We look at the seventh and final seal. There are seven trumpets that announce God’s judgment. The first four affect the earth and the following three affect people. Much of Revelation 8 and 9 could rightly be described as grim, but we have an enduring hope. God is in control and we are his people. The ultimate result of the judgment is Satan’s defeat, Christ’s victory and the culmination of what he achieved on the cross.
Let’s turn to Revelation. Hopefully, we’ll do chapters 8 and 9 in the next two episodes. Because chapters 8 and 9 are so grim, let’s start in chapter 7 and just remember where this is all headed.
We are part of the coming kingdom
In 7:9 it says, After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands—palm branches are used on Palm Sunday, the palm branches are used to welcome royalty.
The idea here is we’re in the throne room, and we are part of the kingdom coming in. That’s where we’re headed.
And these, of course, are people that lost their lives, and they’re being greatly honored.
Even though things are going to really get dire, there is always hope; and that’s one of the overriding themes of Revelation. Now we’re not going to focus so much today on trying to discern what is exactly happening. It’s pretty clear, it’s bad.
So, what we’re going to focus on is what I think the main point of this is, that God is authorizing these things. They’re necessary to bring about fulfillment and redemption. What we’re called to do is to believe and know God’s still on his throne and our job is to be faithful witnesses no matter what comes.
The seventh seal
So chapter 8. When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
Remember the Lamb is breaking the seals, and each time the lamb breaks a seal, a story comes to life, and the story’s telling us these events that are going to come.
Now we break the seventh seal, and in the seventh seal is going to come seven angels that are going to blow seven trumpets. And each time a trumpet blows, a judgment is going to fall on the earth. And when the seventh trumpet sounds, there’s going to be seven bowls of judgment poured out on the earth.
And then, that’s it. Judgment’s fulfilled. Jesus comes back. Everything’s restored.
But these seven trumpets are progressively worse than the seals. And then the bowls are even worse. So we’re getting judgment that is more and more severe.
And I think this moment of silence here is a testimony that this is a very solemn time. We do moments of silence to remember something that’s solemn. That seems to be what’s happening here because it’s really bad what’s about to take place.
Verse 2. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.
Here’s seven angels. The very prominent angels, apparently, because they’re in the throne room, and they’re given seven trumpets.
Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
So, we have throne. This is the eighth time the word throne has shown up starting from 7:1 forward. Eighth time. It’s very prominent: throne, throne, throne, throne, we’re in the throne room. God is on his throne. We can’t forget that because of all the devastation that is coming to the earth.
The coming devastation is a necessary part
What’s going to happen is we’ve got the throne, so God is in control. But the next part’s really important: prayers. Because all this devastation is going to come on the earth, you might ask, “Well, why are you doing this God?” And the answer? “Because you asked me too.”
This is what’s necessary. This is what’s necessary to get where you want to go.
It kind of reminds me of being a child and saying, “Daddy I want to learn to ride a bicycle.” And after about the tenth knee scrape and the third time falling over, the child may say, “Why are you doing this to me?” “Because you asked me to help you ride the bicycle, and this is a necessary part of it.” This is a necessary thing.
So, throne, prayers.
And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth.
So throne—God’s in control. Prayers—we want fulfillment to come to the earth. We want resolution. Fire—judgment. Our God is a consuming fire. What God uses to cleanse, what God uses to redeem is fire. We’re going to see fire be a prominent theme throughout Revelation. It’s not necessarily a pleasant thing. It’s a very welcome thing.
You know fire cauterizes your veins so your nose doesn’t bleed. I had the doctor do a cauterization on my nose at one point because I had a varicose vein. You know having your nose suddenly start bleeding in the middle of something is very inconvenient. You know what? I did not like that cauterization. It hurt like fire. My nose was sore for several days. But it was worth it because my nose stopped bleeding. That’s what God does with his fire. He cleanses so that things can be restored.
So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets, verse 6, prepared themselves to sound.
Now I tried to envision what this might look like. I looked on Youtube, and I found the London Fanfare Trumpets. You can go look at it. It happens to be seven guys, and I watched them, and they marched out. They stood at attention, and then they all raised their horns at the same time. Then they played this beautiful song.
I think prepared themselves to sound, what’s happening is these guys are getting ready to blow, which, I think, tells us this is going to happen in rapid succession. We’re going to see boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. It’s not going to be long periods between this. They’re going to blow, and things are going to happen.
