Segment 19 - 08.01 - 7th seal
Then after this brief interlude then we go back to the opening of the seals. The seventh and final seal is opened in the first verse of Chapter eight. Look at chapter eight verse one. It said, “When the lamb opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” I’ve always thought, phew what a relief after all that war and pestilence. You know? Now we get a little peace and quiet, but that’s the opening of the seventh seal. All right?
Then as we discussed earlier during the first hour, the writer becomes kind of redundant at times, not at times but the whole book there’s a sense of redundancy in the whole book. Repetitiveness might be a better word. Where the writer tries to make a point, and then he says “If you didn’t get the point let me explain it once again.” Well he made the point with the opening of the seven seals by saying what? There was going to be all this terrible time of upheaval before God came back and set up his kingdom.
Then with a brief interlude he talked about those who are faithful, the 144,000 representative of the multitude of the faithful, those who are faithful are going to make out okay. You’re going to be saved. Then he gets back with the seven seal and this quiet. He’s already given his message. There’s going to be this great time of upheaval, and then some will be saved. When God comes back those who are faithful, who remain true to the faith, and that sort of thing.
But, then he is saying beginning with the seven trumpets, which come next, if you didn’t understand that with the seven seals now let me tell it to you in a different way. So now we start with the seven trumpets. If you want metaphysically, the seven seals can represent the process of denial. We’ll see that in order to bring a demonstration into our life we deny, then we affirm something, and then the demonstration occurs. So think of the seven seals in a very general way, in terms of the denial process. The seven trumpets in terms of what? Affirmation. Okay?
Segment 20 - 08.02 - 1st-6th angels and trumpets
Well, let’s just deal kind of generally then with the seven trumpets and let’s see what happens here beginning with chapter 8, the second verse. Seven angels appear and seven trumpets are given to them and later on, they blow these trumpets one by one and some pretty wild things begin to occur right at that moment. Then, we see that another angel, it says here, “Comes.” This is in the first few verses, verses 3 through 5. “He appears and sends up some prayers for the martyrs, those who are the souls under the altar that was mentioned in chapter 6, verse 9.
This angel, this might be the archangel Michael. He’s not named but it might be because he became a very important figure in Jewish thought at that time. He comes along and then there are some peals of thunder in verse 5, after the smoke goes up. The smoke in the incense going up is representative of what? In the temple, this is what they did. During times of prayer, they burned incense and this was symbolic of prayers going up to God.
You see, some churches today still have that same form of worship. And in verse 5, he says, “Then, the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth and there were peals of thunder, loud noises, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.” All of that is representative of the presence of God. Any time you see fire and earthquake and activity like that and peals of thunder, does that remind you of anything? Moses going up to the mountain in Exodus the 20th chapter back there when he went up to receive the commandments and the law.
God is symbolized in a great cloud of smoke and that sort of thing. All of these things are manifestations of God. Any time the fire and loud noises are brought out in the scripture, it means the activity are manifestation of God. In verse 5 here, it’s simply saying that when the smoke went up, the prayers went up, then with all the peal of thunder then God accepted the prayers. This is divine approval of the prayers. Let’s see what happens next here.
Then, the trumpets begin to blow one by one. The first four angels blow their trumpets and four terrible calamities occur in nature. Nature is affected with the blowing of the first four trumpets, but there’s only partial destruction. Only one-third is affected. Only one-third. Let’s take a look at just one example, the first angel blew his trumpet in verse 7, chapter 8, verse 7.
The first angel blew his trumpet and there followed hail and fire mixed with blood which fell on the earth, and a third of the earth was burned up and a third of the trees were burned up and all green grass was burned up. When you see the blowing of the next tree trumpets, the same idea happens but only a third is destroyed.
Then, suddenly, the scene changes a little bit after the fourth angel blows his trumpet. Look at verse 13, the rider looks up and he sees an eagle crying. He looks up into the sky and there was an eagle flying in mid-heaven and the eagle represents a messenger of doom. Here comes another pronouncement and what is all this about? He’s just reinforcing that same idea that all of these terrible things must happen before God reveals himself and sets up his kingdom.
You see, in the very beautiful way in which he does it, you can get tired of blood and thunder after a while a little bit but he really reinforces and builds up his whole point very beautifully. In verse 13, he says, “Then, I looked and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew in mid-heaven. ‘Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on earth,’ at the blasts of the other trumpets which the three angels are about to blow.” These are known as the three woes that are now to appear and they come one by one. They come one by one.
