1 ¶ And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
There is a space of time, relatively short, of quiet. Then, the seven trumpets begin. John has watched one account of the rise of the Beast, his murderous actions against God’s people, and the reign of God’s wrath on his kingdom after the removal of His people. Now, he sees an account of part of this 3 and ½ year period of time from the point of view of what is happening on earth in the form of natural and spiritual disasters. The sixth and seventh seals seem to be happening together and the events of the trumpets coincide with that time. The seals and trumpets happen quickly as the Beast takes power and kills believers, driving the Jews into the wilderness.
The events reported as a they are being revealed to John, as we will watch a repeat of events from differing perspectives.
2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
The prayers of the saints going through the murder of the Beast’s rule who are under the altar and their prayers are on the altar before the throne.
Revelation 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. 6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. 7 ¶ The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. 8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
Some say that if the volcano, Cumbre Vieja on La Palma in the Canary Islands, collapses a tsunami could seriously endanger the East Coast of the United States, though this would not cause world-wide destruction. (10) However, let’s look at whether or not this reference to the sea is a reference to all seas or just the Mediterranean. This is a great mountain on fire that causes a third part of the sea to become blood, killing a third of sea creatures, and a third of ships. These are general number as we have seen that numbers are not representing exact figures but general concepts of numbers.
A mega-tsunami hit the Mediterranean Sea in the fourth century with great devastation.(11) Volcanoes like Stromboli in that area present a risk of a massive eruption at some future point. This scenario in Revelation is understandable based on our present knowledge and experience. There are many faults around the Mediterranean that could lead to a massive eruption, tsunami, and magma filling the sea so that could make the sea as blood, if God prepares it so. Is the following verse the key to understanding the reference to blood?
Revelation 16:3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
(10) Douglas Main, “US East Coast Faces Variety of Tsunami Threats,” LiveScience, November 15, 2012. http://www.livescience.com/24813-east-coast-tsunamis.html.
(11) “A Mega-Tsunami Could Strike the Mediterranean Anytime,” Softpedia, http://news.softpedia.com/news/A-Mega-Tsunami-Could-Strike-Mediterranean-Anytime-80609.shtml. (accessed 12.24.2015).
10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; 11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
A recent UK Guardian article was entitled, “Risk of comet hitting Earth is greater than previously thought, say researchers.”(12) The effects of such a disaster can only be reasonably assumed but it is clear that such an event is waiting to happen. Earth is being held off from certain horrible events, and it seems held off for a purpose, if we believe the Scriptures. It is not amazing that terrible things happen but that they don’t happen more often is amazing.
Wormwood is supposed to be what the word Chernobyl in Russian or Chornobyl in Ukranian means. The town of Chernobyl was named after the plant which was said to have supernatural properties in folklore.(13) Will this poisoning of the waters have anything to do with a man-made nuclear disaster, though? It doesn’t appear so, from a literal reading of the Bible, as this is a great star from heaven and on fire. Even if this is calamity is from the spiritual world it clearly comes from someplace else. It falls on the waters.
Fountains of waters may refer also to underground water, perhaps aquifers and fresh water supplies, or even oceans of water.
Genesis 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
Some scientists believe there is more water in the earth’s crust than on the surface, which would be where the flood waters receded to after the Great Flood. “Earth’s Mantle Holds an Ocean’s Worth of Water,” was the title of a recent Scientific American article.(14) Another article, this time in the Christian Science Monitor, reports that all of the water under the ground could cover the continents in 600 feet of water so we are blessed that God said He would never unleash that sort of destruction again.(15)
Genesis 9:11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
(12) “Risk of comet hitting Earth is greater than previously thought, say researchers,” The Guardian, December 22, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/dec/23/risk-of-comet-hitting-earth-as-bad-as-asteroids-or-worse-say-researchers.
(13) Mary Mycio, “Wormwood: Biblical Botany,” in Wormwood Forest: An Natural History of Chernobyl (Washington D.C.: Joseph Henry Press, 2005), Kindle ed. chapter one.
(14) Becky Oskin, “Earth’s Mantle Holds an Ocean’s Worth of Water,” Scientific American, March 12, 2014. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/rare-diamond-confirms-that-earths-mantle-holds-an-oceans-worth-of-water/.
(15) Lucy Schouten, “Scientists Tally Earth’s Hidden Mega-stashes of Groundwater,” Christian Science Monitor, November 17, 2015. http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2015/1117/Scientists-tally-Earth-s-hidden-mega-stashes-of-groundwater#.
12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. 13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
In a prophecy against historical Babylon an interesting statement is made.
Isaiah 13:10 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. 11 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.
Remember the opening of the sixth seal in Chapter 6, verse 12?
Revelation 6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
And the verse in Joel?
Joel 2:10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
These events coincide with the events of the sixth and seventh seals as they are revealed to John, not as events as recorded in a newspaper from day to day.
But, things are going to get even worse.