After what the world endured following the death and resurrection of the two witnesses (read about it HERE), we now find ourselves in heaven. Great rejoicing ensues as an angel blows the seventh and last trumpet.
“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.’ “
Revelation 11:15 NIV
Now we enter a time we’ve been waiting for since the Old Testament prophets. The mystery of God is finished, and the curtain has been pulled back. God’s glorious reign has begun. Then the twenty-four seated elders fall from their thrones and onto their faces to worship God, saying:
We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small— and for destroying those who destroy the earth.
Revelation 11:17-18 NIV
If you have ever prayed for justice, this is when that prayer will be answered. During God’s reign, all will be made right. The dead will receive judgment, and those who would destroy the earth will be destroyed. But His servants and prophets, and those who worship and revere God, will receive rewards.
Does this prayer of the elders happen now?
No, this prayer is a declaration of what is still to come. However, God’s reign on the earth begins at the blowing of the seventh trumpet.
Another great mystery is revealed.
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.
Remember the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark? Although complete fiction, it has always fascinated people to wonder what happened to the Ark of the Covenant. Now verse 19 solves that mystery. As we’re ushered into God’s heavenly temple, we see that the Ark, at some point, has been transported to heaven. Its glorious holiness and power is underscored by lightning and thunder on the earth, followed by an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.
But what happens on the earth at the blowing of the seventh trumpet?
We’ve just read about what happens in heaven, but Chapter 12 will show us what happens on the earth. We will also explore the deep symbolism of the woman and the dragon. This will be truly fascinating. Don’t miss our next post!
Dear Lord God, we rejoice along with the twenty-four elders that the reign of You and Your Son Jesus begins at the blowing of the last trumpet. The great mysteries of God, curtained away from our understanding for thousands of years, are now revealed in all their glory. Thank you that the days of reward and punishment will come in Your timing, for You are a just and holy God. In Jesus’s Name we pray, Amen.
“Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.’ “
Revelation 11:1 NKJV
The Rebuilding of the Jewish Temple
In Chapter 11, our attention is focused on Jerusalem. The first thing we see is that a temple again exists on the Temple Mount, Mt. Moriah. We know the Mosque of Omar presently sits there, which is holy to the Muslim faith. Much debate has swirled around the how-can-this-be of a Jewish temple sharing real estate atop this same mountain. Regardless of how it will happen, we know with certainty from scripture that it will be established and in operation during the time of these two witnesses.
But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.
Revelation 11:2 NKJV
Only the holy place is measured because the outer court represents the sinful world, referred to as the Gentiles. This tells us that the Jews will once again live out their Old Testament Laws through worship and animal sacrifice, lasting three-and-a-half years. But in relation to the seven-year timeline of the Tribulation, when does this happen? We’ll answer this question at the end of today’s post.
The Two Witnesses Preach God’s Word
‘And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.’ These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.
Revelation 11:3-6 NKJV
These two men (thought to be Elijah and Moses) are God’s anointed witnesses who will be the evangelists during this period of the Tribulation. God empowers them through the Holy Spirit to protect themselves from harm. Can you imagine seeing fire shooting from their mouths to kill their enemies? They will also have power to cause a worldwide drought, turn waters into blood, and produce all kinds of plagues as often as they like. Throughout the entire book of Revelation, we see God’s mercy going forth in the midst of judgment, giving every person another chance to be saved and miss the final judgment of the Lake of Fire.
The Sinful World Rejoices
When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
Revelation 11:7-10 NKJV
Pay special attention to verse 7. Outside of the rider on the white horse (read about it HERE), this is the first reference to the beast, who is the Anti-Christ. Neither Satan nor any person is allowed to touch the two witnesses until they complete their assignment, but now we see the world rejoicing at their deaths. The entire world will watch via internet and satellite TV as their bodies lie untouched in the street, decaying. During those three-and-a-half days, the world will have its only time of merriment and partying during the Tribulation. Like a Christmas celebration, they will send gifts to one another because the truth of God’s Word can no longer torment them.
A Miraculous Resurrection
Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.
Revelation 11:11-13 NKJV
How shocking it will be for the world to witness the resurrection of these two dead men. After they stand on their feet, God’s voice calls them up to heaven. Not only will God’s voice be broadcast over the earth’s airwaves, but the world will watch as a cloud gathers them up, lifting them into the sky until they disappear. Immediately afterward, a strong earthquake will shake Jerusalem where one-tenth of the city will be destroyed and 7,000 people will die. But those terrified people who remain will now believe in God and give Him glory.
