Week - 14 The Ravaging of Mother Nature Revelation 8
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Authored by Jerry Marshall
There are many people today who are very concerned about saving the earth’s environment. Former Vice President Al Gore wrote a book titled “Earth in the Balance,” in which he expresses his great concern for the ecology of our world with some premises that many of the scientific community find questionable. Our current president, by the use of his pen, just put approximately eleven thousand people out of work ostensibly to protect our country’s environment (although tests have proven that the XL pipeline has no environmental impact).
The question is whether climate change is caused by man or by the natural climate changes that have varied throughout the history of our planet.
There are fears about the depletion of the ozone layers, rampant pollution, the destruction of the rain forest and global warming. In addition, others are passionately concerned about endangered species like the spotted owl, certain kinds of whales and polar bears.
But there is coming a day when this world will experience the worst kind of ecological environmental disaster ever, and it will not be at the hands of a careless chemical company who dumps toxic waste materials into our fresh water supplies. Nor will this disaster be the product of the world’s worst oil spill, or the excessive use of SUV’s
“Mother Nature” will not be ravaged by any creature. However, the ecology of this planet will suffer greatly at the hands of the One who created it.
In the eighth chapter of the book of Revelation, we note the first of four trumpet judgments unleashed upon this earth and those who are its inhabitants as God expresses His wrath upon this sin sick and fallen world.
There are four major scenes recorded in John’s vision in chapter eight.
I. The Opening of the Seventh Seal (Revelation 8:1-2)
Perhaps you might recall that way back in the fifth chapter of this book, John saw from the perspective of heaven itself, a seven sealed scroll, with writing on the inside and on the outside in the hand of God the Father as He sat upon His throne. Later in the fifth chapter, this seven sealed scroll was handed to the only One who was worthy to open it and to reveal its content, and that is the worthy Lamb, our exclusive Redeemer who has redeemed us by His blood. Within the content of this sealed scroll is the revelation of God’s final judgment upon this sin sick and fallen world.
The first four seals that are opened by the worthy Lamb unleash the spirit of conquest, conflict, famine and death (Revelation 6:1-8). When the Lord breaks the fifth seal, John beholds those who have been martyred during this time of worldwide Tribulation because of their faithfulness to the Word of God and the Testimony which they held.
They are seen under the Altar in heaven pleading with God to avenge their deaths. They are told to wait for just a little while longer for their brothers yet living, who would be martyred and who would join them in heaven. After that number had been completed, God would unleash His vengeance full strength (Revelation 6:9-11).
By the time we come to the sixth seal, the inhabitants of the world are forced to acknowledge that the terrible calamities and atmospheric catastrophes they were experiencing, are an expression of the righteous wrath of the One who sits enthroned and The Lamb who was slain (Revelation 6:12-17).
Up to this point, heaven must seem a rather noisy place to the Apostle John.
- Emanating from the Throne of the heavenly Father are rumblings and peals of thunder. (4:5)
- The four living creatures, who are sort a of heavenly worship team, proclaim day and night “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. (4:8)
- In Revelation 4:11, you have the twenty-four Elders song of praise being sung in the heavenly court.
- In 5:2, John heard a strong Angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?”
- In response to the worthy Lamb taking the seven sealed scroll, the heavenly court, each having a harp sang a new song (5:9-10).
- This is followed by thousands upon thousands of angels singing loudly (5:12). Then finally, all of creation joins in worshipping the worthy Lamb (5:13).
- In the seventh chapter, John beheld the great multitude of redeemed people in heaven who were singing in a loud voice that salvation comes from God alone (Revelation 7:9-13).
- When the first seal was broken by the Lamb, John heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, Come! (6:1)
But now, recorded for us in the eighth chapter, is the breaking of the seventh and final seal, With the snapping of this final seal, all of heaven goes eerily silent. For this cacophony of worship and proclamation is suddenly hushed. What is revealed at the breaking of this seventh seal causes a great hush to fall over the worshipping host of heaven, a silence that is thirty minutes long.
No doubt this dramatic pause is prompted by the severity of the devastation that is revealed in this final seal and is about to come upon the whole world when God unleashes the seven trumpet judgments, followed by the seven bowl judgments. This silence indicates that something awesome and ominous is about to take place.
“Heaven, which had resounded with loud praises from the vast crowd of redeemed people and angels, became deathly still. The hour of God’s final judgment had come- the hour when the saints will be vindicated, sin punished, Satan vanquished, and Christ exalted. The greatest event since the fall is about to take place and all heaven is seen waiting in suspenseful expectancy.” Dr. John MacArthur
Then suddenly, taking center stage are seven Angels.
