I want you to turn with me to Revelation chapter 8, please. Let me just say, before we launch into the portion tonight, that - having now arrived at chapter 7 - we will be doing somewhat of a summary, an abridgement of the book. It's very easy to get bogged down in a lot of detail in these middle chapters, if you like, of Revelation - they are so detailed and intricate, and we could very easily get lost in the detail and miss the big picture, and I don't want that to happen. It's already quite difficult to get our heads round a lot of what we are facing each night, without making it unnecessarily difficult. Now, that, I believe, necessitates taking a number of chapters on a night in order to get the theme. So we've already dealt with the seven seals that comprised a number of chapters to where we are now, and we'll be dealing tonight with seven trumpets that will take us from chapter 8 through to the end of chapter 11.
Now, I have to say that I'm not a great fan of PowerPoint when it comes to preaching - I think it's more of a hindrance at times than a help! - but I do believe that there are certain subjects that it does help with. You will remember that I used it when we came to the cults, and I believe it can be helpful in this prophetic theme, because a lot of the stuff we are dealing with is very difficult to imagine and retain in our minds. I think if we can see some of these things, as well as hear, it helps - and so that was my justification for using PowerPoint over the next number of weeks at least.
We're looking tonight at 'The Seven Trumpets'. You will remember, I hope, last Monday evening we were looking at 'The Seven Seals', that I reminded you of the words of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 24 and verse 21, where He spoke of a period that would come upon this world of great tribulation, that's what He called it, 'such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be'. We spent a bit of time in introduction in our last study looking at how this period of time is also prophesied by Daniel, and it's called 'Daniel's 70th week' in Daniel chapter 9. Now there we read: 'Seventy weeks', in verse 24 of Daniel 9, 'Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city', that is Jerusalem, 'to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy'. Now we saw that a prophetic week in the Bible is not a week of seven 24 hour days, but rather a week of seven years. So Daniel was given, by God, a vision of these prophetic weeks of years that would comprise the whole of Jewish history. The first 69 weeks from the decree to build the walls of Jerusalem in King Artaxerxes day, right through to the cutting off of Messiah that's described in Daniel 9, are the first 69 weeks - and if you calculate, you'll find that that is exactly the time period of seven years of each of those weeks, 69. Then there's a pause that comes in where God's prophetic clock, in effect, concerning Israel, is stopped. There is a parenthesis, a gap, where a mystery takes place that was not known before - and that is the church as we know it today, the age of grace where the Lord Jesus is bringing Gentiles and Jews into the church, the body of Christ.
Now that prophetic clock concerning Israel will start ticking again at the 70th week of Daniel's prophecy, which is this week of seven years, which is the tribulation period as you see it on the screen. Now if you want to know more about the chronological calculations concerning all that, do get the recording of our last study - we went into a bit more detail. There are at least four purposes, we saw, in this tribulation period in the mind of God. The first was to bring history to a right conclusion, and we see that Daniel refers to that in Daniel 9:24, where he speaks of the Lord bringing in everlasting righteousness. So this tribulation period will bring a fitting consummation to an age when men have been called upon to obey and believe in the Lord, and so the Lord will eventually bring in a reign of righteousness. Secondly, a purpose that God has in the tribulation is to fulfil Israel's prophecies. You will recall in our last verse from Daniel 9:24, it is specifically the 70th week that relates to 'thy people', Daniel's people, that is the Israelites, and 'the holy city', that is Jerusalem. So we see that there is a purpose, particularly towards the Jew, in this 70th tribulation week.
So the Jews' return to the land in 1948 was not a coincidence, it is indeed a fulfilment of prophetic scripture - but there are many other prophetic Scriptures related to the Jew and the nation of Israel which still have to be fulfilled during this tribulation period, such as the rebuilding of the Temple, and the renewal of sacrifices in the Temple. So we see very clearly that God is not finished with the Jewish people - whatever certain theologians in the Reformed school of prophetic theology might tell us - God still has a plan for the nation and the people of Israel.
