The Seven Trumpets
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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS – STUDY 9
Please look at the questions and discuss the answers. The case histories are designed to let you apply what theoretical knowledge you have gleaned from the study. There are intentionally many more questions and case histories than you can manage in one session but this is designed to cover the many and varied needs of the individuals in the church hence please pick and choose which ones to discuss as long as it gets people sharing and applying the Word to real life situations. Never feel obligated to finish all the questions The answers will be posted on the web the next day.
The silence has dual significance. Firstly silence in the OT is associated with the judgement of God as it is meant to induce an atmosphere of sheer horror in anticipation of what God will do. (Zep 1:7-8 and Isaiah 47:5-6). Secondly , it metaphorically shows the attention God will pay to prayer of the saints which are cast as incense offered to God as a pleasing aroma.
Incense is also a symbol of prayer acceptance..an aroma pleasing to God. The saints prayers have already been accepted because of the Lamb.
Further background data if you require.
In OT and NT incense always associated with sacrifices. It was added to burning sacrifices to make it acceptable to God (Lev 16:11-19) The fragrant odour is metaphorical for what is acceptable to God. Angel brings the prayers of saints in Rev 6: 9 to God as they are agents of divine will it means God has accepted
The prayers that are the burning of the incense refer to the prayers of the 5th seal of the martyrs asking God to act on their behalf their cries for justice.
Judgement happens in answer to the pleas of the saints under the altar in the 5th seal in Rev 6. The judgments are symbolised in lighting , thunder and earth quakes. The trumpets are the judgements God metes out in response to the prayer of his martyrs.
The result of the prayers is God moving to judge the world and these judgements are symbolised by the 7 trumpets. The Ezekiel vision is a vision from heaven that showed judgement from heaven from beneath the wheels of the cherubim or angels where one angel is asked to take burning coals from beneath the wheels and throw them from heaven into the city of Jerusalem as God’s judgement. This is a cosmic depiction of judgement.
The trumpets are use to sound the charge before a battle like in Jericho , where Israel wages a holy war the trumpet sounds to initiate God acting on their behalf as well as the start of God’s judgements.
(In Zep 1:14-15 it heralds the start of God’s judgements hence it is a very appropriate imagery to employ to illustrate God’s actions in judgements)
The seals depict judgement and suffering in terms of the effects on mankind in terms of war, civil unrest and economic collapse leading to death of a portion of people. These are tangible real life depictions felt on the ground where the emphasis is for the seals. The trumpets on the other hand focus on the judgement not from the perspective felt on ground level like the seals but from the heavenly dimension hence the heavy use of the language of cosmic upheaval. This is to keep in line with the imagery of God responding from heaven to the prayer and judgement flashing out of heaven to the earth.
What they both have in common is the effect on mankind. The seals inflict death and starvation and violence on man. The trumpets destroy the environment and famine will result and cause the starvation and death will be the result.
The cosmic events are judgements cast symbolically of devastation to man and his environment. Hence there will not be a whole star falling on the earth. It is judgement language.
The 5th trumpet releases a whole host of demons from hell itself. These demons afflict torture on mankind but do not kill them hence it is mental torture and anguish.
The great plagues of Egypt at the time of the the exodus was a direct challenge to the idol gods of Egypt. The Egyptians believed their gods controlled the forces of nature like Ra the Sun god and Yahweh shut our light for 3 days in the 9th plague to show the Egyptians the impotency of their idols. The trumpets like the great plagues challenge mankind’s reliance on their own idols they worship to let know that reliance on their own gods are useless.
The net effect in vv 20-21 is that Mankind did not repent and this was the same with Pharoah.
The danger is that we are not presenting the true God to non believers and they wind up with a lop sided image of God. A God of love but not of righteousness. A God of forgiveness and not of justice. Hence we would be encouraging idol worship as any description of God that is lopsided
is an idol and a false idol.
A. Judgements show us who God is
There is a useful quotation which states that “The mural of God’s character are painted in the landscape of judgment. If we avoid preaching on judgment then we will hiding God from our people”
Unless we talk about and incorporate the correct understanding of God’s judgement we will not be able to comprehend Gods character. What he means is that unless we understand our own sinfulness and our evil and the consequences of that sin that deserves judgement and death we will not even begin to understand God’s character of love and mercy and grace when He reached out to save us in Christ.
Unless we understand Gods’ power and uncompromising justice in judgement of sin we will not gain any insight nor experience of His majesty and holiness.
B. Judgements point us in the right direction in life.
Judgement shows us that we are on the wrong path and it causes us to correct our paths. Consequences allow us to learn. Human stubbornness and evil require that we only respond when we are shown we are wrong seldom if we are told we are wrong. God’s law tells us the right path and where are are wrong but we often refuse to listen and Gods’ judgements show us we are wrong and nudges us towards the right directions in life and godliness.
