Welcome to A Revelation of Jesus. In this video we will continue our series on the Seven Trumpets. In the previous video we saw that the Seven Trumpets are the first half of the Great Tribulation and begin just after the sealing of the 144,000. We briefly reviewed the Trumpets showing that they include disastrous events that will totally change human society. But who is bringing on these disasters if Jesus is interceding on our behalf?
Are disasters simply the natural consequences of human activity that has ravaged society and the environment? Are they God’s retribution inflicted on the human race that has rejected Him and flaunted His requirements? Are they the result of Satan’s diabolical plans?
As usual, the place to start is to examine the symbols and links.
The Seven Trumpets begin with the words, “[John] saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given Seven Trumpets” (Revelation 8:2). The trumpet is a prominent Old Testament symbol, and they are used to get someone’s attention so that they will be ready for what is happening next. For example, “They have blown the trumpet and made everyone ready” (Ezekiel 7:14).
This can be an announcement that God is going to do something important. For example, the Day of Atonement was the most solemn day of the Old Testament calendar; “you shall afflict your souls… for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. Any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off” (Leviticus 23:26-31).
God commanded that ten days before the Day of Atonement, “You shall have a sabbath-rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets” (Leviticus 23:24). The sound of the trumpets was a reminder to the congregation that the Day of Atonement was approaching so they could prepare to “afflict their souls”. Likewise, the Seven Trumpets announce the great events that will bring about the end of this age.
Trumpets were also a signal to the congregation that they were to carry out God’s directives. For example, God directed Moses, “Make two silver trumpets for yourself… you shall use them for calling the congregation and for directing the movement of the camps” (Numbers 10:2). This is also relevant to the Seven Trumpets.
The second half of the trumpets tells the story of what God’s special messengers, the Two Witnesses, will be doing while the trumpet plagues are taking place. Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the angels will be personally directing them where to go, what to do, and what to say, and the trumpet is an appropriate symbol of the need for God’s followers to pay close attention to His instructions.
But the most common use of the trumpet in the Old Testament was to announce that an enemy was up to something. Typical of many scriptures is Jeremiah 4. “Blow the trumpet in the land… take refuge! Do not delay!… Disaster from the north and great destruction… The sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Disaster follows disaster” (Jeremiah 4:5,6,20).
Trumpets warning of the approach of an enemy are particularly relevant to the first half of the Seven Trumpets. There is plenty of evidence that the disasters described in the first six trumpets are inflicted by our greatest enemy, Satan.
First of all, the trumpet plagues destroy a third—a third of the sea, a third of the living creatures, a third of the ships, a third of the rivers and springs of water, a third of the sun, moon and stars, and they kill a third of mankind (Revelation 8:8-12, 9:15,18). A third is used in Revelation to describe Satanic activity. For example, in Revelation 12:4 the fiery red dragon, Satan, “drew a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth” (Revelation 12:4).
We already saw in video 27 that the disasters of the first two trumpets are the same as the disasters that will take place when four evil angels release the four winds. An angel from God “cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to harm the earth and the sea”. Notice that “it was given” to the angels to do harm. This phrase is used repeatedly in Revelation when Satan or his agents are given permission to carry out a harmful activity.
For example, we saw in video 20, the opening of the Seven Seals, that the second and fourth horsemen represent Satan. As Jesus opened the second seal, “Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was given to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another” (Revelation 6:4).
We should not think that God wants people to kill each other, but because God has given free will to humanity, He does not prevent them from killing each other. Satan takes this as permission to incite people to violence.
This kind of permission to incite people to violence is also given to Satan and his agents during the Seven Trumpets. For example, in the fifth trumpet, an evil locust army is released from the bottomless pit. “And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass… or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented for five months (Revelation 9:3-5).
In this passage we see that God gives the locusts limited permission to harm people. However, the locusts are definitely not agents of God. “They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon” (Revelation 9:11). Both of these names mean destroyer, a fitting name for one who opposes the Creator. In a later study we will see that this angel who is king over the locust army is Satan himself.
In the sixth trumpet God gives permission to “release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates. So the four angels… were released to kill a third of mankind” (Revelation 9:13-15). The river Euphrates went right through the center of Babylon, and both here and in Revelation 16:12 it is used as a symbol of the antichrist Babylon power.
All of this evidence shows that the disasters described in the first half of the Seven Trumpets are brought about by Satan and his agents. I have devoted quite a bit of time nailing down the source of these plagues. This is not just to help us have more information about them. Many commentators blame God for these plagues.
A typical commentary states: “The trumpets must be understood as a symbolic representation of God’s judgment against apostate humanity”. When we consider the catastrophic destruction, suffering and death that happen during the Seven Trumpets, it is a very serious accusation to attribute these to the God who loves us so much that He died for us. One of Satan’s dirtiest tricks is to blame God for what he does.
But even if Satan is directly responsible, we have to wonder why Jesus would give Satan permission to harm His beloved children. Part of the answer is found in the sanctuary scene that introduces the Seven Trumpets.
You may want to check out videos 4 and 5 to see that the Seven Trumpets, like each of the chiastic sections, are introduced by a sanctuary scene. “John 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” (Revelation 8:2-4).
This is an image taken from the Old Testament Day of Atonement. “Aaron [the high priest] shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, with his hands full of sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil. And he shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat (that is, the symbolic throne of God) lest he die” (Revelation 16:11-13). The fragrant smoke wafting from the censer shielded the high priest so that he would not be consumed when his sinful humanity came into the presence of the overwhelming radiance of God.
