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Trumpets of Doom - Revelation 8

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10/20/1996
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Trumpets of Doom
Revelation 8
Skip Heitzig
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66 Revelation - History's Last Chapter - 1996

The book of Revelation exalts Jesus Christ as the soon-coming Lord over the earth. Skip Heitzig explains the amazing and mysterious prophecies that form God's final word to mankind.

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In Revelation chapter 8 where we begin today, if you are a musician, especially a trumpet player, you'll be interested to know that the music in heaven takes on a more solemn note. The minor key is suggested as there are trumpets of doom that are sounded in this chapter. The end of the world is a pretty ominous sounding phrase. It's a very final sounding phrase. And it's a touchy subject. I was surfing the net this week, as they say, and just for kicks I typed in 'the end of the world' on my search engine, just to see how many entries I would get--hundreds of them popped up. One wrote a letter in response to that query that said, "Hello, I'd like to rant about a growing suspicion that the world is coming to an end. Just the other day my best friend, as of twelve years, called me from some mountain in Colorado to tell me she's living with a mountain man who's a chef and a survivalist. They are stockpiling guns in preparation for Armageddon, living in a tent convinced Babylon is going to fall tomorrow. I'm not too sure how popular this technophobic mentality is, but she informed me that New York City, my home, is going to go up in flames and its evolution and the cyberpunks and cyber society is going to hell. She told me I'm crazy and I should flee Babylon. I'm a little disturbed by this. She is eighteen years old and terribly afraid of what she doesn't understand and this hurts me and I'm taking it personally." It seems today people are either sick of hearing about the end of the world or obsessed with the idea of it. And it's not new. Back in the 1800's, 1830's, 1840's, a guy by the name of William Miller said that in 1843 the end of the world would come and he convinced thousands of people that it would happen. The day came, it never happened. He moved the date up a little bit, it never happened, and he sort of faded away. In 1914, Charles Russell, who really founded the Jehovah Witnesses said 1914 would be the day of the end of the world, in October, and October came and went into November and December and the next year and so he moved it to 1925 and on and on and on till he faded away. Back in 1988, a huge furor erupted with Edgar Whycinance's 88 reasons why Jesus was coming in 1988. Do you remember that? Some of you told me that I ought to announce that from the pulpit because it would happen. And it didn't happen. And so he thought, well I must have goofed in my calculations, that was a gross understatement, and he moved it to 1989 in September. And that didn't happen so he said the outside chance of this happening will be 1993. That's the final end. Well now we're approaching the millennium and because we are there is an will be a fervor, millennial fever, but I tend to think that more people will be right about the end of the world coming soon than will be wrong about it coming soon. And today in our chapter we see what some of that will be like. The trumpets of doom are sounded. It is the beginning of the end.

The end of the world is on people's minds. The George Gallup organization polled 1500 people in America and found out that one of the top issues of people's lives is the question when will the world end. It is on the minds of people. People have been thinking about the end of the world from the beginning of the world. It's a section of study all to itself. The Greek word eschata means end things. And any theology course or theology book has a whole section devoted to eschatology, the study of the things of the end times. The phrase 'the time of the end' is used in the Bible ten times in the book of Daniel, four times Jesus used the term 'the end of the world', and then in Matthew Jesus said, 'Heaven and earth will pass away but My words will never pass away'. Well let's read the first six verses. We're going to look at all 13 of the verses today in chapter 8 since it is a short chapter and I've divided it up in three ways: calm before the storm in the first couple verses and then cries before the throne in the next few verses and then beginning in verse 7 catastrophes before the end. In verse one, "When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound."

Verse one is a stark contrast to what we've already read. There's been a lot of noise in heaven. God loves noise. A joyful noise. And as we've read Revelation, there's lots of noise going on in heaven. Chapters 4 and 5 are filled with heavenly worship, a loud singing, a loud noise, a joyful noise. There are four living creatures, there are 24 elders, there are innumerable hosts of angels all praising God. In chapter 6 there are angels saying things like, come and see. There are saints under the altar, the persecuted ones, who are saying how long, O Lord, as they pray. There are tribulation saints who stand and worship God. So there's lots of activity and all of a sudden we come to this verse and it kind of takes us back that there was silence in heaven for a half an hour. Now some have sort of made a joke out of this verse saying that this verse proves that a lot of people they know who talk too much won't be in heaven because they couldn't stand being silent for a half an hour. As one guy I talked to said, well that proves my wife isn't going to be there--if there's silence for a half an hour. But there really is no joke intended. It is an ominous phrase. It doesn't sound like a long time, a half an hour, and it's not in terms of length of term a half an hour is not long. But as far as a dramatic pause is concerned, like in a play or a drama, it's a long time. Try it some time. Be still for a half an hour. Say nothing. Don't rustle, don't get up. And if you can pull that off, then try it with a group of your friends. And then imagine all of heaven being silent for a half an hour. That would be tough! It would be thick kind of a silence. And it would be hard for us to do in our present condition.

