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THE BOOK OF REVELATION Part 4

THIRD REVELATION: CHRIST’S SOVEREIGNTY

Chapter 8:1-11:18.

Christ reveals Himself in judgement that will achieve the end in view.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION CHAPTER 8, VERSES 1 TO 13

8:1 And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

8:2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

8:3 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.

8:4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.

8:5 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.

8:6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

8:7 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.

8:8 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;

8:9 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.

8:10 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;

8:11 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.

8:12 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.

8:13 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!

THE FIRST FOUR TRUMPET-JUDGEMENTS OF GOD

At this point the seventh seal is opened, and thus is revealed the whole of the remainder of what is written on it, telling of events right up to the return of Christ to earth as described in chapter 19. The seals are not judgements in themselves, but simply unveil the judgements that are written on the part of the scroll they allow to open up. So when the seventh seal, (which is the last one), is opened, the whole of the rest of the scroll can be read, giving details of events right up to the return of Christ to the earth as described in chapter 19. So awesome are its contents that heaven is silent for the space of half an hour, holding it’s breath, so to speak, as the most terrible judgements are unfolded, but not yet read and unleashed.

The next revelation of Christ takes the form of angel trumpeters sounding seven trumpets in succession. The trumpet is a war-instrument, as not only has man been at war with God down the ages, but God is at war with man in the tribulation age, and successive waves of His battle against them are summoned by these angels. The seventh trumpet will summon up seven more angels with the last plagues.

Prior to the sounding of the first trumpet there is a reminder, in 8:3-5, of the prayers for vengeance offered by the saints in the first half of the seventieth week, as recorded in 6:10. What they asked for is about to start to happen. Not only is the Lamb the Kinsman Redeemer in chapter 5, but in chapter 6 onwards He takes the character of Kinsman Avenger, the one who takes up the cause of His brethren when they are deprived of justice, see Numbers 35:19; Deuteronomy 19:6. Again, the judgements fall into two groups, four then three, with the four having to do with natural things, and the three with the realm of the spirit.

The first trumpet judgement sees hail, fire and blood cast upon the earth, with one third of trees burnt, and all the grass. This would have a dramatic effect on the climate of the earth, as it depends on the fine balance of the oxygen cycle, which would be upset by the loss of greenery. The destruction of the Amazon rainforests is affecting the climate of the whole planet. If we are to make everything a symbol, then we would have to interpret “all the grass” as all mankind, for “all flesh is as grass”. Yet under the trumpet judgements, (which are yet to be described), a third part of men are killed, so there must still be men alive after the first trumpet has sounded. The grass is not a figure for men, therefore.

The second trumpet sees a mountain burning with fire cast into the sea, and as a result the third part of the sea becomes blood, as untold lives are lost at sea. Consequently the third part of the sea-life was destroyed, and a third of the shipping. The economies of the world will be badly affected if there are no exports and imports. Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, USA, is known to be the crater of a huge super-volcano. The floor of the crater, (which is some 1500 square miles in area), has been rising at a record rate since 2004. Some 400 miles beneath the surface of the park there is a magma hotspot which rises to 30 miles underground before spreading out over an area 300 miles across. The signs are that the volcano is preparing for another eruption, which, it is said, would make two-thirds of the United States uninhabitable. Scientists have discovered that there are unusual hotspots at the edge of the tectonic plates that are beneath the earth’s surface. So the Yellowstone Caldera as it is called is not unique. This is but a small illustration of what the result of the second trumpet judgement would be.

The third trumpet heralded the fall of a great star from heaven, and a third part of the rivers and waters became wormwood, a bitter substance. In Bible times any bright light in the heavens was called a star. It is interesting to notice that the name “Chernobyl”, (the place where a Russian nuclear power station ran out of control in 1986, spewing radioactive clouds into the air, which then fell on the soil), means “wormwood”. There are some farmers in Wales who are still not allowed to sell their lambs for human consumption because the soil is contaminated from the fall-out from Chernobyl. It is said that the meaning “wormwood” for chernobyl has been removed from Russian dictionaries. The description of the survivors of the end-time judgements in Zechariah 14:12 is said to be very similar to the injuries caused to the inhabitants of Hiroshima when the USA exploded an atomic bomb high in the sky over the city in 1945. Zechariah’s words were, “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth”.

