7] The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.
8] Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. 9] And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
10] Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11] The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.
12] Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.
13] And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!” (NKJV)
The title of this post is taken from Micah 7:15, in which God says “As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, I will show them wonders.” In this verse, God promises something of a repetition of what happened just before Israel escaped Egyptian bondage. This is important because similar things are said to happen in Revelation 8 as happened before the Exodus, e.g., water turned to blood, cf. Exodus 7:20. Many scholars and teachers who will accept that things which happened before the Exodus were actual things will say that the same things mentioned in Revelation are only “symbolic” and not actual events or things at all. It seems to me that Micah 7:15 tells us that they are “real”. That God will once again intervene in the affairs of men in such a way that it can’t be denied, cf. 6:17.
1. The first trumpet, 8:7: Vegetation destroyed.
Ezekiel 38:22 foretells of a time when God will rain down on him…flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. The “him” refers to those forces who will gather for what seems to be one last time to overthrow and destroy Israel, as seen in Ezekiel, chs. 38-40. I believe that Ezekiel refers to the same thing as Zechariah 14:1-3. It will seem that at long last Israel has been defeated, Jerusalem has been captured and terrible atrocities committed against her inhabitants. Learned scholars will likely appear on television and proclaim that, at last, the “Jewish problem” has been solved. Little do they know! This is also likely what Paul referred to in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8 as he describes the scene when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I would sound one note of caution in the study of prophecy, even in our study. Some ministries devote their whole attention to it. That’s fine. I don’t agree with those who say we ought to ignore it because there is so much discussion and controversy over it. If God said it, we ought to study it and know as much about it as we can. At the same time, there is an enormous amount of material throughout the Bible about the future, not just ours, but things future to those to whom it was originally given, much of which we view as history. Much of it has been fulfilled; much remains. And it isn’t all neatly strung together for us like pearls on a necklace.
I believe prophecy is about actual history and events told about before they happen. It is not merely symbolic teaching about something or other. Having said that, I expect that, when all is said and done, what is done will not be exactly as we, that is, teachers and preachers, might say it will be. We will, however, see that it was fulfilled exactly as God has said it would be.
With regard to the effect of the first trumpet, I don’t know exactly how it will be fulfilled, whether every tree in a certain area will be destroyed, or just some trees over a wider area. It doesn’t matter. It will be evident what has happened: a lot of trees gone, as well as all green grass. People will no doubt be aghast as this blow to the environment, that environment so many seem almost to cherish, even almost worship. And we ought to take care of it; after all, we live in it. But there is coming a time when that which is so important to us, even vital to our lives and well-being, will be greatly affected and destroyed.
2. The Second Trumpet, 8:8: Oceans struck.
This trumpet and the next one refer to separate events which will greatly affect the waters of this planet. The thing mentioned in this verse seems to be very large, perhaps like an asteroid or other larger cosmic body. It won’t be the first time this has happened, cf. the meteor crater in Arizona. There are other places as well which also bear witness to the violence this world has suffered before. Our atmosphere has protected us from much of it, but still, some things get through. Whatever this is will get through.
Its impact will result in great loss, as well as a great change in the ocean itself. John says a third of it will become blood. There is some discussion about this. Some say it will simply be a natural occurrence, like the Red Tide. This phenomenon is caused by a harmful red algal bloom, which produces a neurotoxin that can be fatal to marine animals who ingest it and then to humans who eat the marine animals.
I don’t know if this will be the explanation or not, though I don’t think it will be. I do believe these events will be beyond the ability of “science” to explain.
As for the destruction of ships, imagine the tidal wave, or tsunami, produced by the collision of this object with the ocean. It will dwarf the one which made headlines a few years back.
3. Fresh water affected, 8:10-11.
This seems to be a smaller object, what we might call a shooting star. It will affect a third of fresh water, so that many people die from drinking it.
4. Cosmic disturbances, 8:12.
A third of the heavens will be affected. Even time itself will seem to be affected, with the shortened length of day and night.
How will all this be done? Only God knows.
But that’s the point.
Today’s materialistic science prides itself on asserting that things are simply the results of natural processes, operating over billions of years. There is no God involved, no supernatural interference with the natural order of things.
Science says that everything can be explained.
These phenomena will show that to be a lie.
5. A supernatural announcement, 8:13.
Newer translations say that an eagle flies through the heaven with this announcement. However it’s accomplished, men are put on notice that there is worse to come.
Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. We live in a time when there seems to be little, if any, evidence for God in everyday life. The Bible has little effect, indeed, is forbidden in our government, in our schools, and in much of everyday life. Secular philosophy rules the day. Men and women live as if this life is truly all there is; there’s nothing “out there”.
God gave us books like Revelation to be something more than the subject of discussion. It’s not just to be dabbled in or made a subject for speculation. Granted, we may not understand a lot of what it says. It says enough, though, to warn us that this life is not all there is, that in the words of Hebrews 9:27, …it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
The thought of Hebrews 9:27 is continued in v. 28: And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
We can’t even begin to understand those verses. We’ve sanitized and cleaned up the idea of crucifixion. We’ve made the cross into pretty jewelry. But it wasn’t pretty; it was an awful, bloody, painful thing. Beside all that, our Lord endured the wrath of God against sin. There’s no way to picture that.
So, you see. There is coming a time of judgment, for this planet and for every single individual who’s ever lived on it. For those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that judgment is past. He endured it in our place. Apart from Him, that judgment is still to be faced.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.