A. Seven Angels (2a)
Some scholars have referred to these Angelic beings as; “The presence angels” because they stand near the Throne of God, in the presence of God, waiting for His beckoned call
in order to carry out His directives. As John watched, He sees that these seven angels are given seven trumpets.
B. Seven Trumpets (2b)
The trumpet seems to be one of the most significant instruments found in Scripture. Its prominence is seen in that it was used in the Old Testament to summon the congregation of Israel in the wilderness. It was sounded as an alarm in time of war. It was frequently sounded in worship. In the New Testament, the trumpet call of God will announce the rapture of the church (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
We will learn that each of these trumpets will unleash a dimension of God’s judgment on the earth and its inhabitants, which is of greater intensity then that of the first six seals.
The trumpets are of greater intensity than the seals, but not as destructive as the final bowl judgments will be (cf. 16:1–21). They occur during the final 3½ years, but the time of each is indefinite, except the effects of the fifth trumpet judgment, which will last 5 months (9:10)..
The four trumpet judgments that we will examine today will greatly damage and destroy the earth’s ecology. The next two announce the coming of demonic destruction upon humanity (8:13, 9:1-11, 13-19). And the final trumpet, the seventh, introduces the final outpouring of God’s wrath coming from seven bowls filled with God’s final judgment upon sin, Satan, and those who inhabit this earth.
But before these seven angels sound the seven trumpets, John has a vision of another angel.
II. The Angel and the Golden Censer (Revelation 8:3-5)
A. Who He is (3a)
This angel is described as “another angel” in order to distinguish him from the other seven.
1MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Word Pub., 1997, c1997, S. Re 8:2
B. What He had (3b)
A censer is a bowl or fire pan which was designed for holding live coals and incense. Censers were used in the temple and they picture the raising prayers of the saints to God like the smoke that rises from the burning coals and the incense in the censer. They are symbolic of the ascending prayers of the people of God.
C. Where He Stood (3c)
This is the same altar that John saw first when the fifth seal was broken, under it, he had seen the souls of the martyrs, and from it, their prayers were rising (6:9-10).
D. What He Received (3d-4)
3. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. (NIV)
The grammar used in the original language in verse three suggests two possible ways to translate this passage. One way is the way the NIV has it, which implies that the prayers of the saints were added to the incense. The other option is that the angel was given much incense to offer which is the prayers of the saints, thus making the incense equal to the prayers of the saints.
Although John does not specify the content of these prayers, it is safe to assume that these are the prayers of the martyred saints who were seen earlier by John when the fifth seal was opened (Revelation 6:9-10). John beheld them under the Altar in heaven calling out to God in a loud voice; “How long sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Revelation 6:10)
Their prayers now rise into the very presence of God and they will be answered shortly. The expression of God’s wrath manifested in the trumpet judgments as well as the bowl judgments, are in part an answer to the prayers of these martyred saints.
E. What He Did (5)
The half hour of silence in heaven is suddenly shattered as the angel takes the censer, fills it with fire from the altar in heaven and hurls it to the earth as a preamble to the trumpet judgments to come. A divine firestorm bursts on planet earth accompanied by thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
III. The Sounding of the Trumpets (Revelation 8:6-12)
A. The First Trumpet (6-7)
(v.6) The first trumpet is sounded by the angel and the start of the ravaging of Mother Nature is now underway. (Keep in mind, that during this period of Great Tribulation, the world has already experienced the seal judgments).
(V. 7) Showering down from the heavens is this catastrophic mixture of hail, fire and blood. I don’t think we need to concern ourselves with the scientific explanations of the kind of mechanism that would need to come to together for this to happen.
Remember, we have a sovereign Creator God who spoke the entire world into existence out of nothing. Certainly, such a poisonous ecological mixture is of no challenge to Him. It should be mentioned that this first trumpet judgment is reminiscent of the seventh plague inflicted upon Egypt in response to Pharaoh's unwillingness to let the nation of Israel leave Egypt under the leadership of Moses.
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.
The result of this first trumpet judgment is devastating.
A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. (NIV)
The fractional measurement is used some fourteen times in this chapter to indicate that the results of the trumpet judgments are substantial but yet limited; severe yet not complete, catastrophic but not final.
One commentator said of the results of the first trumpet judgment....
