About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

Home Page

This Section - Chapter 8 and 9

Previous Section - Chapter 7

Next Section - Chapter 10

ch. 8:1-5        ch. 8:6-9:21 


The Seventh Seal And The Golden Censer
(ch. 8:1-5)


We now come to the opening of the seventh seal.  This seal leads into the first of the seven trumpets.  The seventh trumpet then leads into the first of the seven bowls.  As I've said earlier, some prophecy teachers believe the seven seals take place as the same time as the seven trumpet and bowls.  Others believe the seals come first, then the trumpets, and then the bowls.  A few believe, as I'm tending to believe at the moment, that the first six seals is an overview of the tribulation.  The seven trumpets and bowls are then in chronological order.   Whatever the case, what God tells angels to do in heaven they do on earth to carry out His acts of judgment.   


In verse 1 we note that when Jesus opens the last seal there is silence in Heaven for one half hour.  Is this a literal half hour or a symbolic half hour?  I tend to believe that numbers in the book of Revelation and other prophetic passages should be taken literally and this is no exception.  Total silence by everyone in Heaven for a half hour is a major event.  Just think, if five hundred people in a Sunday morning meeting of the saints were silent for one half hour, to us, that might be significant.  In this case we have thousands upon thousands of angels and the redeemed silent.  I think this silence has to do with the awesome moment that is taking place.  We're getting into the heavier and horrible aspects of the last seven years of this age and even those in heaven can do nothing but be silent.  Words cannot express what this silence means, especially in light of the fact that all we've seen so far in heaven are loud noises and songs of praise.  Heaven, at least so far, has been very vocal, and now it's silent.    


All of the above being said, there is no time frame in heaven.  It's
beyond human sphere of time and space, but that doesn't mean we should take this half hour symbolically.  Remember, John is a human and what he sees place
took place in one half hour as he watched these events unfold.   


In verse 2 we see the introduction of “the seven angels who stand before the throne”.  We now have this group added to those we’ve seen already before the throne.  We’ve seen the four living creatures, twenty four elders, the seven spirits of God, and a sea of people, among others.  We don't really know if these angels are different types of angels than the others or not.  One thing we should know though is that there are probably more types of angels than what we are aware of.  We may be very surprised when we get to heaven and see all the different types of angelic beings.                  


Hebrews 1:14 tells us that God makes His angels spirits.  Another way of viewing these seven angels is that they are seven spirits, and, more specifically, the seven spirits of God we've seen in chapter 1.


In verse 3 we see another angel involved in the judgments. We’ve seen many angels to date involved in the events that are taking place on earth.  This angel has a golden censer, or in modern terms, an incense burner, full of incense. He burned this incense on the altar that was before the throne.  Once again, we see this incense in association with the prayers of the saints.  Could these prayers be the prayers that were offered by the martyrs in the fifth seal?   Maybe, but we’re not sure.  The prayers could be the prayers of all saints of all times that have been offered to Jesus concerning His judging of the earth.  Whatever the case, these prayers are an offering to the Lord.


We know that there is a spiritual battle that has been raging since the fall of man.  Our prayers are part of this battle.  We also have to admit that not all of our prayers are answered for various reasons.  I wonder if these prayers aren’t the unanswered prayers due to the spiritual battle that was fought throughout the age.  Many Prophetic Futurists do believe these are unanswered prayers.  At this time they’ve reached the throne and now will be answered. This is just a thought, not necessarily the truth of the matter.


The angel took this censer and filled it with fire and threw it to the earth resulting in a great thunder storm and an earthquake.  I remind you that angels are doing the will of Jesus here.  Angels act on behalf of God.  I also believe that angels are involved in the affairs of men and the affairs of angels more than we can ever know.  The so-called climate change that is taking place on earth today is probably more angel prompted than a product of man.      


