And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. 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. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. 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. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. 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 I beheld, and heard an angel flying through 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 three angels, which are yet to sound! (KJV)
We have previously witnessed great shouts and songs of praise to God in the previous chapters of the book of Revelation. This silence is stunning in contrast. Can you imagine what was going through John’s mind when the Lamb opens the seventh seal and there is nothing. There are no sounds, likely no motions as all in heaven pause to see what comes next. Since we have read on, we know that this is ushering in the worst calamities ever to come on the earth since the flood. We can see that this silence is unusual because the Jewish custom is to mourn loudly at the announcement of such a disaster.
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; (Rom 3:19 NASB)
The inhabitants of the earth are at their worst. The seventh seal appears to announce the final act of God’s judgment and every mouth is silenced. The awesomeness of this moment is beyond anything that has ever happened before. When God appeared on Mt. Sinai and almost every other place, there was thunder and lightning (Ex 19:16). Instead of thunder and lightning, there is silence. It is this silent introduction to what is called the trumpet judgments that lead me to believe that this is when the wrath of God comes.
If Christians are to be spared the wrath of God according to 1 Thessalonians 5:8, then the multitude in Chapter 7 who have come out of the great tribulation must be the raputured Church.
“I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests, those who bow down on the roofs to the host of the heavens, those who bow down and swear to the Lord and yet swear by Milcom, those who have turned back from following the Lord, who do not seek the Lord or inquire of him.” Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests. And on the day of the Lord's sacrifice—“I will punish the officials and the king's sons and all who array themselves in foreign attire.” (Zeph 1:4-8 ESV)
This tells of another time when the people were told to be silent before the Lord. It was a time of trouble and judgment to be brought upon Judah. Notice the indictment that the Lord brought against Judah. They were worshiping anything and everything except the Lord. Baal was the son of El, the father of the gods and the head of the Canaanite pantheon. He is also designated as “the son of Dagon" They were worshiping a god that was the son of a god yet the father of gods. Does this sound familiar? The same thing is happening today as many in cults and even in mainline denominations who distort Jesus’ identity so that they no longer worship Jesus as the true Son of God. Other people were worshiping things of nature in the same way that much of the world does today. The most insidious correlation between Judah and the world of today is their worship of Molech (Milcom), a Semitic deity honored by the fiery sacrifice of children. Palestinian excavations have uncovered evidences of infant skeletons in burial places around heathen shrines. We don’t call him Molech today as he goes by many names such as “women’s rights,” “pro-choice", “embryonic stem cell research” and others.
Do you realize some scientists are fertilizing human eggs to create embryos for the sole purpose of extracting the stem cells? Each of these embryos has the full potential to become a living, breathing person. They never have a chance. Most abortions are done simply because the baby threatens the parent’s lifestyle. We don’t burn these children; we tear them apart in their mother’s womb before they are born or toss them out of a Petri dish. Molech’s real name is selfishness, that ugly monster within each of us that puts our own desire (rights) above the rights and needs of others. Society normally suppresses him with laws, rules, and regulations. The only real cure is to nail him to the cross when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20 NIV)
For thus says the Lord of hosts, “After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.” (Zech 2:8 NASU)
“Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.” (Zech 2:13 NASU)
The Lord declared to His people that He would protect them and bring destruction on those who have harmed them. Especially, those who treat His people unjustly will need to be still before the Lord. The silence in heaven could be a prelude to the silence of the nations as they won’t have any defense to the charges that the Lord will bring against them. As the trumpets are sounded we can see that God has roused Himself and will deal with all mankind in part based on how we have treated His people, but most importantly how we have related to one particular Jew, His Son.
Zech 2:8 says that the Jewish nation is the apple of God’s eye. This brings up an interesting point that many commentators have made. Throughout history, nations have been called to bring punishment against the Jews. Assyria, Egypt and Babylon are a few. In each case they did not do it in humility (see Jer 50) but were arrogant and enjoyed doing it. These nations were then punished. From then to now, no nation that has been anti-Semitic has stood the test of time. It is therefore thought that whoever befriends the 144,000 mentioned in chapter 7 will be spared death and will enter into the millennial kingdom. But the nations and people who persecute them will not be spared. Mat 25:31-46 is used to support this idea even though the context of these verses indicates that this is a final judgment and the reward is the final reward of eternal blessings, not just for a thousand years. I don’t think this is an accurate interpretation, but is worth mentioning.
For some reason it appears that God has appointed a celestial order of angels. The seven angels that are in Rev 8:2 are referred to specifically as “the” seven angels who stand before God. They are singled out from all the rest.
And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. (Luke 1:19 KJV)
Gabriel is one of these seven. He is especially privileged because he was assigned the once-in-history task of telling Mary that she would bear the Messiah. He also appeared to Daniel (Dan 8:16) and is possibly the one that appeared to him again in Daniel 10 and spoke of another angel, Michael, one of the chief princes. It could be that Michael is also one that stands before God.
