Rev 8 (KJV) And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. 6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. 7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. 8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. 10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; 11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. 12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. 13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
1. And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
a. This mysterious silence in heaven is just that. At the opening of the seventh seal no voice is heard and no motion is seen. A while before there was the ringing of triumphant exultation over the multitude in the Church which was now in heaven, but now silence replaces the songs, and everything is mute and motionless. This silence is the direct result of the breaking of the seal. It is a silence of intense interest and awful expectancy of the results of the breaking of the seventh seal. The silence is "as it were half an hour," and this is a description of the agonizing suspense in waiting to see the coming judgments of God. The Day of the Lord is about to commence. The verse is literal.
2. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
a. Seven angels appear who stand in the presence of God. These angels are of particular rank and dignity, since all angels do not have the same dignity and office. These are known as the "Presence Angels." The sons of God come before the Father only at appointed times, but there are some angels who "do always behold the face of the Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 18:10).
b. The presence-angels are the highest and mightiest of created beings. The ancients believed in seven presence-angels, and the apocalypse confirms that belief.
c. We know the names of six of these presence-angels.
1. Gabriel is one of them as he stated to Zacharias, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God." (Luke 1:19)
2. Michael is another one, as he is ranked with Gabriel in the book of Daniel, and he is pronounced as "the great prince" of the prophet's people, the Jews.
3. Raphael is apparently another one, as he is named in the Apocryphal book of Tobit. He states in this book, "I am Raphael, one of the seven Holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One." Even though this book is not in the canon of Scripture, there is no reason to question its truthfulness.
4. The book of Enoch in chapter 20 lists the above three in addition to the names of Uriel, Raguel, and Sarakiel.
5. Lucifer was one of the presence angels as the praise and worship leader in heaven. He lost this position when he rebelled against God and he obtained control over the earth from Adam at the time of the fall. The writer believes that the Bride of Christ will occupy this position at the time the Millennial Kingdom is set up. Jesus has already overcome Satan and won back control over the earth, but He has not yet taken posession over the earth. This will occur at the middle of the tribulation period when Satan will be cast out of heaven. See chapter 12 for commentary on this.
d. The seven Persian princes who "saw the king's face," were the highest officers in the kingdom (Esther 1:14). They were next to the king in rank and power. The seven presence-angels are analogous to the seven Persian princes. These seven angels are the prime executors of the oncoming judgments of God. Jesus Christ is the prime mover in all of God’s judgments upon the earth.
e. "And to them were given seven trumpets." The trumpet is an expressive instrument with a significant voice described as a cry--a loud and mighty cry. The trumpet was an important signal to Israel, and it always meant a time of importance or significance. The meanings are as follows:
1. Trumpets were for the convocation of the people, and the moving of the camps of Israel (Numbers 8).
2. Trumpets pertained to the announcements of Royalty. The trumpet was blown at the anointing of Solomon and Jehu.
3. Trumpets are associated with the manifestation of the terrible majesty and power of God. When the Almighty appeared on Mount Sinai, there was "the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled." (Ex. 19:16). Amos states, "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? (Amos 3:6)
4. Trumpets signal the overthrow of the ungodly. It was at the blowing of trumpets that the walls of Jericho fell down and the city was given into the hands of Joshua (Joshua 6:13-16).
5. Trumpets connect with war. The command was: "And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets." (Num. 10:9)
f. All of these events can be expected with the blowing of the seven trumpet judgments. There will be war; Israel will be gathered together and moved; There will be the fulfillment of feasts and sacrifices; The ungodly will be overthrown; and there will be the commencement of a new reign by a new King. Also, the revelation of Divine power and Godhead shall fill heaven and earth.
3. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
a. Many understand this angel to be the Lord Jesus himself--the Jehovah angel of the Old Testament. This angel has a censer of gold, an implement of the Holy of Holies, and used only by the High Priest.
b. This angel offers the prayers of all saints, and renders them acceptable to God the Father. This is an office that is not assigned to angels, but it is assigned to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Great High Priest.
c. The incense is seen as the prayers themselves and as the mediatorship of Christ who makes the prayers acceptable. Either way it is correct to say that they were given to him. All the glories of the apocalypse are represented (Rev. 1:1) as being given to Christ even though they are rightfully his because of his personal obedience unto death. The victors in the Olympic games were given the crowns even though they had personally earned them. All things have been given to Christ as the just due of his own perfect fulfillment of righteousness. Therefore, the giving of the incense to this angel does not exclude him as the Christ.
d. In chapter 5 we saw the four living creatures and the 24 elders holding up bowls of incense to the Lord Jesus Christ. Here Christ offers up these prayers as the Great High Priest.
e. The prayers offered up are most certainly the ones pertaining to the kingdom, as is given in the pattern of the Lord's prayer. This prayer is "Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!" The time has come for this prayer to be answered so it is brought to remembrance.
4. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
a. The ascension of the sweet vapor into the presence of God is equivalent to an announcement that they are heard.
b. It bears repeating that the angel is the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is He that makes the prayers acceptable before God the Father.
5. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
a. The Savior himself initiates the oncoming wrath of God which is appropriately called the Day of the Lord.
b. The same fire that wafted the prayers of the saints to God the Father is the fire that initiates the judgments upon disobedient and unbelieving men. The same is true of the Word of God. The same Word that saves souls because of obedience destroys souls because of disobedience.
c. Fire is the great consumer and purifier. It bespeaks wrath, torture and destruction to the wicked, but cleansing and sanctification to the just. It prefigures divine terribleness to the guilty. It is the primary torment of the lost.
d. When the Priest-Angel turns his fire-filled censer on the earth, it begins the day that shall burn as an oven, and the proud and ungodly shall be as stubble to the flames that devour. (Mal. 4:1)
e. The voices, thunders, lightnings and earthquake are the signs and instruments of God's judgments on his foes. It is under the sounds and actions of the trumpets that these judgments are worked into the experiences of the earth and its inhabitants.
6. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
a. The seven archangels deliberate, confer and adjust themselves as to the order of the coming judgments. They are the executors of these judgments, and there must be last minute preparations before the judgments commence.
7. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
a. This is the first judgment of God that is released upon the earth during the seven-year tribulation period. The plagues of Egypt are repeated on a selective and much larger scale upon the earth (Ex. 9:23-28). Only here there is a further element of the mingling of blood with the hail and the fire. These are to be understood literally just as the plagues of Egypt were literal.
b. The Old Testament prophesied this judgment as follows:
Joel 2:30 (KJV) And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
c. Bloody hail and fire burn up a third of the trees and all the green grass. Under the sixth seal, this judgment could not be released until the servants of God were sealed or translated to heaven. The earth and the trees can now be hurt under this judgment.
d. Some of the best manuscripts specify that a third of the earth was burned. Thus, cities, towns, neighborhoods and the like are burned along with a third of the forests and all the grass. This would include croplands, fields and pastures. The description of this judgment must be taken literally.
8. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
a. A large object the size of a mountain and burning with fire falls into the sea. Whether this is a large meteor or comet or some other object is unknown, but it is literal and the effects are devastating to the sea. A large meteor would appear the most likely. The third part of the sea becomes blood. This is akin to the Egyptian plague upon the Nile River, which was turned into blood. This is clearly a supernatural act of judgment.
b. The description of this object "as it were a great mountain" is proof that the rest of the words must be taken literally.
c. "The sea" appears to refer to a particular sea, and the Mediterranean would be the most logical, since it is closest to the center of the earth and Biblical events.
9. And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
a. This verse can be taken just as it is stated. The judgment on the sea is awesome but not total.
b. The blood is poisonous to the sea creatures so a third of them die. Also, the effects of the burning object is so cataclysmic that one-third of the ships are burned, sunk or dashed on the shore.
c. Some Old Testament prophecies of this judgment are Hosea 4:1-3; Zeph. 1:3; and Is. 2:16.
10. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
a. A comet striking the earth would appear the most probable fulfillment of this prophecy. The tail of comet could fall upon a third of the rivers of the earth a pollute them. A comet is mostly gaseous and it could hit the earth without completely destroying the earth, yet its effects would be devastating.
11. And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
a. A third of the rivers and fountains of the earth are made poisonous from this "star" that strikes the earth. The gasses and particles from a comet could very easily poison a third of the fresh waters of the earth.
b. Many think that the waters become poisonous from nuclear radiation, since the word Chernobyl apparently means Wormwood. There was a nuclear accident in this city in the USSR on April 16, 1986.
c. A star is a luminous heavenly body, and a comet would be a literal fulfillment of this prophecy.
12. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
a. The results of a comet hitting the earth at the right angle could speed up the earth's rotation on its axis. If the speed increased by 1/3, then the length of the day and the night would be decreased by 1/3. The length of the days would shorten to 16 hours instead of 24 hours. This would also fulfill the prophecy of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse about the days becoming shorter so that man will be able to survive.
Mat 24:22 (KJV) And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
13. And I beheld, and heard an angel (eagle) flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
a. The judgments of the first four trumpets have already been initiated, but there are three trumpet judgments that remain. The trumpet judgments are progressive in their severity, so these last three judgments are called the "Woe" judgments, since they are particularly devastating.
b. The best and oldest of the manuscripts have the word eagle in this verse instead of the word angel. The Codex Sinaiticus, the Codex Alexandrinus, and the Codex Vaticanus, the best and most reliable authorities on the reading of the New Testament have the word eagle.
c. Who are the eagles? We must go to Scripture to understand this question.
Luke 17:34-37 (KJV) I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
From this Scripture we see that eagles are those ready and watching saints, who are to be separated from the main body of the Church unto Christ in the translation of the Firstfruits of the Church. The body is that of Christ, so the eagles will be gathered to Christ.