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Notes for

The Revelation

Chapter Eight


Special Note

"It was difficult even for God to explain the subtle though vital differences between the truth and Satan’s charges. Even for Him it is more effective to demonstrate the good news than explain it. This is why the Bible is so largely a history of God’s handling of rebellion and His firm but gracious treatment of those who have been caught up in its destructive consequences."

"Can God Be Trusted?", by A. Graham Maxwell, page 35.

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1. Numbers 10:1-9 Silver trumpets are used for signalling

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Make you two trumpets of silver [to sound different notes]; of a whole piece shall you make them: that you may use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to you at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves to you.

When you blow an alarm [to leave the area], then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward. When you blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys.

But when the congregation is to be gathered together, you shall blow, but you shall not sound an alarm.

And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations. And if you go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresses you, then you shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and you shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies.

Joshua 6:8 There were also trumpets of warning

And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD [around the city of Jericho], and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.

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2. Exodus 30:1-10 The earthly altar

[Moses was told] and you shall make a [golden] altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shall you make it. A cubit [about 18 inches] shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same.

And you shall overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and you shall make to it a crown [or edging] of gold round about [on its top].

And two golden rings shall you make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shall you make it; and they shall be for places for the staves [poles] to bear it. And you shall make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.

And you shall put it before the [second] veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the [ark of the] testimony [the Ten Commandments], where I will meet with you.

And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning:[9am] when he dresses the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at even [3pm], he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense [24 hours] before the LORD throughout your generations. You shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall you pour drink offering thereon.

And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year [on the Day of Atonement] with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.

Numbers 16:44-48 Correct prayer can help sinners

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Get you up from among this congregation [save yourselves], that I may consume them as in a moment [He could not protect the people at that time]. And they [the congregation] fell upon their faces [in repentance].

And [because of this] Moses said to Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly to the congregation, and make an atonement for them [act out the role of mediator]: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun [Satan is attacking]. And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed [just as Jesus does for sinners today when they repent, and as He would like to do for those who were to be warned by the trumpets].

Jesus assures His saints that their prayers will be heard and, mixed with His righteousness, will reach His Father. God does know what is going on but He has given the freedom of choice to His creatures and they must be allowed to destroy themselves if they so desire. All He can do is protect His own while the world apparently self-destructs! Unless they repent!

Christ is the connecting link between God and man. He has promised His personal intercession. He places the whole virtue of His righteousness on the side of the suppliant. He pleads for mankind, and men and women in need of divine help, plead for themselves in the presence of God, using the influence of the One who gave His life for the life of the world. As we acknowledge before God our appreciation of Christ's merits, fragrance is given to our intercessions. As we approach God through the virtue of the Redeemer's merits, Christ places us close by His side, encircling us with His human arm, while with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite. He puts His merits, as sweet incense, in the censer in our hands, in order to encourage our petitions. He promises to hear and answer our supplications.

Yes, Christ has become the medium of prayer between man and God. He has also become the medium of blessing between God and man. He has united divinity with humanity. We are to co-operate with Him for the salvation of our own souls, and then make earnest, persevering efforts to save those who are ready to die.

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3. Mark 9:41 God does not forget

For whoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, verily I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.

Love, courtesy, amiability - these are never lost. When the saints shall be changed from mortal to immortal, all the deeds of sanctified goodness done by them will be made manifest. These deeds will be preserved through the eternal ages. Not one, however small or simple, is ever lost. Through the merits of Christ's imputed righteousness they preserve their fragrance.

1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy [freely you have received, freely give, Jesus said. Matthew 10:8].

Matthew 5:43-45

You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbour, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

As we approach God through the virtue of Christ's merits, we are clothed with His priestly vestments. He places us close by His side, encircling us with His human arm, while with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite. He puts His merits, as sweet incense, in a censer in our hands, in order to encourage our petitions for our enemies.

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4. Ezekiel 9:11; 10:1-7 The sending of the last offer of mercy

And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as You have commanded me [and sealed the 144,000].

Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire [the blue of mercy] stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne. And He [that sat on the throne] spoke to the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill your hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in in my sight.

Now the cherubims stood on the right side of the house [the side of mercy], when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court.

Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house [Jesus moved to the doorway]; and the house [heaven] was filled with the cloud, and the court [the earth] was full of the brightness of the LORD'S glory.

And the sound of the cherubims' wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when He speaks.

And it came to pass, that when He had commanded the man clothed with linen, saying, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubims; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels. And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubims to the fire that was between the cherubims, and took of it, and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen: who took it, and went out.

