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The Two Witnesses Part ll
Lesson 15
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Review

Our previous study surveyed the tribulation that marks the end of the world.  From Daniel 8 and 11, we learned this time-period is referred to as “a time of wrath.”  We will understand the importance of this term more fully in this lesson.

In effect, the trumpets are designed to arrest the attention of the world so that everyone can hear the gospel.  What is called “gospel” today is only a portion of the full gospel!

Jesus clearly says that everyone is to hear the gospel, “and the end will come.”  Matthew 24:14 The full gospel story hasn’t been told to the world yet for the gospel must clearly explain Revelation’s story!  The full gospel story contains an explanation of the trumpets, the seals, the seven last plagues and the two beasts of Revelation.

John clearly saw that the remnant would have to give the gospel again to the world!  See Revelation 10:8-11.  The reason the gospel must go again throughout the world is that in final form, the gospel contains a special message from Revelation. This timely message not only explains the purpose of the trumpets, it gives a call to worship God.  The call to worship God contains a very important test that affects the whole world!  The everlasting gospel will separate those who really love God from those who really hate the light of truth.  Those who are now living up to all the light they have will rejoice and move forward with the greater light to the full gospel that is soon to light up every corner of the world!

Seven trumpets begin

Carefully read the following verses from Revelation:

“And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the alter.  He was given much incense to offer, with the prayer of the saints, on the golden alter before the throne.  The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the alter, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightening and an earthquake.  Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.” Revelation 8:2-6

A number of important things stand out in these verses. We will study two of them.  First, observe the chronological sequence.  Notice that the seven angels who stand before God are given seven trumpets THEN; the angel at the golden alter (of incense) hurls down a censer and THEN; there is thunder, rumblings, lightening and an earthquake and THEN; the seven angels prepare to sound their trumpets.

Secondly, notice that the angel at the alter places much incense on the alter before the trumpets sound.

What do these things mean?

As demonstrated in the previous lesson, the purpose of the trumpets is to awaken and arouse the world to hear the everlasting gospel.  The throwing down of the censer and the commotion that follows on earth simultaneously marks the beginning of the trumpet sequence and the end of the atonement process in heaven.  This process, like the great Day of Atonement, has an earthly sanctuary equivalent too.  In ancient times, it was known as the “daily or continual” offering. Each morning and evening, a sacrifice was offered on the alter of burnt offering.  This sacrifice was offered on behalf of the camp of Israel and not for any particular individual.  In other words, this sacrifice was a corporate sacrifice.  (See Numbers 15:22-31 for a clear distinction between corporate and individual sacrifices.)

  4th Seal opens when censer is thrown down    
    7 First Plagues 7 Last Plagues
Today   7 Trumpets is a time of mercy for those who haven't heard the gospel. Those rejecting the gospel receive the mark of the beast and no more mercy from God.

In Israel’s day, the morning and evening sacrifices provided corporate atonement on a continual or daily basis.  This atonement was necessary so that Israel could dwell in God’s consuming presence.  Without atonement morning and evening, the camp of Israel could not exist!  In a similar manner, Jesus has been interceding on behalf of the world since His ascension. A guilty race has been sheltered from the righteous justice of God through the daily or continual merits of Jesus’ intercession.  Just before the seven trumpets begin, the censer in heaven is thrown down indicating the sudden end of corporate intercession.

A sinful and defiled world will reap a terrible harvest.  As in the days of Noah, earth in a corporate sense, will reach a point of no return. When this point is reached the wrath of Jesus will be exercised.  The fourth seal will be opened and the predicted destruction will begin. The first four trumpets are warning judgments sent to the world saying, “Get ready, Get ready. Prepare to meet your Maker.”

Much incense

The angel at heaven’s alter was given much incense to put on the alter before the seven trumpets sound. This fragrance of incense along with the prayers of the saints goes up before God.  What does this mean?

144,000 servants are now being selected and sealed Remnant 1 selected Remnant 2 called out of Babylon through the efforts of 144,000 and Remnant 1.
 
