Trumpets, Pharaohs, and Locusts: Oh My!

God Wins!  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:48
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Suffering. We all do it. Whether it is private knowledge or public knowledge, we do not get the luxury of avoiding it. In the sermon last week, Tom talked a lot about suffering as well. We saw how suffering can be good for us as Christians, how it can help cleanse us, it can call us to examine ourselves and seek God. Suffering reminds us that God is with us and that He is on His throne and that one day we can look forward to His restoration of everything in which suffering will be no more. And a lot of times, we need those reminders. And Tom also told me a joke the other day and sometimes, listening to those can be classified as suffering (just kidding) but he told me this one and it was pretty good:
Now, there was this guy that was hitch hiking one day. And for hours and hours and hours, he was hitch hiking. Finally, a good Samaritan shows up and offers the guy a ride. The guy was surprised that someone finally picked him up after hours of walking somewhere. The driver says, “Sure, I don’t care to take you.” “Wow, that is so nice. I have been hitch hiking for hours and no one even stops to ask or anything.” A few minutes go by and the hitch hiker asks, “Why did you stop and pick me up? Why were you different?” The driver responds with “Just a nice guy I guess.” They go on a little further. The hitch hiker asks another question: “Why would you take a chance on me though? What if I were a serial killer or something?” The driver responds with “Well, the odds of two serial killers in the same car is very unlikely.”
Now, being in that awkward situation would be, as some would say, suffering.


But sometimes, I think we undermine the meaning of suffering. Just like we do with positive words, I had a discussion with my nana the other day about how we undermine the gravity of the word ‘love’ when we say things like I LOVE pizza or oreos. I really like those things, but when I use the word love there, how much does that cheapen love. And I think the we do the same thing with other words, and suffering is one of them.
When we say we are suffering in a situation, maybe it is one that is uncomfortable or one we don’t want to be in, how much does that cheapen what it means to actually suffer? How much does that change how we view when others suffer?


Today, we will be looking at another passage in Revelation that describes suffering. However, the previous passages that were looked at were comforting passages for those that are a part of Christ’s church and suffering, just like we had talked about earlier. The passages we will be reading today, are passages contrasting the suffering of those who suffered for awhile in this life and are now going to be comforted, compared to those who hardened their hearts against God and His people.
Now, I think we need to be reminded about some things in Revelation before we really dive deep into today’s passage because if we don’t remember these things, well things will get complicated. So, here are some things we need to remember in the Book of Revelation:
It is dangerous to read everything in Revelation as literal.
There are some things in Revelation that were personified and written in a way that represent something else without being literal. For example, the locusts we are going to read about in today’s passage.
It is dangerous to read everything in Revelation as figurative.
There are some things in Revelation that are true descriptions and depictions of things. Not everything is personified or written in an over-embellished way.
It is dangerous to read Revelation without properly understanding the Old Testament.
This is a big one, because what happens with a lot of people that run to Revelation, is missing out on a lot of the Old Testament allusions that are sprinkled pretty much in every verse in the book. John was an Old Testament Scholar, and he knew it well, so some of the little things that we might misread in Revelation, are a lot of times Old Testament allusions that might be so obscure that we miss them and then that changes how we read the book.
In Tom’s sermon last week, we talked about some horsemen, what they meant and represented, and then there were 6 seals that were mentioned. And no we are not talking about the animals. And no we are not talking about the popular R&B artist from the 90’s who famously sang the song “Kiss From a Rose” on the Batman Forever soundtrack. The seals we looked at last week are to be pictured like an envelope seal, and they bring about judgments, and that is where we pick up, because Revelation has this cool little rhythm in which it will have parallels of 7’s and the way those are portrayed is the first six things, an interlude, and the 7th thing usually comes a chapter or two later, just like what we see with the seals. The seals were in chapter six, there is an interlude where the 144,000 are sealed and then it picks up with the 7th seal in chapter 8.
Revelation 8:1 ESV
When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
Ok, so we are 1 verse into our text today and we already have two points, because each of these things are significant. The first being that in the first part of verse one, we see The Seventh Seal. We already talked about the rhythm of 6 things and then the 7th thing coming a couple chapters later (we are seeing that with the seals right now, we will see that with the trumpets as well today and Tom will get the 7th next week) and then there are 7 bowls. The last part of the 7s (seals, trumpets and bowls) represent judgment. And this is the final judgment. So, with the Seventh Seal being broken, we have God’s final judgment (and that same thing happens with the trumpets and the bowls) and so, that means that this is the same thing happening just described in three different ways. The world is not ending three different times, one time at the end of each of the 7s. No, it ends once at God’s final judgment, it is just being described in three different ways with Seals, Trumpets and Bowls.
Then, the second thing we see in this verse is The Silence that occurs after the last judgment, and Mark Moore says this about the silence:
“The seventh seal is broken and all heaven stands in awe for a half an hour. Why? Because the seventh seal (as well as the seventh trumpet and the seventh bowl), represents the final judgment of God. The courtroom always sits in silence as it awaits the reading of the verdict.” (How to Dodge a Dragon, 47)
Revelation 8:2 ESV
Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
Here, we are introduced to The Sevens - Angels and Trumpets. Now, Tom will probably cover this later when he talks about the Mark of the Beast (and I know a lot of people get hung up on that but there is a Mark of God’s people too by the way and if you want to talk to me or Tom about that particular topic I would be happy to). But seven was a holy and complete number as was viewed in this time. So, a lot of symbols and stuff that you see in Revelation are tied to very important numbers. In the last chapter, we saw the number of God’s people (144,000). Well, if you have 12 tribes and 12 disciples and added some 0’s… boom. Some of these symbols and numbers need to breathe a little bit. We are about to enter into another cycle of 7’s (just like the seals) but if the seals ended in God’s final judgment, how can that happen again? Is the world going to end 15 times? No. Just another way of showing and explaining the same thing.
Revelation 8:3–5 ESV
And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
Now, comes The Sacrifice. And one of the things that we see throughout the book of Revelation is a church service. I know, you probably think I am crazy. But listen to this New Testament scholar elaborate on this:
The Book of Revelation The Meaning of the Silence