The fourth trumpet saw a third part of the sun, moon and stars being darkened. We can only imagine the effect these judgements will have upon men, as the God of heaven pours out His wrath upon them for their wickedness. Men of science claim to be able to explain everything by natural means, but they will be confounded if only a third part of sun, moon and stars is darkened selectively. The God who created the heavens is intervening in the affairs of men, and asserting Himself in judgement.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION CHAPTER 9, VERSES 1 TO 12

9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

9:3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

9:4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

9:5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

9:6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

9:7 And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

9:8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.

9:9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

9:10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

9:11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

9:12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.

THE THREE WOE-TRUMPETS

The second group of trumpet-judgements begins in chapter 9. Attention is drawn to this group by the words of the angel who flies in mid-heaven and names them as woes.

The fifth trumpet summons a demon host like locusts from the abyss, which torment men for five months. What takes place now will make the most dramatic horror film seem like a dreamy romance. Satan has been conditioning men via the cinema and television screen to invasions from space. (Such films as “Return of the Jedi” and “The Empire Strikes Back” are nothing less than New-Age propaganda, and are steeped in the pantheism that shall dominate the earth in a day soon to come). Nothing compares, however, to the reality of demon-hosts let loose to torment men. There was chaos many years ago when an American television channel announced that the Martians had landed. What was a hoax then, will be a reality in a day to come, not involving non-existent Martians, but demon powers with physical appearance. Just as a swarm of locusts causes terror and panic to men in the Middle East, as they darken the sky and devour everything in their path, so these will do the same in the moral sphere.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION CHAPTER 9, VERSES 13 TO 21

9:13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

9:14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.

9:15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

9:16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

9:17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

9:18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.

9:19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

9:20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:

9:21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

THE SIXTH TRUMPET SOUNDS

The sixth trumpet sounds, and the river Euphrates is dried up, to allow easy passage for an army of 200 million soldiers from the east. By these a third part of men were killed. Since we learn from Daniel 10:13,20,21 that evil angels control the affairs of particular nations, we can easily see here that four political groupings, headed by the four angels mentioned here, are allowed to bring destruction and death on the earth. We could surmise that China, India and the Malaysian Peninsular countries could be candidates for the fulfilment of this prophecy, with perhaps Japan being the fourth. China alone has armed forces comprising 200 million persons.

Just as there was a parenthesis between seals six and seven, so there is at the same place in the trumpet series. This parenthesis is a long one, for although we are told that the seventh trumpet sounds in chapter 11:15, we are not told of the effects until chapter 16:1. Before that, however, we shall be told other ways in which Christ will manifest Himself prior to His actual coming. Again, there is further evidence that in the midst of wrath God remembers mercy, for just as the 144,00 evangelists are mentioned in the first parenthesis, so in this one the two witnesses are spoken of. Amidst the sounding of the trumpets as Israel marched round Jericho, there was the ark of the covenant with its cloth of blue upon it, signalling that heaven’s provision was available to faith. Rahab, whose house was on the wall, would see this, and by faith she claimed the blessing.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION CHAPTER 10, VERSES 1 TO 11

10:1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

10:2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,

10:3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.

10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

10:5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,

10:6 And sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets.

10:8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.

10:9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.

10:10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

10:11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

AN INTERLUDE

We are next told of an angel who has a little book or scroll open on his hand, and then John hears seven thunder rolls, the sure sign of an impending storm. We read of the God of Glory thundering in Psalm 29, where the expression “the voice of the Lord” occurs seven times, telling of the fulness of His voice in judgement.

The angel then swore on oath by God as the Creator of all things, that there should be time no longer. This clearly does not mean an end of time itself, for there are still 1000 years to run their course before that happens. May it not be that the angel is signalling that time for repentance and faith is no longer to be given by God? We see in subsequent passages that believers and preachers are being withdrawn from the earth. The martyrs of the first three and half years are already departed, and the martyrs of the tribulation period will soon be of full complement, as the Antichrist makes war against them and prevails, Daniel 7:21; 8:24; 11:33,35. In chapter 11 we read of the two witnesses caught up to heaven, and then in chapter 14 the 144,000 evangelists sealed in chapter 7 are seen in heaven.

John is next bidden to take the little book, not so that he may read it, or write in it, for both are not permitted, but to eat it. This is a figurative action, signifying his close involvement with the affairs written in the book. In his mouth the book tastes like honey, but as it was digested, and the full import of what was in it realised, then it became bitter to him. Ezekiel had a similar experience to this, as recorded in Ezekiel 3:1-11, as he was prepared to go to the nation of Israel with a word condemning their idolatry. Perhaps the apostle is being given insight into the bitterness that the wickedness of the nation of Israel will bring to God at that time, when they, in large part, will side with Antichrist. There will also be a sweet result, for those who are faithful to God, and wait for the Messiah. John must keep to himself what is written in the book, for the contents reveal God’s heart-feelings, which the people of God are not able to share in all their intensity. Only John, who leant on the bosom of Christ, can absorb them in any measure.