Judgement shows us the Futility of idols. We each grapple with our idols of money, power and sex and only when we face judgement over the consequences of our preoccupation with these idols and experience the emptiness that they bring will we decide to move in the opposite direction. Judgement also serves as a warning of worse to come if we do not heed it.
C.Judgements are at the heart of the gospel
The whole reason Jesus came to earth was to glorify God by taking on Himself the judgment we deserve and thus paying for our sins by the sacrifice of His own life.This is the gospel. “God desires that his churches reflect his character. In order to do this we must know who he is. Part of this involves preaching on God’s judgment. If we are allergic to his judgment then we will also be allergic to his glory, for God is glorified, not only through salvation but also judgment.
What happens when we present a gospel which is just about a loving God and we leave out the reality of judgment?
Whenever disaster strikes, it is commonly linked to God’s judgement. Hurricane Katrina was claimed by some Christians to have been God’s punishment for abortion or homosexuality, by a Muslim official as Allah’s punishment for the US’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and by a former Israeli chief rabbi as punishment for President George W. Bush’s support for the dismantlement of Israeli settlements in Gaza.
Well known rugby star Israel Folau in Australia got into trouble when he preached about the recent catastrophic bushfires in Australia that killed 6 people and that they were God’s judgement for the legalisation of same sex marriage and abortion. He said “Look how rapid these bush fires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it’s a coincidence or not? God is speaking to you guys — Australia. You need to repent and take these laws and turn it back into following what is right by God. What you see right now, it’s only a little taste of God’s judgment.”
Others have equated the Covid 19 pandemic to similar moral failings of mankind.
Do you think Israel was right or wrong? To point this out.
Can you discuss any alternative ways in which Christians could have better handled the issue of disasters?
(Daniel : 9:3-5 and Luke 13:2-5)
A great write up on approaching this is in this quotation below
‘God created the world with love and beauty, and humans introduced sin and ugliness. This requires a just response, which theology calls God’s judgment. Injustice demands justice; ask any victim. God’s judgment is how the Bible describes the bringing of justice. The Bible records that this has happened with specific events from time-to-time, but it does not claim that every disaster is the direct act of God. Various theologians have provided justifications for why God allows disasters to continue. The Bible claims that someday this will end and the world will be restored to how it should have been. Meanwhile, living in this imperfect world, God uses suffering and disasters to call people back to himself and to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with him (Micah 6:8).
And when Christians are hit by disasters, their belief that God can bring good from a bad situation should provide hope and resilience. Disasters should cause all of us to reflect deeply on what matters most in life. They remind us that we are not in control in this world, and will all ultimately face death. The Bible rejects the tendency to speculate about disasters as God’s judgment on past behaviour, but instead calls on people to reflect on where we each stand with God.
Christian Theology and Disasters: Where is God in All This? Chapter 3 p 41-42
Dónal P. O’Mathúna in Disasters : Core Concepts and ethical theories by DónalP.O’Mathúna· ViliusDranseika BertGordijn Editors
In general, if we take the view of revelations having a series of recurring judgement cycles we correctly understand that the troubles and tribulations of life are due to the sinfulness of man incurring judgements that are often partial in order to alert us to act quickly to avoid the eternal judgement that is due to everyone who sins.
It will be too judgemental however for us to pick a specific calamity and say that it is happening to this particular set of people simply because of their sins. The first thing unbelievers will react to is the better than thou superiority attitude of believers.
In Daniel 9: 3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.
Daniel approaches the catastrophe of exile humbly coming before God in prayer and fasting and beseeching God for mercy for the corporate sins of his nation. He confesses on behalf of the nation admits complicity in all their wicked deeds.
In Luke 13 :2-5 “2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
The first response of the average person is to place the blame of the specific tragedy on the victims themselves and try to differentiate the victims from themselves as they must have been particularly evil to have merited such a horrendously painful mode of death. This is self justification. Jesus will have none of that and states that all tragedies are reminders to everyone that they are all sinners and deserve death and eternal separation. The correct response is not to point fingers but to humbly acknowledge our helplessness and humbly repent.
Hence when we take both these passages as well as Revelations 9 in consideration, we conclude that life’s tragedies including our environmental pain are precursors to the final judgements and remind us that our reliance on life’s idols of wealth, power and self indulgence are ultimately the wrong things to base our existence upon.
We should express our solidarity with our friends and neighbours on the tragedy of Covid 19 and express to them that we believe in the one God and this time of tragedy is our time to come to Him and ask for forgiveness and mercy and trust Him for our future and safety. The wrong approach would be to say that it is specifically God judging them and imply you are better off and more holy.
Answers are available.