Rev 8: From ritual of Day of Atonement (cp Psa 65:1; Hab
2:20). 1/2 hour = approx time High Priest spent in sanctuary. [He would put off
his normal garments (including bells on the hem) and put on plain linen (Lev
16:4) before going into the tabernacle and making atonement, throwing incense on
the altar, etc. He would change back in Lev 16:23. The incense in Rev 8:3,4
makes this allusion explicit.] Perhaps golden censer was used only on Day of
Atonement. 7 trumpets -- integral part of this day! (v 6; 1Ch 15:24; 2Ch
29:25-28; see v 6n).
Overview: It appears that the Day of Atonement prayers are
successful for the 144,000 remnant of Israel (Rev 7), but unsuccessful for the
rest of the nation -- thus the plagues of Rev 8; 9!
Cp plagues of Egypt: Deu 28:59,60.
Note parallels with Joel in Rev 8; 9 -- sig a LD
SILENCE IN HEAVEN: The allusion is to "the whole
multitude of the people praying without" at the time of the High Priest's
entering into the sanctuary. Cp Psa 65:1 (a Psa for the Day of Atonement); Hab
Additionally, silence could be an acknowledgment that those
who were judged recognized God was judging them: cp Psa 31:18.
ABOUT HALF AN HOUR: If taken literally, it is only with
ref to the period the High Priest was in the sanctuary that this detail makes
(CH) The Jews divided the day into 12 hours. JT suggests that
a month (or 30 days) is the hour of the year. On this basis a half-hour
represents 15 days, but on the principle of a day for a year (Ezek 4:6), this
would represent 15 years. The text says "about" half an hour. Actually the
period of peace extended for about 14 years, from 324 until a few months after
the death of Constantine in 337.
TRUMPETS: For trumpets in general, see Lesson,
Amos 9:1 and context. "Ministering angels" (Heb
ANOTHER ANGEL: In addition to 7 angels (v 2): cp Mic
5:5,6: 7 shepherds, and 8 principal men.
WHO HAD A GOLDEN CENSER: "According to some authorities
[though this is not certain], it was only on the Day of Atonement that a golden
censer was used" (WRev).
CAME AND STOOD AT THE ALTAR: "At" is "epi", literally
"upon"! This is Amos 9:1 and context: "I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and
he said: 'Strike the tops of the pillars so that the thresholds shake. Bring
them down on the heads of all the people; those who are left I will kill with
the sword. Not one will get away, none will escape'."
HE WAS GIVEN MUCH INCENSE: "It is also asserted that an
extra large quantity of incense was used on the Day of Atonement -- doubtless
because of Lev 16:12,13 which required that the High Priest enter into the Holy
of Holies clothed (so to speak) in a dense cloud of incense" (WRev).
ON THE GOLDEN ALTAR BEFORE THE THRONE: Tabernacle
motif: the altar of incense (Exo 30:1-8), which sym prayer (Luke 1:10; Psa
141:2). Only on Day of Atonement, when veil was penetrated, would incense altar
be "before" (ie, in presence of) mercy-seat.
Day of Atonement, but no glory/mercy is manifested. This day
finds Divine displeasure. Cp context in Rev 16:18: LD. A mighty theophany (Exo
(CH) "War and revolt. On the death of Constantine, the empire
became divided among his three sons. 1. Constantine the 2nd reigned in Gaul,
Spain and Britain, 2. Constantius in Thrace and the East, 3. Constanz in
illyricum, Italy and Africa.
"Constantine the 2nd was killed in a civil war with Constans,
who was later assassinated, and the empire was once more united under
Constantius, who was a ruthless ruler. The 24 years of his reign were constantly
disturbed by the "voices" (civil and religious discord), "lightning" (civil
war), and "thunders" (threats of international war).
"The Persians in the east, and the Allemanni and Franks in the
west, constantly attacked the Empire. Constantius had murdered all his relations
except Julian and Gallus. Julian was successful in repulsing the enemies of his
uncle –- Constantius. The friction threatened to develop into civil war,
but the timely death of Constantius brought about the elevation of Julian.
