Seven Trumpets – Not For Music (Revelation 8)

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Welcome to week 17 of The End of the World as We Know It. We are officially at the halfway point of this series covering Revelation and other end of time prophecies. 
 
If you’ve missed any weeks so far, please catch up. It’s for your own good.
 
Today we will be diving into another round of judgments from God on the earth that are a level up from the first round of the seven seals. 
 
Last week we finished during the pause in judgments, as described in chapter 7, as the angels held back the winds of judgment just long enough to seal the 144,000 evangelists, who will be instrumental in bringing a countless number to faith in the coming horrendous months of tribulation. 
 
Before that we saw the opening of the first six seals that brought the rise of the Antichrist to power as a false agent of peace, followed by world war, famine, economic collapse, and death to a fourth of the world’s population. 
 
After that, we saw the saints under the altar who had already been martyred for their faith during this period and then we saw the sixth seal that removed all doubt for the inhabitants of earth about who was behind the cataclysmic activities they had been witnessing.
 
Now we move into chapter 8 which begins with the opening of the seventh and final seal of the title deed to creation that the Lamb, Jesus Christ, took from the hand of God the Father  – because He alone is worthy, having conquered death and the grave and securing our salvation… 
 
Revelation 8
When he [the Lamb] opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
 
Clearly something big is about to happen, so let’s stop there and pray before we continue…
 
Jesus just cracked the seventh and final seal that was keeping this document closed, meaning that now the scroll can be opened completely and the contents revealed. And upon cracking that final seal, all of heaven basically held their breath. You’ve seen big reveals or high tension moments when the fate of whatever competition would be decided by this next thing – this is one of those on steroids. Just think of it. All of creation, the angels, and all those already in heaven have been waiting for this with eager mixed with terrified anticipation because they know that the contents of this scroll will bring about the end of the world and the outpouring of wrath and judgment predicted by all the old prophets, and so there is a moment in heaven that probably feels longer than it really is as everyone leans in to see what happens next. And John describes it as silence for about half an hour – a rather ambiguous statement, but I think intentionally vague so that we don’t miss the point because we overanalyze the amount of time. 
 
So, now that we ourselves have paused for a few minutes, although not in silence, let’s continue and see what happens. I’m going to read the rest of the chapter and then we’ll come back and talk about it.
 
When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
 
And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
 
Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
 
Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
 
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.
 
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.
 
10 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— 11 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.
 
12 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.
 
13 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!”
 
Some serious stuff going on here. 
 
Backing up to verse 2, we see that the seventh seal is different from the previous six, in that it is not a specific and solitary judgment itself, but the sixth seal being opened reveals seven more judgments in the form of seven trumpets being blown. We will see later that the seventh trumpet is similar in that it reveals the seven bowl judgments, which are actually the completion of the judgments. And so, technically, all of the judgments are within the seven seals with the seventh seal containing two more sets of cascading judgments. 
 
And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
 
A lot of speculation has been spent on trying to identify these seven angels, but since they are not named it clearly is not that important who they are. The important thing about them is that there are seven of them and they are each given a trumpet.
 
Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.
 
So, in addition to the seven who are given trumpets, an eighth angel appears with a golden censer. Again, much speculation has been spent on who this 8th angel is, some even suggesting he is Christ, which clearly he is not as Jesus is not an angel and he is again the one opening the seals. It’s not important who this angel is, but it is important what he does.
 
He is said to have a golden censer and that he is given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne and that the smoke, together with the prayers, went up before God. 
 
Now, this picture is mysterious to us, because we are not first century Jews. This scene would have been quite familiar to them because this is similar to what the high priest or one of his subordinates would do on a daily basis in the Temple. Which makes sense, considering what we see in Hebrews in a discussion about human priests:
 
Hebrews 8:5
They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
 
And if you read the Mosaic account referenced, the details of the tabernacle are very precise – which we now know is because God wasn’t having Moses build just anything, but build an earthly replica of what was already in heaven. And one thing that we are seeing here in Revelation and in other places is that there is an altar in heaven, with burning coals, and incense that is constantly burning sending a sweet fragrance up to God. Likewise, in the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple, the priests were instructed to  twice daily (morning and evening) take hot, fiery coals from the brazen altar (where sacrifices were offered) and transport them into the Holy Place to the incense altar. They then ignited the incense, which rose toward heaven, emblematic of the prayers of the saints. 
 