Henry Newin said, "In this chatty society silence has become a fearful thing. For most, silence creates itchiness, nervousness, many experience silence not as full and rich, but as empty and hollow. For them silence is like a gaping abyss which can swallow them up." But this silence in verse one is a calm before the storm of judgment that is about to fall and there's a hush before the judgment comes. The prophets have spoken about this on many occasions. I'll give you two: Zephaniah chapter 1 tells us "Be silent in the presence of the Lord God for the Day of the Lord is at hand." And Zechariah chapter 2, he wrote, "Be still before the Lord all mankind because He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling." In the seventh seal, as it's opened in verse one, God is being roused from His dwelling. The scroll is unraveled as the seventh seal is broken and the implication is that everybody in heaven can see it. And as they see it, the response is an utter silence. All of the exaltation stops; all of the alleluia's cease; the music is put on pause. No one says a word. It's a silence of awe; it's a silence of dread as they look at this scroll and they see what is coming in the next few chapters. Because although what we're going to read in the next several chapters will be very difficult for people on earth and these people are, their breath is taken away because of it, as well as the angels. They know what will happen afterwards. It's a joyous silence. It's like the day has finally come! This means that the saints will be vindicated, Satan will be destroyed, sin will be done away with, and Jesus Christ will reign forever! There's a good reason to be silent. I think there's been anticipation of that since the fall. All of God's creation had the hunch that one day God's finally going to take it back. And as He's about to do that, silence falls over them.

Verse 2: "And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets." This is like a silent movie. Nobody says anything, there's no noise, but silently seven angels take instruments that make a lot of noise. Trumpets. They're about to blow them. notice it says, "the seven angels," there's a definite article there which would indicate that they are special angels. Not just seven from the group of millions and billions came forward but the seven angels. Theologians call these the presence angels. That probably they have some rank or position that is different from others. You might say well that's kind of odd. It shouldn't take you off guard, for Paul even said in the New Testament there are rankings of angels. Some are called principalities, others are called powers, some are called rulers, others are entitled dominions. We have archangels in the Bible. In the Old Testament there are cherubim as opposed to seraphim. There are all these ranking of angels. And these are seven angels. The seven angels. And perhaps a text out of the Gospel of Luke helps us identify maybe one of them. Luke chapter 1, the angel comes to the couple and says, I am Gabriel who stands in the presence, the same word is used, of God. They take these seven trumpets; they're about to sound them and in verse 7 the first angel sounded and in verse 10 the third angel sounded, that is the trumpet, they blew the trumpet. Twelve, the fourth angel sounded, chapter 9 verse 1, the fifth angel sounded these trumpets.

Now John, who is seeing this vision, is a Jew. And he would've been familiar with the trumpet from Israel's history. The trumpet, I found out this week, was the most significant of all the musical instruments of Israel. It's used more in the Bible than anything else. Twice as many times as a harp is used and it played a role in the meetings of Israel. Numbers chapter 10 it was to be used to call people together. They didn't have a radio; they didn't have a PA system. They would sound the trumpet and a certain sound would convocate people. Another blast of the trumpet would mean declare war. Another sound of the trumpet could mean special times, festivals. Now what happened at Mount Sinai when the Law was given? A trumpet was sounded. And at Jericho when they marched and attacked and leveled the city, trumpets were sounded. In 1 Kings trumpets were blown when a king was exalted and inaugurated and to be anointed. In Revelation chapter 1, John has already heard the voice of Jesus that sounds like a trumpet. It was the voice of that trumpet that called him heavenward in chapter 4. I heard the voice of a trumpet speaking with me saying come up here. And many see that as emblematic of the rapture of the church. As we have also discussed, Paul the apostle said in Thessalonians, the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of the archangel, and with a trumpet of God. Here John hears seven trumpets and it's not just, let's have a festival, let's have a party, let's have a rapture. These are seven trumpets that are ominous in their sound because they sound judgment. Some have even suggested in these two verses that this silence for a half an hour, before the trumpets sound, is God's final half an hour of grace. It is His final chance. I'm about to judge, but just wait, just another moment, a half an hour. You see, God is never in a hurry to judge. Please do not picture God as standing up in heaven wringing His hands; He just can't wait to get you. That is such a wrong view. It's a non-biblical view of God. One of God's main attributes is that He is longsuffering. That's how you ought to say that word. Because it denotes that He is not anxious to judge but He is very patient and He'll put up with lots of stuff. He is not willing that any should perish. The prophet said, the Lord takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

