The imagery of Revelation Chapter 8 almost reads like a portion of the script from one of the Lord of the Rings movies. The scene unfolds with a seemingly peaceful moment in verse 1 but then quickly escalates into an intense and fiery battle only to end with a bit of a cliff hanger in verse 13!
Last week we read in Chapter 6 of 6 out of seven seals being broken. Today, we are going to be reading about that seventh seal as well as the beginning of the first four of seven trumpets. This reference to seals is a continued reminder that all of these events are linked into one continuous chain of providence. Where one ends another begins. These are not disjointed events but rather they are well connected and perfectly designed by God.
Revelation 8:1 says, “When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
This silence is believed to mean one of two things - First, that it is a silence of peace. That during this time of silence no complaints were being made - all was quiet and well in the church and, therefore, quiet in Heaven. Or second, and what I see to be a more likely explanation, it is a silence of expectation. Great things were coming and the church and heaven could feel it. And so there they stood, silently watching and waiting for what the Lord was about to do. We see this idea echoed in Zechariah 2:13, “Be silent, all, before the Lord, for He has risen up out of His holy habitation.”
After this time of silence the trumpets were then delivered to the angels who would be sounding them. Side note: I just love how we see the provision of God even here in the glimpse into Heaven. Here we see the Lord equipping the angels with what they need to fulfill their role in this divine moment! What powerful confirmation that providing for our needs isn’t just something He does for those of us living in this broken and fallen world. It is, in fact, WHO HE IS! He is Jehovah Jireh, my Provider!
Now, back to Revelation 8. Verse 7 tells us that the first angel sounded the trumpet and the events that followed were dismal to say the least. In fact, the result is described as a rain of hail, fire, and blood. The second trumpet results in something fiery falling from the sky “like a great mountain” which affects the seas and oceans. The third also brings about something falling from the sky, this time affecting fresh waters such as lakes, rivers, springs, and streams. The fourth, and final trumpet we will read about here in chapter 8, involves something “above” earth, with the primary effect being loss of light.
Though the exact meaning of each of these instances is not known, meaning - we aren’t exactly sure how “a rain of hail, fire, and blood”, “something fiery falling from the sky - ‘like a great mountain’”, or this loss of light will actually play out, it is clear that this series of events will result in lots of loss, lots of devastation, and, to be more exact, the destruction of ⅓ of the Earth's tree’s and seemingly all of it’s grass, which would ultimately result in a loss of crops and food supplies. The loss of basic necessities, such as drinking water and safe waterways in which aquatic life to live, as polluted waters will result in sickness and death, as outlined in verses 10-11. And the loss of ⅓ of Earth’s light, which will have an effect on the entire ecosystem, resulting in changes in weather, energy use, agriculture, and animal life.
But as catastrophic as these events might seem - this is only the beginning of the judgment of God that is to come. In verse 13 John even described a bird calling out “Woe, Woe, to those who dwell on the Earth at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow.”
You might be thinking to yourself - what in the world am I supposed to do with all of that information? It’s not encouraging - in fact, it’s quite terrifying - and it doesn’t seem to equip me for anything. So why is it so important? After all, since we believe the rapture of the church will take place before all of this unfolds, what value does it hold for us as believers?
Well, there are many answers to that questions but just to name a few:
This portion of scripture shows for us the swift and powerful justice of the Lord.
It reminds us that God is a God of provision as well as a God of order.
And draws our attention back to the fact that the end times are coming! That this earth is not our home; therefore, reminding us of the hope we have in Him that the pain and loss and chaos and destruction are temporal! For He is coming back for His people!
It is a powerful reminder of what is to come for those who don’t believe, which should ignite a fire and passion in us to fulfill the call placed on all of our lives through the great commission found in Matthew 28: 19 & 20:
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Yes, this world we live in is full of chaos, pain, loss, and sorrow - but my prayer for each of us today is that we will not find ourselves so overwhelmed by the state of the world that we become paralyzed in our mission to “go and make disciples”. I pray that reading of what is to come won’t lead us to stand frozen in fear of the future but rather will ignite in us a renewed passion to share this hope we have in Him through every single one of our words, actions, and deeds.