The Shaking
 
     
Today

God gathers those who will support the warning messages of the 144,000
  Judgment of the living occurs during 7 trumpets
 

Censer thrown down

 

144, 000 = Remnants 1 and 2 = Great Harvest


In the wilderness sanctuary, special incense was offered before the Lord each morning and evening as the daily sacrifice was being applied.  Exodus 30:7,8,37 On the Day of Atonement, the high priest carried a censer full of burning coals with two handfuls of this incense into the Most Holy Place. Jesus said, “He (the high priest) is to put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover

Above the Testimony (the ark of the Testimony), so that he will not die.” Leviticus 16:13

That which separated the high priest from the consuming glory of God was only a veil of smoke!

From Revelation 8:5 we conclude that the censer is thorn down because it service is finished.  The daily atonement conducted by the censer is ended.  Extra incense was added to the fire on the alter to sustain the atonement process a little than usual.  The prayers of the saints came up before the Lord with the fragrance of the incense because the saints are knowledgeable, ready and prepared for the hour of trial that occurs during the trumpets.  The judgment day of God has come.  The first people to be judged during the time-period of the trumpets will be those who have had an opportunity to prepare for those things!  1 Peter 4:17

The point brings up the issue of the 144,000 that will be studied later.  For now, study the diagram on this page to understand how the 144,000 and their support group (called “remnant 1” in this study) are prepared to go throughout the world during the time period of the seven trumpets to gather in the remaining children of God (identified as “remnant 2” in this study) which are in Babylon.

The first three trumpets

“The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail 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.  The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea.  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. The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and the springs of water.  The name of the star is Wormwood.  A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that become bitter.”  Revelation 8:7-11

Perhaps the first three trumpets are caused by our earth’s orbit passing through an asteroid belt.  The presence of these dangerous belts in our galaxy has been known for many years. In fact, the rings about the planet Saturn are rings of cosmic debris that can range in size from a golf ball to several miles in diameter.

At the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December, 1989, Clark Chapman of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, and David Morrison, chief of the space science division at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, shocked their audience of 4,000 scientists by suggesting that, “the risk of death from a wandering asteroid from outer space is somewhat greater than an individual American dying in an airplane crash.”  Their calculations are based on the fact that more than 100 major meteors have recently impacted the surface of the moon.  In March of 1989, a half-mile wide asteroid came within 500,000 miles of Earth.  If it had hit the earth, astronomers said, “It would have crashed with enough violence to destroy a good-sized country.”

The Impact of Shoemaker-Levy 9 in July 1994 showed the world those twenty-one fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy smashed violently into the planet Jupiter. It had enough destructive power equal to thousands of nuclear bombs.  If those twenty-one fragments had hit earth, there would be nothing left. Scientists know now this is a serious matter to consider. The word in the scientific circles is “not where but when will it hit the earth.”  The Scriptures have said this truth for millennia and scientists are now just figuring it out.  It’s past time to wake-up and see what the Lord has in store for earth.

John’s description of the first trumpet is a hailstorm, not of ice, but of fire!  The fire burns up a third of the land and the trees and all the green grass.  Because the next two trumpets are cause by large meteors, the author believes the first trumpet is caused by a large amount of cosmic debris such as baseball-size meteors that enter our atmosphere and impact the earth thus causing a large number of fires.  Men will be powerless to stop the fires because there are so many and they are so scattered.  The death and destruction described in this trumpet cannot be stopped.

When the second angel sounds his trumpet, John saw a large meteor, perhaps a mile in diameter, hit the sea.  The effect is immediate. The resulting tidal wave destroys a third of the ships!  The toxins released by the intense heat of the meteor and the vaporizing of the oxygen within the water destroys a third of the marine life. Perhaps the “blood John saw is the red tide that overtakes deoxygenated water.

When the third angel sounds his trumpet, a large meteor hits a continent or landmass. Perhaps an instantaneous series of earthquakes follows to redistribute tectonic forces far beneath the surface of the earth. The movement of tectonic plates collapses thousands of water wells that provide cities with drinking water.  What drinking water is available is contaminated by sewage, refuse and toxic waste that has been buried.  Many people die from drinking the water.

