The Lamb Breaks Open the Seventh Seal
1When the Lamb broke open the seventh seal, heaven fell silent for about half an hour. # 8:1 When the first seal was broken open, it released thunder, but when the seventh seal was opened, it released the silence of the awe of God. The period of silence is because of the enormity and revelation that will be released through the last seal, bringing fullness to God’s work. Silence also points to perfect peace. The opening of the seventh seal will bring heaven’s peace into the created realm, for there is no time (half an hour, a compound Greek word taken from half and kairos, or a fixed, appointed time) in the eternal realm. 2And then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and each was given a trumpet. # 8:2 These may be a special class of angelic beings (archangels) named in Jewish tradition and given in 1 Enoch as Raphael, Uriel, Michael, Raguel, Sariel, Gabriel, and Remiel. A trumpet represents sounding out a specific and clear word from the Lord, bringing revelation to the hearts of his people.
3Then the eighth angel with a golden incense burner came and took his place at the incense altar. # 8:3 This eighth (or “another”) messenger taking his place at the golden altar is Christ, our Great High Priest, and the great quantity of incense is his intercession, which he mingles with ours. See Ps. 141:2; Heb. 3:1; 7:25; 8:1–2; 9:11. No angel is ever seen doing the work of the high priest as in this chapter. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer up, consisting of the prayers of God’s holy people, # 8:3 Or “to offer up incense, which is the prayers of God’s holy ones.” upon the golden altar that is before the throne. 4And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the holy ones billowed up before God from the hand of the angel. # 8:4 There are six specific items found in vv. 3–4, and they are all related to a heavenly, priestly ministry: an angel (messenger), an altar, a golden incense burner, incense, prayers, and smoke. See Lev. 16:11–14. 5Then the angel filled the golden incense burner with coals of fire from the altar and hurled it onto the earth, releasing great peals of thunder, voices, # 8:5 Or “sounds.” lightning flashes, and an earthquake. # 8:5 As our prayers, mixed with the intercession of our High Priest, Jesus, ascend in the Spirit, the very coals of fire from the altar are cast into the earth, which releases mighty power. The voices carry the word of the Lord. The thunder manifests God’s power (Job 26:14; Ps. 29:3–4). The lightning strikes illuminate divine truth (Ps. 97:4) as a great earthquake shakes the kingdoms of men to their foundations. These are not just acts of judgment, but purification (Isa. 6:6–7; Luke 12:49).
6Then the seven angels prepared to sound their trumpets. 7When the first angel sounded his trumpet, there came forth hail and fire mixed with blood, # 8:7 The Aramaic can be translated “mixed with water.” and it was hurled to the earth. # 8:7 This corresponds to the plague sent upon Egypt (a type of the world system; see Ex. 9:23–25). Hail may be a picture of the word of God that destroys the hiding place of lies and false doctrines (Isa. 28:17). A third of the earth was burned up, destroying a third of the trees # 8:7 Trees may speak of what is deeply rooted in human nature that will be destroyed by “blood mixed with fire.” Christ’s blood and Spirit-fire will purify our lives. and all green grass. # 8:7 Grass is consistently used in Scripture as a picture of our flesh (nature). Grass is a surface covering and can be a mask that hides what is beneath.
8When the second angel sounded his trumpet, something like a huge mountain burning with flames of fire was thrown into the sea, # 8:8 See Matt. 17:20. The kingdom of God is like a mountain (Isa. 2:1–3). The sea is a frequent metaphor for humanity (the sea of humanity). This is the mountain kingdom of God and his Spirit-fire cast into the sea of our lives. The sea creatures being destroyed (v. 9) can refer to the ungodly desires and activities of the flesh that live in the depths of our hearts. What once was life to us becomes undrinkable. See also Ex. 15:22–26; Jer. 23:13–15. destroying a third of the ships. # 8:8 See Rev. 18:9–10, 17–19. The ships are all part of the activities of the system of Babylon. 9A third of the sea turned into blood, destroying a third of all sea creatures.
10The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a megastar, # 8:10 The great or megastar is identified in Rev. 22:16 as Jesus. See also Num. 24:17–19. blazing like a torch, # 8:10 Or “lamp.” See Ps. 119:105. The burning torch is the burning Word of God. descended from heaven upon a third of the rivers and fountains. # 8:10 Rivers and fountains are also within the believer (Ps. 36:7–9; John 4:14; 7:37–38.) 11The name of the star is Bitterness. # 8:11 Or “wormwood” or “poisonwood,” a bitter herb (absinthe) known for its medicinal value in killing intestinal worms. A third of the waters became so bitter that many people died.
12The fourth # 8:12 It was on the fourth day of creation that the moon, sun, and stars were set in place. They were meant to “rule,” so they speak of governmental authority. It was to the fourth church that Jesus promised the overcomers that they will be given the Morning Star. See Dan. 12:3; Mal. 4:2. angel sounded 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 was darkened, and there was no light for a third of the day and likewise the night. # 8:12 The old order is dimming and passing away as all things become new and a new “exodus” is upon us. See Ex. 10:21–23. 13Then I saw and heard an eagle flying overhead, crying out with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe, to the people of the earth, because of the next three trumpets about to be sounded by the other three angels!”