Category Archives: REVELATION 8

The trumpet-judgements to be inflicted on the earth during the Tribulation Period.

REVELATION 8

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REVELATION CHAPTER 8

Survey of the chapter
There is a parenthesis between the carrying out of the judgements of the sixth seal and the opening of the seventh.  It consisted of the account of the sending forth of one hundred and forty four thousand evangelists, sent forth to preach the gospel of the kingdom in all the world.  The chapter was able to conclude with a description of the result of their preaching, as a great multitude of converts are assembled before God.  So it is that even in the midst of wrath, God remembers mercy. 

We have noticed the structure of the book of the Revelation, that is consists of a series of revelations, each one giving some insight into the character of Christ as He judges the earth for God.  The next revelation of Christ shows Him as controller of the angels who execute God’s judgement upon the earth.

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 WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE 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! 

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

And when He had opened the seventh seal- the opening of this last seal reveals 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.  What is written on the first side is exposed, and also the whole of what is on the other side, for the book was written “within and on the backside”, 5:1.  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. 
There was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour- when the seventh seal, (which is the last one), is opened, and the whole of the rest of the scroll is 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 heavenly host are stunned into silence.  They knew the Lord was going to be terrible in His judgements from the things the prophets said in Old Testament times, but they did not realise how severe the wrath would be; now they do, and are silent.

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

And I saw the seven angels which stood before God- that they stand before God indicates that they have His full approval for what they do.  Elijah assured Ahab that he was speaking for God when he declared that the word of the Lord God of Israel, “before whom I stand”.  He had come straight from the presence of God with a word for the king.  The apostate Ahab was used to standing before the image of Baal and worshipping it and the demon that lurked behind it.  Elijah was different.  These angels stand before God when the majority of earth are standing before the image of the Beast and worshipping it.
There is also the reminder that many of the angels rebelled against God in Lucifer’s uprising, and as a result were cast out of heaven.  These are “the” seven angels that stand before God, perhaps representing fully, (hence there are seven), those who did not rebel.  This has significance in connection with the fifth seal, as we shall see.
And to them were given seven trumpets- they do not stand before God with trumpets, but are handed the trumpets at this point in time.  The trumpet is a war-instrument, and this tells us that just as man has been at war with God for six thousand years, during which time He bore patiently with him, now things are different, and God is at war with men.  He is marshalling His forces in order to defeat finally and manifestly the Devil and all who side with him.  The sound of those armies will be heard in verse 5.
These trumpets have nothing to do with the trump of God mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, which is the same as the last trump mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:52, and refers to the last command to the members of the church, summoning them to heaven. 

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.

And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer- prior to the actual sounding of the first trumpet there is a reminder of the prayers for vengeance offered by the saints in the first half of the tribulation period, as recorded in 6:10.  They asked for vengeance, but were told to rest until their fellow-servants had been killed, as they had been.  This tells us that the events of this chapter must take place during the second half of the seven-year period of judgement. 
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.
And there was given unto him much incense- notice that whereas the incense in chapter 5:8, (“odours”), is defined as “the prayers of saints”, here the incense is offered with those prayers.  And there is much incense.  We should remember that not only do the tribulation saints pray on earth, (as did the Old Testament saints), but the Lord Jesus intercedes too.  The last phrase of Isaiah 53:12 reads, “And made intercession with the transgressors”, for Isaiah tells of the experience of Israel in the future when they come into the good of what their Messiah did, as detailed in the chapter.  They will realise that He had been making intercession for their preservation and restoration all down through the centuries.  No wonder the angel is given much incense.
That he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne- so it is that the prayers of the saints and the prayers of the Saviour mingle together, and come up before God.  It is the time for those prayers to be answered. 

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.

And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand- this means presumably that the smoke of the burning incense arose out of the censer that was in the angel’s hand.  Aaron approached God with incense in his hands, but put it on the fire in the censer once he had arrived in the presence of God.

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.

And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth- the world was unaware that God was listening both to the prayers of His earthly people and also those of His Son, but they are made aware of it now.  The censer was used to offer that which represents prayers, but is now used to signal that the judgement those prayers called for is about to fall.  The fire that caused the incense to arise to God, is now cast to the earth as a warning of judgement. 
And there were voices- when Ezekiel was given a vision of God, he saw the cherubim, and he tells us that as to their wings, “every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.  And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of a host: when they stood, they let down their wings.  And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings”, Ezekiel 1:23-25.  The voices John heard may well be the whirring of the wings of the cherubim as they prepare to act for God. 
And thunderings, and lightnings- when the first trumpet sounds, hail and fire fall to earth.  We are told here where the storm comes from, even heaven.
And an earthquake- very often it is an earthquake that triggers volcanic activity, which is what happens when the second angel sounds.