The third purpose we outlined for the tribulation period in the mind of God was to shake man from his false sense of security. Of course, stability on a human level leads man to think that he can function independently of God - but we're going to see, of course, as we have seen in the seven seals, again in the seven trumpets tonight, that God, through various physical phenomena - earthquakes, plagues and so forth - will cause humanity at least to consider the existence of Almighty God. Then what outshoots from that is the fourth reason we gave for the tribulation period: God intends to force mankind to choose between Christ and antichrist. During this seven year time period, billions of human beings will not live out their normal lifespan amidst many dramatic events, and they will have to make an eternal decision - either for Christ or for antichrist. If they choose Christ they will become servants of God and receive the mark of the Father on foreheads; and if they choose antichrist, they will receive the mark of the beast on their foreheads and on their hands - and that will be an irrevocable decision.
Now all the details provided concerning this 70th week of Daniel, this seven-year tribulation period, throughout the whole of Scriptures make it very clear, I believe, that this is a future event. Nothing has ever taken place like this in the whole of human history, and it certainly isn't happening now as some would try and tell us. What's more, the Lord Jesus Himself said that 'great tribulation' would take place just before His glorious appearing, Matthew 24:29-30: 'Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory'.
I quoted to you last week one author who sums up this time period like this: 'Take the horror of every war since time began, throw in every natural disaster in recorded history, and cast off all restraints so that the unspeakable cruelty and hatred and injustice of man towards his fellow men can fully mature, and compress all of it into a period of seven years - even if you could imagine such a horror, it wouldn't approach the mind-boggling terror and turmoil of the tribulation'. Now last time, you will remember, we looked at chapter 6 through to chapter 8 verse 5. We looked first of all at the seven seals that would be opened, which would be seven judgements. Then we looked also at another parenthesis, another gap period, where the saved of the tribulation are brought to us - and those were found in two groups: 144,000 Jewish evangelists who would preach on the earth, that's chapter 7 verses 1-8; and their converts from verses 9-17 of chapter 7, who would be converted to the gospel and would be martyred, and they would eventually end up in heaven.
Now there were two things that we learned, at least two things anyway, from our study the last time. First of all: we saw that, through this 144,000 Jewish equivalents of the apostle Paul, Israel would eventually become the witness nation that God intended them to be, and they refused to be, in all of their Old Testament history. So God is fulfilling His will and His word to Israel, and we saw those twelve tribes delineated for us in chapter 7. Then, secondly, we learned that whilst the tribulation period will be a time of unprecedented judgement, it will also be a time of unparalleled salvation. We have the words of our Lord for that also in Matthew 24:14, He said: 'And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come'. There will be a great soul harvest ingathering of men and women's souls to the gospel of Christ. It's wonderful, and we rejoice that in wrath God remembers mercy. There is, I believe, in chapter 7 an overwhelming emphasis that in the darkest of days that are still before us in human history, the Lord is still saving men and women and boys and girls. In one of Satan's darkest and greatest hours of ascendancy, God will have the upper hand. We ought to rejoice in that: that where sin abounds, grace doth much more abound.
Yet, I fear, and I'm going to spend a bit of time on this tonight, I fear that there is a danger in misapplying chapter 7 to the extent that many have, and they have concluded: 'Well, if there's going to be a great ingathering of souls during the tribulation period, I'll just wait until the rapture of the church, and that will be my green light signal to get saved because I'll know that it's all true and it's time to get right with God because the end is near, and seven years later the Lord Jesus is going to come and return to the earth in judgement'. Now let me say categorically that whilst Scripture is very clear, as we have seen from Revelation 7, that there will be a great ingathering of Gentile souls as well as Jewish people, that is a false hope to hold out such an attitude: to wait until the rapture, or indeed the tribulation, in order to be saved. Now let me show you why: first of all it is a false hope because Scripture never ever encourages us to wait until tomorrow to get saved. There are two reasons for that, and if you hear gospel preaching - which you don't often hear these days - the first reason for it that's often given is death. You can't wait until tomorrow to be saved, because you don't know whether you've got tomorrow or not - you could die before tomorrow. The second reason that is also given is the Holy Spirit's striving and conviction upon your life - you might live to see tomorrow, but there's no guarantee that even if you live to see tomorrow that the Holy Spirit will still be speaking to you and convicting you of your sin.
