The Angels of Doom
Jerry A Collins
· What is the reason for the silence in heaven?
· Why does God bring His judgment upon creation?
· What is the meaning of the three ‘woes’?
I know we are in the middle of winter but go with me 3 months from now into the spring season. Ponder one of those spring afternoons when the sun is overtaken by high clouds and looking to the West, the clouds darken and thicken. It is quiet for the moment. Nothing stirring but you can sense something is about to happen. Maybe you can even smell the rain—the moisture—in the air. Ominous looking, the wind then begin to pick up. Then in the far distance we hear rumbles—one after another—we quickly realize is thunder. When we look up and out we perceive flashes across the sky—all of this happening long before the actual storm arrives and the rains begin to pound. This gathering of natures forces heralds the coming of a fierce storm and all of the signs are there to tell us so. The 7th seal judgment is about to be opened. When it is something like the spring storm but with far greater ferocity will begin to be unleashed. The 7th seal begins a new series of judgments God hurls upon the earth.
1. GOD’S JUDGMENTS COME IN RESPONSE TO PRAYER 1-5
There is silence in heaven 1 With the opening of this 7th seal everything becomes deathly still in heaven for about ˝ hour. What a contrast to all of the noise we have seen there—praise, worship, singing, honoring, praying, crying, Rev 4:8, 11; 5:9-10, 12-13; 6:9-11; 7:10-12 and now silence! In place of the choruses of elders, the cries of the angels, the worship of the 4 creatures and multitude and the prayers of the saints, all is quiet. This silence could signal a number of things. (1) It could promote expectancy since it is the last seal and we know what the 1st six have brot. (2) It could promote a forboding that precedes the onslaught of further judgment. (3) It could represent God listening for a time to the prayers of the saints vs 4. A dramatic pause in midst of all this activity—a lull before the storm—a few moments of calm preceding the devastation of a worldwide tsunami or hurricane.
The angels and saints 2-5 Then John saw a ceremony where 7 angels stand before the throne and 7 trumpets are given to them to announce the next judgment. In other words, this 7th seal is going to be broken down into 7 trumpets. Trumpets often herald, warn and announce things and here it is to do so about the judgments to come. Another angel vs 3 stands before the altar with a golden censor in his hand. It seems to be a long stick with a cup on the end. Acting as a priest in the heavenly temple, he is given more incense—which is probably more prayers—and adds them to the prayers already there. They are placed on the golden altar before the throne—similar to the golden altar of incense before the holy of holies just outside the veil. The smoke ascends up before God—John tells us this smoke is in some way associated with the prayers of the saints—most likely those prayers offered in for retribution. Then, vs 5, the angel with censor fills the cup with fire from the brazen altar. He hurls the whole thing—rod, cup, fire and all—to the earth. There are many peals of thunder and flashes of lightening and an earthquake. This impending storm implies the awful calamities about to come. God sends a message that he acknowledges the saints prayers. Prayers ascend with incense and judgment descends with fire. Retribution for rebellion against God and rejection of Christ. One of the purposes for this period of tribulation is to bring judgment from God upon unbelieving and rebellious mankind. God is behind all of these judgments. They are ordered directly from the throne. These judgments are not just willy-nilly—haphazard but consistent with the character and plan of God.
2. GOD’S TRUMPET JUDGMENTS DEVASTATE THE EARTH
Here we have the first four trumpets bringing devastation to God’s creation. Then we will see the last three in Chp 9 aimed at mankind. The significance of these 1st four is that they ae judgments upon areas usually known as God’s common grace intended for man’s blessing. Now they will become a curse especially since mankind refuses and suppresses the knowledge that comes with this common grace—that God exists and must be acknowledged. There is also a repetition of the number four throughout the book so far. We have had 4 divisions of mankind—nations, tribes, peoples, tongues, the four living creatures, the four winds of the earth, and now the four trumpets.
First trumpet 7 Scene shifts from heaven
to earth. This first trumpet blast brings hail, fire mixed with blood—resulting
in the fiery destruction of 1/3 of the earth—i.e., a third of the trees
and green grass is burned up. These judgments appear as literal as the ones in
Second trumpet 8-9 An object cast into
the sea is compared to a great burning mountain. A huge mountain-like ball of
fire was cast into the sea. First a 1/3 of the water became blood like the
Third trumpet 10-11 A great star—meteor or comet breaks thru the earths atmosphere into
the fresh water—rivers, springs and chemically changes these to bitter water.
National geographical society has listed 100 major rivers in the world and a
third of these will be poisoned by this star called ‘wormwood’. Those who drink
it will die. Recalls the experience of
Fourth trumpet 12 Now in contrast to the first three judgments against the land, the seas and the rivers and fountains of water is this fourth trumpet against the heavenly creation. It was on the 4th day of creation that God created and made visible to the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars—creation which so clearly declares His glory. This trumpet is aimed at these gracious provisions of God’s common grace that should have brot man to acknowledge God. Now He will use them in judgment to attempt the same. Luke 21:25-26 calls this phenomena ‘signs’—a message designed to communicate a point. God strikes a third of the lite-bearing creation hindering the life-giving lite. Daylite hours are reduced and nite lite will be blackened without any kind of heavenly lite for a third of it. Matt 24:29 says the powers of heaven will be shakened.
An eagle flies 13 An angel announces woes to the earth and those who dwell upon it. Things are going to become much worse. Especially because they have people rather than nature as their targets. These plagues are coming upon a world increasingly hostile toward God—9:20-21 So more to come.
1. The prayers of the saints reach the throne of God—we can approach boldly. It does not mean that God answers all those prayers but all those prayers are precious to God.
2. Saints on earth are not exempt from the judgment of God on earth. Only the 144,000 are sealed not the saints in general. We see that even today. When God judges the earth—such as overthrowing a govt—believers can be hurt. Believers are protected from hunger, crying, and pain in heaven not on earth.
3. There are consequences to sin and rebellion against God. Sin always brings consequences and these are God’s final acts against a belligerent and unrepentant mankind.