...would be widespread and devastating, including destruction of crops, death of animals on a massive scale, loss of wood for construction, and the destruction of watersheds...earth day that year will be a gloomy and dismal affair; in a scorched and ravaged world there will be little of the environment left to celebrate.
Unlike former Vice President Gore’s book, Earth in the Balance, the title of that time might be Earth in the Cross Hairs of a Holy God.
B. The Second Trumpet (8-9)
(v. 8) The first judgment fell upon the land - this next judgment falls upon the sea, the creatures that live in the sea and the ships that sail the sea. This huge mountain, all ablaze is probably a giant meteorite or asteroid, falling fast toward earth surrounded by flaming gases set ablaze by the friction of the earth’s atmosphere, on a collision course with the earth.
The inhabitants of the earth will no doubt see it coming from a distance through the world’s telescopes, or even reported on television.
This flaming mountain will hit somewhere in the world’s oceans. And because these great bodies of water are connected, the devastation will spread across one-third of the ocean’s waters turning them blood red, which is like the first Egyptian plague. As a result of that plague, the rivers were turned to blood, killing the fish and making the water undrinkable.
(v.8) The catastrophe of this falling meteorite or asteroid will be like nothing else the world has ever witnessed. Not only is the water turned blood red, but all of the creatures in those contaminated waters will die.
And no doubt, the impact of this mountain like burning object will cause tsunamis (tidal waves), destroying the ships in that ocean, capsizing huge ocean-going vessels and completely swamping ports. This will have not only result in a devastating ecological impact, but it will also disrupt the commerce related to shipping, causing economic chaos.
But the impact upon the world’s water does not stop with this second judgment.
C. The Third Trumpet (10-11)
(v.10) With the sounding of the third trumpet we have another falling meteor which is given the name, wormwood. This name in both the Old Testament and New Testament, always is associated with bitterness, poison and death.
(v.11) The result of this expression of God’s wrath is that one third of the earth’s bodies of fresh waters (rivers and springs of water), are made embittered and unfit to drink. Unfortunately, many people will drink from these now poisoned bodies of water and they will die.
D. The Fourth Trumpet (12)
Heavens luminaries are now impacted by the sound of this fourth trumpet judgment. Adding to the damage done to the earth’s ecosystems, we now have a partial eclipse of all the heavenly bodies - the sun, the moon and the stars. In effect, God has turned the dimmer switch on and in doing so the earth’s temperature will be affected (the ultimate climate change). Its weather patterns will be impacted leading to unpredictable storms and tides.
This will lead to further crop damage, the loss of animals and no doubt, the further loss of human life. God is essentially dismantling nature-land, sea, and the sky in order to bring the inhabitants of the earth to the place of repentance.
Without a third of the sun, a third of the day was lacking normal light and a third of the night was without light from the moon and the stars. Again, the best interpretation is literal; just as the first three trumpets dealt with a third of the earth so the fourth trumpet dealt with a third of the heavens.
“The dimming of the celestial lights sets the stage for a startling and ominous announcement.” John MacArthur
IV. The Warning of an Eagle (Revelation 8:13)
2Walvoord, John F.; Zuck, Roy B.; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 2:952
A. The Content of the Warning (13a)
The word, woe is used frequently in Scriptures as an expression of judgment, destruction and condemnation coming soon. Normally, when something is repeated three times it is for the sake of emphasis (i.e., “Holy, Holy, Holy”). But here, each woe serves to introduce each of the remaining last three trumpet judgments to come.
The "inhabitants of the earth" distinguishes the Christ rejecters of the world from the true, faithful followers of the Lamb. Their outlook is utterly worldly. They are at home on the earth and they are not true believers. The three remaining judgments are also known as three woes because of their dire effect on men.
B. The Cause of the Warning (13b)
Because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!” (NIV)
Although the first 4 trumpets are unimaginable, they will be nothing like the 3 to come (9:1–21; 11:15ff.).
1. Unless the Lord draws people unto Himself, even the terror and devastation of God’s wrath poured out in this world will not prompt the lost to repent and believe in the Gospel Message (Revelation 9:20-21).
2. Mankind has a propensity to deify what God will ultimately destroy
3. The holiness of God will not be offended and mocked forever by sinful humanity. The patience of God with the lost and wicked is running out. His word is fixed. His judgment is certain, and the only home of humanity is about to be ravaged.
3MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Word Pub., 1997, c1997, S. Re 8:13