Julian had never embraced Christianity, and as Emperor he brought about a
political earthquake by restoring paganism, and reversing much that had been
established by the former rulers.
"Under his rule the Donatists were protected (an answer to
their prayers), and the bitter persecution of previous reigns was alleviated.
The political earthquake of Julian, however, did not produce any lasting change
(unlike the "great" earthquake of Rev 6:12). On the 26th June 363 Julian died,
and with him, paganism's last hope. He was succeeded by Jovian, a Catholic, who
abolished his edicts, and re-established the Catholic apostasy as the legal and
privileged religion of the State" (ApEp).
Rev 8; 9: The general scheme of interpretation of the
Trumpets, then, follows the same pattern as that of the Seals (the Trumpets ARE
the Seventh Seal): (a) Fulfillment immediately after the writing of Rev, in the
destruction of Jerusalem. (b) The "CH" fulfillment, expounded in Eur and ApEp,
applies the Trumpets to the break-up of the Roman Empire by revolutions of
Goths, Huns, Vandals, followed by the scourge of Saracen and Turkish invasions.
(c) A rapid, intensive recapitulation-type fulfillment in the Last
The first (AD 70) fulfillment finds further support from a
feature of the Trumpets, which may be considered before dealing with each in
detail. The Trumpets have a number of allusions to the plagues of Egypt:
Trumpet 1: Fire from the altar cast upon the
earth (Egypt: dust of the furnace... of the altar... sprinkled abroad).
Trumpet 2. Hail and fire.
Trumpet 3. Sea became blood (in Egypt: waters
turned to blood).
Trumpet 4. Darkness.
Trumpet 5. Locusts.
Trumpet 6. Abaddon, the Destroyer (cp Exo
Trumpet 7. Men slain by angels (in
Egypt, the firstborn slain by angels).
These references to the Plagues, appropriate enough after the
allusions in Rev 7 to the Passover and the wilderness journey, find an ominous
echo in Deu 28: 59,60: "Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the
plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance... Moreover He
will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt which thou wast afraid of." What
else can be the point of these allusions to the plagues of Egypt if it be not to
force on the attention of the reader that Rev 8; 9 describe the fulfillment of
this awful threat in Deu 28?
(It may be urged as an objection against the view of the
Trumpets now being advanced that if they merely recapitulate in different terms
the judgements already made known by the Seals then this part of Rev is
fruitless repetition. Sufficient answer to such objection is to be found in the
repetition of Joseph's dreams and also Pharaoh's and Daniel's. Gen 41: 32
supplies the reason: "And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it
is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to
pass" (cp Rev 1:1). It is God's way of being emphatic about anything. Jesus
similarly recommends this form of emphasis to his disciples: "Let your
communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay" -- in other words, say it twice.)
SEVEN ANGELS... SEVEN TRUMPETS: "The sounding of seven
trumpets (v 6) by specially appointed priests (cp 1Ch 15:24; 2Ch 29:25-28) was
an integral part of the recognized ceremonial for the Day of Atonement"
(CH) For a period of 32 years, during the reigns of Jovian,
Valentinian and Valens, Gatian, and Theodosius, and lasting to 395, preparations
for impending trouble proceeded.
"It was a time of great trouble for the Roman Empire. Along
the borders enemies massed, awaiting their opportunity to strike. Inside the
Empire, The Apostasy flourished, proceeding from bad to worse in its tyranny and
blasphemy. Politically, civil disorders daily increased. 'The fall of the Roman
Empire,' declared Gibbon, 'can be justly dated from the reign of Valens' 'In
this period,' wrote JT, 'the happiness and security of each individual was
attacked, and the arts and labours of ages were rudely defaced by the barbarians
of Scythia and Germany.'
