1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. 6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them. 7 The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. 8 The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea.  A third of the sea turned into blood, 9 a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. 10 The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water-- 11 the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. 12 The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night. 13 As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!” 

O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing
3 “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. 5 The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. 6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. 7 For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face. Psalms 11:3-7 (NIV)

1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. 6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them. 7 The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. 8 The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea.  A third of the sea turned into blood, 9 a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. 10 The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water-- 11 the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. 12 The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night. 13 As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!” Revelation 8:1-13 (NIV)

The Apostle John continues to observe this heavenly scene and what he reveals is quite somber. The opening of the seventh seal is a most important and solemn event. Indeed, when the seventh seal was opened an eerie and unnerving silence permeated Heaven for about half an hour.  “Silence is golden” yet, there will be a silence occurring in heaven at this time which is so ominous and overwhelming that its very nature foreshadows the enormous difficulties about to occur upon the earth.  The significance of the silence is twofold: First, it is entirely opposite of the usual sound pattern of heaven which is one of great joy, songs, praise and worship as we see in Revelation 5:11-14:

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they sang:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” 13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” 14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. 

Suddenly, amid the celebratory crescendo of this joyful sound there comes a universal deadening silence. “The calm before the storm” – much akin to the beautiful weather one experiences in the eye of a hurricane. This is prior to the devastating winds that are sure to follow.  Likewise, this is mid-Tribulation and we see in heaven this stillness before the storm on earth. And the second significance of this silence  is the result of the revelation by Jesus to the angelic hosts concerning what is about to fall upon the earth. It is indicative that something tremendous is about to take place. And it is ushered in by the sound of silence – as the silence that falls right before a verdict is read and everyone awaits that which will follow.

It is important to understand that there are three sets of 7 judgments listed in the seal in Jesus’ hand – the seven seals, the seven trumpets and the seven bowls - each set proceeds out of the one prior and each one gets progressively worse, hence the foreboding silence in heaven.             

As John observed this heavenly scene, he wrote that he saw seven angels to whom were given seven trumpets. The fact that these are angels’ trumpets distinguishes them from the trumpet blast of God. We see the trumpet blast of God mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52:
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 

And in 1 Thessalonians 4:16:
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 

We have already seen that the seven – sealed scroll represents the title deed to the earth, but it also contains the awful future awaiting all those who willingly reject the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. Their choice, their decision, and sadly, their consequences to their choices. God does not enjoy the punishment of the wicked. His Holy Heart desires for none to perish but all to come to repentance. Ezekiel 18:23 describes this thought:
23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? 

The opening of the seventh seal introduces the seven trumpet judgments which are the judgments of God sent upon the earth. God is exclusively the sender and the inhabitants of the earth are exclusively the receivers.  The Prophet Isaiah states God’s Words in Isaiah 45:5-7:
5 I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, 6 so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other. 7 I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. 

These judgments are so terrible that the angels stand breathless in wonder. There is coming to this earth certain doom because of the rejection by the people of the Savior and Redeemer God has sent, the Lord Jesus Christ.

As the seventh seal is broken, we see seven angels standing before God and to them were given the seven trumpets. These angels are to direct the judgments of the seven trumpets. They are not to be confused with the seven spirits of God mentioned in Revelation 5:6:
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 

The fact that these angels stand before God indicates their place of prominence such as is given to the angel Gabriel. In Luke 1:19-20 we
read Gabriel’s response to Zechariah, John the Baptist’s earthly father:
19 The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.” 

Some have even called these the “presence angels”. The opening of the seventh seal does not cause the seven angels to stand before God.  Apparently, they are always there, at the ready, awaiting a special assignment from their Creator. Oh, for us to be like them when we hear our Master’s voice!  Responding quickly when He speaks, eager to do His will through His power, for His glory and for our good. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words to his beloved Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15:
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 

As well as his letter to the Church at Colosse in Colossians 3:23-25:
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism. 

The use of trumpets by the angels has considerable background in the Scriptures. Trumpets were used in various phases of Israel’s history.  They were sounded at times of public assembly, they were used to direct soldiers in war, as well as to signal important events on the calendar. They were also used on the occasion of the giving of the Mosaic law and were sounded on the first of the month and almost every important occasion. Here, they are used to direct the judgments symbolized by the seven trumpets. We discover an example of this in Exodus 19:18-19 which states:

18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, 19 and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. 

