James J. Barker

Lesson 15

Text: REVELATION 8:1-13


  1. Revelation chapter 8 opens with the opening of the seventh seal.
  2. The first six seals were opened in chapter 6.
  3. Revelation 7 is parenthetical; the narrative does not advance.  Therefore, Revelation 8:1 is picking up where Revelation 6:17 left off.
  4. You will recall there are seven seal judgments, seven trumpet judgments, and seven vial (some prefer to use the word "bowl") judgments.
  5. The seven trumpets are included in the seventh seal, and then the seven vials are included in the seventh trumpet.
  6. Contained in the seventh seal are all the subsequent judgments leading up to the second coming of Christ, including the seven trumpets and the seven vials.
  7. W. Graham Scroggie said it is "incorrect to speak of the Trumpets as following the Seals. They do not follow, but are the Seventh Seal."
  8. In like manner the vials constitute the seventh trumpet.  Again I will quote Scroggie: "Therefore the Bowls do not double back over the Seal and Trumpet Judgments; neither is it correct to say that they follow the Trumpet visitations. They do not follow because THEY ARE THE SEVENTH TRUMPET CONTENTS" (cited by Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
  9. Therefore, the opening of the seventh seal brings us to the end of the tribulation.  In emphasizing the important character of this seventh seal, Revelation 8:1 says that there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
  10. This time of absolute silence indicates something tremendous is about to take place.  It is like the calm before a big storm. John Walvoord said, "It may be compared to the silence before the foreman of a jury reports a verdict; for a moment there is perfect silence and everyone awaits that which will follow" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
  11. Trumpets were used in various ways in Old Testament times. They were sounded at times of public assembly.  They were used to direct soldiers in time of war.
  12. But often trumpets signify judgment. Joel 2:1 says, "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand."
  13. Joshua 6:20, when the priests blew their trumpets, the walls of Jericho "fell down flat."
  14. Gideon said in Judges 7:18, "When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon."
  15. In Revelation 8:3, "another angel" is seen standing before the altar in heaven.  The altar in heaven is referred to seven times in the book of Revelation (6:9; 8:3, 5; 9:13; 14:18; 16:7).
  16. The temple in heaven is associated with terrible judgment on earth.  For example, after the seventh angel sounded, "the temple of God was opened in heaven" (11:19; cf. 15:5-8; 16:1, 17).
  17. The angel in Revelation 8:3 has a golden censer offering incense and the prayers of the saints before the throne of God. This is a beautiful picture of the prayers of the saints as seen from heaven (cf. 5:8).
  18. In the Bible, incense is symbolic of worship and prayer and is a reminder that intercession to the Lord has the character of sweet incense.
  19. The references to trumpets, the altar, incense and golden censer serve to remind us that the focus is on Israel, not the New Testament church.  The church has already been raptured, and the focus is on what the prophet Jeremiah calls "the time of Jacob's trouble" (30:7).
  20. The incense speaks of the perfections of Christ and His ministry of intercession.
  21. Our petitions ascend up before the throne of God, along with this sweet-smelling incense, reminding us again of the importance of fervently and earnestly praying in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  22. In Revelation 8:5, the angel took the golden censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, "and cast it into the earth."
  23. "And there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake."
  24. The voices, thunderings, lightnings, and earthquake symbolize that the golden censer is a symbol of judgment (cf. 8:7, 8, etc.).
  25. This is apparently in response to the intercession and prayers of the suffering saints in the midst of the great tribulation (cf. 6:9, 10).
  26. This scene sets the stage for the seven trumpet judgments and the seven vial judgments (8:6).



  1. In response to the sounding of the trumpet held by the first angel, a scene of desolation is spread abroad upon the earth caused by hail and fire mingled with blood.
  2. The judgment will be directed to vegetation, and a third part of the trees and all the green grass are burned (cf. 7:3).
  3. This judgment is similar to the tenth plague in Exodus 9:18-26.  Exodus 9:24 says, "So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation."
  4. As in the case of the four seals (the four horsemen), the first four trumpets form a special unit in contrast to the last three trumpets.
  5. The plagues indicated by the first four trumpets are entirely inflicted on natural objects, such as the earth, trees, grass, sea, rivers, and the sun, moon, and stars; whereas those indicated by the next two judgments are inflicted on men, and not on natural objects (9:4, 15).
  6. Just as the seventh seal contained the seven trumpets, the seventh trumpet contains the seven vials.



  1. At the sound of the trumpet held by the second angel, another great judgment falls upon the earth, this time dealing with the sea (8:8, 9).
  2. In this fantastical vision, John sees "a great mountain burning with fire" which is cast into the sea.
  3. A third part of the sea becomes blood, a third part of the creatures of the sea die, and a third part of the ships are destroyed.
  4. Once again there seems to be a parallel to the plagues of Egypt. Just as the River Nile and all other bodies of water in Egypt were turned to blood when Aaron stretched out his rod over the waters of Egypt, so this "great mountain burning with fire" will apparently have a similar effect upon the sea.
  5. "And the third part of the sea became blood" (8:8).
  6. "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" (8:9).
  7. John Walvoord says, "The probability is that all life and all ships are destroyed in one portion of the earth, the area nearest to the impact of the great burning mountain" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).