A New Testament illustration of this comes from the story of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist: “
 
Luke 1:8-10
Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering”
 
While the people stood outside praying, Zacharias burned incense inside, symbolizing the ascending of those prayers to God.
 
And likewise, John sees a similar scene here in heaven with an angel causing the prayers of all God’s people through the ages to go up to God. 
 
Which is telling us that what is about to happen is the answer to those prayers. 
 
And what kind of prayer do you think would bring the judgments we are about to see come about? Surely, you may think, you have never prayed for such a thing!
 
How about this…
 
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
 
My friends, these judgments are God answering that prayer. 
 
Countless prayers for his kingdom to truly come, for his will to be truly done, to be delivered from the evil one. Prayers for justice! For God to do away with the madness of the evil world and finally set all things right. That is what God is doing in these judgments. He is answering our prayers.  And the answer to those prayers includes the promised judgments of the unrepentant wicked. 
 
Basically, whenever we pray for the Kingdom to come – which we were instructed to do by King Jesus Himself – we are praying for this. We are praying that God will put an end to evil in this world and bring his Kingdom full force and make everything right. 
 
And He will, but there’s a lot of evil that must be dealt with to make that transition and we are about to see what that looks like. It’s almost like a controlled burn of a forest or a field in order to kind of reset the land for new growth. In fact, it is often described in scripture as the burning of gold or silver to cause the dross to rise to the top and be scraped away, thus making it pure. It’s the common theme throughout God’s plan that was demonstrated perfectly by Jesus himself, that in order to bring about the new – the old must die.
 
Be sure to keep this in mind as we go through these judgments. If you don’t recognize their purpose it will be easy to see it as God just being mean. But he’s not. He’s actually being merciful and giving the world plenty of chances and great warnings to turn from their wicked ways and submit to him. He could easily just end it in a second, but instead he gives the people of earth a little glimpse of hell in the hope that they will finally surrender to their Creator. 
 
And though many will refuse to yield, we saw last week, an uncountable number take him up on that chance. Without what happens next, if God just did an instantaneous end to it all – then that great multitude would spend eternity in hell. While it is sad that so many people require such drastic measures to come to faith, it is beautiful that God will actually take those measures to ensure humanity has every chance possible.
 
Just as Peter says…
 
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
 
That’s what this is all about. Remember that as we go through what happens next.
 

 
Now that the prayers are lifted up and the angels are given their trumpets, it’s show time.
 
Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
 
This is not a separate judgment. This is the fire works and music before the players are introduced onto the field. This is getting everyone’s attention that, even though there was a brief lull in the judgments as the 144,000 were sealed, they are about to resume so get yourself ready. Not that you really can….
 
Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
 
I imagine a row of angels with trumpets lifting them up to their mouths just like when the conductor raises his wand just before they start the symphony and there’s another moment of silence before the music starts.
 
These trumpets won’t be for music. Now, it is not specifically stated, but it’s a pretty good assumption that they each blow their trumpets in turn – one after the other – as indicated by the pause between the first four and the last three.
 
And remember the state of the world already at this moment. There had been war, famine, economic collapse, and widespread death due to those, plus pestilence and wild beasts. Then there was the great earthquake that caused all the mountains and islands to actually move out of place. It’s likely that the sun turning black and the moon turning red were temporary, as future judgments indicate, but the effects of such an earthquake would already be devastating enough to pretty much leave the world in a state of shock as their cities are in ruins and probably a great deal of our modern technological conveniences and networks are not working very well. That and everyone got a glimpse of God on the throne and the Lamb that is causing all of this. 
 
Now, it’s about to get even worse. 
 
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.
 
