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Chapter 7=    =Chapter 9


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

:2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

:4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.

:5 And the angel took the censer, filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it to the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

:6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

:7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast into the earth: And the third part of the trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

:8 And the second angel sounded, And as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third of the sea became blood;

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

: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 of the rivers, and on the fountains of waters;

:11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the water, because they were made bitter.

: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 were darkened, and the day shone not for the third part of it, and the night likewise.

:13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!


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Statement of Faith

Revelation of Jesus Christ


Seventh Seal

In this chapter, the seventh seal is opened whereby seven angels are given seven trumpets by which a cascading set of judgments are to be released upon the earth; ultimately leading to the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Of these, the first three are empowered to release destruction upon the earth itself. As stated in the previous chapter, they work in concert with the four angels standing on the four corners of the earth.

These are followed by a fourth angel who sounds his trumpet causing the sun, moon and stars to be affected.

Next, a strong warning is issued by yet another angel, stating that there are three more "woes" yet to come upon the inhabitants of the earth. The woes unleashed by the three remaining angels with trumpets are covered in chapters 9-11. Those judgments are to be applied directly to the inhabitants of the earth, who refuse to repent of their evil deeds, even in the aftermath of the initial judgments sent against them.

Verses 1-6

"...silence in heaven..."

With the opening of the seventh seal, He who sits upon the throne is suddenly quiet, and a total hush falls upon the precincts of heaven.

The four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, the souls of those under the altar, the angelic host and all others in heaven follow suit; and silence ensues for the space of thirty minutes, by John's reckoning.

All of the praises, honor and glory which heretofore had been offered up to the Lord of heaven are suddenly muted. In this reverential silence, the seven angels standing before God, are each given a trumpet. What is it that has caused this silence to come about? It's the prelude to the God of heaven hearing and answering the prayers which are about offered up to Him; concerning retribution against the wicked of the earth, who have slain the saints of the Most High.

God is omniscient, and therefore knows the prayers of the saints even before they are offered. Here however, the prayers are stored in the golden vials, or bowls, held by the twenty-four elders, until the appropriate time for them to be answered. That time has now arrived!

This scene is presented to show that God in heaven takes the prayers of His saints very seriously; and is now about to give His full attention to answering the request they have submitted to Him. Here, will not be uttered a request, that He be merciful to the perpetrators of these crimes, as in former times: but that His great wrath will be unleashed against the wicked, who hate not only the saints which they slew, but God Himself. An awesome moment!

The period of silence continues with the coming of an angel having a golden censer in his hand. He stops first at the altar of sacrifice, under which are the souls of the slain saints {6:9-11}. There, much incense (a special formula) to be used in offering the prayers of all of the saints, is put into the censer which he carries. Chapter 5:8 tells us that the twenty-four Elders have "... golden vials full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."

As the silence continues, coals of fire from the altar of sacrifice are then carried to, and placed upon the Golden Altar of Incense (the customary procedure in the Temple at Jerusalem). The angel then proceeds to the altar where he pours the incense upon the coals of fire, producing a sweet smell ascending up before Him who sits upon the throne.

When finished offering up the prayers of the saints, he then takes hot smoking coals from the altar of incense, puts them in the golden censer and flings it into the earth ending the time of silence.

The "...voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake..." in the earth, which follow this action, indicate that God in heaven has heard and accepted the prayers of the saints. Not only were the coals of fire thrown into the earth, but the censer itself was cast down. This seems to indicate that no additional prayers concerning these matters need to be offered up unto the Lord again. Their prayers have been received, and now the time has come that His judgments should be poured out upon those who have killed His beloved.

Verse 6 seems to indicate that the angels are deployed ("...prepared themselves to sound...") from heaven to the earth realm, where the first three will act in unison with the four angels standing at the four corners of the earth {7:1}.

The other four, with a different role, also set themselves in position to begin sounding their trumpets to unleash additional measures of the wrath of God, at the prescribed time; against a world which will not repent after being afflicted by the first three judgments. God, in His omniscience, already knows the outcome of the judgments, which John is about to observe.


The First Angel Sounded

Verses 7

Sometimes, in studying the Book of Revelation, it is not abundantly clear as to when we should understand the things presented as literal, and when they should be interpreted as symbolic. We must rely on the overall context applied to the passage(s) we are reading. In this book, the literal and symbolic are often weaved together. Most of the time, a careful reading of the text will reveal the sense in which something is used.

For example, we know from chapter 7 that four angels are assigned power to bring harm to the earth itself. It cannot possibly be construed that the harm they are to bring is anything other than literal harm. So the things related to the execution of that power need, by in large, to be viewed in a literal sense.

