Revelation #16 Revelation 8:1-13 End Times Emotional Trauma
Revelation 8:1-13 End Times Emotional Trauma
The time of tribulation upon the Earth is unfolding. The Lamb has opened 6 of the 7 seals on the
scroll of destiny. The 7th
awaits us in Chapter 8. The 7th
seal depicts the first part of the end, it is the preamble to the finale.
Also in Chapter 8, John tells us of his vision of the first
4 Trumpets of God. One of our principles of interpretation calls for us to
think very differently about what we are reading. We read chronologically. That means the first thing we read is the
first thing that happens, and the second, obviously, is the second thing that
happens. What we have suggested is that
the Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls are intensifications of the same event. For example, the first seal is opened and
things are bad, the first Trumpet sounds and the bad of the first seal gets
intense, the Bowl is poured and the bad, intense event becomes catastrophic.
[This is a literary device known as recapitulation or parallelism which is a
common feature of apocalyptic literature.] Now you are free to disregard this
idea. You can read the sequence of
events chronologically. You can
interpret the Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls as sequential. For our study, we will
proceed with an understanding that these are parallel descriptions of the same
period rather than a strict sequence of events (Eller, p. 83). We are to
understand the Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls as different perspectives of the same
overarching reality. What we get is a picture of trauma that can speak
emotionally to every generation.
Consider the painting of Picasso that depicts the aftermath of a bombing
in the city of Guernica:
The painting communicates the trauma and suffering the
people endured (Eller, p. 88 & Mounce, p.178). This is an emotional appeal that communicates
what happened. John is also painting a picture of trauma, free from historical
reference, and thus the message becomes universally applicable to every
If that wasn’t enough to wrap your head around, let’s read
about the opening of the 7th Seal.
the Lamb ripped off the seventh seal, Heaven fell quiet—complete silence for
about half an hour.
this 7th event, we have our introduction to God’s end game. The
throne room was filled with lightning and thunder, singing and worship by the
multitude, and now silence. “There is an old Jewish tradition that says God’s
original creation of the universe was preceded by a period of complete silence”
(Eller, pp. 104-105). Think of silence
as a state of expectancy, creating suspense.
We’re at the edge of our seats.
Revelation 8:2-5 (MSG)
I saw the Seven
Angels who are always in readiness before God handed seven trumpets. 3 Then
another Angel, carrying a gold censer, came and stood at the Altar. He was
given a great quantity of incense so that he could offer up the prayers of all
the holy people of God on the Golden Altar before the Throne. 4 Smoke billowed
up from the incense-laced prayers of the holy ones, rose before God from the
hand of the Angel.
5 Then the Angel filled the censer with fire from the Altar
and heaved it to earth. It set off thunders, voices, lightnings, and an
During this silence, 7 angels are presented with the
trumpets of God. Within the Jewish
tradition, seven archangels are named:
Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Saraqael, and Remiel (Tobit
12:1, 5). Each archangel has a primary function assigned to them. Gabriel is
the messenger of God. Michael is the
defender of the Israel and the Jewish people.
Raphael is the healer of the sick and wounded. Uriel oversees the world and its
inhabitants. Raguel brings justice and
vengeance, this angel is the punisher of the wicked. Saraqael guides the souls
into the afterlife. Remiel is the overseer of the souls who will rise from the
dead and is associated with divine justice. All are agents of God’s will. It
could be that John has these specific angelic beings in mind as he writes.
A golden censer was used during the time of Jewish Temple
worship to represent the prayers of the people.
The prayers of the saints are like incense. Those prayers are the laments of the people
who are suffering the persecution that the world can dish out like what has
befallen the congregations John writes to. The Psalms are full of cries for
justice (Psalms 10, 35, 69, 72, 82. 94, and 103 are examples) and liberation
(Psalms 18, 69, 74, 80, 86, and 102 are examples). These are prayers for help, for deliverance,
and salvation, prayers that cry out for righteousness for all to be set right,
and for God’s will to be done on Earth as it is in heaven. These prayers for
freedom and liberation from oppression, suffering, and sin are about to be
To these prayers fire from the altar is added. In Judaism, altar fire symbolizes covenant
and sacrifice, purification and atonement, light and hope. The cries of the people and the will of God
are heaved to the earth. God’s answer to the prayers of the saints comes with
thunders, voices, lightning, and earthquakes. My friends your prayers are
prayers heard, and prayers heard are prayers answered (Ladd, p. 126). One prayer stands out, it’s the prayers of
those under the altar, the martyrs: How
long O Lord? The waiting time is over.