The end of the second woe is a pivotal point where we find ourselves in the middle of the seven years. We aren’t introduced to the two witnesses at the beginning of their preaching assignment–we only meet them at the end. Since we know from scripture that their evangelizing has lasted three-and-a-half years, we must look back. That takes us to the beginning of the Tribulation with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Therefore, we can surmise that the construction of the Jewish temple and God’s two witnesses must also happen at the beginning of the Tribulation. (For further study about the Anti-Christ and the Last days, see Daniel Chapters 7 and 9.)
Let’s summarize what we know so far.
The rider on the white horse of the Apocalypse is the Anti-Christ.
He will make a 7-year peace treaty with Israel and her enemies.
The Jewish temple will exist on Mt. Moriah alongside the Mosque of Omar. The Jews will worship there and sacrifice animals as they did in the Old Testament.
The seal and trumpet judgments will also be happening simultaneously.
The two witnesses will preach on Mt. Moriah, near the Jewish temple, for three-and-a-half years. Then the Anti-Christ (who has been killed at some point and then raised to life after three-and-a-half days) will kill the two men and refuse to bury their bodies.
The sinful world has a short time of celebration and will send each other gifts.
After three-and-a-half days, God will resurrect the two witnesses and call them up into heaven while the whole world listens and watches.
A great earthquake will destroy one-tenth of Jerusalem and 7,000 people will be killed.
The rest of the people will be afraid and will turn back to God to be saved.
“The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly” (Revelation 11:14).
From this point forward, the world will enter the last half of the Tribulation, which is the most terrible. We refer to it as the Great Tribulation. Nothing like it has even been, nor will ever be again. We will delve into those dark days in our next post.
Dear Father God, thank you that in wrath, you remember mercy. Your message of eternal salvation will be preached throughout the earth, even through the dark days of the Tribulation. May those who live in these days turn to You and be saved. We give You all the praise, honor, and glory, for You are worthy to be praised. Thank you for the cross of Christ and for His precious blood that saves, heals, and delivers us from the lying deception of the enemy. In the Name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
“I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars.”
Revelation 10:1-3a NKJV
We saw in Revelation 9 the judgment of the sixth trumpet or second woe (read about it HERE). But it’s not over yet. A mighty angel with a little book has an assignment for John from heaven before the rest of this woe is finished. Interestingly, this is the only time God silences a response.
When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.‘
Revelation 10:3b-4 NKJV
Doesn’t it make you curious to know what the seven thunders said? We’ll just have to use our imaginations and wait until we get to heaven to understand this mystery.
The next verses about this mighty angel are beautiful. He swears by God, our Creator, that the wait for the mystery of God will be over during the sounding of the seventh trumpet. Can’t you imagine the prophets of the Old Testament rejoicing in heaven?
The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.
Revelation 10:5-7 NKJV
John eats the little book.
Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, ‘Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.‘
So I went to the angel and said to him, ‘Give me the little book.‘
And he said to me, ‘Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.‘
Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.‘
Revelation 10:8-13 NKJV
Doesn’t it make us curious as to why John had to eat a little book that was like sweet honey in his mouth but bitter in his stomach? Perhaps we have been forewarned about the severity of the distaste of these coming prophecies.
We will see that the second woe continues into Chapter 11 where we are introduced to the two witnesses. Although we only hear about them at this point, we find out that they have already been witnessing during the first half of the Tribulation.
Now events will rapidly escalate from this point forward. Are you ready?
Dear Father, thank you for allowing us to see these mysteries of preparation for the coming prophecies. How wonderful to hear that the mystery of God would be completed during the sounding of the seventh trumpet. All your prophecies are true and Amen. We ask for Your divine understanding as we delve into the second half of Revelation. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days.”‘”
Leviticus 23:33-34 NIV
Welcome to the celebration of Sukkot, the Hebrew name for the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. As the last of the fall feasts, this time climaxes into a joyous celebration of giving thanks to God for His provision. This feast lasts for seven days, beginning on sunset on September 29th, 2023, and concluding on October 6th. It’s one of three times a year when God commanded Israel to go to Jerusalem to worship Him and present an offering of thanksgiving.
Building a Sukkah
‘On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.‘
Leviticus 23:40 NIV
A sukkah is a tabernacle or booth made out of a natural substance and decorated with tree branches, flowers, leaves, fruits, and vegetables. People live in it as a temporary structure for seven days as a reminder of the their forefathers’ 40-year journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land. It celebrates their complete dependence on God and His provision. God provided manna in the mornings, water out of a rock, and clothes and shoes that never wore out.
Waving of the Lulav
This Jewish tradition symbolizes God’s beauty and bounty. It’s made up of a palm branch, a myrtle bough, a willow branch, and citron fruit. These are waved before the Lord in all directions to declare that He is omnipresent and that all good gifts come from Him.
