Revelation 8:1-13 (NIV) 1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 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, on the golden altar before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. 6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them. 7 The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. 8 The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, 9 a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. 10 The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky 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 turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. 12 The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, 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 turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night. 13 As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!”
On verses 1-13: When the Lamb opens the seventh seal, there is about a half hour of silence. Then heaven launches a series of attack against the earth. First an angel takes a gold censer and fills it with fire from an altar where incense (representing the prayers of God’s people) is burning. That angel hurls the gold censer onto the earth. Not only does this cause peals of thunder, rumblings, lightning and an earthquake to occur, but this also seems to trigger the next series of attacks, where one by one seven angels each with a trumpet in hand blow their trumpet to call forth a specific attack from heaven on the earth. Chapter 7 describes what happens when the first four angels with trumpets blow their horns.
After the first trumpet sounds, hail and fire mixed with blood are hurled onto the earth, burning up a third of the earth as well as a third of all trees and green grass (v7).
After the second trumpet sounds, a huge mountain is thrown into the sea, causing a third of the sea to turn into blood, a third of marine wildlife to die and a third of the ships to be destroyed (v8-9).
After the third trumpet sounds, a great blazing star called Wormwood is hurled onto a third of the rivers, causing a third of the waters to turn bitter, killing many people who drank from it (v10-11).
After the fourth trumpet sounds, a third of the sun is struck while a third of moon and stars turn dark, causing a third of the light available to the earth to grow dim (v12).
Then an eagle flies and in a loud voice warns the inhabitants of the earth that more judgment is coming.
It is important to note that by this time, all of God’s church, every person who has placed their faith in Jesus, is now protected from the destruction being described in chapter 8. Either they have been marked with a seal (Revelation 7:3-8) or they are part of the great multitude in heaven (Revelation 7:9-17). Thus in chapter 8 God appears to be dealing with whoever is left behind, with the people who “did not repent of the work of their hands” (v20), who did not repent after worshiping demons and idols, being involved in murder, witchcraft, sexual immorality or stealing (v20). This is God judging unrepentant sinners for their sins and avenging the losses that His people have suffered.
What can we learn from all this?
1.Rejecting God comes with real consequences. God’s wrath against sin is real. God’s promise to avenge His people is true. God’s warning of coming judgment for sin are not empty. One day God’s final judgment against sin will come. Revelation 8 illustrates for us the truth of Hebrews 10:31, that “it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”, especially when we refuse to repent of sin.
2.It is so much better to be with God than against God. When we are fighting on God’s side, we can be confident that nothing can stop us in the end. When we are fighting against God, we don’t stand a chance. So we might as well surrender to God now and join His side. Don’t run away from God. Run to Him.
3.Praise God thatby hanging onto faith in Jesus Christ who died for our sins, we are spared from God’s wrath.
Almighty God, there is no winning when I fight against You. Today I surrender my life and my heart to You. Thank You that through Jesus Christ I can escape Your wrath and enter Your pleasure. I stand in awe of Your power and justice. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!