The martyred souls asked “how long?” In chapters 8-11, we get a response to prayer. It is again judgment, and this time we find seven trumpets bringing wrath, but also a little scroll and two witnesses. This four chapter section reveals a message of wrath upon the unrepentant.
A. You have probably experienced it. It can be an eerie feeling. You can see from the sky that a storm is coming. You have heard from the weather report that it could be big. You look and everything is quiet and calm. It doesn’t last long and then the thunder roars, the rain pours and the storm descends in power.
B. After the opening of the sixth seal, we find a message to the saved on earth and the glory of those saved in heaven. Then the Lamb opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven. (READ Rev. 8:1) It was not silent for long, but something dramatic is about to happen.
C. Now understand, we have seen a lot of drama with the six seals, but what is about to happen next appears to have even greater power at work.
I. Prayer At Work
A. READ Rev. 8:2-5. Last week read heard the voices of the martyred from under the throne crying out for justice, but their voices are coupled with the prayers of all the saints. The imagery of the incense takes us right back to the early days of the tabernacle and the aroma that went up before God from the altar.
B. Another angel, unstated as to who he is, takes the incense and the prayers that rise up before God and is given the authority to take fire from the alter and with that mixture throw on the earth. It is a statement of victory and judgement. The sound is clear that God is in control and then the seven angles lift the trumpets and prepare top blow them.
C. Here is my point, you want to know if prayer is important? Let me assure you that John sees prayer as part of the process that brings the judgement of God about. God does hear the pray of the hurting suffering saints. God is not blind as the persecution of His children. Jesus makes that clear in his story (READ Luke 18:6-8).
II. The First Four Blasts of the Trumpets
A. People say it every time there is a great natural disaster. God is punishing people. We sinners are reaping the wrath of God. While I cannot say that every natural disaster is simply because we live in a fallen world and our very planet cries out to God, I also do not believe that every natural disaster is a statement by God upon the victims.
B. As we come to the first four blasts of the trumpets we see without a doubt that God does use natural disasters. The FIRST destroys a third of the vegetation. The SECOND a third of the sea animals. The THIRD causes a third of the water to become undrinkable. And the FOURTH brings about third of the heavenly bodies to stop shinning.
C. While none of this is to be taken literal, the picture is that mankind’s sin affects the very planet on which we live. It is a picture of God’s warning judgment upon sinful men. Life was going to get more difficult because of sin. Interestingly, one of the reason for the fall of the Roman Empire was natural disasters it encountered. But this is really a time that allowed for repentance. It was not the end, but the world was experiencing God’s power at work.
III. The “Woes” of the Trumpets
A. READ Rev. 8:13. Three more trumpets are about to sound. If the natural disasters were not enough to bring people to God, then “woes” will show God’s might in a more direct way.
B. The fifth trumpet sounds and we get a scene that brings fear to those who are not sealed by God. Listen to Rev. 9:3-6. Don’t get so caught up in the details of the image that you forget the meaning. It is clear that evil people will suffer affliction and desire to die. Again, history tells us that some of the Roman leaders were so corrupt that the empire suffered, and it was led by the evil of Apollyon. God’s people were protected because they did not participate in the evil desires of the Roman leaders. There is a sense that protection has come to God’s elect. The church would not be destroyed even though many have died for their faith.
C. The sixth trumpet brings forth a power from God that sought out a third of the evil people on the earth to die, but still there were many who did not repent of their sins.
IV. The Little Scroll and the Two Witnesses
A. Like what we saw in chapter 7, we see in chapters 10 and 11; a break between the sixth and the seventh for a story that needs to be told. When John is about to tell us what he heard this angle say in a thunderous voice, he was told not to write it down, but that it will take place just as was told to the prophets. But then, with idea of the prophets we get a story that reminds us of Ezekiel.
B. John sees a little scroll, not The Scroll, but a little scroll. He is told to eat it, just like Ezekiel was told. In the days of Ezekiel, he uttered lamentations after eating the scroll. (READ Rev. 10:10-11). What was it that he prophesied? Many debate if was what we read in chapter 11 or what we read in chapter 12 or something else entirely. What we know is that John had a message and it doesn’t sound like is one of joy and happiness for evil men.
C. John is then told to measure temple, the altar and the worshippers. It is a sign of protection of God’s chosen ones. It is a preservation of that which is holy and true. The unmeasured is given over to sin and destruction. While persecution would come upon the saints, they would not be destroyed. The two witnesses told of the harm that Christians would suffer and how evil ones would seek to kill. Then we hear (Rev. 11:11-13).
A. As we saw with the 144,000, we see again that even though trails and persecution come, God reigns supreme. With prayers of all the saints, God acts to show his love for his own and his power upon the unrighteous. There really is only one question, in what camp are you? Are you among the saved that may suffer here but have glory there, or are you among the lost who may think you are in control only to find yourself doomed for eternity? To whom are you loyal?
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister