Rev 8:13                   The First Four of the Seven Trumpets                         8/28/2005      ßŕ   

  • All the Saints Are Kept Safe in the Father’s Hand (Eph 2:1,8-9, 1:3-10)

 

 

 

 

#1.       The First Four Trumpets (Rev 7:1-3, 8:6-13)

 

 

 

 

  • One Third of the Physical Universe (Rev 6:8)

 

 

 

 

#2.       Symbolism in the First Four Trumpets (1Cor 15:52, Matt 24:21,29, 26:31, Zech 13:7-9)

 

 

 

 

  • The One Third That Gives Glory to God (John 6:37, Dan 7:25, 8:24, Rev 13:7, 9:4, Matt 24:15)

 

 

 

 

  • Wormwood (Rev 8:10-11, 2Thes 2:11-12)

 

 

 

 

#3.       Woe, Woe, Woe, To the Inhabiters of the Earth (Rev 8:13, John 10:27-30)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 2:8 (2X). Today I am not going to preach from Ephesians, but I am going to preach from Revelation chapter 8. When we read Rev 8 and 9, we are shocked to find so many horrible things that God is pouring out on this earth. And so it may be a good thing if we rehearse those passages in the Bible that show how much God loves His saints. God wrote those passages for our comfort. You see, the Bible teaches very clearly that:

  • All the Saints Are Kept Safe in the Father’s Hand (Eph 2:1,8-9, 1:3-10)

What should we understand when we hear the word “Saints”? A saint is not someone who is dead and who has been canonized by a pope. That is an invention from one of the popes, but that is not how the Bible defines saints. The word “saint” or “saints” appears more than 100 times in the Bible, and it always refers to someone who has been saved from a slippery slide into Hell. This person may be alive on this earth, or he may have passed on into eternity, but once he has become a saint he will always be a saint. The Bible teaches that all mankind, even the saints, come into the world on a slippery slide into Hell. You can see that, for example, in Eph 2:1, where God addresses the saints, and He says:

Eph 2:1  And you (hath he quickened), who were dead in trespasses and sins;

The words “hath he quickened”, or “has He made alive”, are in italics, which means that they were a suggestion by the translators, and thus we can leave them out. God says that all the saints, before their conversion, were dead in trespasses and sins. They were dead to God, because they were engulfed in trespasses and sins, and thus they were at that time by nature children of the wrath of God, even as others. If this applies to the saints of the Bible, then it certainly applies to us also. We too were dead to God. And that is why we begin today with this passage, Eph 2:8-9. These two verses are a summary of the whole Gospel. The entire Covenant of Grace is reflected here in these two verses:

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

What does God in verse 8 say? God saved us by His grace. The definition of grace is “unmerited favor”. It is a favor unto salvation, poured upon us entirely free of charge. Can you merit “unmerited favor”? Of course not! It means we cannot do anything to earn such a favor from God unto salvation, and neither can we deserve such a favor from God for something good we were going to do after our salvation. Grace is entirely unmerited favor. Therefore, since we cannot do anything to deserve such grace, God decides to whom He will dispense such grace unto salvation. Some people end up saved, and others end up unsaved; but this is not because they are such “good people”, or such “bad people”, since it cannot depend on any of their own “good” qualifications. It is entirely a gift from God which He dispenses to whom He will. And in addition to grace, God gives us faith, which is the medium through which God communicates with us. It is not our faith, but it is a faith that God gives to us. It is a faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. And to make sure that we do not misunderstand that we are saved entirely by God’s choice, and not by our choice, God emphasizes in verse 9, “Not of works”, lest any man should boast that he has made such a good decision to follow Jesus. What God says here in Eph 2:8-9 is a summary of what God already has said in Eph 1:3-10. Please turn to Eph 1:3 (2X),

Eph 1:3-4  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:            According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Eph 1:5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Eph 1:6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

You see, God made the choice whom He wanted to save, and God made that choice before He created the first speck of dust, and God made that choice according to the good pleasure of His will; not according to our will but according to His will. And God implemented His plan of action in the next V

Eph 1:7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

You see, we were purchased by Christ on the cross and we received the forgiveness of sins. But not everyone’s sins were forgiven, because there are many people going to Hell to pay for their own sins. And thus on the cross Christ paid only for the sins of those whom the Father had chosen before the foundation of the world. Then at a certain point in time God regenerated our soul and gave us faith, which is also known as the moment God made us “Born Again”, or to say it better “born from above”.