And once again, we saw this with the seals. When the four horsemen of the apocalypse went out, they were given the power to conquer. They were granted the authority to bring death and devastation on the earth.
Once again, this is all being authorized from heaven. We can’t forget that. God’s still on his throne. Devastation’s coming, but it’s all part of what has to take place.
The first four trumpet judgments affect the earth
They prepared themselves to sound. Verse 7: The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.
Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.
Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.
And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”
This is all pretty bad stuff taking place. Obviously massive devastation, and the worst part of it is that when this massive devastation takes place, an angel comes out and says, “Well, now the really bad stuff is coming.”
The moment of silence makes more and more sense as you go through this.
I don’t know what to say about this too much. Obviously it’s horrific. But one thing that seems to be the case is the first four are mostly upon the physical earth, on the environment: the trees and the grass and the seas and things like that.
The last three are going to be supernaturally initiated attacks directly on people. So I think that’s why it gets even worse.
But these four things also seem to have a direct spiritual connection.
The third trumpet judgment
Look at this verse 10. Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven—We looked at this last episode. Aster, star. We’re going to see here in a minute, there’s an angel, a star, that comes down and is given the key to the bottomless pit. This likely has some sort of spiritual connection.
Satan is thrown out of heaven
If we look over the chapter 12 real quick, we can see there’s a parenthetical explanation of what we’ve been seeing that seems to take place. Look at verse 3. And it says, And another sign appeared in heaven—And, again, this seems to be a documentary to say, “Let me explain some things to you about these events you’ve just witnessed.”
And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.
That’s the dragon, and he’s throwing stars to the earth. And we skip on down to verse 7, and it says And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought—so this is the dragon with a third of these stars, and that’s obviously Satan and his angels, right? So now Satan—the dragon—and his angels are fighting with Michael and his angels in heaven.
—but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.
Look down at verse 12, it says, Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! This is a happy thing for heaven. Finally, Satan and his angels are thrown out. We have cleansed the pollution that has been in heaven for all these eons.
You’ve seen this, right? Spiritual powers and principalities are what we really fight with, not flesh and blood. And the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, their primary domain is still in the heavenly places. We saw this is Job. Satan is talking to God right there in the heavenly places.
Well, now they’re cast out. And heaven’s like, “Yay, heaven!”
Then it says, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
So yay for heaven; boo for earth. And not just boo, but woe. I think this is part of what the three woes are going to be, we’re actually getting an idea that when Satan comes down with his angels, there’s going to be a lot more very direct impact and influence on the earth. What they are is destroyers, and they love destruction, and there’s going to be a lot of it.
The last three trumpet judgments (the three woes) affect people
The fifth trumpet judgment
Let’s go on to the three woes. Revelation 9:1. Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star falling from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit.
Again, this is a star, aster, same Greek word, but it’s an angel, clearly, because to him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit.
Have you ever had a grill, and you go out and go, “Oh no!” because there’s too much smoke coming out of the grill, and you open it up, and everything in there’s on fire. That seems to be kind of what this is like. This happened to me not too long ago. I was cooking sausages, and the sausages caught on fire! We didn’t eat them, obviously. It was not a good day.
But it seems to be like this, like he opens the door, you know like massive smoke and everything comes out of this place. It doesn’t sound like a happy place.
So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Verse 3. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months.
Now remember, we’re most likely in this three and a half year period called the Great Tribulation. It begins in the middle of the seventieth week of Daniel, this week of years, this seven-year period. And we have seen in Revelation that there’s 1260 days, and we saw 42 months; we’ve seen both of those phrases that are talked about. And half of seven years, of course, is 42 months, especially if you use a lunar calendar like the Jews do.
So we are in this time period, and five of those months are specifically designated for this torment.
The bottomless pit
There’s a lot of interesting things going on here. And we can ask a question: What is the bottomless pit? So the bottomless pit is actually three words. It’s something like phrear tes abussou. It’s probably more literally translated pit of the abyss.
This abyss is the word abussou is actually only in scripture a couple of other times other than in Revelation. It actually means a ditch, like when Jesus says if somebody has a donkey that falls in a pit, are you going to let him stay there for the Sabbath, or are you going to go get him out? It’s the same word. It’s the pit of the abyss.