"In 366, the Goths crossed the Danube, and under Hermani, King
of the Ostrogoths, extended their power from the Danube to the Baltic. Further
west, the Allemanni and Ostrogoths crossed the Rhine, and the Saxons ravaged the
coasts of Gaul. The borders of the Empire were constantly under fire, and became
so reduced in strength, that ultimately Rome had to enter into a treaty with the
barbarians. Under the terms of this agreement, the enemies of Rome were settled
in Thrace, Phrygia, and Illyricum. Openly they claimed to be allies of the
Empire, but secretly they remained its enemies, awaiting the first opportunity
to rise against the incompetent Government" (ApEp).
V 7: First century: Roman destruction of Jerusalem and
trees (cp Jer 7:20; Eze 20:47 -- so quoted by Christ in Luk 23:31; Zec 11:1,2).
Cp also Jer 6:1,15,17,20,22,23,26.
THIRD: In Eze 5:1-5, 3 thirds = the whole of Israel.
Also, Israel = the 3rd with Egypt and Assyria in Isa 19:24: "In a prophecy of
the Last Days Isa 19:24 speaks of Israel as being 'a third with Egypt and with
Assyria.' Whereas in history and in prophecy Israel was and will be a battle
ground for Egypt (the king of the south) and Assyria (the king of the north), in
the day of Messiah the three are to form a harmonious unit serving the Lord.
This passage suggests 'the third part' as being Israel itself in contrast to the
warring forces of north and south that battle in (against?) the Holy Land. This
idea is of special value in considering the Last Day fulfilment of the Trumpets"
GREEN GRASS: Indicates time of Passover (Joh 6:4,10;
Mar 6:39), when Jews were trapped in city by Romans.
CH: First Trumpet: Alaric and the Goths (395-410):
"Arcadius was Emperor of the eastern portion of the Empire. He had inherited
this power on the death of Theodosius and in an attempt to consolidate his
power, he made Alaric the Goth master of Illyricum, supplying him with arms from
the Imperial armory. For some time, Alaric had been threatening the Empire, and
Arcadius' gesture was an attempt to gain his support. Alaric made preparations
to seize power. After four years, he proclaimed himself king of the Visigoths,
and proceeded to invade the west. He ravaged the countryside, laying waste the
farms which graced the banks of the Rhine. Pleasant scenes of peace and plenty
were changed into desert, and the 'hail and fire' of his widespread destruction
was mingled with the blood of his many victims.
"He was opposed and defeated at Milan by the celebrated Roman
general Stilicho, and was forced to retreat. Meanwhile, Rhadagaisus, king of the
German tribes, invaded Italy, and proceeded to devastate it with much cruelty.
The cowardly Honorious, Emperor of the West, together with the trembling Senate,
lacked the power to defend themselves, and fled before the advancing
"It was again left to Stilicho to save the Empire. The German
hordes were defeated and dispersed, though they were not expelled from the
"In 408, after the death of Stilicho, Alaric again set out
with a stronger force than ever. This time his objective was Rome. 618 years had
passed since that city had been violated by the presence of a foreign enemy
outside her walls. Now however, it was blockaded by the King of the Goths, and
its inhabitants subjected to a siege that caused great suffering and
"Enraged by hunger, the desperate inmates devoured the bodies
of victims, whilst even mothers tasted the flesh of their slaughtered infants.
The dead lay in thousands in the streets and houses, until the stench which
arose became unbearable.
"At last Alaric accepted an enormous ransom to retire.
Negotiations for peace fell through, however. Rome was again besieged in 409,
and again in 410. Finally the Goths obtained admission to the city and with
ungovernable fury brought death and suffering to thousands within the city.
After 6 days, the Goths at last evacuated Rome, and turned their fury on the
southern provinces of Italy, mingling the blood of the inhabitants with the hail
and fire of destruction.
"But at last death claimed Alaric (410), and the consequent
disintegration and dispersion of his forces, permitted some alleviation of the
miseries experienced by the Italian third of the Empire during this period"
THROWN INTO THE SEA: Cp Mat 21:21: "Say to this mt --
ie Zion -- 'Be removed and cast into sea'." Cp Jer 51:25,32,63. "This mt", now
the site of a greater abomination: The Dome of the Rock!
