Summary of passage: Jesus opens the 7th seal and heaven becomes silent. 7 angels who stand before God were given 7 trumpets. Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar and offered up prayers with incense for all the saints. The prayers and smoke went up to God. The angel took the censer, filled it with fire, and threw it at earth, causing thunder, rumblings, lightning, and earthquakes.
The 1st angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing hail and fire mixed with blood upon the earth. One third of the trees and earth was burned up and all the green grass burned.
The 2nd angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing a mountain on fire into the seas. One third of the sea turned to blood, one-third of the sea creatures died, and one-third of the ships were destroyed.
The 3rd angel sounded his trumpet, unleashing a burning star (named Wormwood or Bitterness), which fell from the sky onto a third of the rivers and springs, turning the waters bitter and killing people who drank the water.
The 4th angel sounded his trumpet, striking one-third of the sun, moon, and stars, turning them dark, eliminating one-third of the day and night.
Then an eagle flew over the earth, calling out to the inhabitants warnings that the last three angels were about to sound their trumpets.
3a) “There was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
b) Scholars speculate the silence is so the prayers of the saints can be heard, maybe even the prayers of the martyrs from Rev 6:9-11. Overall, the silence is to emphasize it’s importance. How all must pay attention to Jesus’ judgments.
In the Old Testament, silence was called when God was about to act (Habakkuk 2 and Zechariah 2:13).
c) They are accepted and judgment is rendered by the angel taking the censer, filling it with fire from the altar, and hurling it to earth, resulting in thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake (all symbols of God’s judgment). God is answering their cries in Chapter 6 here.
4a) Joel 2:1: The day of the Lord, the final judgment
Exodus 19:14-17: God’s presence
Numbers 10:2: Moses used them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out when ready to move.
Joshua 6:2-5: As a signal for God to come and administer judgment by bringing the walls of Jericho down.
1 Thessalonians 4:16: Signals God coming down from heaven after the judgments to raise the dead in Christ to live again.
In general, trumpets in OT times were used to announce important events and as signals in war.
b) Coming judgments on earth and mankind. God’s battle alarm during the Great Tribulation.
5) Personal Question. My answer: When Jesus comes, the judgment and destruction will be quick but not immediate to all. No one knows when this time will come. Our time is limited here and every moment is precious to accomplish His work. I have to persevere in His work and not let the devil distract me or discourage me. I pray for my time to be stretched.
Conclusions: Love how we see the number 7, the number of completion, here and everywhere in the bible. Love how God is so faithful up the end, giving everyone time to come to Him, giving unmerited warning after warning. God is so good! Revelation is heating up!
End Notes: The first four trumpets are in Revelation 8.
The first 6 seals were opened one by one beginning in Revelation 5. Then we paused in Revelation 7 to introduce the 144,000 sealed and the great multitude. So there was a pause in the Bible before the 7th seal was opened by John and now a pause in heaven for the 7th seal.
30 minutes is a long time when the prayers never cease in heaven (Rev 4:8).
In the Old Testament, trumpets sounded the alarm for war and threw the enemy into a panic, or they called an assembly of God’s people.
“The” 7 angels probably refers to specific angels who surround the throne of God, or archangels as scholars say. 2 are named in the Bible, Michael (Jude 9) and Gabriel (Luke 1:19).
Some see the “other angel” as Jesus, referring to Jesus being referred to as the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament. However, the Greek word used here means “another of the same kind” so most scholars agree this is another angel.
We talked a lot about the censer (picture HERE) last year in the study of the Life of Moses as it was used extensively by God’s people, the Israelites, in Old Testament days. A censer is a container in which incense is burned typically during a religious ceremony. Also known as a thurible (rooted in the Greek word meaning “to sacrifice”), it is still used in Christian ceremonies including used by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, some Lutheran and Anglican churches, and others.
Prayer and incense are closely associated in the Bible. The aroma of incense was pleasing to God. The idea is as the smoke drifts to heaven, so do our prayers. Here, before anything happens, the prayers of God’s people are heard. Similar to David’s cries in Psalms 18:6-8, 12-13.
Note how the prayers of God’s people set in motion the consummation of history. Our prayers are powerful and we should pray for Jesus to come (Rev 22:20) as Peter suggests our conduct as well may hasten his arrival (2 Peter 3:10-12).
Scholars say the prayers are accepted and God is responding to the saints’s prayers with the censer being hurled back to earth. God in action is depicted as thunder, lightning, and rumblings (Exodus 19:16-19).
The sense is that the saints’ prayers are thrown back to earth with God’s judgment.
The 7 seals bring the 7 trumpets. God’s judgment was not immediate. Some believe John is describing the same judgments just using different images. Some believe the judgments are listed in order. What’s important is the judgments will happen.
1st Trumpet: We don’t know if the hail and fire were red or red was the result of the burning. Hail and fire are common in God’s judgments (Exodus 9:22-25; Ezekiel 38:22). Sodom and Gomorrah experienced this.
2nd Trumpet: Not a literal mountain. Something LIKE a mountain. A meteor is suggested here. Again, the blood may either be the cause or the effect.
Here, the sea is the Mediterranean Sea. In the first century AD, the known world was what the Mediterranean Sea touched. China was a far off, distant place but no seas were associated with it. America was 1400 years from discovery.
We see the Nile turned to blood as well in Exodus 7:20-21.
In Daniel 2 we see a rock striking a statue that became a huge mountain (Dan 2:35), representing God’s kingdom (Dan 2:44-45).
Is the mountain a symbol for nations? (Jeremiah 51:25, 51:27, 51:30) Probably not. Here, this passage is literal.
3rd Trumpet: This could be a comet or meteor or something else altogether at God’s will. Again, some say the star represents Attila and the Huns or the Vandals sacking Rome or any other nation destroyer. For me, it’s literal again.
Wormwood was a plant with a bitter taste common in Palestine. We see it in Jeremiah 9:15; Jeremiah 23:15). The suffering will be bitter. Most Israelites got their water from the springs.
4th Trumpet: Matthew 24 appears again: Jesus says “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Again, this is indicative of the Great Tribulation as only 1/3 of the earth will be affected. We know in the final judgment all will be affected (Rev 6:12-14).
In the next 3 trumpets one-third of the earth’s population will die.
Note the 3 repetitions of the word “woe”. This same word was used by Jesus in Matthew 23 in the 7 woes. It is used as an exclamation of profound grief. The 3 woes correspond to the 3 remaining judgments to come in Chapters 9 and 11. The 7 bowls judgment is the 3rd woe in chapters 15-16.
Note “inhabitants of the earth”. These are the unbelievers as the believers are called “saints”. This is used extensively in Revelation for those hostile to God (Rev 3:10; 8:13: 11:10; 13:8; 12, 17:2,8).
The word translated as “midair” is used only in Revelation. Scholars say it is used to signify a specific location, a view of the entire earth from heaven.
Some translations have “angel” here instead of “eagle.” The Greek words for angel and eagle are very similar in spelling.
An eagle is a harbinger of doom in the Bible (Deut 28:49-50). Ezekiel 17 has the eagle being Babylon, bringing destruction to Jerusalem.
People on earth will know these events are from God and not merely natural disasters (Revelation 16:9, and 16:11, Revelation 19:19).
The first 4 judgments reveal God’s severity of judgment. He takes out man’s subsistence (food and water) and routine (day and night). Yet, He shows mercy by only striking 1/3 of the resources. These are partial judgments (Zechariah 13:8-9). Again, God is warning people to turn to Him before it’s too late, offering up another undeserved chance at repentance.