The opening of the seventh seal begins the seven trumpet plagues that lead up to the first resurrection, the wrath of God, the return of Christ with his saints to conquer the earth, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.
THE SEVENTH SEAL
"And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour" (Rev.8:1 KJV).
We are not told why there is silence in heaven for about one half hour after Jesus Christ opens the seventh seal that contains seven supernatural punishments which will be sent upon the earth and its inhabitants. If we assume that this half hour is in the context of the prophetic day for a year using the sacred lunar calendar (Num.14:34; Ezk.4:6), there would be about 7½ earth days of silence in heaven, according to Revelation 8:1.
The Eight Angels
"And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand" (Rev.8:2-4 KJV).
Here, we see each of the seven angels standing before God given a trumpet to blow. While they are waiting to blow their trumpets, another angel comes forth and stands at the altar and is given incense and the prayers of the saints, which he offers to God on the altar. Remember that the temple worship system under the first agreement with national Israel was a shadow of heavenly things.
This scene is reminiscent of the high priest in the earthly temple offering incense to God, and it seems to be connected to the thanksgiving of the saints and their request to the Father that he send his Son to rule the earth (Matt.6:9-13). Also see Psa.141:1-2; 1.Pet.3:12; Rev.5:8.
"And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightning, and an earthquake" (Rev.8:5 KJV).
After presenting the incense and the prayers to God, the angel reaches down and fills his censer with the fire from the altar. Normally, the censer was used to present something that smelled sweet to God. It was also used as an act of worship and supplication for God's mercy and/or intercession on behalf of his people. Here, we see the censer is symbolic of judgment (fire is symbolic of a purification agent and punishment).
Notice that Ezekiel's vision in chapter 10 parallels what John saw concerning the angel and the fire from the altar in Revelation 8:5:
"Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne. And he spoke to the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill your hand with coals of fire from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city. And he went in my sight. Now the cherubim stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord's glory. And the sound of the cherubim's wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaks. And it came to pass, that when he had commanded the man clothed with linen, saying, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubim; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels. And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubim to the fire that was between the cherubim, and took thereof, and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen: who took it, and went out" (Ezk.10:1-7 KJV).
The city referred to in Ezekiel's vision is Jerusalem (Ezk.9:8-9), which will receive the wrath of God as symbolized by the fire from the altar.
After filling the censer, the angel of Revelation 8:5 will cast it to the earth. As this fire of God or the energy that it represents enters the earth from the spirit dimension, there will be a tremendous earthquake along with thunder and lightning as the physical dimension is torn apart prior to the sounding of the first trumpet. See Gen.19:16-25.
The Seven Angels Prepare
"And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound" (Rev.8:6 KJV).
The seven angels prepare to blow their trumpets to announce and send forth seven specific plagues that will devastate the earth and terrify its population. All this must be done in preparation for the first and second return of Jesus Christ.
The First Angel Sounds
With the blowing of the first trumpet, comes a plague upon the earth that is taken directly from the altar in heaven. But why is this plague taken from the altar? Remember that the fifth seal symbolically shows the martyred saints crying out for God to avenge their deaths. The taking of the plague from the altar seems to indicate that God is honoring this request by sending forth the first of the next fourteen plagues that are to be poured out upon the earth and its inhabitants:
"The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mixed with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of the trees were burnt up, and all the green grass was burnt up" (Rev.8:7 Para.).
Here, we see hail and fire mixed with blood raining upon the earth. This is reminiscent of the hail and fire that was poured out on the Egyptians for their refusal to release the Israelites. See Ex.9:22-26. The ancient Israelites were spared from the plague of hail and fire, just as God's chosen will be spared from the coming hail, fire, and blood (Rev.7: 3-4, 9, 13-14).
