TRUMPET SOUNDS - REVELATIONS 8, 9, 10 - February 12, 2023
MESSAGE BY PASTOR ROB INRIG FROM BETHANY BAPTIST CHURCH IN RICHMOND, BC.
When young, I had a friend who played the trumpet. His cheeks would puff wide, his face would go crimson red – so much so that you paid more attention to the trumpeter than to the sound, which with the trumpet, isn’t easy to do.
The trumpet – a call to assembly or a call to arms. Sometimes it’s the pronouncement of victory or a spectacular coronation. God seems to have a special place for the trumpet – Moses when people were to gather at Sinai, Joshua when God levelled the walls of Jericho, Gideon when God’s 300 defeated the Midianite army and the greatest of all, triumphant sounding when Jesus comes as returning King.
In each case, where you stand in relation to the trumpet determines everything. Those watching Jericho walls crumble, a wonderful celebration - those behind those walls, not so much. Breaking cisterns, battle shouts and loud trumpets caused a panicked enemy to slaughter one another as they ran. And on Christ’s return trumpets of exceeding joy and incomprehensible sorrow.
One of the 7 Feasts God called Israel to celebrate was the Feast of Trumpets. This Feast known better as Rosh Hashanah was the beginning of the Jewish New Year. But more than turning a calendar page, this was the call to a new beginning with God. The trumpets announced a time of preparation for the Day of Atonement soon coming - getting right with God. Work set aside and sacrifices made in this time of preparation called the “Days of Awe.” There was no rushing into the holiest day ahead. No casualness. No last-minute sprint. Trumpet calls reminded everyone they needed to be in readiness for the Day of Atonement when the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies to offer a sacrifice for the people’s sins.
Not long after that, the people were to celebrate the Feast of Booths Tabernacles, remembering when God dwelled among His people and a time ahead when He will dwell with us forevermore.
For the prophets, the blowing of trumpets often warned of a coming Day of Judgment, Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand Joel 2:1; Zeph 1:14,16.
The passages we’re considering this morning sound with recurring Trumpet calls – 7 of them. They too are a call to assembly, a call to arms, a call to victorious celebration and a call to a coronation however the manner in which we see them this morning doesn’t conjure up feelings of joy and celebration. Nonetheless – they are God’s trumpets intended to alert us – that we dare not neglect this Day of Preparation because a triumphant day of Coronation is ahead.
Read Rev 8 When he opened the 7th seal, there was silence in heaven for about ½ an hour. And I saw the 7 angels who stand before God, and 7 trumpets were given to them. Another angel who had a golden censer came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. :1-5
Notice, before the first trumpet sounds there is ½ hour of silence, When the Lamb broke the 7th seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour :1 - sounds of worship stop, declarations of the angels stop, questions of the saints stop, harps of heaven stop. Not a sound, not a whisper. Go Silent, Uncomfortable wasn’t it?
Some suggest this silence is connected to the prayers told of in 3-5 and while that’s possible, I think if this were the case, there might be silence originating from heaven but there definitely wouldn’t be silence IN heaven as those prayers cried out. Instead, I believe this is a pause of solemnity – the catastrophe of what’s ahead unable to be expressed in any other way than everything put on mute, silence. How could anyone be prepared for the scene about to unfold? Though coming events may usher in joy, it’s the joy of long-awaited victory not delight in the devastation to come. The redemption of creation requires the judgment of an unrepentant creation who, despite warning after warning, continues to shake a fist at God, refusing to bow, refusing to repent.
For centuries God has been extending an outstretched hand sending His leaders, His prophets, His kings and finally God sending His Son. Reaching that we might know Him. Stretching out His hand bringing people from captivity to freedom Ps 136:11; stretching out His hand in signs and wonders to heal and forgive Acts 4:20; stretching out His hand to rescue the drowning Mat 14:31 and stretching out nail-pierced hands offering love and forgiveness to all who believe.
But now God’s outstretched hand of Grace has been withdrawn, the trumpets beginning to announce, and God’s judgment has come. In :3–5 God now responding to the prayers of His people - How long? saints whose blood was shed during the tribulation. 8:5 tells us, the angel takes the censer filled with the prayers of the saints and with the fire of the altar of God’s holiness and throws it to earth resulting in thunder, lightning and an earthquake.
