The Trumpet Judgements.
Prelude to the Seven Trumpets. v1 - 6.
1. "When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour."
The final seal, the seventh, is broken so the whole scroll is now open revealing the detail of all God's purposes for the earth. In contrast to the previous triumphant songs of the multitude in heaven there is now an awesome silence in heaven for half an hour. This awful stillness was in anticipation of the judgement about to be released on the earth by the sounding of the seven trumpets. "It was a hushed and threatening stillness before the outbreak of a storm." (dr. basil atkinson)
2. "And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets."
It would appear from this verse that there are seven angels who stand before the presence of God continually awaiting His bidding. From Luke 1:19 we know that the archangel Gabriel is one of these. To these angels were given the seven trumpets.
3, 4. "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."
Before the trumpets sounded, another angel came and stood over the altar (see Rev. 6:9, the brazen altar or altar of burnt offering. The officiating priest in the temple would take fire for his censer from this altar and offer the incense on the golden altar). He had a golden censer and to him was given a great quantity of incense. JFB suggests that this incense was given to the angel by Christ that it might be added to the prayers of all the saints. The idea is that the prayers of the saints are intermingled with the burned incense representing the sweet smelling and acceptable sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. We pray to God the Father through Christ, in the Name of Christ and our prayers are effectual in and through Him.
5. "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."
Immediately after this the angel takes up the censer, refills it with fire from the brazen altar and throws it to the earth, showing that God's fiery judgements are about to descend on the godless in answer to the prayers of the saints (Rev. 6:10). This is accompanied by a great tumult of voices, thunders, lightnings and an earthquake - a great upheaval and universal disorder.
6. "So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound."
At this the seven angels with the trumpets get ready to blow their mighty blasts.
The First Trumpet - The Vegetation Struck. v7.
7. "The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up."
As soon as the first trumpet is sounded there followed hail and fire with blood (Vincent: in blood rather than with blood thus the hailstones and fireballs fell in a shower of blood). It would appear that they both fell at the same time. Hail and fire in Scripture are used as instruments of judgement (Ex. 9:23, Isaiah 30:30). They were thrown to the earth with great violence, burning up a third of all the trees. This does not mean that one specific area was affected, but a third of trees throughout the world are destroyed. All growing vegetation (green grass) was burnt. This would give rise to great famine.
The Second Trumpet - The Sea Struck. v8 - 9.
8, 9. "Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed."
At the sounding of the second trumpet a burning mass as large as a mountain (meteorite) was thrown into the sea and a third part of it become blood. This great catastrophe would bring devastation to a third of the seas. So whereas the first trumpet affected the land the second affects the sea. A third of all the creatures who live in the sea were killed and a third of all maritime vessels destroyed. This would again cause vast worldwide economic and social problems.
The Third Trumpet - The Waters Struck. v10 - 11.
10. "Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water."
When the third angel blew his trumpet, a massive (megas) burning star fell from heaven contaminating a third of the rivers and springs.
11. "The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter."
Although we are not told the origin or nature of this star, the name given to it, Wormwood - bitterness, describes its effects on the water supply. One third of earth's fresh water supplies were contaminated and many died because of this. Tatford points out that the star referred to here is not the same as that in 9:1.
The Fourth Trumpet - The Heavens Struck. v12 - 13.
12. "Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night."
At the fourth trumpet a third of the sun, moon and stars were struck so that they gave only two thirds of their light to the earth. This was not total obscurity as in the case of the sixth seal (Rev. 6:12 - 13). Jamieson, Fausset and Brown allege that this partial obscurity comes between the prayer of the martyrs in the fifth seal and the last overwhelming judgements on the ungodly as the sixth seal is opened at the eve of Christ's coming. The verse could imply not only physical darkness, but the moral and spiritual wickedness and ignorance which will cover the earth at this time.
13. "And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!"
Before the final trumpets were sounded John saw a solitary angel (or possibly eagle, a symbol of judgement) flying in the highest point of the sky, crying with a loud voice three times, "Woe!" These woes correspond to the number of trumpets left to sound and signify the severity of the judgements they will announce.
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