There are passages of Scripture which are clearly meant to be understood as literal, yet within those passages there are certain things, which through the use of symbolic imagery; leave a more graphic and impressionable image upon the mind of those who read, or hear to book read.

A common rule of thumb is that when we read the Scriptures, we should do so as if we were reading a newspaper. If something we read strikes us as literal in the reading, then it's fairly safe to assume that it is intended to be understood that way (a third of the trees burned up). If it is obvious that something is out of range of a literal interpretation (a beastly animal, with seven heads and ten horns, ruling the world); then it is safe to say that it should be interpreted as symbolic.

There are however, some instances in which it is not so obvious as to whether we should consider something as literal or as symbolic; but the general rule above holds true in most cases.

In some passages, it is also clear from the context, that the entities involved should be viewed as symbolic (i.e. one third of the stars of heaven cast to the earth - 12:4). In this example, it is obvious that there is not enough space for one third of the literal stars of heaven to fall upon the earth. Even if that were possible, the earth would be burned up by such an occurance. The sun, the star around which our solar system revolves, is relatively small when compared to many stars of the Universe, yet the earth, on which we live, is dwarfed in size when compared to it.

The earth and the things therein (the trees, grass, sea, waters etc.), which are subject to the judgments unleashed by the first three angels of chapter 8, should be understood as literal. However, it seems perfectly permissable that certain things related to the execution of those judgments (i.e. "...the third of the sea became blood.") can be understood as symbolic terminology.

When we get to the fifth trumpet (chapter 9), a fallen star is given a key with which it opens the bottomless pit. That star is given personal characteristics, and therefore can be understood as a symbolic representation of a literal truth: just like the seven stars of chapter 1:20, which we are told, represent the seven angels of the seven churches. In chapter 9, we also find something which normally appears as literal (a fallen star), symbolically representing another entity which is indeed literal (an angel). He appears to be the same angel which is further identified in {9:11}

"...third part of the trees was burnt up..."

At this point, the sealing of the 144,000 of Israel in chapter 7 has been completed and the first of the seven angels, is ready to sound the trumpet given to him, causing the initial "winds of judgment", to be released against the earth and its inhabitants.

There are really two ways to look at the scope of these judgments. Firstly, they can be understood to be applied on a regional scale: all three of the first judgments are aimed at a particular section of the earth. Secondly, they may be applied on a global scale since the tribulation period will be a global event. We also observe here that the judgments, unleashed by the first three trumpets, are meted out in increments of one-third. So the judgments dispensed at this level would constitute the full measure of God's wrath in this series: 1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3 = 3/3. It may also be noted here, that the 144,000 of Israel are sealed from harm in connection with these judgments; so the third part of the earth upon which they are released, may be in the region of the middle east.

With the sounding of the first trumpet, we have judgment administered using two components, which are usually regarded as opposites: hail mingled with fire (ice and fire together). Trumpets two and three employ single components in their judgments (a burning mountain, and a great burning star).

What is suggested here, is that two of the four angels, of chapter 7, standing upon the four corners of the earth, are each controlling one of the component of the first judgment. One is empowered to dispense fire upon the earth whereby a third of the trees and all green grass are burned up. The other unleashes a great bombardment of hail upon the inhabitants of the earth.

We also cannot overlook the enormous potential for damage which hugh amounts of hail may bring. Naturally occuring storms are sometimes accompanied by concentrations of very large hailstones which often destroy whatever they hit.

In this, we can see that with the sounding of the first trumpet, two of the four angel standing on the four corners, release winds which bring down and direct the impact of these components so that they affect only a third part of the trees of the earth. By this, it becomes more understandable as to how three trumpets can be used as a signal to unleash the steering forces (winds) held by four angels of chapter 7. Two of the four participate in the sounding of the first trumpet; with the other two acting independently of each other with the sounding of the next two trumpets.

The hail and fire mixture is reminiscent of the divine judgment poured out in Egypt, in the days when Moses went before Pharoah, {Ex. 9:23-26}. The mingling of blood with these two elements speaks of presence of the shed blood of the martyrs which is crying out for judgment against their killers.

This may possibly be fulfilled by a relatively small comet penetrating the earth's atmosphere, and through disintegration, spraying a third of the earth with ice (hail) and molten (fiery) rock particles igniting forest fires in multiple locations. It appears that it is the literal winds of the earth, controlled by these two angels, which determine where on earth these destructive events will occur.