Eph 1:8  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

Eph 1:9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

By God’s irresistible grace He made known unto us the mystery of His will, which is what we read here in Eph 1:3-10. By God’s irresistible grace He made us believe what we read here, in order:

Eph 1:10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

You see, God’s purpose shall be completely fulfilled: All those who were in Christ when He was crucified will most certainly be gathered together when Christ returns to take home all that are His. This is the Gospel. This is the Good News to all who will believe this. Regardless what you may have been taught about the Gospel previously, this is the Gospel that gives all the glory to God alone. And it also means that if you have been saved, you will persevere in the faith; you will not fall away. This is the comfort we have when we know that we have been “born from above”. Please turn now to Rev 7:1 (2X)

#1.       The First Four Trumpets (Rev 7:1-3, 8:6-13)

Perhaps you remember, before Christ brings on the destructions associated with the four trumpets in chapter 8, He first announced in chapter 7 that He was going to do it. We read in Rev 7:1-3,

Re 7:1  And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the

four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

Re 7:2  And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

Re 7:3  Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

Then the servants of God living on earth were sealed in their foreheads, symbolically represented by the 144000. If any of us have been truly saved, then we belong to those 144000, which means that we have been sealed securely and God will keep us faithful to the end. Why does God give us this interlude in Chapter 7? The reason is that we are studying the opening of the seventh seal, which is so horrible that God expanded the 7th seal into the blowing of the 7 trumpets and the pouring of the 7 vials of the wrath of God. We must constantly bear in mind that we are discussing the last of the 7 seals. And today we will look at the first four trumpets, which are somewhat similar to the first four seals. But there is a difference between the first four seals and the first four trumpets. The first four seals apply to the history of mankind all the way since the sin of Adam. We see the forces accompanying the four horsemen already in effect from the time of Cain and Abel. But the 7 trumpets are an expansion of the opening of the 7th seal, and thus the blowing of the trumpets must refer to a time very close to the return of Christ. Please turn to Rev 8:6 (2X), and let us read now what God says about this time period.

Re 8:6  And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

Re 8:7  The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

Before we venture too far out in symbolism we should consider the literal interpretation of the words we read in this passage. The historical reality that is pictured here is that one third of the earth was affected whereby one third of the trees were burnt up and all the green grass in that one third of the earth was burnt up. And the mechanism God uses to burn up the trees and the grass is by hail, and by fire mingled with blood. A characteristic of the first four trumpets is that they all four seem to affect only the physical universe. All four trumpets seem to represent evil phenomena in nature. And who is doing it? It is Christ who opens the seven seals of the Book that represents the Decree of God with regard to everything He created, with the chief purpose to realize the Kingdom of God, which He planned from before the foundation of the world. It is the plan of the Almighty who knows the end from the beginning, because He causes the events of history to fall in place exactly as He planned. It is Christ who causes God’s plan to unfold by opening the seven seals. It is Christ who sends the 7 angels with the seven trumpets. It is Christ who causes the hail and the fire mingled with blood to be cast upon the earth. Do not blame the Devil for this. And thus we see here an aspect of Christ that most of us have not been taught in the past. Remember that this prophecy is called “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”. If we have been saved it is our business to know Him, and to know God through knowing Christ. By the influence of the first trumpet one third of all vegetation on the earth is struck. When the second trumpet sounds the sea and the oceans are affected. When the third trumpet sounds the lakes and rivers are affected. And when the fourth trumpet sounds all the objects in outer space are affected. We read in:

Re 8:8-9  And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;                   And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

Re 8:10  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 part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

Re 8:11  And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

Re 8:12  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 was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

Re 8:13  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!

