The Fifth Trumpet and First Woe

“And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!’

Revelation 8:13 NKJV

Beginning with the blast of the fifth trumpet, the earth enters into the first of three woes. In our last post, we defined woe as a condition of deep suffering or trouble leading to calamitous ruin. God has steadily increased his judgments, from social upheaval and death (Rev. 6:1-8) to harm upon the earth and the seas (Rev. 8:6-12). Now His judgments of wrath will physically affect people on earth.

What is the reason for these judgments?

God’s purpose is to wake people up, cause them to turn from their wicked, sinful ways and be saved. For example, God did the same thing to the Jews–who didn’t heed the warning– when He allowed the Babylonians to conquer Jerusalem in 597 B.C. In the book of Ezekiel, this prophet wrote at least fifty times of God’s purpose–to make them know that He is the Lord.

And they shall know that I am the Lord; I have not said in vain that I would bring this calamity upon them.

Ezekiel 6:10 NKJV

Now let’s continue with Revelation 9 and first define some terms to give us more understanding.

Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. 

Revelation 9:1-2 NKJV

The Bottomless Pit

We’re likely familiar with the term bottomless pit, but what exactly is it and who is kept imprisoned there? We read in Jude 1:6, The angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; and also in 2 Peter 2:4, ...God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment. Thus, we know that there is a special place reserved just for fallen angels until the end of the age when God casts them into the Lake of Fire, the final Hell, which burns forever.

Hades or Hell

When the wicked die, where do they go? The term Hades or commonly, Hell, is where people wait for final judgment. You can read the story of the rich man and Lazarus HERE, which enlightens us about this terrible place. So presently, two places of Hell exist–one for fallen angels and the other for sinners–but all of them will be cast together into the Lake of Fire at the White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).

The Nephilim

A demonic race of mighty men appeared on the earth, known as Nephilim. Genesis 6:1-4 explains their origins as fallen angels or demons who, against God’s natural order, sired children by women (read HERE). Included in its ranks were giants of great renown, including Goliath.

As a result of their sinfulness, God punished these demons by casting them into a special place reserved for them alone: the bottomless pit. They will remain there until the final judgment when they will be cast into the Lake of Fire. However, some of them will be loosed for a specified time, appearing as locusts.

The Fallen Star

The fallen star has been given a key to the bottomless pit, so we know that this is either an angel or a high-ranking demon–perhaps Satan– to whom Jesus has given the key. Note the smoke pouring out of the pit, indicating that it’s an extremely hot place, perhaps from unquenchable fire. The smoke’s volume is so great that both sun and air will be blacked out, hosting clouds of locusts that will spread across the earth.

Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.

Revelation 9:3-6 NKJV

God’s Limitations

These locusts appear to be demons since they come out of the bottomless pit. Unlike real locusts, they are muzzled by God’s strict rules for a duration of five months. They are forbidden to harm grass, trees, or any other green plants on the earth, proving that they are not real locusts. God gives them only one assignment: to sting people who don’t have God’s seal on their foreheads. They can torment but not kill mankind for five months.

So, the 144,000, as well as others who have accepted Christ as Savior during this time, will be safe from this judgment. The torment of their sting must be unimaginable since men will want to die to escape the pain. Although God prohibits escape by death, He again offers escape from the Lake of Fire through repentance and salvation.

A Description of the Locusts

The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.

Revelation 9:7-11 NKJV

John uses similes (using like) to compare these demonic forces to familiar analogies. Are they physically real or spiritually invisible? Are they a description of military helicopters? Several theories exist. Regardless, we know that these are vicious hordes of demons released from the bottomless pit whose king, Apollyon, means Destroyer. It’s now obvious why this fifth trumpet judgment is aptly termed a woe.

One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things.

Revelation 9:12 NKJV

Dear Father, thank you for Your plan to bring the wicked to You. May all men repent of their sin and accept Christ as Savior and Lord. In His Name we pray, Amen.

The Fifth Trumpet and First Woe by Karen Jurgens Copyright ©2023 All rights reserved.

The Seventh Seal: The Sounding of the Trumpet Judgments

“When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”

Revelation 8:1 NKJV

Why would God command silence in heaven for thirty minutes?

As we saw in earlier chapters, heaven is loud with praise and worship to the Father and Son. During the sixth seal (click HERE to read), we witnessed multitudes too numerous to count–angels, people delivered from the tribulation, the four living creatures, and twelve elders–all worshiping and giving thanks to God.

Silence: What does it signify?

But now absolute silence falls throughout heaven. Perhaps it signifies the gravity of the next judgments about to descend upon the earth. Everyone waits in reverent attention to see what God will decree.

Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.  And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.  Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.

Revelation 8:2-5 NKJV

Did you realize our prayers have a special part to play during the seventh seal judgment? How wonderful to learn they are combined with incense, which is offered up to God from the angel’s hand upon the golden altar before the throne. What tremendous encouragement for us to keep praying and not lose heart!

Next, the angel takes the golden censer filled with fire from the altar and throws it onto the earth. Thunder, lightning, and an earthquake follow. After these things, the seven angels prepare to sound their trumpets.

The First Trumpet: The Vegetation

The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

Revelation 8:7 NKJV

The Second Trumpet: The Seas

Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

Revelation 8:8-9 NKJV

The Third Trumpet: The Waters

Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning 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 men died from the water, because it was made bitter.

Revelation 8:10-11 NKJV

The Fourth Trumpet: The Heavens

Then the fourth angel sounded: 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 were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.

