- Rev. 8:7-13:18
The seven angels sounded their trumpets, one after another, and various events occurred following each trumpet sound. Each of these events was some form of suffering or death for people on the earth, and the descriptions of these events closely resemble the ten plagues GOD sent on Pharaoh in Moses’ days. After the sixth trumpet sounded, the text says that those men who weren’t killed by the plagues did not repent of their sins, nor did they stop committing them.
After this, John is given a little scroll from the hand of a mighty angel and is told to swallow the scroll. That mighty angel swore by GOD, saying:
“There will be no more delay! 7 But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
(Rev. 10:6b-7 NIV)
John swallowed the scroll. It tasted sweet like honey in his mouth but then it upset his stomach. John was then told:
“You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”
(Rev. 10:11b NIV)
John was given a measuring stick and was told to measure the temple and count the number of worshipers there, except for the outer court, because it had been given to the Gentiles, and they would trample the holy city for 42 months. I believe this is referring to the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. by the Romans, when they besieged the city for over 3 years.
Continuing the vision, GOD then set up two witnesses who prophesied for 1,260 days. After their days were complete, a beast from the abyss came up and attacked them and killed them. After three and a half days, however, GOD raised them and they were called up to heaven on a cloud while their enemies looked on. At that hour there was a strong earthquake and one tenth of Jerusalem collapsed. 7,000 people died in the earthquake and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to GOD.
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and loud voices in heaven 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.”
(Rev. 11:15b NIV)
At this, the 24 elders fell down on their faces and worshiped GOD, saying:
18 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.”
19 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.
(Rev. 11:18-19 NIV)
It is my current understanding that these seventh trumpet events are referring to the end of the temple worship associated with the old covenant which had faded away (Heb. 8:13), along with GOD’s acceptance of those who lived by the Law of Moses up until this point. With the temple destroyed, there could be no more doubt that GOD no longer accepted that old system of worship and animal sacrifices and that Jesus alone is King.
Following the events of the seventh trumpet, John saw a woman in heaven, clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet. She was pregnant and about to give birth. An enormous red dragon appeared, having seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns on his head. This dragon stood in front of the pregnant woman, waiting on her to give birth so he could devour the child. She gave birth to the child, and this child was Jesus. (The text says her son would rule all nations with an iron scepter. It does not specify this is Jesus, but it is clear from other places, such as Psalm 2:9 and Rev. 2:27; 19:15, that this is describing Jesus.)
The child was carried up to GOD and His throne, and the woman fled to the desert to a place GOD had prepared for her, where she was to stay 1,260 days. There was war in heaven. Michael (the archangel) and his angels fought Satan and his angels. Satan’s forces were defeated, and they lost their place in heaven. Satan and his angels were thrown down to the earth.
Satan then pursued the woman, but the woman was given eagle wings and she flew to the refuge in the desert, beyond Satan’s reach. Enraged, Satan went off to make war with the woman’s children, which are those who obey GOD and Jesus.
As the dragon, Satan, stood on the seashore, a beast came up out of the sea. The beast looked like a leopard, with feet like a bear and a mouth like a lion. The dragon gave power to this beast. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon and the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” Based upon the description of this beast of the sea, it is my conclusion that this beast is the position of Caesar, ruler of the Roman Empire.
The beast slandered GOD’s name, blasphemed, and made war against the saints, conquering them, for 42 months. The beast had authority over all people, tribes, languages and nations. Everyone whose name isn’t in Jesus’ book of life worshiped the beast.
After this, a second beast came out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast and made everyone worship the first beast. This second beast performed miraculous signs on behalf of the first beast, deceiving the people of earth. He ordered them to set up an idol in honor of the first beast and any who refused to worship the first beast were killed. He also forced all the people to receive a mark on their right hand or forehead so they could buy or sell. This mark is referred to as “the mark of the beast,” and its number was 666, “the number of man.“
I understand this second beast to represent the Roman Empire itself, and this mark of the beast to refer to a stamp that Roman citizens would receive once they had worshiped the Roman emperor prior to entering the market where they could buy and sell food.
The net impact of these events is found within the text where John writes:
9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.
10 “If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity they will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
with the sword they will be killed.”
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
(Rev. 13:9-10 NIV)
Whatever the meaning of this part of the vision that John saw, there would be a period of intense suffering for GOD’s people alive on the earth, which the Lord proclaimed was coming “soon.”