Summary: Contemporary society, for the most part, has very little substantive knowledge of Scripture. Occasionally on the news, a reporter describes a flood’s devastation or a famine as of biblical proportions. I’ve even heard the phrase a plague of biblical pro
LET THE TRUMPETS BLOW
Contemporary society, for the most part, has very little substantive knowledge of Scripture. Occasionally on the news, a reporter describes a flood’s devastation or a famine as of biblical proportions. I’ve even heard the phrase a plague of biblical proportions with reference to a swarm of insects or some other natural calamity.
What adjectives will the reporters use to describe the plagues God is preparing to send just before Jesus’ return?
God sent the original plagues of biblical proportion on Pharaoh and the Egyptians. These ten plagues (Exodus 7-12) brought about the release of Israel from bondage. Beginning in chapter 8 John sees a series of divine plagues that are the ultimate in biblical proportions.
Both set of plagues are warnings, offering the ungodly an opportunity to repent. Both sets of plagues are divine judgments that go beyond any natural explanation. Both sets result in salvation and victory for the people of God.
In this chapter the tempo resumes after the interlude of Chapter 7. John continues to experience the vision of things to come.
vs 1 Jesus the Lamb opened the seal on the scroll, just as he had opened the other six. What happened next is best described as a dramatic pause, silence in heaven for about half an hour.
After all the loudness of the previous scenes and the full fury of the final judgments about to be released, silence falls on the heavenly scene. The living creatures, the elders, and all the angels, who had without ceasing praised God from the beginning of their creation, now fall silent. Something major is about to happen. This is the calm before the storm.
The psalmist said, From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet. Psalm 76:8. Habakkuk declared, but the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. 2:20. Be silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near. Zephaniah 1:7. Zechariah commands to be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling. 2:13
The hour of God’s final judgment has come, the hour when the saints will be vindicated, sin punished, Satan vanquished, and Christ exalted. The greatest event since Christ’s resurrection in about to happen.
vs 2 John then notices the seven angels who stand before God. Jewish and Christian tradition have held that these are the seven archangels (Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Saraqael, Gabriel, and Remiel). Our text does not call them archangels and only two angels are mentioned by name in the Bible, Michael and Gabriel. Michael is an archangel and Gabriel stand directly before God. Other than that, we don’t know who the angels are.
Each angel receives a trumpet. This is not the ram’s horn (shophar), of ancient Israel but the metal instrument of the first century. Trumpets are the most significant musical instrument in Scripture. In the Old Testament they were used to summon the congregation of Israel, sound the alarm in time of war, at religious feasts, to announce news, to acclaim new kings, and also in worship.
Zephaniah associates trumpets with the Day of the Lord. The New Testament teaches that a trumpet will announce the Rapture. And this chapter associates trumpets with the judgments of God coming upon the earth.
vs 3-5 Just before they blow, John’s attention is drawn towards another figure. As he watches, another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. I believe that this is the same altar John first saw when the fifth seal was opened, under it he had seen the souls of the martyrs, and from it their prayers were rising.
Now the prayers of all the saints along with much incense rise before God. John does not say what the prayer is, I believe it is for Satan to be destroyed, and for sin to be defeated. This is the cry of believers in the Tribulation against their persecutors and all who blaspheme God.
Their prayers, affirmed by the heavenly incense which God has provided, show that He is in agreement with the cries of the saints as they come into His presence just before the seven trumpets are to sound. These prayers would be totally unfit for an age of Grace, but will be most fitting for the persecuted martyrs of the Tribulation.
The half hour of silence is abruptly shattered as the angel takes his censer and fills it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth. The immediate effects of the firestorm of wrath that bursts on the earth are peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. A warning of what is to come!
The First Trumpet