Summary: An easy-to-read and easy-to-understand study on Revelation 8.
In chapter 6, we saw Jesus Christ opening the six seals of the scroll. With the opening of each one, a more severe punishment was delivered to a sinful and unrepentant world than the punishment before.
In chapter 7, we saw a temporary restraint from these punishments. And in the place of the seals, we saw a period of time when 144,000 Jewish men went out as evangelists to proclaim the word of God to the rest of the world. God was giving man yet one more time to come to the Lord before His total wrath would be poured out upon the earth.
Picking up in chapter 8, we begin by seeing the 7th seal opened.
“When He (the Lamb of God) opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
We do not know exactly why there was this period of silence, but we know that it is very significant and comes from God. Perhaps it is like when we hold our breath for a moment just before something terrible happens. Or, perhaps it is a moment in time when God’s heart is breaking, but He knows He must finally end this cycle of sin that man continues to live in, even if it demands some of His beloved creations must die and go to hell.
In VERSES 2-4, we begin learning about the 7 trumpet judgments of God’s wrath. John writes:
“Then I saw the seven angels who stand in the presence of God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel had a gold incense burner, and he came and stood at the altar. He was given a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the gold alter that was in front of the throne.”
Each one of these trumpets is a severe judgment that will be handed down upon the earth. The passage says that the angel standing before the altar had a large incense burner, and he was given a “large amount” of incense to offer up with the prayers.
Incense is a fragrant substance that creates a particular smell when burned. If you have ever seen a Catholic ceremony, you have seen a priest who carries an incense burner with smoke coming from it. We are not told what this incense was.
VERSES 5-6 show us the very beginning of God’s pure wrath as it starts to unfold!
“The angel took the incense burner, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it to the earth; and there were thunders, rumblings, lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels prepared to blow their seven trumpets (or dispense their seven judgments).”
The word “hurled” refers to a mighty and angry force being used. It was so mighty, it caused many natural disasters, which will end up being worse than the most severe storms and earthquakes we have ever seen on the face of this planet.
VERSE 7 describes a judgment of fire that was cast upon the earth.
“The first angel blew his trumpet and hail and fire, mixed with blood, was hurled to the earth. So a third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all of the grass was burned up.”
Some reports say that during a nuclear holocaust, the explosion, and radiation that is shot up into the atmosphere causes ice to form. Could this be the hail John talked about, and could the fire he speaks of be due to the explosion of the bombs? If so, these things would sure cause bloodshed, wouldn’t they?
Whatever actually causes these things, we know it will be more horrifying than anything we today would ever want to live through. The enormities of the fires are such that we cannot comprehend them today. They will not be isolated to one area, but will literally scorch a third of the earth.
It will be as bad, if not worse than the judgment of hail God rained down upon Egypt in -
“Tomorrow at this time, I will rain down the worst hail that has ever occurred in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.”
And the fact that there is grass mentioned, we are led to assume that this judgment will occur during the growing season, or probably from late spring to late summer. Otherwise, the grass would be dead and dormant. But that is purely speculation on our parts.
VERSES 8-9 tell about the second trumpet judgment. It will be a judgment upon the sea .
“The second angel blew his trumpet and something like a great mountain that was burning was cast into the sea. Then, a third of the sea became like blood; a third of the living creatures in the sea died; and a third of the ships were destroyed.”