Those are frightening days! But what is the meaning of the words in this chapter? We can see that the chief element in all these verses is the fraction “One Third”. This is one third of all material things.

  • One Third of the Physical Universe (Rev 6:8)

If we hold to the literal interpretation of these verses, we recognize that this one third is related to the one fourth that we read before in Rev 6:8. Please turn to Rev 6:8 (2X). And there we read:

Re 6:8  And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

This death and the grave were in force ever since Cain killed his brother Abel. On that day one fourth of mankind was killed. And ever since people have died from all kinds of causes, which were in fact instigated by the rider on the pale horse. Thus when one fourth of mankind dies it is considered the ordinary death-rate of the world. No one associates this with end-of-the-world phenomena. But the same is true with hail and fire, with storms and upheavals in the sea, and with the poisoning of the waters. There is always one fourth part of the earth affected by hail and fire, one fourth part of the fishes always dies, one fourth part of the ships are destroyed, one fourth part of the waters are poisoned, either by man or by some other natural phenomenon, and one fourth part of the earth is always affected by a lack of sufficient sunshine. And as long as this fraction is not increased no one gives it a thought. But now, with the blowing of the first four trumpets, this fraction is increased to one third. This does not seem much, but it upsets the balance which exists in this universe, and it is felt most severely by all mankind. Just a little more crop failure, and just a little more epidemics caused by poisoned water, and just a little more fish that die, and just a little more thunderstorms and hail, and just a little more death and destruction through wars and terrorism is upsetting all the calculations of men. And by the just-a-little-more of these trumpets Christ controls all the world, and determines the relations among men in such a way as to complete His Kingdom. Remember, the same causes do not produce the same effects in the hearts of men. The elect of God will soften their heart because they see the hand of God in all these disturbances. But the non-elect will harden their heart because they will ascribe these disturbances to bad luck, or to human error, and they make preparations to fix things, such as global warming, or global pollution, or birth control, or other measures of this nature. And thus the non-elect remain unrepentant in their heart, because they only see natural phenomena.

And if we ascribe the effects of the first four trumpets as just a slight increase of natural disasters, then we are in danger of seeing only natural phenomena. This is what happens if we try to interpret the blowing of the first four trumpets in a historical and literal way. And even though this is a valuable start in this chapter of Revelation, we realize that we have skipped some important aspects in these verses.

#2.       Symbolism in the First Four Trumpets (1Cor 15:52, Matt 24:21,29, 26:31, Zech 13:7-9)

And thus in addition to seeing the increase in natural disasters as we approach the end of time we must also understand the meaning of the symbolism in these statements from God. For example, if the sun does not shine for the third part of the day we can see that this has a tremendous effect on the worldwide food production, and the result would be that many people would die of starvation. But when the third part of the moon does not shine, and if the third part of the stars do not shine, it has absolutely no effect on agriculture or on any other essentials of life on this earth. Moreover, in verse 7, hail and fire mingled with blood was cast out of heaven. This was not blood caused by great hailstones falling on man and beast, but this is blood cast out of heaven. This cannot be literal blood. Moreover, in verse 9, literally the Greek text says, “And the third part of the creatures having souls died in the sea”. Who are these creatures having souls? Moreover, we still have not explored the spiritual meaning of the fraction “One Third”. This fraction of one third occurs 11 times in this chapter. Why does God place so much emphasis on this “One Third”? And now we realize that these seven trumpets are blowing in a time that we characterize by the term, “Final Tribulation Period”. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Matthew, Matt 24:21 (2X). We know that the last trumpet represents Judgment Day, for God says in 1Cor 15:52, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed”. And thus the first 6 trumpets relate to the events leading up to Judgment Day. What are these events? The Lord Jesus spoke about these events in Matthew chapter 24. We read in Matt 24:21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be”. The Lord indicated that this is the Final Tribulation Period, for He says in verse 29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken”. Please turn again to Rev 8:7 (2X). And thus here in Rev 8 God is giving us information on what is going on during that Final Tribulation Period (FTP). In Rev 8:7 God speaks about hail and fire out of heaven cast upon the earth. That does not sound too friendly. But when we read about hail and fire mingled with blood, we know for sure that God is angry. Throughout the Bible blood is a symbol of the wrath of God. If man’s blood was shed, God required that the nearest kinsman avenge the blood that was shed. If animal blood was shed God indicated that this was a type or a figure of the blood of Christ, and we know that the blood of Christ represented the wrath of God upon the sins that Christ was bearing in our place. And thus when we read that there was hail and fire, reminding us of Hellfire, and mingled with blood, reminding us of the wrath of God, we can confidently say that all these are symbolizing the wrath of God. Obviously, God does not vent His wrath on trees or on grass. God vents His wrath on people. But who are the people with whom God is so angry? Throughout this chapter we read 11 times that God vents His wrath on the “One Third” portion wherever it is found on the earth, or on the sea, or on the rivers and lakes, or even in outer space. Who is represented by the “One Third”? When we search the Bible we find a remarkable verse in the Prophecy of Zechariah. Please turn to the Prophecy of Zechariah, Zech 13:7 (2X). You find Zechariah near the end of the OT, just before Malachi. Through this entire chapter 13 of Zechariah God speaks of the Atonement of Christ. First God clarifies His stand in verse 7.

