Summary: A contemporary study of the book of Revelation 8
We all like riddles, don’t we? Here are a couple of riddles for you; can you solve them?
“I have no eyes and I have no legs, but I move the earth. Who am I? I am an earthworm.” Here is another. “I can run, but cannot walk. I have a mouth, bu cannot talk. I have a bed, but I never sleep. Who am I? I am a river.” And my favorite riddle of all time is: What did the near-sighted porcupine say when he backed into the cactus? “Pardon me, dear.”
When you are near-sighted, you cannot see things far away. It is like being able to see the trees but not the forest. As Christians, we need to see the forest. We need to see beyond our own little understanding and see as much of the overview as possible.
Today, we are going to talk about a different kind of riddle; a biblical riddle. We will find out what is hot, wet, bright, and dark. And we are going to do this by reading one chapter in the book of REVELATION; chapter 8.
Let us quickly mentioned the hi-lights found in chapter 6.
There have been six seals opened, and each one delivered more punishment to a sinful world. In chapter 7, we saw that punishment temporarily halted by four angels. And, during this time, we saw 144,000 Jewish men who went out to proclaim the word of God to others. God was giving man one more chance to return to Him.
Picking up in chapter 8, we begin by seeing the seventh seal being 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 just a moment, as we quickly contemplate the awesomeness of something that is about to happen. 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. In the same way, this angel has an incense burner, and we are not told what this incense was.
VERSES 5-6, we see the very beginning of God’s pure wrath!
“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 Bible doesn’t say the angel tossed it to earth, or threw it to earth. It uses the word “HURLED.” This word refers to a mighty force being used. It was so mighty, it caused many natural disasters, which will be worse than the most severe storms and earthquakes we have ever seen. And this judgment that was hurled to earth was the very first step in God’s absolute wrath.
VERSE 7 describes the first part of our riddle. What is hot? (A fire)
In this passage, we find a judgment of fire 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?