In this first plague, a third of all the grass and trees will be burned up. A fire this size will cause tremendous problems in the atmosphere and will shroud the earth in a cloud of smoke and ash. The blood that comes along with the hail and fire is both literal and symbolic. It is literal in that it is real blood that will cause disease and other problems as it rots upon the earth, and it is symbolic because it pictures the wrath of God and vengeance for the blood of the saints. See Isa.28:1-8; Ezk.13:9-16; 14:19; 16:38.
The Second Angel Sounds
"And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed" (Rev.8:8-9 KJV).
Here, we see a large flaming object piercing through the atmosphere and crashing into the sea. Whether this flaming object is an angel or the manifestation of his power, a third of the sea where it enters will become blood, a third of the life in the sea will die, and a third of the ships will be destroyed. It also seems very likely that the impact of this large object will cause gigantic tidal waves that will cause massive destruction to coastal cities in that area.
The Third Angel Sounds
"And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of water; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter" (Rev.8:10-11 KJV).
In this punishment, there is a parallel to the plague upon the Egyptians in Exodus 15:22-25. This star (angel) named Wormwood (i.e., bitterness) fulfills God's prophetic promise in Deuteronomy 29:18-20 and Jeremiah 9:13-16 to punish Israel for their rebellion against him and the breaking of the covenant that they had with him. This star (angel) poisons a third of the available drinking water at its source, killing a great number of people. See Ex.7;17-25, Psa.78:44; 105:29.
The Fourth Angel Sounds
"And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise" (Rev.8:12 KJV).
When the fourth angel sounds, a third of the solar, lunar, and stellar radiation will cease to fall upon the earth. Besides causing great terror among the earth's population, a one-third reduction in radiation upon the earth will have an adverse impact upon the earth's temperature and weather, which will cause havoc with agriculture and food production. See Amos 8:9.
The Three Woes
"And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitors of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!" (Rev.8:13 KJV).
These next three punishments are going to be extremely severe, which is indicated by their being called woes (i.e., severe pain, agony, and physical or mental distress). The sounding of the last three trumpets in this series of punishments will bring about exceptionally devastating events and conditions as each is poured out upon the earth. Remember that the number three is often symbolic of divine fulfillment, perfection, or completeness, and these three woes complete this phase of God's wrath toward the earth and its inhabitants.
The Fifth Angel Sounds Revelation 9:1-21 KJV
"And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven to the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit" (vs.1-2).
The fifth angel blasts his trumpet and a star (angel) falls from heaven to earth with the keys and authority to unlock the abyss. Note that this punishment of humanity does not come from God's dimension of time and space, rather, it comes from beneath the earth. As soon as the angel opens up the abyss, thick smoke issues out and obscures the sun causing darkness in that area of the world.
Out of this smoke comes a swarm of strange creatures (see verses 7-10), which have the powerful sting of a scorpion. Notice that they are not to destroy the vegetation of the earth, but their task is to harm all the people who do not have God's protection.
"And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads" (vs.3-4).
Joel graphically describes these events that precede the day of the Lord:
"Blow the trumpet; sound the alarm on Zion, God's sacred hill. Tremble, people of Judah! The day of the Lord is coming soon. It will be a dark and gloomy day, a black and cloudy day. The great army of locusts advance like darkness spreading over the mountains. There has never been anything like it, and there never will be again" (Joel 2:1-2 GNB).
"And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army; for his camp is very great; for he is strong that executes his word; for the day of the Lord is great; and very terrible; and who can abide it?" (Joel 2:11 GNB). See also Joel 2:3; 11; Rev.9:11.
They Should Torment Them
"And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he strikes a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and will not find it; and will desire to die, and death will flee from them And they had tails like to scorpions,
and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months" (Rev.9:5-10).
The sting of these creatures will be so severe that a person would rather die than endure the agonizing pain inflected by these creatures.
"And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew language is Abaddon, but in the Greek language has his name Apollyon" (v11).
We are not told if the angel who released these creatures is the one who controls them; however, we are told that the one who directs their movements is Abaddon or Apollyon (The Destroyer). Thus, he could very well be the same destroying angel of the Exodus.