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. (Dan 10:13 KJV)
There are also angels who are associated with little children (guardian angels) and always have the ability to see the face of God even thought they don’t necessarily stand in His presence. In my novel, 999 Years After Armageddon, The End of the Millennium, I have the fun of speculating how this and other angelic activities function.
Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. (Matt 18:10 NKJV)
Then there are some angels that do not stand in His presence. Rather, they come at appointed times to report.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord … (Job 1:6 KJV)
Cherubim and seraphim are also mentioned many times in the Bible. It isn’t always clear whether they are angels or other created celestial beings. Their duties are various as are their descriptions. Cherubim were appointed to guard the way back into the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:24) and images of them were made to be on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, worked into the curtains of the tabernacle, engraved on the walls of the temple, and two that were to overshadow the place of the Ark in the Holy of Holies. While some of these looked very much like angels as we understand them, the ones supporting God’s throne in Ezekiel 10 are described like the living creatures in Ezekiel 1. They are also similar to the seraphim in Isaiah 6.
These angels that stand before the Lord are each given a trumpet to blow and announce a new phase in God’s judgment of the earth.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. (1 Thess 4:16 NLT)
When the Lord comes and raptures the Church we will also hear the voice of an archangel as one of the three ways that He will announce this event. Arch means chief. It may be that one of these seven angels will also have the privilege of proclaiming the rapture. All this is to point out the seven highest angels are used so that we know that what is about to happen is extremely significant. The importance of their previous announcements has shaken the very foundations of man’s history. What comes next will certainly be profound.
Another angel appears and offers incense mixed with the payers of the saints. Because of the prayers that are mixed with the incense, some think that this is Jesus in His role as Intercessor. Most people believe that when the Angel of the Lord appeared in the Old Testament it was the pre-incarnate vision of Jesus. This is also used to help justify identifying this angel as Jesus. Therefore we need to look at least one of these encounters in the Old Testament.
And Mano'ah said to the angel of the Lord, "What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?" And the angel of the Lord said to him, "Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?" So Mano'ah took the kid with the cereal offering, and offered it upon the rock to the Lord, to him who works wonders. And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar while Mano'ah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. The angel of the Lord appeared no more to Mano'ah and to his wife. Then Mano'ah knew that he was the angel of the Lord. And Mano'ah said to his wife, "We shall surely die, for we have seen God." (Judg 13:17-22 RSV)
This is the story of the Angel of the Lord that appeared to Samson’s mother and father to announce his birth. We can see that the Angel of the Lord is more than just an angel when we observe Him in this encounter. When they asked His name, He says it is wonderful. The NIV says beyond understanding. Who in the Scripture is named wonderful other than Jesus in Isa 9:6? Another thing is that when they gave the reason for asking His name, it was to honor Him. He didn’t rebuke them and tell them to honor God even though He told them to sacrifice to the Lord (verse 16). He also ascended with the flames of the offering demonstrating that the sacrifice was acceptable to the Lord. Manoah believed that they had seen the face of God when they realized it was the Angel of the Lord. Clearly the Angel of the Lord and God were the same in their mind.
In Rev 8, this angel could be Jesus, except that everywhere else in the entire book Jesus is not hidden but revealed. Revelation speaks of the Lamb, the Lion, and a few other things, but when He is shown it is clearly evident that it is Jesus.
Since he has been given much incense to offer with the prayers of the saints, he reminds us that Jesus stands in intercession for us. The angel takes our prayers, mixes them with incense, and passes them along to the Father. In this way he also reminds us of the Holy Spirit.
And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Rom 8:26-27 NASB)
Even when we think we know the will of God, we can be wrong. The Holy Spirit cleans up our prayers. This is a great relief to many of us who struggle with knowing how to pray about different situations. We know that even if we pray amiss, the Holy Spirit cleans them up according to God’s will.
Another thing is that the angel himself took the fire from the altar and flung it on the earth. It is as if the beginning of the destruction comes straight from the hand of God the Father. We also have the familiar thunder, lightning, and earthquakes associated with the presence of God. Whether this is Jesus or not, he certainly reminds us of the Trinity, which is exactly what a ministering spirit or messenger is supposed to do.
There is a contrast between the uses of the fire from the altar in this case, i.e. to cause destruction on the earth, as opposed to the fire in the altar in Isa 6:6-7 (ESV).
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
The fire of the Lord can be used to cleanse or punish. The coals of Isaiah must be the type of fire we as believers see in 1 Cor 3:12-15 (NIV).
If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
All the impurities of our work and motivation will be burned away. In the case of the earth, there is so much impurity that we will see a third of almost everything being destroyed at the sound of the first four trumpets.
Ezek 5:11-16 describes a time when God pours out His wrath in thirds.
