Posts Tagged ‘trumpet judgments’

A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 8-9

December 18, 2012

See Part One – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 1-3

Part Two – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 4-5

Part Three: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 6-7

Last week we saw in Revelation chapter 6 the beginning of God’s divine judgment that only Christ alone was worthy to release.  As Christ opened the first six Seals, we saw that each ushered in a specific judgment from a holy God on a Christ-rejecting world.  We asked in Rev 6:17 with the world experiencing these judgments, “Who is able to stand?”  And chapter seven answered that question: those 144,000 Jews who will be called by the Lord and receive HIS seal on their foreheads (Rev 7:3).  For the record, I would say that Revelation 7 flashes back to the beginning of the Tribulation after the Rapture has occurred.  As we look at Revelation 8 we see Christ opening the seventh Seal which releases another series of seven judgments (the Trumpet judgments (Rev 8-15).

Below is a chart which describes the various Seal, Trumpet and Bowl judgments which gives a basic sense of the effects of each judgment.  I didn’t want to spend this article going through the specific details of each judgment when a picture is worth a thousand words.

Trumpet1 Stitch

God accomplishes these judgments.  There is no question whatsoever that they come from the throne of God.  What is taking place in heaven is every bit as real as what will be taking place on earth.  But we can wonder how God brings these judgments about: for example, is the 2nd Trumpet judgment of a fiery mountain being thrown into the sea that kills a third of all the fish a supernatural act of God?  Does God create the fiery mountain and hurl it at earth?  Or is it the effect of God merely stepping back and allowing sinful man to do what comes naturally (in this case by launching nuclear weapons on the earth)???  As you look at what unfolds: a third of the earth and trees and grass burned up, a third of the oceans and fish life destroyed, a third of the fresh waters being made toxic, darkness covering the earth, intense heat, etc., it seems very much to me that all of these things are precisely what has been described by scientists if we had a large-scale nuclear war.  Remember that we’ve got the War of God and Magog (Ezekiel 39) to fight in addition to the battle that takes place after the world’s armies gather at Armageddon.

On my view, I believe that man fulfills many of these terrible judgments upon himself as a result of God merely stepping aside.  I offer two reasons: 1) that 67 years ago before the advent of the nuclear age it would have been impossible that these judgments could have been anything other than supernatural acts by God.  Now, with nuclear weapons capable of bringing about what is described in Revelation; with the East literally being able to field an army of 200 million men (Rev 9, 16) when there weren’t 200 million human beings alive on the entire planet when John received this revelation; and things like the Euphrates drying up so this demonic Eastern army can cross it coinciding with a series of dams being built across the Euphrates for the very first time in history – it just strikes me as more than coincidence.  And 2) because on this view man won’t be able to stand before God and say, “Well, we were doing great without You and then You started doing all this awful stuff to us.”  God would be able to respond, “You did all that to YOURSELVESYOUR own Antichrist did it to you.”  God would not have wiped out some 2 billion human beings in Rev 9:13-21 after previously wiping out a fourth of all humanity (Rev 6:7-8); He would merely have stepped aside and allowed man to inflict those judgments upon himself.  And doesn’t that message of foolish actions resulting in disastrous consequences jibe well with Proverbs?

That said, another possibility is a super volcano.  We have five of them around the planet – and any ONE of them exploding could end human civilization on earth, according to scientists.  That fiery mountain could be the top of an actual mountain being thrown off its foundation by the blast of the super volcano.  So if you enjoy worshiping nature rather than your Creator, your Creator can give you more nature than you ever dreamed of, can’t He?

The simple truth is that I don’t profess to know precisely how God will fulfill these judgments; I know merely that God is ultimately sovereign over EVERYTHING and that these judgments WILL be fulfilled.  And of course I also very much believe they will be literally fulfilled as people really die and as the skies truly darken over the earth.

This will be a truly terrifying time to be alive.  Assuming that we begin the Tribulation with 7 billion humans, that number will be down to 3.5 billion (HALF!) considering just the judgments described in Rev 6:7-8 and Rev 9:13-21 alone.  And just think of the mass starvation as basically a third of green things perish and a third of the oceans perish.  How much worse can things get than they are now?  A LOT.