The first woe has to do with the fifth angel blowing his trumpet. This is in chapter 9. The fifth angel blows his trumpet and as he does this, he looks up and he sees something. He sees a star that has fallen to earth. The star comes down to earth and as an angel who has authority to open the bottomless pit, this is an angel who has authority to open the bottomless pit. Let’s just read a few lines here.
“And the fifth angel blew his trumpet and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key of the shaft to the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft to the bottomless pit and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace.” Smoke comes out of this bottomless pit. You’re going to see that this bottomless pit is a place where a few are placed for a time.
It’s not the final place of destruction. That is assigned to the lake of fire, but the bottomless pit is a holding place for a time for a few, and it’s going to appear a little bit later on in our study. But this bottomless pit is opened up. First of all, smoke comes out and then locusts come out after this.
These locusts, look in verse 4, the locusts they were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree but only those of mankind who have not the seal of God upon their foreheads. They were allowed to torture them for five months but not to kill them. The life of the locusts is supposed to be about five months. He picks up on the symbology of the locusts to bring out this idea that trouble was going to come to some of those who were not faithful, who did not have the seal of God upon their foreheads.
In the first four trumpets, when they blew, mankind was not touched, only nature. Now, with the blowing of the fifth trumpet, he says you’re going to be touched a little more personally. Mankind is touched with the blowing of the fifth trumpet but only those who do not have the seal of God upon their forehead who don’t hold fast to their faith, and terrible things are going to happen and he pictures it in this way.
These locusts are supposed to be demonic powers. And a little bit later on in verse 11, look at verse 11. He gives the name of their king. “They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.” Now, both of names in Hebrew and Greek mean destruction, destruction. It’s all symbolic. There is no king named Abaddon or Apollyon if you want it in Greek. It’s all symbolic. He’s talking about the terrible things that have to happen before God reveals himself according to the way he sees it.
Abaddon also becomes a name for the netherworld. In Jewish thought, when you died, you went down to Sheol, the place of deep sleep. There was no hell or heaven in the way traditional Christianity has it today. In the Old Testament, when you died, you went to Sheol. Then, as thought began to change, Sheol was given different names and then developed into a place of eternal damnation. The thought changed. The place didn’t change. It changed in the minds of men. Their thought about Sheol changed. And one of the names that’s given to it is Abaddon. That will appear in the book of Job, I believe, and in several other places. But once again, this is all symbolic.
This is the first woe with this bottomless pit being opened up, the smoke pouring out and the locusts, and then the demonic powers are turned loose not to kill but only to torment. Boy, is he really trying to make his point. “Folks, hang in there and be true to your faith,” he’s saying. Now, he’s got the whole picture with the demonic powers tormenting people. He says, “The first woe has passed.” That’s in verse 12.
Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet. Then you get into the next angel, blowing his trumpet and he says here that four angels. What happens here, four angels are released from the Euphrates river, the great river, not the same as the four angels at the four corners of the earth that held back the winds in chapter 7. But the sixth angel blew his trumpet and I heard a voice and the four horns of the golden altar. And he says, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
The four angels were released. This is in verse 15, who had been held ready for the hour, the day, the month and the year to kill a third of mankind. See, now, mankind is affected. Remember what I said? With the first four trumpets, only nature is affected. In the fifth trumpet, with the blowing of the fifth trumpets with the locusts and all that, then those who are not marked with the sign of God are tormented for five months and then here now, one-third of mankind is to be killed. He talks about troops of cavalry and also identifies them as fire-breathing monsters.
What this is a reference to, we don’t have it on our map here, but over to the east of Asia Minor, in this section over, the Parthians were a war-like people. And the Romans were constantly in fear of the Parthians coming for the west and taking over their territory. They feared a Parthian invasion and you have to place that in historical context.
What this is a reference to, possibly the Parthian army who was going to come and they were going to be messengers of punishment. The whole business here with the sixth angel has to do with a concern about the Parthian army coming. What the rider did was see within the historical context of his times. The Romans fear of the Parthians coming and taking over, he saw them coming that way and saw them as agents of destruction. So, he brings them into the picture also to paint his picture of doom to continue to pick up on the same idea.