Revelation Chapter 8

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Revelation Chapter 8

8:1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

8:2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

8:4 And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.

8:5 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 lightnings, and an earthquake.

8:6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

8:7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

8:8 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;

8:9 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.

8:10 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 waters;

8:11 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.

8:12 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.

8:13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst

 

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of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!

V erse 1: There are two moments of silence in heaven that are connected with great future events. One moment of silence is connected with the close of probation. The close of probation is a secret, silent, event that is associated with a period of silence in heaven. The close of probation is connected with the next series of seven trumpets described in Revelation 8–11. It opens or begins with a period of silence in heaven. Consider the following:

The graduating class from the everlasting gospel is highlighted in Revelation 7. These are those who have followed Jesus from the courtyard into the Holy Place and all the way into the Most Holy Place and have matured in character-likeness to Jesus. The last step of the investigative judgment is to pronounce those who are retained in the Book of Life to be secure from sin forever. This is the close of probation. Not only are the righteous pronounced mature and secure from the temptation to sin but the wicked are also mature in their decision to reject the salvation that has been bought at the price of the blood of the Son of God. God cannot give the wicked up to Satan without a period of grief and silence in heaven that is too deep and profound for humanity to comprehend.

"How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? [how] shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? [how] shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together." Hosea 11:8

The parallel secret silence in heaven was seen while Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane.

"But God suffered with His Son. Angels beheld the Saviour’s agony. They saw their Lord enclosed by legions of satanic forces, His nature weighed down with a shuddering, mysterious dread. There was silence in heaven. No harp was touched. Could mortals have viewed the amazement of the angelic host as in silent grief they watched the Father separating His beams of light, love, and glory from His beloved Son, they would better understand

 

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how offensive in His sight is sin." {DA 693.2}

What is happening on the earth during the close of probation is described for us.

"The righteous and the wicked will still be living upon the earth in their mortal state—men will be planting and building, eating and drinking, all unconscious that the final, irrevocable decision has been pronounced in the sanctuary above. Before the Flood, after Noah entered the ark, God shut him in and shut the ungodly out; but for seven days the people, knowing not that their doom was fixed, continued their careless, pleasure-loving life and mocked the warnings of impending judgment. ‘So,’ says the Saviour, ‘shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’ Matthew 24:39. Silently, unnoticed as the midnight thief, will come the decisive hour which marks the fixing of every man’s destiny, the final withdrawal of mercy’s offer to guilty men." {GC 491.1}

" ‘Watch ye therefore: . . . lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.’ Mark 13:35, 36. Perilous is the condition of those who, growing weary of their watch, turn to the attractions of the world. While the man of business is absorbed in the pursuit of gain, while the pleasure lover is seeking indulgence, while the daughter of fashion is arranging her adornments—it may be in that hour the Judge of all the earth will pronounce the sentence: ‘Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.’ Daniel 5:27." {GC 491.2}

The second period of silence is public and in connection with the second coming of Jesus in the clouds of heaven. Having pronounced, at the end of the investigative judgment, that the graduating class has completely benefited from the plan of salvation and are secure from temptation, the reality and strength of accomplishment of Jesus in the lives of all who have gone all the way with Him are tested. The final test is the personal presence of Jesus in His undimmed glory of His second coming. This final testing of the graduates who are described as "first fruits" to stand in the presence of God, face to face, is pictured in Revelation 8:1 under the symbol of opening the seventh seal, as a half an hour of silence. This is described for us in Great Controversy page 641.

 

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"Before His presence ‘all faces are turned into paleness;’ upon the rejecters of God’s mercy falls the terror of eternal despair. ‘The heart melteth, and the knees smite together,…and the faces of them all gather blackness.’ Jeremiah 30:6; Nahum 2:10. The righteous cry with trembling: ‘Who shall be able to stand?’ The angels’ song is hushed, and there is a period of awful silence. Then the voice of Jesus is heard, saying: ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’ The faces of the righteous are lighted up, and joy fills every heart. And the angels strike a note higher and sing again as they draw still nearer to the earth." {GC 641.1}

This same silence is described more fully in these words:

"The 144,000 were all sealed and perfectly united. On their foreheads was written, God, New Jerusalem, and a glorious star containing Jesus’ new name. At our happy, holy state the wicked were enraged, and would rush violently up to lay hands on us to thrust us into prison, when we would stretch forth the hand in the name of the Lord, and the wicked would fall helpless to the ground. Then it was that the synagogue of Satan knew that God had loved us, and they worshiped at our feet.