Note that each of the first three trumpets affects 1/3 of whatever they fall upon.  If we add together the 1/3 of each trumpet, this could mean that these trumpets will affect 3/3 or all the earth.  This would be consistent with the idea that the entire world must be awakened to hear the gospel message.  We don’t know just how earth was represented to John in his vision. Maybe 1/3 of the area he was viewing was affected or perhaps, 1/3 of the total earth was affected.  Either way, the result of the first three trumpets is awful.

The student may be somewhat skeptical of the first three trumpets occurring as a result of meteorites.  Such skepticism is respected. For further study on this subject, read the June, 1989 issue of National Geographic Magazine.  National Geographic features an article on this interesting subject titled, “Extinctions.”  The hypothesis of this article is that mass extinctions occurred in the distant past due to large meteors impacting the earth.  (The face of the moon clearly reveals a history of many large meteoric impacts.)  Scientists are quite confident that large meteors have impacted the earth in the past and they speculate that dinosaurs became extinct because of them.  What is so ironic is that while scientists are studying the past, the Bible predicts mass extinctions in the future in this very fashion!

Rick Gore, the author of the National Geographic article wrote, “Most scientists now concur that at least one great extraterrestrial object struck the planet around the time the dinosaurs died out.  The idea that large objects could strike our planet and cause mass extinctions was considered radical until just about 20 years ago. Then a team of researchers at the University of California found high levels of iridium – a metal rare on earth but common in meteorites – in a thin layer of clay laid down about the time of the dinosaurs became extinct.  Their conclusion – that an asteroid hit the earth 66 million years ago, wreaking environmental havoc – shocked the scientific world.  Further analysis of the iridium layer has supported the impact, although scientists are widely divided over its effects.” Ibed, page 665, 666.

Perhaps very large meteors have impacted this planet in the past.  A number of craters clearly seem to indicate such impacts.  (The largest in North America is in Manson, Iowa.  Its about 18 miles wide.)  What is so interesting about the scientific pursuit of this idea is that scientists have created computer models of what could happen if a large meteor hit the sea or hit the land.  See if you notice any parallels from the National Geographic and John’s description in Revelation:  “A huge plume would push the atmosphere aside… Winds of hundreds of kilometers an hour would sweep the planet for hours, drying trees like a giant hair dryer.  Two thousand degree rock vapor would spread rapidly.  It would condense to white-hot grains that could have started additional fires… Volcanoes erupt, tsunamis crash into the continents, the sky grows dark for months, perhaps years…(water sources) become anoxic or toxic…creatures die.”  Ibed, page 673.

The fourth trumpet

“The 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.”  Revelation 8:12

This trumpet obviously marks a phenomenal change in the heavens.  Just how this is done, John doesn’t say.  Following the scenario in National Geographic the darkening of the sun, moon and stars could come as a result of the previous three trumpets.  With the sun darkened, vegetation becomes stunted.  Food crops that were wiped out as a result of the fires of the first trumpet, will not recover.  The prospects of life on Earth after the first four trumpets sound will not be heartening.

As the people of earth witness these terribly awesome things, they will be desperate about survival.  In their suffering, they will seek the meaning of these events.  Clearly, these calamities are “acts of God.”

Regardless of the religious belief or cultural background, each person will be alarmed and interested.  As people begin to compare the first four trumpets with the story of Revelation, the truthfulness and meaning of Revelation’s story will blossom.  Thus the minds of people in every nation, kindred, tongue and people will be opened to hear a prophetic explanation of what these events are all about.  In short, people everywhere will be anxious to hear the everlasting gospel!

Now, three curses

As if the asteroids weren’t bad enough, the next three trumpets are even more powerful.  John says, “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 8:13 This eagle is one of the four living creatures (senior angels) that John saw earlier.  See Revelation 4:7 The message of this living creature is that the next three trumpets are curses.  That is, they directly fall upon certain people and not the physical elements of earth.

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