The term, “things which must shortly come to pass” means that the series of events must begin soon.
The Seventh Seal - Revelation 8:1
The seventh seal is a portent of the seventh trumpet and the seventh vial. All three of the final judgments for the seals, trumpets and vials seem to be different from the preceding judgments. For instance, the opening of the seventh seal is only an announcement of a period of silence in Heaven. What does this mean? The Scripture really does not tell us. However, it seems from the setting that the silence in Heaven is awesome regarding the terrible trumpet judgments coming upon the planet. These judgments follow each other, and each seems to fiercer in its intensity. This is the reason Jesus said it would be a time of trouble such as the world had never seen (Matthew 24:21).
Verses 2-6 explain the events in Heaven between the seventh seal and the first trumpet. They are preparatory to the blowing of the seven trumpets which will complete the first 3 ½ years of Daniel’s 70th week. John tells of seven angels standing before God being given seven trumpets. He does not say who gave the trumpets. It could be one of the living creatures as it will be in the case of the vials in Revelation 15:7. The seven trumpets are to be blown successively between the seals and vials.
The first trumpet will be blown after the seventh seal, and the last trumpet in the middle of the Great Tribulation period. John tells of another angel who came and stood at the altar. This is the same Golden Altar of Worship that stands before the Ark of the Covenant. John doesn’t tell us who this other angel is in Revelation 8:3. However, it may be Christ in his High Priestly work. We must remember the word “angel” is sometimes used for men, for the Lord Himself, or for angels as we think of angels.
The censer in the Old Testament is always mentioned in connection with the high priest, so quite possibly, this is representative of Christ in his High Priestly ministry. The Scripture says that there was given unto Him much incense and that He offered it with the saints’ prayers upon the Golden Altar before the throne. This is the original. Moses’ tabernacle and Solomon’s temple were patterned after it.
In the Old Testament, before God could accept our worship and prayers, there had to be incense offered up with it when it came before His throne. This continues even under grace. Even though we are redeemed, washed in the Blood, are new creatures in Jesus Christ, sanctified and justified, we have not yet been glorified. We still have the sin nature. That means it is still possible for Christians to sin, and often, we do. In this state, God must have incense offered with our prayers. We will gladly welcome the day when Jesus Christ comes back and corruption puts on incorruption and mortality puts on immortality. Then, we’ll not only be sanctified and justified, but we will be glorified. Then, the sin nature will be done away with forever. It will no longer be possible to sin. Thank God for that!
The Scripture says this incense, ascended before God out of the angel’s hand. Then it says the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar. He is talking about the Altar of Worship. Then, he casts it to the earth and there were voices, thunderings, lightnings and an earthquake. The angel, who is possibly Christ, does this symbolically of all the prayers ever prayed, prayers especially pertaining to unjust treatment and persecution visited upon every child of God from the very beginning. It is as though God is saying “every one of these prayers is going to be answered with a horrible finality in this Great Tribulation period as My wrath is poured out upon this planet.”
Then, in the sixth verse, the seven angels prepared themselves to sound. They sounded their trumpets signaling successive events as with the seven seals and seven vials. These events will take place in Heaven, signaling the terrible trumpet judgments that will also be literal events taking place on the earth. Many Bible teachers have tried to force these events into symbolisms pertaining to various happenings that have taken place in the last two thousand years. However, the book of Revelation from chapters 6 to 19 pertains to the seven-year Great Tribulation period that will follow the Rapture of the Church.
The First Trumpet – Revelation 8:7
The fist angel’s trumpet will indicate the beginning of the first trumpet judgement. Hail and fire mingled with blood will be cast up on the earth and the third of the trees and all of the green grass will be burnt up. With modern-day communications, the television screens will be full of the result of this phenomenon. The probable cause given by the television commentators will be of every description and variety. Scientists will be brought on camera. Meteorologists will give their explanations. Then, no doubt, many will refer to God as being the cause of this phenomenon. The location will be the greater Mediterranean area.
The Second Trumpet – Revelation 8:8-9
The second trumpet will signal a burning meteor from Heaven which will strike the Mediterranean Sea. Due to this, the third part of the sea will become blood. This will result in a third part of the creatures dying, no doubt including whales and all manner of fish. It also tells us that the ships in the area where the meteorite hits will be destroyed causing a great loss of life as well. How can a meteorite cause a third part of the sea to become blood? Nothing is impossible for God. After all, He changed the water to blood in Egypt when the children of Israel were delivered so long ago.
The Third Trumpet – Revelation 8:10-11
In verses 10 and 11, another meteorite falls from heaven. However, there will be a difference. The first meteorite fell on the Mediterranean Sea, but this one will fall upon the rivers and fountains of waters in the general Mediterranean area. Whereas the first meteorite caused the waters to turn to blood, this one will cause the waters to become bitter. This bitter water will poison causing many to die.
The Fourth Trumpet – Revelation 8:12
The fourth trumpet angel will signal at least a third of the planets of the heavens, including the sun and the moon, to be darkened. This will shorten the day by a third. And a third part of the night will be extremely dark. We don’t know how this will affect conditions on earth. However, we do know any time the planetary bodies are affected, especially the moon, the tides are affected. More than likely, the fall of the stars, including the sun and the moon being affected, it will wreak havoc on earth.