The writer of Hebrews speaks of this as well in Hebrews 12:18-21:
18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”   

The Prophet Joel writes in Joel 2:1-2:
1 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand--2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. 

The trumpet was made of a ram’s horn, blown by a watchman to alert the people of great danger. The appropriate response was fear and trembling, especially in this instance since the day of the Lord is coming and who can stand? 

Lastly, Jesus spoke of the trumpet call in Matthew 24:29-31 regarding the time at the end of the Tribulation: 
29 “Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ 30 At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”  
In verse three of Chapter Eight John describes an angel holding a golden censer with “much incense to offer on the golden altar, with the prayers of all the saints”. What a beautiful picture of the prayers of God’s people continually going up before Him. They are a fragrant offering to Him, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. These prayers, like the prayers of the saints under the altar in Revelation 6:9-10, are probably the prayers that have been kept in heaven awaiting for this very day. They are as incense to the Lord – a sweet smelling sacrifice. In the Old Testament order the priests would burn incense upon the altar of incense, and the smoke would fill the temple or the tabernacle and then ascend to heaven.  Incense was symbolic of worship and prayer and a reminder that intercession to the Lord has the character of sweet incense and never goes unheard.  

For two thousand plus years, God’s people have been praying to God to avenge Himself on those who blaspheme against Him, revile His Son, and abuse His people. The fact that this censer is filled with fire from that altar which stands before the throne and is cast into the earth indicates that these prayers of vengeance are about to be answered. Make no mistake about it, God answers prayer – in His timing and both for His glory and for our good, never one surpassing the other. The action takes place in heaven but causes a response on earth of “thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake”.  All signifying that the human race is about to feel the devastating hot blast of God’s wrath.

The awful character of the Tribulation period cannot be truly grasped by anyone.  It will be a period so frightening, so horrifying that those who experience it will want to die but death will elude them. The Prophet Jeremiah tells us in Jeremiah 30:7:  
7 How awful that day will be!  None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it. Jeremiah 30:7 (NIV) (Speaking of the 144,000 Jewish proselytes). 

There are differences in opinion concerning whether the angel mentioned in verse three is actually an angel of high rank or an angelic representation of the Lord Jesus Christ. From the nature of His work as Mediator serving in the role as the High Priest, the argument is that it must be the Lord Jesus Christ because this would not be a proper function of an angel. The fact that Christ frequently appeared in the Old Testament as the Angel of Yahweh lends further support to the point of view. Genesis 16:7-10 tells us:  
7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. 9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.” 

And Psalms 34:7 states:
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. 

The preponderance of opinions seems to favor regarding the angel as Christ in His work as our High Priest.
Next we discover in verse three as well the great importance of prayer - it cannot be overstated. Prayer is always the preface to blessing.  Indeed, it goes before the blessing and is the blessing’s shadow. Prayer is connected with blessing to show us the great value in it. Over and over in Scripture we are commanded to pray. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:5-13:

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’” 

The Most High God is a God that hears the prayers of His people. Though He is infinitely above all  and stands in no need of His creatures, He is graciously pleased to take such a merciful notice of the “worms of the dust” as ourselves. Indeed, He loves to be entreated – nothing is too insignificant to bring to His throne.  If it bothers His child, it bothers Him. He manifests Himself to be a God who hears and answers our prayers all in His perfect timing. God sometimes gives us exactly as we ask, but at other times He answers in value, though not in kind. Let it be as God wills and God will determine the best for our lives. We want what He wants – believe me!  We are to be content to leave our prayers in His all-powerful and loving hands.  Sometimes He will change our circumstances or sometimes He will change us in our circumstances. The latter – a changed heart - giving it an entirely different leaning – is often being the greatest miracle of all, Amen?  He knows when to give, how to give, what to give and what to withhold. Remember “no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless”, the Psalmist pens. He is pleased with our supplications and He reveals Himself to us by special discoveries of His mercy and sufficiency. Our prayers move the mighty hand of God - again in His perfect timing as we discover here in Revelation – always for our good and for His glory never one surpassing the other. All prayers are answered, yet as we wait patiently for the answers to come – not running ahead in presumption deciding on our own what we are going to do or not do - we can rest assured that unanswered prayers are not unheard, they are not blown away by the wind rather they are kept secure in heaven in His heart. If He bottles our tears – the costly drops of sacred grief – how much more so our petitions, Amen? 

