Summary: The resurrection of Jesus Christ empowers his followers to live lives of faith with boldness and confidence.
Revelation 8:1 – 9:21
Sermon Objective: The resurrection of Jesus Christ empowers his followers to live lives of faith with boldness and confidence.
Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)
“The Seven trumpets”
THE TEXT: REVELATION 8-9
I know it is a lengthy passage. But may I read all of chapters 8 and 9 again this morning?
Why? Because that was how it was meant to be read and heard. The Revelation is designed to stir the imagination and leave one with lasting impressions before it is designed to be studied in minutia … it is apocalyptic literature … it is colorful and emotive.
Imagine yourself in a small first century house-church in Sardis. You are listening to a reader read John’s letter to you. Most people, Christians included, could not read and none of them had a personal copy of the letter that they could follow along with. Keep your current situation in mind as you listen; specifically the peril you are in because of your faith and your cries to God for strength, wisdom, and help.
I suspect that you will notice, as I read to you, that:
1. The beginning and the end of the account frames the whole episode.
2. The largest portion of the trumpet’s events are not written about you – albeit they are written for you.
>> Read Rev. 8:1 - 9:21 <<
For some it is roller coasters. For others it is a horror movie. Others might get their fix by reading suspense thrillers. But there is something in the human psyche of many that loves to be scared! Neurologists tell us that it is the adrenalin rush and that the same neurotransmitters are engaged when one is riding a rickety wooden roller coaster or watching an intense plot unfold as are triggered when we laugh. It’s a hormonal storm.
Maybe that is why some like to read John’s Apocalypse like it is a suspense thriller. Never mind that the book says it is revealing (that’s what “apocalypse” means) truth; not hiding truth or trying to scare us. There is something about the foreignness of the imagery and the darkness of the book’s tone that immediately fashions it into something mysterious and suspenseful.
Maybe we can blame the way we read it on Edgar Allen Poe.
And it is precisely portions like chapters 8 and 9 that evoke these sensations and assumptions. And yet, John’s writing was not intended to fill its readers with fear. In fact, that is just the opposite of what it was designed to do. John’s apocalypse was designed to stir hope, boldness, and faithfulness. Whenever we flip it and make it a suspense thriller, however, it does just the opposite and then it strips the text of all its power to be a transforming spiritual force in our lives.
The readers and hearers of John’s apocalypse had enough real horror taking place in their lives … they didn’t need to read a Stephen King-styled book to get their endorphins fix. JOHN’S BOOK, AS STRANGE AS IT SEEMS TO SOME IN OUR DAY, WAS DESIGNED TO ELICIT PEACE, CONFIDENCE AND PRAISE.
The trumpets are God’s response to our prayers and His attempt to get the attention of the world. God’s wants those in bondage to sin (known throughout the book as “the inhabitants of the earth”) to turn to him for deliverance through repentance.
AND GOD TRIES EVERYTHING HE CAN TO ACCOMPLISH THIS DOESN’T HE? HE LEAVES NO STONE UNTURNED IN HIS CALL TO REPENTANCE.
TRUMPET BLAST #1 AFFECTS THE LAND (8:7)
TRUMPET BLAST #2 AFFECTS THE SEA (8:8-9)
TRUMPET BLAST #3 AFFECTS FRESH WATER SOURCES (8:9-10)
TRUMPET BLAST #4 AFFECTS THE HEAVENLY BODIES (8: 12)
Then there is that eerie, quiet scene, of a lone eagle flying in midair as if taking inventory; as if determining whether man has responded and then proclaiming the severity of the final trumpets. And it is here, with trumpets number 5 and 6 that “all Hell breaks loose.”
John required but six verses to set forth the first four trumpet-plagues (8:7-12). But now he will devote over three times that space to the next two. This added emphasis corresponds to the seriousness of the calamities that follow.
TRUMPET BLAST #5 IS A DEMONIC HORDE OF LOCUSTS LEAD BY APOLLYON (9:1-12).
Interestingly, both Hebrew’s “Abaddon” and its Greek equivalent, “Apollyon” both mean “Destroyer” (or “destruction”).
There is reason to believe that these verses contain a derogatory reference to the Greek god Apollo. Even more accurately, it may be a derogatory reference to the emperor Domitian, who ruled while John wrote this book. You see, Domitian regarded himself as Apollo incarnate. And, like the god Apollo, one of Domitian’s representative symbols was … the locust. John is saying that, in reality, Domitian is not a god but a manifestation of the powers of the underworld … he is inspired by demons and the very Lord of the underworld Himself. What he insinuates here he will say far more explicitly in chapters 12 and 13.