So we encourage folk: 'Seek ye the Lord, while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near; and if you hear His voice, harden not your heart'. Now that's what we are always telling people: for that same reason no one in their right mind should be waiting until the rapture to be saved, or indeed the tribulation period. First of all, because you might die before it, you might die tonight, you might die tomorrow; and if you do, you'll be in hell and there's no second chance there. Secondly, the tribulation period is going to be filled with death, more than now. People will not live out their full life expectancy, and so there's more chance of dying before even trusting in the Saviour during that period than there is now. The second reason why we tell people to get saved is because of the Spirit's conviction, it may not always linger with us. During the tribulation period, we're told that there will be strong delusions, 2 Thessalonians chapter 2:11-12: 'For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness'. So there will be great pressure to believe a lie, to receive the mark of the beast - and that is why, just as our emphasis in preaching the gospel during this age of grace, in this church period, is: 'Today, today is the day of salvation'; we should not be holding out hope for ourselves or for anyone that when the rapture comes or the tribulation comes, well then they'll be saved. We should be commanding men to be saved today, and we should be praying for men and women and our loved ones, our kith and kin, to get right with God today.
A second reason why this is false hope, I believe, to wait to the rapture or tribulation to be saved is because those who will be saved during that period will experience this great tribulation, plus - if they trust Christ - they will experience great persecution from the forces of Antichrist, and it is almost certain, if not 100% guaranteed, that they will be martyred for their faith. Would you not rather be saved now and have the opportunity in this time of relative peace to enjoy your life in Christ, and cultivate a testimony for Him. That is why I believe the message of Scripture concerning this tribulation period, this time of Jacob's trouble, the 70th week of Daniel, this time of the outpouring of God's wrath, is 'Flee from the wrath to come!'. Not, 'Flee to this to have comfort', no, no.
The third reason for not waiting until the rapture or the tribulation to be saved is: many Bible teachers and scholars believe it will only be those who have never heard the gospel who will be saved during this period. That is a sobering thought. They espouse that it is not those who have heard now in this age of grace, not those who have heard and rejected and hardened their heart. In fact, for those people, they would say, it will be harder to be saved than it is now. Now it's not easy to prove either way regarding that particular issue, but one thing is sure in my heart at least: God's great display of grace during the tribulation should never ever be interpreted as a grounds to delay coming to Christ - that is a lie from the devil. Anything that tells you to wait to be saved is falsehood, irrespective of what camp it comes from, in my estimation at least. Just as God's long-suffering grace now, at this moment, is the reason not to wait until tomorrow; and just as we have no guarantee that we will have an opportunity tomorrow in this age of grace, there's no guarantee then - in fact, I think there is less of a suggestion that those who have it now will have it then.
I've been re-reading the beginning of the biography of a man called James McKendrick, I don't know whether you know of him or not. He was an evangelist many many years ago, and mightily used of God - but in his biography, it's an autobiography, he talks concerning his own salvation. He says that he really, as a young man, desired to be saved. He was brought up in a mining community in a village in Scotland, and down through the years, even in his own family, they had seen many great tragic accidents where people's lives were cut short through mining tragedies. He as a young man became very anxious about his own life, for fear that he would be cut down unprepared to meet the Lord. He actually says, I'm quoting him: 'My desire was of short lived duration, and speedily passed away'. He was concerned about his soul, but that didn't last too long. Then he goes on about how he grows up and comes into young adulthood, and he says: 'I had three hairbreadth escapes from death, and on none of those occasions did I think of God or my soul's salvation'. He cites them, he says: 'I fell through the ice on the River Clyde and was 10 minutes in the water, freezing water. My companions were powerless to help me, and all the while I struggled for my life not one thought of God or of eternity entered my mind. My only thought was: 'Can I get out?''. He went on: 'I had a similar experience in the same river while bathing. Though a good swimmer, I was almost drowned, and was dragged out waterlogged - but neither before I lost consciousness, nor after I came round, had I any thought of God'. The third example: 'Once, while engaged in a coalmine, the roof fell in. Though my escape was a miracle, God was not in all my thoughts. To escape from death on each of these occasions was my only concern'.