Our prayers should be constant. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

It is our great duty to give ourselves to prayer and it not only blesses us but all those in our spheres as well. A walking prayer life is like fire on the altar – it must never go out day or night. It is like a saint’s breathing. A believer’s prayer may have an intermission, but never a cessation. There is no higher duty given to a Christian than their constant attention to prayer.  Pray always, pray continually, pray without ceasing. His desire is for us to be in communion with Him, being in a praying frame of mind throughout the day and praying consistently and with perseverance. Remember, amazingly, He is a “with us” God. His people are to have a walking prayer life – being in constant communion with the Savior. As He is always in constant intercession for us. Hebrews 7:25 tells us:
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 

It is a great privilege to come freely to converse with God and we should not take this great responsibility carelessly or flippantly.  Prayer with perseverance is the path God directs all His children to take.  

Paul tells us in Colossians 4:2:
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 

Paul both practiced and prescribed a mature prayer life – for all believers. Prayer is not a spiritual luxury; it is essential for our growth in Christ. It is as vital to one’s spiritual health as breathing is to one’s physical health and it should be continual, not casual. In our praying, a believer should be watchful against spiritual drowsiness caused by too much attention to the world and/or by the disruptions of the devil. He hates it when he finds a saint on his knees, Amen? Also, being joyful and thankful should always accompany our prayers as well, for it places a believer in the proper attitude before God. He loves a cheerful heart.

Scripture is replete on the subject of prayer and whatever God brings to light in His Word over and over is a head’s up for His saints to take note of, Amen? He desires communion with His saints and one of the main vehicles He uses is prayer. We are to be still before Him and listen to His still small voice. Not running our mouth’s yapping!  King David’s prayers are amazing and worthy to be studied, memorized and prayed back to the Lord.  He loves to hear His Word prayed back to Him by His saints. It demonstrates we are like hearted and minded with Him as David was – and it pleased God.

Many years ago I began this process in praying prayers in the Scriptures back to God over myself and my family – and God has richly blessed this effort. I would substitute their names in the prayers making them come alive for me and those I hold dear. Some of the prayers I have used from Scripture are as follows:
Psalms 112 – a Psalm of David which God gave me to pray over my husband:
1 Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. 2 His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. 5 Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. 6 Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. 7 He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. 8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes. 9 He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor. 10 The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing. 

To pray over my family and friends I often use Paul’s prayers in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. Some examples are:
Ephesians 3:14-21:
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 

Philippians 1:9-11:
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God. 

Philippians 4:4-7: 
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Colossians 1:9-14  
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 

And lastly, Colossians 4:12:
12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 

These are merely suggestions but I will say that they make for a great prayer life in that we are praying the Word and Will of God and it does not go unnoticed by the Master. We are often so busy with earthly things that we disregard the blessings of the spiritual things. King David writes in Psalms 141:1-2:
1 O LORD, I call to you; come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to you. 2 May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. 

And Peter echoes this in 1 Peter 3:12:
12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 

This offering which is presented in heaven in Revelation Eight corresponds to the custom of offering incense on the altar of incense in both the tabernacle and the temple. The censer would hold the coals, and a separate vessel would carry the incense which was to be poured on the coals once the altar was reached. The resulting smoke was typical of prayer ascending before God. I love to think of prayer in this light.  

In Revelation 8:5 we discover the angel offering the incense on the coals before God, and then, taking the censer with the fire still in it, he threw it on the earth. As a result there were thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. The picture is one of ominous anticipation.

Next we see the seven angels with the seven trumpets preparing to sound them. The first angel sounded the trumpet in verse seven and there came hail and fire mixed with blood hurled down to the earth.  At this, one-third of the earth and the trees were burned up and all the grass was burned up. A scene of desolation is pictured here directed to the earth’s vegetation. The obvious parallel is found in the seventh plague in Exodus 9:18-26 where there was literal hail and fire:
18 “‘Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. 19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every man and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’” 20 Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the LORD left their slaves and livestock in the field.  22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt--on men and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.” 23 When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the LORD sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt; 24 hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. 25 Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields--both men and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. 26 The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were. 

Since there was literal hail and fire, the result was massive destruction of the earth’s vegetation. There is no solid reason for not taking this judgment in its literal sense. In Exodus the hail destroyed not only vegetation but also people and animals who were caught in it. Thus the result of the hail was bloodshed. A scene of desolation is spread upon the earth. This judgment, as great as it is, is only the introduction.

This is also reminiscent of a scene in Ezekiel 38:22-23:
22 “‘I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. 23 And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.’” 