There's a famous story about one of Britain's most infamous atheists named Robert Ingersoll who loved to, for shock value, blaspheme God at public meetings. And in one meeting at which he spoke, he uttered blasphemy after blasphemy to the crowd and then he said, 'There is no God. If there is, let Him strike me dead and I'll give Him five minutes to do it.' Opened up his stopwatch. Talk about silence; talk about a thick silence. As people listened to those seconds ticking by. At the end of five minutes he said, 'There is no God. I am not dead.' He did it for shock. After the meeting one young college student thought that was pretty cool and said, Dr. Ingersoll really proved something tonight, didn't he? And one Christian lady said, He sure did. He proved that even the most defiant sinner cannot exhaust the patience of God in five minutes. Big whoop. God has waited for thousands of years, issuing warning after warning to a world that never wanted to hear the gospel preached ever since Jesus came into it and convicted it of sin. And now He will respond.

Beginning in verse 3, I've called this cries before the throne, that is the prayers of God's people are answered. "Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand." Remember back in the tabernacle, which was a model of what we're reading about here, there were two altars. In the outer court was a brass altar, that's where animals were killed, the sacrifices were burned. Then there was a golden altar, much smaller, in the holy place in front of the veil of the Holy of Holies. The priest would take a coal from the altar of sacrifice, put it in a little incense burner, a censer that had a little bowl attached to a rope or a chain, and he would walk from the outer court into the holy place where there was the altar of incense, put the coal on that altar, sprinkle incense on it, and the incense would rise up as a sweet aroma into the nostrils of God, as it were, a picture of the prayers of God's people. David used this idiom, "Let my prayer come before You as the offering and sweetness of incense." And here it says it's mixed with the prayers of all the saints. By the way, this is exactly what Zacharias was doing in the Gospel of Luke when the angel came and tapped him on the shoulder and said, guess what, your wife Elizabeth is pregnant. She's going to have a little kid named John. And she was an old lady and he was an old man and he didn't believe it. He was offering incense at this altar.

Notice it says that they are the prayers of all the saints. All of the prayers past and present are wrapped up and are symbolized here in this action. God is answering the prayers of His children. There is a Newsweek article, a whole story, entitled Talking to God, a few years ago, written by Newsweek, and they looked at how Americans pray or don't pray. And in the article he said most Americans who pray believe that at least some of their prayers have been answered. And he quoted somebody who said, 'At times I'm overwhelmed with energy and overflowing love and at other times my prayers seem to be a big failure.' Now we've all felt that but here's the truth. There's no prayer uttered by a child of God that is not kept, remembered, kept track of, answered. It's not like God said, where did I put that prayer? It's around here somewhere. I've got such a messy desk. You know a lot of prayers come in. He's got track of all of them. no prayer is ever lost and if you are a child of God, He answers your prayers. If you're walking in fellowship with Him and obeying Him, He answers all your prayers. You're saying wait a minute, I take issue right there. There have been a lot of things I've prayed for and it hasn't happened. That's right. He said no. That's an answer. And it's an answer in mercy, by the way. There are four basic answers you can get to prayer. Number one is no, not yet. We hate that one because it means we have to wait and we don't like that. You know, we can go to McDonald's or somewhere else and get an instant burger, why not an instant thing from God? But sometimes God will say no, not yet. Sometimes God will say, no, I love you too much so you can't have it. Parents know what that's like. Your kids ask for a lot of things they shouldn't have. Number three God will say, yes, and I thought you'd never ask. The Bible says we have not because we ask not. Then the fourth answer would be yes, and here's much more than you've asked because He does exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think. Those are the possible answers. But what are these prayers specifically and how does God answer them?

