This sermon is from the series UNDERSTANDING REVELATION and was preached at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cherry Log, Georgia on Sunday, July 13, 2014 by Pastor Paul Mims. You can hear this sermon at www.csbccl.org
Revelation 8-16 When the Lamb opens the seventh seal on the scroll that will unfold the events of the end of time, there is a dramatic pause, and then there is the sounding of seven trumpets and the pouring out of seven bowls of God’s judgments upon unrepentant humanity. This is covered in chapters 8-16. We shall consider this broadly today, and on future Sundays we shall deal with some specific events included in these chapters.
I looked up the use of trumpets in Scripture and found that they were used at important junctures in Biblical history. In the giving of the Ten Commandments it is stated In Exodus 19:16, “…there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.” In calling the exiles from every land, Isaiah in 27:13 said that on the Day of the Lord a great trumpet will be blown to draw them to worship God in Jerusalem. Jesus said in Matthew 24:31, “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” In I Corinthians 15:52, Paul says, “…the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised…”
Before the trumpets of Revelation are sounded there is silence in heaven for half an hour. The seven angels are each handed a trumpet. Then another angel approaches the altar of God with a golden censer of incense which contained the prayers of all the saints.
This is a remarkable scene. Every prayer that God’s people have prayed like, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” has been heard through the ages and is about to be ultimately answered. Every prayer for righteousness and justice – every prayer for victory over evil – every prayer for an unbeliever – God is getting ready to do everything possible to bring the unrepentant to Himself. That is the purpose of all of the events going forward.
It is comforting to know that our prayers are not just lost in the vapor of heaven but are collected and presented to the Father. Some are presented immediately. Others have to await ultimate providence.
When we pray, remember:
1. The love of God that wants the best for us.
2. The wisdom of God that knows what is best for us.
3. The power of God that can accomplish it. William Barclay, Prodigals and Those Who Love.
It was Tennyson who said, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”
By Hybels said, “If the request is wrong, God says, “No.”
If the timing is wrong, God says, “Slow.”
If you are wrong, God says, “Grow.”
But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, “Go!”
And so our prayers are presented to the Father and then the angel throws them down from heaven to the earth to be activated. This is when the trumpets sound. The prayers of the saints have been heard and God uses them to usher in the end of time.
I. THE ENVIORNMENT IS MADE HOSTILE TO MAN
THE FIRST TRUMPET (8:7) sounds and a third of the earth is smitten with hail and fire mixed with blood. A third of the earth was burned along with a third of the trees and grass.
THE SECOND TRUMPET (8:8-9) sounds and the sea is smitten. Like a volcano pouring into the sea, it corrupted the water which became blood and killed a third of all sea life.
THE THIRD TRUMPET (8:10-11) sounds and a great star fell from heaven and corrupted a third of all of the fresh water on the planet and many died from drinking the polluted water.
THE FOURTH TRUMPET (8:12-13) sounds and a third of the heavenly bodies ceased to function. Only one third of the sun, moon, and stars would function and there was a terrible darkness.
When God placed man in the Garden of Eden, he was given the responsibility to care for the earth. One of the biggest issues today that is affecting our lives through government polices is the environment. There is a big debate on global warming and climate change. There is a constant struggle to keep our oceans, lakes, and rivers from severe pollution. The air is polluted in our major cities and in various parts of the world. With the every-day concerns that we have with the environment now just think what it will be when the first four trumpets sound. Their purpose will be harsh but redemptive. Have you noticed that in a time of national tragedy some people return to church and to the Lord? After 9/11 our churches were filled for a few months. God’s purpose in these environmental judgments is to motivate people to turn to Him. Will the unbelievers do it?
THE FIFTH TRUMPET (9:1-12) sounds and the abyss that held a host of demonic forces is unlocked and they are unleashed to torment and kill men for five and a half months. This is the irritation that comes when the environment is against man. They cannot touch anyone who has the seal of God on their foreheads. These are the ones who have believed during the tribulation period. All of the unbelievers will be fair game for the death and destruction that happens during this period.
