What does Revelation 8: 1-13 mean to us now?

 

These judgments seem to come against the Roman Empire, as the word meanings and Jewish metaphors suggest those found in Jesus’ “Olivet Discourse” in Matthew 24, and thus may have already occurred. However, that does not mean the final accumulation and sentence of God’s judgment has occurred; we are still waiting for that. These themes seem to repeat themselves throughout the history of the Church and society. However, a final buildup and its fruition still is to occur before Jesus comes back. 

These seven angels stand before God and His Throne. They have His approval and empowerment to carry out His plan. You are in His plan! Remember, as faithful Christians who are sealed, we have His approval. We may still face these persecutions and tribulations, but the difference is we have His love that turns a sentence of judgment and death into martyrdom for His glory. This passage attests to the fact that we must be dependant on God, and not bow to lethargy in our spiritual formation. This is the mark of a mature Christian. This is not a time to be lazy, to rationalize our situation, seek sympathy from others, or think He does not care, that we are useless. When we face darkness in our lives, it is a time to shape up and seek Christ as Lord.  We must be discerning, courageous, hopeful, and proactive in our faith. Be obedient and trusting, regardless of your situation, and remember you are His special child whom He has sealed. Keep in mind that God wants to rescue His people from those who are hostile to Him, and who want to oppress, control, or persecute us. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. When these events come to pass (if they have not already), what do you think they will look like? How will these events send shock and awe to the average person?
  1. Why does it seem that a characteristic of God’s judgment is He does not do it all at once, rather He is slow and uses order? Do you think that He is slow to give time for His grace to work and people to seek forgiveness, even when they do not seek Him?
  1. God is patient, but He is ready at any time to unleash these sentences. How do you feel about this? Are you ready?
  1. Do you think this passage is literal? If so how will this be played out? If you think this is symbolic, how do you think it will play out? How do people’s idolatrous motivations and misguided followings influence His judgment?
  1. What do you need to do to take seriously that God is in control? Because of His grace, He only allows a fraction of His judgments. How can you have more confidence in Christ to deliver you out of your tough situations?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 8: 1-13

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as the result of and further explanation from the first four seals being opened. The setting, as they see it, is that of the Jewish wars with Rome and the destruction of Israel as a nation in 66-70 A.D. and the resulting disasters, as these are the “Last Days” of the commonwealth of Judaism that has come to be a “Babylon” of evil (Deut. 29:18; Jer. 9:15). The trees and grass represent the remnant of Jews who are left after 70AD. These plagues do not come against the Church, as we are saved from God’s wrath (Rom. 2:7-9; 1 Thess. 5:9). The mountains are symbolic of the government of Israel as God’s mountain falling (Ex. 15:17; Matt. 21:21). The “sea” represents the Gentiles and the “land” represents Israel. The Romans slaughtered the Galileans and tossed their bodies into the Sea of Tiberius. Wormwood refers to the decaying bodies left by the Romans and how they tainted the waters. The sun, moon, and stars refer to the fall of a series of Roman Emperors in the first century; others say it is the fall of the Herod dynasty and the Jewish Priests who had the power. The “woes” refer to the warnings of more Roman devastation, which the early church saw, and left Jerusalem, saving themselves before its destruction, where perhaps a million people were killed. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as literal. This camp is greatly divided over the meaning of this passage, seeking newspaper interpretation rather than word meanings or looking to the Old Testament. Some of the more “credible” theories are that the trumpets are the final, drastic judgments of God. The trees and grass represent the fall of the western nations and God’s divine wrath upon us by His attacks on water and aquaculture. Some see this as nuclear war and the resulting ”fallout.” Some see the mountains falling into the sea as literal, much like an asteroid. Others see it as symbolic for everything that is popular falling. Some see it is the Gentile nations at war led by the antichrist, or God destroying the false church led by false teachers. Others see this as the destruction of the Catholic Church. Wormwood is seen as the Pope or Antichrist. The “great star” is seen as the political leaders who are apostate, or a comet from space hitting the earth. In the eighties, this group saw the Soviet Union as Wormwood; others said it was Reagan because each of his names had six letters. The sun, moon, and stars refer to the diminishing of spirituality during the tribulation (2 Thess. 2:11-12). Others see this as literal such as eclipses and astronomical phenomena. Some say it is the result of nuclear fallout. They associate all kinds of ideas to the eagle, and see the “woes” as inferring that they are warnings and not necessarily judgments, which is a contradiction to their other theories. Or they could be demonic woes to their coming judgment, or a warning of the coming three judgments (which makes more sense.) Their view would be better off if they weaned themselves from their misguided conjectures, and concentrated on reading their Bible more! 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as series of happenings and calamites that will occur again and again throughout Church history. Most in this camp do not see it as pertaining to a specific period. The trumpets are synchronous with the “seals” of the previous passages. They see these plagues as attacking the foundations of life support, water, and crops as natural calamities so we do not take things for granted. Some in this camp see these as attacks against the Church; others see them as God’s wrath against the wickedness of the world as reminiscent of the Egyptian plagues. Some see these as literal; others as symbolic. The mountains are images from Babylon’s fall and the punishment of wickedness (Jer. 51:25-42). Others see it as a volcano and the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. Wormwood is seen as the effects of natural disasters or God’s judgment. The “great star” is seen as punishment from God and its severity; others see this as idol worship that pollutes the mind and faith (Jer. 2:13-23). The sun, moon, and stars refer to the fall of Rome. Others see those as the doom of the ungodly who look to astrology and idols as their guide and or God’s control over the universe (Isa. 13:10; Luke 21:28). Others see “one-third” as a warning and not a final, determined judgment. The “woes” refer that the worst is still to come. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as four great blows to the Western Roman Empire, first in 408-410, and then in 476 A D. Hail and fire are symbols of God’s judgment reminiscent of the Egyptian plagues. The trees and grass represent the results of war and bloodshed and the consequential calamites to His Church. The fraction of one-third represents Rome that occupied one—third of the known earth then. The “mountains” are a symbol of strength or seats of power. Many see this as the fall of Rome by the Goths and primarily the Vandals in 428-468 AD who destroyed their ships and commerce. The “great star” is seen as the invasion of the Huns in 440 AD against Rome where thy killed over 300,000. Others see this as evil politicians and heretics such as Pelagius, who corrupted the Church. Wormwood is seen as false teachings affecting the Church. The sun, moon, and stars refer to the Roman political firmament in 476-479 A.D. during the last of the Roman Emperors. Others see this as events that affect the Church. The “woes” suggest that a turning point is about to happen, from the Roman Empire to the Dark Ages or Gothic period, in three waves, a Turkish invasion, the Saracens conquest, and then the French Revolution.