What does the throwing of this censer mean?  If we think that the prayers offered through this censer were the prayers of the martyrs of the fifth seal, or even if they are prayers of all saints of all time asking when judgment would come, to me, this is the answer to those prayers.  Christians throughout the ages have prayed for justice to be done on earth.  Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”.  The hurling of this censer to earth thus represents the answer to these prayers, or so many Prophetic Futurists believe.


In verse 7 we see thunder and an earthquake.  Because earthquake is singular we should understand that this is just one earthquake.  I don't believe this is the same earthquake which is described in the six seal in Revelation 6:14.  The sixth seal earthquake comes with other disasters as the sun turning black, the moon turning to blood, and the stars falling from the sky.  The Revelation 6:14 must be understood as the very last major earthquake of this age because of its association with these other disasters.  Where this chapter 8:7 earthquake takes place we just don't know.  It would not surprise me if it was in the Middle East but that is pure speculation.          


The Trumpets (ch.8:6-9:21)


We now come to the seven angels who hold the seven trumpets.  The seventh seal is actually an introduction to these seven trumpeters and the judgments that follow the sound of these trumpets.  As I've said before, I believe the six seals are and overview of the tribulation period.  It is clear that the seventh seal opens the door to the seven trumpets that opens the door to the seven bowls.  Therefore, at this moment in time, I believe the seven trumpet judgments and the seven bowl judgments should be viewed as being in chronological order.    


When the angel blows his trumpet, this is basically to announce the coming of a judgment. You might compare it to gun fire at the beginning of a race.  Throughout the Old Testament trumpets are sounded to prepare the army for war.    


At this pint I should remind you that John is still in heaven.  He sees the angel blow the trumpets but he is also able to see the results of these trumpet sound on the earth.

In verse 7 we see the first angel blowing his trumpet resulting in hail and fire mixed with blood being thrown to the earth causing one third of the earth, trees, and grass, to be burned up.  Some of those who hold to the Historic view see this event as the advance of the barbarian nations to overthrow Rome .   I believe this event to be a literal ecological disaster.  Maybe these ecological disasters come about by some kind of human doing, like an atomic bomb, or, maybe they are purely ecological without any assistance of man. That could easily be the case. 


A storm of hail and fire would easily be mixed with the blood of those it falls upon.   


I won't go into any details concerning how people view these trumpet and bowl judgments symbolically or allegorically because there are so many differing views when thinking in these terms.  It's basically a free for all.  If you don't take these things literally, then it is up to anyone's fancy to say what they mean. 


We note the term "a third part" in the first two judgments.  Some would say this is symbolic because of the mere mention of a third part so many times.  I don't see that this has to be taken symbolically.  God can be exact if He wants.  If He wants one third of the sea to turn to blood He can do that.  We shouldn't be surprised.  As I've said earlier, I believe numbers should be taken literally when it comes to Biblical prophecy.                


When it comes to these judgments, those who want to interpret them symbolically to mean something else seem to forget the judgments God placed on Egypt in the Old Testament.  If you understand the judgments of Revelation symbolically, I suggest that you should understand the judgments on Egypt symbolically too, which most don't.


In verses 8 the second angel blows his trumpet.  John says that something like a mountain hits the earth.  John did not seem to exactly know what this was.  Maybe it was a comet or asteroid.  Many people believe it is just that.  Whatever the case, one third of the sea turned to blood.  Also one third of the sea’s living creatures die, along with one third of the ocean ships being destroyed. 


Some symbolize this mountain to be nations of the world because mountains are sometimes, maybe even often, seen as nations in the Old Testament, yet if you symbolize this mountain; you must be consistent and symbolize the sea, fish, and ships, which would be hard to do in my thinking.


The third trumpet sounds in verses 10 and 11.  Some kind of great star falls from the sky called Wormwood.  Common to the Middle East is a bitter plant that is called Wormwood, thus the name of this star.   The Wormwood star destroys a third of the water in the rivers causing people to die from its bitterness.  This bitterness might well be pollution of some kind.  I see this as some kind of natural disaster.