Let’s look at another Old Testament story to confirm that the censer is a symbol of protective mediation (interceding). God through Moses had led the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt to the desert wilderness. He had revealed His mighty power by opening the Red Sea and defeating the Egyptian army that pursued them.
But when the time came for them to enter the promised land, the spies who went in to explore the land reported that there were giants in Canaan and they were not strong enough to defeat them. The people refused to enter, so God sent them back to the desert. Their disappointment triggered a serious rebellion over leadership led by Korah, Dathan, and Abirim. The story is found in Numbers 16.
In the ensuing insurrection, many people died, and a deadly plague broke out among the people. “Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them… So Aaron put in the incense… and he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped” (Numbers 16:46-48). Thus the censer symbolizes mediation (interceding) that protects people from receiving the full consequences of their sin and rebellion.
The earthly priests, interceding for the people, symbolized Jesus; “He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus’ interceding for us not only saves us from the eternal consequences of our sins, but He also often saves us, and the whole world, from the disasters that would be the natural outcome of our behavior.
If Jesus was not constantly interceding, we would have long ago managed to annihilate the human race. But as the sanctuary scene continues, we see that a time will come when Jesus will no longer intervene to shield the world from the consequences they deserve.
As John watched the angel standing at the golden altar, holding the censer, “The smoke of the incense, mingled with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hands. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth” (Revelation 8:4,5). The censer symbolizes protective mediation (interceding). Throwing down the censer indicates the end of this protection. And sure enough, the next things we see are the violent and destructive trumpet plagues.
Does it mean that Jesus is no longer interceding to protect us?
First of all, it does not mean that Jesus is no longer interceding to save us. Without Jesus ministering the blood of His sacrifice no one could be forgiven. It is true that after the six plagues in the first half of the Trumpets “the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent” (Revelation 10:20).
But the ministry of the Two Witnesses is also a part of the Seven Trumpets, and as a result “the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelation 11:13). In response all heaven proclaims, “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of Our Lord and of His Christ” (Revelation 11:15).
As we saw in previous videos, this represents the deliverance of the Great Multitude out of Babylon that takes place during the Seven Trumpets. This shows that Jesus continues interceding for our salvation during this time.
But there is a difference between interceding to save and interceding to protect from consequences. We can find insight as to what this means in the warning given by “an angel flying through 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 that are about to sound” (Revelation 8:13). This is followed by the final three trumpets which are called “woes”.
The three woes support the evidence we have already seen, that these disasters come from Satan.
The Greek word ouai is only used in Revelation in reference to Satan or his Babylon kingdom. The most relevant usage is in Revelation 12 which tells the story of the war in heaven. “War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan… He was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7-9).
This is followed by “A loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12).
We see here that the distress and grief that Satan causes here on earth is called “woe”, the same word used to describe the last three trumpets. God does not arbitrarily allow Satan to inflict woe upon the world; Jesus said, “Woe to the world because of offenses” (Matthew 18:7).
Woes come to us as we reject God in order to continue in our sins.
In one of His parables, Jesus revealed the attitude that much of humanity has toward God: “We do not want this man to rule over us” (Luke 19:14).
To use a political metaphor, the majority of people on earth have been “voting” for Satan ever since the first sin in the Garden of Eden.
Even though God said, “in the day that you sin you will surely die,” He has consistently extended more grace and mercy than we deserve. But God has a dilemma. When He extends mercy, the lack of consequences for sin becomes the perceived status quo, and people take chances that they will be able to get away with the sin that they love. Thus sin, pain, and death continue with no apparent off-ramp, and Satan contends that the whole world is under his sway.
This dilemma gets to the root cause of the Seven Trumpets. In video 21 we already looked at the drama that took place behind the scenes in the book of Job, but we will review it briefly to demonstrate why God allows Satan to carry out the destructive woes.
Job was “blameless and upright, a man who feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). There is nothing to indicate that Job was in need of chastisement or character improvement. But unknown to him, a meeting was taking place in the heavenly realms. “There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them” (Job 1:6).
We saw in video 21 that these were representatives from the various worlds of intelligent creatures in the universe. When God asked Satan where he had come from, “Satan answered, ‘from going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it” (Job 1:7). We saw that with this statement Satan was claiming ownership of the earth.
God challenged Satan. “Then the Lord said to Satan, have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:8).
God reminded Satan that He had created the earth for humans, and despite his success in bringing most of the earth into harmony with his anti-God worldview, there were still people who were faithful representatives of humanity.
But Satan refused to accept God’s characterization of Job. He accused God of buying Job’s loyalty by blessing and protecting him. “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him?… You have blessed the work of his hands and his possessions. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse you to Your face! (Job 1:11).
Because the stakes were so high, and Job was a faithful man who trusted God no matter what happened, God allowed Satan to destroy Job’s possessions, his family, and his health. This was not because He wanted Job to suffer, but because He did not want the whole world to suffer even more under the increased power and authority that Satan would have gained if his claim of dominion was allowed to stand.
We have a similar dynamic now at the end of this age. Satan claims that the whole world is His and that everyone follows him. But God is sealing 144,000 that He says will remain faithful no matter what happens.
With the Seven Trumpets God gives Satan a chance to try to prove that he rules the whole world. But what he will really prove for now and for eternity is that his ways are the ways of death. No one will ever want to choose sin again. In an ancient prophecy God declares that He will bring pain, death, and the originator of sin to a permanent end.
“One has gone out who plots evil against the LORD, one who counsels wickedness…The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he protects those who take refuge in him, even in a rushing flood. He will make a full end of his adversaries… Whatever they plot against the LORD he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time” (Nahum 1:11,7,8).
The Seven Trumpets are a part of God’s plan to make sure that eternity will be the eternal blessing that He intends.
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