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

And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound- note the controlled way in which these trumpeter-angels act.  They stand before God; they are handed trumpets; they wait for the incense to be offered; only then do they prepare to sound; then they sound the trumpets, not all at once, but in orderly succession. 

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.

The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth- the trumpet is the signal for the executors of Divine judgement to act, superintended, of course, by Christ, to whom all judgement has been committed.  At the opening of the four seals the living creatures summoned evil forces to inflict damage upon men, but now it is direct action by God’s agents.
Judgement is going to be inflicted on a third of earth’s trees.  It is very possible that this is concentrated in the Amazon Bason.  The Amazon rainforest contains over a third of all the world’s trees.  It has been called “the lungs of the planet” because it sends out 20% of the worlds oxygen as it changes carbon dioxide into the oxygen we need to breathe.  It also assists the distribution of rainfall throughout the world. 
The forest contains a vast number and diversity of trees, as many as 750 different types of tree and 1500 species of higher plants, per hectare.  Many of these could be used against disease if there was the will to do so.  For instance, it is said that of the three thousand plants that are thought to be active against cancer, 70% are found in the rain forest.  However, in the last one hundred years, ninety Amazon tribes have been wiped out, including all the accumulated knowledge that they have of the benefits of plants. 
What is man’s response to God’s goodness?  He bulldozes the forest at the rate of the area of a football field per second.  The God of creation is angry at man’s ingratitude and greed, and shows His anger in the dramatic way stated here. 
And the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up- first the hail falls, and defoliates the trees.  Then the fire or lightning falls and strikes and ignites the trees.  The fire quickly spreads until all is burnt up.  Then, to show that this is all the work of God, and not some monumental natural disaster, blood falls and coats everything.  Thus that which could have been used for the benefit of man is marked by the sign of death. 
The grass is all burnt up too, for when the forest is cleared, then grasslands are established for grazing, that being more profitable than allowing forests to flourish. 
The result of all this is that the smoke from the burning is carried by the winds to the rest of the world.  Coupled with this, the lack of oxygen and the surplus of carbon dioxide combine to cause the people of the world to gasp for breath. 
There are those who feel that all this is symbolic, and we should not interpret these things literally.  But 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”.  So we would have to say that there are no men left on the earth after this judgement, which is clearly absurd.  The grass is not a figure for men, therefore.

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;

And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea- to show how this could literally be fulfilled, consider the following facts.  Yellowstone National 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.  So we see how easily this could come to pass literally, so we do not need to resort to fanciful allegories.

Consider some of facts about the eruption of the volcano Krakatoa in Indonesia in 1883:

1.

The sound of the volcano exploding was heard over 3000 miles away, and was said to be the loudest noise for thousands of years.

2.

Ships 12 miles away had hot pumice landing on the deck.

3.

Ash was thrown 50 miles into the air, and was circulated around the globe, causing world temperature to drop by 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit, and causing chaotic weather patterns for several years.

4.

Sulphur dioxide was sent into the atmosphere in large quantities.

5.

Five cubic miles of pumice, ash and rock were sent into the atmosphere.

6.

The eruption caused a 130′ high tsunami, which hurled 600 ton lumps of coral onto the beaches.  The wave reached Aden in 12 hours, a distance travelled by a steamer in 12 days.  36,000 people were killed, mostly as a result of the tsunami, and 165 coastal villages were destroyed.

7.

The volcano exploded with a force 13,000 times that of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima.

And the third part of the sea became blood- such will be the force of the explosion that molten rock will be flung miles into the air, (as happened when the volcano Kratakoa exploded in 1883), and those who are unfortunate enough to be on the sea in the surrounding area will be killed, and their blood will stain the waters. 

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.

And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died- as a result of the toxic materials flung high into the sky, and then falling onto the sea, a third of the sea creatures will be killed, with devastating affect on the fisheries.
And the third part of the ships were destroyed- not only fishing vessels, but all cargo boats plying their trade to and from the mainland will be totally destroyed, with devastating economic consequences. 

