Revelation 8 - Outline of Revelation (Book Notes menu page)
8:1 And when he had opened the seventh seal,
there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
silence in heaven...
  • in marked contrast to the loud prayer & praise of 6:10; 7:10-12
  • in awesome anticipation of the terrible & wonderful things to follow. Zeph 1:2,3,7
  • in hushed attention during a lull in the storm...
    It is as though, the God of grace pauses the process of judgment, listening intently: Is there yet another who will repent? 2Pet 3:9; Ezek 18:32; Rev 6:15-17
The seven seals address the totality of man's depravity and rebellion against God.
The seventh seal indicates that man's iniquities have come 'to the full' (cp. Dan 8:23; 1The 2:16).
     Though the Lord freely offers the way of salvation, to all who believe and repent, man clings to his own way. Rather than turning to Christ, the Savior provided by God, mankind looks to a man (ie., the Antichrist) for peace. But there is no peace for the wicked, for war is in their hearts (Isa 57:20,21; 1The 5:3; Jam 4:1-4).
     Though men recognize that the natural and man-made calamities (which fell as the successive seals were opened) are consequences of their sin, they refuse to repent (Rev 6:15-17). Apart from the redemption which men reject, there is no hope of escape from God's wrath.
Therefore, God's direct supernatural judgments proceed, out of the seventh seal, in two series of seven.
There are many similarities between the Trumpet judgments (beginning in v.2) and the Bowl (Vial) judgments (which begin in ch. 16). However, the Trumpet judgments seem measured and limited, as though God is still mercifully withholding the full force of His wrath. In the Bowl judgments, His wrath is poured out without measure.
8:2 And I saw
A new vision begins here.
the seven angels which stood {ie., stand continually} before God;
These angels correspond to the 7 spirits of 1:4, 3:1, 4:5, 5:6.
The 7 angels are very active in the following chapters, but there is no further mention of the 7 spirits.
and to them were given seven trumpets.)
trumpets- sound before events of outstanding importance in scripture. Eg.:
-- the giving of the Law (first occurrence). Ex 19:16; 20:18
-- the breaking of the Day of the Lord. Joel 2:1
Note: These trumpets, sounded by angels, should not be confused
with the trumpet-like voice of the Lord, at the Rapture. 1The 4:16; Rev 4:1
Trumpets were sounded when Israel was on the move
(eg., in the wilderness to a new encampment, or in the day of battle).
A comparison of the order of events at the battle of Jericho (Josh 6:2-5), provides a pattern for understanding the progression of the 3 sevenfold judgments of Revelation:
At the downfall of Jericho -In the Tribulation
7 days march around the city
   . . .on the last day:
7 seals are opened
   . . .at the last seal:
7 times around the city
   . . .on the last time:
7 trumpets sound
   . . .at the last trumpet:
7 trumpets sound
   . . .Jericho falls.
7 bowls are poured out
   . . .'Babylon is fallen.'
Note that each succeeding series of seven occurs during the seventh phase of the preceding series.
Applying this pattern to Revelation-
-- the seventh Seal contains the seven Trumpets, and
-- the seventh Trumpet contains the seven Bowls.
(See the chart below, and also the Book Outline.)
          The Rapture
| - - - - - - - - The Tribulation (duration 7 years) - - - - - - - - |
Time line | | - - The Great Tribulation - - |
Judgments: | (3.5 yrs, 42 months, 1260 days) |
7 Seals 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 |
7 Trumpets 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 |
(with 3 Woes) Woe Woe Woe
7 Bowls 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 |
Note 1 - Although the judgments will fall in the order shown,
individual judgments may overlap, and they may vary in duration.
Note 2 - The various judgments have few time markers. While the
depicted time flow seems to correspond well with the narrative,
the precise time of individual judgments cannot be determined.
However, the seventh Trumpet is closely associated with
the Tribulation mid-point (ch.11).
Note 3 - The first four trumpets sound in rapid succession (v.7-12).
Therefore, the trumpet judgments may begin much nearer to the middle
of the seven year Tribulation, than suggested by the diagram.
8:3 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.
8:4 And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints,
ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
another angel- Is this Christ, our High Priest, or His angelic representative (1:1)? We are not told.
In Revelation, there are several places where we encounter a person with markedly Christ-like characteristics, but identified only as an angel. If it is actually Christ, we are viewing Him through a veil. The picture is not clear, and frequently includes some features which do not fit what we know of Him. Christ is clearly identified in Revelation ch.1-5 and again in ch.19-22. But during the section dealing with the Time of Jacob's Trouble (the Tribulation, ch.6-18), He makes Himself known through angels, as He did in OT times. His clear 'Revelation' does not occur, until He is seen coming in the clouds (19:11-f). Therefore, it seems best to note similarities and differences between the angel and Christ, while venturing no identification beyond that given in the text.
stood at the altar...-
Previously, Christ was seated, at His Father's right hand, making intercession for His own (3:21; Heb 7:25- 8:2). But He stood to receive and open the seven sealed scroll, in His role as Judge (5:6,7; 6:1).
incense- Speaks of prayer, "given unto him... that he should offer it..." (cp. Psa 141:2)
In a priestly role, an angel would need this supply. But Christ has no need to be "given" incense.
  • His prayer alone prevails before the Father who always hears Him.
  • The merit of His atoning sacrifice is the sweet savour which makes our prayer effective. Eph 5:2
Two altars are mentioned in v.3, reflecting on two aspects of Christ's priestly work:
  1. the (brasen) altar of sacrifice (v.3a), represents Christ's "one sacrifice for sins forever" whereby the believer has access into God's holy presence (Heb 10:12-14).