Here in picture form is the scene of the persecuted saints of God praying for mercy for their attackers during the second "war" as they have done during the middle ages. Like Jesus, who on the cross prayed, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do", Luke 23:34, they do not want their enemies to suffer the second death and cease to exist. For a while God will be able to honour that prayer, but as the rejecters of God's mercy progressively close their probation He will be able to do less and less.

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5. While these trumpet warnings have a definite meaning in the past 2,000 years, they also have a meaning for the last generation of Christians who are perfecting their characters in preparation for Christ to come.

Trumpet after trumpet is to be sounded, vial after vial poured out one after another upon the inhabitants of the earth. Scenes of stupendous interest are just before us.

These past lessons are for our benefit. We need to stay our faith upon God, for there is just before us a time that will try men's souls. Christ, upon the Mount of Olives, rehearsed the fearful judgments that were to precede His second coming:

"Y0u shall hear of wars and rumors of wars."

"Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."

These trumpet warnings received a partial fulfillment at the destruction of Jerusalem, but their main purpose is to describe the political events during the past 2,000 years. However, they have also an application to the last days.

We are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecy is fast fulfilling. The Lord is at the door. There is soon to open before us a period of overwhelming interest to all living when the controversies of the past are to be revived and new controversies arise. Some of the scenes to be enacted in our world are not yet even dreamed of. Consider the wholesale increase in genocide, the great national crime of the twentieth century. Satan is at work through human agencies, and, like those who attempted to change the law of God in the past, those who are making efforts to alter the constitutions of nations and secure laws enforcing Sunday observance little realize what will be the result. A crisis is stealing up on us.

But God's servants are not to trust to themselves in this great emergency. In the visions given to Isaiah, to Ezekiel, and to John we can see how closely heaven is connected with the events taking place upon the earth and how great is the care of God for those who are loyal to Him. The world is not without a ruler. The program of coming events is in the hands of the Lord. The Majesty of heaven has the destiny of nations, as well as the concerns of His saints in His own charge.

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6. Now the Spirit added some details to His word in Daniel chapter seven where He told us of the ten barbarian nations who were to cause the downfall of the Roman empire. Satan’s dream of a permanent one-world empire side by side with God’s kingdom fell apart from within as God had said it would, for it is internal strife which destroys great Babylon.

Isaiah 14:12-16 Satan’s desire

How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars [the leading angels] of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High [and be worshipped].

Yet you shall be brought down to hell [the grave], to the sides of the pit.

They that see you shall narrowly look upon you, and consider you, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?

Ezekiel 28:11-19 Perfection turned corrupt will destroy

Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus [he was Satan’s chief agent at the time], and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets [internal organs] and of your pipes [blood vessels] was prepared in you in the day that you were created. You are the anointed cherub that covers [Exodus 25:18-20]; and I have set you so: you were upon the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you. By the multitude of your merchandise they [your evil deeds] have filled the midst of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God [by this He means the area of His protection - but remember that Satan left God, Jude v6]: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness [looking to your self]: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you. You have defiled your sanctuaries [your body] by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of you, it shall devour you [you will self-destruct no matter what I do], and I will bring you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold you. All they that know you among the people shall be astonished at you: you shall be a terror, and never shall you be any more.

Exodus 7:10-18 Satan hardened his heart as did Pharaoh

And Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.

And he [Satan] hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not to them; as the LORD had said.

And the LORD said to Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuses to let the people go. Get you to Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goes out to the water [to worship the god of the river Nile]; and you shall stand by the river's brink against he come [and wait for him to come]; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shall you take in your hand. And you shall say to him, The LORD God of the Hebrews has sent me to you, saying, Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto you would not hear.

Thus says the LORD, In this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in my hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river.

Pharaoh would not listen to Moses and Aaron, but despised their words; yet he had no power to harm them. "And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood." For seven days the plague upon the waters continued. Yet the king humbled not himself, but continued to harden his heart. Moses and Aaron were commanded, first, before bringing the plagues, to faithfully relate to Pharaoh the nature of each plague which was to come, and the effect of the plague, that he might have the privilege of saving himself from it if he chose, by letting the children of Israel go to sacrifice to God. But if the king should refuse to obey the command of God, then would He still visit him with judgments. God was not actively bringing the plagues (Satan and his angels did that very effectively), but Jesus was there protecting between them.

[Return to Notes for The Revelation Chapter Nine]

The events pictured by the angels and their trumpets can now be found in the history books of the world, but the principles which are shown therein are timeless. Think on these words of God:-

Ecclesiastes 1:9-10

The thing that has been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it has been already of old time, which was before us.

Ezekiel 14:17-20 In these times God says

Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it: though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves.

Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out My fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast: though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

Although the events to come were terrible and the judgment sounds harsh, God wants us to remember the Angel and the incense. He is doing all He can to save, but the people of the world use a weapon against Him which He cannot overcome. They claim the right to run their own lives and refuse to allow Him to protect them by being obedient to His word. In such a case, He stands helpless. Even among His own, each one must make their own decision. No one, no matter how well clothed in Christ’s righteousness, can save another. All we can do is plead, persuade, and, in the case of our own young children, train, so that they might make the right decision when they reach the age of accountability.

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7. "hail and fire" is an unlikely combination, but is a good way of describing the war that came from the north, and its aftermath.

"one third" (in this case of the trees and grass), tells us that each event affected only a portion of the Roman empire.

Jeremiah 9:12-15 God reiterates why this happens

Who is the wise man, that may understand this? And who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD has spoken, that he may declare it, for what [reason] the land perishes and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passes through?

And the LORD says, Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice [or advice] neither walked therein; but have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim [the gods of force], which their fathers taught them: therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.

All this was literally fulfilled when the Goths of northern Europe began to attack the Roman "peace" around 396AD.

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8. This "great mountain" affected the sea areas of the empire and this was describing the attacks by the Vandals of North Africa which began about 428AD. In those days north Africa supplied a lot of food to Rome - the great extent of the Sahara desert has come since that time. The name "Vandal" even today evokes images of senseless destruction and that is what they did. Under their leader, Genseric, they became the pirates of the Mediteranean Sea.

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9. The "star" was named Attila, and he and his huns ravaged the areas of southern Europe, and the birthplace of the fresh water rivers, the Alps, about 451AD. So many died at their hands that God uses the term "wormwood", a very bitter herb, to describe their plight.

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10. Of a similar time, the first destruction of Jerusalem, it was written,

Isaiah 13:9-11

Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.

"sun... moon... stars" = various forms of governments in imperial Rome. From 476 – 566AD the Barbarians reduced the strength of the empire, eventually hammering at the gates of the city of Rome, and taking over the western part of the empire. The capital had been moved east to Constantinople in Turkey during the fourth century, and now the split became permanent. To those who lived in Europe during these events it was as if the world had come to an end as described in the following quote.

"By 500 when the boundaries of the eastern empire were still much what they had been under Constantine, and his successors were still holding their own against the Persians, the last western emperor had been deposed and his insignia sent to Constantinople by a barbarian king who claimed to rule as the eastern emperor's representative in the West."

"This is striking: what, actually had collapsed? What had declined or fallen? Fifth-century writers bewailed it so much that it is easy to have the impression, heightened by such dramatic episodes as two sackings of Rome itself, that the whole of society fell apart. This was not so. It was the state apparatus which collapsed, some of its functions ceasing to be carried out, and some passing into other hands. This was quite enough to explain the alarm which was felt. Institutions with a thousand years of history behind them gave way within a half-century. It is hardly surprising that people have asked why ever since."

The Hutchinson History of the World, by J. M. Roberts, (1976), page 327

 

Their ancestors had existed under the Roman peace for hundreds of years and yet it was swept away in a very short time. It was for this reason that they turned to the only other power available to them - religion. Unfortunately for them, the religion of Rome had already left God's way and set up a man in charge of the church and called him "Father" (pope) in defiance of God's express command not to do so. Matthew 23:9. The result of this turn from the "king of the south" (politics) to the "king of the north" (false religion) is pictured in the next three trumpet warnings.

These first four angel's warnings do not go into any great detail because of their relatively short duration. The next three events last for much longer and could be a cause of such great disappointment for God's people, that He gives us more information by which we can be sure that He knows what is going on.

To get the detail read a section in the

"Change from Christianity to Churchianity"

 

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11. Matthew 26:51-52 The principle behind the trumpet warnings

And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus to him, Put up again your sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

Deuteronomy 28:15-23 What the woes will be

[Moses warned the people] it shall come to pass, if you will not hearken to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command you this day; that all these curses shall come upon you, and overtake you:

Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field.

Cursed shall be your basket and your store.

Cursed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your land, the increase of your kine [cows], and the flocks of your sheep.

Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

The LORD shall send upon you cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that you set your hand to for to do, until you be destroyed, and until you perish quickly; because of the wickedness of your doings, whereby you have forsaken Me.

The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave to you, until He have consumed you from off the land, where you go to possess it. The LORD shall smite you with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue you until you perish. And your heaven that is over your head shall be brass, and the earth that is under you shall be iron.

God does none of this personally, for He NEVER hurts, punishes or destroys any one, even though the Bible is often written as though He does. That is all taken care of, first, by the results of actions of sin, or if that doesn’t happen fast enough, by Satan and his angels whenever the protection of God is lifted for a while. However, because our Father is not an accuser in any circumstances, He takes the blame of setting up a system whereby these things can happen, and not interfering when His law (advice) is deliberately broken.

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