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The Book of Revelation
“The Calm Before the Storm”
In July of 1976, Israeli commandos made a daring raid at an airport in Entebbe, Uganda, freeing 103 Jewish hostages. Yet even as successful as the rescue was, three of the hostages were killed.
As the commandos entered the terminal they shouted in Hebrew, “Get Down!” Only the Jewish hostages understood and hit the floor, while the kidnappers were left standing. Two of the hostages, however, hesitated and the third actually stood up, and they were killed with the rest of the guerrillas. Had the captives obeyed the soldiers’ command, they would have been freed with the rest.
Salvation is open to all, but we must heed the command of Jesus and repent, making Him our Savior and Lord. Otherwise, we’ll perish with the judgments meant for His enemies.
Read Revelation 8:1-5
A Shattering Silence Invades Heaven
At the opening of this last seal, the 7th seal, everything in heaven becomes absolutely still and heaven become deathly silent. What could possible silence heaven? It’s nothing less than the seriousness and certainty of God’s judgment and wrath that are about to be poured out.
It would seem as if the harshness and horror of the impending judgment has silenced all voices. The once joyous sounds of praise that filled the heavens and God’s throne room are now silent in complete suspense and anticipation.
A hushed expectancy hangs over heaven making the judgments that are to come that much more ominous.
We see the same description given by the prophet Zephaniah.
“Be silent in the presence of the Lord God; for the day of the Lord is at hand.” (Zephaniah 1:7a NKJV)
To be silent is to show the proper respect and honor due the Lord who is righteous and holy.
At this time the children of Israel were in the same condition as those who are alive during this time of the Great Tribulation.
Today people are following this same pattern, outlawing God from all venues of life, and instead they’re making the Antichrist their god and following his dictates and religion.
Today we’re seeing the groundwork being laid for this very thing as God is being outlawed in the very land where religious freedom is lauded and proclaimed. Where our children are prohibited from talking about God in our classrooms, all the while false gods and religions are promoted.
Also, in the name of tolerance sharing one’s faith in Jesus Christ will bring discipline or even dismissal. Christianity is no longer tolerated in today’s anti-Christian society.
Old religions and religious practices are making a huge comeback under the name of New Age or what some call “being spiritual.” The sad thing is that such practices are making their way into the church.
In our desire to see God move we use man’s technology and psychological techniques to get people worked up in to a religious fever. Positive confession, visualizations, and Eastern meditation techniques are now being taught.
So the question becomes, “Who’s moving, God or man?”
When God does move it’ll be in His time, not ours, and it’ll be for the sake of His holy name, a name we have defiled. The Lord said, “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.” (Ezekiel 36:22 NKJV)
And so there’s a call to utter and complete silence before a holy and righteous God.
“Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time, for it is an evil time.” (Amos 5:13 NKJV)
And we need to stop our rationalizations and excuses because,
“The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” (Habakkuk 2:20 NKJV)
John now sees before God’s throne seven angels holding seven trumpets.
The sound of the trumpet played a major role in Israel’s national life and within God’s economy.
Therefore to know and understand the trumpet’s sound was important.
In speaking about the inappropriate use of the gift of tongues in the church and the need for correct interpretation, the Apostle Paul uses the trumpet call to illustrate his point.
“For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8 NKJV)
In other words, who is going to arm themselves for battle when the sound they’re hearing is confused or distorted? There’s no confusing, however, the sound these trumpets’ make. The prophet Joel tells us of their sound.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand.” (Joel 2:1 NKJV)
Make no mistake; these angels are not to sound these trumpets to warn of the danger ahead, or to announce Jesus’ arrival. Rather these trumpets will sound the Lord’s judgments against this earth and its inhabitants.
But these trumpets are not the only instruments God uses in His judgment. It’s also going to be the prayers of His people over these past millenniums that God uses to start His judgments.
Please understand our prayers do not go unheard in heaven, rather they are mighty and powerful in the hands of God.
If that’s true, however, then why do most of us never experience their full potency? It may be because of our sins. The prophet Isaiah said,
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2 NIV)
If this is how you’re feeling, that your prayers are going unheard, maybe you need to take an accounting of your life like King David who prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)
By keeping our sins secret we’re keeping ourselves separated from God, and although He knows our prayers, He doesn’t hear them, which means that He refuses to act upon them because that would be tantamount to His condoning our sinful lifestyle.
But our prayers do not go unheard in heaven, and are mighty and powerful. The time will come when God will take all our prayers against the evil and injustice in this world and use them as an instrument of His justice and judgment.
Look again at what John saw,
“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints.” And then he says that the angel “hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.” (Revelation 8:3-5 NIV)
Literally it’s our prayers that God sends hurling back toward the earth.