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;

And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp- in Bible times any bright light in the heavens was called a star.  There is an area of poor soil in Ukraine where the plant called Artemesia Absinthes grows profusely.  A town grew up in this area many hundreds of years ago, and it was given a name which was the Russian equivalent of the plant’s name.  Later still, a nuclear power plant was built a short distance from the town.  In 1986 this power station ran out of control, spewing radioactive clouds into the air, which then fell on the soil.  This could very well be the sort of thing that is described here. 
And it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters- not only does radio active fallout affect the spoil, but it makes water bitter and poisonous.  The waters around the power station in the Ukraine are still affected, thirty years later.

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.

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- the name of the power station mentioned above is Chernobyl, a name which means wormwood, the common name of the weed which grows in the area, and which gave its name to the town.  What we have under the second trumpet is a “Chernobyl” of monumental proportions.
What good could have come for mankind if his scientific expertise had been directed to harnessing the power of the atom for man’s benefit.  He has chosen to use it for mass destruction.
Bible students often ask where America features in end-time prophecy.  If the scenario suggested here in these comments is anywhere near correct, we could see that South America is destroyed by the first trumpet-judgement, and North America and Canada are destroyed by the second and third trumpet-judgement.  So the answer to the question is that they will not feature at all, being paralysed by the pouring out of God’s wrath for their wickedness, and the centre of interest lays in the Middle East. 
It would be entirely appropriate that the only nation that has used nuclear energy in warfare, the United States against Japan, should be destroyed by nuclear energy.  God does not ignore the conduct of nations, and recompenses in due time.

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.

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- 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.  Men rejected the light of the world when He came, so it is fitting that they should be plunged into gloom.
So as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise- choked by the smoke from the burning forests, gasping for breath due to lack of oxygen, overcome from toxic fumes from the volcano, sickened by the radio-active fallout descending upon them, men are now forced to grope in the gloom.  Imagine the terror in the hearts of men when a third part of the sun is blackened out, not just for a few minutes as at an eclipse, but constantly.  And then night comes, and before the moon rises men look into the heavens, and one third of the night sky is black, with not a star to be seen.  Then when the moon does rise, it too is one third blacked out.  As the Lord Jesus warned, “and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven”, Luke 21:11.

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! 

And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice- it may be that when John says that he heard the angel, he meant that he heard what he had to say.  On the other hand, when Ezekiel saw the living creatures associated with the throne of God, the sound of their wings impressed him with its loudness.  He wrote, “And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings”, Ezekiel 1:24.  It may be that John hears the noise of the angel’s wings as the noise of God’s army, as he goes to war with men. 
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! At the present time, the gospel of God’s grace gives men a wonderful opportunity for blessing.  Not just three blessings, but “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”, Ephesians 1:3.  At the time of judgement, however, God is uttering woes against men.  He delights to bless, but does not hesitate to judge at last.  When His Son was here, He began His ministry with nine blessings for those who believe, as detailed in Matthew 5:1-11.  But at the end of His ministry He found it necessary to utter eight woes against the unbelief of men, Matthew 22:13-33.
The three trumpeter-angels sound in chapter nine, and in chapter 11:15.

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Survey of the chapter
There is a parenthesis between the carrying out of the judgements of the sixth seal and the opening of the seventh.  It consisted of the account of the sending forth of one hundred and forty four thousand evangelists, sent forth to preach the gospel of the kingdom in all the world.  The chapter was able to conclude with a description of the result of their preaching, as a great multitude of converts are assembled before God.  So it is that even in the midst of wrath, God remembers mercy. 

We have noticed the structure of the book of the Revelation, that is consists of a series of revelations, each one giving some insight into the character of Christ as He judges the earth for God.  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 WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE 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! 

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

And when He had opened the seventh seal- the opening of this last seal reveals 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.  What is written on the first side is exposed, and also the whole of what is on the other side, for the book was written “within and on the backside”, 5:1.  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. 
There was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour- when the seventh seal, (which is the last one), is opened, and the whole of the rest of the scroll is 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 heavenly host are stunned into silence.  They knew the Lord was going to be terrible in His judgements from the things the prophets said in Old Testament times, but they did not realise how severe the wrath would be; now they do, and are silent.