Wow! Imagine that for a minute. All the green grass is burned up all over the world. A third of all the trees. A third of the earth burned up. And as for the hail and fire mixed with blood: Sounds gruesome
 
It’s actually pretty similar to one of the ten plagues that God sent on Egypt when He was bringing Israel out from under their bondage. I think it’s worth reading the account:
 
Exodus 9
13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, 14 or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. 16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now.19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’”
 
20 Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field.
 
22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt—on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.” 23 When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; 24 hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. 25 Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. 26 The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.
 
The hail here in Revelation will be similar, but with fire and blood mixed in. And like in Exodus, the people that will be effected have been warned. We will find that many of these Revelation judgments are the same or similar to the judgments in Exodus, and that is on purpose to show that God is in control and the same now as he was then. 
 
Another little tidbit about this that you may have never thought about – Where does all this hail come from? Does God whip up a storm and go through the natural process of producing hail? And how does he get it to hail literally all over the globe?
 
Actually He tells us in his conversation with Job where God is pointing out just how little Job and we know about His created planet and universe.
 
Job 38
22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
    or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
    for days of war and battle?
 
And indeed, God has used that hail in the past and he will use it again in the future for just those purposes. Pretty cool. 
 
So, back to the first trumpet – a third of the earth and trees are burned up and all the green grass. 
 
Now, commentators are split on what this actually looks like – whether it’s a third evenly spread over the globe – as in, of the three trees in your yard, one of them will be burned up and now you don’t have to mow your lawn for awhile? Or is the one third localized to, say, the continents of North and South America? Could it be that this judgment effectively wipes out the Americas from the rest of the tribulation? Or is this just bad news everywhere? 
 
I honestly don’t know. It isn’t that specific. And as far as this one is concerned, I think both options are just as likely when included with the remaining trumpets. One thing we do know from reading the rest of the book is that in the end there are really only two major cities left – Jerusalem and Babylon, which are both located in the Middle East, and a handful of other “nations” that must be on the same land mass because they all participate in the battle of Armageddon, which is a land battle between armies that travel over land – so the American continents really do not play into the end. 
 
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that this first trumpet is what wipes us out.  I think it’s the next one.
 
 
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.
 
Most commentators agree that this “something like a huge mountain, all ablaze” is a giant meteor falling to earth. Kind of like the video I started with, but with 1/3 of the destructive force, as this one turns a third of the sea into blood, killing a third of the sea life and even destroying a third of the ships. As for the details of where this meteor hits and such, that is clearly up for speculation – but I think it will likely land in the Pacific Ocean for a few reasons. 
 
One, the Pacific Ocean is the largest of the oceans, making up almost half of the total square footage of oceans in the world. A giant meteor landing in the middle of that ocean could easily destroy a third of the world’s sea creatures and a third of the world’s ships. Other oceans are all less than a third of the whole (at least as far as how we divide them on maps – technically they are all connected.)
 
Two, a giant meteor landing in the Pacific ocean would cause tremendous tidal waves on the west coast of the Americas and the east coast of Asia, the entire Pacific rim, likely wiping out significant parts of those continents – but still leaving the middle east mostly untouched. If that happened in the Atlantic, the middle east would likely be wiped out. 
 
But again, this is all just speculation – trying to put some meat on the bones we are given here in Scripture. I could be completely wrong, but it seems like a plausible scenario to me so I’m going with it it.
 
As for the sea turning to blood – that could be due to all the death, or it could just be God turning it to blood like he did to the Nile back in Egypt and the Exodus. Either way, this is a bad situation. Lots of death, and just imagine the nastiness as all those dead fish start washing up on shores with the blood. 
 
Not pleasant. And not over. 
 
10 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— 11 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.
 
The second trumpet damaged the sea. This one goes after the fresh water, which is vital for organic, i.e. human, life. 
 
At first glance the two judgments sound about the same except for their effect, but there are notable differences that help us understand what this probably is.
 
In both cases, the judgment comes from above and falls on the earth. In the second trumpet, John describes it as a huge mountain all ablaze, in the third it is a great star, blazing like a torch. The first is pretty obviously a giant meteor burning as it goes through our atmosphere. This great star is likely also a meteor, but one that breaks up as it enters our atmosphere and thus spreads out falling on large parts of the earth. This would account for the “blazing like a torch” and the fact that it fell “ON a third of the rivers and springs of water.” The giant mountain was thrown into the sea – seemingly intact. 
 
