Summary: As the trumpets are sounded those who are evil in this earth are being challenged by God. Through these events God is saying; I am God - Have I got your attention yet.
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Repent from the Idolatry of This Broken World.
Let’s start by reading the passage we are going to focus on this morning.
Read Revelation 8:2-9:21
Up til now the imagery used by Revelation has been relatively easy to understand.
The throne room scene is full of awe and wonder, but it makes a lot of sense.
The various heavenly creatures are wildly imaginative, but we can comprehend the meaning.
Even the arrival of the four horseman was, with a bit of effort, able to be understood.
But now we have a new round of images – the sounding of the trumpets and their impact. There is something wild about these images, isn’t there.
And so some people have come up with some pretty wild interpretations.
The locust with the sting in their tail is a reference to the Cobra Helicopter with nerve gas in the tail used in Vietnam.
The 200,000,000 troops from the east is the Chinese army which will set out on an invasion towards Jerusalem.
Some might not go that far in the sense of identifying specific modern events. But what they do see is a very literal fulfilment. 1/3 of the world’s vegetation gone; 1/3 of the sea creatures and boats being destroyed; 1/3 of mankind being killed by the 200,000,000 horses. No matter which way you look at it – it is still pretty wild.
But here is the issue we need to wrestle with.
Should we expect a time when these scorpion-tailed locusts will crawl out of a fiery furnace hole to torment non-believers for five months?
Will a cavalry of 200,000,000 horseman on steeds with snake tails and sulphur breath kill 2.3 billion people?
If that were to happen, what is God trying to achieve. Sure it would have an impact on those who witness it … but what impact does it have on generations past?
Can you see the problem that a very literal interpretation brings? Either it forces us to identify some very specific events. Or it pushes the application of Revelation totally into the future; which again creates all sorts of speculation about what is going to happen.
That is why I believe most of the book of Revelation is not meant to be interpreted literally. Rather there is a huge amount of symbolism. Symbolism designed to show us how history is going to unfold under the control of God. And when you see today the extent of that control I believe you are going to be amazed at what God is doing here.
In order for us to see what is happening here we first need to answer the question “When?”
When are the trumpets blown?
Not, when are they blown in Revelation … for we see the story about the trumpets follows the story about the seals.
But, when are the trumpets blown in history?
Because we saw didn’t we, last week, that the opening of the sixth seal brings us to judgement day. Almost to the end of human history on this earth.
So here are the options.
Either the trumpets are blown after the beginning of judgement day.
Or we are being shown another aspect of the unfolding of history; but this time from a different perspective.
That is the interpretation we are going to take.
The trumpets are showing us another aspect of the unfolding of history; but this time from a different perspective.
The seven seals were looking at the unfolding of history with a focus on the church.
The trumpets are looking at the unfolding of history as it relates to those outside the church.
Which tells us a lot about the way history unfolds.
Because, if you just focus on history from the perspective of the breaking of the seals, you could come to the conclusion that the church – and the people of God – are really just a punching bag for evil forces.
We have to put up with the impact of conquerors bent on destruction.
When peace is broken often the church gets wounded.
In times of famine God’s people find themselves getting even less.
The sword of persecution, even now, is a daily occurrence.
Along with the saints under the altar we also can find ourselves crying out to God How long Lord?
Do we have to wait to get to heaven before God deals with evil people?
The answer might surprise you.
Because the answer is, “No we don’t”. God doesn’t just let evil people get away with evil stuff. God isn’t going to wait until judgement day before he does something about evil. He acts in a way that brings about some sort of justice, even now. And He acts because our prayers have reached Him. You see it in chapter 8:3