August 02, 2023
History is headed inexorably toward a bloody global showdown between the forces of good and evil, Light and Darkness, Christ and the anti-Christ, God and Satan, which the Devil wins decisively, however, only temporarily. Jesus’ followers need to understand this and need to prepare themselves accordingly. Continuing with Chapters 8 through 11 of the Book of Revelation, David and Karen Mains share their insights into this powerful section of God’s written Word: Know that God will do whatever it takes to bring as many people as possible to Himself before it’s too late.
This is again, remind our listeners, John’s vision. It’s a symbolic vision. He writes it down as it’s been shown to him. And then in time, through the history of the church, every generation has had to interpret revelation according to what they’re experiencing at that moment.
Karen: There are 22 chapters in the book of Revelation and after this visit we will have covered 11 or half of them.
David: And I am still Karen looking for a through light or an overarching concept or headings maybe that are easy to recall.
Karen: Our fear is that in Revelation there are so many interesting rabbit trails that could be followed that the bigger picture or the main thrust of the book might be missed.
David: That could easily happen if the approach we took was to study this material verse by verse.
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife noted author Karen Mains. Here’s David and Karen Mains .
David: So, here’s what I’m working on. I’m trying to create a through line of my own and I’m putting it into practice starting with this visit. From now on in an effort to make this somewhat confusing book’s big ideas more understandable, I want to teach it by using some World War II military more familiar expressions as my summary concepts are heading. My through line if you please.
Karen: Okay. I’m not all that knowledgeable about wars. You are it by far. This historian in the family. But I think you’re wise in not using modern warfare’s familiar references given the reality of military drones, cluster bombs and artificial intelligence. But can you give us an example of what you are proposing?
David: I don’t have all the pieces put together yet. So, I may be premature, but here it goes. A couple of days ago I was working on material for next weeks Before We Go podcast, not today’s podcast, but next week. And I’m calling that the evil enemy masterminds. Now, if I were talking about World War II, who would those people be? The evil enemy masterminds.
Karen: Okay. Hitler. The German dictator obviously.
David: Anybody else?
Karen: Oh, Mussolini. He was the fascist.
David: Benito Mussolini.
Karen: Yeah. Mussolini. And I don’t remember the names of the Japanese.
David: How come you don’t remember?
Karen: Well, I was only two years old.
David: Ok. I will excuse you. I was older. I would have included Tojo and Hirohito. Those are names that are fading even in my memory. From our perspective those were the World War II evil enemy masterminds. Now next podcast we will look at Revelation chapters 12, 13 and 14 and they’re about Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophets. So, using this analogy they are the what?
Karen: The evil enemy mastermind.
David: Let’s look back at our podcast from the previous week. That was chapters four, five, six and seven Revelation. Do you remember at all what that was about?
Karen: David, you’re asking me, your wife with a softening 80-year-old memory capacity? No. Tell me, remind me.
David: I was hoping you would get that right. It was about the scroll with the seven wax seals that nobody could open up.
Karen: Okay, I remember except the lamb.
Karen: In other words that would Christ.
David: Okay, real fast let’s just go through a couple of those seals. Okay, seal one that was the “what” color horse?
Karen: The white horse?
David: Yeah, good, and the white horse represented the advancement of the gospel. Seal two was a horse that was fiery red, and it was about warfare that was still a part of the earth. And I said the overarching thought there was this is looking at what was going on from the perspective of a military leaders. They’re doing a war room reconnaissance.
Karen: A war room that’s the command room where all the military advisors and generals get together and they put maps on the wall and say where are we exactly? What is the strategy we need to do?
David: Yeah, if you’re younger and you can’t remember the second world war in Ukraine this is what they do. The leaders will get together and they say how are we doing militarily? What about our losses?
Karen: Military assets are where they need it the most and all of that sort of stuff.
David: We have to be strategic because Russia has way more resources to draw upon especially manpower than we do. They’re looking at where things are. It’s the war room that’s the picture that we were looking at when we were going through the seals. Maybe we could even say how would that work out? Here are the leaders of the cause and we’re saying here are the seals. The white horse in its rider.
What about the advance of the gospel? And leaders would say, “What’s happening in the various countries”? They would be talking about it. The fiery red horse on war. Okay, Jesus said he was the Prince of Peace. Has our cause in any way have our resources in any way made it so that there is far less war in the world. That’s not going well. You talk about famine in the world. How are we doing? And in a lot of those areas, because part of those horses as they came, one of them was sickness.
Karen: This is again, remind our listeners, John’s vision. It’s a symbolic vision. He writes it down as it’s been shown to him. And then in time, through the history of the church, every generation has had to interpret revelation according to what they’re experiencing at that moment.
