rise up to God. There is a calm and a silence in heaven right before the first trumpet sounds.

I want us to understand something here…Our prayers are heard by God. They are sweet aroma to Him. It is, at least in part, the prayers of the church for protection and faithfulness that brings about the beginning of the end. God ordains our prayers and our prayers move God…this is not a contradiction but an amazing divine truth. God has been listening to the martyrs cry out for the vengeance of the blood. He is now hearing the faithful prayers of His bride on earth and God moves…it is time.

I don’t want to read too much into this section and perhaps you get this same feeling but it seems at least here that the church on earth is in unity and that their prayers are rising almost as one unified prayer. Perhaps it has taken persecution and suffering to separate the true church from the false church and perhaps through suffering the church has become what our Lord prayed for when He asked His Father not to take us out of the world but to keep us from the evil one and to be in unity as the Trinity is unified.

We read that there is silence in heaven for about half and hour. I think after reading various ideas about the time half an hour, it means about half and hour or a period of time perhaps even up to one hour. But if we get too caught up in this we may miss the true meaning and that is that there is silence in heaven. There has never been silence in heaven since the creation of the universe. Heaven reverberates with praises to the Lamb who was slain and to Him who sits on the throne. But now it goes deathly silent…that’s the point.

Right before Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was destroyed there was silence on Daniel’s part for about an hour. The silence for Daniel took place as he contemplated the massive destruction ready to take place. We see the same thing here. The earth and all the lost are about to be judged and the wrath will be so severe that the singing and the praising goes silent right before the wrath of God is unleashed.

The scene is very remarkable as the angel fills the golden censer with fire from the altar and casts it to the earth. The point is that the events on earth which some would call natural events are really not natural at all but God causes them. That’s the point. These cosmic events are cause by God and He has a purpose in mind…to purify His sealed, blood-bought people and to judge the earth.

Before we begin the trumpet judgments we should notice that at each point these judgments are not complete or yet the full wrath of God but are still limited and most are limited to 1/3 of the earth or 1/3 of the people etc.

If you remember, the seal judgments affect ¼ of the earth so here we see an intensification of the cycle to now include 1/3 of the earth.

Trumpet #1-

The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

Notice what takes place on earth with the first trumpet judgment…1/3 the earth was burned up, 1/3 of the trees and all the vegetation smaller than trees grass, wheat, grain crops etc were completely burned.

Exodus 9:22–26 (ESV)

22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.” 23 Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail.

What Egypt experienced during the time of the Exodus, the earth will experience during the Day of the Lord.

Trumpet #2-

The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

This trumpet announces the judgment that falls on the sea. Here again 1/3 of the sea is affected. This is not an atomic bomb, a random meteor, volcano, or anything else that some interpreters dream up. This is fire from heaven sent by God to judge 1/3 of the waters of the earth.

1/3 of the sea became as blood and as a result, 1/3 of everything living in this contaminated, burning water die, including all the fish and even all the ships in these areas are destroyed.

Here again we see some level of comparison with yet another plague that hit Egypt.
Exodus 7:20–22 (ESV)

20 Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. 21 And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

I think we not only are given in a prophetic way and on a much smaller scale a picture of this trumpet judgment but we also see a prophetic response to these plagues or judgments. We will see that just as Pharaoh did not respond in repentance but hardened his heart, so too the people remaining on the earth who have not been sealed by God will not turn to God in repentance. This really speaks to something even bigger. When this day comes, the fullness of the martyrs and the fullness of the gentiles and the fullness of Israel are already taken place. In other words, God has saved all the people He has chosen to save. So, in reality, there is no repentance because the time for God opening hearts to believe is past. This should remind us of the time when Israel was entering the Promised Land and were told to leave none alive. These judgments will be the end of all life that does not trust Jesus Christ.

Here is the danger for everyone who thinks that salvation is on his or her time schedule. There is coming a day in which the door to salvation will shut and all who remain outside will be doomed to eternal torment and eternal death.

Trumpet #3-

10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.

Here we are introduced to the term Wormwood. This is the term equated with bitterness and /or poison.

We see it in the OT Book of Jeremiah and the judgment of lost and idolatrous Israel.

Jeremiah 9:15 (ESV)
15 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will feed this people with bitter food, and give them poisonous water to drink.

Trumpet #4-

12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night.

The close connection for comparison is found again as one of the plagues in Egypt. Here specifically, we see it in the ninth plague…

Exodus 10:21–24 (ESV)

21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived. 24 Then Pharaoh called Moses and said, “Go, serve the Lord; your little ones also may go with you; only let your flocks and your herds remain behind.”

Here in Revelation, what happened on a localized scale is worldwide. 1/3 of the light from the sun is cut off. Stars are affected as well. It seems as if everything that gives light to the earth even to the smallest degree is affected. This is not a natural phenomena but God working supernaturally. Since He spoke the universe into existence, He can very easily dim it a little.

The Three Woes

13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

As happens often in the Book of Revelation there is a pause or an interruption. We’ve just heard the four trumpets with judgment that affects the cosmic order. Earth and Sun are affected. These signs should be enough for the world to repent but they do not. Each warning to the earth’s inhabitants call them to repent and turn to God but sadly they don’t. Now the woe is declared. Death to all of God’s enemies is coming.

Woe to earth’s inhabitants.

We’ve read this term a few times now…those who dwell on the earth or something similar. God’s people are not those who dwell on earth, they are sojourners on earth. These judgments are for those who have made earth their home. They are not looking for a better place and place not made with human hands. They are not looking for a place whose builder and architect is God. These are the ones who will suffer the wrath of God.

Application

By way of application, what should we learn from Revelation Chapter 8?

  1. Always remember that God hears your prayers and they do rise like incense before His throne. Your prayers do make a difference.
  2. These coming warnings and judgments must cause us to ask, Is my faith fixed entirely upon Jesus Christ? If you are in Christ then you will be spared from these judgments.
  3. A sobering thought that really ties in to the last application point is this: Just as we saw on a small scale these judgments in Egypt and now in a much more severe way across 1/3 of the earth, these judgments will be even greater for the lost in hell. The plagues are eternal and death eternal in the place called hell. If you are not in Christ today, remember today salvation is being offered but there is coming a day when every inhabitant on earth will plead for death to come, thinking that death will be a relief from their suffering, only to wake up and discover real and eternal torment and suffering.

Come to Christ today and be saved from the wrath of the Lamb.

 

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