Revelation 8:1-13 Part 5


1)    And when He loosed the seventh seal, silence was in the heaven for half an hour.

2)    Then I did see seven messengers which had stood before God; and seven trumpets were given to them.

3)    Then another Messenger did come, and He was poised before the altar having the golden censer.  And much incense was given to Him in order that He would present the prayers of all the holy ones before the golden altar in front of the throne.

4)    And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the holy ones arose before God out of the hand of the Messenger.

5)    Then the Messenger took the censer and filled it from the fire of the altar of whole burnt offering and poured into the land.  And there were thunders and sounds and lightnings and shaking.

6)    And the seven messengers having the seven trumpets prepared themselves that they might trumpet.

7)    And the first trumpeted.  And hail was, and fire having been mixed in blood and poured into the earth, and the third of the land burned up, and the third of the trees burned up, and all tender herbage burned up.

8)    Then the second messenger trumpeted.  As it were a great mountain was cast burning into the sea, and the third of the sea was blood,

9)    and the third of the creatures having life in the sea died, and the third of the vessels were utterly destroyed.

10) Then the third messenger trumpeted.  And a great star fell out of the heaven as a torch being burned and fell on the third of the rivers and on the fountains of water,

11) and the name of the star is called ‘the wormwood’, and the third of the waters was made into wormwood, and many men did die from the waters for they had been rendered bitter.

12) Then the fourth messenger trumpeted.  And the third of the sun was stricken, and the third of the moon, and the third of the stars so that the third of them would be darkened; and the third of the day would not be brought to light, nor the night.

13) Then I saw and heard one eagle winging its way in mid-heaven exclaiming in a powerful voice, ‘ouai’, ‘ouai’, ‘ouai those living on the land, from the remaining soundings of the trumpets from the three messengers about to trumpet!’



The work of God the Son continues through John’s Revelation as we see Him as He appears as Archangel Michael before the throne with the prayers of the saints in His hand.  He is the High Priest of His Church; and He is the One Who has immediate access to the throne of grace and mercy… and judgment.

And as the older covenant utensils of sacrifice reach their fullest end in Him, the incense censer is now used as the cup of wrath poured out into the land.  And the work of the Christ of God continues as Mediator of the Covenant.  The Mediator of the Covenant has pled the case for His people – the hundred and forty four thousand of the twelve tribes of Jacob, found, marked, sealed and rescued before the “great tribulation”.  Now He brings the sanctions of the Covenant against those who have persecuted them and shed their blood.

You see, the Mediator is the Mediator of the Covenant.  The Christ doesn’t just stand for His people.  He is our Mediator; but He is Mediator of the Covenant.  And the Covenant guarantees blessings for the faithful and horrible sanctions for those who aren’t faithful.  And since God the Son is Mediator of the Covenant, He is Mediator of both!  Blessing the faithful and sanctions for the defiant are covenant promises.

Isn’t it strange, now, to your ears, having been grounded in these things, that our Lord Jesus Christ is, for the most part, preached as the Mediator for those who believe – but He’s never mentioned as the Mediator of the sanctions against those who don’t belong to Him?

That’s because the covenant isn’t at the root of fundamentalist Theology… the individual is.  It’s almost always preached that once I believe and accept Him, He becomes my Savior and Mediator.  Well, it very well may, indeed, be true that He is your Mediator!  But He is always Mediator of the Covenant, which has “peace with God” for the faithful, and horrific penalties for those who are in rebellion.  So, whether that individualist believed has no bearing whatever on our Lord Jesus Christ’s Mediatorship!  He is in no way limited to being the Mediator for the Father’s elect people.  He is the entire creation’s Mediator!

As we get our minds and hearts around these things, the work of the Christ becomes so much more glorious and illustrious, doesn’t it?  And it all generates fervent praise and thanksgiving among His people – especially in public worship.

Last Lord’s Day we set ourselves to read a number of passages from the prophets in which the wrath of Yahveh is poured out upon a continuously idolatrous and adulterous nation – one whose sins are now filled up in the persecution and shed blood of our Lord’s people.  And all the blood of the righteous from Abel to Zechariah is about to be set to the account of the princes, priests, elders and scribes of Israel.  They are about to reap all that Israel has sowed in its long, promiscuous history.