The Mishnah’s explanation of the background of the liturgy of the daily sacrifice in the temple makes even more cogent the association of prayer with the silence in Rev. 8:1 (cf. m. Tamid). The order of the service roughly resembled the order of some of the significant images in the Apocalypse: (1) trimming of the seven lamps (Revelation 1–3), (2) slaying of the sacrificial lamb (Rev. 5:6), (3) pouring of the sacrificial blood at the base of the altar (Rev. 6:9), (4) offering of incense, during a time of silence and prayer (so Luke 1:10; cf. Rev. 8:1, 4–5), (5) the burnt offering and drink offering (Rev. 16:1) together with the sounding of trumpets (Rev. 8:6), and (6) singing of psalms (19:1–8).

Now, that is all pretty cool and everything, but we haven’t even gotten to the trumpets yet. Each trumpet represents a judgment (and that is important because these are punishments and judgments - NOT WARNINGS), where something is judged, so that is important for us to remember.
Revelation 8:6–7 ESV
Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.
The 1st Trumpet: Hail, Fire, and Blood. This has some parallels with the fire and hail plague that we have in Exodus (and a lot of these do and that is why you’ll see the references next to the Scripture on the back of the bulletin but I would encourage you to look those up and compare/contrast them to what we have here later). Another parallel with Exodus that these have:
The Book of Revelation The Exodus Plagues

Consequently, while the exodus plagues may be conceived as warnings, they are not ultimately meant to cause Pharaoh and the majority of Egyptians to repent but to demonstrate that they are being judged because of their hardness of heart and to demonstrate Yahweh’s incomparability and glory.

This first trumpet could be connected to the famine depicted by the third horseman from Rev. 6:6, and that is also the connection to Ezekiel 5. Notice that a third of the Earth, a third of trees, and a third of grass is burnt up from this.
Revelation 8:8–9 ESV
The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
The 2nd Trumpet: Mountain of Fire/Sea of Blood. A sea of blood has connection to Exodus once again with the plague of blood in the Nile, and with the mountain, that could be a metaphor for a kingdom. It being on fire would mean that it is an evil kingdom. And that makes sense that an evil kingdom is judged based on the next trumpet. Remember: a third of the sea becomes blood (unusable), a third of sea creatures die and a third of ships are destroyed.
Revelation 8:10–11 ESV
The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.
The 3rd Trumpet: Fallen Star. Now, Babylon is often portrayed as the evil kingdom in the book of Revelation.
The Book of Revelation The First Four Trumpets: God Deprives the Ungodly of Earthly Security because of Their Persecution and Idolatry in Order to Indicate Their Separation from Him (8:6–12)

The identification of the star as Babylon’s representative angel becomes more convincing if v 10 is understood as alluding to Isa. 14:12–15. There the judgment of the king of Babylon and his nation is said to occur because its guardian angel, “the star of the morning,” has “fallen from heaven, … thrust down to Sheol … to the recesses of the pit.”

