Sometimes we can be really dense. We are warned time and again, but somehow we think we know better. In mid-July the snow on Mount Rainier was deep. The sun was shining, and the air was pleasantly warm. What a perfect day for skiing and hiking! You could play in the snow in summer clothes. “Watch out for sunburn!” the ranger warned. “Put plenty of lotion on your face, and keep your arms and legs covered.” “Who ever heard of sunburn in snow country?” Nancy thought to herself. Ignoring all warning, she set with friends, wearing a short play suit. Many hours later her friends brought her back, so badly sunburned they had to take her to a hospital. Her whole vacation was ruined. The ranger had warned her, but she thought she knew better.
What a terrible mistake we make when we ignore God’s warnings! That is what the seven trumpets are, warnings from God that sound throughout history. These trumpets are not to be taken chronologically, as one happening one after another, but as God constantly warning us throughout history.If we do not take seriously his warnings, then they turn to judgement. Johnny, don’t pull the cat’s tail or you will get bit, if Johnny does not listen to and heed the warning, he gets bit. Don’t speed or you will get a ticket, if you do not heed the warning, it turns to a judgement.The seven trumpets are God’s gracious warning to the world throughout history, of what will happen if we do not listen. John is not interested in giving us a time table and neither is God, however, both are interested in revealing God’s vision, God’s plan, what God is doingBack of it all is the call to repentance. Here in the terrible warnings, in the awesome judgements, comes the call, if you do not repent, see how bad it will be. The 7 trumpets sound not judgement, but warning, the first four are on the earth, and the last three are on man himself.
Trumpet one: Revelation 8:7– The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon 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.
One third of the vegetation of earth is destroyed, notice, it is just ⅓ of the vegetation, not all. The burning of vegetation, think of great forest fires started by a match, the burning of the rain forest. Every time you see a great forest fire, this is a warning from God and left uncontrolled, this can become a judgement.
Trumpet two: Revelation 8:8-9 – 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.
A burning mass falls into the sea, an awesome picture, ⅓ of the sea creatures die, shipping is disrupted, ocean turns into blood. A great problem we face is something called acid rain, that has devastating effects on the oceans and the fish. When you hear the stories on TV, this is a warning from a gracious God.
Trumpet three: Revelation 8:10-11 – 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—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. (See Jeremiah 23:15)
The drinking water is effected, what we think of as safe is effected by God’s warning. How common is the pollution of water sources, how many people around the world drink contaminated water? How safe do you think your water is? Remember this is a warning from God.
Trumpet four: Revelation 8:12 – 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.
God even uses the lights that light the day and night are effected. What we think of as eternal is swept from the sky or darkened. The sun loses ⅓ of its power, think of pollution that chokes out cities and makes them dark. This is a warning from God that can turn to judgement.The forces of nature have fallen under the judgement as a warning to man. Be warned unless the judgement of the last 3 trumpets fall on you. And the eagle cries, Woe, Woe, Woe!
What these mean is that no part of creation is beyond God’s power, He made it, He can and does use it for His purposes. The judgements are not total, notice, it is only ⅓ of creation. Events of our age are part of the warning, for the trumpets are to warn.Jesus Christ has not returned, so this is still the age of grace, God is still calling people to come. The Lamb makes it possible for all sorts of people to come.Do you want to be safe from the judgement then come? The trumpets are designed to drive man to his knees before the Lamb, before it is too late. See how bad this is, it is even worse if you do not repent, for the wrath of the Lamb is unbelievable, come now says God, before it is too late. Here is the answer to prayer, a warning to repent, a time to repent. (See Matthew 3:10)
God moves heaven and earth to wake people to His call. He is willing to let ⅓ of creation be destroyed so that 1 person will hear His call. He wants and yearns for His people so desperately that nothing will stop him from claiming them, even to bringing such severe judgements, even to dying on a cross.
Throughout the book of Revelation we see that God is a god of grace. He continually warns and plead with people, constantly gives people more time. His arms are open wide to receive and He is holding back His judgement with divine patience for the last person to get the message. He uses all sorts of things to warn, threaten, plead, for He wants his desire fulfilled. In warning God lets ⅓ of nature be destroyed, but those first 4 do not work.
The Fifth Trumpet: Revelation 9:1 – The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.
We see a star fallen from heaven, what is this star? (See Isaiah 14:12-15) This is a reference to satan being cast out of heaven. He is given the key to the abyss, and he opens it, smoke comes out, the demons fly out to plague people. The abyss — the living place of the anti-christ, the dwelling place of the host of demons, who all come forth to plague mankind. In dramatic imagery, John pictures the demonic, the evil that constantly plagues mankind. The picture is that of a cloud of locusts.