The Sixth Angel Sounds
"One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God. Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates" (vs.12-14).
With the completion of the first woe, the sixth angel blows his trumpet to release the four angels being held at the Euphrates River, which is the eastern border of the land promised to ancient Israel. This also shows destruction coming from the East, but this time a third of humanity will be killed.
"And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like to serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt" (vs.16-19).
Notice what takes place in verse 16. This verse tells us that God is going to use this great army of two hundred million strange looking creatures to kill a third of mankind.
"And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts" (vs.20-21).
Even after two-thirds of humanity has been killed by the first and second woes, those who are left still will not believe that it is the Creator God (Jesus Christ) who is torturing and killing them with these supernatural beings; therefore, they will refuse to repent and worship the true God.
The Mystery of God is Finished
Just before the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, another powerful angel will announce that there will be no more delay and that the mystery of God has come to an end.
"And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And swore by him that lives for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he will begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he has declared to his servants the prophets" (Rev.10:5-7 KJV).
Here, we see an angel announcing the end of one phase of God's plan for humanity and the beginning of another. The great mystery he refers to is the plan and purpose of God for creating humanity. It is now time for the next phase in which all of humanity past, present, and future will be given an opportunity to understand this great plan. They also will be given an opportunity to decide whether or not they want to take part in it.
Just before the seventh angel blows the seventh trumpet to announce the third woe, there is a major event that must take place prior to the initiation of these final punishments. Although it is clear that the third woe and the seventh angel who is to blow the seventh trumpet are bound together in their prophetic fulfillment, the first resurrection must take place before the initiation of these final punishments.
THE FIRST RESURRECTION
At the end of the sixth punishment and the second woe, as the seventh angel begins sounding his trumpet which announces the last seven punishments for all of humanity, the first resurrection will occur:
"And they heard a great voice from heaven saying to them, Come up here. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven" (Rev.11:12-13 KJV).
Revelation chapter 11 concerns the ministry of the Two Witnesses in the last 3½ years before the first resurrection. Verses 12-13 concern what happens at the resurrection of the two witnesses. This is the time spoken of by Jesus and the apostle Paul in Matthew 24:23-51 and 1.Thessalonians 4:16-17, when Christ sends his angels to collect the elect of God of all ages and remove them from the earth in preparation for his return as the conquering King.
Only Sinners Left on Earth
An important point to remember here is that, after the first resurrection occurs, there will be no humans on the face of the earth with the spirit of God. The elect of God will be with Christ before the throne of God on the Sea of Glass (Rev.15:2-4) waiting to return with him as kings and priests to conquer and rule the earth.
Once this event happens, the sixth punishment, which is the second woe will be finished. After the second woe is completed, it will be time for the seventh angel to announce the seventh punishment, which is the third woe:
"The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe comes quickly" (Rev.11:14 KJV).
The seventh punishment (i.e., the third woe) contains the last seven plagues, which are the most horrible and destructive events that will be poured out on humanity through the wrath of God.
The Seventh Angel Sounds Revelation 11:15-19 KJV
"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he will reign for ever and ever" (v15).
This angel will announce the end of human rule on earth and its imminent invasion by Jesus Christ, the heavenly hosts, and the Sovereign Father's other firstborn sons (Heb.12:22-23; Jms.1:18) who are at that time priests in the Kingdom of God.
"And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God, Saying, We give you thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which are, and was, and are to come; because you have taken to you your great power, and have reigned. And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great: and should destroy them which destroy the earth" (vs.16-18).
Again, we see that the announcement will be made that Jesus Christ is the ruler of the earth. After this announcement, the only thing that will remain to be done is for him to take physical possession of the earth and its inhabitants.
"And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightning, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail" (v19).
As the temple of God in heaven is opened, there will be great atmospheric disturbances around the earth that are accompanied by earthquakes and hail storms. See also Rev.15:5.
By B.L. Cocherell b2w13e