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Intermediate Summary

Thus far, we have found that the Altar of Incense concerns the administration of corporate mercy. The casting down of the censer indicates the end of atonement at this altar, that is, the end of corporate grace for the world. After corporate grace is terminated, the four angels will sound the first four trumpets that will harm the Earth. God’s wrath will break out on the whole world. There will be physical phenomena announcing God’s wrath. These physical phenomena will occur simultaneously all over the world. There will be a global earthquake. The whole world will be halted, unexpectedly arrested by awesome and violent displays of nature. Mankind will be put on notice with these physical phenomena that God’s anger cannot be contained any longer. A few hours, or perhaps days, after the censer is cast down, the first trumpet will sound and a firestorm of burning hail will fall from the sky and burn up one-third of Earth. There is perfect harmony in the sum of all the parts!


Praying Saints


Returning to verse 3: “Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar [of Incense]. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar [that stands] before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints [their petitions], went up before God [a sweet aroma filled the court] from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightening and an earthquake.” (Revelation 8:3-5, insertions and italics mine)


Notice the chronological sequence of events. Verse 3 says that all of God’s saints are praying for something. Then, in verse 4 the angel presents their petitions to God, and in verse 5, God favorably responds to the petitions of His saints by commanding the angel at the altar to cast down the censer.


The Bible says that “all” of the saints (God’s children everywhere) are petitioning God when Revelation 8:3-5 occurs. The only thing that could move all of God’s children at the same time, as religiously diverse as we are, is a global crisis. What global crisis, after 1994, but prior to the end of corporate grace, would cause Jesus to issue a command to cast down the censer?


Nuclear War?


There is one possibility that could cause all of God’s saints to pray for the same thing at the same time, namely, nuclear war. Here is a possible scenario: One day, simmering hostilities could erupt and quickly escalate into a nuclear exchange. Ten of millions of people could die in this war. This war could affect our struggling global economy and immediately effect the distribution of oil, food, clothing, building materials, and commerce of all kinds. If nations joined in, this war could quickly become a fearful event for most everyone on Earth. If such a war occurred – and the global consequences would be far reaching – the whole world would cry out (demand) “peace and safety.” In other words, a nuclear exchange could bring all of God’s people to the point of praying for God’s intervention.


Paul wrote: “While people are [frantically] saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction [from God] will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3,4, insertions mine)


There is no reason to be surprised about sudden destruction coming from God if we allow Revelation 8 to speak. We can be sure of two things. First, it’s only a matter of time until there is a nuclear exchange. Second, when a nuclear exchange occurs, human efforts will be made to stop the war for the sake of global “peace and safety.” The problem is that the speed of intercontinental missiles is measured in seconds, but getting nations to negotiate peace can take years. Besides, once nuclear bombs threaten a nation’s sovereignty and survival, what would be the point of any nation using restraint against an enemy? The maxim for nuclear war is simple: “Annihilate or be annihilated.”


Suppose an angel rushes to the Altar of Incense after a nuclear exchange, and together with the petitions of all the saints, he puts much incense on the coals of the Altar and a sweet fragrance ascends before God’s throne. As Almighty God, Jesus answers the prayers of His saints by stepping into the din of war with overwhelming power and authority. Jesus sends physical manifestations that are so magnificent and awesome that the war actually stops! He who calmed the storm on Galilee calms this war. Then, the first trumpet sounds and a hailstorm of burning meteors burn up a third of Earth. The nations of Earth suddenly discover that man’s nuclear bombs are no match for “the wrath of the Lion from the tribe of Judah.” Sudden destruction from God will miniaturize man’s nuclear exchanges. The destructive power of Jesus will dwarf anything that mankind has to offer. Suddenly, man’s biggest problem is not nation against nation; it is a whole world facing the wrath of one God!


Summary on Revelation 8:2-5


By now, you should understand that (a) there were two altars in the earthly temple because there are two levels of atoning grace, corporate and individual, (b) incense was used each evening and morning on the Altar of Incense to mask the stench of sin and sinners, (c) censers were used during the atonement services to carry fire, and (d) the termination of daily services at the Altar of Incense in Heaven’s temple is dated 1,335 days before the Second Coming. When we align these four topics with the events described in Revelation 8:3-5, it is safe to conclude that Revelation 8:3-5 describes the end of corporate mercy because this was the only form of atonement offered on the earthly Altar of Incense. Moreover, the punitive judgments (the seven trumpets) that follow the casting down of the censer perfectly align with this conclusion. When corporate grace ends, corporate wrath begins.


Just before the censer is cast down, all of God’s saints will be praying for divine help. A nuclear exchange could move all of God’s people to pray for peace. The point here is that Jesus responds to the prayers of the saints by terminating the daily service at the Altar of Incense. He will command the angel to cast down the censer. After the censer is cast down, the Bible continues the sequence saying, “Then the seven angels who had [been waiting with] the seven trumpets [since 1994] prepared to sound them.”