Look at verses 5 and 6. We get the hint: "Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar," this is now the altar of incense, the incense has been embedded in the coals and it's mixed together and it's burning heavenward, "filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound." On the Day of Atonement, it was the high priest who took the coal, put it in the censer, walked inside the holy place, put the coal on the altar, put incense on it. He had blood from the altar in one hand and then he took his censer, once the incense had burned, and walked in with the fire burning incense and the blood and presented them before the Lord so that God would atone for the sins of His people. Sin was judged there. Here's a twist. Instead of walking into the throne, the censer is hurled to the earth for judgment and there are lightnings and thunderings and a great earthquake. In other words, the final judgment on the earth is a direct response to the prayers of God's people. Jesus taught us to pray, when you pray, pray like this: say Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We're waiting for that. As I look around I don't see God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven. I don't see His kingdom come. But one day that prayer will be answered and here, that prayer is answered. That's why there's rapt silence for a half an hour. He's gonna do it! He's gonna judge this earth and take over and vindicate the saints and eradicate sin and wipe out Satan and exalt Jesus Christ! And so there's silence and it is a response to the prayers. You don't think prayer is powerful? Think about these verses. So many times people will say, what good does praying do? I pray and nothing seems to happen. In the book of Job it was asked, who is the Almighty that we should serve Him and what profit do we have if we pray to Him? A lot of people have asked that. What good is it? Jesus said men ought always to pray and what? Not to faint, not to give up. But to keep doing it and not stop.

I think that what we are seeing is what Paul spoke about in 2 Thessalonians. This is what he said: 'Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.' The saints have been praying, how long, O Lord? He said, wait. And now the prayer is being answered. When I was a kid, I'm the youngest of four boys, which had some disadvantages. Like I was the butler and the maid and I made the beds under duress of tribulation. They would beat me up. That's just what boys do. And it did have some advantages, though. I would get it from them at home but when I was out in public, like at school, they'd stick up for me. There was like a twist of tables. I remember being at school and people would pick on me and I would always look for my brothers. If they were around I could, you know, put my chest out and talk big. My brother Bob who grew up to be 6'8" intimidated most people and so if he was there, I'd go, Bob, come here, and I always felt safe. God will do that for His kids. God will stand at one point in world history and will vindicate His children which brings us to the lesson. Don't mess with a praying Christian. It might not happen right away but God will stand up for those who are His own. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. Give God that space and God will take it. He does it here.

Remember Paul who was at first Saul of Tarsus running toward Damascus to persecute Christians, gets knocked off his beast and Jesus said to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? He was astonished. Who are You, Lord? I'm after them, not you. No, you hurt them, you've touched Me. You mess with My people, you mess with Me. Have you ever hit your thumb with a hammer? I hope not. But if you have, let me ask you this question: where do you hurt? Answer: everywhere! Right? The pain shoots up the nerves, your head explodes. When you hurt one of the members of the body of Christ, the Head of the church, Jesus Christ is affected. And one day, though He is patient and longsuffering, He will intervene as He does. Let's see how He does it. Look at the catastrophes before the end beginning in verse 7 and we're going to look at four trumpet judgments this morning. The first four are natural, the second two are supernatural. Natural meaning it deals with nature. Green things, the sea, the springs of water, the heavenly bodies and the fifth and the sixth are more profound, they deal with supernatural things as demon forces are unleashed. We'll get to that next time. By the way, I've just got to underscore we are approaching this book literally, like we do the rest of the Scripture, because as I read it that's how Jesus interpreted the Scripture. Even the Scriptures of judgment which interface with what we're reading. There's no reason to say, well, what this really means, there's political upheaval or social upheaval. It's real judgment that will come upon the earth. And first it will come on the earth specifically, verse 7: "The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up." Joel also promised this. He looked at the Day of the Lord, which is where we're at, the tribulation, and he said, "I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, says the Lord. Blood and fire and pillars of smoke."