Trumpets symbolize God’s intervention.
Answering the prayers of the saints, keeping with His
righteousness and His desire that everyone enter into a right relationship with
Him, the trumpets sound. The first four
trumpets bring ecological disaster to the Earth, destroying a third of the
vegetation, a third of the sea, a third of the freshwater, and a third of
Revelation 8:6-12 (MSG)
The Seven Angels with
the trumpets got ready to blow them. At the first trumpet blast, hail and fire
mixed with blood were dumped on earth. A third of the earth was scorched, a
third of the trees, and every blade of green grass—burned to a crisp.
8 The second Angel trumpeted. Something like a huge mountain
blazing with fire was flung into the sea. A third of the sea turned to blood, a
third of the living sea creatures died, and a third of the ships sank.
10 The third Angel trumpeted. A huge Star, blazing like a
torch, fell from Heaven, wiping out a third of the rivers and a third of the
springs. The Star's name was Wormwood. A third of the water turned bitter, and
many people died from the poisoned water.
12 The fourth Angel trumpeted. A third of the sun, a third
of the moon, and a third of the stars were hit, blacked out by a third, both
day and night in one-third blackout.
Wormwood is mentioned in Deuteronomy (also Jeremiah 9:15,
an eyeful of their obscenities, their wood and stone, silver and gold
junk-gods. Don't let down your guard lest even now, today, someone—man or
woman, clan or tribe—gets sidetracked from God, our God, and gets involved with
the no-gods of the nations; lest some poisonous weed sprout and spread among
you, a person who hears the words of the Covenant-oath but exempts himself,
thinking, "I'll live just the way I please, thank you," and ends up
ruining life for everybody.
poisonous weed is wormwood. For the person who has rejected God, worshiped the
idols of the world, and made their ego Lord, they drink the waters of the world
and their fate is sealed. They die.
Bitter waters are the antithesis of living waters. The world offers bitter
waters to drink, only Jesus is the well for living water (John 7:37-39).
That the destruction is limited is yet another indication
that God is using these intense times to wake people to their need for Him. The
intensity of the trauma caused by the first 4 trumpets can be likened to the
watchman in Ezekiel 33, who blows his trumpet as a warning of coming
danger. The danger is certainly coming.
looked hard; I heard a lone eagle, flying through Middle-Heaven, crying out
ominously, "Doom! Doom! Doom to everyone left on earth! There are three
more Angels about to blow their trumpets. Doom is on its way!"
Middle-heaven in ancient cosmology is the realm between
earth and the highest heaven. It is in
the middle heaven according to the ancients that the stars and planets revolve
around the earth. That eagle, some
scholars prefer the translation to be a vulture. A Vulture certainly communicates the proper
atmosphere for what is coming. Three trumpets are remaining, Doom, Doom, and
Doom are on their way.
This chapter certainly is a call to repentance. Things are
bad but they are about to get much worse.
Get right with God now so that you can endure and overcome. Acknowledge that you need God, the
forgiveness of your sin, and a reconciliation of your relationship to Him. Believe that Jesus’ atonement makes it
possible for that forgiveness and reconciliation. Commit yourself to living the life of a
disciple bending your knee to the Lordship of Christ. This is your act of repentance. Ask God to accept your faith. Now is the time to make your decision.
For the faithful, the chapter informs that you will need to
cultivate a strong faith, maintain moral integrity, and be resilient in the
face of the coming adversity, prepare yourself now spiritually. If not you just
might get blown away by the winds that are coming. When the rough times become
intense times, remember that you have the hope of ultimate victory.
Take heart. Your prayers for justice are heard. We like the martyrs must wait for the answer.
Your prayers might even hasten the second coming as you pray for God’s Kingdom
to be consummated upon the Earth.