Summary: The fifth and sixth trumpets should cause us to be grateful to God for our salvation and to develop a sense of urgency about sharing our faith with others.
Two local pastors were fishing on the side of the road. They made a sign saying, "The end is near! Turn yourself around now before it's too late!" and showed it to each passing car.
One driver who drove by didn't appreciate the sign and shouted at them, "Leave us alone, you religious nuts!"
All of a sudden they heard a big splash, looked at each other, and the one pastor said to the other, "You think maybe we should have just said 'Bridge Out' instead?"
Unfortunately, that story, though humorous, contains much more truth that we would often care to admit. The end is in fact near, although none of us know exactly how near it is for us and for those around us. And there will indeed be a point at which it will be too late to turn around and repent. It is also true that as we proclaim that message to a world around us that is increasingly antagonistic towards Jesus that others will call us religious nuts and tell us to leave them alone.
But in spite of that, what I hope that you’ll take away from the message this morning is a renewed urgency to take the gospel message to the world around us, both out of a profound respect and awe for the ways of God and a deep concern over the eternal fate of others.
Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 9 as we continue our journey through that book. Now that you’re there, I’m going to go back just one verse to the last verse of chapter 8. Although we read that verse last week, we didn’t spend a whole lot of time examining it. But since it provides an important introduction to what we’ll look at this morning in chapter 9, let’s begin there:
Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”
Revelation 8:13 (ESV)
Remember that we’ve already seen the first four trumpets, which represent God’s judgment against a portion of His creation for the purpose of extending an opportunity for people to experience His grace. And everyone on earth during those trumpet judgments – both believers and unbelievers – will be impacted by the consequences of those events.
But God is about to turn up the heat, so He sends an eagle to fly above the earth and send out one last warning. There is still time to repent before God releases the last three trumpet judgments. He is also warning that that things are about to get much worse – the last three trumpets are also referred to here as “woes”. I don’t think we need a complete exposition of all the places in the Bible where God uses the term “woe” to understand that it describes some really terrible things.
But I want you to notice one key phrase in this verse - those who dwell on the earth. It is a phrase that we’ve seen previously in chapters 3 and 6, although we didn’t take the time to examine it thoroughly then. We’ll see it again five more times before we finish our journey through Revelation. Whenever that term is used, it always refers to unbelievers - to those who have rejected the invitation of Jesus to accept Him as Savior and Lord. That is an important distinction because the two woes that we will examine this morning and the third woe which we’ll see in a few weeks, seem to be limited to unbelievers.
With that in mind, follow along as I read the first 12 verses of the chapter:
1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. 2 He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. 3 Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. 6 And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.