A THIRD OF THE SEA TURNED INTO BLOOD: "[Josephus] tells
of a tremendous encounter on the Sea of Galilee between a Jewish fleet and many
ships commandeered by the Rom. In the fight the Rom slew ruthlessly. Even the
drowning were shot dead by arrows. And the Jews forced to land were destroyed as
they sought to come ashore. 'One might see the lake all bloody, and full of dead
bodies, for not one of them escaped. And a terrible stink, and a very sad sight,
there was on the following days over the country. In this way thousands were
slain' (3:10:9). Likewise, on the Mediterranean coast, a fleet of the
insurgents, turned pirate, was destroyed in a mighty storm. Many of these Jews
slew themselves in despair rather than perish miserably at the hands of the
Roman soldiers, a fate which actually befell those who managed to reach land.
'The sea was bloody a long way, and the maritime ports were full of dead
bodies... and the number of the bodies that were thus thrown out of the sea was
4,200' (3:9:3)" (WRev).
CH: Second Trumpet: Genseric and the Vandals (429-477):
"Boniface, a general of western Rome, in the course of a dispute with his
colleague Aetius, appealed for the assistance of Genseric, King of the Vandals,
50,000 of whom had settled in Spain. Crossing the Straits of Gibraltar, Genseric
became the scourge of North Africa, bringing distress and dismay to that
country, establishing himself as master of Hippo and Carthage. From these ports,
he organised piratical excursions, ravaging the coasts of the Mediterranean,
defeating the Roman Navy, destroying by fire the new fleets that were built to
All maritime trade ceased and the sea became as 'blood'. In
455, he gained access to Rome itself, and for fourteen days, this proud city
again suffered from the hands of its enemies. Genseric died in 477"
Third Trumpet: "A burning star falls on 'the rivers and
fountains of water.' The waters are made bitter and in consequence many die. A
Biblical identification of the 'rivers and fountains of waters' presents few
difficulties. Several passages identify the Land of Israel: (a) The picture in
Rev 7 of the wilderness journey of the redeemed is made to culminate in their
reaching 'fountains of waters of life' (Rev 7:17, RV). The figure of a literal
Land of Promise is only too obviously behind the use of these words. (b) Ezek
6:3: 'Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers
(RV: water courses; better still: wadis) and to the valleys.' And the previous
verse specifies 'the mountains of Israel.' (c) Ezek 36:4,6 uses identical
language of the land of Israel, in a context -- let it be noted -- which is
definitely the Last Days. (d) Joel 1:20: 'the rivers of waters are dried up.'
Once again it is the land of Israel in the Last Days.
"It is not unlikely that there is a certain element of the
literal about this symbol. 'There was a star resembling a sword, which stood
over the city (Jerusalem), even a comet, that continued a whole year' (6:5:3).
The phenomenon has since been identified by the astronomers as Halley's
"It is rather remarkable that Isaiah's prophecy (Isa 14:12)
about Lucifer, the morning star, was appropriated by Jesus to describe the fate
of his contemporaries who so stubbornly resisted his appeal. 'I beheld Satan as
lightning fall from heaven... Thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven,
shall be thrust down to hell' (Luke 10:18,14)... The Third Trumpet repeats the
idea with vivid detail added. The retribution came... in the Roman War"
CH: Third Trumpet: Attila and the Huns (433-453):
"Acknowledged as lord of the lower Danube by Theodosius the younger, Attila and
the dreaded Huns revolted against the Roman Empire, bringing great distress
throughout the west, but mainly in the Alpine districts.
"He caused terror throughout the country, which was heightened
by the ferocious and wild appearance of the Huns. Scenes of peace and plenty,
were turned into smoking ruins and deserts by the senseless destruction of his
hordes. Attila died in the year 453" (ApEp).
