The Fourth Trumpet

FOURTH TRUMPETThe fourth angel sounded his trumpet, 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 turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night. As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!” (Revelation 8:12-18)

Third of Sun, Moon and Stars Turn Dark – At the sound of the fourth trumpet the light of the sky was reduced by 1/3rd. Again, the best interpretation may be a literal one,(1) as it is not too big of a leap to see how the judgments of the first three trumpets could
result in the darkness prophesied in the fourth trumpet judgment. This judgment echoes the ninth plague in Exodus 10:22–23. Many ancient texts speak of darkness as a dreaded judgment, and the Old Testament and some other Jewish texts also associate it with the end time.(2) It is interesting to note that God brought the heavenly bodies into being on the fourth day of Creation. When the fourth trumpet sounds, He will darken them.(3)

The judgments from the first three trumpets affected only 1/3rd of the land and waters. This fourth judgment affects the entire world, because it gets to the very source of the earth’s life and energy, the sun. With 1/3rd less sunlight on the earth, there will be 1/3rd less energy available to support the life systems of man and nature. This judgment parallels the ninth plague in Egypt (Exodus 10:21–23), which lasted three days. Consider the vast changes in temperatures that will occur and how these will affect human health and food growth.(4) It is also easy to imagine the sin, crime, and terror (“Everyone practicing evil hates the light,” John 3:19–20) that might rule the streets when darkness comes early in the day, and when that night is darker than ever. This crime wave could be one such as humanity has never seen before,(5) perhaps rivaling the “days of Noah” when “every inclination, was only evil, all the time.”

Three Woes – The Greek word that is translated as eagle might be more accurately translated as vulture. This would make sense as carrion birds would likely be present due to the widespread death that follows these first four judgments. See also Hosea 8:1. The repetition of the word woe three times corresponds to the three remaining trumpet judgments (the fifth through seventh trumpets). The repetition of the word woe also underscores the distress, pain, suffering, and displeasure of the next three trumpets.(6) As difficult as it may be to comprehend, the next three trumpets will be more severe and devastating than those which precede them.(7)

The phrase “inhabitants of the earth” (or “them that dwell on the earth”) is found twelve times in Revelation (3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10 [twice]; 12:12; 13:8, 12, 14; 14:6; 17:2, 8). It is not necessarily a reference to all the people who live on the earth, but rather to a specific kind of people: those who live for the things of the earth. These are just the opposite of people who have their citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:18–21). John described the worldly (“anyone who loves the world”) in his first epistle (1 John 2:15–17 – “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”). Later in Revelation he again makes it clear that “earth-dwellers” are those who have not been born again (Revelation 13:8).(8)

Up Next – The Fifth Trumpet

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References

  1. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 952). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 8:12). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 820). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 594). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 820). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  6. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 8:13). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  7. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 952). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 594). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

 

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