While we tend to think of comets as large bodies in far away regions, there are many undetected comets which, while smaller in size, have the potential to bring catastrophic consequences to the earth should there be an impact. Comets are thought to have a core of rock and ice and are known for their tails of ice crystals.

Dr. Sten Odenwald has this to say about the potential danger of comets:

"Comets are weird and unpredictable. Of course we know the orbits of the known comets discovered every year, but the problem is that every year, a dozen new comets enter the inner solar system, thanks to events that occur way out in the Kuiper Belt beyond the orbit of Jupiter and Saturn. We cannot see bodies way out there that are smaller than a few hundred kilometers, which means that most of the bodies that can damage the Earth are not detectable until they are a few months out from the inner solar system. It can takes weeks to get a good orbit determination. In the next 50 years, the KNOWN comets will be our friends. It is the unknown ones discovered by AMATEUR ASTRONOMERS the world over that are the most frightening..."

Whether we are dealing with asteroids, comets or some unknown entities in these judgments of earth, it's clear that each judgment is a literal exercise aimed at the wicked of the earth. By these things, the wicked are given cause to repent, but they will only harden their hearts all the more against God, just as Pharoah did, bringing even greater disaster upon themselves.


The Second Angel Sounded

Verses 8

"...third part of the sea became blood..."

With the sounding of the second trumpet, we see the severity of the judgments dramatically increased. Here, John sees something like a great burning mountain thrown into the sea. Unless this mountain was plucked up from the earth and thrown, then it would also have to be a heavenly body which is being described.

The description given here appears to indicate that something along the lines of an asteroid, may be what John saw striking the sea {View Artist Conception}. Asteroids vary in size and due to numerous collisions with other space objects, over long periods of time, most are quite irregular in their shape.

The mountain shaped mass which he saw hit the sea could easily fall into the category of an asteroid. While most are predictable in their orbits, it's the unknown asteroids, like the unknown comets, which trouble scientist the most.

With the hurling down of this mountain sized object, one of the two remaining angels, standing on the four corners of the earth, uses the wind over which he is given power to steer the object to its predetermined target. {Asteroid Photo}

From NASA we have this:

"...The Earth's atmosphere protects us from most NEOs (Near-Earth-Objects) smaller than a modest office building (40 m diameter, or impact energy of about 3 megatons). From this size up to about 1 km (5/8 mile) diameter, an impacting NEO can do tremendous damage on a local scale..."

"...Above an energy of a million megatons (diameter about 2 km), an impact will produce severe environmental damage on a global scale. The probable consequence would be an impact winter; with loss of crops worldwide and subsequent starvation and disease. Still larger impacts can cause mass extinctions,..."

"...We don't know when the next NEO impact will take place, but we can calculate the odds. Statistically, the greatest danger is from an NEO with about 1 million megatons energy (roughly 2 km in diameter). On average, one of these collides with the Earth once or twice per million years, producing a global catastrophe that would kill a substantial (but unknown) fraction of the Earth's human population. Reduced to personal terms, this means that you have about one chance in 40,000 of dying as a result of a collision. Such statistics are interesting, but they don't tell you, of course, when the next catastrophic impact will take place - next year or a million years from now. ..."

How much warning will we have?

"...With so many of even the larger NEOs remaining undiscovered, the most likely warning today would be zero -- the first indication of a collision would be the flash of light and the shaking of the ground as it hit. In contrast, if the current surveys actually discover a NEO on a collision course, we would expect many decades of warning. Any NEO that is going to hit the Earth will swing near our planet many times before it hits, and it should be discovered by comprehensive sky searches like Spaceguard. In almost all cases, we will either have a long lead time or none at all..."

Given the devastation wrought upon a third part of the sea by this event, an asteriod in the lower size range (perhaps smaller than a quarter mile in diameter) may be what is being described here. Of course, it depends upon which sea we are dealing with as well.

John was banished to the Isle of Patmos where the Book of Revelation was given to him, so it is likely that the sea he is speaking of in this passage is the Mediterranean Sea. Again, with the use of the size "the third part", it seems to be speaking of an event which occurs on a regional rather than a global scale. By this collision we are told that a third of the sea became blood (or bloody) resulting in all of the sea life in that third, as well as, all of the ships in that area being destroyed. No doubt there will also be many human lives lost in the execution of this judgment in the world.


The Third Angel Sounded

Verses 10

"...third part of the waters became wormwood..."

As the third angel sounds his trumpet, John sees what appears to be a great burning star falling from heaven. This one, as the hail mingled with fire, fell upon the earth's surface rather than upon the sea . It's purpose is to pollute the potable waters of the region into which it falls. It's impact will have grave and dire consequences upon the very waters (rivers and springs) which people need for survival. Here, we are also seeing the final angel standing on the four corners of the earth (chapter 7), directing the path of this object to its intended target.