The following captures what these 7 Trumpets represent. The:
1st Trumpet hail and fire, mixed with blood - bloodshed is blood repaid. 1/3 of the earth burned up
Judgment upon you who have spilled the blood of God’s people. You who have spilled the blood of God’s Son. You who exploit and control, gathering the resources of the earth for yourself – God makes it clear – He created it and He controls it
2st Trumpet seas become blood – 1/3 of the creatures killed, 1/3 of vessels destroyed
There’s no escaping what is happening on land. No observation places man can retreat to. Once again, blood was given in return for the blood spilt. You who transport your riches feeling secure in your power and your wealth believing that you author your future; you who invade others by sea to take what isn’t yours, God will declare it gone in a moment.
3rd Trumpet fresh waters become deadly
You who run to safe places that have been provided in the past, places where you have played and refreshed while others go without. Where you’ve laid up provisions, know that God will pollute your stockpiles. They will become toxic, your drinking places will become deadly, and your places of escape will elude you.
Despite the immensity of judgment, I think there is also a sense where we are given another picture of mercy in the same way He sent warning after warning to Pharaoh. Ever increasing the severity of the judgments leads people to believe in the One true God. Repent – turn and take refuge in God while there is still time. Thirst for Him, hunger for Him, find salvation in Him.
4th Trumpet 4 1/3 heavens
At the sound of the 4th trumpet, God’s hand has been withdrawn resulting in the stars falling and the sun darkening, the heavens are thrown into disorder as the long-awaited has arrived. The saints’ questions, How long, O God? Where are you O God? are about to answer.
Isaiah wrote, Behold the day of the Lord is coming, cruel with fury and burning anger, to make the land desolation; and He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light Is 13:9-10.
Perhaps with the first 3 judgments, people might have been able to attribute these to some strange yet horrific natural phenomena, (asteroids or the effects of nuclear fallout) but what happens in the heavens is not something the Jews could mistake. Their prophets had foretold it.
Ezekiel - I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you and set the darkness on your land Ez 32:7-8. Joel - The heavens tremble, the sun and the moon grow dark and the stars grow dark and the stars lose their brightness. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. The sun and moon grow dark and the stars lose their brightness Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15 And Amos - ‘It will come about in that day,’ declares the Lord God, ’that I shall make the sun go down at noon and make the earth dark in broad daylight’ Amos 8:9.
Some of these could be God allowing natural consequence to run its course - your violence will destroy you, your weapons will be turned against you; Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools Rom 1:22. No wonder we hear, Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on earth 8:13.
But the things described in Revelation are not the inevitable conclusion of global warning. They are NOT the result of nature running amuck nor the result of a nuclear meltdown. If that were the case, man is the author of his own demise but that is not the case. This is the pouring out of God’s wrath on evil and sin. It is His consuming fire under His strategic control rf 1/3. To think otherwise is to fixate on the trumpeter’s red face while remaining oblivious to the song the trumpeter is playing – this judgment is all God’s doing.
The trumpets remind us that the One who began life determines how the ending will come.
The God of creation asked - Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place ……. Tell me if you know all this.? Job 38:4-12
God controls the earth, the seas, the lakes, and the heavens bringing these to an end as He determines.
Read Rev 9 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. :1-3
5th Trumpet 1st Woe Depiction of Satan cast out of Heaven. His day of accusing the brethren is over but on earth in aggressive ways, the demonic is let loose. Notice the demonic has been let loose, they have not broken loose. Their release is God’s doing :1 tells us, the key was given; :3 their power was given; :4 the limitations of what they could do, set.
God controls the principalities and powers. It’s important to understand, God isn’t in a war where the outcome has ever been in question. Never was, never is, never will be. Simply, this is not a battle of equals
And at the 5th trumpet - you who have been intrigued and led by the demonic will now begin to understand more fully the one to whom you have pledged allegiance; GOD giving them an unveiled demonic they have chosen over Him. 9:1-3 Locusts with the power of scorpions who will torment those unmarked by God for 5 months
Their impact is so great that people will seek death but will not find it :6. :4 tells us they can’t touch the elect - definitely the 144 K but at this point, likely tribulation saints as well.
