Revelation 8

The Seventh Seal

In the previous chapter, the opening of the Seven Seals was interrupted in order to shown John the 144,000 from all the Tribes of Israel and the Martyrs of the Great Tribulation. In this chapter, John is returned to the opening of the Seventh Seal, which revealed a period of silence.

When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence for about half an hour in heaven. Rev. 8:1

In the Scriptures, silence is used to describe the defeat of one’s enemy by war. To defeat your enemy is to silence your enemy, as can be seen in the following passages.

“Therefore, her young men will fall in the streets; all her soldiers will be
silenced in that day, ”declares the Lord. Jer. 50:30“

In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “the songs in the temple will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies—flung everywhere!
Silence!” Amos 8:3

As in the above examples, the silence of the Seventh Seal will come after the defeat of God’s enemies. This corresponds with how in the opening of the Sixth Seal, John was shown the Inhabitants of the Earth, including the generals of the nations, crying out in fear of the Wrath of God. Accordingly, when the Seventh Seal is opened, John is shown the silence that will follow these events. Accordingly, the Silence in Heaven completes the list of events that were revealed to John through the opening of the Seven Seals, as listed below.

The Seven Seals
1. Wars, Rumors of Wars, Earthquakes, and Famines
(Seals 1-4)
2. The Martyrs Pray for Judgment and Revenge (5th. Seal)
3. The Great Earthquake and Severe Hailstorm (6th. Seal)
4. Silence in Heaven (7th. Seal)

As we mentioned in the previous chapter, the opening of the Seven Seals provides a general overview of the major events that will take place in the Last Days. From this basic understanding of events, we now have the framework in which to place the next events that will be shown to John and that will take place within the Seven Seals, starting with the sounding of the Seven Trumpets.

The Seven Trumpets

Following the opening of the Seven Seals, John was next shown the Seven Angels who will sound the Seven Trumpets.

And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Rev. 8:2

When we read that John was shown the events of the Seven Trumpets after he was shown the events of the Seven Seals, it does not mean that the events of the Seven Trumpets happen next, but that John saw them next. Accordingly, the events of the Seven Trumpets will take place within the events of the Seven Seals and will provide us with more details to the judgments that will begin from the point of the Prayer of the Martyrs in Heaven, which was again shown to John.

Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake. And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound them. Rev. 8:3-6  

In these passages, John is given another view of the Prayer of the Martyrs in Heaven with the addition of an angel who will add incense to their prayers. The description of the smoke of the incense along with the prayer of the saints going up before the Throne of God is picture of how the prayer of the martyrs will be received by God. When John was shown the above scene before the Seven Trumpets were sounded, it tells us that the events of the Seven Trumpets will begin after the Martyrs in Heaven pray for judgment and revenge. This is similar to how John was shown the Ascension to Jesus Christ to Heaven before the opening of the Seven Seals. In both cases, John is given the starting point for when these events will begin through the persons and events he sees beforehand at the Throne of God. This pattern will be repeated throughout the Revelation, which does not give us times and dates but uses the passing of one event to show us when the next event will start.

The First Trumpet

In this chapter, John will only be shown the events of the First Four Trumpets. As we will see, in each of these descriptions, John will be given both a symbolic and literal description of the related events that will occur when each trumpet is sounded. This will become more apparent as we read each account beginning with the sounding of the First Trumpet.

The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. Rev. 8:7

When the First Trumpet was sounded, John saw hail and fire hurled down on the earth, and a third of the earth and trees were burned up. The burning up of a third of the earth is a literal description of a world wide drought that will cause a third of the trees, and all the green grass to die. In addition, John saw hail and fire mixed with blood being hurled down on the earth. In the Scriptures, hail and fire represent judgment,[1] and blood represents revenge.[2] Accordingly, the description of the fire and blood that will be hurled down on the earth does not mean that literal blood and fire will fall from the sky but corresponds with how the Martyrs in Heaven will pray for judgment and revenge. In this way, we are shown how the Prayer of the Martyrs in Heaven for judgment and revenge will trigger the events of the Seven Trumpets beginning with the burning up of a third of the earth and trees.

The Second Trumpet

When the Second Trumpet was sounded, John saw something like a huge mountain that was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea turned into blood.

The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. Rev. 8:8-9

As with the events of the First Trumpet, in these verses, we are given both a literal and symbolic description of events. To start off, we are told that at the sounding of the Second Trumpet, a third of the sea will turn to blood. To those familiar with the Old Testament, the waters being turned to blood brings to mind the plagues called down by Moses and Aaron in the events of the Exodus from Egypt. As was the case in that instance, the description of the waters being turned into blood is a literal event when a third of the living creatures in the sea will die and a third of the ships will be destroyed.[3]

In addition, John saw something like a huge mountain that was thrown into the sea. When the word like is used to describe the mountain that was all ablaze, it tells us that the Scriptures are not speaking of a literal mountain but something that is like a huge mountain. Accordingly, when we search the Scriptures to interpret this event, we find that the word mountain is often used to describe a kingdom.

“Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia for all the wrong they have done in Zion,” declares the Lord. “I am against you, you destroying mountain, you who destroy the whole earth,” declares the Lord. Jer. 51:24-25

In the Book of Daniel, the increase and eventual reign of the Kingdom of God on earth is also described as a rock that will strike the kingdoms of the world and that will grow to become a huge mountain that fills the whole earth.

While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth… “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom hat will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” Dan. 2:34-35, 44

From the corresponding verses in the Book of Daniel, the reader will learn that the statue of iron, bronze, silver, and gold represents the consecutive kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, which all eventually fell. But as it pertains to our discussion, the stone that struck the statue and that grew to be a huge mountain represents the kingdom of God that will endure forever, while the previous kingdoms will be swept away. Likewise, when the Scriptures describe a stone, boulder, or mountain being hurled into the sea; it is a description of a city, nation, or kingdom being destroyed in battle.

Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. ”Rev. 18:21
 
Based on the above context of how the word mountain is used symbolically in the Scriptures, we can say that the description of the huge mountain that is hurled into the sea represents a huge kingdom that will be defeated in battle. The fact that the mountain is all ablaze tells us that the defeat of this kingdom will come as a result of the judgment of God. We will be given the identity of this kingdom in the events of the Third Trumpet.

The Third Trumpet

In the events of the Third Trumpet, we will learn the identity of the kingdom that is thrown into the sea and the identity of the great star, which will also fall from the sky.

The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water—the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. Rev. 8:10-11

In keeping with the pattern of John being given both a literal and symbolic description of events, in his account of the sounding of the Third trumpet John tells us that at the sounding of the Third Trumpet, of third of the waters on earth will turn bitter and those who fail to heed the warning of God and drink from the poisoned waters will die.

In addition to the literal description of the waters becoming poisoned, John saw a great star, blazing like a torch, fall from the sky. In the Scriptures and in the Revelation, we find that stars often represent angels.

“The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lamp stands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” Rev. 1:20

According to the above context, the description of the great star that fell from the sky, it is a description of a great angelic being that is cast from heaven. This is confirmed in the next chapter where we read how the great star will be given the key to the shaft of the Abyss, which is further evidence that the star represents a heavenly being and is not an actual star, or asteroid, etc.

The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. Rev. 9:1

As was the case with the great mountain that was hurled into the sea, the fact that the great star is described as blazing like a torch is an indication that the fall of the heavenly being will come as a result of God’s judgment. From this understanding, we can concluded that the picture of the great star falling to the earth is a description of Satan, whose name is wormwood (bitterness) being caste to the earth.[4] When we combine the description of the fall of the great star with description of the fall of the huge mountain, we find that in the events of the Second and Third Trumpets we are being shown the fall of Satan (the great star) and the fall of his kingdom (the great mountain). In other words, first the kingdom of Satan, consisting of the angels who are in allegiance with him, will be defeated, which will then lead to the fall of Satan himself. We will read more about the war in heaven that will lead to the defeat of Satan and his kingdom, but for now, his defeat will mean that his wrath will be felt on earth beginning with the events of the Fourth Trumpet.

The First Three Trumpets: A Warning to the Inhabitants of the Earth

Before we go to the description of the events of the Fourth Trumpet, we should note that in the events of the First Three Trumpets, we are given another description of the Plagues on the Land, the Sea and the Trees which were first mentioned in the events of the sealing of the 144,000 from all the Tribes of Israel. In that account, the Four Angels were told not to harm the land, the sea, or the trees until the 144,000 had been sealed. In this chapter, a third of the land is burned up, a third of the trees die, and a third of the sea is turned to blood. From this we learn that we are reading about the same events and that the plagues of the First Three Trumpets will be carried out by the Four Angels who have been given the power to harm the land, the sea, and the trees.

The next thing to note about the Plagues on the Land, the Sea, and the Trees is that they begin after the Martyrs in Heaven pray for judgment and revenge and will strike the Inhabitants of the earth themselves but will harm the world around them. In this way, the Inhabitants of the Earth will be given a warning before the Prayer of the Martyrs for revenge is answered. These same events were described earlier in the Letters to the Seven Churches in Chapter 3 as the Hour of Trial that will test the Inhabitants of the Earth (Rev.3:10). In those letters, the church is promised that their faith would be kept through the above events as a reward for their endurance. In contrast to God’s people who will maintain their faith in God, the unrepentant on earth will respond to the test of God by attacking God’s people, as described in the events of the Fourth Trumpet.