Announcement of Three Woes – Revelation 8:13
John then said he saw an angel flying through Heaven saying with a loud voice “...Woe, woe, woe,...” Will people on the earth be able to see this angel flying through heaven, and will they be able to hear him as he speaks? John said he saw the angel and he heard what he said, so the possibility at least exists that this angel will be visible and will be heard. If this is the case, which it certainly seems to be, one can well imagine the effect it will have on the planet. Again, with modern-day communications, the possibility certainly exists that, if in fact, this angel can be seen literally and be heard by the inhabitants of the general area over which he will be flying, then surely television cameras will record the event. It will be shown around the word almost immediately.
The happenings in the Great Tribulation period are totally unlike anything that has ever transpired on this planet. When Jesus was born, angels appeared unto the shepherds in Bethlehem’s fields announcing this occurrence (Luke 2:8-12). Angels have appeared many other times, so why shouldn’t this be a literal event that will take place exactly as John said it would take place? If the angel can be seen and heard by the men on earth, one can well imagine the stir it will cause as the video footage of this angel flying through the heavens is shown in millions of homes, certainly many will come to God as a result (Revelation 7:9-17). But many hearts will be hardened as well (Revelation 6:15-17).
The Seventh Seal
1 And when he had opened the seventh seal,
-This is the last seal.
there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
-This silence proclaims the intense expectance of what is about to come upon the world. In other words, if it has been bad thus far, the intensity of the judgments is about to increase many fold.
2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God;
-The Greek text says, “the seven angels of the presence of God.”
and to them were given seven trumpets.
-We have had the seven seals of judgment, now the world will experience the seven trumpet judgments.
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer;
-This is the “Altar of Incense” in Heaven.
and there was given unto him much incense,
-represents the perfection, merit, and virtue of the life of Christ. Everything speaks of Christ, and more particularly of what He did at The Cross. Incidentally, this Altar of Incense in Heaven is the pattern for the Altar of Incense that stood in the Tabernacle on earth immediately before the veil during the time of the law.
that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
-The prayers of all the saints are very precious in the sight of God, yet at the same time, very imperfect. Added to our prayers must be the incense which is a type of the sweet savor of the merit of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
4 And the smoke of the incense,
-Event though we are not given the information in this verse, the angel has taken coals of fire from the Brazen Altar and placed them in the golden censer.
which came with the prayers of the saints,
-For our prayers to be effective in Heaven, they must always be mixed with the intercessory work of Christ (Hebrews 7:25-26).
ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
-Knowing our prayers come “...up before God...” at least if we pray according to the will of God, should inspire every saint to a greater prayer life.
5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar,
-This is the Brazen Altar in Heaven that typified the death of Our Lord which was necessary in order that man might be redeemed. As is obvious here, Heaven is filled with the portrayal of that sacrificed, atoning death.
and cast it into the earth:
-With the salvation of The Cross being rejected by the earth, the judgment of The Cross will now commence.
and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
-All of this speaks of the fact hat judgment is coming, and judgment such as the world has never seen before (Matthew 24:21).
6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
-As stated, if The Cross is rejected, judgment must follow. These events will take place about 2 ½ years into the Great Tribulation.
The First Trumpet
7 The first angel sounded,
-the first trumpet judgment
and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth:
-This will be literal and will be a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel (Joel 2:30-32). This is similar to the seventh plague upon Egypt (Exodus 9:22).
and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
-probably refers to a third part of the Mediterranean area being affected. Even though all of this will affect the entirety of the earth as would be obvious, the greatest concentration will be in the Middle East.
The Second Trumpet
8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea:
-More than likely, this will be a giant meteorite which will fall into the Mediterranean Sea.
and the third part of the sea became blood;
-similar to that which had taken place in Egypt so long ago (Exodus 7:20-21)
9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
-concerns the part affected by the meteorite or by whatever manner God chooses to do this
The Third Trumpet
10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp,
-more than likely another meteorite
and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
-A third part of the land area speaks of the Old Roman Empire area (Daniel 7:7-8).
11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood:
-This huge meteorite which will fall, will carry with it the properties of the bitter, nauseous plant known as “wormwood” (Jeremiah 9:15).
and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
-Conceivably, this could take the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
The Fourth Trumpet
12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
-Once again, let us emphasize the fact that these judgments are not symbolic, but they are literal. Jesus said this would happen in Luke 21:25-26.
The Announcement of the Three Woes
13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice,
-It is possible this angel will be visible to the people on earth and could well be portrayed by television.
Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
-The three “woes” are meant to correspond with the three remaining trumpet judgments.
Scripture is in BLACK FONT
Words of Jesus in RED FONT
Notes in BLUE FONT
The eighth chapter of Revelation gives us the seventh and final seal, plus, the first four trumpet judgments which were held in abeyance at the beginning of chapter 7. They are now released in all of their judgmental wrath. The chapter closes with the announcement of the three woes of mankind.
1. The Seventh Seal – Revelation 8:1-6
2. The First Trumpet – Revelation 8:7
3. The Second Trumpet – Revelation 8:8-9
4. The Third Trumpet – Revelation 8:10-11
5. The Fourth Trumpet – Revelation 8:12
6. The Announcement of the Three Woes – Revelation 8:13
The Book of Revelation