How did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? With fire from the sky. What about the plagues of Egypt? One of them was hail falling from the sky that destroyed Egypt. We don't know exactly what this is, it's hard to know. But it could be related to verse 5 where it says, there's thundering, lightning, and an earthquake. This is the second mention of a great earthquake. There could be such a severe shaking from the earthquake that the chain reaction would be volcanic eruptions on a worldwide scale that would spew their lava all over the place. Dr. Henry Morris, a scientist from San Diego, California, wrote, "It is possible that a worldwide volcanic explosion would be a normal consequence of a worldwide violent earthquake. The masses of water vapor blown skyward might well condense in the intense updraft as hailstones and showers of burning lava might well be cast upon the earth. The blood of entrapped men and animals might be mingled with them, or possibly showers of liquid water drops might be so contaminated with dust and gasses as to appear blood-red." This could be raining asteroids as well. We don't know what they are. Scientists have always feared this. There's a whole group called Catastrophists who believe in imminent catastrophe and have seen it throughout history and you can look at it on the internet, a group of scientists that discuss these possibilities. The target, notice, is green vegetation: trees and grass. You say, well that's why I landscape with rocks. Yeah, but, it'll affect more than your yard. Imagine what this will do to upset the balance of nature. Trees and the word trees, Dendron, often refers to fruit trees in the Bible. There will be a devastation of pasturelands which would affect livestock, a devastation of farming lands which would affect grains and vegetables and fruit, and which will all, in turn, bring up the cost of housing, the lumber costs of course will go skyrocketing because lumber production will be down, loss of wood for construction, there will be basically a global scorching. God will trash the ecology.

Would you turn with me to Romans chapter 1? I think we need to look at this before we go on because I think that what we are reading is a very suitable judgment for mankind. In Romans 1 verse 18, Paul begins: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." Verse 19: "Because what may be known of God is manifest in them for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made even His eternal power and Godhead so they are without excuse because although they knew God they did not glorify Him as God nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, their foolish hearts were darkened, professing to be wise they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man and birds and four-footed animals creeping things. Therefore God gave them up to uncleanness in the lusts of their hearts to dishonor their bodies among themselves who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forevermore." Man should've been able to look at his environment and say, there is a God and God is to be worshiped and thanked. But rather than that, they took God's creation and started worshiping God's creation. The creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forevermore.

Man worships Mother Nature. I've seen the bumper stickers: love your Mother, with a picture of the earth on it. Earth Day drew thousands of worshipers as they worshiped their earth god--it's our only hope, the earth! There is an environmental atheism. I'm not down on being friendly to the environment at all but there is this sense that this is our god, this is our hope, God is nature and nature is God, this pantheism, this atheism that exists. And God will judge their god. Listen. If you think we've trashed the planet, wait'll God gets a hold of it. You say, how dare He. It's His--He made it. And He made mankind. And these are His rules. Later on we'll read about the sun scorching men. It seems like the ozone will depleted later on during the last months of the tribulation and God will get involved in global warming, as we'll read about it. Let's go back to Revelation 8. The beginning has sounded, the second trumpet is about to sound. Verse 8: "Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed."

Now it doesn't say an actual mountain falls, but something that is like a mountain. These judgments seem to be precise. A third, a third, a third. Remember the smart bombs in the Gulf War? People prided themselves in being able to get inches from the target. Well God is privy to such technology. God can isolate and judge in various sections and be very precise. The sea is affected here; the salt water is the idea, the oceans. And the ships. I looked up this week on the net, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce there are 25,364 merchant ships that are on the seas right now. Imagine over 8,000 of them being destroyed. It seems that some asteroid or piece of a star enters the atmosphere, this continent-like asteroid, which has happened in past history on the earth, and as it goes through the atmosphere, it's combined with combustible gasses. As it falls to the earth, it ignites like a big, flaming ball and I imagine that the earth will be able to see this thing with the sophisticated equipment and the satellites and they'll be able to track it and there will be speculation on the earth: will it hit the earth or will it not? It will be front line news every night of the week until it gets closer and closer and then the question will be where will it hit and it will hit and it hits the seas and so much of the life there is destroyed. Now I love the ocean. I used to live by the ocean. I used to get up every morning, get my surfboard, my wetsuit, and head out to the ocean. And it was a very spiritual experience. Not that I worshiped the ocean, I worshiped the God who made the ocean. But I surfed with people who worshiped the ocean. I mean, they thought the ocean is the hope of mankind. It is the Mother Ocean. They worshiped and they still, many of them, worship the ocean. And a third of the ocean creatures will die and this, of course, will upset the fishing industries, seafood production, I'm sure the Save the Whale people will freak out very heartedly at this one, the people in Malibu will be devastated, those who recently voted that dolphins have equal citizenship in Malibu with human beings, they worship the creation rather than the Creator.

