Revelation Chapters 8&9: Warning Sound (word doc available here)
These two chapters describe the opening of the seventh seal, and the sounding of the first six trumpets contained within. While the four angels had been told to wait while the sealing of God’s people is undertaken in the chapter 7.2-3, the full outpouring of God’s judgement is now resumed (9.14).
- The opening of the seventh seal leads to silence in heaven for 30 minutes. Why do you think this happens? What is the significance of silence in the bible (Habakkuk 2.20, Zephaniah 1.7, Zechariah 2.13)?
- One commentator says of 8.3-5 that “the saints in persecution and tribulation are praying. But their prayer life is imperfect. It needs to be incensed with the intercession of Christ.” What weaknesses do we feel in our prayer life? What aroma do our prayers make as they ascend to heaven?
- What is the relationship between the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5.8, 6.10, 8v3-4,) and the judgements of God (Revelation 8v5)? How does this connection shed light on why God allows his people to undergo suffering and injustice in this world? Do we rejoice that we are found worthy to suffer for his name when we suffer (1 Peter 4.12-14)?
- 8v7-12 describe terrible “unnatural” disasters. Think of some of the recent end-of-the-world disaster movies – what is the typical plot, and how are “religious” people portrayed, if at all? Why is society so obsessed with these movies? How does our understanding of science affect our interpretation of the “warning sounds” of contemporary natural disasters? What should be our response to a purely physical (i.e. geological) explanation?
- The fifth trumpet sees a star falling from the sky (9.1); v11 suggests that this was Satan (compare Luke 10.18). Why does God allow Satan to open the Abyss, given that this allows hosts of demonic locusts to plague the earth? How does God remain blameless, loving and righteous in using the Devil in this way?
- Even after all the terrible events that have just happened to mankind, those who are left refuse to repent of their evil ways (9v20-21). Why do you think they are not willing to repent despite seeing the consequences of their rebellion first hand? How does God feel about their stubbornness (Ezekiel 33.11, Matthew 23.37)? Do we share God’s sorrow?
As we survey this catastrophic scene it is important to remember that God has ordained all these events to happen. He has set their exact order and defined their boundary. He has used all of nature, including the earth, the sea, the rivers, the sky, his own angels and even the Devil – all for his own purposes and according to his own design. What a truly awe-inspiring God, may we worship him in wonder and fear.
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?” Romans 11.33-34