The Fourth Trumpet
 

In the events of the Fourth Trumpet, John is again given both a literal and symbolic account of the events that will take place when Jerusalem is attacked.

The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, 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 turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night. Rev. 8:12


In this verse we are given an account of an attack that will take place against Israel through the description of how a third of the day will be without light, which is a literal description of how smoke from the burning fires will darken the sky. This is a familiar theme in the Scriptures where the darkening of the heavens is used to describe the destruction of a city or nation that comes under attack.

“Son of man, take up a lament concerning Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him… When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens. I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land, declares the Sovereign Lord. …For this is what the Sovereign Lord says:“‘ The sword of the king of Babylon will come against you.”’ Ezek. 32:2, 7-8, 11

See, the day of the Lord is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. …See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children. Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. Isa. 13:9-10, 17-19

In the above examples, the overthrow of Egypt by the Babylonians and the destruction of Babylon by the Medes are also described as a time when clouds blocked the light of the sun and the moon so that the skies became dark. As in these instances, when Jerusalem is attacked, smoke from the burning fires will cause a third of the day and a third of the night to be without light.

Although, the Revelation does not mention Israel directly, we know that the events of the Fourth Trumpet are referring to an attack on Israel based on symbolic picture of how a third of the sun, moon, and stars will be struck. In the Scriptures, the sun, moon, and stars are often used to represent Israel. This is first seen in the story of the patriarch Joseph who had a dream in which the original family of Israel is described as the sun, the moon, and the twelve stars.

Then he (Joseph) had yet another dream, and informed his brothers of it, and said, “Behold, I have had yet another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” He also told it to his father (Jacob) as well as to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have had? Am I and your mother and your brothers actually going to come to bow down to the ground before you?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. Gen. 37:9-11

The sun, the moon, and the twelve stars are also used to portray Israel in the Revelation itself.

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman (Israel) clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars (the Twelve Tribes of Israel) on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth… She gave birth to a son, a male child (Jesus), who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. Rev. 12:1-2, 5

In these verses, the woman, who will give birth to the Son is an obvious reference to Israel, who is again described as the sun, moon, and twelve stars. Accordingly, we learn of an Attack on Jerusalem when a third of Israel will be killed.

The Attack on Jerusalem

The future Attack on Jerusalem will correspond with the judgment of Satan, who will be caste to the earth along with his angels. The casting of Satan to the earth will fill him with anger, which he will direct against God’s people in the form of the Attack on Jerusalem. The wrath of Satan will correspond with the accompanying wrath of the Inhabitants of the Earth who will be filled with rage against God due to the Plagues on the Land, the Sea, and the Trees and who will strike back at God by attacking his people. In order to better understand the Attack on Jerusalem, we must depart from the narrative of the Revelation to read how this same, attack is described in the Gospel accounts. In the Gospel of Luke, the Lord warned of the future Attack on Jerusalem by telling the people that when they saw their city being surrounded by armies, they were to flee to the mountains for safety.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.” Lk. 21:20-22

As these verses describe, when Jerusalem is attacked, the Lord will spare a Remnant from Israel, who will be saved from destruction by fleeing to the mountains. Accordingly, whenever we read about those in the country not entering the city or those in the city fleeing to the mountains, we are reading about the Attack on Jerusalem. This can be seen in the following passages that also describe the attack.

“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.” Luke 17:30-37

We know that the above verses are describing the Attack on Jerusalem based on the warning to those in the field to not enter the city, which is the same warning, given in the previous passages when Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies. In this case, the people who are on the house tops are told not to even go inside their homes to retrieve their possessions before fleeing to the mountains. This tells us that the Attack on Jerusalem, which is described in the sounding of the Fourth Trumpet, will come as a complete surprise to the residents of the city who will not have time to gather anything from their homes before escaping from the destruction.[5] The suddenness by which the Attack on Jerusalem will take place can also be seen in the Old Testament reference to Lot, who had to suddenly flee from Sodom to avoid being killed in the destruction of that sinful city. Jesus used the example of Lot’s wife, who hesitated and was destroyed, to emphasize how the people living in Judea should not attempt to save their life, in the form of gathering their possessions, before fleeing to the mountains. Also, in these verses, we are told that half of the people will be taken and the other half left, which is a reference to how half of the survivors of the attack will be taken into exile. Accordingly, whenever this phrase is used in the Scriptures, it is a reference to the Attack on Jerusalem as seen in the following passages.