And as John looks on, the Mediator of the Covenant offers the prayers of His persecuted people; and then He pours out the wrath of God upon the land… as prophesied in the prophets!  The Mediator does both!

And that’s the signal for the trumpeter/messengers to make ready to sound the very voice of God from His throne; for there are now thunders and lightnings and great sounds and shaking in the heaven.  For the prayers of Christ’s people are heard at the throne, and Yahveh of Hosts is wroth.  And mighty things are about to transpire as the sanctions of the covenant are initiated by the Christ.

 And, as at Jericho, the trumpets are the voice of God, just as He was heard at Sinai when the exalted trumpeting was heard from the glory cloud, waxing louder and louder all day as all Israel was put on notice of the Presence of Yahveh of Hosts over His cherubim and the myriads of His messenger/creatures.

These trumpeter/messengers “sound” the voice of God as John hears them; and he sees God’s decree take place in the heaven as each sound occurs.

And each decree, as it is sounded by the trumpeter, is that which has already been spoken by Yahveh, and written as prophetic Word!  In other words, Israel has already heard these things spoken by Yahveh, for they were previously spoken to them by the prophets.  Should Israel not repent and obey the terms of the covenant, these things will come upon you, said Yahveh through His prophets.

And right here let me go through this once again very briefly.  The seventh seal has been loosed.  And it begins.  And the trumpeters sound the voice of Yahveh Lord of Hosts.  And as the voice of God is sounded, things begin to occur in space and time in the land of milk and honey.  The first trumpeter brings the drought and pestilence in Israel, which lasts for years and brings destruction to the land and death to many.

The “seven” decrees of God, trumpeted at the loosing of the last seal, don’t occur, you see, as immediate events in Israel, but they are the perfect seven (that means “complete”), the perfect seven judgments upon this apostate nation, which occur over the forty year period between our Lord’s ascension and His Parousia.  The prophesied “seven” all occur together, and in increasing intensity, culminating in the final holocaust in 70AD.

But the termination of the covenant nation has its inception at the decree from the throne in the heaven.  It occurred at the loosing of the seventh seal when God the Son offered the prayers of the saints out of His hand, and then poured out the fiery wrath of God which is mixed with the blood of the saints.

And since Israel has continued to make sacrifices to other gods, and has continued to burn incense on other mountains and to other gods, and now has shed the blood of Christ’s elect of Israel, that which was prophesied – the sanctions of the covenant – will now be carried out by the Mediator!  He is the Executor of the Covenant; and He will now bring the terms of the covenant.  He has brought the faithful to the Father in prayer; and now He will bring the wrath of the Father to the unfaithful.  It’s His work, you see.  He’s the One Who pours it out from the throne into the land.  And it is a covenantal event that Yahveh Himself said has never before happened and never will again!  This event of seventy years is the covenantal “center” of all of God’s creation history.

Let’s just insert a few comments here before we come to the first trumpeter in verse seven.  I like to do this once in a while just to bring it all together for you.  But there’s no possible way for all of this to be misinterpreted as far as the historical context is concerned.

During the last hundred sermons (or so) through the text, there has not been one instance, either by explication or by implication or by nuance, whereby another context or another period of time can be supplied.  There’s no suggestion or hint of these things being put off to another time.  It is all as plain as it can be, and there is no mystery about it; a different context for the Revelation is completely foreign to the text of John’s letter.

The only “extension” of the time frame into post-Parousia history would be limited only to the Christology that is discerned here, in that our Lord Jesus Christ is still at work; and that He is still Mediator between God and man; and that the terms of the covenant are still in place; and that He is still the Executor of the Covenant Who offers the prayers of His people and brings the sanctions of the Covenant against those who are brazen and arrogant before God.

So we can be certain that God the Son is exactly the same now, two thousand years later, with all authority in heaven and on earth, as He is in the historical context of John’s letter.  And He is continuing His work. 

However, there has never been a seventy year period in all of God’s history like this one during which John received the Revelation and wrote this letter.  And the letter was written in that context.  And there’s no possibility that any other context can be entertained.

So, therefore, any claim of future fulfillment of the letter has to be a scheme worked out in advance and superimposed over the text.  And the scheme has to completely ignore the text while using imaginative handling of words and phrases that appear there in order to make them fit the scheme!