In verse 12 we see the fourth trumpet sound.  One third of the sun, moon, and stars, turn dark. This causes one third of the night and day to be dark as well.  In Matthew 24 Jesus says that the sun and moon would turn into darkness.  The prophet Joel predicts the same.  We can’t say for sure if the actual sun, moon, and stars, turns dark in themselves or they appear dark due to some catastrophe on earth.  They might well just appear to be dark.  Volcanic ash for example can cloud the skies, making the sun darker and the moon look red in colour.  


The first four trumpets have now been sounded and some pretty terrible judgments from God have resulted from them, yet before the next trumpet sounds, an eagle flies across the sky and warns those on earth of the next judgments.  The next three trumpets seem to be worse than the first four.  


We note a similarity between the trumpets and the seals at this point.  The first four of each are similar to each other, while there seems to be a change in the last three. The first four seals differ from the last three seals in that the first four had horses and riders and the last three didn’t.  The first four trumpets are now distinguished from the last three with an interruption by this eagle that announces the three woes, which in fact are three trumpets. 


Some versions of verse 13 use the word eagle, and some use the word angel.  The Greek word translated as eagle and the Greek word translated as angel are very similar, which has brought some confusion into the translation.


Note that there are three wows shouted out by the eagle.  There are three wows because the next three trumpet sounds are called wows. 


Some suggest that this can't be an eagle shouting these wows.  They say eagles don't talk, and that is correct, at least in this era of time.  That being said, if this is an eagle and not an angel, I suggest that God can make an eagle talk, just as He made Balaam's donkey talk.  We must understand that the tribulation period is actually a different age, just as the pre-fall days of Genesis 3 was a different age.  The Genesis account speaks of satan speaking through the mouth of a snake.  Many allegorize the snake talking away, but why?  The pre-fall age is so different that our present age that we have no clue to what it was like.  Maybe some animals had some kind of ability to communicate with humans.  That would not surprise me.  When God told Adam that he would die if he disobeyed, I see this death as the death of all things.  The molecular structure of all things was changed in one moment of a time so drastically that nothing was at it once was.  Don't discount the notion that an eagle can talk during the tribulation.            


All of the above being said, what John is seeing here is in heaven, not on earth.  Eagles may not talk on earth but we don't know if they talk in heaven.  Remember, John is in heaven.  What he sees is in heaven, but, what he sees in heaven have corresponding effects on earth.            


In chapter 9 verse 1 we see the sound of the fifth trumpet.  A star falls from Heaven.  In many places throughout the Old Testament stars are actually angels.  So, there's no real need to overly symbolize this star.  The star is a personality because of the use of the pronoun “he”.  Some suggest that because this sentence is in the past tense the event here has already happened, but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case.  The star is an angel because he has the key to the Abyss.  Some suggest this angel is satan but I don't see satan having any such key.       


The Abyss is a place where demons have been locked up.  Many, as was the case in Greek mythology, believe the Abyss is the most lower part of Hades, where the present wicked dead now live.       


In verse 3 we see that locust came out of the smoke from the Abyss.  Many have speculated concerning these locusts.  They are further described in verse 7 and following.  I believe they are locusts because that is what the text state they are, but, since they come out of the Abyss, they must be special locusts that are inhabited by demons from that part of the Abyss.  Demons can live in animals, at least for a period of time.  Jesus cast demons into pigs.    


Concerning these demons from the Abyss, if you read the book of Jude you'll see that there is a segment of demons who have been locked up by God for a long time.  Peter, in 2 Peter 2:4 and following speak of these same demons.  Many Bible teachers believe these demons to be the angels that cohabited with human women in Genesis 6 producing giant offspring.  Those who believe this believe God sent the flood to the earth because of this very sin.  Here in Revelation, we see demons released from the Abyss.  They might well be the fallen angels of Genesis 6.  


Just to be clear, I don't believe the Abyss is Hades where the present wicked and unbelieving dead live.   However, it might be the basement of Hades as was thought to be the case by many ancient religions.  It's clearly a place of fire because of the reference to smoke.       


