" Fourth Trumpet" (series: Lessons on Revelations)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Commentary on the Book of Revelation

By: Tom Lowe Date: 4-12-2016


Lesson: III.C.5: Fourth Trumpet: Third of Sun, Moon, and Stars Struck, Affecting Day and Night (Revelation 8:12)


Revelation 8:12 (KJV)

12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.


Introduction

The fourth angel’s trumpet sound struck a third of the sun, moon, and stars. This affects the structure of the universe. Everything from the remaining plant life and even the tides in the oceans would be changed. Certainly, as described, the natural amount of daylight would be altered.
The judgments from the first three trumpets affected only a third part of the land and waters, but this fourth judgment affects the entire world. Why? Because it gets to the very source of the earth’s life and energy, the sun. With one third less sunlight on the earth there would be one third less energy available to support the Life Systems of man and nature.
This judgment parallels the ninth plague in Egypt (Exodus 10:21-23), which lasted three days. “The Day of the Lord is darkness, and not light” (Amos 5:18). Think of the vast changes in temperatures that will occur and how these will affect human health and food growth.

Commentary

12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

“And the fourth angel sounded.” The “fourth angel sounded” his trumpet and the celestial bodies were affected. The darkness of the fourth trumpet judgment set the stage for the last three trumpets that would bring demonic activity on the earth.

Here is a prophecy, the fulfillment of which will baffle all scientists who have made a study of the heavenly bodies. The events recorded here are similar to those under the sixth seal (6:12-14). They are predicted clearly by Christ Himself: “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25-28). No scientific answer will be able to explain adequately these astronomical effects. Apart from the intervention of the sovereign Creator of all things, there can be no explanation. These are the judgments of God going forth in the earth. On the fourth day He brought the sun, Moon, and stars into view in order to provide light for man; under the fourth trumpet He shall withdraw the light He Himself created. All of this will affect seriously the health and well-being of people on the earth at that time. This will disturb the seasons and hinder the growth of fruits and vegetables.

“And the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars.” The picture here is of the sun, moon and stars losing some of their light, but more than that, there was a third of the day during which there was absolutely no light at all. This compares to the ninth plague of darkness that descended upon Egypt (Exodus 10:21-29). In Egypt, the darkness was so total that “during all that time three days the people scarcely moved, for they could not see” (Exodus 10:23; NLT).

It has been suggested by some Bible scholars that in this part of his vision it is by no means impossible that John is taking at least a part of his picture from actual events which he had seen or of which he had heard. A rain which looks like a rain of blood has more than once been reported from the Mediterranean countries. There is, for instance, a record of such a rain in Italy and all over south-east Europe in 1901. The reason for it is that fine red sand from the Sahara Desert is caught up into the upper air; and then when the rain comes it seems to be raining blood, as the rain and the fine red particles of sand fall together upon the earth. It may well be that John had seen something like this or had heard

of it.

Furthermore, he speaks of a flaming mass falling into the sea (vs. 10-11). This sounds very like a volcanic eruption. There was an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in August of A.D. 79 which decimated Naples and its bay. That would be within a very few years of the writing of the Revelation. The Aegean Sea has volcanic islands and volcanoes beneath the sea. Strabo, the Greek geographer, reports an eruption in the Aegean Sea, in which Patmos lay, in the year 196 B.C., which actually resulted in the formation of a new island called Palaia Kaumene. Such events may also have been in John’s mind.

In Daniel 4:26 we learn that heaven rules—“The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.” Here when the fourth angel sends out the trumpet blast, a third part of the sun is stricken, a third part of the moon is stricken, a third part of the stars are stricken, a third part of the day is blacked out—and the night likewise. That means that a third part of daylight will be blacked out around the world. In this present time, when it is light here in the United States, it is dark in China; when it is light in China, it is dark here in the United States. But when the forth trumpet sounds it will be dark for a third part of the Chinese day and a third part of the American day, proving that Heaven does rule and that God controls the affairs of Heaven and earth. It is as though in infinite patience God touches just a part in order to bring it to repentance before everything is involved.

“So as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.” The Prophet Isaiah spoke of the day of the Lord: “The heavens will be black above them. No light will shine from stars or sun or moon” (Isaiah 13:10; NLT) (see also Mark 13:24). Joel wrote, “It is a day of darkness and gloom, a day of thick clouds and deep blackness” (Joel 2:2; NLT). Amos wrote, “That day will not bring light and prosperity, but darkness and disaster” (Amos 5:18; NLT). During a portion of the day and a portion of the night there was absolute darkness on the earth. Not only will nature suffer loss, but human nature will take advantage of the long darkness and no doubt indulge in crime and wickedness. “Everyone that doeth evil hateth the light” (John 3:20).

Eight centuries before the birth of Jesus, God spoke to Joel and gave to him a picture of the plagues that will accompany the Day of the Lord. Read Joel 1:15-2:11(below) and tremble, if you are not born again. Read them and rejoice if you are saved, because you will not be here when these things come to pass. And then do your best to get every sinner saved that you possibly can!

“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations . . . The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” (Joel 1:15-2:11).

In this picture of terror John has the vision of God using the elemental forces of nature to warn men of the final destruction to come. The judgments we have seen thus far are terrible, at least for those who will be here at that time. And yet these judgments are merely preliminary to still greater woes to follow. Three more trumpets are yet to be heard. These are called the “woe” trumpets, indicating the severity of the culmination of God’s judgment at the end of the tribulation.

It is possible that this particular judgment is temporary, for the fourth bowl judgment will reverse it, and the sun’s power will be intensified (Revelation 16:8-9). Then, at the close of the Tribulation, the sun and moon will be dark again to announce the Savior’s return (Matthew 24:29-30; see also Luke 21:25-28).


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