  2. the golden altar of incense (v. 3b), represents Christ's ministry of intercession and also the prayers of the saints (Heb 10:19-22).
8:5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar,
and cast [it] into the earth:
The OT priest went into the Holy of Holies (on the Day of Atonement) with...
  • a censer filled with coals of fire from the brasen altar,
  • incense to be burned on the coals,
  • and the atoning blood to be sprinkled 7 times at the Mercy Seat. Lev 16:12-14
But here, the motion is reversed:
  • the atonement has been rejected by the world,
  • the prayers of the saints, which once pled for mercy for their enemies (Mat 5:44; Rom 12:14,17,19-20), now plead for vengeance (Rev 6:10)...
  • The fire of judgment comes out from the Mercy Seat with ominous consequences.
  • The seven angels (seven spirits, v.2, 4:5; 5:6) which stand before Christ, rise at His command.
and there were voices, {- The storm of judgment is intelligently directed}
and thunderings,{- with power}
and lightnings,{- with speed}
and an earthquake.
{- Apart from the One who is the Rock, the sure Foundation,
    there is no refuge from God's wrath. Ex 19:18; Psa 97:1-7}
8:6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets
prepared themselves to sound.
The silence (v.1) is about to be broken.
8:7 The first angel sounded,
and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood,
The global judgment of Noah's day was by water... This by fire. 2Pet 3:5-7
and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up,
and all green grass was burnt up.
The time to 'hurt' creation has come (cf. 7:3).
Note the similarity to the 7th plague on Egypt. This is no less literal. Ex 9:22-26
8:8 And the second angel sounded,
and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea:
'as it were' {ie., 'something like'} a great mountain was literally cast into the sea.
What? an asteroid, a volcano, an atomic explosion?
Similar language is used regarding the judgment of Babylon for their destruction of Jerusalem. Perhaps a corrupt nation is destroyed here. cp. Jer 51:25
and the third part of the sea became blood;
This calls to mind the first plague on Egypt. Ex 7:20,21
8:9 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.
What is being taken away? The staff of life.
Farm produce (v.7), sea food, and transportation (of food and other goods).
8:10 And the third angel sounded,
and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp
{ie., a torch},
Again, we cannot say for sure what this is: asteroid, atomic blast...
but the effects are clear: Drinking water becomes lethally polluted.
and it fell upon the third part of the rivers,
and upon the fountains of waters;
The world has rejected the fountain of living waters.
The Lord lets them fend for themselves. cp. Jer 2:12,13; cf. Rev 7:17
8:11 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
{ie., acrid}.
Wormwood {GK=apsinthos} is the name of a bitter and poisonous plant.
  • In the Russian Bible, the word is 'Chernobyl.' This is also the name of the Soviet era nuclear plant which suffered a catastrophic melt-down, in April 1986. Perhaps this signifies nuclear fallout.
  • In scripture, wormwood is associated with judgment... particularly for turning to false gods, as though man-made idols are the source and sustainers of life. cp. Deu 29:18-20; Jer 9:13-15; 23:13-15; Lam 3:1-5,15-20
8:12 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.
third part- could refer to either an intense regional obscuration,
or a widespread diminished intensity of light.
A regional darkness would parallel the ninth plague upon Egypt. Ex 10:21-23
Consider the damage to agricultural production:
  • one third of land (v.7), one third of water (v.10), one third of light. Luk 21:25,26
  • The seasons continue, as per the Noahic covenant (Gen 8:22), but man has not kept his side of the bargain. God shows that He is able to call His loan of the necessities of life.
8:13 and I beheld and heard:
an angel flying through the midst of heaven,
Some versions read 'eagle' rather than 'angel.' Is there a meaningful difference?
The variation in this verse is due to differing manuscripts. Some read 'eagle' {GK= aetus}, some read 'angel' {GK= aggelos, messenger, angel}.
  • God often uses angels to announce significant events (eg., the destruction of Sodom to Abraham and Lot; the birth of John to Zacharias; the birth of Christ to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds). The final judgmental "Woes", upon mankind, are significant events, worthy of angelic announcement.
  • One of the four living creatures was identified as 'a flying eagle' (in 4:7). The opening of each of the first four seals was announced by each of the four living creatures in succession (in ch.6). Those angelic creatures, who guard the holiness of God, were privileged to proclaim its vindication by those initial judgments. So, here, it is fitting that one of them should announce the final judgments. (Thus, the 'flying eagle' is a specific type of flying angel.)
'the midst of heaven' {GK=mesouranemia, middle-heaven, mid-sky}-
The only biblical occurrences of this word are here (in v.13), and Rev 14:6; 19:17. All refer to angelic announcements, delivered in the realm of earth's atmosphere, to earthly creatures.
saying, with a loud voice: Woe, Woe, Woe
Woe {GK= ouai} - The sound itself conveys the meaning.
to the inhabiters of the earth
by reason of the other voices of the trumpet
of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
inhabiters- from the verb "to dwell" with a prefix "down,"
meaning 'those who have settled down, or, into' the earth.
Note that wrath is meant for citizens of earth - not the citizens of heaven. Php 3:20; Heb 11:8-10,13-16
The last 3 trumpets are presented as 3 great "Woes" to mankind.
Note that the plagues poured out thus far are to be taken literally.
Rule of interpretation: "When the literal sense makes good sense,
seek no other sense... lest your search lead to nonsense."
The literal sense, though hard to receive or to explain is quite sound,
for the God of biblical revelation is the God of the universe.

Click here to continue the study in Revelation 9
Return to Revelation - MENU page.

Limited permission is granted to copy & distribute these notes from

Go to The Book opening page.