Revelation 8:12 NKJV

What do the judgments of these first four trumpets have in common? In each one, one-third of something is struck and killed or destroyed. We can only guess why God allows two-thirds to survive. Perhaps it’s His mercy that restrains complete annihilation at this point. These catastrophes come in part to warn the wicked to repent. They may not know it yet, but God’s wrath will soon increase.

A Pause to Mourn

And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!

Revelation 8:13 NKJV

What does WOE mean? According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, it’s a condition of deep suffering from misfortune, affliction, or grief; ruinous trouble: calamity, affliction, economic woes.

How sad that an angel declares three separate woes upon the earth’s inhabitants. These next three trumpet judgments will be extremely hard to bear.

What happens during the fifth trumpet blast? Continue with me to the next post to find out.

Dear Father, We know that Your judgments are just and true. We pray Habakkuk 3:2: “In wrath, remember mercy.” May the wicked repent and turn to Christ to be saved. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

An Interlude Before the Seventh Seal Judgment

Vintage picture of martyrs in heaven dressed in white robes and waving palm branches of victory, occurring during an interlude before the seventh seal judgment.

Just as the audience at a Shakespearian tragedy would welcome a lighter scene to counter heavy drama, so does John after the sixth judgment. An interlude, devoid of judgment, occurs before the seventh seal judgment.

“After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.'”

Revelation 7:1-3 NKJV

Interestingly, this interlude occurs between the sixth and seventh seal judgments where John witnesses two important events. The first vision takes place on earth and the second in heaven.

The First Vision: Interlude On the Earth

The first vision focuses on four angels stationed at the earth’s four corners who stop the winds from blowing. However, before these angels have permission to harm the earth, the seas, or the trees, a special angel with the seal of God ascends from the east to interrupt their mission. The 144,000 have to first be sealed.

Who are the 144,000?

These are Jews who will enter into the New Covenant with their eyes and hearts open to accept Jesus as Messiah, which is the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31-34 (read HERE). God has chosen 12,000 from each tribe to be saved and sealed before more judgments are allowed to continue. Here are the names of the sealed tribes:

From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,

from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,

from the tribe of Gad 12,000,

from the tribe of Asher 12,000,

from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,

from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,

from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,

from the tribe of Levi 12,000,

from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,

from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,

from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,

from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

Revelation 7:5-8 NIV

A few discrepancies exist in this list where the exact names of Israel’s sons don’t fall in birth order. When Israel was lying on his deathbed, he called his twelve sons to him and prophesied over each one. Here is what he said over Judah, the tribe from which Jesus comes:

‘Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.

Genesis 49:8-10 NKJV

Levi is included in the 144,000, which is also unusual. This tribe of priests led praise and worship. They had their own inheritance from God and were exempt from the duties of the other eleven tribes.

Most interesting is that the tribe of Dan is missing. Why? Let’s read Jacob’s prophecy over this son:

‘Dan shall judge his people
As one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent by the way,
A viper by the path,
That bites the horse’s heels
So that its rider shall fall backward.
I have waited for your salvation, O Lord!

Genesis 49:16-18 NKJV

Several theories exist about who the Anti-Christ will be. Some believe that he will come from the tribe of Dan since he is called a biting viper and is not included in the list of the sealed Jews during the Tribulation. (For the complete list of prophesies over the twelve sons of Jacob, click HERE.) Could the Anti-Christ be a Jew from this tribe?

One thing is certain: God’s promise to save the Jews is fulfilled at this time (Read all of Jeremiah 31 HERE). The Church will never replace Israel, as some teach. These Messianic Jews will function as end-time evangelists on earth who will be protected by God through the coming judgments of the Great Tribulation.

The Second Vision: Interlude In Heaven

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.

Revelation 7:9-12 NKJV

Next, John enters heaven’s throne room where he witnesses a glorious service of praise and worship to God and Christ. Let’s take the time to fully imagine what this scene will be like. Picture people from every nation and ethnicity from around the world, too numerous to count, standing before God’s throne and waving palm branches of victory. Added to this huge multitude is ALL the angels plus the elders and four living creatures who will fall on their faces in deep and reverent worship to God. It’s almost impossible to imagine millions upon millions around the throne!

Who is this multitude?

Could this multitude be the ones who were given white robes and told to wait patiently until the rest of the martyred ones joined them? (see Revelation 6:9-11 HERE.) John asks one of the elders speaking to him to explain who they are.

So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Revelation 7:14-17 NKJV

So, these may be the rest of the martyred ones who accept Christ as Savior during the Great Tribulation. Their punishment for rejecting the Anti-Christ and not taking his mark will be facing the guillotine. They will suffer from hunger, thirst, intense heat from the sun, and will shed many tears. But, their reward for refusing to deny Jesus will be wonderful. The temple of God will be their new home where they will serve God day and night, and He will dwell among them. As mentioned in Revelation 20, they are part of the first resurrection and will reign with Christ for 1,000 years (read HERE).

The Seventh Seal

After witnessing this glorious vision, John comes back to earth where the seventh seal awaits. However, this last seal is different from the other six. How so? Join me in the next post where we’ll find out.

Dear Father in heaven, thank you for Your promise to save all of Israel during the tribulation. You rejected them for a time because of their disobedience, but You are gathering them again to Yourself. We praise You for gloriously saving and comforting those who will be martyred during the reign of the Anti-Christ. May those who don’t know You as Savior be drawn to the cross of Christ today before those days of judgment come upon the earth. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.

An Interlude Before the Seventh Seal Judgment by Karen Jurgens Copyright © 2023 All rights reserved.