We can’t leave without considering the judgments of Revelation with the plagues of Moses in Exodus.  Consider: man gets sores in Rev 16:2 cf. the boils the Egyptians get in Exodus 9:8-12.  The waters became blood in Exodus 7:17-21 and the oceans and rivers become blood in Revelation.  Darkness settles over the earth in Exodus 10:21-23 and darkness settles over the earth in Rev 8:12 (and 16:8-9).  We have locusts described in Exodus 10:21-23 and those pesky locusts come back in Rev 9:13-21 and 16:10-11.  We’ve got an invasion of a giant army of frogs in Exodus 8:2-4 and an invasion from a far deadlier human army in Rev 9:13-21 and 16:12-16.  And we’ve got hail in Exodus 9:18-26 and we’ve got all kinds of hail in Rev 11:15-19 and 16:17-21.  The judgments of the Bowls mirror the judgments of the Trumpets – and very clearly both seem to mirror the judgments of Exodus.

And just why is it that so many Christians understand the plagues of Egypt literally, as having happened exactly as described, and yet refuse to believe that the plagues described in Revelation just likewise might also be fulfilled literally?  That frankly might be the biggest mystery of all.

So let’s turn to Revelation 9.  We start with the fifth Trumpet judgment (and the first woe).  What do we see?  We see what are described as demonic locusts.  And frankly, whether they are actually demon-possessed locusts or whether they are armored attack helicopters (see: http://www.hellos.com/angelo/revelation/angel5.html for example) we end up with the same point: God doesn’t directly inflict this terrible pain on human beings.  He either merely paroled four demons or stepped aside so that demonic helicopter squadrons could attack people with gas or nerve agent that may very well be in our arsenal right now.  2 Peter 2:4-5 points out that God has held some particularly vicious demons since the days of Noah.  And we know that unlike ordinary locusts, which “have no king” (Proverbs 30:27), these locusts – whatever they are – will have a demonic king whose name means “Destroyer.”  We also know that most locusts can’t leave the grass alone.  And as painful as their attack clearly will be, God displays His grace yet again by not allowing them to kill and consign more victims to hell.

Have you ever watched the fun movie Back to the Future?  Let’s say I rode my v-twin motorcycle into the early 17th century right into a Puritan village wearing my full face helmet and my leathers and my pointy-toed cowboy boots: what would the people have made of me careening around on something that had no legs but ran faster than any horse?  How would they have interpreted me?  And how long do you think it would take them to assemble into a mob to seek to burn me at the stake?  And then you get the sense of the question, “How would the Apostle John have described me given his 1st century understanding of the world?”

In any event, I do NOT want you to get bogged down on whether the creatures seen in Rev 9:1-12 are demonic helicopters or demonic locusts and have your whole world collapse if it’s the other one; because that is simply not the point.  It’s true that we don’t know exactly what these things are; but we have a very detailed description as to what they will do.  And we also have a very good understanding of why they’re doing what they do.  As the song goes, “two out of three aint bad.”  We know that the generation that experiences these things will know all too well what they turn out to be, and we know that this story is NOT “about the future,” but rather it is about Jesus Christ finally and fully overcoming evil and taking His rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords surrounded by His people.  So don’t get bogged down by what you don’t fully know yet; just be thankful you won’t have to find out what the “locusts” are the hard way!

The sixth Trumpet (and the 2nd woe) in Rev 9:13-21 is much the same; are these demon-possessed humans or are they an actual demonic army?  The text says, “kings from the east,” plural.  I believe it will be a human army from China and quite probably several of her Eastern allies (such as Pakistan); but I don’t know for sure.  Whatever they are, we again know just what they are doing and we know why they are doing it.  And whether they’re real demons or Chinese communist demons, they’ll going to accomplish the exact same job, won’t they?  We can certainly speculate what kind of army this will be; but let us do so knowing that we’re speculating and realizing that, once again, we’ll be dramatically happier not knowing whether these are humans or demons than will be the poor fools who get caught in this army’s path and get to find out firsthand, won’t we?