Zec 13:7  Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.

This verse speaks of the time when Christ was taken captive in the Garden of Gethsemane. God repeated a portion of this verse in Matt 26:31. Thus the following two verss apply to Christ on the cross

Zec 13:8-9  And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.         And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

In all the land two parts therein shall be cut off and die. This refers to all the non-elect who must pay for their own sins in Hell. Their sins have not been paid at the cross. But the third part shall be left in the land alive. “And I will bring the third part through the fire”. What fire is this? Do we see any fire during the Atonement of Christ? To satisfy the righteousness of God the Lord Jesus Christ had to pay the penalty that we would have to pay for our sins. And thus He had to suffer the equivalent of an eternity in Hell on our behalf for our sins. This fire represents Hellfire He had to endure in His Soul while He was hanging on the cross. In addition, the Bible teaches in several places that we have been crucified with Christ. Not that our souls were in existence at that time, but Christ was our representative and in that capacity we were in Christ from before the foundation of the world. Therefore when He speaks of “And I will bring the third part through the fire”, He is referring to the fact that we were in Christ when He atoned for our sins. And thus “the third part” refers to that fraction of mankind which received the grace of God unto salvation. They are:

·        The One Third That Gives Glory to God (John 6:37, Dan 7:25, 8:24, Rev 13:7, 9:4, Matt 24:15)

And thus these are the people who will be saved throughout the NT time period. These are the people who are called the NT Church. And throughout most of the NT time these were the good guys. The bad guys are called the two-third who were already cut off from the covenant of grace at the cross. But now, when the trumpets are blowing, we have entered The Final Tribulation Period. Why is God now angry at the church? Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 13:7 (2X). We must remember that our God is a righteous God. He will not bring judgment on the church because the calendar says so. He will not bring judgment on any church if that church is honoring Him and glorifying Him and serves Him. If we as a church remain faithful to the Bible, we can trust that God will not reject us. We can trust Him. The Lord Jesus said in John 6:37, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”. But since we read in Rev 8 and 9 that God’s wrath is on the “One Third” fraction we must conclude that during the FTP the church goes apostate and the true believers will be silenced. This is not a popular idea. This is not preached in most churches. But the Bible says it very clearly. For example, we read about the “little horn”, which represents Satan who is the Antichrist, in Dan 7:25, “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time”. Again we read about the “little horn” in the next chapter of Daniel, where we read, in Dan 8:24, “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people”. Now here in Rev 13:7 we read again about Satan who is the Antichrist. Rev 13:7, “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations”. This is a frightening prospect. But is Satan also moving into the church? Yes indeed. The Lord Jesus speaks about this in Matt 24:15, where He says, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, whoso readeth, let him understand”. It means that the abomination of desolation is moving into the holy place, the church. And now we can understand that God is angry on the church, because the church has let Satan into the pulpit, and the true Gospel is no longer preached in most churches. But is God’s anger on every church? Not so. Please turn to Rev 9:4 (2X). There are still true believers who have come out of other churches, and have grouped together, and have formed their own church. There are more churches like ours. We are not alone. And God remembers us when He says in Rev 9:4,

