The Angel at the Altar
Chapter 8 introduces the Seven Trumpets. Christ is the angel that stands at the altar of prayers of the saints. He is the incense added so that their prayers may be found acceptable to God. The smoke rising in verse 4 signifies that the prayers of the saints become effective. Their prayers are answered for judgment on the earth which is signified by the fire, thunder, voices, lightening, and earthquake. The fire is not literal fire; God, throughout Revelation, lets us know that his judgment is represented by fire. It is fire because eternal punishment is being cast into the Lake of Fire. The first four trumpets are not judgment directly on man yet but rather a warning to repent through destruction of things vital to man’s survival.
The First Four Trumpets
During the first trumpet, the third part of the earth probably refers to the most evil and sinful regions. Fire and hail falling upon these regions is a supernatural calamity. It’s an unusual combination but God, in his power, will allow for it to happen. 1/3 of the earth will be destroyed by fire. During the second trumpet another third of a creation of God is destroyed. This time it is the sea, and 1/3 of the creatures and ships of the sea. Some people speculate that the “huge mountain, all ablaze” is a meteorite or asteroid. The third trumpet destroys another 1/3 of something created by God. This time it’s the springs and rivers. Jeremiah 9:15 tells us that men will drink poisoned water, provided by God. Right now, even those who don’t abide in God enjoy his Creation. But, during the third trumpet, they will no longer be able to enjoy it. It’s His vengeance against man, destroying something that is so crucial to human life. The fourth trumpet will cause darkness to overwhelm most of the day and a 1/3 of the earth.
The Fifth and Sixth Trumpets
The last three trumpets, the three woes, will occur during the last half of the Tribulation which is 3 ½ years, 42 months (Revelation 11:2, 13:5), or twelve hundred and sixty days (Revelation 11:3, 12:6).
Chapter 9 is the fifth and sixth trumpets. The star in verse 1 that fell to the earth is Satan. The angels are likened to stars and Satan was the Daystar (Isaiah 14:12). He is given authority over the dwelling place of demons. The locusts in verse 3 are not like those in Exodus but rather these have tails like scorpions and bring harm to men (9:10) and they are demon-possessed. Only the Israelites who have the seal of God will not be harmed by these locusts. Mankind will be made to suffer, not die for verse 6 says:
“And in those days men will seek death and shall by no means find it;
and they will long to die, and death flees from them.”
The angel of the abyss mentioned in verse 11 is the Antichrist. The Hebrew word Abaddon means destruction and the Greek work Apollyon means destroy. In verse 13, during the sixth trumpet, the golden altar is the incense altar that the blood of redemption was put on (Exodus 30:10). This verse indicates that God’s judgment is based on the redemption of Christ because men do not believe in His redemption. The four angels that are released will kill men first for one hour then one day, then one month, and then finally one year. The two hundred million horsemen in verse 16 will join the battle at Armageddon. The horses and their riders in verse 17 bear fire and hyacinth and brimstone to kill people and cast them into the lake of fire. These horsemen are more powerful than the locusts with the tails of scorpions. These horsemen kill men, not just torment them. These woes upon men were meant to bring them to repentance, but there are still men who refuse to repent even after these traumatic events.