Seven Angels Prepare to Sound Their Trumpets: Page 1 of 4 (series: Lessons on Revelation)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Commentary on the Book of Revelation

By: Tom Lowe Date: 2/2/2016


Lesson: III.C.1: Seven Angels Prepare to Sound Their Trumpets (Revelation 8:2-6)


Revelation 8:2-6 (KJV)

2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.


Introduction

In John’s vision, God is about to deal with the sin that is in the world. At the opening of the seventh seal, the response is silence (8:1). And a new vision begins, and we have in these five verses, the beginning of the wrath of God. The judgment of Jesus is going to be carried out. This is the great moment of justice for which suffering believers have been praying. The idea presented here is that all of the prayers for justice are given to God so that God can answer them all. He is going to begin the process of retribution for the persecution of the church.

The seven angels in verse two are specific angels. They are those who stand before God. And in this case, they are the ones with the responsibility of carrying out justice on the earth. The trumpets symbolize the instruments of that judgment (8:2). The trumpet judgments, like the seal judgments, are only partial. God’s final and complete judgment had not yet come.

The difference between the seventh seal and the first six is who is implementing the judgment. During chapters six and seven, humankind and nature are having their way. During this vision of the trumpets, it is the angels who have been given the role of executing the judgment of God on earth. Did anyone notice that there is yet another difference between the seventh seal and the first six? It is that no specific judgment is mentioned when the seventh seal is broken? The narrative moves directly to the seven trumpet judgments. From this we infer that the seventh seal consists of the seven trumpets.

There are Christians who will tell you that the Book of Revelation terrifies them. But it should not terrify you. Actually, it ought to be a comfort to you. I thank God that He is going to judge this world that is running wild today. The way that mankind has blundered and gotten this world into a mess makes it look like it is filled with madman. I thank God He is going to judge it, and He is going to judge it rightly. It is very comforting to recognize that.

Maybe you don’t like the fact that the gentle Jesus is going to judge. We have already seen that the wrath of the Lamb will be terrifying to those on earth. My friend, when you talk about the gentle Jesus, you had better get acquainted with Him. He died for you, He loves you, and He wants to save you, but if you will not have Him, I’d tell you, there is waiting ahead of you a terrifying judgment. Someone will say to me, “You are trying to frightened people.” I would like to scare you into heaven if I could, but I know you are too sophisticated and too cynical for that. But, my friend, judgment is coming on this earth. I say, Hallelujah! I am glad that it is coming and that God is not going to let the world go on like it is now. It has gone on long enough.



Commentary

2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

“And I saw the seven angels which stood before God.” Strangely enough, these “seven angels” have not been mentioned before, unless they are the “seven spirits” before the throne of Revelation 1:4 and 4:5. But as you shall see, we cannot positively identify them due to the other theories around today. For example, one theory is that these are special angels; also known as “the angels of the presence.” Not all “angels” are said to “stand before God.” Gabriel, though, was one who did, as we are told in Luke 1:19: “. . .

I am a Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God . . .” There were “seven” of these angels—not six, not eight—but seven, representing the full power of God in judicial judgment; the power to execute the trumpet and bowl judgments. They “stood before God” to pour out God’s wrath upon His enemies. Though the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders are portrayed as sitting, angels are almost always pictured as standing, the posture of reverence before God.

The use of the definite article (the seven angels) may designate a special group. In any event they are ministering “angels” carrying out God’s will and commands. Jewish literature names “seven” specific archangels, so these may be the ones referred to here. Their names are Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Sariel, Gabriel and Remiel. The seraphim are also identified as beings that “stand before God” (Isaiah 6:1-2). However, these “seven angels” are seemingly a different order from the seraphim seeing that their mission and service are altogether different.

That they are called “the angels of the presence” means two things. FIRST, they enjoyed a special honor. In an oriental court it was only the most favored courtiers who had the right at all times to the presence of the king; to be a courtier of the king was a special honor. SECOND, although to be in the presence of the king meant special honor, even more it meant immediate readiness to be dispatched on service. Both Elijah and Elisha repeatedly spoke of “the Lord God of Israel before whom I stand” (1 Kings 17:1; 18:15; 2 Kings 3:14; 5:16); and the phrase really means, “The Lord God of Israel whose servant I am.”

“And to them were given seven trumpets.” “Seven trumpets” were given to the angels, who then took their positions as directed, and prepared to sound their “trumpets.” But before the sounding of the “trumpets,” John saw another angel (8.3) with a golden censer{2] in his hand, and he came and stood before the golden incense altar. We are told that this angel was given much incense, and that he offered the incense with the prayers of “all saints.” These saints were the saints of the Tribulation Period. When the fire was cast into (down to) the earth, there were voices, thunderings, lightnings, and a great earthquake. The silence was broken. If you will notice, the same four things happen when the seventh trumpet sounds “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” (Revelation 11:19) and when the seventh vile is poured out. All end alike.

In Revelation, “trumpets” primarily announce impending judgment. The “trumpet judgments” are of greater intensity than the “seal judgments,” but not as destructive as the final “bowl judgments” will be (16:1-21). They occur during the final three and one-half years of earth’s Great Tribulation, but the time of each is unknown to all except God Himself, with the exception of the effects of the fifth trumpet judgment, which will last five months (9:10). The first four announce the divine destruction of earth’s ecology (vs. 6-12), while the final three involve demonic devastation of earth’s inhabitants (9:1-21; 11:15).

The continuing ministry of angels is seen in this passage. The seven mentioned in this verse have the privilege to announce the administering of judgment through the sound of the “trumpets.” But they are restrained for about half an hour (8:1). This interlude is for the preparation of the judgment. Now “half an hour” is not a long period of time when one is engaged in something they enjoy, but 30 minutes of intense suspense can be nerve shattering. There are gloomy subdued moments due to the judgments which follow. This is the silent, solemn preparation for the most awful judgments ever to come upon the world. They are the judgments prophesied by Enoch “It was of these also that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads” (Jude 14), expected by the psalmist “Before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth” (Psalm 96:13), and verified by the Apostle Paul “Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).



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