Now if there should be one person here that, through anything that is said last Monday evening or tonight, is holding out hope for themselves, or deciding 'I'll not pray as hard for my relatives because of the rapture or those who'll be saved during the tribulation'; I say to you, Proverbs 27:1: 'Boast not thyself of tomorrow'. None of us can. That applies to the tribulation, it applies to tomorrow - who in their right mind would want to be on earth during this period of great tribulation? Who in their right mind would want their loved ones to be on earth during this period of great tribulation? Who would want anyone to be on earth during this period of great tribulation? So be saved now! Believers, get out, and while there is time get people into the kingdom of God!
Now we're coming this evening to these seven trumpets, which brings us near to the middle of the tribulation period - about 3 1/2 years into this seven-year period. You see that the seventh of the seven seals brought us into the seven trumpets, that's all it did, it opened up the seven trumpets for us. We'll see tonight, and then in further studies, that the seventh trumpet, all it does is what the seventh seal did, and that's open us up into seven other judgements which are the seven bowl judgements which take us into the second half of the seven-year tribulation period.
Now we begin at verse 2, where we left off, or thereabouts, last time, and we see the introduction of these seven trumpets by these angels. In verse 2: 'I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets'. Now we're going to take time to go through each of these, but the first four of the seven trumpets, you will note, affect man's natural environment, the world in which he lives. The last three trumpets affect man personally, affect himself. Now as we go through each of them - I don't have time to cite every comparison that there is with other Scriptures - but you will see clearly that many of these trumpets, and the various traumatic circumstances that they bring, can be paralleled with the ten plagues that were brought upon Egypt in Moses' day - you can read about that in Exodus 7-11. It's interesting to note that: God is visiting similar judgements upon the earth once again.
So let's go through these seven trumpets this evening. The first trumpet is found in chapter 8 and verse 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'. So this is a judgement of hail and fire, a third of the earth is burned up, a third of the trees were burnt up, and all green grass was burned up. So we say that this was a judgement that was thrown down upon the earth - now that is interesting, because what we are being caused to look at here is the direction that the judgement is coming. This is not just a natural disaster that can be put down to natural causes. Often this is what we hear, even theologians look back at great miracles and devastation that took place in a bygone era from a biblical perspective, and say: 'Well, there must be natural explanations, whether earthquakes, or volcanoes, or whatever'. But here we see that John wants us to know that this is judgement that is coming directly from God, these judgements are coming from heaven.
Now this particular first trumpet parallels the Old Testament judgements on Sodom and Gomorrah, fire and brimstone coming from heaven, you can read that in Genesis 18 and 19 - but it also is very similar to the seventh plague that came on Egypt, you can read about that in Exodus 9. What was that plague? It was hail, and the great hail destroyed the crops and the agriculture of the Egyptians. Now it's a similar message that God is giving to us here for a future day. God is telling us that there's going to be calamity on areas from which man derives his food. Hail is going to destroy the crops.
Now we come to the second of the seven trumpets found in verses 8 and 9: '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; 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'. Now you will recall, if you know your Bible, Exodus chapter 7, that has a similarity with the first plague that was sent upon Egypt, the plague that turned the Nile River into blood. Now this is very interesting: a third of the ships will be destroyed. So in the first trumpet we see that where man derives his agricultural supply from, his crops, is going to be destroyed; but just in case there is any possibility that he would be able to transfer and import any foods from elsewhere, the ships will be destroyed. Not only will this judgement decrease man's local food supply, but there will be a reduction in his means of obtaining food from distant places. You know at the minute, don't ask me to recite it accurately, but bits of fruit that you take for granted, that you could get from a closer locality, they're shipping it halfway around the world to get it to our doorstep - it's unbelievable! That will all be done away with.
The third trumpet found in verses 10 and 11: '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; 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'. Now this great star falls from heaven, it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs, this star is named 'Wormwood', which literally means 'bitter'. Now it is difficult to identify whether this is just some kind of meteoric disturbance, whether or not it is in fact an angel, because angels are named by God and we know that angels are also called 'stars' in the Old Testament, at least in the book of Job. Yet we can't be sure what it means exactly, but one thing is sure: when this trumpet sounds these verses will become very clear to those who are living on the earth at that time - because many will die; 'Wormwood, which means 'bitter', will embitter the waters, all the springs of the earth, and effectively poison humankind so that many will die.
