THE OPENING OF THE SEVENTH SEAL
Revelation (Chapter 8)
To show that God's wrath when poured out on the earth will be a horrible experience for earth's inhabitants.
POINT OF CONTACT
Review the opening of the first six seals. How do you think the people alive after the events of the sixth seal felt and reacted? Do you think they would be sorry they acted cowardly? Or are they still terrified? Nevertheless, the worst is yet to come!
After the parenthetical chapter seven which revealed the sealing of the 144,000 Jews, the opening of the seals is resumed. Only the seventh seal remains to be opened. The opening of this seal introduces the seven angels with their seven trumpets. The seven seals bring judgments which are the natural results of the activities of sinful man apart from God. The sixth seal brings the judgments of nature. The seven trumpets reveal that God is judging directly and supernaturally a rebellious race. The three series of sevens can be explained in the following manner:
(1) Seven seals --judgment which is the result of man's willful activity
(2) Seven trumpets -- judgment which is the direct activity of God
(3) Seven Vials (bowls) -- final judgment of the Great Tribulation which is the direct activity of God because of man and Satan's rebellion
There is a strange and strong similarity between the plagues of Egypt, in Moses' day, and the trumpet judgements. It is both reasonable and logical to conclude that if one is literal, the other is likewise literal. These are literal plagues of the Tribulation. Let us keep in mind that these trumpets do not follow the seals but are the seventh seal.
I. The Silence in Heaven (verse 1) -- For several chapters now we have been hearing choirs rejoice. Now they suddenly stop. It is the lull before the storm. Now the worst events that ever occurred on earth are about to take place. This may be compared to the silence before the foreman of a jury reports a verdict; for a moment there is perfect silence as everyone awaits that which will follow.
II. The Seven Angels (verse 2) -- The opening of the seven seals seems to PREPARE for final judgment; the blowing the trumpets seems to ANNOUNCE final judgment; the pouring of the vials IS final judgment.
In the midst of the silence John saw seven angels who have seven trumpets and are about to blow them. Trumpets were used in various phases of Israel's society. They were used to signal important events (Numbers 10:1-9, 19). Trumpets were blown for:
A. For a gathering for a feast -- One day a trumpet will gather us for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (at the Rapture). These trumpets will remind us in Heaven of this event yet future.
B. For a gathering for war (Numbers 10:9) -- These trumpets will result in a great war on earth. What will these trumpets mean to you? War or feast?
C. For the Anointing of a King -- So the sounding of these trumpets will mean that Jesus will soon be coming to earth.
III. Another Angel (verses 3-5)
From the fact that the angel has items given to him in order to make his worship possible, some have concluded that this is only an angel designated for this work in Heaven. From the nature of his work as a mediator, serving in the role of a priest, others have argued that it must be the Lord Jesus Christ because this would not be a proper function of an angel. The fact that Christ appeared in the Old Testament frequently as the Angel of Jehovah (a theophany) lends further support to this point of view (Genesis 16:7; Exodus 3:2; Numbers 222:22; Judges 2:1; I Kings 19:7; Psalms 34:7; Isaiah 37:66). Which of these two views is correct is uncertain, though the preponderance of opinion seems to favor regarding the angel as Christ in His work as High Priest.
The prayers of the saints are here mentioned. Saints have been praying for ages, "Thy kingdom come." In so doing they have been praying that Jesus would soon come and reign on the entire earth. These trumpets are the beginning of the answer to that prayer. Note: The prayers of the saints are being recorded, not on Decca or Columbia, but on God's machine. What about your prayer life?
The altar in the tabernacle and Temple was the place for the substitute to be offered before God, just as the cross was. The fire consumed the substitute, but since those upon the earth at the time are those who have failed to accept the substitute, the angel throws the fire to the earth. Note: Either man accepts the fire upon the substitute for him, or he must suffer the fire of hell himself.
Incense speaks of the perfections of Christ and reminds us that only if we have accepted Christ and pray in His name can we expect our prayers to be pleasing to, acceptable to, and answerable by God. Incense was only to be used for worship (Exodus 30:34-38; John 14:13).
The silence is ended with lightnings and thunders and earthquakes on the earth. The voices are probably those of earth's inhabitants over what happens on earth.
IV. The First Four Trumpets Sound (verses 7-13)
A. The First Trumpet (verse 7) -- The wrath of the Lamb has now begun to fall with little mercy. This trumpet brings hail and fire mingled with blood and burned up the third part of trees and all green grass. Some people spiritualize this, but this means trees and grass literally. Neither is the hail and fire and blood symbolic. It happened before in Egypt (Exodus 9:23,24)!
In verse six, please note the word, "prepared." It means "prepared by appointment." In other words, God has appointed these things to happen and they will happen. God's train runs according to His schedule.
B. The Second Trumpet (verses 8 and 9) -- A Great Mountain --Notice it says, "as it were." In other words, it was something like a mountain that came out of the sky, cast into the sea.
C. The Third Trumpet (verses 10 and 11) -- First plant life was affected, then the sea was affected. Now fresh water is polluted.
The star is literal and it pollutes and makes bitter the water supply so that many people die. Why will God do this? Perhaps because they gave Jesus bitter gall to drink on Calvary. The world has always been bitter toward Jesus. Whatsoever men sow that shall they reap (Galatians 6:7,8).
D. The Fourth Trumpet (verses 12 and 13) -- Now the sun, moon, and stars are one-third blotted out and one-third of the day was in darkness. Everything is chaotic on earth and we can imagine the horror in the hearts of people wondering what will happen next. This is God's great blackout.
The eagle speaks and announces to earth's inhabitants that the worst is yet to come.
Fearful times are coming on the earth. Are you sure you will escape this period? If you are in Christ, you are safe. If not, today, you should accept Him.
1. Out of which seal do the trumpets come?
2. How many trumpets are there?
3. The Seven Seals seem to ______________for final judgment.
4. The Seven Trumpets seem to ___________final judgment.
5. The Seven Vials ____________________ the final judgment.
6. Are the plagues of the Seven Trumpets literal?
7. What were three occasions in Israel's society for trumpet blowing?
8. Why is it important that we be saved when we pray?
9. Why is it important that we pray "in Jesus name?"
10. What ends the one-half hour silence in Heaven?
11. What is affected on earth by the sound of the first trumpet?
12. What is affected on earth by the sounding of the second trumpet?
13. What is affected on earth by the sounding of the third trumpet?
14. What is affected on earth by the sounding of the fourth trumpet?
15. Who will announce the sounding of the last three trumpets?