Set Apart from the Rest
When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, ‘He is good; his love endures forever.‘
2 Chronicles 7:3 NIV
The first Temple celebrated its dedication during the Feast of Tabernacles (Read more HERE). The glory of the Lord fell with such power that the priests weren’t able to stand. As they bowed and worshipped then, so we are reminded that the glory of the Lord is still with us today in the same way.
The Testing of Trials
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV
Just as these trials in the wilderness tested the Israelites, they also prepared them to receive the blessings God had prepared for them. The same is true for us today. We must walk through the valleys of trials before we can rejoice with the Lord on the mountaintops.
Feast of Tabernacles and Christianity
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.
Zechariah 14:16 NIV
Zechariah tells of a time during the Millennium when all people celebrate Sukkot with Jesus in Jerusalem. This festival will be an everlasting reminder of how the Lord tabernacled with His people in the wilderness with a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. It relates to us today through Yeshua’s promise: ‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20 NIV).
The Ultimate Fulfillment
‘For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.‘
Isaiah 65:17 NKJV
The ultimate fulfillment of this feast will be after the thousand year reign of Christ. God will create a new heaven and a new earth where God will tabernacle with us, His people, for eternity.
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.‘
Revelation 21:3-4 NKJV
Dear Lord, we rejoice in Your divine provision for us in the past, present, and future. We bow before You and worship You, for You alone are worthy. May we rejoice in this season of thanksgiving along with all of Israel as they celebrate Sukkot. We pray for the salvation of Your people. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
“‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’”
Leviticus 17:11 NKJV
Welcome to the second Fall Feast, also known as Yom Kippur, which is celebrated on September 24th beginning at sunset through nightfall on September 25th. It falls at the end of the 10 days of Awe–a time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Yom means “day,” and Kippur means “covering,” so this feast means “the day of covering.” As the holiest day of the year in Judaism, people celebrate with fasting, prayer, and repentance.
Atonement in the Old Testament
‘Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’
Leviticus 23:27 NKJV
God can be in covenant with humanity only through a blood atonement. Each and every year, an atonement had to be made for the sins of the people, which required animal blood. On this most holy day, the high priest would take the blood of both a bull and a goat and enter through the veil into the Holy of Holies. Then he would pour out the blood on top of the Ark of the Covenant in which the Ten Commandments laid. When God saw the sacrifice, He would forgive the people’s sins for one year.
Fulfillment of Atonement in the New Testament
Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,
Matthew 27:51 NKJV
The animal sacrifice was simply a harbinger of the permanent sacrifice to come through Yeshua’s crucifixion. As Jesus shed His sinless blood on the cross, the veil in the Temple was ripped in two. No longer will mankind be separated from God. The blood of the Lamb of God paid the price for the sins of every person on earth. Now we can have fellowship with God and know Him personally through the blood of Jesus Christ.
He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
Hebrews 9:26b-28a NKJV
The Meaning of Yom Kippur for Christians
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
Ephesians 1:7 NKJV
For Christians, Yom Kippur means a time to give special thanks and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ. We remember His sacrifice on the cross, His suffering in our place, and His forgiveness of our sins. We rejoice in His precious blood covering that delivers us from sin, hell, and the grave.
A Joyous Prophecy for Israel
‘And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.’
Zechariah 12:10 NKJV
This prophetic aspect of Yom Kippur has yet to be fulfilled. What a glorious day it will be when the Jewish people will understand and know that Jesus was always their awaited Messiah. The veil covering their eyes of understanding will be lifted, and they will have a glorious and emotional reunion with the Lord.
The Book of Revelation also describes this future event prophesied by Zechariah:
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
Revelation 1:7 NKJV
Paul also predicts this future event:
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
Romans 11:26 NKJV
On that future day–not too far away–God will cover His Jewish people and bring His kingdom to earth where all believers will dwell forever with our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.
Dear Lord, we rejoice in Your sacrifice of sinless blood so we can be saved. Thank you for fulfilling Yom Kippur and being our permanent atonement for forgiveness of sins. We anxiously look for Your return and for the salvation of Israel. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
“‘And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you.'”
Welcome to the first of the Fall Feasts! In modern Judaism, Yom Teruah or the Feast of Trumpets is commonly called Rosh Hashanah. Shana Tova means “May it be a good year.” Beginning on September 15th at sunset and ending at nightfall on the 17th, the Jewish New Year of 5784 will be celebrated by Jews in Israel and around the world. This commemorates the sixth day of creation when God created man after the world had been established. It also marks the beginning of the ten Days of Awe–a time of repentance of sins–which end on Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement.
From the Jewish perspective, I’d like to share a summary about Rosh Hashanah, taken from The Temple Institute. Click HERE to read.
Why do Christians celebrate the Jewish Feast Days?
