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The Trumpets January 16, 2016

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Revelation 8:6-9:21.

Summary: In this passage, John initially observes four angels blowing the trumpets that they have received; these trumpet blasts herald the partial destruction of the land, salt water, fresh water and the atmosphere. An eagle then declares that greater troubles will ensue after each of the three final trumpet blasts. The fifth and sixth angels blow the trumpets that they have received; these trumpet blasts herald the torture and death of part of the mass of unbelievers. The remaining unbelievers, though, refuse to repent of their sins.

Thoughts: This passage is replete with imagery – presenting a challenge for Bible commentators through the ages. The pastor at my old church chose to focus on “authorial intent,” enabling him to formulate the following interpretation:

The Roman empire was a superpower, but faced ever-present danger from two directions. To the north were the shadowy and fearsome germanic [sic] tribes (Goths), who eventually, in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD overran Athens and Rome, and the rest of the Roman empire. To the east, across the Euphrates River, were the Parthians, with whom Rome waged war for three hundred years, from 66 BCE to 217 AD.

The first woe brings an invasion of Goths to torment the Roman empire for a brief time (stipulated as five months). The second brings a horde of Parthians, a battle force of 200 million to kill 1/3 of the Romans.

It is unclear as to whether this is the correct interpretation of this passage; I am certain that other commentators would be able to formulate alternate explanations. If my former pastor is on the right track, though, then this passage would have been a great encouragement for John’s readers as they faced persecution. They would have been assured that their persecutors would (eventually) be punished for their actions – satisfying their righteous demands for God to display His justice and vindicate them for their righteousness.

This passage concludes on a disappointing note – as the unbelievers whom God spares from destruction refuse to repent of their sins. This spurred me to consider some of the reasons for their lack of repentance:

  • a tiger cannot change its stripes; since these people are inherently sinful, they will continue to sin (unless God chooses to save them)
  • they do not believe that the awful events that they have witnessed are acts of God; instead, they view them as 1) natural disasters and 2) actions of evil people
  • they do not believe that God will ultimately punish them for their sins
  • they believe in the concept of self-determination.

As believers, we know that God – even in the 21st century – hates sin; thus, He will judge those who persist in their sins. This sobering thought should spur us to redouble our efforts in praying for those who persist in their sins. Since they cannot come to repentance by their own efforts, we should pray that God would soften their hearts and enable them to recognize His offer of grace and restoration. Moreover, we should strive to maintain our relationships with those who persist in their sins; perhaps God will work through us to restore unbelievers to a right relationship with Him.

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