Topic started on 10-10-2010 @ 04:28 PM by DISRAELI
I want to offer some thoughts on the sounding of the first four "trumpets" in Revelation ch8.
The effects are clearly devastating, and the consequences are long-lasting.
So I'm going to be asking the question; what do these trumpets mean for the planet?
In the context of the full story told by Revelation, the "seven trumpets" are what happens when God brings his power to bear on the destruction of
the kingdom of the Beast. In that function, they're very closely associated with the "seven vials". These two sequences, the trumpets and the
vials, are very similar, and they're sometimes regarded as duplicate versions of the same story. But the real clue to the relationship is that the
state of the world after the seven vials is considerably worse than the state of the world after the trumpets. The most obvious example is the
way the condition of the sea degenerates from "one-third blood" to "like the blood of a dead man, and every living thing died".
So I see the trumpets and the vials as the beginning and end points of the same set of events, with each trumpet/vial combination representing a
different aspect of the process. On that basis, I feel entitled to cross-reference between the two sequences, and use them to throw light on each
The basic question can be broken down in three ways;
What causes these events?
What effect are they having?
What is their meaning?
I'm going to take these in reverse order- less logical, but more convenient.
What do they mean?
Symbolism pointing towards the Exodus
The main feature of the first trumpet is that hail and fire fall on the earth.
This matches one of the Exodus plagues;
"The Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth"- Exodus ch9 v23
Similarly the main feature of the first vial is an outbreak of "foul and evil sores".
This matches another Exodus plague;
"It became boils breaking out in evil sores on man and beast"- Exodus ch9 v10
This suggests to me that the first item in each sequence is a kind of "signature", which has the purpose of pointing us towards the Exodus
The implication is that these events, too, are about the redemption of God's people.
Symbolism pointing towards Babylon
After the second trumpet, "something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown down into the sea".
This is an echo of the warning Jeremiah gives to Babylon;
"Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain (says the Lord)
which destroys the whole earth.
I will stretch out my hand against you
and roll you down from the crags
and make you a burnt mountain" - Jeremiah ch51 v25
This is pointing us towards the destruction of Babylon. The implication is that these events, too, are about the downfall of an idolatrous and
Symbolism pointing towards adultery
The star Wormwood has the effect of making the waters bitter and poisonous.
This is an echo of Jeremiah's warning to the people of Judah, who have
"..stubbornly followed their own hearts and gone after the Baals...Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed this
people with wormwood and give them poisonous water to drink".- Jeremiah ch9 vv14-15.
Their behaviour is spiritual infidelity,and he's already called them adulterers. So perhaps we should recognise in this warning an oblique allusion
to the ritual of the "water of bitterness", prescribed in Numbers ch5 as a way to test a wife suspected of adultery.
The implication is that these events, too, are chastising the infidelity of a people from whom the Lord expects loyalty.
What effect are they having?
The land; one-third of the earth, together with its vegetation, has been burnt up.
The sea; one third of the sea has become blood.
The rivers; one-third of the waters has become bitter.
The heavens; the sun, moon, and stars have lost a third of their brightness. This is really about the atmosphere, since the most "economical" way of
achieving this effect would be the presence of something in the atmosphere blocking the light.
This is another instance of the "heaven, land, and sea" division of the world which keeps appearing in Revelation.
The overall effect of these trumpets is that all three regions have been spoiled and polluted.
Since the state of the rivers reflects the state of the land (as any enviromentalist can tell you), they can be counted as part of that region.
So the sequence of both trumpets and vials is effectively;
1) The "Exodus" signature.
2) The sea
3) The land (seen through the rivers)
4) The heavens
These look like different aspects of the same process. But if this process is really leading towards "became like the blood of a dead man" and the
other effects of the seven vials, then it would be the kind of process which would ultimately render the earth uninhabitable.
What is the cause?
I've suggested that these events can be seen as different aspects of the same process.
This opens up the possiblilty that they are all different effects of the same cause, and I want to pursue the speculation along those lines.
Such a cause would have to be a large-scale event, something capable of having a massive and ultimately fatal impact upon the planet at large.
Modern science has introduced us to a number of possible candidates.
They include natural disasters, of the kind which might have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs- such as supervolcano eruptions and asteroid
They also include the destructive possibilities of human technology, such as nuclear war and the effects of industrial pollution.
I want to consider these possibilities, firstly, in terms of their potential ability to produce the effects descibed in this chapter. (I'll confine
myself to those four options, partly because they seem the most plausible, and partly because I can't resist the symmetry of the presentation)
This would, of course, be a "burning mountain", almost literally.
No obvious reason (apart from possible location) why it should be "thrown into the sea".
Land and vegetation in the vicinity would be "burnt up".
Volcanic ash in the atmosphere could be blocking out the light, and the settlement of the ash would be responsible for poisoning the rivers and
It is tempting to see the image of a volcano in the "smoke arising from the bottomless pit" in the next chapter.
Perhaps this would, even more literally, present the appearance of "a burning mountain thrown into the sea".
No obvious reason why much of the land should be "burnt up".
Debris from the impact would provide material in the atmosphere, with the same effect as before.
The impact of the weapons themselves would be burning the land and vegetation.
The suggestion has been made that smoke and soot from large-scale fires would fill the atmosphere, with the same effect as before.
Another suggested side-effect is that the ozone-layer would be depleted on a global scale. This would account for the effect of the fourth vial, after
which the sun "was allowed to scorch men with fire". The natural disasters don't really explain this feature.
This might not need to be a single large event, like the Gulf oil spill or the more recent chemical spill in Hungary.
In the long-term, the accumulating effects of many such events and neglectful practices could be enough, on their own, to spoil the land, pollute the
atmosphere, poison the rivers, degenerate the oceans, and deplete the ozone layer. Hence many of the effects described in this chapter.
But the events in which "things fall down to the earth" would have to be regarded as symbolic.
And there is less obvious reason for the atmosphere of "crisis" implied in this chapter; the process seems a little slow-moving.
It isn't easy, on that basis, to identify a "most likely" candidate.
So another possible approach is to consider which one of them is most likely to happen first.
Which one would win the race?
I get the impression that supervolcano eruptions are very rare events, which would push that option low down the probability scale.
Astronomers take the chances of an asteroid collision more seriously, to the extent of watching the orbits of passing objects very carefully.
If the natural disasters were the only possibilities, nothing in Revelation would oblige us to expect a catastrophe in the near future.
But the possibility of human self-destruction brings a new factor into the equation.
Putting it bluntly, if Revelation prophecy is to be fulfilled at all, it must be fulfilled while the human race is still in existence.
Which means that the prophecies implied in this chapter would have to be fulfilled through the human capacities for self-destruction, unless
there was a natural disaster which could move quickly enough to forestall them.
I don't recognise, in current politics, the atmosphere of "superpower confrontation" that I remember from the Cold War, so I'm not yet convinced
by the excitable view that World War Three is on the horizon.
Industrial pollution differs from the other possibilities in that it does not require any new "event" to start it off; it only requires that
existing trends should continue. So the gradual strangulation of the planet by the effects of human technology does rather look like the "default"
option, the most likely outcome if nothing else intervenes first.
Apart from that last comment, I'm leaving the question open, without offering to make any precise prediction.