Sunday Worship Service
Divine Warnings and Demonic Woes
Proposition: The function of Divine judgement is to lead us to repentance by teaching us the gravity of sin and the holiness of God.
Application: Pursue repentance from sin and faith in Christ Jesus to enjoy God’s amazing grace. Grab hold of the great privilege to pray for God’s justice to prevail in our nation.
Every year in late April or Early May, Israelis observe Yom HaShoah, a day to remember the millions of holocaust victims. At 10 AM everyone halts what they are doing, for 2 minutes. Even motorists stop their cars in the middle of the road to stand in silent reflection.
The silence in heaven has a similar effect but it is directed toward a future judgment rather than a tragedy of the past.
Proposition: God’s judgement leads us to repentance by teaching us the gravity of sin and the holiness of God.
1. Divine Warnings (8:1 – 12)
Silence (8:1): With the breaking of the last seal the entire scroll is now open to view. The seventh seal lets loose a series of trumpet judgments. One would expect chaos to be unleashed on earth instead what we find is the loud chorus of praise is silenced. For 30 minutes there is an eerie hush that moves across heaven. It is the calm before the storm. A holy quiet of dreadful suspense as the hosts of heaven prepare for what is about to take place.
Read Zeph 1:7a
Transition: While the seals are opened by the Sacrificed Lamb the trumpets are sounded by seven angels.
Seven Angels Standing before the Lord (8:2): Standing before God speaks of readiness to serve the Lord. The role of this distinct group of angels, known as arch angels, or angels of God’s presence, will be to announce a series of judgments about to fall upon the earth and its people.
In Scripture trumpet blasts are always followed by a major event such as calling Israel to assemble for worship or to warn Israel of looming danger or prepare them for warfare.
Read 1 Cor 14:8
In this passage the trumpet blasts are a warning that the Day of the Lord has come.
Read Zeph 1:14 – 16a
Transition: After the angels of God’s presence are introduced another angel distinct from the seven appears on the scene.
Smoke a Symbol for Prayer (8:3, 4): An altar is a meeting place between God and His people. When we come to the Lord in prayer through the Person of Christ Jesus, we are meeting God at His altar in heaven.
The prayers of God’s people are symbolically combined with incense.
Read Ps 141.2
In ancient Israel incense had a vital role in temple worship. It symbolized prayer offered by the priests.
Read Luke 1:8 – 10
When the people of Israel stood in the temple courts and saw the rising smoke from the incense offered on the golden altar in the holy place, they would bow down before the Lord spread out their hands and pray. In this way the people added prayers to the burning incense rising from the golden altar. The smoke drifting heavenward was a symbol that their prayers were rising to the throne of God.
In John’s vision, the angel mixed incense with the prayers of the saints. The incense was not the prayers. It only symbolized prayer. It was a sign that the prayers of the saints have reached the throne of God.
Transition: God answers prayer! Our prayers go up to God in heaven and His answers come down to us on earth.
Seeking Justice in Our Prayers (8:5, 6): Throwing the censer down to earth, suggests God answered the prayers of His people. Prayers for justice are heard and are answered by God.
Read Rev 6:9, 10; Deut 32:43
Prayers for vindication are not ignored by God. Our prayers play a crucial role in bringing God’s justice to bear on planet earth. But it is God’s business to decide the time and nature of the answer.
When dealing with sinners, mercy is God’s “first” choice. But in due course His mercy reaches a limit. His mercy defers judgement longer than any human could ever do. No person can match the patience of God.
We may be a recipient of God’s mercy and yet show no regard for His righteousness nor any desire to repent of sin.
When the Lord withholds judgement, we may think God is ok with our sinful actions. But when the Lord carries out His judgements, it is then we are compelled to repent.
Read Isa 26:9b, 10
It is the function of divine judgement to teach us the gravity of sin and the holiness of God. When confronted with God’s judgements some will pursue repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus, others will persist in their rebellion against God and in their hostility toward God’s people.
Sending Judgement: The entire planet is impacted by the trumpet blasts. With each trumpet sound the ruin becomes more pronounced. The ruin is beyond anything known in John’s day which is why there is so much symbolism. Notice the repeated phrase it is like. John could not have imagined such catastrophes unless he had seen them by divine vision.
Like the seven seals, the seven trumpets are clustered into two groups. The first four trumpets, which I call divine warnings, directly affect the natural world – the land, the sea, fresh water, and the atmosphere but only indirectly affect people. We could call these trumpet sounds 1/3 judgements as they impact 1/3 of the planet. The last three trumpets, which I call demonic woes, affect humans directly.
Keep in mind the purpose of the trumpets blasts is to lead people to repentance. Let’s now explore the seven trumpet blasts.
1. Sounding First Trumpet (8:7): The sound of the trumpet presents a grim picture of
the ruin on plant life. Like a sledgehammer hail smashes plants to bits. The result causes a huge upset to the balance of earth’s ecology. Massive ruin of vegetation will lead to food shortages. In His mercy, the Lord only allows 1/3 of plant life to be destroyed.
The blood referred to in this devastation speaks to the colour of the sky not the fluid in our veins.
Read Joel 2:30, 31
The colour of the sky as blood may be an omen of the coming blood shed on earth.