The second trumpet brings about another horrific judgment upon the earth and its inhabitants. The stars from Heaven fall and there are various disturbances of this character during this period. The great mountain burning with fire could actually be a large object falling from the heavenly realms. The resulting judgment is devastating. 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 burning mountain. The point of view adopted here is that these judgments should be interpreted literally as far as the literal interpretation can be reasonably followed. Though all  questions cannot be answered, the unmistakable implication of these judgments is that God is dealing in righteous wrath with the wicked earth. Isaiah 40:4-5 is reminiscent of this scene:

4 “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” 

When the third trumpet sounded, John witnessed a great star burning like a torch and falling upon the rivers and springs of water.  It is aptly named “Wormwood”, a bitter plant that grows in waste places and a symbol of calamity. It apparently causes the waters to become bitter, resulting in the death of many. Once again, it seems preferable to understand this judgment literally. The star seems to be a heavenly body or a mass understandably burning as it enters the atmosphere of earth, and falling with contaminating influence upon the rivers and the waters. The reference to wormwood seems parallel to the experience of the children of Israel at the waters of Marah (meaning bitter) in Exodus 15:22-25:
22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah. ) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” 25 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. 

Not too dissimilar to Jesus taking away the bitterness of our sin by the wood of the cross and the sweetness that ensues. Yet, the wormwood here in these verses has the opposite effect making the waters bitter.  Christ is now coming in judgement turning the vain hopes and ambitions of unbelievers into both bitterness and despair. The Prophet Jeremiah tells us in Jeremiah 9:13-16:
13 The LORD said, “It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. 14 Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their fathers taught them.” 15 Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “See, I will make this people eat bitter food and drink poisoned water. 16 I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will pursue them with the sword until I have destroyed them.”

And again in Jeremiah 23:15 we find:
15 Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty says concerning the prophets:  “I will make them eat bitter food and drink poisoned water, because from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land.” 

Lastly, we see in in the final two verses the fourth angel sounding his trumpet and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark.  A third of the day was without light and  also a third of the night.  In contrast to the first three judgments having to do with land, sea, rivers, and springs of water, the fourth trumpet relates to the heavens themselves.  As John witnesses the scene, he sees a disruption of light from heaven as a solemn warning of other judgments that were yet to fall upon the earth.  Again we see a similarity in Exodus 10:21-23 describing a “darkness that can be felt”:
21 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt--darkness that can be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. 23 No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

Ezekiel also carries with it a similar tone in Ezekiel 32:7-9:  
7 When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. 8 All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land, declares the Sovereign LORD.  9 I will trouble the hearts of many peoples when I bring about your destruction among the nations, among lands you have not known. 

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 has ever experienced. The Prophet Jeremiah tells us in Jeremiah 23:16-20:   
16 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’  And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you’. 18 But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to hear his word?  Who has listened and heard his word?  19 See, the storm of the LORD will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked. 20 The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly.” 

As Jesus stated in Matthew 24:22:
22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 

The first four trumpets deal with aspects of the physical world that are taken more or less for granted. The beauty and benefit of the trees, and the luxury and growth of green grass are seldom occasions for thanksgiving to the living God. In like fashion, human beings are prone to take for granted the blessings of water. These are all gifts from a loving God to an undeserving world, and they come under the blight and judgment described in the second and third trumpets. Still another area of blessing from God is the light of the sun, moon, and stars. The handiwork of God in the heavens is mentioned frequently in Scripture. Isaiah 40:25-26 tells us:  
25 “To whom will you compare me?  Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?  He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because  of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. 

As Psalms 19:1-4 tells us:
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. 

The very presence of these aspects of nature are so essential to human life and existence and manifests God’s eternal power. So dramatic are the judgments and so unmistakably an evidence of the power and sovereignty of God that even blasphemers on earth can no longer ignore the fact that God is dealing with them. Fearful as these judgments are, they are only the beginning of God’s dealing with the earth, and as indicated in a special announcement that three great woes are still to fall. The triple woe announced by an eagle warned of the coming judgment which would be more severe and devastating than those which preceded them. As horrible as the first four trumpets have been, they will be surpassed in misery by that which is to follow – worse things are yet to come. Satan first wreaked havoc and now God wreaks havoc. Yet all believers in the tribulation can know without a doubt their salvation will be held safe in the hands of sweet Jesus! Jude 1:24-25 tells us:         
24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-- 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. 

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

What I Glean