8:7-11 THE FIRST THREE TRUMPETS
“The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire, mingled with blood, and they were cast on the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
And the second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood; And a third of the living creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed.
And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning like a lamp, and it fell on a third of the rivers, and on the fountains of waters. And the name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter” (Revelation 8:7-11).
The first three trumpets are fairly similar—hail and fire mingled with blood falling on the earth, a mountain burning with fire thrown into the sea turning it into blood, and a star burning like a torch making the waters bitter. Since these represent disasters which Satan will bring about in the future, it is largely a matter of conjecture as to what they will actually be. Jesus said “I tell you before it comes that when it does come to pass, you may believe” (John 13:19), and this principle applies here—God’s people will through the Holy Spirit recognize these disasters as the fulfillment of prophecy, and this will help them to know where they are in the stream of time.
That being said, there are a couple of fairly obvious candidates. One would be a collision of the earth with a comet or asteroid. A few years ago the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 struck the planet Jupiter. As it approached the planet gravity tore it into pieces and it made a series of strikes, some large “chunks” ("Mountain burning"?) and others smaller ("hail and fire"?). Whether the “dirty ice” of a comet could cause the type of fiery and poisonous destruction described in this passage is a question that science cannot yet answer. Many scientists believe that a strike by a huge asteroid caused enough destruction to wipe out the dinosaurs and many other forms of life. Regardless of whether this actually happened, computer models show that a collision with a large asteroid would cause massive destruction and climate change.
A more likely candidate would be a nuclear attack with multiple warheads. Besides the resulting fires which could destroy trees, grass and ships, the poisonous radiation would be like “wormwood,” contaminating water (making it “bitter”) so that it would kill those who drank it. Since the trumpets are brought about by Satan’s activity, it seems more likely that they would represent warfare, which he could easily incite, rather than a collision with a heavenly body like an asteroid or comet which he presumably does not control.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> And in fact, the language of the rest of the trumpets points to a terrible armed conflict. For example, in the fifth trumpet John saw an army of “locusts” whose appearance was “like horses prepared for battle” and whose sound was “like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle” (Revelation 9:7,9). As we will see in chapter 9, this is the same army and war that Joel and Daniel were shown. The sixth trumpet also involves a huge army—“the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million” who kill “a third of mankind…by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths” (Revelation 9:16-18). The language and images all point to a global conflict incited and directed by Satan himself—“and they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit” (Revelation 9: 11).
Continue to next section: 8:12 THE FOURTH TRUMPET
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>See Job 9:5-10