In the time we have left, let’s briefly consider the message of Rev 9:20-21.  We find that the unbelievers of the Tribulation are so militant in their unbelief that nothing will soften their hearts or cause them to worship Jesus Christ.  There will simply be no repenting in these people.  And we’re told that their lives will be characterized by demon worship, sorcery (“pharmakia” or heavy drug use), sexual immorality (“porneia” from which we get the word “pornography”), murder and theft.  They just sound like such a nice, special group of people, don’t they?

The Nov 21st issue of The Desert Sun had an article titled, “Riverside County jails see record early releases: Data reflect depth of Riverside County’s overcrowding crisis.”  It ends with these words:

Nearly two-thirds of those parolees are categorized as “high-risk” offenders, according to the probation department.

That’s higher than the 40 percent of high-risk offenders that the state had projected would be under county care, Riverside County Chief Probation Officer Alan Crogan said in a recent interview.

“We missed the mark,” he said. “Some of them, regretfully, have serious mental health illnesses. That’s another thing that we didn’t realize — the extent of the mental health issues,” Crogan said.

Sheriff Stanley Sniff Jr. has repeatedly warned Riverside County jails, like many of the 58 counties across the state, would be “overwhelmed” by housing felons.

“The system is so overloaded. We’re not close. We’re way, way, behind,” Sniff has said. “That’s what’s added to our misery, when you’re seeing some terrible surges in crime.”

The very fabric of our society is beginning to whirl out of control.  The world you see before you is on the verge of collapse.  Something is coming to fill the vacuum.  He will be the ultimate big government tyrant.  The Bible calls him the beast.

Part Five: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 10-11

Part Six: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 12-13

Part Seven: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 14-15

Part Eight: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 16-18

Part Nine: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 19-20

Part Ten: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 21-22

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A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 6-7

December 10, 2012

Part One – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 1-3

Part Two – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 4-5

Brief recap: we began with a message from Jesus Christ to His churches (ch 1-3).  Last time we heard the church called to heaven (“Come up here”) and we saw that God on His sovereign throne is in command.  And we saw all attention turn to God the Son, Jesus Christ, in the center of God’s throne (Rev 5:6).  And we saw that in all of heaven, only Christ alone was worthy to open the seals that would begin the divine judgment that God would use to begin to finally deal with the problem of evil once and for all.  We find that there will be three waves of divine judgment on earth: the seven seal judgments (Rev 6-7), the seven trumpet judgments (Rev 8-15), and the seven bowl judgments (Rev 16).  As we begin Revelation chapter six we see Christ open the first of the seven seals.

There are a couple of ways of looking at these three waves of judgment that make sense.  One has the virtue of being the easiest to describe: that the opening of the seventh seal releases the seven trumpet judgments, and the seventh trumpet releases the seven bowl judgments.  That is the view significantly held by Robert Thomas as well as Tim LaHaye.  The other view is to see these three septets of judgment as coming in cycles, with all three final judgments occurring at the threshold of the parousia (return of Christ).  The argument against the first view would be that it would entail nuclear-war-like phenomena occurring very early in the Tribulation.  But let me simply put it this way: when these events happen, we will see that the book of Revelation makes sense; it will be the world that is crazy.

The first four seals of the seven seal judgments are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (Antichrist-white horse; war-red horse; economic collapse-black horse; mass death-pale horse).  The Antichrist is the very first divine judgment of the tribulation.  It will be a case where God gives the people the leader they deserve.  I might have told you prior to our election that Antichrist was listed first on the basis that the list was given in terms of priority – and Antichrist is the most prominent and most important of the four horsemen.  And I may then have pointed out that the whole world was going to worship the beast (e.g., Rev 13:4), and why would they worship the beast if he had just destroyed their economy?  That said, the results from our election may put the kibosh on that theory: because people turned out to support the president regardless of how bad the economy is, didn’t they?  Somehow, between the Antichrist’s incredible charisma and the people’s depravity and amorality, the world will largely continue to follow and worship the beast no matter how terribly he ruins the planet around him.  It’s really quite an amazing thing.  And I think we’re seeing hints of that incredible blindness that will characterize the world right now today.