Soon our eyes were drawn to the east, for a small black cloud had appeared about half as large as a man’s hand, which we all knew was the sign of the Son of man. We all in solemn silence gazed on the cloud as it drew nearer, and became lighter, glorious, and still more glorious, till it was a great white cloud. The bottom appeared like fire; a rainbow was over it, and around the cloud were ten thousand angels singing a most lovely song. And on it sat the Son of man, on his head were crowns, his hair was white and curly and lay on his shoulders. His feet had the appearance of fire, in his right hand was a sharp sickle, in his left a silver trumpet. His eyes were as a flame of fire, which searched his children through and through.

Then all faces gathered paleness, and those that God had rejected gathered blackness. Then we all cried out, Who shall be able to stand? Is my robe spotless? Then the angels ceased to sing, and there was some time of awful silence, when Jesus spoke, Those who have clean hands and a pure heart shall be able to stand; my grace is sufficient for you. At this, our faces lighted up, and joy filled every heart. And the angels struck a note higher and sung again while the cloud drew still nearer the earth. Then Jesus’ silver trumpet sounded, as he descended on the cloud, wrapped in flames of fire. He gazed on the graves of the sleeping saints, then raised his

 

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eyes and hands to heaven and cried, Awake! Awake! Awake! ye that sleep in the dust, and arise. Then there was a mighty earthquake. The graves opened, and the dead came up clothed with immortality. The 144,000 shouted, Hallelujah! as they recognized their friends who had been torn from them by death, and in the same moment we were changed and caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air." Spiritual Gifts Volume 2 pages 33,34. (Another source for this same description is found in Testimonies to the Church Volume 1 page 60.)

What follows next (after the first period of silence in heaven that is in connection with the grief-separation silence in preparation for the final close of probation) is the equivalent to the handwriting on the wall that Daniel interpreted on the last night of old Babylon. Now the trumpets sound world-wide announcing the plagues during the process of the close of probation with the same message, "It is God that you have been fighting against—and not man!"

"Revelation 6 and 7 are full of meaning. Terrible are the judgments of God revealed. The seven angels stood before God to receive their commission. To them were given seven trumpets. The Lord was going forth to punish the inhabitants of the earth. . . ." {Mar 284.5}

"The power of the Holy Ghost must be upon us, and the Captain of the Lord’s host will stand at the head of the angels of heaven to direct the battle. Solemn events before us are yet to transpire. Trumpet after trumpet is to be sounded, vial after vial poured out one after another upon the inhabitants of the earth. Scenes of stupendous interest are right upon us" (Letter 112, 1890). {7BC 982.7}

As the plagues of Egypt were announced beforehand to Pharaoh, by Moses, so again, in the end of the world the trumpets announce and the plagues deliver the judgments of God. As in Egypt so again world-wide in the future, the plagues are directed against the false gods that have been set up and honored in preference to the true God of the everlasting gospel. The trumpets announce with partial judgments or modified judgments what the plagues repeat

 

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with greater extent and damage.

Trumpets were used in the campaign against Jericho when God delivered the land of Canaan (Joshua 6). Trumpets were blown every day for six days as the army marched around the city. On the seventh day—all that had been done previously was repeated. On the seventh day the army marched around the city seven times, and the trumpets were blown seven times as they repeated what they had done daily for six days. Thus for God to have given warnings of His second coming in history and to repeat His warnings at the final time of His coming has a precedent in the destruction of Jericho.