Throughout history, man has tried to play God regarding who lives, and who dies. Hitler’s assault on the Jews; areas of Africa where children deemed deformed or unusual are left in the bush for wild animals to destroy. In the hearts of radical Islam – barbaric end of life for those whose god is other than Allah. And throughout the world, the voices of the unborn are silenced before the first breath is uttered. Actions taken:
-that broadcast the voice of the one who slaughtered children 2 years and under in Bethlehem
-that broadcast the voice of the one who sacrificed children to pagan gods like Molech.
-that broadcast the voice of the one who whispers ‘take your own life when life gets too hard’.
Man playing god – over whose lives have worth and whose do not. Only this time, man will play God no more. God steps in denying death to those who desperately seek it. Man cannot die – life and death, are not in his hand. God gave them over to the demonic they have chosen over Him.
God controlling the destiny of man - glorious for those who love Him and truly a hell for those who don’t.
4 demonic angels, so powerful they have been kept bound, God allowing their release for this time of judgment on a rebellious world. Likely they are bound at this location because the Euphrates was one of the rivers associated with the Garden of Eden. The 1st sin in this place. The 1st murder committed here. The 1st war was fought here. The 1st rebellion at Babel was erected here. Here earthly evil began and here where God’s judgment will come.
The destruction these demonic beings bring is immense where 1/3 of mankind will be killed at the hands of a massive army their numbers given to be 200 M :15, 16.
I won’t try to make sense of descriptors given in :for 7-11 except 1 observation. Some suggest John was at a loss for words in this, description of modern-day weaponry. But God is never at a loss for words and if it were important for us to know, He would have made that clear. The point is being, what’s described is beyond anything John or we can identify.
Descriptions aside (because we don’t know what these suggest), they are three things that we can assuredly note :
1st-This coming judgment is REAL. Its scope is horrific; its magnitude is beyond anything we can contemplate. 1/3 combined with earlier ¼ (4th Seal - over ½ world’s population.)
2nd -This coming judgment is JUST 9:20,21. It will be borne out by unchecked violence. Brutality and murder will abound. Sorcery and immorality will be unrestrained. Theft will be commonplace. In short, the heart of mankind is revealed for what it is – summated in :20 - we will serve anyone but God – as will see later Rev 19:19 recognize Him as God but refused to worship Him and they would not repent
3rd -This coming judgment is REQUIRED.
Understand, despite the many ways Satan portrays himself – his nature is to destroy anything God has declared to be good. God describes him as the Father of lies.
-when he tempts you with an affair that promises the love you ‘really’ deserve;
-when he tempts you with experiences of excitement and joy that will fulfill all your wants;
-when he tempts you with beliefs about how your life should be best lived.
Yet Satan’s character has never changed, he is a Destroyer Appolyon, Abbadon 9:11. He wants nothing more than to destroy. He lures giving you enough time to get deep enough in; enough time to mute those annoying feelings of guilt; enough time to convince you that the God you’ve believed is wrong. And then he traps - telling you, you’re too far in to turn around; too far lost for things to be made right; too far to come back into the arms of God. But God’s truth? A delivering God, and I’ll come to you wherever you are God; a forgiving, arms open wide God. And that God? coming again
This steps us into Rev 10, Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the 7 claps of thunder spoke. :1-
This chapter contains questions – a little scroll and words spoken that are sealed up and not allowed to be told. Questions and few answers but what we are given is a commanding picture of God’s authority – an angel’s right foot on the sea, his left on the land his appearance announced with the voice of a lion. Hold onto the assurance of this picture because later in Rev 13 we’ll be told that, the beast arises from the sea and the false prophet arises from the earth. And here, standing over them both - God’s chosen and commanding one.
That image is something we would do well to remember when we look around and see a world out of control. We would do well to remember when we become wrapped up in our, we are the masters of our destiny world; we would do well to remember when we think all hope is gone.
Remembering there is One standing over us who sees what we can’t; who cares when we don’t; who acts when we can’t. The Lord who reigns, who holds all authority. Though for the moment we don’t see as we will one day see, His Kingdom is certain. His promises are true. His love is unfailing. His coming is guaranteed. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and of His kingdom there will be no end Rev 11:15. So remember:
For the Lord, himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. 1 Thess 4:16-18.