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?

What does Revelation 6: 9-17 mean to us now?

 

The Sixth Seal is opened and it is given to us in cataclysmic, exaggerated language and metaphors often used for God’s judgments and the end of days (Judg. 5:20; Psalm 18; Isa. 13:10-17; Jer. 4:20-28; Joel 2:10, 31; Acts 2:20). For in Jewish apocalyptic and poetic literature such as the Old Testament, and apocryphal literature such as “Profetes,” “Sibylline Oracles,” “Petronius,” “4 Maccabees”; “4 Ezra,” 1 Enoch,” “Joseph and Asenath,” “Jubilees,” “Simititudes of Enoch,” and the “Qumran Texts,” to name the main ones (there are many more), as well as in the culture then, these images are “metaphoric,” or symbols of specific themes in judgment. The obvious is that the actuality of this passage is pointing to God’s power, but these events are not necessarily verbatim, as it would be seemingly impossible. How could one star, much less billions upon billions land on this plant that is a billion times a billion smaller? The answer is it is figurative, and it is a mystery how this will be eventually played out and what we will see. This is a depiction, just as a first century Jew would read and write. What we do know is it will not be the same! The point of this passage tells us that no one is immune from experiencing God’s judgment. The entirety of the universe will bear witness to God’s will as incredible phenomenon, displayed in the cosmos, will herald Christ’s Second Coming (Mark 13:24-26; Luke 2:25-27). 

Talking about judgment is not a “happy-go-lucky” subject; it is a reality. Judgment is about His grace and His love. How can this be love? Because, love protects and love cares. If there were no consequences for misappropriate action and sin, then love would be absent and God would not care for His creation or the ones He has chosen to elect (Rev. chaps 7; 10-11). Yet, His judgment is His grace; His love is there, and His care is there, protecting His saints. We are His, and when we are His, we have no need for worry, fear, or doubt in what will happen. We can trust Him; we have no need to fear these events that one day will come about in their fruition. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What would be your fears and emotions if these seals were opened and suddenly this stuff started to happen?  What does it mean to remain true to the faith, regardless of circumstances?
  1. What do you see as the point of this passage? Which of these four views appeals to you? Are there characteristics from each one that are plausible or true, are they all nuts, or are they perhaps a bit of both?
  1. Do you see the excitement and awe in this passage? How does God again show His faithfulness? How does He show His faithfulness and love to you? 
  1. The issue here is not who or what the images are; rather, it is what they are doing and pointing to, which is God pouring out His judgment. Do you consider this statement to be true, false, or what?
  1. What area in your life are you trying to hide from God? Why? What can you do to be more trusting by allowing Christ into your inner most thoughts, fears, aspirations, secrets, and life? 
  1. What does it mean that God clothes us with His grace and faithfulness? How does this help you get through the tough times of life? How can you focus on Christ and trust Him even when you have been wronged or persecuted, or even if you would lose your life?

