Exegetical look into Revelation 8: 1-13

 

  • Seven trumpets indicates the pronouncement of God’s voice by the angels, who present His judgment, monitored by His grace. These are not to be feared by Christians. They are the answers to the prayers of the saints. His decisive judgment is answering them by His complete victory; His final victory is at hand (see previous study; Rev. chaps. 7-8).
  • Sound them. This “sounds off” the warnings that proclaim that a sequence of devastating plagues from the will of God is about to take place.
  • Hail and fire mixed with blood. This shows that God’s judgments are slowly and powerfully unveiled just as they were in Egypt (Ex. 7:14-24; 9:13-25; Job 38:22-23; Psalm 18:13; 78:48; 105:32; Ezek. 38:22).
  • A third of the earth indicates that God is in control and allows only a fraction by His grace. This also sets God up in a position that suggests He may not have completed His final punishment yet. 
  • Huge mountain, all ablaze… great star, blazing. “Mountains,” in Scripture, mean kingdoms (Isa. 2:2; Zech. 4”7; Psalm 46:2; Jer. 51:25). This wording is typical of apocalyptic literature such as “Sibylline Oracles” (a collections of 4,000 verses, supposed prophecies by Hellenistic Jews in Alexandria in the second century B.C.). These are hyperbole metaphors, meaning they are plagues from God and not man, and that will affect our daily life such as our water supply; people will die from dehydration (Jer. 51:25-42).
  • Sea turned into blood. This term is indicative to the first plague in Egypt (Ex. 7:20-21). It means the ultimate destiny of mankind as being judged and the preparation for the Second Coming and or the Last Judgment. This is called “eschatological;” it is from God and His judgment, not the pollution from man’s industrial machine. Volcanic upheavals can also produce this effect from God’s direction, see Revelation chap 6 notes (Isa. 15:9; 2 Pet. 3:10-12; Rev. 6:13; 9:1).
  • Wormwood. This refers to an herb (Artemisia absinthium, of the family Asteraceae) that is not poisonous but has a harsh, sour taste, and was used as an insect repellent. This was a metaphor for suffering, disaster, mourning, and idolatry. This may mean plagues will strike the earth’s drinking water supplies (Deut. 29:18; Ex. 15:25; Prov. 5:3-4; Jer. 8:14; 9:15; 23:15; Lam. 3:19; Rev. 3:15-16).
  • Turned dark. Like the other plagues, this one parallels the ninth one of Egypt (Ex. 10:22-23). “Darkness” means foreboding judgment that first invokes fear, and then a response for repentance. It is associated with “End Times” by other apocalyptic literature (Rev. 6:12-13).
  • Woe/terror is reminiscent of an O.T. prophetic oracle, such those of Jeremiah and Amos, giving further warning as more is to come. In fact, there are three more  “trumpet plagues,” each one a “woe” or a stern warning (Amos. 5:18-6:1; Rev. 6:10; 9:12; 10:1-11:14).
  • Inhabitants of the earth refers to wicked people who refuse to repent or acknowledge God as Lord. This is not referring to those who are righteous and “sealed” (Rev. 9:4).

Revelation 8:1-13

Introduction 

The First Four Trumpets  

Now they are ready; the seven angels stand at the cusp of unleashing God’s sentence, His decree of judgment by pestilence and other nasty endeavors. They are given to a world that refuses to see Him as Lord and refuses to seek forgiveness for their doings. God has no choice other than to protect His faithful, and do as He must. Thus it begins, as the first angel blows his trumpet, a mighty blast that will send shock and awe to the entity of creation on earth as hail, fire, and blood are sent as weapons against man’s environment. The second angel blows his trumpet, striking with great burnings as mountains are cast into a sea that has turned to blood. The third angel blows his trumpet, and more great burnings accrue as stars fall into the rivers of earth. The fourth angel blows his trumpet and the sun, moon, and stars become dark and eerie. Then, one—third of earth’s land, sea, and water is sentenced and perhaps reduced to ashes; people die in these devastations. However, as each of these judgments escalates and the resulting intensity grows, God’s grace remains the main, strong core as He spares over two-thirds. Then an eagle cries out saying, “terror and woe to all who endure such calamities,” as the fifth angel gets ready to blow his trumpet against man’s achievements. 

It is interesting to note that this passage parallels the ten plagues in Exodus, adjusted to seven trumpets or waves. God is attacking idolatrous motivations and followings with natural calamities, just as He did with Egypt. It seems a characteristic of God’s judgment not to do it all at once; rather He uses an order that is slow, giving time for His grace to work and people to see His forgiveness, even when they do not seek Him (Ex. John 2:11). The succession, systematic order, and number of these plagues are not an issue or even important; rather, its purpose is to show God’s patience, even though He is ready at any time to unleash the plagues. The plagues also seek to distinguish between those who are deserving and wicked and those who are spared and are righteous in His sight, just as He did in Egypt (Ex. 9:4-6; 10:22-23; 11:1-14; Rom. 8:18-25). 

Why does the world refuse to see Christ as Lord and why do so many people refuse to seek forgiveness for their doings, even Christians? Do you believe that God has no choice other than to protect His faithful and do as He must to pass judgment?