David: And that picture, instead of saying it’s the seals, which obviously they are, they’re the seven seals, it’s kind of the picture of the leader looking and evaluating from the perspective of the kingdom. What’s going on?
So anyway, war room deliberations. That’s the kingdom picture that I’m trying to go in and I’ll refer to. And I’m going to get a picture like that for all of the different sections of Revelation we look at.
Today’s chapters, we’ve come to the end of the seven seals. And now we’re going to come into the trumpets. How did that happen? We didn’t really conclude the seals because we never got to the seventh one.
Chapter eight verse one reads, “When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about a half an hour.” That gives you the creeps.
Karen: What’s sort of like the calm before the storm? You can feel that something awful is coming and you’re just waiting in dread for it. Maybe I don’t know.
David: Waiting in dread. That’s a good thing. And it’s fitting because what follows with the trumpets, these are terrible things for the world. In his book on Revelation, George Elden Ladd, he was the professor of New Testament theology and Exigesis at Fuller Theological Seminary. His book is called a Commentary on the Revelation of John.
Ladd says in his writings, the seventh seal has of itself no specific content. Instead, John describes the sounding of the seven trumpets. We have been forced to conclude that the seven trumpets themselves constitute the seventh seal. Chapter 8 verse one which finishes off the seals and goes into the trumpets. Verse 1 says, “When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God and to them were given seven trumpets.”
So, there is a transition that is being made now. But I want to get to what those seven trumpets are. And I want to give you an illustration. “The first angel sounded his trumpets and there came hale and fire mixed with blood and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up and all the green grass was burned up.”
Now is this to be taken literally? And I would say, when I make that question, I’m asking was there a moment when fire mixed with blood and hail was thrown on the earth or is that what?
Karen: Well, I think it’s symbolic language again. I mean, John is in his 90s, he’s had these extraordinary visual representations come to him and he’s trying to communicate it in a way that he will leave a lasting record of what he’s seen. He’s not even very interpretive, is he? He doesn’t try and say this means he says this is what I’ve seen.
David: Well, I think he’s interpreting. He’s saying there is a cataclysmic thing happening. And you can see all across the world what used to be lush and green. Now, a third of the world approximately is now dry and the trees are hollowed out. So, something massive has taken place and it’s described in this picturesque way. If you put it that way.
“The second angel sounded the trumpet and something like a huge mountain. All ablaze was thrown into the sea and a third of the sea turned into blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died and a third of the ships were destroyed.”
Now again, this is a vision. It’s coming bang. This is what I saw and what we have to do is interpret what that means. So, the next one that happens is the “third angel sounded his trumpet and a great star blazing like a torch fell from the sky on a third of the rivers.” So, we have talked about saltwater the seas, the oceans. Now we’re talking about the freshwater. “The name of the star is Wormwood.” That’s a tough name. “A third of the waters turn bitter and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.”
So, and then the next one happens is the celestial beings. And again, these are big categories. Jesus talks about the celestial beings, strange things happening and so on. We have to be careful not to take this literal in the sense that this is how it happens. This is a picture of what’s going to come.
Karen: Of cataclysms that will come. Now, are these all indicative of the end times? Is that really where the scripture is going? So, it started preparing people that there is an end time coming to watch out for these series of different cataclysms that may be illustrative here and not specific.
Karen: Because they are prophetic.
David: I’m going to skip Karen to the last of the trumpets. It says, “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet and there were loud voices in heaven which said ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he will reign forever and ever’.” That’s coming to the end there.
Karen: Okay. So, it’s an exciting message, isn’t it?
David: So, it is. These are end times. Just to make it totally so and it’s confusing because there are three or four, maybe five endings of the world in the book of Revelation. It says “The 24 elders who were seated on the throne before God fell on their faces and worshiped God saying, ‘We give thanks to you Lord God Almighty, the one who is and who was because you have taken your great power and it begun to reign. The nations were angry, and your wrath has come, and the time has come for judging the dead’.” That’s the end of the world. “…and the saints and those who reverence your name both small and great, you’ll judge them and for destroying those who destroy the earth. Then God’s temple in heaven was open and within his temple was seen the ark of this covenant and there came flashes of lightning, rumbling, peels of thunder and earthquake and a great storm.” Yeah, that’s the end of the world. That’s what the trumpets are. So, there’s no question about that.
Karen: This is extraordinary literature.
David: Yeah, and so far, as we’ve looked at these various trumpets being sounded, we’ve seen these massive things taking place on the earth, but it’s even worse. They’re terrible, terrible things taking place as far as on the inhabitants of the earth.