In Hosea chapter 4 we read this: "Therefore the land will mourn and everyone who dwells there will waste away with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea will be taken away." Zephaniah also predicted it, chapter 1 verse 3: "I will sweep away both men and animals. I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea." Now in the next trumpet, judgment moves inland. In verse 10: "Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter." The first trumpet, hail falls from the sky, and the second trumpet, a continent-like massive rock falls from the sky. In the third there is like an ignited star that is falling. Apparently it penetrates the atmosphere. It disintegrates, perhaps, and spreads over the whole earth like a chemical warfare kind of a thing, touching the fresh springs of water. The Greek word here is Asteros, where we get the word asteroid from. Could be the idea. We don't know exactly what it is. You say boy I wish there were more details. I think we have enough. We get the idea. Suffice it to say as Jesus looked at this time He said there will be fearful sights and great signs from the heavens. That's what Jesus said about this time coming. The National Geographic Society lists 100 principal rivers in the world. The longest being the Amazon, over 4,000 miles long, the longest in America, of course, the Mississippi at 3,710 miles, and it categorizes all of the springs of fresh water and the rivers of water and the waterways. And a third of them will be affected by something called Wormwood. It's odd that you'd name a star Wormwood. I would simply say God made every star and He's got names for all of them. They're probably not the names we've chosen with the horoscope and with the stars throughout the years but God has, He knows what they are.

Wormwood means bitter, simply. Wormwood was a plant that grew that has a root that exudes a dark green oil and the word here is absinthos, where we get the term absinthe, which is a liqueur, very strong liqueur, and it's favored by many around the world as an after-dinner drink. But the word means undrinkable, or poisonous. The idea is that what we use to survive, fresh water, will be extinct in many parts. Now verse 12 judgment comes to the skies: "Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. And a third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night." Now attention is taken from the earth and man's vision is skyward. I imagine there will be such pandemonium on earth as we look at the ecology being so destroyed by these disasters. One after the other, I'm sure people will be getting together for meetings, town meetings, ecological conventions, and just when they think they've gotten a handle on what to do with the earth--then the sky goes. And the sun is affected, the moon is affected, the stars are affected and it seems like all of these bodies are eclipsed. We don't know, again, what this is, some speculate that this is very descriptive of what scientists call nuclear winter. Depending on where you stand in the scientific community, there's a push by so many to take the weapons of mass destruction from the world because of the possibility if we use them. Parade Magazine in February of 1990 had an article Too Many Weapons in the World and what would happen if they were unleashed. Here's part of the article: "Nuclear winter would be the delayed result. Chiefly from clouds of fine, sooty particles injected into our atmosphere especially from the burning of cities and petroleum facilities, it would entail widespread cold and dark. Poisonous gasses would be released from burnings of cities and chemical plants, radioactivity slowly falling out of the atmosphere, and later on an increase in the dangerous ultraviolet light at the surface of the earth penetrating the war-breached protective ozone layer. The high altitude soot would prevent warming sunlight from reaching the ground. It would diminish the greenhouse effect which is what keeps the temperature of the earth above freezing in the first place. Smoke plumes and firestorms rising above hundreds or thousands of targets throughout the northern mid-latitudes spreading first in longitude, then in latitude, would cause the temperature to plummet. Eventually over much of the earth a temperature drop of only a few degrees during the growing season that is enough to cause massive crop failures with no food people starve."

I don't know what this is but I know that light will be diminished and we can only imagine the temperature going down. As the temperature going down that is part of the judgment as pandemonium would definitely be the course of the day. This is what Jesus said, Luke 21. He sums it all up here by this statement. Looking forward to this time of tribulation, Jesus Christ said, "There will be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars. On earth nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and the tossing of the sea," as this thing we read about crashes into the sea and the tsunamis that develop because of it and life is destroyed. "Men will faint from terror apprehensive of what is coming upon the world for the heavenly bodies will be shaken." That's what He said and this is what we read. And the last verse, verse 13: "And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!" Those woes do not refer to what has already happened, that we've read about. It's what's about to come. As if to say, you haven't seen anything yet. If you think its bad now just wait. The three woes are coming.

