KEY TEXT: Revelation 8:6-13 Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing 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 people died from the water, because it had been made bitter. The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night. Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, "Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!"
KEY THOT: The repetition of a "third of" (13x) suggests that the first four trumpets were partial judgments of God. It still gives room for people on earth to repent. The divinely-orchestrated destruction will target Earth's life-sustaining ecosystem: plant and sea-life with their life-support water and light sources. The first four trumpets were sounded in rapid succession, leaving one third of the earth's natural and physical environment in chaos. It is the beginning of the destruction of the old earth that will leave the inhabitants of the earth reeling with fear at what's happening. But the worse is yet to come: "Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on earth the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!" (v.13)
God's judgment has finally come: yet mercy triumphs over judgment. He has left room for the people to turn but apparently the one-third judgment simply hardens their hearts--much like Pharaoh when faced with the ten destructive plagues in Egypt in the days of Moses: "But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said" (Exodus 8:15). Just as the Lord gave Pharaoh time to repent (but he didn't), so will the Lamb give the earth's inhabitants a period to repent as the judgments become more severe and final, leaving less and less room for repentance.
Just as the Israelites were all packed and ready to leave, so the Church should be watching and praying for the sounding of the last trumpet call of God for the rapture to meet Christ. Only those whose households are covered by the Blood of the Lamb will escape this awesome display of God's wrath upon a third of the earth. The Angel of Death will pass over us just as he passed over Israel in the moments before the Exodus. For the Church in the last days, it would not be exodus from Egypt but exodus from Planet Earth as it is finally consumed in a devastating fire: "But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly" (2 Peter 3:7).
But life on earth is going to get worse before it can get better. But the delay is to give time for repentance for those who are still on earth before the final destruction of this earth: "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed" (2 Peter 3:9-10).
We should repent while we still have time. Those who are indulging in the profligate lifestyle should not think that their church attendance will count for anything. Only a life of faith and obedience will allow us to enter into God's protective zone: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'" (Matthew 7:21-23).
Abba-Father, grant us a sense of urgency to get our lives right before You. You have been patient with us and shown mercy even in the midst of judgment. Stir up Your church towards holiness of the crucified life. For Jesus' sake, Amen.