Today’s read takes us further into the time of Tribulation (8:7-13:18). The scroll that God holds in His hand contains seven seal judgments, seven trumpet judgments, and seven bowl judgments. There’s also mention of seven thunders, but God does not allow John to record what these are.
Numbers are a significant theme in this book of prophecy, and Bible scholars throughout the ages have had a “field day” interpreting them! Your head will swim if you dive deep enough in the abundance of theories. I love reading and studying about things like that, but at the end of the day, we need to walk away from scripture with something tangible that we can hold onto in difficult times, and be okay with leaving some mysteries unsolved because we trust the Author of the story.
The first six trumpet judgments include hail and fire mixed with blood that showers the earth, the seas turned to blood, the rivers and springs turned bitter, the sun, moon, and stars losing 1/3 of their light (that throws a monkey wrench in global warming!), locust-like creatures set loose to torment those who “did not have the seal of God on their foreheads,” and 200 million horse-and-rider-like creatures that torments with fire, smoke and sulfur from their mouths.
You would think these judgments would be enough for humanity to bow their hearts and knees in submission at the power of God, but it only serves to harden their hearts. Those who are not killed do not repent but continue worshiping demons, and idols made of metal. Murder, sorcery, sexual immorality and theft are rampant. During this time of God’s judgment, the world will literally be falling apart, but men and women will still refuse to recognize and acknowledge God.
Just before the seventh trumpet sounds, an angel makes a proclamation: “In the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as He announced to His servants the prophets.” (10:7) What is this mystery? According to Ephesians 3:9 and Colossians 1:7, the gospel was the mystery – Christ in us, the hope of glory – the formation of the Jews & Gentiles into one body. We know that until our flesh is redeemed, our salvation is not yet complete. We have immortality, the transformation of our bodies into a glorified state, yet to look forward to.
Just as food for thought…what if this 7th trumpet is indeed “the last trumpet” in 1 Corinthians 15:52? This would mean the rapture of the saints takes place sometime during the Tribulation, just before the final bowl judgments are poured out.
So many things to think about in this book! So, what do we walk away with today? What do we hold on to? While Bible scholars disagree on a lot of things about the timeline of Revelation, one thing is almost universally agreed upon. There are no more prophecies to be fulfilled before it begins. It is entirely possible that these events could be fulfilled in our generation. In your lifetime. Do we face this possibility with fear, with anticipation, or with apathy? The mysteries of Revelation have one over-riding message: “Be ready.” Ready to meet Jesus, whenever He comes. Ready to stand faithful, even in the face of death.
“This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.” (13:10b)