“The sun in the sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss, and out of the smoke…” this is something new that’s going to arrive, “locusts came down upon the earth, and were given power like that of the scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth, or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were given power not to kill them, but only to torture them for five months, and the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. And during those days, men will seek death, but will not find it. They will long to die, but death will elude them.”
So again, and then there’s another paragraph that says “…these have come from the Abyss. Their master is Abaddon, and in the Greek that’s Apollyon.” So, these are almost demonic things that are happening. I expect that to be a part of the end times as well. But this terrible picture that is being presented, the trumpets are not listening to the Canadian brass, you know, these are awful. Here’s the worst one.
“The six angels sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God. It said to this angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who were bound at the Great River Euphrates.” If they’re bound, they’re bad angels. “And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.”
In fact, it gives the number 200 million. Then you have this picture again of what is going on. The trumpets are the terrible things that come as the end of the world is going to happen. There will be an ending. It doesn’t just go on indefinitely. The question about all this is, what is the intent of God? Is it to be someone who just says, “You’re going to go my way or I’m going to beat the tar out of you”?
Karen: No, I think it’s his love, really. The only way he can get people’s attention who have turned their back on and refused to listen to scripture or to choose to be righteous is for him to get their attention. And through these terrors, sickness and pestilence, the earth itself shaking, whatever it is, the purpose of that is for him to get their attention so he can tell him that he loves them and he’s calling them to himself.
David: You’re right on target. In fact, I’m going to read this paragraph. “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands. They didn’t stop worshiping demons and idols” and so on. So, they didn’t respond the way. But there will be people who do respond as well during those times. So basically, if I get into a sentence, what it is when you talk about the trumpets? Know that God will do whatever it takes to bring as many people as possible to himself before it’s too late.
Karen: Why don’t you read that one again? That’s very powerful.
David: Know that God will do whatever it takes to bring as many people as possible to himself before it’s too late.
Okay, so again, I’m using a war phrase. You’ll know what it means immediately, I think. No one left behind. What would that mean in terms of war phrase?
Karen: Well, we’re hearing that a great deal with the Ukraine conflict. The American soldiers do not want to leave any of their wounded behind. They go to great efforts and sometimes put their own lives at peril to bring them out, even the bodies of the dead. So, I think that’s a very contemporary illustration of what you’re saying here. No one left behind.
David: Okay, so I’ve just named a couple of these phrases that I’m working with. War room deliberation; evil enemy mastermind.
Karen: Command post.
David: Yeah. No one left behind. I have a few more and I like them, but it’s just confused to give them that. Over time, if I can get those overviews for all the sections of Revelation, that will be very helpful to people I think with contemporary imagery.
Karen: Now, we’ve said this before in the podcast as you’ve headed into these Revelation studies that this is complicated material. More complicated than we usually use on our podcast. But before we go, you felt like we needed to really head into Revelation. So what I’m suggesting is that people who are interested get the Bible out and they begin to read through Revelation themselves. So this material is not just fresh and new and confusing, but they have a concept of what you’re talking about as you take us through Revelation.
David: In fact, Karen, I would say in these chapters that I’ve named for the trumpets, there is an entire chapter, chapter 10, that I didn’t even go into.
Karen: Because you consider one of those other trails.
David: It’s a rabbit trail.
Karen: Yeah, rabbit trail. Your main theme. Yeah.
David: Yeah. And I’m struggling to get those main themes in words that people can remember. So, if I say, okay, what is the thing that I want people to remember from these chapters that we’re looking on here, which in the Bible are described as the seven trumpets. It’s this great heart of God. He’s not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. And that’s really the overview of what is going on there. And yes, if I go back to my overview for the whole book, its history doesn’t just go on and definitely on and on and on, but it’s heading toward this confrontation between the forces of God and those of the enemy, which the enemy wins. He wins, but it’s only for a short time. Short time compared to eternity, obviously. But I’m going to make it, I’m going to get those topics and I’m going to make it so that people who listen, they’ll not be able to get them out of their head. In fact, I’m kind of excited about it now. I am past my frustration stage. No, that’s not true.
Karen: Frustration and getting this all together and comprehensible.
David: And being the guy who says, when I communicate, you can understand what I’m talking about. I can put it in a sentence.
Karen: It’s a little bit more difficult.
David: Thank you for laughing because it means that I’m not the hotshot. I think I am all the time. But it’s coming.
Karen: Thank you, David.
Outgo: You’ve been listening to the Before We Go podcast. And if you would like to write to us, please send us an email at the following address, email@example.com. That’s all-lower-case letters firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please remember to rate, review, and share on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyright 2023 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60187. Visit Mainstay Ministries for best-selling titles, and other resources authored by Dr. David R. Mains.
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