So, with the judgment of an evil kingdom in the 2nd Trumpet and the judgment of an evil agent like a fallen star or angel in the 3rd Trumpet, this is either representative of Satan or an agent of Satan and that becomes clear in the 5th trumpet. Remember that a third of the rivers and springs become bitter and are killing people.
Revelation 8:12 ESV
The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night.
The 4th Trumpet: Sun/Moon/Stars Darkened. Now, we know this whole passage has been the judgment of nonbelievers. Just as we talked about with Pharaoh and the plagues in Exodus, they were judgments against him and his hardness of heart. This is similar in the judgments against unbelievers and their hardness of heart. Last week, Tom talked about what it is like to suffer and be on God’s side, with these passages you see what it is like to suffer and be on the opposite side. All of the things that unbelievers have relied on are being let go. Apart from God, things are falling apart and that is what He is showing through all this.
The Book of Revelation Conclusion to the First Four Trumpets

The first four trumpet woes could also represent a wide range of sufferings brought on people because of their idolatrous trust in the temporary world system instead of in the eternal God. The sufferings are continual reminders of the impermanence of the idolatrous object of the earth-dwellers’ trust. The sufferings are deficiencies in the world’s resources, which the ungodly depend on to meet their needs. These trials, coupled with actual death, remind them that they are ultimately insecure. The reason for their predicament is their trust in what is unstable.

Revelation 8:13 ESV
Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”
Last 3 Trumpets, First 3 Woes. With this passage, you an eagle essentially says “If you thought the first trumpets/judgments were bad, just wait until you see the next ones!” And I know it rhymes, but no Dr. Seuss did not have a hand in writing the book of Revelation. It’s not Horton Hears a Woe or anything like that, it is a prophecy saying that Satan is going to do his thing for a little while, and things are not going to be good with that if you are not on God’s side. Remember, this whole series is: GOD WINS!
Revelation 9:1–12 ESV
And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them. In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come.
The star is personified now. He has been given keys to bottomless pit? But who would give him keys? Who would allow him to do anything? Jesus had the keys according to Revelation 1, and this passage develops what was being taught by Jesus in Luke 10:18-20
Luke 10:18–20 ESV
And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
A reminder that Christians do not have to fear the power and work of Satan. This is judgment, and Satan is allowed to work because notice that God and Jesus are not tormenting the unbelievers, but Satan.
We must also remember: this is not literal. A locust, wearing a crown, with a man’s face (Tom’s), woman’s hair (Linnea’s), a lions mouth and iron armor and a scorpion’s stinger would look like this. These are representations of the tools of Satan.
Revelation 9:13–19 ESV
Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.
More destruction and tools used by Satan. Locusts from Satan and the Riders/Horsemen of Chaos show us this: Unbelievers are tormented by Satan and his instruments both spiritually and physically about their spiritual hopelessness apart from God.
Revelation 9:20–21 ESV
The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.


I am not going to lie to you, I really wouldn’t have been all that surprised if you would have told me at some point in time I would have a sermon that had a locust with Tom’s face and Linnea’s hair and that I somehow had the R&B singer Seal thrown in there with a bunch of other random stuff, yeah I wouldn’t have been all that surprised. But you have heard a lot of stuff today. All kinds of things about what these things could mean, but this right here is the main point that John is getting across and I hope that you got this today:
Whatever you are facing, it is better for God to be for you than against you.
“Sometimes we are seduced into thinking that things are more comfortable in the world than in the church. Revelation reveals that this just is not so! We may suffer evil men’s wicked schemes. We may even suffer natural disasters. But when we put our head to the pillow at night, we need not fear death, feel shame, wrestle with remorse, carry guilt, search for hope, worry over our destiny or wonder about our destination. We don;t have to dodge demons, live with locusts, run from horsemen, or cower under Satanic attack. More than all this, we don’t have to face God in a contest of colossal proportions. In fact, he stands with us as our shield and first line of defense.”


Will you do that today if you aren’t on His side already? And if you are, will you lean into the Great Commission, the call from Jesus that He gave His disciples to go out and make disciples. Because there eternity, what we just read about today, could depend on YOUR willingness to share the message and love of God because that is what life and judgment looks like apart from God.5
Let’s pray.
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