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OVERVIEW OF THE 7 TRUMPETS
“And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth; and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.” Revelation 8:2-6.
DANIEL AND REVELATION, Chapter 8, p 475-477, by Uriah Smith.
We name as the subject of this chapter the seven trumpets, as these constitute the main theme of the chapter, although there are other matters introduced before the opening of that series of events. The first verse of this chapter relates to the events of the preceding chapters, and therefore should not have been separated from them by the division of the chapter.
"VERSE 1. And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour."
The series of seven seals is here resumed and concluded. The sixth chapter closed with the events of the sixth seal, and the eighth commences with the opening of the seventh seal; hence the seventh chapter stands parenthetically between the sixth and seventh seals, from which it appears that the sealing work of that chapter belongs to the sixth seal.
Silence in Heaven. - Concerning the cause of this silence, only conjecture can be offered, - a conjecture, however, which is supported by the events of the sixth seal. That seal does not bring us to the second advent, although it embraces events that transpire in close connection therewith. It introduces the fearful commotions of the elements, described as the rolling of the heavens together as a scroll, caused by the voice of God, the breaking up of the surface of the earth, and the confession on the part of the wicked that the great day of God's wrath is come. They are doubtless in momentary expectation of seeing the King appear in, to them, unendurable glory. But the seal stops just short of that event. The personal appearing of Christ must therefore be allotted to the next seal. But when the Lord appears, he comes with all the holy angels with him. Matt.25:31. And when all the heavenly harpers leave the courts above to come down with their divine Lord, as he descends to gather the fruit of his redeeming work, will there not be silence in heaven?
The length of this period of silence, if we consider it prophetic time, would be about seven days.
"VERSE 2. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets."
This verse introduces a new and distinct series of events. In the seals we have had the history of the church during what is called the gospel dispensation. In the seven trumpets, now introduced, we have the principal political and warlike events which were to transpire during the same time.
"VERSE 3. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. 5. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth; and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake."
Having as it were, in verse 2, brought out the seven angels, and introduced them before us upon the stage of action, John, for a moment, in the three verses last quoted, directs attention to an entirely different scene. The angel which approaches the altar is not one of the seven trumpet angels. The altar is the altar of incense, which, in the earthly sanctuary, was placed in the first apartment. Here, then, is another proof that there exists in heaven a sanctuary with its corresponding vessels of service, of which the earthly was a figure, and that we are taken into that sanctuary by the visions of John, A work of ministration for all the saints in the sanctuary above is thus brought to view. Doubtless the entire work of mediation for the people of God during the gospel dispensation is here presented.
This is apparent from the fact that the angel offers his incense with the prayers of all saints. And that we are here carried forward to the end, is evident from the act of the angel in filling the censer with fire and casting it unto the earth; for his work is then done; no more prayers are to be offered up mingled with incense; and this symbolic act can have its application only at the time when the ministration of Christ in the sanctuary in behalf of mankind has forever ceased. And following the angel's act are voices, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake - exactly such occurrences as we are elsewhere informed transpire at the close of human probation. (See Rev.11:19; 16:17,18.)
But why are these verses thus thrown in here? Answer: As a message of hope and comfort for the church. The seven angels with their warlike trumpets had been introduced; terrible scenes were to transpire under their sounding; but before they commence, the people of God are pointed to the work of mediation in their behalf above, and their source of help and strength during this time. Though they should be tossed like feathers upon the tumultuous waves of strife and war, they were to know that their great High Priest still ministered for them in the sanctuary in heaven, and that thither they could direct their prayers, and have them offered, with incense, to their Father in heaven. Thus could they gain strength and support in all their calamities.
"VERSE 6. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound."
The subject of the seven trumpets is here resumed, and occupies the remainder of this chapter and all of chapter 9. The seven angels prepare themselves to sound. Their sounding comes in as a complement to the prophecy of Daniel 2 and 7, commencing with the breaking up of the old Roman empire into its ten divisions, of which, in the first four trumpets, we have a description.
THE SOUNDING OF THE SEVEN TRUMPETS OF REVELATION 8 AND 9, p 1-2, by James White.
The great leading features of Daniel's visions were the four great governments of antiquity, beginning with the Babylonian, and ending with the Roman, in its papal form. Not so, however, with John; he lived when three of those governments had passed away, and the fourth and last was in being, and in the height of its glory, as an universal monarchy. Under that government John was in banishment on the isle of Patmos, "for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ." Accordingly, instead of predicting the rise and triumph of either of those four great governments, it was his part to give the prophetic history of the fall of the last of the four, and give us the various means by which that great persecuting system should come to ruin.
The first decisive step in the downfall of Rome, was the removal of the seat of empire from the west to the east. Until then its unity had been very faithfully preserved. After that, division and subdivision became the order of the day, until the final ruin of the empire.
The sounding of the seven trumpets I understand to shadow forth the instrumentalities by which the Roman empire was to be overthrown and subverted, and finally ruined.
The empire, after Constantine, was divided into three parts; and hence the frequent remark, "a third part of men," &c., in allusion to the third part of the empire which was under the scourge. Under the first four trumpets the two western divisions fell, and under the fifth and sixth the eastern empire was crushed; but under the seventh trumpet great Babylon entire will sink to rise no more at all.
In giving an outline of this subject, I shall, for the most part, follow Keith, in his "Signs of the Times," on the first four trumpets. I should be glad to give his remarks and historical quotations entire, would my limits, which are prescribed for this work, admit it.
The subject properly begins with the second verse of the eighth chapter; and the first verse should have been annexed to the seventh chapter, it being the conclusion of the opening of the seals.
From verses 2-5 of chapter 8, we have the prefatory remarks, prefatory to the sounding of the first angel.