The Jews celebrate their history, but Christians celebrate these days because they will ultimately be fulfilled by our Savior and Messiah, Jesus Christ. Right now Jewish people are taking this time to repent of all known sin and to restore broken relationships. Do you see a connection to Christianity? Through the blood and resurrection of Christ, all men have access to salvation through repentance and belief in Jesus.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
We are also instructed to try to live in peace.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
The significance of the shofar or trumpet
Additionally, hearing the shofar is vitally important. In Exodus 19:16-20, about three million Jews camped at the base of Mount Sinai where God sounded a loud shofar from heaven and then spoke to the people. Christianity teaches that this sound precedes the Rapture at the time Jesus returns for His church.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1 Corinthians 15: 51-53
Studying the Jewish Feast Days completes and deepens our understanding of the Scriptures. The Old Testament mirrors the New Testament, fitting together perfectly. The Feast of Trumpets will announce the arrival of Messiah. Could it happen this year? Regardless, it is fascinating to live in such days when we wait and watch for their fulfillment to take place.
One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things.
Revelation 9:12 NKJV
The second woe unleashes another terrible judgment on mankind. This one involves a vast demonic force that will kill one-third of earth’s remaining population. How so? An invisible army of two hundred million horsemen will inflict three plagues upon mankind. God’s purpose is to cause the wicked to turn to Him and repent of their worship of false gods, murders, witchcraft, sexual immorality, and thefts.
Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.‘
Revelation 9:13-14 NKJV
The Golden Altar
Let’s first look to the Old Testament to understand the Israelites’ altars. The brazen altar sat in the court outside the temple where sacrifices were offered. The golden altar of incense stood inside the holy place in front of the veil. The chief priest would put animal blood on its horns for a sin-offering, especially on the Day of Atonement. (Read more about the golden altar HERE.)
The altar is a symbol of true worship, whose incense of Christ’s sacrifice ascends to God. On the other hand, Satan’s altar of worship demands horrific rituals of prostitution, human sacrifice, immoral orgies, blood-drinking, and satan-worship. Therefore, this second woe decrees judgment on all apostasy and false religions that worship Satan, demons, and idols.
The Four Horns
Just as the golden altar is a symbol of worship, the four horns represent the powerful enforcement and execution of its judgments. Note how God’s judgment comes from the four horns to fall on the world’s four primary religions: Brahmanism, Buddhism, Mohammedanism and Christianity. God has doomed each one because of its Godlessness and Christless Christianity.
The Four Fallen Angels Lead Demonic Armies
So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone.
Revelation 9:15-17 NKJV
These four angels, who have been bound up until this particular moment in time, are demonic. Once freed, they lead an army of two hundred million demons who go forth to kill one-third of the people who practice false and satanic religions. These verses describe an invisible army pouring out from the abyss.
Why are the horses’ heads like lions? To create fear. Nothing terrifies people nor animals more than a lion’s roar. Scripture describes Satan as as a roaring lion, roaming about and seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). The implication here is that great fear accompanies these plagues.
What is the literal explanation of this army, two hundred million strong? We see them plainly in the spiritual dimension, but what do they look like in the physical dimension? Let’s observe them by examining the following microscopic picture of a virus taken by the CDC:
Do you recognize it? Isn’t it interesting that its colors are the same as the breastplates described above. Another interesting fact is that fire, smoke, and brimstone are also red, blue, and yellow, respectively. Additionally, Scripture tells us these three things–fire, smoke, and brimstone–are in hell and the lake of fire.
By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their [the horses’] mouths. For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.
Revelation 9:18-19 NKJV
The horses’ tails look like serpents’ heads, whose bites are lethal. The serpent reminds us of Satan in the Garden of Eden who deceived Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, resulting in spiritual death. So, deception may also play a big part in these plagues, just as fear does.
We may conclude that the four fallen angels have unleashed deep fear and deception regarding three deadly plagues via two million invisible “horsemen.” These affect the entire world, killing one-third of the earth’s population. Could they be future virus strains that cannot be killed with medicine or vaccinations?
The Rest of Mankind Who Did Not Die Nor Repent
But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Revelation 9:20-21 NKJV
It’s hard to imagine that some will choose to suffer and perhaps die worshiping false religions rather than repent of their sins and turn to God. However, man will still have a chance to find salvation in such days as these. But, accepting Jesus as Savior now is the only certain way to avoid these terrible judgments. If you don’t know Him, you can meet Him today.
Dear Heavenly Father, may those who seek You repent of their sins, turn from their wicked ways, and ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. Thank You for Your protection from the fear and deception of these three plagues that will sweep the earth. As we wait for Your glorious appearing, may we purify our hearts and proclaim Your gospel of salvation to a lost and dying world. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
“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).
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
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.
“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!‘
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. Amen.‘
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.