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

And I saw the seven angels which stood before God- that they stand before God indicates that they have His full approval for what they do.  Elijah assured Ahab that he was speaking for God when he declared that the word of the Lord God of Israel, “before whom I stand”.  He had come straight from the presence of God with a word for the king.  The apostate Ahab was used to standing before the image of Baal and worshipping it and the demon that lurked behind it.  Elijah was different.  These angels stand before God when the majority of earth are standing before the image of the Beast and worshipping it.
There is also the reminder that many of the angels rebelled against God in Lucifer’s uprising, and as a result were cast out of heaven.  These are “the” seven angels that stand before God, perhaps representing fully, (hence there are seven), those who did not rebel.  This has significance in connection with the fifth seal, as we shall see.
And to them were given seven trumpets- they do not stand before God with trumpets, but are handed the trumpets at this point in time.  The trumpet is a war-instrument, and this tells us that just as man has been at war with God for six thousand years, during which time He bore patiently with him, now things are different, and God is at war with men.  He is marshalling His forces in order to defeat finally and manifestly the Devil and all who side with him.  The sound of those armies will be heard in verse 5.
These trumpets have nothing to do with the trump of God mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, which is the same as the last trump mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:52, and refers to the last command to the members of the church, summoning them to heaven. 

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.

And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer- prior to the actual sounding of the first trumpet there is a reminder of the prayers for vengeance offered by the saints in the first half of the tribulation period, as recorded in 6:10.  They asked for vengeance, but were told to rest until their fellow-servants had been killed, as they had been.  This tells us that the events of this chapter must take place during the second half of the seven-year period of judgement. 
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.
And there was given unto him much incense- notice that whereas the incense in chapter 5:8, (“odours”), is defined as “the prayers of saints”, here the incense is offered with those prayers.  And there is much incense.  We should remember that not only do the tribulation saints pray on earth, (as did the Old Testament saints), but the Lord Jesus intercedes too.  The last phrase of Isaiah 53:12 reads, “And made intercession with the transgressors”, for Isaiah tells of the experience of Israel in the future when they come into the good of what their Messiah did, as detailed in the chapter.  They will realise that He had been making intercession for their preservation and restoration all down through the centuries.  No wonder the angel is given much incense.
That he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne- so it is that the prayers of the saints and the prayers of the Saviour mingle together, and come up before God.  It is the time for those prayers to be answered. 

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.

And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand- this means presumably that the smoke of the burning incense arose out of the censer that was in the angel’s hand.  Aaron approached God with incense in his hands, but put it on the fire in the censer once he had arrived in the presence of God.

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.

And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth- the world was unaware that God was listening both to the prayers of His earthly people and also those of His Son, but they are made aware of it now.  The censer was used to offer that which represents prayers, but is now used to signal that the judgement those prayers called for is about to fall.  The fire that caused the incense to arise to God, is now cast to the earth as a warning of judgement. 
And there were voices- when Ezekiel was given a vision of God, he saw the cherubim, and he tells us that as to their wings, “every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.  And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of a host: when they stood, they let down their wings.  And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings”, Ezekiel 1:23-25.  The voices John heard may well be the whirring of the wings of the cherubim as they prepare to act for God. 
And thunderings, and lightnings- when the first trumpet sounds, hail and fire fall to earth.  We are told here where the storm comes from, even heaven.
And an earthquake- very often it is an earthquake that triggers volcanic activity, which is what happens when the second angel sounds.

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

And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound- note the controlled way in which these trumpeter-angels act.  They stand before God; they are handed trumpets; they wait for the incense to be offered; only then do they prepare to sound; then they sound the trumpets, not all at once, but in orderly succession. 

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.

The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth- the trumpet is the signal for the executors of Divine judgement to act, superintended, of course, by Christ, to whom all judgement has been committed.  At the opening of the four seals the living creatures summoned evil forces to inflict damage upon men, but now it is direct action by God’s agents.
Judgement is going to be inflicted on a third of earth’s trees.  It is very possible that this is concentrated in the Amazon Bason.  The Amazon rainforest contains over a third of all the world’s trees.  It has been called “the lungs of the planet” because it sends out 20% of the worlds oxygen as it changes carbon dioxide into the oxygen we need to breathe.  It also assists the distribution of rainfall throughout the world. 
The forest contains a vast number and diversity of trees, as many as 750 different types of tree and 1500 species of higher plants, per hectare.  Many of these could be used against disease if there was the will to do so.  For instance, it is said that of the three thousand plants that are thought to be active against cancer, 70% are found in the rain forest.  However, in the last one hundred years, ninety Amazon tribes have been wiped out, including all the accumulated knowledge that they have of the benefits of plants. 
What is man’s response to God’s goodness?  He bulldozes the forest at the rate of the area of a football field per second.  The God of creation is angry at man’s ingratitude and greed, and shows His anger in the dramatic way stated here. 
And the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up- first the hail falls, and defoliates the trees.  Then the fire or lightning falls and strikes and ignites the trees.  The fire quickly spreads until all is burnt up.  Then, to show that this is all the work of God, and not some monumental natural disaster, blood falls and coats everything.  Thus that which could have been used for the benefit of man is marked by the sign of death. 
The grass is all burnt up too, for when the forest is cleared, then grasslands are established for grazing, that being more profitable than allowing forests to flourish. 
The result of all this is that the smoke from the burning is carried by the winds to the rest of the world.  Coupled with this, the lack of oxygen and the surplus of carbon dioxide combine to cause the people of the world to gasp for breath. 
There are those who feel that all this is symbolic, and we should not interpret these things literally.  But 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”.  So we would have to say that there are no men left on the earth after this judgement, which is clearly absurd.  The grass is not a figure for men, therefore.