Antichrist carries a bow, symbolizing he will be a master of the art of war; but he will be able to rise to power winning bloodless victories by political conquests.  The white horse he rides is symbolic of the righteousness he will falsely present to the world.  Beth Moore pointed out something really insightful in her study on Daniel: namely, that both Daniel and the Antichrist to come were given “wisdom.”  Daniel used his gift to untie or untangle the visions so that the truth could be clearly understood.  Antichrist will use his wisdom in exactly the opposite way: to so tangle the truth in so many knots with his words that no one will be able to understand the truth from his lies and what is right from his deceitful framing of the narrative.

I go back to the Ten Plagues to understand how these future judgments will unfold.  Many have found “natural explanations” to “explain” the Plagues; such as a toxic algal bloom causing the first plague of the water turning to blood, which then set up the conditions for the subsequent plagues to occur in a natural cascade.  Give me all the “natural explanations” you want, but the God who created nature did it.  Many of the events of the Tribulation will likely be the results of man trying to solve one crisis and creating unintended consequences that fly out of control; but God sovereignly knew that that would happen without His direct intervention 3,000 years ago.  What I am looking at right now is man setting up many of the events that the Book of Revelation describes – including the mark of the beast.  And we all understand how good man is at imposing a dictatorship, ruining an economy, starting a terrible war, or creating famines and diseases that we see riding into town in the form of the four horsemen.

I often ask myself the question, “How do we get from the current state of world affairs to the Antichrist and his fellow horsemen?  I very much believe that history is on the verge of what Rev 6 describes, and that it won’t take a great deal to “nudge” us over the cliff and into the arms of Antichrist.  Right now, the three primary economies on earth – the United States, Europe and China – are all facing serious challenges.  In America our true debt isn’t the $16 trillion that many worry about; it is now well over $222 trillion and it grew by $11 trillion last year.  If we have a true catastrophic financial collapse, what will the world look like?  And my answer would be, “Like the Book of Revelation describes.”  The same is true of a terrifying war in the Middle East that either goes nuclear or almost does.  As the terrified world tries to come to grips with a crisis that could drag Russia and the US into World War III, you can easily see the Antichrist beginning to emerge as “the man with all the answers.”  So many of the events described in Revelation are already in place, just waiting for the “trigger,” and all it will take is one final jolt for all the gears to start turning exactly as Revelation said they would.  Interestingly, with all the computers that (e.g.) allow governments to simply add zeroes to artificially increase the size of their money supplies, we are more vulnerable to catastrophic chaos than we have ever been in the entire history of the world.

As an example of the above, and an example of the nexus between finance and war, look up a UK Telegraph article entitled, “How the Fed triggered the Arab Spring uprisings in two easy graphs.”  We have now seen the Arab/Muslim world in turmoil for two years; here’s why: all oil is sold only in US dollars, and so most oil-producing states are backed by the dollar.  When we devalued our currency through QE1, QE2, Operation Twist, and recently “QE Forever,” our devalued dollar forced sky-high commodity (food!) prices on the Arab world that these economies couldn’t compensate for merely by raising the price of their oil because the imbalance was too great in terms of all the other commodities they needed.  There’s a strong case to be made that the “Arab Spring” which is continuing to this day is essentially a series of food riots triggered by US monetary policies.  Here’s another example of the collapse waiting to happen: a top derivatives expert in May estimated the size of the global derivatives market at $1,200 TRILLION ($1.2 quadrillion), which is twenty times the size of the entire global economy.  These clever financial gimmicks are way past insane.

It’s not “if” the economy will catastrophically implode, it’s WHEN.  And in my gut I feel it coming.