Notice the phrase all the green grass was burned up. The important term is green. Not all grass on earth is green at the same time. There may be green grass in Florida right now but not in Canada. Only green grass is burned up.
Transition: The first trumpet affected the land such that a 1/3 of it was destroyed. The second trumpet affects 1/3 of the sea.
2. Sounding Second Trumpet (8:8, 9): Notice John does not say, a great mountain
burning as in a volcano, he says something like a great mountain burning. Whatever the mountain is it does not fall into the sea, it is cast into the sea – as though coming from the heavens with a force greater than gravity. This great mountain will be blazing and so huge that 1/3 of the sea turns blood red in colour. Just as the sky turned red as blood so the sea also turns red as blood.
The sea does not turn into actual blood with cells and hemoglobin rather the colour of the sea is changed from blue to blood red.
Read 2 Kings 3:22
This great mountain coming from above will cause the death of a 1/3 of marine life. Ships will break apart due to the massive turbulence of ocean waters. You think we have supply chain issues now, picture what it will be like when 1/3 of the cargo ships are destroyed by turbulent waters.
Throughout the Book of Revelation, it seems as though John struggles to find first century words to describe 21st century events. Therefore, he uses symbols that he is familiar with to describe what he has never observed in his life.
For instance, how might John describe an F-18 flying across the sky? He might say something like a large bird rushing through the sky with the sound of thunder and from its wings were torches flashing its light and smoke was coming out of its tail.
Transition: The first trumpet affects land, the second affects the sea, the third affects fresh waters.
3. Sounding Third Trumpet (8:10, 11): This trumpet blast makes drinkable water
undrinkable. To describe the degree of bitterness John compares it to a common plant in Israel called wormwood. Wormwood is a tree that yields bitter herbs. The plant contains a chemical called Thujone. In large doses thujone can cause seizures and death. In Scripture wormwood is a metaphor for bitterness.
For the first time we hear about loss of life. People likely died not from the bitterness but from thirst because they were not able to find drinkable water.
Read Ex 15:23, 24; Jer 9:15
Transition: Land, sea and fresh water will be affected by the first three trumpet blasts. With the fourth trumpet blast the atmosphere is impacted.
4. Sounding Fourth Trumpet (8:12): Dimming of the heavens is a sign of God’s judgement. At the crucifixion of Jesus, a strange darkening occurred.
Read Matt 27:45
With the fourth trumpet light from celestial bodies will be dimmed by 1/3. The smoke, dust and debris hurled into the air from all the carnage will obscure the rays of the sun, moon and stars blocking visible light and dropping ambient temperatures.
Illustration: An all-out nuclear war could cause freezing summers and famine across the globe. The formal term is called nuclear winter. When a nuclear bomb explodes, one-third of its energy goes into an immediate explosion of heat and light.
An aftershock follows, creating piles of kindling ready to catch fire. As fires rage, smoke billows into the atmosphere where it could linger above the clouds, blotting out sunlight causing winter storms and a decline in crop growth.
Transition: As dreadful as the first four trumpet judgments will be, the last three are still worse hence the added words woe, woe, woe. The first four trumpet judgments were unleashed from above, the last three will be unleashed from below. The first four are divine warnings the last three are demonic woes. The first four affected people indirectly the last three with affect people directly.
1. Demonic Woes (8:13)
Specifically on Society (8:13): If God could make a donkey talk, He can make an eagle shriek woe, woe, woe. An eagle is a swift bird of prey swooping down to consume its victim. This eagle is making known the massive human carnage that is about to come upon those who persist in their rebellion against God and in their hostility toward His people.
Read Matt 24:28
Woe is a term of grief and a decree of doom that will fall on the earth dwellers. Who are the earth dwellers? They are the opposite to Christ followers. Earth dwellers are those who persist in their rebellion no matter how plainly God’s presence and purposes are presented.
Rather than looking to the Lord Jesus for deliverance they give allegiance to the anti-christ as the one who will deliver them. Sadly, some people never respond to the grace of God even after they are sufficiently warned by God and confronted with His judgement.
The function of divine judgement is to lead us to repentance by teaching us the gravity of sin and the holiness of God. The function of divine grace is to reconcile us to God through faith in Christ Jesus. We have a choice to make. Either we persist in our rebellion against God and incur His judgement or we pursue repentance from sin and faith in Christ Jesus so that we may know God’s amazing grace.
When we come to the Lord in prayer through the Person of Christ Jesus, He hears our prayers. Our prayers play a vital role in bringing God’s justice to bear in our nation. Let us grab hold of this great privilege. Let us pray for God’s justice to prevail in our nation knowing that it is His right to decide the time and the nature of His answer.
You can download the sermon notes here.
Divine Warnings and Demonic Woes
Salvation Belongs to God
The Sixth Seal and the Sealed Saints
Revelation 6:12 - 7:8
Hoof Beats On The Horizon
A Glimpse of Glory
A Glimpse Into The Throne Room
To Have And To Hold
A Recipe For Revival
The Tragedy of Tolerance
Threats from Without, Dangers from Within
Revelation 2:8 – 17
A Revelation Salutation
The Voice and the Vision
Maintaining The Fire