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;

And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea- to show how this could literally be fulfilled, consider the following facts.  Yellowstone National 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.  So we see how easily this could come to pass literally, so we do not need to resort to fanciful allegories.

Consider some of facts about the eruption of the volcano Krakatoa in Indonesia in 1883:

1. The sound of the volcano exploding was heard over 3000 miles away, and was said to be the loudest noise for thousands of years.
2. Ships 12 miles away had hot pumice landing on the deck.
3. Ash was thrown 50 miles into the air, and was circulated around the globe, causing world temperature to drop by 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit, and causing chaotic weather patterns for several years.
4. Sulphur dioxide was sent into the atmosphere in large quantities.
5. Five cubic miles of pumice, ash and rock were sent into the atmosphere.
6. The eruption caused a 130′ high tsunami, which hurled 600 ton lumps of coral onto the beaches.  The wave reached Aden in 12 hours, a distance travelled by a steamer in 12 days.  36,000 people were killed, mostly as a result of the tsunami, and 165 coastal villages were destroyed.
7. The volcano exploded with a force 13,000 times that of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima.

And the third part of the sea became blood- such will be the force of the explosion that molten rock will be flung miles into the air, (as happened when the volcano Kratakoa exploded in 1883), and those who are unfortunate enough to be on the sea in the surrounding area will be killed, and their blood will stain the waters. 

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.

And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died- as a result of the toxic materials flung high into the sky, and then falling onto the sea, a third of the sea creatures will be killed, with devastating affect on the fisheries.
And the third part of the ships were destroyed- not only fishing vessels, but all cargo boats plying their trade to and from the mainland will be totally destroyed, with devastating economic consequences. 

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;

And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp- in Bible times any bright light in the heavens was called a star.  There is an area of poor soil in Ukraine where the plant called Artemesia Absinthes grows profusely.  A town grew up in this area many hundreds of years ago, and it was given a name which was the Russian equivalent of the plant’s name.  Later still, a nuclear power plant was built a short distance from the town.  In 1986 this power station ran out of control, spewing radioactive clouds into the air, which then fell on the soil.  This could very well be the sort of thing that is described here. 
And it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters- not only does radio active fallout affect the spoil, but it makes water bitter and poisonous.  The waters around the power station in the Ukraine are still affected, thirty years later.

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.

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- the name of the power station mentioned above is Chernobyl, a name which means wormwood, the common name of the weed which grows in the area, and which gave its name to the town.  What we have under the second trumpet is a “Chernobyl” of monumental proportions.
What good could have come for mankind if his scientific expertise had been directed to harnessing the power of the atom for man’s benefit.  He has chosen to use it for mass destruction.
Bible students often ask where America features in end-time prophecy.  If the scenario suggested here in these comments is anywhere near correct, we could see that South America is destroyed by the first trumpet-judgement, and North America and Canada are destroyed by the second and third trumpet-judgement.  So the answer to the question is that they will not feature at all, being paralysed by the pouring out of God’s wrath for their wickedness, and the centre of interest lays in the Middle East. 
It would be entirely appropriate that the only nation that has used nuclear energy in warfare, the United States against Japan, should be destroyed by nuclear energy.  God does not ignore the conduct of nations, and recompenses in due time.

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.

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- 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.  Men rejected the light of the world when he came, so it is fitting that they should be plunged into gloom.
So as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise- choked by the smoke from the burning forests, gasping for breath due to lack of oxygen, overcome from toxic fumes from the volcano, sickened by the radio-active fallout descending upon them, men are now forced to grope in the gloom.  Imagine the terror in the hearts of men when a third part of the sun is blackened out, not just for a few minutes as at an eclipse, but constantly.  And then night comes, and before the moon rises men look into the heavens, and one third of the night sky is black, with not a star to be seen.  Then when the moon does rise, it too is one third blacked out.  As the Lord Jesus warned, “and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven”, Luke 21:11.

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!