I’m reminded of that Messianic judaist whose posting to a Presbyterian internet forum we read last Lord’s Day in the second hour.  With a human-propagated scenario blanketing and obscuring the text of the Revelation, the writer of that posting actually used subterfuge and deceit in quoting the prophecy of Zephaniah in order to prove an imaginary future context of John’s letter!  In quoting the text of Zephaniah, she actually left out the part of the quote that placed the prophecy directly against Israel in John’s time!  That’s a deceitful use of God’s Word.

As I said last Lord’s Day, there are the deceived (or incorrectly taught), and there are the deceivers (the ones doing the teaching).  And the deceivers are obfuscating and misrepresenting God’s Word in favor of what they want it to say, and they are committing treachery against the Son of God and His work.

I have great sympathy for members of our Lord’s Church who are the deceived.  But I can’t bring myself to empathize with those who are deceptive by nature.  And when a deceiver is a preacher or teacher, they lead the Lord’s people astray and rob them of the full joy of being In Christ.

They have a responsibility – a Covenantal responsibility – to the Person and Work of the Christ and to His people.  They are encumbered with a duty; and they are constrained to get it right.  If they do get it right (that is, preach and teach well), then they’re due “double honor” according to Paul in his letter to Timothy; but should they be deceitful with the text of scripture, then I’m afraid the “doubling” (or more) will be with something other than “honor”.

So, should they be spewing out some scheme (that somebody else thought up that sounds good), rather than doing the exegetical work themselves, then (at a minimum) they are a burden and an obstruction to the work of the Christ and His Church.

I’ll leave it to you what the maximum is.  But I only have one word for those who haven’t learned what the text says: “don’t say anything until you do the work”.  For John, having seen and heard these things in the heaven, says:


18) I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto them, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book:

19) and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book.


With the censer full of fire and brimstone mixed with the blood of the saints from under the throne poured out into the land, the trumpeters now begin to sound the voice of Yahveh as He hears the prayers of the people of Christ.  Their blood is “pooled” there around and under the altar (according to the text in chapter seven).  They have “imprecated” His revenge (as Jesus promised there would be, in Matthew chapter twenty four).  And as the text says, verse seven:

And the first trumpeted.  And hail was, and fire having been mixed in blood and poured into the earth, and the third of the land burned up, and the third of the trees burned up, and all tender herbage burned up.


Hail.  And fire and blood poured into the earth.  And where have we read these things before?  Let me just remind you of the hermeneutic that undergirds what we do.  Okay?

God is.  And He is Who He says He is.  And He says He is Holy; and Just; and True.  What He says He will do, He will do… His Word is always faithful.  All His creatures can count on it and faith in it.

Therefore when one reads the older Scripture, one can anticipate that the newer Scripture will completely agree.  And when one reads the newer Scripture, one can see the fullness of the older Scripture in God’s very specific language.  It’s how God has decreed it, you see; and it’s how He sees it from the heaven.  And it’s His language… one we must hear and learn.

And that language is found in all the prophets from Moses to Malachi (and even in John the baptizer – the last of the prophets), and it is all from God’s perspective concerning all that He has made.

Many of the prophets were caused to see God’s throne in the heaven (some of them actually from inside the glory cloud – such as Moses, and Isaiah, and Ezekiel… and then John here in our text); and they saw all that was there and heard the Words spoken directly from the mouth of Yahveh of Hosts.  And they saw the decree of His covenant take place.  And the decree, as God spoke it, is then “caused” to occur, in His creation, as He sees fit.  And what He has spoken, or decreed, through His prophets was sealed to the end.

And now John sees all the same things, in the same language.  And he sees the seals loosed because it IS the end!  As I said before, there’s nothing – absolutely nothing – in the text of the Revelation to indicate that there is an extension of the time frame from the historical context in which John writes.  Just the opposite:  the text confirms – over and over again – what the context is.  And that context is the seventy years, covenantally decreed, concerning the Person and work of the Anointed One, Jesus the Christ Who, in the “fullness” of the time, took on the “form” of man in order to do His work as Executor of the covenant.

Because all of God’s Word agrees, that’s the hermeneutic under which we stand, and preach, and teach, and work, and live.