That sounds grim. All of this because the world has pushed away, rejected the gospel for so long and God has been so patient and one day God will not be. And no matter how man would judge God and say it's unfair, God will intervene this way. Up in San Jose, California there's an interesting house called the Winchester Mystery House. I saw it when I lived there. It's an odd house because there are stairways going nowhere and there are doors that lead to nothing and it's just a rambling house. The story is of Sarah Winchester who was married to the guy who started the Winchester Rifle, he was the magnet of that whole gun thing and she inherited all his money when he died in 1918 from influenza. She moved to San Jose, California, was a spiritist involved in other spiritism with mediums and so forth and at a séance, it was conveyed to her that if she would build a house as long as she continued to build the house, she'd never die. Fearing death she went to work. She spent five million dollars back then when the wage was fifty cents an hour for a guy building a house and she built this huge house that has 150 rooms, 13 bathrooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows. And then when she died, which she did, she left enough materials to go for another 80 years of building. What a picture of mankind on the earth. Earth, earth, my environment, my house. This is my kingdom, this is my heaven, this is my hell. Oh no it's not. Oh no it's not. And no matter how you build and put all your stock here in now, that Winchester Mystery House is no mystery. She died. And we will all leave this earth. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away," and if all of your hope is in this earth, in this kingdom, in this house, what a sad day that will be. All of this, no doubt, was written as a warning for people on earth to wake up and give their lives to Christ. He's the center of this book; He's the hope of it.