Based on my speculation about where the mountain struck, I would further speculate that this great star lands spread out over the remaining continents not wiped out by the tidal wave from the previous judgment. But we don’t really know.
 
John says that the name of the star is Wormwood. Now, the fact that this star has a name has led to a great deal of speculation as to whether this “star” is actually a fallen angel rather than a burning rock. Angels are described as stars in various places, so it is possible, though angels are usually not described as being distributed over large sections of the globe. 
 
I would argue that it is given the name Wormwood because “wormwood” simply means bitter. In fact, the same Greek word is used in the very next sentence saying that a third of the waters turned bitter – wormwood.
 
The Greek word is APSINTHOS, where the word and actually the drink Absinthe comes from. It is found both in the Old and the New Testament and is described as “a bitter, dark green oil made from certain strong-smelling plants with white or yellow flowers, alcoholic in effect; called wormwood from its use as a medicine to kill intestinal worms.”
 
So, the name Wormwood for this star does not necessitate that it is an angel, but could actually be a big ball of stinky bitter wormwood that turns a third of the fresh water into absinthe, killing a lot of people.
 
Either way, again not pleasant, and still not over.
 
12 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.
 
Now, this one is probably the hardest to imagine how it actually works, and thus there are many ideas out there about it. This phenomenon is actually foretold in a couple other places in Scripture.
 
One is..
 
Isaiah 13
9 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. 10 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.
 
Pretty clear he’s talking about the same time frame.
 
Another is the prophet Amos.
 
Amos 8
1 This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. “What do you see, Amos?” he asked.
 
“A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered.
 
Then the Lord said to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.
 
“In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “the songs in the temple will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies—flung everywhere! Silence!”
 
Hear this, you who trample the needy
    and do away with the poor of the land,
saying,
 
“When will the New Moon be over
    that we may sell grain,
and the Sabbath be ended
    that we may market wheat?”—
skimping on the measure,
    boosting the price
    and cheating with dishonest scales,
buying the poor with silver
    and the needy for a pair of sandals,
    selling even the sweepings with the wheat.
 
The Lord has sworn by himself, the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done.
 
“Will not the land tremble for this,
    and all who live in it mourn?
The whole land will rise like the Nile;
    it will be stirred up and then sink
    like the river of Egypt.
 
“In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
    and darken the earth in broad daylight.
10 I will turn your religious festivals into mourning
    and all your singing into weeping.
I will make all of you wear sackcloth
    and shave your heads.
I will make that time like mourning for an only son
    and the end of it like a bitter day.
 
I read all of that to show you that he even talks about a few of the other things we have already seen, and to remind you of God’s reason for all this. The reason is justice. He says he will not forget how dishonest and cheating they have been, and how much disregard they have for His laws. 
 
Then He describes what is surely a great earthquake – the land rising and falling like the river Nile!
 
Then he talks about the sun going down at noon and darkening the earth in broad daylight. All of this associated with “that day.” Well, here in Revelation 8, we are at “that day” – the great and terrible Day of the Lord.
 
And God is keeping his promise and has struck a third of the sun, moon and stars.
 
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.
 
How this happens and what it looks like is the topic of much debate. 
 
Some think that the sun, moon, and stars will all be a uniform 1/3 darker than before – presumably due to a thick layer of ash or something in the atmosphere that blocks a third of the light – which would have rather devastating effects and practically bring us into an ice age.
 
And some think that it has more to do with time than intensity – as in a third of the day the sun will be dark (which would cause the moon to be dark as well) and that a third of the night the stars will be dark. 
 
I tend to agree with the latter – that rather than a decrease in intensity, that the lights will actually be turned off for a third of the time. I get that from the language John uses – “A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.” And in what God says there in Amos that we just read, that he will “make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.” Also, there is example of this kind of selective lighting in the plagues of Egypt, which I’ve already stated are somewhat precursors to these in Revelation.
 
Exodus 10
21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. 23 No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.
 