And we are about to hear the Word of God through the prophets, in the language they heard it, as the trumpeters sound the voice of God.  And the time is now, as John hears them.  And as the prophets heard these words, the recipient of the covenantal sanctions is idolatrous Israel, in the “land” that God had given them as His special “heaven and earth”, all of which was made in the “likeness” of His heaven, and all of which foreshadowed the Person and work of Jesus the Christ!  And now that He has finished His work as the sacrificial Lamb of God, the entire tabernacle/sacrificial system of foreshadowing is obsolete and ready to be destroyed.  It’s of no more use, since the One Who is prophesied and foreshadowed in it has finished that work!

Any “pause”, or interim period (of whatever length of time), that’s forced on this text has to ignore the language in God’s Word, and it degrades the Person and work of the Son of God.  As we proceed, that’s the hermeneutic within which we began two and a half years ago and in which we continue.

Now. The voice of God through the first trumpeter has to do with hail, and fire and blood, and the land and the sea, and the trees and foliage, and the creatures.  So let’s hear the Words of God through the prophets, and see if the language is the same!

Hear first from the psalmist in Psalm 18:


11) He makes darkness His secret place, round about Him His tabernacle, darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.

12) From the brightness over-against Him His thick clouds have passed on, hail and coals of fire.

13) And Yahveh thunders in the heavens, and the Most High gives forth His voice, hail and coals of fire.

14) And He sends His arrows and scatters them, and much lightning, and crushes them.

15) And the streams of waters are exposed, and foundations of the earth are revealed from Thy rebuke, O Yahveh, from the breath of Thine anger.


And hear from Isaiah in chapter twenty-eight:


14) Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you mockers who rule this people in Jerusalem.

15) For you said, "We have cut a deal with death, and we have made an agreement with sheol; when the overwhelming scourge passes through, it will not touch us, because we have made falsehood our refuge and have hidden behind treachery."

16) Therefore Yahveh GOD said:  "Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable.

17) And I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the mason's level."  Hail will sweep away the false refuge, and water will flood your hiding place.


Writing the words of Yahveh specifically about Israel in the last days, here is Ezekiel in chapter thirty-eight of his prophecy:


22) And I will enter into judgment with him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many peoples that are with him, overflowing rain and great hailstones, fire and brimstone.

23) And I will magnify myself, and sanctify myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I [am] Yahveh.


And then from the prophet Joel in chapter one:


19) O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field.

20) The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.


And as Yahveh sees His “heaven and earth” land of Israel in terms of trees and vines and green grass and lush foliage, listen now to Ezekiel in chapter five as God splits His wrath and anger up into thirds (as our text says):


5)    "Thus says the Lord GOD: This is Jerusalem. I have set her in the center of the nations, with countries all around her.

6)    And she has rebelled against my laws by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against my statutes more than the countries all around her; for they have rejected my Laws and have not walked in my statutes.

7)    Therefore thus says Yahveh GOD: Because you are more insubordinate than the nations that are all around you, and have not walked in my statutes or obeyed my laws, and have not even acted according to the rules of the nations that are all around you,

8)    therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, even I, am against you. And I will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations.

9)    And because of all your abominations I will do with you what I have never yet done, and the likes of which I will never do again.

10) Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers. And I will execute judgments on you, and any of you who survive I will scatter to all the winds.

11) Therefore, as I live, declares Yahveh GOD, surely, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will withdraw. My eye will not spare, and I will have no pity.

12) A third part of you shall die of pestilence and be consumed with famine in your midst; a third part shall fall by the sword all around you; and a third part I will scatter to all the winds and will unsheathe the sword after them.


Three thirds.  The first trumpeter is obviously sounding the voice of God as Yahveh brings famine and pestilence upon His “heaven and earth”, destroying a third of everything in the land.  And it’s all in the language of God that Israel has heard for fifteen hundred years – from Moses to the present here in the text.

But then:


8)    … the second messenger trumpeted.  As it were a great mountain was cast burning into the sea, and the third of the sea was blood,

9)    and the third of the creatures having life in the sea died, and the third of the vessels were utterly destroyed.  (Verses eight and nine)


Once again we encounter the “mountain theology” which we’ve heard several times previously.  And (for the sake of time) I have only two passages that will give you the similarities of language between that which God spoke to His prophets, and that which John sees and hears.  The first is, once again, from Ezekiel chapter thirty-eight:


17) Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are you the one who I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring you against them?

18) And it shall come to pass, says Yahveh Elohim, at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, that my fury shall come up in my face.