While it is true that the trumpets have been correctly understood to apply to historical events that are past, it is the present and future that we need to prepare for by understanding the past. For the historical fulfillment of the trumpets see Uriah Smith’s book Daniel and Revelation. It is the complete and future fulfillment that is focused on in this presentation. We cannot know more details of future events than have been revealed in Scripture and Spirit of Prophecy. We have to wait for their full and final fulfillment to know all the details. The viewpoint of the trumpets presented here is taken from the phrase "The Lord was going forth to punish the inhabitants of the earth. . . ." {Mar 284.5} It is my current understanding that the trumpets announce the close of probation during that process. The trumpets announce that the judgment of the living has begun! The plagues parallel the trumpets after the close of probation. These disasters on earth that precede the second coming of Jesus demonstrate the unchanging nature of maturity of character. Calamity during the close of probation demonstrates that neither pleadings of mercy that are now experienced, nor increasing degrees of calamity described in the trumpets and the plagues, changes character. The maturity of rebellion on one hand and the maturity of love and obedience to God, on the other hand, does not change the course of life, but only hardens or fully develops it under trial.1 It must be appreciated that while the close of probation is something that God announces as a statement of fact: Revelation 22:21 "He that is unjust, let him

 

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stand of grain is ripe. Then it is reaped. When the characters of all living on earth are fully mature, it is announced in heaven that the harvest on earth is fully ripe (both the wheat—those who have received the benefits of the everlasting gospel and have fully developed the character of Jesus, and the tares—those who said in their hearts, "We will not have this man rule over us—meaning King Jesus). At that point in time the sanctuary service in heaven is terminated as it has no longer any purpose or role to fill. This is the close of probation.be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." This is not an arbitrary command or fiat by God that makes it so because God said so. God said so because He can see that it is so! The close of probation is a process of character maturity for the living. Probation closed for the dead at their death. Probation could close with death for any of the living at any time. Probation will close for the last generation while they are still alive. Different people mature in character at different speeds and at different times. This is illustrated by grain ripening in a field. Different stalks of corn or wheat differ in the time of their complete maturity. However, there is a time when the whole

"’At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.’ [Dan. 12:1.] {GC88 613.1}

"When the third angel’s message closes, mercy no longer pleads for the guilty inhabitants of the earth. The people of God have accomplished their work. They have received ‘the latter rain,’ ‘the refreshing from the presence of the Lord,’ and they are prepared for the trying hour before them. Angels are hastening to and fro in Heaven. An angel returning from the earth announces that his work is done; the final test has been brought upon the world, and all who have proved themselves loyal to the divine precepts have received ‘the seal of the living God.’ [see Appendix note 13. In the 1888 Great Controversy—not in this work] Then Jesus ceases his intercession

 

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in the sanctuary above. He lifts his hands, and with a loud voice says, ‘It is done;’ and all the angelic host lay off their crowns as he makes the solemn announcement: ‘He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.’ [Rev. 22:11.] Every case has been decided for life or death. Christ has made the atonement for his people, and blotted out their sins. The number of his subjects is made up; ‘the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven,’ is about to be given to the heirs of salvation, and Jesus is to reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords." {GC 613.2}

1st trumpet

T he first trumpet (v.7) is directed against the earth destroying all green grass and one third of the trees due to hail and fire with blood. "Mother earth" has long been worshiped in place of the Creator God.

2nd trumpet

T he second trumpet is directed against the sea. "A great mountain burning with fire" could be a volcanic eruption or a meteorite strike. A third of ships, and sea life was destroyed. The sea is associated with commerce and travel for pleasure. Certainly the god of this world is money. Pleasure seeking comes a close second. Both commerce and pleasure seeking is associated with the sea.

3rd trumpet

T he third trumpet is directed against water, in and on the land. All life is dependent upon water. A meteorite land strike could do great damage to all life on earth. Wormwood in Amos 5:7 is associated with perverted justice and judgment. Perversion of justice is hateful to God. Water is essential to city life as well as agriculture. Cities, factory farms and perverted justice could all be identified as gods that the true God is publicly humbling.

 

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4th trumpet

T he fourth trumpet is directed against the sun, moon, and stars. These major deities in the heavens have long been in opposition to the true God. Dimming their light by a third would be a major public judgment on them demonstrating the sole and absolute control of the Creator over His creation in the heavens that He keeps in place by the power of His wisdom and might. This trumpet is of special importance because of its place in the central position in the chiastic structure of the seven trumpets. Worship of the sun, moon and stars has in the past been and continues to the present to be a major false god.