The fourth trumpet, verses 12 and 13: '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. And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven', some versions say 'an eagle', '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!'. So this fourth trumpet: a third of the Sun, a third of the moon, a third of the stars is darkened, a third of the day, a third of the night, 'Woe, woe, to the Earth dwellers'. That is very similar to Exodus 10 where the ninth plague that came on Egypt was 'thick darkness over all the land'.
Now the three remaining trumpets announced are also called 'the three woes' - three woes aren't anything different, they are these remaining three trumpets. What Revelation is trying to bring to us is the dire effect that these further three trumpets will have upon all mankind on the face of the earth. So let's look at them. We read of the fifth in chapter 9, if you turn to it with me, verses 1 to 3: 'The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power'. If you look further at verses 4 to 6: 'And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days' - what a verse! - 'shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle'
Another star falls to the earth, again from heaven, but this one is possibly Satan himself - now, how do we know that? Well, when we look to verse 11 we see that this one who fell from heaven who had the key to the bottomless pit is also described as the king over this demonic force, 'which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon'. We know that those are names for the devil himself. 'Abaddon' means 'destruction'; 'Apollyon' means 'destroyer'. So this fifth trumpet is a demonic invasion in effect. Abaddon with a key to the bottomless pit; locusts, which seem to be demons, come out of the smoke of the pit - locusts to hurt people, not green things - they will torment for five months, which incidentally is the lifespan of an ordinary locust here on the earth, I think from the month of May through to September, something like that. Those people will long to die because of their torments, but will not be able to: death will escape them.
These locusts will have a very odd appearance. So when this bottomless pit is opened, it will billow forth smokes that will veil the landscape and the whole sky in darkness, a great swarm of demons. There is an impression being created for us that this demonic force will make conquest of all of humanity. Let's look at the description given to us in verses 7 to 10. These locusts appear like horses prepared for battle - that would describe that this is a conquering host that wishes victory. Each of them is wearing a gold crown, they are authorised to rule, therefore, to a certain extent in men's lives. They are being allowed to overcome him and torture him. They have a human appearance, they have faces, and that would indicate that they are intelligent creatures - more than simply insect or animal life. Verses 8 to 10 tells us they have hair like women, which would indicate that these demonic entities are attractive and seductive to mankind - and yet they have lion-like teeth, they are ferocious with their bite. They have armour-like iron breastplates, which would indicate that they are difficult to attack and destroy; and they have wings that make a great sound, they are terrifying and demoralising to those who see and hear them.
One of the most important descriptions of these scorpion-like creatures is the fact that they are equipped with tails, like scorpions, to torture, physically, mentally, emotionally, men and women for five months. Their power, it says, to torment men for five months - unrelieved suffering! Now this, and it's such an understatement to say it, will be a terrible time for unbelievers on the earth! I don't like the expression 'hell on earth', because I think that nothing will surpass hell in its ultimate torture, and yet if anything should come near to it, surely it is this? Verse 12 announces that the first three woes are passed, and the indicator there is that - believe it or not - the worst is yet to come! The judgement is now intensifying, and so we come to the sixth trumpet, and things appear to get worse.
In chapter 9 verses 13 to 24 we see that four angels - incidentally, who are bound at the River Euphrates - are released. Now, let us just pause there for a moment, because the fact that these four angels are bound at the River Euphrates is not just purely irrelevant. The River Euphrates was one of the rivers that came out of the Garden of Eden, we see that in Genesis. If you follow the biblical record, you find that it was near the River Euphrates where Satan first alighted upon this planet in our fallen state to tempt Adam and Eve. Therefore it was near the River Euphrates that man first fell into sin; it was near the River Euphrates that Cain slew Abel, the first murder; it was near the River Euphrates that Babylon and Babel first raised its head, and ultimately will be revived. Incidentally, it is the land of Iraq where we were geographically cite this location near the River Euphrates and ancient Babylon - I'm not saying that's of any prophetic significance, but what I want you to note is that these four angels are being released there at what would appear to be the geographical source of all humanity's problem! But now God is turning, and where the birth of the sin problem took place, God is going to bring it all to a conclusion!
