Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Revelation 8:1-13 - Opening the 7th Seal

Hello friends,

It's been a while since I last posted my class recording and notes...but now we are back on track.

We now go into Revelation 8 as we open the 7th seal on the Scroll that is God's Final Testimony of how He will reestablish his kingdom on Earth.

Let me know if you have any questions...and invite others, if you like this study, to join in. May God bless you as you study and receive his Word.  - Kirk McCormick

The Revelation
The Seventh Seal = The Seven Trumpets
Revelation 8:1-13 

** After a break/interlude (Chapter 7) from the opening of the Seals, the last of the seals is broken…

…allowing the Scroll with the Last Judgment/Disposition of God Almighty becoming “public” knowledge – having been known only by the Father to this point.

** Content:  Chapters 8-15 describe the judgments of Trumpets 1-6.  Chapter 16ff reveals the 7th Trumpet with its 7 Bowls.

v. 1 – The Calm before the Storm

“Silence” -

·      Interestingly…to this point, there is constant praise of God in heaven coming from
the Angels, Creatures, Elders, Saints, etc.

·      Why the Silence?  Various Options are possible. The Silence is intended to:

o   Clear the air in order that the prayers of the martyrs/saints might rise without obstruction to the Father. “The needs of the saints are more to God than all the psalmody of heaven.” – R.H. Charles
o   Demonstrate the immensity of what is seen when the last seal is broken and the contents of the Scroll are revealed.  i.e.: Heaven is in shock by what is seen.
o    Give dramatic pause before the content of the 7th Seal (i.e.: the 7 Trumpets and 7 Bowls) are heaped upon the inhabitants of the Earth. i.e.: This designates that something Unique/Major/HUGE is about to happen.

** Interestingly…when the Jerusalem Temple was the focus of worship on earth, the designated priest would enter the Holy of Holies once a year to offer a sacrifice. While there, all the whole assembly of Jews outside the Holy of Holies would offer silent prayers (Luke 1:10) until the priest returned.  It was a sign that God had accepted the offering.

“Half an Hour”

·      Represents the dramatic pause…time to soak in the seriousness of the moment… time when God is not doing or revealing anything new… but people wait on God to reveal this incredibly serious event rivaling, perhaps, the Creation, the Incarnation, and the Resurrection – the most important events of history.

vs. 2-5 – Introducing the Main Characters of the 7th Seal

·      This passage introduces a new group of Specialty Angels

o   The 7 Angels who held the 7 Trumpets (v. 2)
o   The Angel who   (v. 3)

Note: Jewish tradition (Tobit 12:15) names the “archangels” - Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Sariel, Gabriel and Remiel – two of which (Michael – e.g.: Jude 9 and Luke 1:19 and Gabriel – e.g.: Daniel 8 and Luke 1:19, 26) are named in the Bible. Actually, Michael is the only given the title, “Archangel” in the Bible.

·      Michael (name = “Who is like God?”) is generally thought to be the angel in charge of God’s armies. He is the “warrior” angel.
·      Gabriel (name = “God is my strength”) is generally thought to be the “messenger” angel given his appearances to disclose God’s plan or will.
·      Trivia: Of course, apart from Gabriel and Michael, there is ONE other angel whose name we know… he is the Fallen Angel, Lucifer. Tradition is that it was Michael who fought Lucifer in heaven, casting Lucifer out for eternity, according to God’s will.

** We’ll deal with the 7 Angels in the next section, but let’s see about the “Angel who had a golden censer”.

·      “Censer” = a bowl that holds burning coals…it is “golden” = valuable

·      “Incense” = always symbolic of prayers from God’s people…

Note: So close to the altar, and therefore to God, is the censer that the cloud generated by the incense cannot help but be noticed by God

·      “…took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth”

o   In response/answer to the prayers, God sends – via the angel – his response: thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, earthquake = God’s presence and wrath!

Note: The language, reminiscent of Sinai with its thunder, lightning, and earthquake (Exodus 19:14-19).

After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes.  15 Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.” 16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.  17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.  18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, 19 and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

Transition: A question arises at this point:

Question: What is the relationship of the trumpets to the preceding six seals and the following bowls?

Two basic options:

o   either the series are parallel and simultaneous, or,
o   they are sequential or successive.

The Argument for the Sequential option (which Kirk prefers) is:

·      There is a rise in the intensity of the judgments (i.e.: only a part of earth and men are affected in the trumpets, but all are affected under the bowls).
·      There is a difference in sequence and content of the events described in each series.
·      The reference to those not sealed in 9:4 (fifth trumpet) presupposes the sealing of 7:1-8.
·      The bowl judgments are directly called the “last plagues” because with them God’s wrath is “completed” (see 15:1). When the seventh bowl is poured out, the words “It is done” are spoken (16:17).