19) For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;

20) So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the land, and all the men that are upon the face of the land, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.


Mountain theology includes the complete destruction of the “old” mount Zion, now so filled with evil things that it rots the entire created environment all around it; so bad that it putrefies even the sea of pagan humanity (not ones normally to be outdone in idolatry and adultery); and it includes the institution of the new… a mountain over all the mountains of the earth, which is the Kingdom of our Lord prophesied in Daniel… the fifth (and last) great Kingdom of the earth.

The prophecy of Jeremiah, in chapter fifty one, along with a parable that our Lord spoke to His disciples, give us the very language that John hears and the Biblical Theology of the mountain of Israel.  Listen:


25) Lo, I am against you, says Yahveh, mount of destruction which destroys all the earth; and I will stretch out my hand upon you, and roll you down from the rocks, and will make you a burning mountain.

26) And they shall not take of you a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; for you shall be desolate for ever, says Yahveh.


And here are two parables of our Lord:


19) And seeing one fig-tree in the way, he came to it and found on it nothing but leaves. And he says to it, ‘Let there be never more fruit from you for ever’. And the fig-tree was immediately dried up.

20) And when the disciples saw [it], they wondered, saying, ‘How immediately is the fig-tree dried up!’

21) And Jesus answering said to them, ‘Truly I say unto you, If you faith, and do not doubt, not only shall you do what [is done] to this fig-tree, but even if you should say to this mountain, Be taken away and be cast into the sea, it shall come to pass.

22) And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, faithing, you shall receive.’


The withered fig tree and the destroyed mountain of Israel – both – are prophesied!  Therefore, as Jesus told His disciples, those who pray in the light of God’s revealed will, pray in faith!  They are faithful; and their prayers will be answered.

It’s just as we see in the text in chapter seven as the prayers of the martyrs under the throne, and presented by our Lord from His hand, were answered as the Lord poured out fire and brimstone mixed with their blood into the land.  Jesus had said it to His disciples as recorded in Matthew twenty-four; therefore it was a prayer in faith – answered from the throne of Almighty God.

Then the third messenger trumpeted:


10) …And a great star fell out of the heaven as a torch being burned and fell on the third of the rivers and on the fountains of water,

11) and the name of the star is called ‘the wormwood’, and the third of the waters was made into wormwood, and many men did die from the waters for they had been rendered bitter.


Israel, having been created as God’s heaven and earth in the land of promise, was prophesied in Isaiah to fall as a great star, burning into the land of God’s promise.  As Egypt and Babylon fell into sheol, so would Israel.  And, in fact, God’s covenant nation would later be called Egypt, and Babylon.

Listen to it in Isaiah chapter fourteen:


12) "How you are fallen from heaven, O Star of the morning, son of the Dawn!  How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!

13) You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;

14) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.'

15) But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.


God’s decree here in the Revelation names the star “wormwood”, which is a term used in the prophets to warn Israel of its coming destruction for its idolatry.

Listen to God’s language through the prophet Jeremiah, chapter nine:


14) I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

15) Therefore thus says Yahveh of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.


And from Amos chapter seven:


2)    The virgin Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up….

6)    Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it….

7)    Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,

8)    Seek him that made the seven stars of Orion, and turns the shadow of death into morning, and makes the day dark with night: that calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the face of the earth: Yahveh is his name….


As God decrees in the heaven, His created “heaven and earth” has become wormwood; and the “star” has fallen, for the new “morning star” has arisen (and His Name is Jesus).  And all Israel has become an “Egypt”.  All Israel has become a “Babylon”. And as her idolatries and adulteries descend her into sheol, the land becomes bitter – wormwood – a term widely used by God through His prophets to warn Israel of her flaming descent from the heaven into the depths; and God will cause them to drink of the water of gall; and “the third” will die of her bitterness.

These are the plagues and pestilence that Yahveh has decreed upon Israel.  A third of everything is His heaven and earth are destroyed in this decree… a third of the land and the water; a third of the trees and herbage; a third of the cattle and creatures; a third of the sea and the fish in the sea; and a third of the people.

We don’t have time to finish the four decrees from the trumpeters that sound God’s voice in this chapter, but we’ll come back to it next Lord’s Day and finish the chapter.  But there are another two thirds to go – in chapter nine.