8:12 THE FOURTH TRUMPET
“And the fourth angel sounded; and a third of the sun was smitten, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so a third of them were darkened; and the day did not shine for a third of it, and the night likewise” (Revelation 8:12). The fourth trumpet may simply be the atmospheric results of the first three trumpets. Whether a comet, an asteroid, nuclear bombs, or something else, the kind of explosive destruction and fires described in the first three trumpets would cause dust and smoke to billow up into the atmosphere, causing darkness and severe weather disturbances. Little “ice ages” and summerless years have been geologically correlated with major volcanic eruptions, and computer models show that volcanoes, large asteroid strikes or extensive nuclear warfare with resulting dust and smoke could result in the partial obscuring of the sun. The emphasis that the plagues destroy “a third” may not be an attempt to quantify the extent of the destruction as much as to identify its source— Satan, the “angel of the bottomless pit” who is introduced in the fifth trumpet, and who began his career of destruction by dragging down “a third of the stars of heaven” (Revelation 12:4).
And I beheld, and heard an angel flying in the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound” (Revelation 8:13). The chaos that results from the first four trumpet plagues set the stage for the three “woes” that follow. These will bring about the most extensive and intense period of suffering the world has known up until that time, and they will arrest the attention of every person living upon the earth. They will also prepare the way for the most powerful proclamation of the gospel that has ever taken place.