Rev 9:4  And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

This seems to contradict what we read in Rev 8:7 where all the green grass was burnt up. But it does not contradict, because God knows that even until the end of the FTP there will be a small number of truly saved people who have remained faithful to the Bible. In this verse, Rev 9:4, God underscores that in the FTP He will bring judgment on the institutional church. But the true believers, who have the seal of God in their foreheads, will not be hurt.               Now let me say a few words about:

  • Wormwood (Rev 8:10-11, 2Thes 2:11-12)

Re 8:10  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 part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

Re 8:11  And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

In the 1980’s there was in Russia a nuclear reactor which exploded. It was not a simple meltdown, but it really exploded, and radioactive materials were found hundreds of miles northward and westward of the reactor site. Many people died, and indeed the waters in that part of the country became poisonous. The city where this nuclear reactor was located was named Chernobyl. Did you know that in the Russian language “Chernobyl” means “Wormwood”? Not only did this nuclear reactor explosion cause a great deal of suffering, and not only did this explosion cause consternation throughout Europe, because higher radiation levels were observed all the way into Sweden, but suddenly the Bible gained a great deal of interest from people who thought that prophecy was being fulfilled. But was this really so? Here was an event in the world that looked very much like it was prophesied. People were associating this event in the world with prophecy from the Bible, but this is not how we interpret the Bible. The Chernobyl explosion had a remarkable set of circumstances, but we should not be tempted to see in it the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. The Bible must be interpreted only with the Bible.

Wormwood is a plant in the hemlock family that is bitter and poisonous. It is used in the Bible to indicate something that is altogether deadly. And hereby in verses 10 and 11 God indicates the nature of His judgment on the church. This is how He does it. Water, if it needs a spiritual application, water in the Bible refers to the water of the Gospel. And thus, God will let people in the apostate churches drink poisoned waters, which means they will believe gospels that do not really bring salvation. Is God going to do this, or is Satan doing it? Keep in mind that Satan is not an independent agent. There are not two gods out there, one good and one evil. There is only one God, and Satan cannot do anything unless God gives him the dirty job. And so, this is what we read in 2Thes 2:11-12,

2Thes 2:11  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie:

2Thes 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

God deludes them because they do not have the love of the truth. They do not care what the Bible says, and thus God allows them to be deceived by those who are coming after the working of Satan, and they come with signs and lying wonders. This is the reason why we read in the last verse:

#3.       Woe, Woe, Woe, To the Inhabiters of the Earth (Rev 8:13, John 10:27-30)

Re 8:13  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!

This is why there is so much woe in the FTP. When God judges the apostate churches, when He secures them in their unbelief of the truth, when He sends upon them magnificent gospels that feature miracles, signs and wonders, and when He sends to them teachers who promote a self-help gospel whereby man has to make the decision to follow Jesus, then we realize that is it is a time of great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of this world. Never in the history of the world was there such a time when the saints watched the church all over the world being taken over by false prophets, and never before was there so little hope left for their unsaved family members.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to John, John 10:27 (2X). Let us keep in mind that these woes in Rev 8 and 9 also serve the purpose of God in bringing His Kingdom to a successful completion. It is Christ who holds the Book with the seven seals. It is Christ who sends the angels with the 7 trumpets, with all His judgments on the apostate churches. But it is Christ who keeps His saints safe and secure from all deceptive gospels out there. Let us be comforted by the words the Lord Jesus spoke in John 10:27-30,

Joh 10:27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Joh 10:28  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Joh 10:29-30  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.           I and my Father are one.

 

AMEN.    

Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.