End Times: Back to the Future
Lesson 11Revelation Chapter 8
In this lesson, we will examine scripture passages related to the breaking of the seventh seal and the first half of seven-trumpet judgments, as we look at Chapter 8 in Revelation. As we did for earlier lessons, we should read through the entire chapter at least once and note the symbols that are used. In this lesson, we will observe liberal use of the numerical symbol "three". See if you can calculate how many "1/3" references there are in the seven-trumpet judgments. Hint: you will need to read Chapters 8 through 11 for a complete and accurate count.
As you read Chapter 8, note that it appears to be divided into two sections: the opening scene in heaven, followed by the sounding of the first four trumpets. The many symbols encountered in the scriptural text for this lesson include hail and fire mixed with blood, green grass, living creatures in the sea, and ships that are destroyed. We also find references to rivers and springs of water, a star named "Wormwood", bitter waters, the sun, the moon, and "a third of the stars".
With all of that as a backdrop, and our understanding that, at this point in the sequence of events: (1) all the seals have been opened, (2) the first six judgments are already in progress (including the four horsemen), and (3) the worst of the judgments are about to begin with the sounding of the first trumpet, let’s have a look at Chapter 8.
Read Revelation Chapter 8, and consider the following questions:
- There is great significance to the events described in the opening verses of Chapter 8. Specifically, why do you suppose that there is silence in heaven following the opening of the seventh seal?
- If trumpets are typically used to announce something, what is the significance of the fact that seven trumpets have now been given to the seven angels? (see Revelation 8:2)
- Before the seven angels prepare to sound their trumpets, we are introduced to "'another angel" who has a golden censer. Who is this angel, and what is he doing? (see Revelation 8:3-5 and Leviticus 16:12-13, 30)
- In Revelation 8:7, the first trumpet blows and "hail and fire mixed with blood" is hurled down to earth. What are the meanings of the symbols in this verse?
- Hail (see Joshua 10:11, Isaiah 30:30, and Ezekiel 13:13)
- Fire (see Jeremiah 23:29 and Malachi 3:2)
- Blood (see Revelation 14:20 and Revelation 16:3)
- Beginning in Revelation 8:9, we see that a series of one-thirds is referred to. There are a total of twelve contained in all of the trumpet judgments. What could this fact represent? (i.e., what does "twelve" symbolize? how about "one third"? see Zechariah Chapter 13 for example, and verse 8 in particular.)
- In Revelation 8:7, judgment is hurled down on earth, i.e., "hail and fire mixed with blood". What do the others symbols — earth, grass and trees — indicate to us regarding this judgment?
- Green Grass (see Psalm 90:5-6, Psalm 102:4-11, Psalm 103:15, Isaiah 40:6-8, and James 1:10)
- Trees (see Daniel 4:4-25 and Ezekiel Chapter 31)
- So, if Revelation 8:7 tells us "all the green grass was burned up", then why is the instruction given in Revelation 9:4, "not to harm the grass of the earth"? Is there a conflict between these two verses? How can all of the green grass be burned up before the command "not to harm the grass" is given for a subsequent judgment?
- Continuing with references in Revelation 8 to a third, a third, and a third, we encounter a mountain which is on fire, the sea turning blood, killing one-third of the living creatures in the sea, and the destruction of ships. Taking our knowledge of mountain, fire, sea, and blood symbology, what can we tell is being described in this verse? (see also Jeremiah 51:25, Psalm 46:2, and Zechariah 4:7)
- We read further that "a third of the living creatures in the sea" die, and "a third of the ships" are destroyed. What could these symbols refer to? (see Genesis 49:13 and Revelation 18:19)
- In Revelation 8:10, the focus shifts from a burning mountain to a great burning star falling from heaven. According to the symbolism in this verse, what is being announced as the fourth angel sounds his trumpet? (see Isaiah 14:12)
- We also observe that the "great star" referenced in the previous question falls on "a third of the rivers and on the springs of water". What could these rivers and springs of water represent? (see Jeremiah 2:13, Joel 3:18, and Revelation 17:15) Once we identify what they represent, what is the judgment prescribed for them? What is happening to them? (see Revelation 8:10 and Revelation 16:4-5)
- Furthermore, the great fallen star is referred to as "Wormwood". It is not-so-much the star’s name as much as it is a name given it because of the effect and the evil influence that it has on the rivers and springs of water. What does the name itself mean, and what is its effect? (see Deuteronomy 29:18, Jeremiah 23:15, and Amos 5:7)
- Following the judgments of the third trumpet, a fourth trumpet sounds; and the results are catastrophic. What could be the inferred meaning of the loss of one-third of the sun, the moon and the stars — and the light they produce?
As we can see, God’s judgments grow in intensity and severity as they progress: more pronounced, more specific in nature, and more difficult to understand at first reading. As the narrative progresses from the opening of the seven seals to the sounding of the seven trumpets, and then finally on to the seven bowls or vials, God’s judgments become more terrible with each phase, and more specific to the people being judged.
Revelation Chapter 9 will reveal to us the next three trumpet judgments, and we will encounter the use of even more symbols. What we can already see is that God’s plans are specific, and are in accordance with His timetable, not ours.
While it might appear to the secular population that the world is a chaotic mess and spinning out of control, God is still God; and nothing, not even a single hair on your head, will do anything that is outside of His plan.
So let’s thank God today that His grace is still available to all who will believe in his only son Jesus, the Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Because a day is coming when that same Jesus, the very Lamb of God, will come back to earth as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. What a mighty and terrible that day will be!
Thanks for continuing to study with us.