Revelation 08 (Contemporary English Version)
- When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
- I noticed that the seven angels who stood before God were each given a trumpet.
- Another angel, who had a gold container for incense, came and stood at the altar. This one was given a lot of incense to offer with the prayers of God's people on the gold altar in front of the throne.
- Then the smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God's people, went up to God from the hand of the angel.
- After this, the angel filled the incense container with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth. Thunder roared, lightning flashed, and the earth shook.
- The seven angels now got ready to blow their trumpets.
- When the first angel blew his trumpet, hail and fire mixed with blood were thrown down on the earth. A third of the earth, a third of the trees, and a third of all green plants were burned.
- When the second angel blew his trumpet, something like a great fiery mountain was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned to blood,
- a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
- When the third angel blew his trumpet, a great star fell from heaven. It was burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on a third of the springs of water.
- The name of the star was Bitter, and a third of the water turned bitter. Many people died because the water was so bitter.
- When the fourth angel blew his trumpet, a third of the sun, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars were struck. They each lost a third of their light. So during a third of the day there was no light, and a third of the night was also without light.
- Then I looked and saw a lone eagle flying across the sky. It was shouting, "Trouble, trouble, trouble to everyone who lives on earth! The other three angels are now going to blow their trumpets."
Chapter 8 brings the opening of the seventh seal of the scroll which reveals the blowing of the seven trumpets, one by one. The seven trumpets were given to seven angels to blow, but before blowing them, another angel provided a dramatic introduction. Using a gold incense burner, this angel offered incense along with the prayers of all the saints which "went up in the presence of God from the angel's hand." (8:4) He then refilled the incense burner with fire from the altar and hurled it to earth causing "thunders, rumblings, lightnings, and an earthquake." (8:5) There is no mention of destruction accompanying these events. They seem aimed at dramatically getting everyone's attention for the blowing of the trumpets. With this introduction, the seven angels prepared to blow their trumpets.
The blowing of the first four trumpets are outlined in the remaining verses of chapter 8:
- The first trumpet: "hail and fire, mixed with blood, were hurled to the earth," resulting in the burning up of a third of the earth, a third of the trees, and a third of the green grass.
- The second trumpet: A huge object, "like a great mountain," that was ablaze with fire was hurled into the sea. A third of the sea became blood from a third of the sea creatures being killed and a third of the ships being destroyed.
- The third trumpet: The judgment coming from the third trumpet is similar to that of the second trumpet. In this instance, though, the object falling to earth is a star and the waters into which it falls are the waters of earth other than the oceans - the rivers and springs of water. It is not the falling of the star into these waters that causes destruction but the poisoning of the waters from the star so that people who drink from the water are killed.
- The fourth trumpet: A darkening of the heavenly lights is the result of this seventh judgment. We are told a third of the sun, moon, and stars was struck causing a third of them to be darkened. The effect is not a third less light, but a third less time of the day and night that have light. This would seem that the damage to the heavenly bodies changed their rotational course.
It is difficult to know how to interpret or understand all of this. Though there is undoubtedly symbolism in certain aspects of these descriptions, it seems best to understand the resulting destruction or judgment as being literal. The judgment and destruction that accompanied the opening of the first six seals was caused by evil mankind. Opening of the seventh seal has brought cosmic judgment and destruction. Up to this time in history mankind may not as a whole have recognized God and His hand in creation. But with these events preceding Christ's second coming, there will be no doubt in anyone's mind as to God's involvement in creation. Only the One who made it can destroy it in such a way as this. Mankind may cause some destruction of the creation that has been entrusted to him, but nothing so extensive as this.