Vere 4 states that these demon possessed locusts are let lose to torment those who did not have the seal of God.  It is interesting to me that God would use demons as a means to torment the wicked, those who might well be possessed with demons themselves.  This surely tells us that God is in charge of all things, all people, and all angels, including demons.  It also tells us that God uses satan and demons to accomplish His will.              


It is interesting to note that these locusts could only torment those who had the mark of the beast for five months, which, is the normal life span of a locust.  This would further suggest to me that these locusts are really some type of real and literal locust.   


Some say that this event is actually satan’s fall from Heaven before the creation of the world but I don't think so.


In verses 3 through 11 we learn all about these demon possessed locusts that come from the Abyss.  As I said before, I believe these locusts are real locusts, not purely demons or some kind of man made thing like airplanes.  The book of Joel prophesies of such locusts as well.  God is using these locusts in the process of His judgment.  The torment of this demonic attack is so bad that in verse 6 we see that those inflicted by these demons want to die but can't.  That must be some very horrible way to feel.     


These demon possessed locusts had another demon over them called Apollyon.  We thus note that this is yet another verse that tells us that fallen angels or demons are under a chain of authority.  The name "Apollyon" means the destroyer, and might well be in reference to satan, especially since Jesus said that satan comes to destroy in John 10:10. 


Before we go to verse 13 we must note what the eagle said at the end of chapter 8.  He said, “woe, woe woe…”  He said the word “woe” three times, and now we see that this word means something.  We note in verse 12 that the trumpet that has just sounded represents the first “woe”, and now there are two more “woes” to come. Each of the last three trumpet sounds is a woe.  To me this suggests a bit of a shift in God's judgments.  These woes are more severe than the previous trumpets.


In verses 13 and following we see the sixth trumpet sound, or the second woe.  The sounding of this trumpet releases four angels that were bound in the river Euphrates .  We've already seen some fallen angels, or demons, bound up in the Abyss, and now we see angels who have been bound at the Euphrates River .  Obviously, there are fallen angels bound up in more places than just the Abyss.  Some might suggest that these are good angels but I don't see it that way.  Why would good angels be bound?  Once again, God is using demons to judge those who follow demons.  How ironic.


John says that these angels had been locked up for this very hour, day, and month.  This certainly shows us the idea that God has a timetable, and it’s right down to the very hour.  I certainly don't think we should symbolize or allegorize these moments of time.   


It is quite possible that these angels influence evil men on earth.  The description that John tells us concerning this two hundred million strong army for some looks very much like modern weapons and machines of war.  Some Bible teachers have suggested that this army is a Chinese army since they have the population to support such a huge army.  They suggest that this is an army of men and not demons because of the wording of the text.  For example, it speaks of "mounted troops". All that being said, I'm not convinced that this army is an army of men and airplanes.  It could well be an army of demons, and at the moment, I lean towards that.  That does not mean these demons don't use men in the process as they terrorize the world, because they might


The Euphrates River has been associated in the Old Testament with the first sin, first murder, first dictator, first revolt against God, first organized army – all in the first ten chapters of Genesis.  This area of the world has a great history when it comes to evil.  In today's world it is the centre of much warfare and ethnic fighting.


In verses 20 and 21 we note that the rest of mankind still did not repent of all the sins they constantly commit, including worshipping demons.  Whether humans at this point realize they are really worshipping demons or not is uncertain.  However, satan worship is on the rise and I believe there will be those who worship demons and know they are worshipping demons. 


From my understanding of the book of Revelation, by the time this part of the tribulation comes on earth the majority of mankind will realize there is a God and that they are in fact fighting against him, but as verses 20 and 21 state, man will still not repent.  This is very hard to understand, but we know that man's heart is more wicked than we can know.        


Like the seven seals, there is an interruption between trumpet number six and trumpet number seven as we will see in the next chapter.   We won’t hear the seventh trumpet sound until we come to Revelation 15.



Next Section - Chapter 10

Previous Section - Chapter 7

Home Page