I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. “How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Lk. 21:23-24

In these verses, we are told that the reference to being taken refers to those who will be taken into exile when Jerusalem is attacked. The Attack on Jerusalem is further described in the Gospel of Matthew, where the attack on the city is compared to the days of Noah when the people knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” Matt. 24:36-41

In these verses, the Attack on Jerusalem is identified by the description of those who are taken and those who are left, which is also found in the Luke’s description of this same event. In Matthew’s account, the people of Israel are reminded how Noah escaped from the time of punishment by entering the Ark, while those who were destroyed in the flood were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage before the flood came. This is a reference to how leading up to the Attack on Jerusalem, the people will be carrying on with their daily activities and will be completely unaware of their pending destruction. Only those who act to save themselves by fleeing from the city, before the destruction begins, will be spared, just as it was in the days of Noah. (We will learn more about how this surprise attack will be accomplished, in a later chapter.)

The Great Tribulation

In Mathew’s account of the Attack on Jerusalem, we read that this event will be followed by a Great Distress that will never be equaled.

“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” Matt. 24:15-21

The above verses are another account of the Attack on Jerusalem as can be seen by how they contain the same warning concerning fleeing to the mountains, which was used in earlier passages that described this attack. In this account, the disciples are told that the Attack on Jerusalem would be followed by a Great Distress that will never be equaled. The word that is translated as distress is the Greek word thlipsis (SEC2347), which is the same word that is translated as tribulation in the previous chapter, where it used to describe the period when the great multitude of God’s people from every nation tribe, people, and language will be killed.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. Rev. 7:9

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation (thlipsis Strong’s 2347); they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Rev. 7:13-14

From the above account, we learn that the Great Tribulation will follow the Attack on Jerusalem in the Order of Events of the Last Days.

The Last Three Trumpets

Before this chapter ends, it gives a warning concerning the sounding of the Last Three Trumpets which will bring Three Woes to the Inhabitants of the Earth.
As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!” Rev. 8:13

The mention of the Three Woes that will be poured out on the Inhabitants of the Earth is in contrast to the plagues of the First Three Trumpets, which will harm the land, the sea, and the trees but will not strike those on earth themselves. When the Last Three Trumpets are sounded, the Wrath of God will fall directly on the Inhabitants of the Earth, themselves, as we will read about in the next chapter. In the meantime, we can add the events of the First Four Trumpets to the Order of Events of the Last Days as follows.

Order of Events of the Last Days
1. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
2. Wars, Rumors of Wars, Earthquakes, and Famines (Seals 1-4)
3. The Martyrs Pray for Judgment and Revenge (5th. Seal)
4. The Hour of Trial when the Inhabitants of the Earth will be Tested
– A third of the earth is burned up (1st. Trumpet)
– A third of the sea turns to blood (2nd. Trumpet)
– A third of the waters turn bitter (3rd Trumpet)
5. The Attack on Jerusalem (4th. Trumpet)
6. The Great Tribulation when the Full Number of Brothers and Sisters will be Killed
7. The Wrath of God is Poured Out (6th. Seal)
8. The Silence in Heaven (7th. Seal)

Footnotes:

[1] Hail and judgment: Ezek. 38:22, Is. 4:4; 66:16, Amos 7:4, Heb. 10:27, 2 Pet. 3:7

[2] Blood and revenge: Num. 35:19, Ps. 58:10, Rev. 16:6

[3] The sea that will partly turn to blood is most likely the Mediterranean Sea, which borders Israel.

[4] In the Scriptures, Satan is described as a guardian cherub (Ezek. 28:14), which would place him above the angels, and is why he is described as a great star in this passage.

[5] It is often taught that the Attack on Jerusalem, which is described in the above passages, is a past event that took place, in 70 A.D., when Rome attacked Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the temple. This teaching is based on a larger theory that suggests that the majority of events that are mentioned in the Revelation have already taken place. However, we know that the Attack on Jerusalem is a future event based on how it is described as coming as a complete surprise to the people, who will be forced to flee to the mountains without gathering any of their possessions. By contrast, the former attack on Jerusalem, which occurred in 70 A.D., was anticipated well in advance, as it followed a Jewish uprising against the Romans that occurred years earlier. During the time that it took the Romans to prepare an army to put down the rebellion, the cities in Judea set up defenses in anticipation of the inevitable invasion. When the Roman armies did begin their campaign, in 66 A.D., it was the start of a lengthy war that involved the besieging of several cities leading up to the siege of Jerusalem itself, four years later. Accordingly, the historical account of the attack that took place in 70 A.D. does not match the Attack on Jerusalem, which is described in the Revelation as a time when the people will be caught completely by surprise.

Revelation Chapter 7
Revelation Chapter 9

Questions and comments may be sent to: RevelationStudyGuide@gmail.com
Bryan Coray is the author of Keep Watch: The Order of Events of the Last Days, available on Amazon