Title: The Silence and the Storm.
Text: Revelation 8:1-13.
CIT: God sends plagues where a third of the earth, sea, rivers, and heavenly bodies are destroyed.
Theme: Preparing for God’s judgment.
I read this week about a very dedicated single mom with four children. One Sunday she was having a difficult time trying to get them ready for church. As the children started to complain and squabble, she stomped from one room to the other, telling them with aloud voice why it was important to have a good attitude. Suddenly, she noticed all four children rolling around the floor laughing. “What’s so funny?” She asked angrily.
“Mom,” they said, “every time you slammed down your foot, smoke would come up around your feet. It seemed like the wrath of God!” She looked down and sure enough her feet were white. She had put in her shoes and as she stomped around the house, powder came flying out of her shoes and it was hilarious.
In our Scriptures for today, the Lamb of God opens the seventh seal which reveals seven angels with seven trumpets. At the sounding of these trumpets, God’s real wrath is revealed upon a lost and rebellious world.
As we read about God’s judgments, we find it is much more than a furious mother running around in freshly powdered shoes. Amen!
This morning I want to invite you to come along as we learn about God’s wrath, and how you can prepare yourself. Notice first of all,
I. Events Preceding the Trumpet Sounding.
When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.
We have already seen that the seven sealed scroll contains the awful future that awaits those who reject the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. The opening of the seventh seal introduces the seven trumpets of God. I don’t take any of these judgments as symbolic, they are all literal. First, notice:
a. The Prelude to Judgment (Rev. 1-2).
This is a very solemn scene. There is silence on all fronts: heaven, hell, and earth. There is a lull, a heavenly hush. Someone has said, “It is the lull before the storm.”
Why the strange silence? Some say that it was because they saw the awesome judgments to come and it took the breath away from the inhabitants of the universe, and I believe that is part of it. I also believe that God’s patience has not been exhausted.
When the sixth seal was opened and nature responded with a mighty convulsion, brave men weakened for a moment. Christ during this silence is giving them an opportunity to repent. The Bible is clear, “God is patient and is not willing that any will perish.” But like the Pharaoh of old who, when the heat was taken off, hardened his heart. They will too.
The only reason God has not raptured His church and began the Great Tribulation is that He is patient. He is giving everyone a chance to receive Jesus. How about you this morning? Won’t you come to Christ? Second, see:
b. The Prayers of the Just (3-4).
Here is a beautiful picture of an Old Testament practice. Every morning and evening, the priests would use a golden censer to put incense on the altar of incense in front of the Holy of holies. The role of this priest was to offer the prayers of the people to God. The smoke of the incense burning on the altar was and is a picture of prayers rising to God.
The greatest most powerful thing we can do as God’s children is pray. And, there is nothing greater nor more powerful that we can do after we pray, than to pray. The prayers of a just man accomplishes much. In these verses, God is going to answer the prayers of the saints under the altar. They asked, “How long?” God in this verse answers “Now!”
There are times in our prayers lives that it seems to us the heavens are as brass and our prayers accomplish little if anything. But from God’s viewpoint, our prayers always come before “Him that sits upon the throne.” God hears our every prayer and answers them. Sometimes its “Yes and now.” Sometimes its “not now, wait.” Then, sometimes it “No,” but God always answers our prayers. Last, see:
c. The Preview of the Judgment (5).
The angel who offered prayers and incense then “takes the censer, fills it up with fire from the altar, and cast it into the earth.” This dramatic act demonstrates that the trumpet judgments are answers to the prayers of God’s people throughout history.
There were “noises, thunderings, lightnings” from heaven when the fire was taken from the altar. We learned in Revelation 4:5, that such response proceeds from the very throne of God. God is indicating His full support; His authority and power are behind these judgments. This is followed by an earthquake on the earth. This all bringing us to the crescendo as the seven angels prepare to sound their trumpets.
So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
Look with me as we learn the:
II. Events Produced At the Trumpets Sounding.
And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth,
Can you imagine the scene? The seven angels step forward, put the trumpets to their lips and prepare to sound God’s alarm, the wrath of God has come! The first one sounds and there is:
a. Desolation on the Earth (v. 7).
The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.
The hail and fire fall upon the earth burning up all the vegetation the land upon. It will have an enormous effect upon the quality of life and the available food supplies.
Trees will be destroyed and the grass burned up. Trees not only produce food, they are essential to protect our eco-system. It is difficult to get your mind around what this means for human survival. Animal life which depends upon grass for food will starve.
The appearance of the planet will radically change. The earth will be like a wasteland. This was all predicted in Joel 2.
And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.
The second trumpets sounds and there is:
b. Desolation of the Seas (vv 8-9).
Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
Three consequences will follow the blowing of this trumpet and what seemed like a burning mountain fell upon the sea:
One Third of the Sea Becomes Blood.
The word “sea” is both singular and it is preceded by a definite article – it is literally “the sea” which is effected. Many commentators believe this sea is the Mediterranean Sea. Some commentators have suggested a giant meteor; others have suggested an atomic bomb. The bottom line is that this is a supernatural catastrophe and a third of the sea turns to blood.
One Third of Sea Life Killed.
The sea is filled with fish, supplying the food needs of many countries and peoples. It will particularly devastating to those countries who depend upon the fishing industry. Third,
One Third of All Ships Destroyed.
The sea is covered with naval vessels, cruise ships, and fishing boats of all sizes. One third of these ships will be destroyed. Of course, many lives will be lost. Then notice as the third trumpet is sounded and there is:
c. Desolation of the Rivers (vv 10-11).
Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter.
Again, many people believe this “great star” is another meteorite. That may be, but the consequences of this tragedy affects one third of the rivers and springs.
The star is called “Wormwood” after the strong bitter taste of the wormwood plant. Wormwood is God’s judgment upon those who disobey Him. This tragic judgment will bring about the death of many. We all need water; it is basic to human survival. I can’t imagine the additional tragedies that will accompany this horrific judgment. Then, listen and look at the fourth angel blares his horn and there is:
d. Desolation of the Heavens (v. 12).
Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.
The fourth judgment affects the luminous bodies as they affect the earth. The problems arising from this judgment extend to many areas of life that we take for granted. You only have to experience darkness for a few minutes to appreciate the light.
The light sources of the universe are all struck by this judgment. The sun, moon and stars will all be affected. Our finite minds cannot fathom the tremendous forces that will be unleashed upon the earth as a result of the blowing of this fourth trumpet.
Are you ready for a breather? For an intermission there is an angel flying through heaven crying, “Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth by the reason of the three angels, which are yet to sound.”
This angel lets us know that as horrible as the first four trumpets have been, they will be surpassed in the misery to follow. What a tragic period of human history awaits this world!
What can you do to prepare for what is coming? The only way to prepare for this judgment is turn to Christ. It will be entirely to late after this period begins.
In the same way you find eternal life, you can prepare for what is coming.
In the same way you get adopted into the family of God, is the same way you prepare for this judgment.
In the same way you find forgiveness of sin, will you be prepared for this judgment. Listen to these words carefully:
Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one, Jesus.
In a moment we are going to be singing a song of invitation. It is your invitation to come and receive Christ, your only hope, your only way of preparation for what is inevitable. Won’t you come as we sing?
FBC, Hughes 09/13/09