Summary: Revelation 8 sermon on the first four trumpet judgments
The Trumpet Judgments, Part I
The Seventh Seal
When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
Rev 8:1, NKJV
J. Vernon McGee in his "Thru the Bible" commentary related this story: "Many years ago I was speaking at a conference to about three or four hundred young people here in Southern California. I was out on the grounds of the camp, and coming toward me was a group of girls, and in the middle of them there was one boy. It looked like the girls were going to take him apart, and they were making a great deal of noise about it. Finally, they came up to me, and the girls wanted me to hear what this fellow had said. He said to me, "Dr. McGee, did you know that there are not going to be any women in heaven?" I said, "No, I didn't know that. Do you have Scripture for it?" He said, "Yes. The Bible says that there is going to be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour. If there are any women there, there couldn't be any silence for that long!""
Well, to be honest preachers wouldn't be there either if that was the case!
Perhaps this silence is a calm before the storm, as some commentators note. However, McGee comments why there is a silence here:
"Why is there this strange silence? God's patience is not exhausted. When the sixth seal was opened and nature responded with a mighty convulsion, brave men weakened for a moment. Christ gave them opportunity to repent."
God gives people every chance to repent. God is a God of wrath, of judgment but God is also a God of long suffering and mercy. Those people that say that God is not merciful and hateful by stating that "a good God would not send anyone to Hell" does not understand a few key points about God:
1) No one "deserves" heaven. Because of the fall of Adam and Eve, the human race all died both physically and spiritually. Each person, because of sin (definition) should go to Hell. People truly do no understand the fact that sin is a crime against God and only the innocent go to heaven.
2) If God were to let unrepentant sinners go to heaven, he would violate his attribute of justice:
He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD. Prov 17:15, NKJV
3) Jesus would have died in vain on the cross.
One thing you will note when studying Revelation is this: men in that time will be given every opportunity to repent. God will show them many horrors. They will endure many judgments. However, due to the hardness of the hearts of men, they would rather go to Hell than repent to God.
The Trumpet Judgments
And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. Rev 8:2-6, NKJV
Trumpets play different roles in the Scriptures, often as an announcement to summon the nation of Israel together, at religious feasts, to announce news, as fanfare for a king or to announce a new king or to signal the charge to war. However, it is also quite prominent in prophetic passages as we see here with this new group of seven angels in verse 2.
Here we see prayer and the response to prayer. The censer, or incense container, contains incense which symbolizes the prayers of God's church--the saints. These prayers of the saints of course are prayers of many kinds, but the response here would seem to indicate that they are in answer to prayers for justice, as we saw from the Tribulation Saints in Revelation 6:10b: "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
This censer used to offer up the prayers of the saints will carry the fire of judgment from the throne of God upon the earth. Fire is most often symbolic of judgment, and there is little doubt that this is the case here; there are noises, thunderings, lightnings and an earthquake. These forces of nature are being fired by God in heaven, and it indicates that the silence has been broken and that judgment is coming. The seven angels are ready to sound their trumpets in the ordained succession.