"Seven Trumpets: A Forecast from Heaven"
The Book of Revelation
Scripture Reading: Revelation 8 & 9
Revelation 8 begins with some unfinished business from the last time: the opening of the seventh seal. Last week we read about the opening of the first six seals of the scroll which unleashed some horrible things upon the earth. As the seventh seal is now opened, there is a profound silence in heaven that John says lasts about half an hour. This is then followed by the giving of seven trumpets to seven angels. As the trumpets are sounded, the result is a forecast from heaven that brings hell on earth.
So, what are we to make of this reading from the book of Revelation? Is this the Word of the Lord declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ? It might be hard to convince someone of the grace and truth of the gospel by having them read Revelation 8 and 9. It’s a strange text full of ghastly, violent and unreal images of terror and destruction. We need to hear the and remember that these images, pictures and symbols are meant to depict a greater reality. Once again, the controlling vision behind Revelation 8&9 is the picture of the Risen and Victorious, Lord Jesus Christ.
How long does the “silence” in heaven last after the seventh seal is opened?
What is happening in the silence?
When we hear Revelation 8 and 9 we see that the sovereign God of heaven and earth will not tolerate sin by embracing, enfolding, or dismissing it. God will destroy sin. Before the End comes and the Kingdom of God is revealed in fullness and glory, sin and all its tentacles will be destroyed. What we see in our text is suffering before salvation. Before the resurrection, there was the agony of the cross. All that we see in Revelation 8 and 9 is a prelude to the great and glorious triumph of the Kingdom of God.
There is never really anything new in this book that has not been revealed earlier. The plagues in our text are an echo of the plagues hurled upon Egypt just before the exodus. When the covenant Lord comes to rescue his enslaved people, nothing in all of Creation can prevent it from happening.
Do we understand the seriousness of sin? Does the world know what sin is?
What are the points of contact between the plagues in Egypt and the plagues we read in our text?
What is the purpose for this forecast from heaven?
Our reading today is a good reminder of the call of the gospel. Always in the background of Revelation is the vision of our Risen and Victorious, Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is not dead, silent, or absent from us. He is alive and present to hear and receive us into a New Life of grace in his Kingdom. This is the gospel at work in the world. However, this gospel cuts two ways. On the one hand it is good news for all who repent of their sins and receive the New Life of the Kingdom. On the other hand, it is a warning to all those who do not repent. It is a warning that, in the End, we will all get what we want. Whether it’s the Kingdom of God or the Abyss, we will get what we want. This is the warning (or “wisdom”) given in Revelation 9:20-21.
When you know the One who sits on the throne of the universe, there is nothing to fear in this forecast from heaven in Revelation 8 and 9. Those “sealed” by God will not be harmed (9:4). Nothing will separate us from the love of God that is given in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Read Romans 8:18-39 and hear the gospel word given in our text.
“Can anything take us away from the One who sits on the throne?”
And the answer is, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This is the good news of the gospel that is being revealed to the apostle John in a revelation that comes to him from God. The One who sits on the throne is in charge of the universe!