“So as I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable idols and with all your abominations, therefore I will also withdraw, and My eye will have no pity and I will not spare. “ One third of you will die by plague or be consumed by famine among you, one third will fall by the sword around you, and one third I will scatter to every wind, and I will unsheathe a sword behind them.
“Thus My anger will be spent and I will satisfy My wrath on them, and I will be appeased; then they will know that I, the Lord, have spoken in My zeal when I have spent My wrath upon them. Moreover, I will make you a desolation and a reproach among the nations which surround you, in the sight of all who pass by. So it will be a reproach, a reviling, a warning and an object of horror to the nations who surround you when I execute judgments against you in anger, wrath and raging rebukes. I, the Lord, have spoken. When I send against them the deadly arrows of famine which were for the destruction of those whom I will send to destroy you, then I will also intensify the famine upon you and break the staff of bread.” (NASU)
The Lord describes how He will kill two thirds of the people of Israel, a third at a time. He also makes it abundantly clear why. It is because of their vile images and detestable practices. Even the third that doesn’t die will be scattered. The result is that they will become an object of horror to the nations. He did this in a very specific manner and had His prophets announce it so that all nations would know exactly why it occurred and it would horrify them. The same is true in the book of Revelation. The Lord starts with a description of the thirds of the earth that He will destroy. He has given mankind all of history to come to Him though grace. The majority of mankind has rejected this offer and as a result, these things that will happen will bring horror on mankind. The judgments in thirds remind me that He has always provided for a remnant that remains true to Him.
“And it shall come to pass in all the land,” Says the Lord, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, But one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; And each one will say, 'The Lord is my God.'" (Zech 13:8-9 NKJV)
Again the Lord’s purpose is clear. Just as in the days of Noah, He is seeking a people to call His own. He continually has to purge the wicked from among those He has chosen. It is sad to think that only a third of the people at this point in history turned to Him, and even then it is only after they suffered. It is very hard for us to imagine a God who would do something like this.
We must not forget several things. One of them is the vile and detestable practices that lead up to these things.
And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves metal images, idols skillfully made of their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of them, "Those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves!" (Hos 13:2 ESV)
They actually had human sacrifices at that time. As we get further into Revelation we will see that the end times will also bring some very ugly and horrifying things. We must not forget His holiness. We must not forget His sovereignty. We must not forget His patience and the gift that He has offered in Jesus Christ and how often it has been rejected and even cursed.
I was reading about how the Jews respected the name of God so much that they were afraid it would become commonplace. They made restrictions so that it would only be used in special places and then finally, it could not be pronounced aloud at all. Now the opposite has occurred. The phrase, “Oh my God” (OMG if texting) has become so common that you see it in the comic strips, on TV, and in movies. Even Christians use it without any sense of reverence to our Lord. The name of Jesus has become so common that people use it as a swear word.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12 KJV)
How sad that the name by which we must be saved has been brought down this way. No wonder these horrors will occur.
When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means "bitter"). Then the people complained and turned against Moses. "What are we going to drink?" they demanded. So Moses cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink. It was there at Marah that the Lord set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him. He said, "If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you." (Ex 15:23-26 NLT)
When the Israelites came upon the bitter water, wood was thrown in and the water became drinkable. This was their first time of grumbling, complaining, and bitterness. In Revelation, a star named “Wormwood” will be thrown into the water and it becomes undrinkable. Wormwood’s Greek definition is:
Apsinthos (ap’-sin-thos); of uncertain derivation; wormwood (as a type of bitterness, i.e. [figuratively] calamity).
Figuratively, bitterness is thrown into the water. What happens to us when we drink from the waters of bitterness? The symbolism here is very potent; people destroy themselves with bitterness. He made the Old Testament an example for us and this is what the Lord can do for our bitterness and problems if we turn to Him. He has given us a wooden cross that produces fresh water when it is thrown into our lives. He will heal us from our bitterness. If we listen to His voice and pay attention to His Word, we will avoid the diseases brought by bitterness. This is in contrast to the rest of the world who reject Jesus and His living water. He will turn fresh water bitter with “wormwood” and destroy many people.
As far as the actual event is concerned, we can speculate on how the Lord is going to do it. Many think it is because we are polluting our ground water with chemical dumps; others think that the great star called Wormwood is actually a nuclear explosion that contaminates the water with fallout. Others think that it could be the result of bio-chemical bombs. Some think it is some kind of asteroid filled with arsenic that collides with the earth. It really doesn’t matter how. It is the result of God’s will.
Many people think that what is happening with the first four trumpets is a global war. They look to Ezek 38 and say that this is the result. Looking back to the preview in chapter 6, we saw a time of peace created by the strong ruler that is followed by a war that could be the one described in Ezekiel.
I don’t have enough room to get into too much detail, but there are some things that stand out in these two chapters.
Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord God; this is the day whereof I have spoken. (Ezek 39:8 KJV)
It will surely take place because our Sovereign Lord has said it will. That doesn’t leave any room to wonder if, only when and how.
And I will turn you about, and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you forth, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a great company, all of them with buckler and shield, wielding swords. (Ezek 38:4 RSV)
The Lord is the one who brings about this war. He has set a time and will use the covetousness and greed of nations to start this war. The Lord declares from the beginning that it is because of His sovereign will that this is taking place.
After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them. (Ezek 38:8 NASB)
The time in history, or more accurately, the future is established. This is far in the future for Ezekiel. The people have been brought back from many nations, they have gone through many wars, and now they are living in safety. This cannot refer to the return from Babylon because it says that they will come from many nations, not just one.
And say, “I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having no bars or gates,” (Ezek 38:11 ESV)
Another very important item is the fact that they will live in safety and unwalled villages. This describes the attitude of the people in Israel, not just their physical security. They are unsuspecting. This cannot even come close to the situation in Israel today. Israel is very suspecting, highly fortified, and certainly not living in safety. This hasn’t described any time in their short modern history or any time in history since this prophecy was made.
This sheds light on Rev 6:1-2. It has to be at a time when a strong ruler has provided a guarantee of peace in the land that is so believable that Israel would actually disarm. This would place the war before the tribulation or the first half.
And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years: (Ezek 39:9 KJV)
And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land. (Ezek 39:12 KJV)
These verses help pin down when this will occur by describing what will happen afterwards. If this were the battle of Armageddon when all ends and Jesus restores the earth for the 1,000-year reign, then there wouldn’t be any need to pick up the weapons to use for fuel. (I will leave the explanation of the renewal of the earth to our study of Rev 20.) There would also be no need to cleanse the land because Jesus would do it.
You [Gog] will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. (Ezek 38:15 NIV)
This verse lets us know from where these attackers come. Historians can link the people of Gog (vs. 2) and Magog to the current Russians. While this fits with the direction they are coming from (the north), some try to tie the fulfillment of this prophesy to current events rather on the fact that God can lift up a nation from these people at any time He wants. Also note that many nations join in. They will have many allies who actually join in on the battle. Vs. 38:19-23 describe the events of the war and make it clear that God is in control of the outcome.
And I will send fire upon Magog and those who inhabit the coastlands in safety; and they will know that I am the Lord. (Ezek 39:6 NASU)
God does some amazing things. Nothing happens to people that is not used by God to bring them to Himself or at least make us aware of Him and His glory. This battle will affect many besides those in the battle. The word “coastlands” is thought to describe any who live along the Mediterranean Sea. In a broader sense, it could be any overseas area. This verse is why some authors think that the battle will involve or affect the United States.
We are sitting back in what we think is safety, all the while flirting with abortion, homosexuality as well as many other grievous sins. The plague of AIDS has hit, but the destruction of war has not. We are proud and think we can build a missile defense system to protect ourselves. In reality, we don’t think that anyone would start a war with us. However, if this war were started against Israel by allies of Russia, it is not hard to imagine a scenario where we are all suddenly involved. It could very well be His judgment on our nation.
I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward. (Ezek 39:21-22 NKJV)
Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name — after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid.” (Ezek 39:25-26 NKJV)
“And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” says the Lord God. (Ezek 39:29 NKJV)
This is a difficulty that many have with this prophecy. The Lord often tells what He is going to do because of a disobedient people and then slips right into things that can only occur much later, such as after His return. This one is no different. In Ezekiel 39:21-22, He slips past this battle, and goes right on to something that happens just before the 1,000-year reign. Verse 21 is ambiguous enough to apply to this battle before or near the beginning of the tribulation or to the last battle of the tribulation at Armageddon. Verse 22 can only apply to the 1,000-year reign because it indicates that all of Israel will know that the Lord is God.
Ezekiel 39:26 can occur only if all in Israel are indeed Christians, which I think can only happen after He returns and the true gathering of the whole house of Israel will take place, not the partial that we see today.
Ezekiel 39:28-29 clinches the argument because only in the perfect reign of Jesus could all the Jews be assured of coming back to Israel and having His Spirit poured out on them in this way. It becomes apparent that these verses describe the aftermath of a different battle than the one described earlier. The logical explanation is that they apply to the battle of Armageddon, which will be similar to the earlier one.
Our God is awesome! Even in the prelude to His Judgment, we are reminded of the Trinity. We have seen how He has provided salvation and provision for those who walk in His ways. While we rejoice that He will come back again to set all things straight, we also need to be solemn because of the destruction that will come because it will end forever the opportunity of many to turn to Him for salvation.
 For information about availability go to http://www.after-armageddon.com/ or http://www.rayruppert.com/html/999_years_after_armageddon.html.
 Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.
 Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.