Ray Stedman tells this story: One summer when I was a boy in the state of Minnesota, we were visited with a great plague of locusts. They came in a cloud that actually darkened the sky. I remember hearing them descend onto the standing fields of grain, and it was like listening to a hail storm. As they munched away at the vegetation, the noise was like a rushing river. They destroyed everything in their path, leaving the farmers with no crops at all that year.
The locusts that John sees travel in columns like an army, and they strip the land bare. They have scorpion tails that sting, a sting that is painful but not deadly, but an intense pain that lasts for a long time. These are the hosts of demons that are under the control of satan, who constantly inflict man with pain, the evil done is intense, such that people beg to die.
There are a number of things to note here, that are a comfort. satan is given the key, he does not own it. At the beginning of Revelation we are told: (Revelation 1:18) I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
All the powers of the demonic, of evil, of sin, are overcome by the Lamb in his victory and He controls what they are allowed to do. He does not end it, it is not time, it is still the day of grace.
These powers are frightening, we see and feel the presence of the demons that rise out of the pit to influence and plague mankind. However, Jesus Christ is in control and we are told that the sealed of God are not to be touched. The demons want to dwell in man, to become a part of them, to possess them, but that cannot happen to the sealed of God, for they are possessed by God. They can be influenced by satan, but cannot be possessed. John tells us that it is only 5 months, a short time in which they have to work, and this torment and torture cannot lead to death, it is this which gives hope. For those who do not know Jesus Christ can still be brought to life.
The Sixth Trumpet: Revelation 9:13-14 – The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God. It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
Here is one of those strange sights from the book of Revelation. Reading a little father, we have a picture of horses breathing fire and brimstone with snakes for their tails. Again this is a picture of hordes of demons, with powers to plague mankind. People will not listen so God repeats and makes it stronger. It is like with your children and discipline, when speaking doesn’t work, you spank. Again, it is controlled, because the purpose is not to destroy, but to warn, to turn people to God, to make us realize that sin is serious, God hates it and God uses everything He can to turn hearts to Him. Does it work, NO! (See Revelation 9:20-21)
James Dobson tells the story of a father who was at a high school basketball game. He had his little girl with him and she insisted on trying to go out on the court. He warned her and finally had to paddle her. This seemed to work, until he turned his back to talk to the coach. She stuck her foot over the line and stuck her tongue out at her father.
Once the heart is turned in hostility to God, even such a warning does not seem to work, even with such intensity as this, nothing seems to happen.
I want to spend just a little time on the little scroll and the two witnesses. The little scroll is a picture of the Word of God. The word of God is sweet, until the consequences of it are seen and felt. The two witnesses portray those who prophecy, who tell the word, who show the effects of that word. They are the ones who testify before Christ returns, a picture of us. Their ministry is for a time and then the beast rises out of the pit and overcomes them for a short time. Then they are brought back to life, even though satan tries to put down the witness of God’s people, he can never do it permanently, God always brings it to life again.
The Seventh Trumpet: Revelation 11:15 – The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (See Revelation 10:7)
When the seventh trumpet is sounded, God’s mystery will be accomplished. What are we expecting as the trumpet sounds? The trumpet sounds and surprise, surprise, another scene of praise and worship, loud voices of praise and worship, the kingdom has come, the mystery of God is accomplishedAnd the mystery is — the Kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of God. What God purposed in creation and made possible in the blood of the Lamb comes to be and is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is a reality. Not a picture of woe, but a picture of fulfillment as the drama moves to its climax. Do you hear the announcement, IT IS DONE.Surprise, no judgement, for something more important must be told, the result of the end is that victory is won, victory is fulfilled. And because of that, worship again rings forth. We see the 24 elders — who represent God’s people — singing a new song to him who is and was. The picture for God’s people that comes from the seventh trumpet is that God is here, he has taken his seat in power. Although the wrath of the Lamb will be poured out, the decisive point in history has been reached and passed. The time of the cross and the judgement on God’s people has been carried out, the mystery is revealed, the Kingdom of God has come.
What we are left with? Are you part of those sealed, who cannot be touched? This is a comforting message if there ever was one, for sealed, nothing can snatch you out of the Father’s hand. Even if 1/3 of creation is destroyed, even if satan himself tries to overcome you, God will not allow you to be destroyed. Food, clothing, freedom to worship, even life can be taken away, but God will not allow you to be destroyed.
Warnings can frighten us, for they are intended to, Warning sober us, warning correct us, they force us to face unpleasant facts about ourselves. Warnings strip away our illusions and restore us to reality. Warnings humble us, we see that we are really not in control, we do not run everything about our lives. Warnings reassure us, they comfort us, we learn that God does not like judgment either, He calls it his “strange work.” He keeps it as brief as possible and gives ample warnings before it gets unbearable, for the Bible portrays God as a loving God, “slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.”
Revelation Series: GOD’S GRACIOUS WARNINGS