If God can cause a specific area of land to be completely dark for three days while right next to it lighting is normal, I think He can manage to supernaturally accomplish this fourth trumpet judgment as well without any need for naturalistic explanations. It would serve as a daily reminder that God is the one that made these lights – not time and chance – and He can turn them on and off as He wishes.
 
But however he accomplishes this –  not pleasant, and still far from over.
 
13 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!”
 
So, before the fifth angel blows his trumpet, John hears, and I guess sees an eagle flying in midair –  basically warning the earth that they haven’t seen anything yet.
 
Now, is this really an eagle – the bird – doing this? Probably not. For one, eagles don’t talk. And if they did, I doubt they could talk loud enough for the whole earth to hear. Not that God couldn’t make an eagle do that. He made a donkey talk once. But more than likely this is an angel that looks like an eagle, much like how one of the faces of the four living creatures, the cherubim, is that of an eagle. 
 
Whether it’s actually an eagle or an angle doesn’t matter as much as the message he’s communicating: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!”
 
Now, we don’t really have any indication of how much time has passed as these first four trumpets are sounded. It could be days, weeks, or even months. According to our timeline (which of course could be completely wrong, but it’s no more of a guess than any other) –  they must take no more than a few months to at most a year as they all need to fit in after the events of the six seals and before the midpoint of tribulation. And looking ahead, we know that the fifth trumpet judgment lasts for exactly five months, so that limits these trumpet judgments a bit in their length – but their effect will last the rest of the tribulation. 
 

So, picture this, you’re still alive but you have now witnessed the worst world war ever, global economic collapse, famine, pestilence, likely many of your friends and family dead. Massive earthquakes that practically destroy most of civilization, the sun blackened for a time and the moon turned red like blood – the sky split apart to see God on his throne and a lamb with seven eyes and seven horns holding a scroll with seven seals on it..followed by a brief period of relative calm. Then you hear a bunch of thunder and see a bunch of lighting and there’s another earthquake followed by hail and fire mixed with blood falling from the sky, burning up all the green grass and a third of the trees. Shortly after that a giant meteor splashes down in the Pacific causing tremendous amounts of death and the practical annihilation of the American continents and the eastern half of Asia and Australia, followed by another explosion in the sky that pours down poison all over the rivers and streams – more of your fiends and family die from the poisoned water. Then, as if that were not enough, now the sun, moon, and stars are no longer operating like normal.
 
And now there is this eagle looking thing up in the sky saying it’s going to get worse…
 
I’ll say this again – I’d rather be in the owners box than on the field for this one. 
 
With all of that going on, it’s probably rather difficult to imagine how things could be much worse, but they will be. 
 
The final three trumpets, which we will be getting to next week, are called the WOE judgments because they are particularly horrible, and one major difference between these trumpets and the other four is that the first four only indirectly effected the people. Those judgments were directed at the world around them, the next few will be directed at the people themselves, and they are particularly nasty. Hence the angel saying “Woe, Woe, Woe!” 
 
It’s not really a word that we use very often today. It doesn’t really have a place in our culture of anything goes, and tolerance, and no one can ever suggest that anyone is ever wrong (unless, of course, you disagree with that – then you are wrong). But that’s a sermon for another day.
 
WOE is a word of foreboding, a word of judgment, a word of impending demise. A word of grief and sorrow. This is not the last time we will see this word in Revelation, and it is used in many places in both the Old and New Testament, almost always associated with God’s judgment. 
 
Jesus offered seven woes in Matthew 13 against the teachers of the law and the pharisees of their day for all of their hypocrisy. 
 
Paul issued woe upon himself if he did not preach the gospel as he had been called to do.
 
And the Old Testament prophets are full of woes for the disobedience and rebellion of God’s chosen people. 
 
One such prophet’s words, I believe, are particularly applicable to our culture today.
 
Chapter 5 of Isaiah has a whole bunch of Woes – basically it’s God being not so happy with his people. I won’t read the whole chapter to you, you can do that on your own, but some of the Woe’s God decrees are:
 
Isaiah 5
Woe to you who add house to house
    and join field to field
till no space is left
    and you live alone in the land.
 
The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing:
“Surely the great houses will become desolate,
    the fine mansions left without occupants.

 
11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning
    to run after their drinks,
who stay up late at night
    till they are inflamed with wine.
 
12 They have harps and lyres at their banquets,
    pipes and timbrels and wine,
but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord,
    no respect for the work of his hands.

18 Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit,
    and wickedness as with cart ropes.

20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.
 
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.
 
Of course, God is speaking an indictment against Israel, but if we didn’t know that, we could easily assume He is talking to us – modern America and the Apostate Church.
 
Especially those last two woes.
 
20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.
 
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.
 
Basically, when it comes to the judgments of the tribulation, we – humanity in general – deserve every bit of it. And it’s not as if the eagle flying in the air is the first warning. 
 
The people of the world have been warned for thousands of years now what the Creator of the world requires of his created beings. And yet we do not listen and even when we do, we do not obey. 
 
And thus these horrendous judgments that we have seen with more to come are completely righteous, and perfectly just, and exactly what the world has repeatedly asked for as they shake their fist at Almighty God. 
 
Lest we forget that we are created beings that are designed for HIS PURPOSES not our own. And just as you and I would throw away or destroy something that we made that did not operate correctly, God has every right to do the same with what He created, and He will.
 
You see, we are all defective products, though NOT by design. 
 
When God made man, he called us good
 
But we chose to disobey and thus became DEFECTIVE BY DESIRE. And worthy of destruction. Worthy of God’s wrath.
 
Paul summarizes this for us in the much hated (by those in the dark) first chapter of Romans.
 
Romans 1
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
 
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
 
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
 
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.


This sounds exactly like the world we live in right now because it’s been the story of humanity ever since Adam and Eve at the forbidden fruit. The first time God judged the whole world with the flood, the people were described as “every inclination of their heart was only evil all of the time.” And so, we are indeed defective by desire, not design. 
 
We have all willfully sinned and fallen short of the glory of Almighty God and are deserving of condemnation and destruction.
 
But if you read a little later in Romans, Paul makes the profound statement that changes everything.
 
Romans 8
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.


That’s because, in God’s great mercy and love for us, He has not only shown us this future in advance so as to warn us, He also solved the problem for us. 
 
We could never earn our way back into good standing, because just one sin, one failure to meet the factory quality control standard (so to speak) is enough to warrant destruction, much less the many, many willful defects we are each guilty of.
 
But instead of just throwing us out immediately, God has been patient with us – as 2 Peter tells us, not wanting any of his creation to be destroyed. 
 
And so, in order to make things right, God sent his Son to earth, to become one of us. He came as a humble servant, and went about setting things right by healing people and teaching the truth. But we would not have it. We prefer the lies. We prefer the darkness to the light, and so we killed the author of life. Nailed him to a cross.
 
But what the devil didn’t realize, and what humanity can’t seem to understand, is that was always part of the plan. 
 
God sent his son to earth to bring back the kingdom of heaven, and he did so by taking on all of our defects as his own, though he was actually perfect himself. And God destroyed JESUS instead of US, so that we could be saved from our rightful destiny. But Jesus did not stay dead. He did not stay destroyed. He conquered death and the grave and rose from the dead so that all who are willing can be saved from our rightful fate.
 
And he offers his hand to anyone who would join his kingdom of light, of heaven, of truth, of love, 
 
to believe in who He is and what He has done, 
 
to confess him as lord and king, 
 
to submit to his rule, 
 
committing to follow him with every ounce of your being for the rest of your life – 
 
and he will forgive your sins and remember them no more and you will be saved from the destruction you deserve and even saved from the hell on earth we are reading about here in Revelation. 
 
But, don’t do it out of fear of the consequences. Do it out of love for the one who has not already destroyed you for your treasonous sins, when it has always been within his power and most importantly within his rights to do so. It is only God’s great mercy and love that allows you and I to continue to live despite our guilt, in the hope that we might turn to Him in surrender and have our sins forgiven. 
 
I invite you to do that today. Will you pray with me.