  1. When the third trumpet sounds, John sees a great star burning as it were a lamp falling upon rivers and fountains of water.
  2. It is named “Wormwood” and will apparently cause the water to be bitter, resulting in the death of many people.
  3. Jeremiah refers to wormwood in Jeremiah 9:15, "Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink."
  4. And Jeremiah 23:15 says, "Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land."
  5. "He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood" (Lamentations 3:15).
  6. "Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall" (Lam. 3:19).
  7. Like the first and second trumpet, it is best to take the prophecy of the third trumpet literally.
  8. A few weeks ago, I referred to David Cooper's "golden rule of interpretation," which says, "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense."
  9. It makes perfect sense that God is going to judge this wicked, sin-loving, Christ-rejecting world, and a great burning star falling down from heaven is not difficult for us to understand.
  10. In the Bible, fire often represents the judgment of God.  Deuteronomy 32:22 and 23 says, "For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them."
  11. The picture of God heaping fire down upon the heads of wicked sinners is seen elsewhere in Scripture.  For example, Genesis 19:24 says, "Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven."
  12. Surely, impenitent sinners deserve to be judged for their wickedness.  Many years ago, Jonathan Edwards preached, "The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them" (Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God).
  13. The "great star," called Wormwood, seems to be a heavenly body or a mass from outer space, burning with the fierce wrath of God as it enters the atmosphere of earth, and falls upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters.
  14. The reference to wormwood reminds us of the experience of the Israelites at the waters of Marah, recorded in Exodus 15:23-25.
  15. There the tree cast into the bitter waters made the water sweet. Here the wormwood cast into the sweet water will make it bitter.
  16. Walvoord said, "Such also is the contrast between Christ on the cross atoning for sin and making that which is bitter sweet and Christ coming in judgment which turns the vain hopes and ambitions of men into bitterness and despair. The result of this trumpet is to inflict a divine judgment from God upon men themselves."



  1. In contrast to the first three judgments having to do respectively with land, sea, rivers, and fountains of water, the fourth trumpet relates to the heavens themselves --  the sun, the moon, and the stars.
  2. As John witnesses the scene, he sees a third part of the sun, a third part of the moon, and a third part of the stars darkened, an eclipse that extends to a third part of the day and a third part of the night.
  3. This disruption of light from heaven is a solemn warning of other judgments which will soon follow.
  4. Revelation 8:13 indicates that the last three trumpets will be far more severe in character than the first four -- "Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth!" (8:13).
  5. "The earth is warned of judgment to come. The trumpet judgments, which have their beginning in this chapter, confirm the predictions of Christ and the Old Testament prophets of the coming time of tribulation far worse than anything the human race had ever experienced before" (Walvoord).
  6. There are different ways to understand these trumpet judgments.  It has been pointed out that the first four trumpets deal with aspects of the physical world which men often take for granted. "The beauty and benefit of the trees, the luxury and growth of green grass are seldom occasions for thanksgiving to the living God. In a similar way, men are prone to take for granted the blessings of water, whether it be the beauty of the sea, the majestic flow of great rivers, or the pure fountains and springs which abound in the natural world. These too are gifts from a loving God to an undeserving world, and they come under the blight and judgment described in the second and third trumpets" (Walvoord).
  7. On the other hand, many worldly people (pagans, environmentalist fanatics, "green people," etc.) worship God's creation, but they do not worship God the Creator.  "Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen" (Romans 1:25).
  8. The sun, moon, and stars are the handiwork of God, and are frequently mentioned in Scripture as a reminder of God’s power, sovereignty, and wisdom.
  9. Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork."
  10. Romans 1:20 says, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse."
  11. God is going to judge this wicked world, and sinners will have no excuse.
  12. As fearful as these judgments are, they are only the beginning of God’s judgment upon the earth. Three woes are still to fall.
  13. Revelation 6:17 says, "For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
  14. Today is the day of grace, but soon it will be "the great day of his wrath."
  15. Now is the time to get right with God.
  16. Now is the time to win our friends and loved ones to Christ.



  1. Revelation 8:13 says, "Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth."
  2. "The inhabiters of the earth" is a term found often in the book of Revelation.  It refers to deluded sinners, deceived and blinded by the devil, and under the just condemnation and wrath of God.
  3. W.A. Criswell describes these "inhabiters of the earth" this way: "It is addressed to those who make this world their home...They do not have God in their hearts...Their Utopia is down here.  They say, 'We like it here; this pleases us.'  Their paradise is down here.  Their hopes are down here.  Their life is down here...The truth of God is not in their hearts" (Expository Sermons on Revelation).
  4. H.A. Ironside says this, "They are the people who have rejected the heavenly calling.  When God offered them full and free salvation through the death of His beloved Son, they turned away from Him, because to have closed in with Christ would have meant to give up their worldly desires and love of sin" (Revelation).

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