And this idea of abyss actually shows up quite often in scripture. In fact, we might just look at Luke 8:26. Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. This would be on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man…
And he asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” This is verse 30. Because many demons had entered him. Verse 31. And they—the demons—begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Interesting.
There’s this notion that there’s this abyss, this pit with a lock on it, and all these demonic forces inside who are not allowed to interact with the earth. There’s these demons that say, don’t send us to the pit, please. We know that you have the authority to do so, but please do not do that.
Let’s also look at Jude verse 5. (There’s only one chapter.) But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;
Maybe that’s who we’re seeing let out of this pit here: Angels that left their abode, they broke the rules, they got thrown into the abyss, and now they’re being unleashed. Certainly could be the case.
Whatever it is, this is not a happy occurrence. You would not want to go and be like a person watching this happen. You know how we tend to go to dangerous stuff like tornadoes so we can watch it. This would not be a good idea to go to. That’s not a good idea either. But we most definitely would not want to be there watching this. These are bad guys.
They’re bad, but what’s really clear here? They’re really under authority. You see how these demonic forces are horrific. But these guys have been chained up. The ones in the legion in the man said, “Don’t make us go into the abyss. Can we go into the pigs instead?”
These guys here are let out of the pit, and they’re told, you can do this and not that. Once again, God’s on the throne. He’s in control. It won’t look like it. It won’t feel like it. But he is. That’s, I think, one of the main points here.
Those who have the seal of God on their foreheads
And, specifically, they’re not allowed to hurt those men who have the seal of God on their foreheads. Now last time, we had the 144,000 witnesses sealed. And the seal of God was put on their forehead. And that probably includes these people. But it probably goes beyond that, I would think. It would be anybody, at this point in time, who is God’s, that he’s protecting.
I think it’s important to just kind of think about this. Let’s go to 1 Corinthians 10 because this is a promise we have on a continual basis that, I think, is completely relevant to this that we need to always grasp.
1 Corinthians 10:12, Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. Now he says therefore. If you go back to verses 1-11, he’s talking about the whole experience of the exodus. The whole experience of the exodus.
If you read what the children of Israel did, they came out of slavery, they were delivered miraculously, they were given provision, and then they were given a choice. And when they made bad choices, bad things happened. And when they made good choices, good things happened. That’s the experience.
And it was all written down for a specific reason, and that’s so—verse 6—for our example, so we could learn this lesson.
He says therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. We’re always on the borderline of making a bad decision. Don’t presume you’re going to make good decisions. It takes effort to make good decisions.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man—Everybody has the same problems. But God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able—so if a circumstance has come into your life, what does it mean? God authorized it. He let it happen. He could have made it not happen.
What else does it mean? You have the power to handle it. I have the power to handle it. It may not feel like we have the power to handle it. Why might it not feel like we have the power to handle it? Because in our own strength, we don’t, right? And we tend to walk in our own strength most of the time. We tend to prefer that.
But through the power of Christ, we can do all things through him who strengthens us. We have the seal of the Spirit.
The plagues in Egypt foreshadow the plagues of the end times
In fact, if you think about this, this is kind of like one of those little Russian dolls, where you open the top, and there’s another one that looks just like it inside. I don’t know why that’s interesting, the same thing over and over again but different sizes. But this is sort of like that, we have the exodus where God brought plagues of escalating proportion upon the ruler of the earth to deliver his people out of slavery and restore them to a promised land. That’s the illustration that’s given here.
What he’s telling us is, we’re always in that circumstance. We’re in a world that’s ruled by an evil ruler. Now Jesus has dispossessed that evil ruler—which is Satan—but he has not yet taken office. We have a lame-duck evil ruler that’s being dispossessed. And there are bad things that happen along the way. And we have the opportunity, by faith, to trust God in those bad things.
What’s going to happen at the fulfillment of the age is there’s going to be another pharaoh over the whole earth, the antichrist. And he’s going to take over the earth, and he’s going to start persecuting the people of God. He’s going to enslave them; he’s going to kill them. Sound familiar? Just like Pharaoh killed the male children and like he enslaved the people, and God is going to deliver. He’s going to pour out his plagues.
That’s what we’re watching happen with these trumpet judgments. He’s pouring out his plagues on the earth because he’s delivering his people.