"THE BOOK OF REVELATION" Chapter Eight OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To review the opening of the seventh seal, the angel with the golden censer, and the sounding of the first four trumpets 2) To offer an explanation concerning the significance of these visions SUMMARY Following the "interlude" of the previous chapter, in which reassuring and comforting scenes concerning the saints were seen, the seventh seal is now opened. For about a half hour, there is silence in heaven (1). In contrast to all that happened before, the silence must have been striking! Possibly it signifies the awe in heaven for what has already been revealed, or for what is about to be revealed. When God acts, those on earth should be in awe (cf. Hab 2:20; Zeph 1:7; Zech 2:13); should we not expect a similar reaction from His creatures in heaven? Seven angels are then seen standing before God to whom were given seven trumpets. Before they sound the trumpets, another angel with a golden censer comes and stands before the altar. To this angel was given much incense to offer along with the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense and the prayers of the saints ascended before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. Noises, thunderings, lightnings and an earthquake followed, and the seven angels with the seven trumpets prepared to sound (2-6). This scene appears to suggest that the sounding of the seven trumpets and the things to follow is God's response to the prayers of the saints. It is reminiscent of what Jesus taught in His parable of the persistent widow: "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?" (Lk 18:7). As the first four angels sound their trumpets in turn, the environment in particular is impacted: The first trumpet - Hail and fire, mingled with blood, are thrown to earth; a third of the trees and all the green grass were burned up (7). The second trumpet - Something like a great burning mountain is thrown into the sea, turning a third of it into blood; a third of the sea creatures died, and a third of the ships were destroyed (8-9). The third trumpet - A great burning star named Wormwood falls on a third of the rivers and springs of water; a third of the waters became wormwood (a bitter wood) and many men died from the bitter water (10-11). The fourth trumpet - A third of the sun, moon, and stars are struck, so that a third of them were darkened; thus a third of the day and night did not shine (12). The first four trumpets may signify natural calamities that God would use in His judgment against those who oppressed His people. That only a third is affected, along with the symbolism of the trumpets, suggests that the purpose of these judgments would be to warn people, giving them time to repent before God's full wrath is poured out (cf. the "bowls of wrath," 16:1-21). Before the final three trumpets sound, an angel (some manuscripts suggest an eagle) flies through the midst of heaven with a loud voice proclaiming a three-fold woe on the inhabitants of the earth (13). While the first four trumpets appear bad enough, the worst is yet to come! OUTLINE I. THE SEVENTH SEAL - SILENCE IN HEAVEN (1) A. THE LAMB OPENS THE SEVEN SEAL (1a) B. SILENCE IN HEAVEN FOR ABOUT HALF AN HOUR (1b) II. PREPARATION FOR THE SOUNDING OF THE SEVEN TRUMPETS (2-6) A. SEVEN ANGELS PREPARED (2) 1. Seven angels who stand before God 2. To them were given seven trumpets B. THE ANGEL WITH THE GOLDEN CENSER (3-6) 1. Came and stood before the altar 2. Was given much incense to offer... a. With the prayers of all the saints b. Upon the golden altar before the throne 3. The smoke of the incense and the prayers of the saints... a. Ascended before God b. From the angel's hand 4. The angel took the censer... a. Filled it with fire from the altar b. Threw it to the earth -- Accompanied by noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake 5. The seven angels with the seven trumpets then prepared themselves to sound III. THE FIRST FOUR TRUMPETS (7-12) A. THE FIRST TRUMPET: VEGETATION STRUCK (7) 1. Hail and fire, mingled with blood, thrown to the earth 2. A third of the trees burned up, and all green grass burned up B. THE SECOND TRUMPET: SEAS STRUCK (8-9) 1. Something like a great burning mountain thrown into the sea 2. A third of the sea became blood; a third of the creatures in the sea died; a third of the ships destroyed C. THE THIRD TRUMPET: RIVERS AND SPRINGS STRUCK (10-11) 1. A great burning star fell on a third of the rivers and springs of water 2. Named Wormwood, a third of the waters became wormwood; many men died from the bitter water D. THE FOURTH TRUMPET: HEAVENS STRUCK (12) 1. A third of the sun, moon, and stars struck 2. A third of them were darkened, so that third of the day and night did not shine IV. THREE-FOLD WOE ANNOUNCED (13) A. AN ANGEL (EAGLE?) FLYING THROUGH HEAVEN (13a) B. PRONOUNCING A THREE-FOLD WOE (13b) 1. "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth" 2. "Because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!"
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER Move your mouse pointer underneath each question to see the answer.
1) What are the main points of this chapter? 2) What happened when the Lamb opened the seventh seal? (1) 3) What did John see next? (2) 4) What did another angel do? What was given him? Why? (3-4) 5) What did the angel then do with the censer? What then happened? (5-6) 6) Describe what happened when the first angel sounded (7) 7) Describe what happened when the second angel sounded (8-9) 8) Describe what happened when the third angel sounded (10-11) 9) Describe what happened when the fourth angel sounded (12) 10) What did John next see and hear? (13)