The various rivers and springs which are polluted by this occurance, also feed into lakes and resevoirs from which many public water supplies are drawn, so these too will probably be polluted. The effects however, appear to be short term, otherwise the entire populace would soon die from this catastrophic event.

The real purpose of this judgment is not to kill all the people in the region by polluting the waters, but to press them to repent of their deeds and seek God. This is the theme of most of the judgments in the Book of Revelation - a call to repentance issued to a world which has hardened its heart against its Creator. It's a step in the process by which the line in being drawn that will ultimately divide the righteous from the wicked for the final day of judgment.

As with the previous two judgments, the effect of this one is also directed at the earth on a scale of one third. One begins to get the sense that these judgments are all directed at the same specific geographic area of the earth: especially considering that the sealed 144,000 of Israel are protected from these things. This falling star, "...burning as it were a lamp...: was given the name, "wormwood", a term which means, bitterness. The drinking waters affected by this collision, are made bitter and are poisonous to drink. Many, if not all, who do drink these contaminated waters will become sick and die.

It appears here that we are seeing the impact of another heavenly body: either and asteroid or comet. Many Medevial sketches of comets often portray them as stars, burning like a torch {Halleys Comet}

Dr. Sten Odenwald again states:

"...We know the orbits of about 7000 minor bodies in the solar system, and these run to sizes as small as a few kilometers across. But their orbits can and do get perturbed over decades and centuries. Some of these which end up on orbits intersecting the Earth called 'Apollo-Amor' asteroids have been know for decades. But it is cometary bodies launched from out by the orbit of Jupiter and beyond which are troublesome. Hyakutake and IRAS-Alcock discovered in 1983 were nearly upon us before they were detected at all. Comets are a real problem, and can do nearly as much damage as asteroids.... This is serious business, and the extent to which we all live on a knife edge is very unsettling."

This star, burning like a torch, contains some very hazardous compounds which, it appears, are sprayed upon the third part of the earth's surface as it disintegrates upon breaking through the atmosphere. Whether it is an asteroid or a comet, or even some unknown heavenly body, the results will be disasterous for the portion of the earth upon which it falls.


The Fourth Angel Sounded

Verses 12

"...the day shown not for the third part..."

With the first three judgments in this series now completed, a fourth angel smites the sun, moon and stars so that their brillance is reduced by one third.

This seems to serve as a clearly seen physical sign to the inhabitants of the earth, that this portion of God's judgments are completed.

The dimming of the sun, moon and stars as a sign of closure on a portion of God's judgments, is comparable to chapter 6 wherein the sun moon and stars are completely darkened as a sign of the end of the tribulation period {Matt. 24:29}.

That event carries with it the notion that all the judgments of the Book of Revelation are essentially finished. At that point, the Revelation of Jesus Christ will occur and the great day of judging the nations before the throne of His glory will begin {Matt. 25:31-32}.

Verses 13

"...Woe, woe ,woe to the inhabitants of the earth..."

Here we see yet another angel, coming forth and issuing a dire warning to the inhabitants of the earth who believe the worst is over. Be it known, that there are three more angels to sound, who will unleash far greater misery upon the defiant of the earth than they have encountered with the first three. With the sounding of the final three trumpets (chapters 9-11), things will move from the general, to a more personal level.

 


CHAPTER SUMMARY

In this chapter seven angels are given seven trumpets by which a set of holy judgments are to be released upon the earth and its inhabitants. The angels are divided into two groups: four are to release judgments which primarily affect the earth itself ; with the other three reserved to unleash even stronger measures against the individual inhabitants of the earth, who will not repent of their evil deeds, even in the aftermath of the first judgments sent against them.

Silence falls upon heaven for about thirty minutes, as the prayers of the martyred are offered up before Him who sits upon the throne. Then, a golden censor, filled with hot coals from the altar of incense, is cast into the earth, indicating that the prayers of the saints have been heard. The four angels deployed in chapter 7 are now ready to begin enacting their part in administering the judgments of God upon the earth, as the first trumpets sound.

Judgments are poured out sequentially upon the earth, the sea, the streams of water and the sun, moon and stars.

This chapter ends with yet another angel, coming forth to issue a dire warning to the inhabitants of the earth who believe the worst is over. Be it known, that there are three more angels to sound, who will unleash far greater misery upon the defiant of the earth than they have encountered with the first four. With the sounding of the final three trumpets, beginning in chapter 9, things will move from the general to a more personal level.

 

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