** A trumpet-blast can be four things:

1.     It can sound the alarm. It can waken from sleep or warn of danger; and God is always sounding his warnings in our ears.
2.     It can be the fanfare which announces the arrival of royalty. It is a fitting symbol to express the invasion of time by the King of eternity.
3.     It can be the summons to battle. God is always summoning us to take sides in the battle between truth and falsehood and to become soldiers of the King of Kings.
4.     It can signify the beginning of battle…like the playing of “Charge”.

vs. 6 - 7 – The First Trumpet

** The Trumpets tell us, The End is near…and So is the Lord!

1 Thessalonians 4:16 – “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”

** “Hail and Fire mixed with blood”

Joel 2:30 - “I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke”

·      The Curse:  1/3 of all the earth’s vegetation is destroyed…the land, forests, green grass
·      The Consequence:  any animal/being that depends on grass, etc. (e.g.: cattle, lambs, any wild/domesticated herbivore) to survive will lose its food source

Note: John is not concerned with the mechanism of HOW God will do this.  Some, today, speculate this sounds like nuclear warfare…but it is only that: Speculation.

vs. 8-9 – The Second Trumpet

** “…something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.”

·      The Curse: 1/3 of the ocean life is destroyed
·      The Consequence: Again, any person or animal dependent on the oceans for their life or livelihood will suffer.

Note: “Huge Mountain ablaze” likely depicts volcanic activity.

·      Interestingly, there is the “Ring of Fire” surrounding the Pacific Ocean.
o   Approximately 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, of which only about 1% is fresh water.
o   The Pacific Ocean constitutes 50% of the ocean waters, covering approximately 1/3 of Earth’s surface
o   There are 452 volcanoes in the Ring of Fire, constituting 75% of the world’s active volcanoes

Point: What if there were massive explosions along the Ring of Fire, millions of yards of lava to flow into the Pacific.

And what if these same volcanoes collapsed into the ocean…imagine the tidal wave activity that would generate…

Enough that 1/3 of the ships were sunk or destroyed?  It’s not hard to imagine.
vs. 10-11 – The Third Trumpet

·      The Curse: A “great star, blazing like a torch fell”
·      The Consequence: 1/3 of the fresh water is destroyed

Note: The star is named, “Wormwood” = “Bitterness”.

·      Practically speaking, Wormwood gives off a bitterness, but is NOT poisonous.
·      Wormwood always stood for the bitterness of the judgment of God on the disobedient.
·      It was the threat of God through Jeremiah that God would give his people wormwood to eat and poisonous waters to drink (Jeremiah 9:14–15, 23:14=15).

Jeremiah 9:13-15 – “The LORD said, ‘It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law.  14 Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their fathers taught them.’  15 Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘See, I will make this people eat bitter food and drink poisoned water.’”

Jeremiah 23:14-15 – “And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah. 15 Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty says concerning the prophets: I will make them eat bitter food and drink poisoned water,  because from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land.”

Note 2:  With this Curse we have the first loss of human life as a consequence.  People need fresh water to live!

Note 3: The first of the Egyptian plagues, in which God struck the Nile River and it became undrinkable (Exodus 7:14–24).

·      Of course, the plagues of Egypt were directed at Pharaoh but were meant to show the falseness of Egypt’s pantheon. Each plague was a slap in the face of one of their idols.  Specifically, Egypts pantheon of “water”-related deities included:

o   Hapi, god of the annual flooding of the Nile
o   Anuket, goddess of the Nile, and nourisher of the fields
o   Nephthys, goddess of rivers
o   Khnum, god of the Nile River
o   Sobek, god of the Nile river, depicted as a crocodile or a man with the head of a crocodile.

vs. 12 – The Fourth Trumpet

·      The Curse: “A third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the starts so that a third of them turned dark.  A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.”
·      The Consequence:  Nothing specific is mentioned, but to extrapolate is not difficult.

Question: What is the reason for the darkness?

Possible Answer: To suppose that the destruction of the first three curses will have no effect on the atmosphere is unwise.  If the nuclear warfare and the natural destruction of the volcanoes raises the pollution of the atmosphere, a thermal blanket easily cold cover the earth so the sunshine cannot break through.

** Living beings (human, animal, plant) need light for life.  We gain nutrients from life. Plants need light to grow.

Note:  Spiritually…darkness is a sign of evil. So Evil is creeping into the scene more and more. This, too, is a cause of concern for those left on Earth.  But this is not the point as these curses from the sounding of the Trumpets are meant to erode the resources of the Earth to the point where the Antichrist can set up a new economy, forcing people to worship him and Satan if they want food and water.

v. 13 – The Eagle

** Another brief interlude to the destruction taking place

** The Eagle was the strongest and most feared bird of prey (i.e.: war) in John’s Day.

** Three times – “Woe” = pay attention…the worst is yet to come.

·      The Worst = what is going to happen in the next three Trumpet blasts.


Next Week:  Revelation 9

And remember…if you need old lessons – audio and/or notes – go to Kirk’s blog:

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