The fifth seal (Rev 6:9-11) is the mass martyrdom of those who come to Christ AFTER the Rapture during the Tribulation.  And the sixth seal (Rev 6:12-17) appears to be a massive nuclear exchange.  Hal Lindsey pointed out that in a nuclear blast, the atmosphere rolls back in on itself (“like a scroll when it is rolled together”) as the blast creates a massive vacuum.  On the LaHaye view, this would happen within the first 21 months of the Tribulation (the Seal judgments occur during the 1st 21 months, the Trumpet judgments occur during the 2nd 21 months, and the Bowl judgments occur during the 2nd half (42 months) of the Tribulation.  42 divided by 12 months = 3.5 years.  On the cyclic view presented by Grant Osborne, that 6th seal “nuke” would occur just before Christ returned to earth as King of kings.  And I submit that the “massive nuclear exhange” could be something like a super volcano eruption.  There are five super volncanoes located around the world – and the eruption of any one of them would be so catastrophic that it would literally amount to a crisis that could threaten human civilization.

Chapter six ends with the question being asked, “who is able to stand?”  Chapter seven answers that!

Revelation chapter 7 presents an interlude between the sixth and seventh seal judgments.  What is happening here?  144,000 literal Jews from each of the 12 Tribes of Israel are gathered and commissioned by God as Christ’s witnesses during the Tribulation.  It’s an amazing thing that with DNA today we can actually know stuff like this; BUT GOD KNEW ALL ALONG who His people were.

There are two incredibly important truths that need to be understood: the first is that God never leaves Himself without a witness.  I believe that the Rapture of the Church will be the event that God uses to raise up His 144,000 messianic Jews, who will finally realize that the crazy Christians were right all along.  And this is because of the second important truth: that God is not done with His people the Jews or with national Israel.  We don’t have time to delve into it, but Daniel 9 presents a divine timetable for Israel of “seventy sevens” or 490 years to fulfill their divine mission.  Interestingly, seven years are “missing” and the divine clock is paused at 483 years with seven years yet to come.  God is going to give the Jews their final seven years, and the Jews will make up for every failure by evangelizing the whole world in that time.  And we find in Rev 7 that God is merciful and loving even in the midst of judgment, isn’t He?

Consider Romans chapters 9-11.  In Romans 9 Paul describes the ELECTION of Israel as God’s chosen people; in Romans 10 Paul describes the REJECTION of Israel due to her unbelief in her Messiah.  And in Romans 11 the complete RESTORATION of Israel.  The complete restoration of Israel will come to pass in the book of Revelation.  In Romans 11:25, Paul refers to “the fullness of the Gentiles.”  That time will be marked by the Rapture of the Church, and then it will be God’s divine timing for the Jews to shine as they have never shined before.  God NEVER abandons His people and God NEVER forgets His promises.  God will use the Tribulation to sovereignly deliver Israel to that point where she finally “looks on Me whom they pierced” (Zech 12:10).  Israel will be prepared to experience every single blessing that God promised Israel would have in the Old Testament with their Messiah personally ruling and reigning from the throne of David in Jerusalem.

In Rev 7:2, you see four angels holding the four winds with the power to harm the land and the sea.  What is amazing to me today is that it used to be “religious crazies” who would warn us that the world is about to end.  Now it’s “scientific crazies” who tell us that global warming will be our doomsday.  We find that MANY prophecies of the Tribulation involve freak weather conditions and storms of unimaginable intensity.  Jesus described “global warming” on steroids 2,000 years ago (Luke 21:25-26).  And what the world has done is something the world will ALWAYS do: taken a divine fulfillment of the Bible (freakish weather screaming that earth is in the last days) and transform it into some kind of evidence of secular humanism necessitating still more human government control.  God is giving mankind divine warning after divine warning, but sinful man will NEVER correctly interpret any of it and perverts those warnings to his agenda.

Part Four: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 8-9

Part Five: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 10-11

Part Six: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 12-13

Part Seven: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 14-15

Part Eight: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 16-18

Part Nine: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 19-20

Part Ten: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 21-22