These angels command an angelic host of 200 - grasp this - 200 million demons, I believe they are demons anyway. Some believe they are armies from the East, but the description that we have of them here as they come forth on horses to inflict death upon a third of the people of the Earth, the horses are described as having heads like lions, mouths that belch fire, smoke and brimstone. They are described like the creatures from the previous judgement, that we have just cited, from the bottomless pit - they are very similar. But there might be a spiritual meaning behind them, one author has put it like this: 'Their power is in their mouths, which might indicate some irresistible delusion of the devil. Whether they are demons themselves, they are surely demonically inspired'.
Now, please calculate with me the awful fatalities of humankind. By this time during this tribulation period, at least half of the world's population has died - half the world's population in a few years. Now let me just show you this, you can look at chapter 9 verse 15. You will see that the four loosed, who were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, were to slay a third part of men. Now that leaves two thirds, doesn't it? But you've got to remember that back in chapter 6 and verse 8, where we were in our last study, at the opening of the fourth seal in 6 and verse 8 death and Hades followed the rider, 'And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger', etc. So a quarter of humanity has already been killed, that therefore leaves threequarters, and if another third of the Earth is to be taken away in death, that leaves one half of the earth's population still extant. Yet what is more staggering than that is what we read in verses 20 to 21 of chapter 9, look at it, the half of the population of humanity that is left, verse 20: 'The rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their theft'. All this, half of humanity exterminated from heaven, and yet man, with his puny fist of flesh, still rebels against Almighty God - isn't it staggering? I'll tell you what one lesson from that is: that punishment and suffering can never change a human sinner's heart. That applies to Purgatory, that is a lie from the devil if ever there was one: to think that we could be purged by the fires of hell, for whatever time, and be fit for heaven - it is impossible! The only thing that can mend what has been broken in the fallen state of humanity, in the human heart, is the new birth - regeneration, the new nature, the divine nature which is a gift of God! Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Well, time is running away with us, the seventh trumpet is in chapter 11 - we have to skip a chapter or two - chapter 11 verses 15 to 19, and really all it does is introduce us, as I said, to the seven bowl judgements that follow. You see that again, as I showed you at the beginning of the meeting, and that takes us into the second half of the tribulation. But there are two more things that we have to look at tonight, not just the seven trumpets, but chapter 10 and chapter 11, the first number of verses - because in chapter 8 we have seen the seven trumpets, but in chapter 10 there is a mighty angel and a little scroll. Read with me chapter 10 verse 1, please, and I hope you'll give me the time to deal with this: 'And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire'.
So he had a rainbow round his head, this great angel. The rainbow, of course - as we saw in chapter 5 wasn't it, where there was a rainbow round the throne of God the Creator - speaks of God's covenant, His faithfulness with His people Israel, and indeed to all His promises. This angel had a face like the sun, which is an expression of his unveiled glory, and he is reflecting the glory of God. Verse 1 tells us that his feet were like pillars of fire, pillars speak of strength, and fire speaks of judgement. Verse 2 tells us that 'he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth'. This little book or scroll, surely is the record of the impending judgements that are about to be released. His right foot is on the sea, his left foot is on the land, so what he is doing is claiming right to world dominion over land and sea. Verse 3 shows us that he calls out, and cries 'with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices'.