Additional Messages in this Series

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6/9/1996
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Good News from a Bad Place
Revelation 1:1-8
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6/16/1996
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Catapulted into the Future
Revelation 1:9-20
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6/23/1996
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When Love Grows Cold
Revelation 2:1-7
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6/30/1996
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Postcard to Those in Pain
Revelation 2:8-11
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7/7/1996
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The Curse of Compromise
Revelation 2:12-17
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7/14/1996
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Corruption without Discernment
Revelation 2:18-29
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7/21/1996
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Church of the Living Dead
Revelation 3:1-6
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7/28/1996
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Body Building - God's Way
Revelation 3:7-13
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The human body has become the obsession of our modern culture. Much like the ancient Greeks, people are madly trying to fit the contemporary ideal of what is an acceptable shape and size. The church is metaphorically called the "Body of Christ" and His desire is to see it built up spiritually. The church of Philadelphia is a good model of a healthy, faithful church. Their example provides for us a template to follow in building up the Body - God's Way!
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8/19/1996
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Taking Your Spiritual Temperature
Revelation 3:14-22
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Ever since we were kids our moms stuck thermometers in our mouths whenever she suspected that we were sick. If our body temperature of 98.6 had climbed up just a few notches, it was always a good indication that an unhealthy condition was present. There is also a spiritual temperature that reveals the condition of our souls, and when the thermometer reads Lukewarm it indicates that something is wrong; it indicates the presence of danger. Let's see how Jesus, the Great Physician, treats his patient with this malady.
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8/25/1996
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Peeking into the Portals of Heaven
Revelation 4
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9/1/1996
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History's Greatest Real Estate Deal
Revelation 5:1-7
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9/8/1996
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Worship His Majesty - Part 1
Revelation 5:8-10
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In heaven there won’t be just three services in the morning and one at night with a midweek tacked on. There will be no need to be sensitive to time so we can go to lunch. Words will not have to be printed nor projected. Worship leaders will have no need prompting people to sing. It will be an all-consuming experience that will involve our total cooperation and enthusiasm.
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9/15/1996
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Worship His Majesty - Part 2
Revelation 5:11-14
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9/29/1996
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Four Riders with Bad News
Revelation 6:1-8
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10/6/1996
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The Cries of Heaven and Earth
Revelation 6:9-17
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10/13/1996
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A Blessed Interruption in a Tough Time
Revelation 7
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10/27/1996
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When All Hell Breaks Loose
Revelation 9:1-12
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11/3/1996
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Angels of Mass Destruction
Revelation 9:13-21
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11/10/1996
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A Big Angel with a Little Book
Revelation 10
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11/17/1996
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Two Powerful Preachers
Revelation 11:1-14
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11/24/1996
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Light at the End of the Tunnel
Revelation 11:15-19
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12/1/1996
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The Panorama of Spiritual Warfare - Part 1
Revelation 12:1-6
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12/8/1996
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The Panorama of Spiritual Warfare - Part 2
Revelation 12:7-17
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There aren't many people who like to fight. Confrontation is something most would like to avoid. But in the spiritual realm it's unavoidable. The question isn't, "Will I engage in spiritual warfare?" Rather, the question is, "How well will I fight?" As we saw last week, the war in the heavens makes its way to the theater of the earth. Let's see what else it entails.
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12/15/1996
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The Coming Global Leader
Revelation 13:1-10
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12/22/1996
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Evil's Right-Hand-Man
Revelation 13:11-18
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12/29/1996
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The Lamb Who Shepherds His People
Revelation 14:1-5
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After all that john has seen in his apocalyptic vision, seeing the docility of a lamb standing with his overcoming sheep is a welcomed sight. Although the dragon pursues god's people relentlessly, although the beasts are bent on ruling the earth, the ultimate winner will be the lamb and his followers.
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1/5/1997
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Angels Set The Record Straight
Revelation 14:6-13
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1/12/1997
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It's Harvest Time!
Revelation 14:14-20
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One of the most common ways to make a living in ancient times was to "work the land." The early rains of October/November and the soft latter rains produced the wheat and barley harvest later on. Also, when vintage season began, almost the whole village could be found in the fields harvesting the crop. Such images would also provide a poignant way of depicting the final judgment of the earth, as in this section.
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1/17/1997
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Getting Ready for the Grand Finale
Revelation 15:1-8
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1/26/1997
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What's in the Bowl? - Part 1
Revelation 16:1-11
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We now come to the "seven last plagues" of God in the Great Tribulation that is coming upon planet earth. These judgments come in the form of "bowls" being poured out swiftly and completely-the judgment will be swift and thorough. Yet through all the mercy as Well as wrath of this awesome era, people will persist in having a hardened heart. Open your heart 'right now to these truths.
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2/2/1997
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What's in the Bowl? - Part 2
Revelation 16:12-21
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What will the end of the world be like? What are the final events just before Jesus returns and takes over to set up His millennial reign? That's what this section tells us. There will be increased warfare activity in the Middle East, massive deception, and unheard of destructive cataclysms on earth. In the midst of foretelling these events, Jesus has a word of encouragement.
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2/9/1997
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The Coming World Religion
Revelation 17
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It was Karl Marx who stated, no doubt cynically, that religion was the opiate of the masses. The fact is, he was right-it is! People are driven to worship something or someone. This desire will be exploited to the hilt in the Tribulation period and will be under the umbrella of the world dictator-the Antichrist. What are its roots and how does it end?
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2/16/1997
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Get out of Babylon!
Revelation 18
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Someone once said, "Money can't buy you friends but your enemies treat you a little better." Though meant to be tongue-in­cheek, that won't happen when the entire world economy collapses. God's shakedown of the earth will include everything that the Antichrist's kingdom will embody, from the sacred to the secular.
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3/2/1997
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Marriage Made in Heaven
Revelation 19:1-10
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3/9/1997
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The Return of Jesus Christ - Part 1
Revelation 19
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Even in the dome of our capitol in Washington there is an inscription which seems to point to the return of Jesus Christ. It says: "One far-off divine event toward which the whole creation moves." It is that event which we will be studying in the next two weeks. This is what all Christians of all ages have looked forward to - His return and reign of His creation.
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3/16/1997
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The Return of Jesus Christ - Part 2
Revelation 19
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Even in the dome of the capitol in Washington there is an inscription which seems to point to the return of Jesus Christ. It says: "one far-off divine event toward which the whole creation moves." it is that event, that Christians of all ages have looked forward to-his return and reign of his creation. We will conclude our study of the return of Jesus Christ, today.
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4/6/1997
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Paradise Regained
Revelation 20:1-3
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4/13/1997
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The Devil's Last Stand
Revelation 20:1-10
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A typical question is, "Will evil ever get its reward?" What ever happened to ethics and justice? Well, we see here that God will not turn His back on this issue. He will deal with the source of all evil (the devil himself) and then judge those who revel in it. This section gives tremendous hope to anyone concerned about injustice in our world.
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4/20/1997
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Life, Death, and Resurrection
Revelation 20:5-6; 20:11-15
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5/4/1997
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All Things New - Part 1
Revelation 21:1-3
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5/11/1997
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All Things New - Part 2
Revelation 21:4-8
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"It's like nothing you've ever seen or experienced before." That's how John describes the emotional experience of heaven. So that we can relate, he tells us that all of the pain, sorrow, and moaning we've endured here won't be there. By the way, only those who want to go there will go there. Heaven is not a destination by default, reservations are made here and now!
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5/18/1997
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The City of the Future
Revelation 21:9-22:5
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There is no architect or builder like God himself. Even the patriarch Abraham "was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Heb. 11:10) he didn't find it in his lifetime. "You won't find you're "happily ever after" here either, but the New Jerusalem will be God's answer for man's longing to live in a perpetually peaceful stare.
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5/25/1997
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He's Coming - Now What!?
Revelation 22:6-21
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There are 43 additional messages in this series.