It is interesting to notice that at this point John is told that he must prophesy again. May this be the point at which the reader of the scroll moves from the front to the backside, to commence a new set of details about God’s judgements? It is about the half-way point as far as the number of verses in chapters 4-18 is concerned.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION CHAPTER 11, VERSES 1 TO 14

11:1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

11:5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.

11:6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

11:9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

11:10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

11:11 And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

11:12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

11:13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

11:14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

EVENTS IN JERUSALEM

John’s attention is now drawn to the temple at Jerusalem. He is to measure the inner parts, to ring-fence them so to speak. The outer court is not to be thus protected, but is to be trodden under foot by the Gentiles for 42 months, see Luke 21:24. When the disciples asked the Lord when the destruction of Jerusalem would be, He did not mention the destruction under Titus in AD 70, but spoke exclusively of still-future times. This is the same period of time as the 1260 days of verse 3, and also 12:6. It is also the same as the “time, times, and half of time” of 12:14. Then in 13:5 the first beast is allowed to continue for 42 months, again the same length of time, a month being 30 days in prophecy. The mention of months connects with the temple rituals and feasts, which were governed by the moon. During this period the Gentiles will be in control of the services in the temple, and God marks this by noting how many months pass by. The times, time, and half of time, connects with Daniel 7:25, and given, as it is, in connection with the faithful remnant of Israel, shows that God’s promises to them through Daniel are surely coming to their fulfilment, as well as the final judgement of their enemies. The mention of daysshows that God will send His witnesses out every day to preach, just like He did of old time, “daily rising up early and sending them”, Jeremiah 7:25. And the days in connection with the oppressed remnant would indicate His daily faithful care of them, nourishing them in the wilderness just as He did Elijah, 1 Kings 17:6. They will pray “Give us this day our daily bread”, Matthew 6:11, and God will answer their prayer through those who are sympathetic to them, as Matthew 25:34-40 indicates.

The two witnesses God raises up will continue their ministry for 1260 days, and then will be killed, their bodies laying in the street of Jerusalem for three and a half days, (as many days as years they served), and then they are revived and caught up to God. It is definitely promised that Elijah will come at the end times, Malachi 4:5,6, and the previous verse to this speaks of Moses as God’s servant. The miracles the two witnesses perform are similar to those done by Moses and Elijah. That these two have a special interest in the end times is seen in their appearance together on the mount of transfiguration. The tenth part of the city of Jerusalem will be destroyed at this point through a great earthquake.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION CHAPTER 10, VERSES 15 TO 18

11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.

11:16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,

11:17 Saying, We give Thee thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned.

11:18 And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

ANTICIPATION OF THE COMING OF CHRIST AND ITS EFFECTS

It is time now for the seventh trumpet judgement, the third woe. We are not told at this point what happens- we have to wait until 15:1 onwards to find out. We are told of the rejoicing in heaven as the result of the judgement is anticipated, for certain critical things will have been achieved once this judgement is over. This is because the seventh trumpet summons the last seven angels, who shall pour out their vials on the earth at the end of the tribulation period, as detailed in chapter 16. The things accomplished once the final judgements have been enacted are as follows:

One, God will have taken His great power and reigned. The reign of Satan as prince of this world will be over, at last. Christ will reign as Mediatorial King on behalf of the Godhead, and then deliver up that kingdom to God, and the Godhead shall be supreme for ever, see 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

Two, the nations will have shown their anger at God in the most violent way, as Psalm 2 had predicted.

Three, the wrath of God can now be said to have come. That which had been held back because He was longsuffering, will have been poured out.

Four, the time for the raising of the Old Testament saints and the martyred tribulation saints will have arrived, coinciding with the return of Christ to earth.

Five, the time for judgement of the saints of old time will have come. They will have their lives as servants of God assessed, and that which they have done and been will be reviewed.

Six, the time for reward to them as appropriate is arrived, so that they may enter into Christ’s earthly kingdom and take positions of responsibility there in proportion to their faithfulness. Seven, the time to destroy those who destroy the earth will have come. This is the climax to the third revelation of Christ, for He has revealed Himself in judgement, and achieved the end in view.