Now verses 4 through to 6, we'll not take time to read it, appears to indicate that John understood the message of these seven thunders - but he was about to write them down, and the angel forbade him to do so. So we don't know what the message was. Now that's a lesson for us, in Deuteronomy 29:29, 'The secret things belong unto God', and not everything about prophetic scripture is known to us - interpretative, or indeed anticipative - we don't know everything that is going to happen, and here is a case in point. Then the angel, we see, swore by God the Creator that there should be no time, the Authorised Version says, now that is an unfortunate translation - people, therefore, interpret it 'When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more', and whilst I like that hymn, that is an erroneous line. There will never be a stage, I believe, when time will be no more, I believe we will always be experiencing time. What the word here means is 'delay', there will be no more delay. God's mystery will become clear, the mystery of God, verse 7, will be fulfilled during the time of this seventh trumpet. The mystery of God is God's plan to punish all evildoers, God's plan to usher in the kingdom of righteousness, the kingdom of His dear Son. So it is the answer to the prayer of the saints under the altar crying out for vengeance because of their martyrdom - what was their cry? 'How long, O Lord? How long?'. We sing it too:
'How long, how long,
Shall we shout the glad song:
Now it's coming. In verses 8 and 9 John is commanded to eat the little book that he was to read, and that insinuates that he was to read it and meditate upon the truths and the judgements recorded. Verse 10 shows that, as predicted by the angel, the scroll, as John ate it, was sweet as honey in his mouth, but bitter in his stomach. Now Jeremiah the prophet, Ezekiel the prophet, had similar experiences. Now this is profound: do you ever feel like I do when you come to prophetic scripture, that you possess within your breast mixed emotions? What am I talking about? Well, you rejoice at the sweetness of knowing the hope that there is for the believer, and the hope that there is for God's vindication of His name, for He is determined to glorify His Son and His claims:
'The Lord is now rejected,
And by the world disowned,
By the many still neglected,
And by the few enthroned,
But soon He'll come in glory,
The hour is drawing nigh,
For the crowning day is coming by and by'.
That is sweet, it's sweet to read that the wrongs of all time will be righted - but there is a strange mix of bitterness with the sweetness. For, as John takes this prophecy to his lips, though it is sweet there is a bitterness in his belly. If you study prophetic scripture, particularly where we are tonight, there is a bitterness! There is a self-judgement that comes upon us all, even as believers. 'Seeing all these things shall be dissolved', Peter says, 'What manner of persons ought we to be in all holiness and godly conversation?'. There is a bitterness in viewing the judgements which must soon fall upon apostate religion, whether it is apostate Judaism, or apostate Christendom - but oh, the bitterness, and this is what I feel heavily upon my heart tonight, the bitterness of contemplating the eternal doom of all who reject Christ!
We must move to the two witnesses. The seven trumpets, the mighty angel and the little scroll, and then in chapter 11 verses 1 and 2: the two witnesses. In verses 1 and 2: 'There was given me a reed', a measuring rod, 'and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months'. John is commanded to measure the Temple and the altar, and to number the worshippers - not the court of the Gentiles, because it will be trodden by the nations for 42 months later, in the second half of the tribulation period.
Now, what is this Temple? Well, the Temple that is being mentioned at this moment is the Temple that will be standing in Jerusalem during the tribulation period. Now, there isn't one now, of course, and this is a large subject that we don't have time to deal with this evening, but hopefully you can make a bit of sense out of this chart up on the screen. There are several temples throughout Scripture that relate to Israel, and one that relates to the church. The first Temple is Solomon's Temple, the Shekinah glory was present and then it was removed because of the apostasy of the people, they were 70 years in captivity. The second temple was Zerubbabel's that was rebuilt, the Shekinah glory never came to it, and it was eventually enlarged by King Herod, and it was the Temple our Lord knew - Herod's Temple. Then it was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, and there the prophetic clock stops for Israel - as we said, the 69 weeks have been completed of prophetic scripture, and a spiritual Temple takes place which Paul tells us, and the apostles, is the church of Jesus Christ. Now that Shekinah glory is going to depart as well at the rapture of the church, and there will be a third temple built during the tribulation period. It is spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, where it says that the Antichrist, 'Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped', he will set himself up as God in this Temple, shewing himself that he is God. Now that is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, that our Lord spoke of, and that is yet to happen when the Antichrist seeks worship in this third temple. Then there will be a millennial Temple, a different Temple, that will be through the millennial period, the thousand year reign of Christ - you can read about that in the last chapters of Ezekiel.