  © 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 6: 9-17

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as taking place prior to 70 A.D., and the Christians in the early church suffering as they are slain like animals by Jewish oppressors. Their blood cries out for vengeance; they are still being persecuted and Jerusalem is judged for it (Matt. 23:35; 24:29-34; Luke 13:1-3). The preponderance of this passage is its symbolic imagery dealing with the Olivet Discourse of Jesus and the destruction and judgment of Jerusalem (Mal. 3:2). The astronomic imagery refers to the end of the Temple as corresponding to the fall of Edom (Isa. 34:4; Ezek. 32:7-8). The hiding in the caves is literal, as the Christians did this during the Roman carnage of Jerusalem. This view is perhaps an application of the passage but misses the main point. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as the state of the tribulation taking place in the future. The souls crying out are the people remaining after the rapture who are suffering during the tribulation. They see the Martyrs either as not Christians, or people converted after the rapture. The astronomic imagery refers to the catastrophes that the last days will entail, the scope of thought ranging from the literal to the representative, as signs in the heavens. Such things include literal earthquakes, civil wars, government oppressions or breakdowns, nuclear war, volcanic eruptions, terror, and chaos. Subsequently, there are several schools of speculative thought on how and when the rapture and tribulation comes about from this passage, even though this passage does not teach anything close to it. This view makes for good novels and fun discussions, but not good, biblical theology. The rest of this passage they see as the representation of Christ’s martyrdom. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as symbolic for the suffering church, including political upheavals through the ages, the faithful who have died crying out for relief and vengeance, and those who cry out for justice. This passage’s main theme is sacrificial essence and character of the faithful. Also, it is about the distinctions of people who live for God versus the people who live for themselves and evil (1 Pet. 4:6; Heb. 12:26; Rev. 4:13). They see this passage as still dealing with the Seven Churches and as metaphorical for God’s judgment. They do not see the great Judgment appearing until chapter 20. Thus, the astronomic imagery is the judgment for Jerusalem and Rome for their persecution of the Christians. Some, having this viewpoint, share similar beliefs to the Historicists. This view is an application of the passage, but, again, misses the main point. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as comforting those who are being persecuted, as God consoling them. They see these sufferings happening under the emperor Diocletian (384-303 A.D.) and/or Maximian (270-383 A.D.), called the “era of the martyrs” in church history because of the carnage and suffering the church endured. The images represent the fall of paganism and the rise of Christianity in the world, from the time of the Romans on to today. After this period, Constantine became Emperor and Christianity slowly became accepted and then became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Others see this passage as the Christians suffering by Jewish oppression in the early church. The earthquakes represent spiritual revolution, and the astronomic imagery is earthly dignitaries in rebellion to God and/or the shaking of Jerusalem for its evil. This view is an application of the passage but also misses the main point.

Exegetical look into Revelation 6: 12-17

 

  • Great earthquake is often associated with end times and divine visitations (Ex. 19:18; Isa. 2:19; Hag. 2:6; Zech. 14:4-5; Ezek. 38:20; Amos 8:8). Severe earthquakes often devastated these seven churches and the Asia Minor region. Such imagery was absolutely terrifying as everything would be lost.
  • The sun turned black refers to “darkness” as a sign of judgment, as God did with Pharaoh. This does not mean the sun will literally go dark, as all life in our solar system would perish instantly. However, if God chose to do so, He could because He can do anything (Ex. 10:21-23; Isa. 13:9-10; 24:23; 50:3; Ezek. 32:7-8; Amos 5:18; 8:9; Joel 2:10, 31). 
  • Moon turned blood red may refer to an unusual lunar eclipse or even something more spectacular. These events being described are not literal, astronomic events as many today think.
  • Stars in the sky fell to earth means the cosmic scope of God’s judgment, as all will be affected (Isa. 34:4). This was also a sign for the coming of Christ (Mark 13:25-26). It may also refer to angels coming down or some stunning event that all will see in the sky (Isa. 24:21; Dan. 8:10; 10:13; Rev. 12:4).
  • Late figs refers to the green figs that grow in the winter after the leaves have fallen, ones that easily fall off the tree in winds.
  • The sky receded like a scroll refers to Isaiah 34:4 and how a reader would open a scroll with the right hand and then role it up with the left. This meant the End of Days is at hand. Some see this as Armageddon (Jer. 4:24 or Nah. 1:5; Rev. 16:16, 20; 20:11).
  • Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man. Here are seven typical castes of people in the ancient world, but not different kinds. All are either saved or are in sin. Seven means completeness, so this means God’s judgment will be complete and perfect and not have any social, class, or economic barriers to it. God vindicates us! It is judgment time for those people who are unjust and evil oppressors. These are comforting and encouraging words for those who are being oppressed by the rich and mighty, as vindication is in sight.
  • General was a Roman commander who led a “cohort” or “Legion” of 1,000 men.
  • Hid in caves. People will seek to conceal themselves from God’s wrath, but it will not work, for God is all seeing and all knowing (Judg. 6:2; Isa. 2:10-20; 13:6; Jer 4:29; Hosea 10:8).
  • Wrath has come, and who can stand. Judgment is coming (Joel 2:11; Mal. 3:2). God’s wrath and righteousness are a reality; Christ covers our sin for us (Zeph. 1:14-18; Na. 1:6; Mal. 3:2; Rom. 1:18; 3:9-23; 6:23; Rev.19:15). This is also rhetorical to those in Christ and not meant as condescending to those who are faithful. There is hope and assurance when our trust is in Christ. He is our hope even when the very foundations of the universe are collapsing around and under us. When our hope is in Christ, nothing can shake us (Luke 12:32-34; 1 Cor. 7:29-31; Heb. 12:25-29).