(Revelation 8:6, insertions mine)


The First Four Trumpets


The first four trumpets will come in a group of four rapid-fire judgments. I understand that these four judgments will fall over a period of about sixty days. These four judgments will occur in their stated order. Four distinctive blows will produce unimaginable death and destruction. They will change the thinking and priorities of mankind overnight. The death and destruction left in their wake will be incalculable, and amazingly, a team of four angels will cause all of this global upheaval! It is a gross understatement to say the whole world will be in shambles by the time the fourth trumpet judgment has been executed.


If actions speak louder than words, the first four trumpets will speak volumes. Jesus has much to say to this diverse world. To get everyone’s attention, He will display a power and destruction that will silence the din of war and the defiance of skeptics. Keep in mind that Jesus’ display of power and destruction will not be a temper tantrum. Jesus will not smash and trash the world in a random way. His display of wrath is carefully designed to accomplish many objectives and one of them is to prompt a unified response from mankind.


Fire and Water


The first two trumpets will be judgments of fire and water. The first judgment will come as a firestorm of burning hail. Jesus will rain down white-hot meteors on notoriously wicked places and incinerate them (just as He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah). The second judgment will be an asteroid impact on an ocean. The resulting tsunami will destroy thousands of coastal cities. It appears that God uses the fire of the first trumpet to sterilize wicked cities that cannot be destroyed by water, and then uses the water from the second trumpet to wash away wicked cities whose cup of iniquity is overflowing.


The third judgment will be an asteroid impact on a continent that is beyond redemption. This huge impact will compromise geologic strata for thousands of square miles. Underground aquifers will become contaminated with human waste and toxic garbage. Wells and springs will produce poisoned water and millions of thirsty people will drink the poisonous water and die. The fourth trumpet will be a period of darkness. The Bible does not explain the cause of darkness, but it could be caused by hundreds of simultaneous volcano eruptions. If the Pacific “ring of fire” belched enough ejecta into the atmosphere, the jet stream could easily blanket the middle third of Earth with enough soot and debris to darken the Sun, moon, and stars. If this darkness lasts for a few weeks, agricultural crops would not produce food. Global winter and famine would quickly follow.


The first four trumpets will fall upon notably wicked places for two reasons. First, the last three trumpets are directed at wicked people. This is why they are called three “woes” or curses. (Revelation 8:13) Second, Jesus wants the survivors of the first four trumpets to realize that His judgments are not random episodes of nature’s violence. Jesus wants the survivors to realize that these destructive events are deliberate manifestations of God’s wrath. In other words, the wholesale destruction of notably wicked places within sixty days will put the whole world on notice that there really is a living God and He is very angry with man’s degenerate behavior. Some scientists will argue that the geological history of Earth supports catastrophic events at predictable intervals every million years or so, and calamities like this have happened before. However, the first four trumpets will discredit and silence science. Scientists will not be able to explain how notably wicked places all over the world became divine targets of destruction.


The First Trumpet


“The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood [Hail and fire mixed with blood indicates this judgment is mixed with mercy. The atoning blood of Jesus limits the scope of this destructive judgment to one-third of the world.], and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth [the Greek word for earth, ge means land] was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass [the Greek word for grass, chortos includes vegetation and crops] was burned up. [The repetitive use of one-third indicates that mercy is mixed in with God’s wrath.] (Revelation 8:7, insertions mine)


The Second Trumpet


The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain [perhaps a mile or more in diameter], all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. [The asteroid was so hot that it made the water anoxic and] A third of the sea turned into [the color of] blood [caused by the rapid growth of red algae which thrives in anoxic water], a third of the living creatures in the sea died [because the water is oxygen deficient and what little oxygen is present is consumed by red algae], and a third of the ships were destroyed [by the huge tsunami resulting from the impact].

(Revelation 8:8,9, insertions mine)


The Third Trumpet


The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star [a second asteroid, perhaps a mile or more in diameter], blazing like a torch [as streams of fire trailed behind the fireball], fell from the sky [and impacted Earth. The result of this impact will be noticed] on a third of the rivers and the springs of water – the name of the star is Wormwood [poisoned waters]. A third of the waters turned bitter [poisonous], and many people [agonizing from thirst] died from [drinking] the waters that had become bitter.

(Revelation 8:10,11, insertions mine)


The Fourth Trumpet


The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and [hundreds of huge volcanoes erupted] a third of the sun’s [light] was struck, a third of the moon, and 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. [The middle third of Earth – where ninety percent of its population lives – became dark.] (Revelation 8:13, insertions mine) 


More Trumpets Coming!


As I watched, I heard an eagle [this eagle is one of the four living creatures, it has the face of an eagle and it oversees the destruction of the fourth seal – Revelation 4:7, 6: 7,8] that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: [“Get ready for the three greater curses.”] ‘Woe! Woe! Woe [cursed, cursed, cursed] to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!’”

(Revelation 8:13, insertions mine)         

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