Now that is not there at the moment, but the fact of the matter is: if you open your eyes and ears to the press you will know that the Jews are making preparations to rebuild that Temple already. We don't have time to go into this, that's where the temple will be, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem - I hope to see it in a fortnight's time. That is where the Al Akza mosque is at the moment, but the Jews are already preparing for the rebuilding of their Temple. I don't know whether you've heard of the Temple Institute, but it is an organisation that is making ready for that day. These are the items, instruments that have already been prepared, they are already made - there is the menorah, the crown for the high priest's brow, the table of shewbread - and the fact of the matter is: this is being prepared as we speak, it's being made ready. But not only are Jewish devout believers preparing the instruments for the Temple, but the Jews politically are re-establishing their sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Some of you will remember a few years ago that Ariel Sharon, when he was only in opposition in the Likud party, he visited the Temple Mount - which of course is where the Muslim mosque is - on Friday, which is the Muslim day of prayers. It was reported that Yasser Arafat had agreed to let him come on the Mount, but after it there were inflamed riots in Jerusalem, and what we now know as the second intifada, the uprising, which was over the Temple Mount.
Now the Temple of the Jews which will be the tribulation Temple will be on that Mount. Some believe that the Al Akza mosque will have to be destroyed, but there are others who believe that the Temple will actually exist right beside that mosque - and there is certainly room for it, and grounds to believe in that. So this Temple, John is asked to measure it, and then in verse 3 we see that there are these two witnesses given power, two witnesses to prophesy 1,260 days clothed in sackcloth. God will raise up two witnesses, verse 4 says that they are compared with olive trees - olive trees are filled with olive oil, which is a picture of the Holy Spirit. They are spoken of also as lampstands - lampstands bear testimony to God - and they have power, as we see, to turn water to blood, and plagues. Now that reminds us of two men: Moses, as we have already seen in the similarities of these trumpets to the plagues of Egypt, had power of God to turn water to blood. So we believe that one of these characters will be Moses. A prophetic character that had power over fire and weather was Elijah in 1 Kings 17 and 18, and 2 Kings 1; and so we believe that Elijah is the second character. Incidentally, though we don't have time to go into it, the chart on the screen shows you that Elijah has a very prominent place in prophetic scripture. Malachi prophesied that one with the spirit of Elijah would arrive before the Lord Jesus - John the Baptist. He was not Elijah, he was in the spirit of Elijah, but the Lord Jesus later told us in Matthew 17 - if my memory serves me right - that Elijah would come as a forerunner to His second coming, and that's why we believe that one of these two witnesses is Elijah himself.
Now we are told that these two witnesses will stand at the Temple, this tribulation Temple, and preach to those who are entering in to worship the man of sin, and they will preach as to his real identity as Antichrist. They will admonish them to turn from him, that the true Christ is coming and He will punish all the followers with the word of His mouth - what faithfulness. Now verse 7 of chapter 11 tells us that Antichrist, the beast from the bottomless pit, will kill these two witnesses, he will slay them. God's servants are immortal until their work is done, but their work was done and now they are dead. Verse 8 tells us that their bodies will lie in the street of Jerusalem, Jerusalem is called Sodom there in Egypt because of their rebellion, because of their sin, because of their idolatry and their pride. Verse 9 says that they are not buried - the height of indignity - and we read that everyone on the face of the earth will see this. Now that could not have happened a decade ago, before global news, satellite television, and the Internet - at least a couple of decades ago. The wonder of it all is, as we read in verses 11 to 14, that those two corpses heard a voice from heaven saying: ''Come up hither', And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly'.
There is a wonderful doxology at the end of chapter 11 that speaks of how our Lord is coming: and there will be set up the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. And yet we still read that Earth dwellers will hate, verse 18, the nations were angry! Then we get a glimpse into the Temple that is in heaven, and the very Ark of God, and I think the message there is that Antichrist and his forces might be able to shake the Temple on the earth, but nothing can shake the unshakable Temple of God in heaven.
Now, I'm finished - and you're glad to hear that! - but two things I need to leave with you tonight. Because of all these things, believers, should we not be waiting, should we not be watching, should we not be winning? Unbeliever, if you're here tonight: Flee from the wrath to come - but listen, believers, listen to me, and I have challenged my own heart with this today: David Legge, do you believe all this stuff? Did you hear that? Do you believe all this stuff? Do you believe it? If we believed it, because of the terror of the Lord we would persuade men.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Evangelical Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fourteenth recording in his 'The Book Of The Revelation' series, entitled "The Seven Trumpets" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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