THE SIXTH TRUMPET (9:13-21) sounds and a third of mankind is killed. The imagery is that of two hundred million horsemen riding across the earth unleashing plagues that claim the lives of one third of the population. Did the unbelievers repent? The result was recorded in 9:20-21; “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass, and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”
THE SEVENTH TRUMPET (11:15-19) sounds and there were loud voices in heaven saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the Temple of God which is in heaven was opened: and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.
Then the final Judgments are rendered through the wrath of the Holy God as they are pictured in bowls of wrath being poured out. Seven angels are pictured holding seven bowls. “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”
THE FIRST BOWL (16:1-2) of wrath is poured out and cancer is given to all who had the mark of the beast and worshipped his image. This was in the form of malignant sores.
THE SECOND BOWL (16:3) of wrath is poured into the sea and every living thing in the sea died.
THE THIRD BOWL (16:4-7) of wrath is poured into the rivers and springs and they became blood.
THE FOURTH BOWL (16:8-9) of wrath is poured upon the sun, and it was given to scorch men with fire. Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give him glory.”
THE FIFTH BOWL (16:10-11) of wrath is poured out on “the throne of the beast and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and they did not repent of their deeds.”
THE SIXTH BOWL (16:12-16) of wrath is poured out “on the great river, the Euphrates, and its water dried up so that they way would be prepared for the kings from the east…And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.” This is the final battle of good and evil at Armageddon.
THE SEVENTH BOWL (16:17-21) of wrath is poured out “upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, It is done…and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.”
There is a lot to be interpreted here. Some say that the seals, trumpets, and bowls run consecutively and not concurrently. It is true that there seems to be some overlapping, but the better interpretation seems to be that they run one after the other.
II. EVERY PERSON HAS TO DECLARE HIMSELF OR HERSELF A BELIEVER OR AN UNBELIEVER.
What have we seen here in the Trumpet and Bowl judgments? We have seen God reaching out to man for one last time to come to Him in repentance and faith. Un-believers have not listened to the proclamation of the gospel by preachers in the churches, in the media, in print, and in all the methods of technology. They have not responded to the General Revelation of God to them through nature. They have purposely chosen in the hardness of their hearts to follow evil, to worship evil, and to be opposed to God and the truth revealed in Jesus the Christ. So if they will not respond to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit who tries to draw them to Christ, some will listen to the loud voice of God through judgment. But there comes a time when God’s loving patience has worn thin and He will put up with man’s sin and unbelief no longer. Then comes judgment. He has done everything but force man to believe and He will not do that.
Remember that the church has been removed from the earth between the sixth and seventh seals and will not go through these wrath judgments. Some people will be converted during this time and they will be in the midst of the judgments. All of the seals, trumpets, and bowls are in the seven year period at the end of time.
We are reminded that “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7) “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)
The Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, tells a parable of a theater where a variety show is proceeding. Each show is more fantastic than the last, and is applauded by the audience. Suddenly the manager comes forward. He apologizes for the interruption, but the theater is on fire, and he begs his patrons to leave in an orderly fashion. The audience thinks this is the most amusing turn of the evening, and cheer thunderously. The manager again implores them to leave the burning building, and he is again applauded vigorously. At last he can do no more. The fire raced through the whole building and the fun-loving audience with it. “And so,” concluded Kierkegaard, “will our age, I sometimes think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators.”
C. S. Lewis said “When the author walks onto the stage, the play is over. God is going to invade, all right; but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else comes crashing in? This time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. That will not be the time for choosing; It will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.”
Most of us here have already chosen which side we are on, but some have not. You have not declared yourself to be a Christian. You have not repented of your sin and believed that Jesus died for you. You have not been transformed by the renewing of your mind and become a new person. You have not been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. You are not a member of the church. You have not declared yourself openly for the Lord and I invite you to do that now.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:32-33; “Therefore everyone who confesses me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, I will also deny him before my father who is in heaven.”
If you will trust him he will save you now.
PRAISE BE TO HIS NAME!