By mixing our prayers with the incense and fire from God’s altar indicates God’s holy wrath that’s about to be poured out in response to these prayers. God’s justice will be released through our prayers.
So when we’re tempted to stop praying, thinking God hasn’t heard, remember that God hears our prayers and is storing them up for the Day of Judgment.
When our prayers hit the earth, violent storms and earthquakes will shake those who are here as a precursor of what’s about to come and these seven angels, one by one, sound their trumpets and God’s wrath begins pouring out. Listen to Paul’s words.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18 NKJV)
Now, as we look at the first four trumpet judgments, there’s always a tendency to explain them in terms that we can accept given our understanding of how this world operates and the technology we possess. And while God may use these things, He can actually do it any way He wants, that’s why He’s God and we’re not.
Read Revelation 8:7
The first Trumpet Judgment is the burning of a third of the earth’s vegetation. Here we have hail, fire, and blood all mixed together and it’s reminiscent of the seventh plague of Egypt.
“The Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 9:23b NKJV)
Not only did this plague effect the plant life, but also killed man and beast that were exposed to it. “The hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field.” (Exodus 9:25 NKJV)
Some see this first trumpet judgment as volcanic activity as volcanic fireballs fall like hailstones. Others see it as a meteorite shower that gets through our atmosphere and starts fires across one or more continents.
Being mixed with blood may be the reddish color as the ash and sunlight combine in either scenario. But like in Egypt it can also be those men and animals that are unable to find shelter during this time.
The judgment is that a third of all trees will be destroyed and all the green grass, which would be those crops that have yet to be harvested. And so while the judgment may be somewhat localized, the consequences will be global.
Read Revelation 8:8-9
The second Trumpet Judgment is a destruction of a third of the sea life.
Like the first judgment, there are several explanations; some see it as symbolic language. For myself, a mountain burning like fire falling into the sea destroying a third of all sea life and ships describes an asteroid hit upon one of our oceans.
There are 4,617 near-earth asteroids that have “so far” been cataloged. Some have predictable orbits, while others do flybys. Over 1,000 of them are considered to be larger than ½ mile in diameter. And there’s a 1/10,000 chance that earth could be struck by them. So much for our friendly skies!
If an asteroid of 600 feet were to strike the mid-Atlantic, it’ll produce a tidal wave 600 feet high, and the heat from the rock would literally broil the fish, and the seismic waves would kill even more, and the tidal wave would sink every ship in the Atlantic.
Read Revelation 8:10-11
The third Trumpet Judgment results in the poisoning of a third of the fresh water.
The term “wormwood” is taken from several species of plants found in the Palestine region that have a bitter taste. It was a term used for divine punishment.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.” (Jeremiah 9:15 NKJV)
There are two possible explanations given for this event.
But however it happens, a third of the world’s drinking water will be destroyed.
Read Revelation 8:12
The fourth Trumpet Judgment is a darkening of a third of the heavenly bodies.
This has puzzled just about everyone. Some feel this is a direct consequence of the first three trumpet judgments. But again we have to remember that the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, could devise a means by which this could take place.
The light we enjoy from the sun and moon has always been considered as God’s blessing, and a declaration of His glory and faithfulness.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1 NKJV)
Their existence is vital to human life and existence, and so lessening their impact upon the earth would send shivers down those who are left. The reduction of light by one-third only serves to heighten the fear of what is about to happen, as there remain three more trumpets to be sounded.
Read Revelation 8:13
Consider the past four judgments and the devastation that will arise as a third of the vegetation, sea life, and drinking water will be destroyed, and the light of the sun, moon, and stars will be lessened by a third as well.
Yet, as devastating as these are, the remaining three are especially grievous, so much so that God has reserved a “woe” for each one of them. Next week we’ll look at the 5th and 6th trumpet judgment, but for now, I’d like to share with you a story.
Many years ago a father and his daughter were walking through a Canadian prairie. In the distance they saw smoke rising and knew a prairie fire was moving their direction. The father knew they couldn’t outrun it, so if they wanted to escape they’d have to build a fire and burn a large patch of grass where they were.
When the fire drew near, they stood in the middle of the burned out section, and while the girl was frightened the father reassured her saying, “The flames can’t get to us here. We’re standing where the fire has already burned.
When the judgment of God comes to sweep men and women into the fire of hell, there is one spot that’s safe where the fire of God’s wrath has already burned.
Nearly 2,000 years ago the wrath of God was poured out at Calvary upon Jesus Christ. Jesus took God’s wrath due to us upon Himself. Now, if we take our stand on that piece of ground, we’re safe for time and eternity from the flames of hell and God’s judgment against sin.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study