WORMWOOD: Or "bitterness". The trial of jealousy, for
the unfaithful wife (Num 5; cp Jer 9:15,16; 6:26; 23:15).
"In the waters made bitter there is an impressive reversal of
what Israel experienced (in a literal sense) at the very beginning of their life
as a nation of God. When the People left Egypt, the bitter waters of Marah were
made sweet when Moses thrust in a tree which the Lord shewed him (Exo 15:
23-27). This strange experience was interpreted by the early church as a figure
of the work of Christ. Service to God under the Law of Moses, hard and bitter as
Egyptian bondage (Exo 1:14), was made sweet by the Tree (the cross of Christ,
1Pe 2:24), and at the same occasion it was proclaimed: 'I am the Lord that
healeth thee.' The narrative continues: 'and they encamped there by the waters'
"But now in AD 70, with the salvation of God thrust aside and
the cross of Christ execrated, there was and there has been throughout the
centuries nothing but bitter waters for Israel, 'and many men died because of
the waters' " (WRev).
Sun, moon, stars = Israel in Gen 37:9; 22:17; Jer 31:36; Joel
2:10; Dan 8:10.
THIRD... WITHOUT LIGHT: Caused by the smoke from the
bottomless pit (Rev 9:1,2)?
CH: Fourth Trumpet: "Gothic Kingdom in Italy (476):
"Romulus Augustus was placed on the throne by Orester, Secretary of State to
Attila. Hewas superseded by Odoacer, King of the Heruli, who, taking Rome in
476, banished Romulus, and became King of the Western Empire. He was deposed by
Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, and was later assassinated (493).
"Gothic kings continued to reign in Western Rome for about 60
"The last three Trumpets are introduced by the vision of 'an
angel (RV 'eagle') flying in the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe,
woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the
trumpet of the angels, which are yet to sound' (Rev 8:13). Because of this, and
by reason of the special severity of these judgements, Trumpets 5, 6 and 7 have
come to be known as the Three Woes" (WRev).
Josephus has a most interesting story (6:5:3) markedly
reminiscent of this passage. He tells how for seven years before Jerusalem was
destroyed a respectable citizen took to going about the city, crying aloud: "A
voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice
against Jerusalem and the Holy House, a voice against the bridegrooms and the
brides, and a voice against this whole people... Woe to the city, and to the
people, and to the Holy House." He was brought before the Roman procurator, yet
he never desisted even though his bones were laid bare with flogging. At the
great Feasts his efforts were redoubled amongst the immense crowds. Finally he
died in the siege, struck by a mighty sling-stone from the Romans, and crying to
the last: "Woe, woe, woe."
An eagle figures prominently in Hos 8:1; Deu 28:49; and Mat
24:28: prophecies about God's judgments upon Israel.
"The interesting textual problem as to whether the AV or RV
reading of Rev 8:13 is correct is best solved amicably in favour of both. The
best manuscripts certainly read 'eagle'; but a comparison with other passages
makes it equally clear that an angel is referred to. 'And I saw another angel
fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel...' (Rev 14:6). Here
the phraseology is precisely the same, only this time the reading 'angel' is
indubitable. And the word 'another' picks out this passage as an echo of Rev
"The conclusion indicated is, then, that the angel of Rev 8:13
is one in the character of an eagle; such is the nature of the commission
entrusted to him. Cp Rev 19:17,18: 'And I saw an angel standing in the sun (cp
'in midheaven') and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly
in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of
the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains...'
MIDAIR: The original word actually denotes the expanse
of space between heaven and earth. It is readily seen to be a reminiscence of
the occasion of David's numbering of the people and the wrath that came on
Israel because of it. David, it will be remembered, chose as punishment three
days of pestilence as preferable to three months of war or three years of
famine. "And David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord stand
between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched
over Jerusalem..." (1Ch 21:16). The resemblance to this in Rev 8:13 encourages
yet further the idea that the remaining Trumpets are God's "woes" against a