When the Trumpets Sound
The book of Revelation depicts the world that Christian believers must live in, and depicts that world in graphic and, at times, even lurid details. We find it as a world where sinners resist God to the ultimate limits. It’s a world which defies Jesus Christ. It is a world that sets itself resolutely and implacably against the gospel of Christ and against the servants of Christ. And it is this world in all its darkness as it presently lies in the clutches of the evil one, as the Bible tells us, that Christians are called to live in and to bear faithful, sacrificial testimony to the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
In his high priestly prayer, Jesus prayed, ‘Father, I do not ask that you take my disciples out of the world, but that you keep (protect) them from the evil one’ (John 17:15). We are not to retreat from the world; we are not to hide ourselves away in comfortable ghettos from this world. We are to be in this world, while at the same time not becoming of this world. By the grace of God we are called to live distinctive, non-conforming lives to the pattern of this world. We are to live according to the pattern of the Word of God and the example of our Savior Jesus Christ.
This will mean, to the very last, both in personal and corporate ways, Christian believers will find themselves up against this world. We will find ourselves on all sides opposed and challenged and even hated for Jesus’ sake. But when we find ourselves surrounded by godless hostility, we need always to remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you’ (John 15:18). It is because you are not of this world, that the world hates you. ‘In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).
And this is the perspective of the book of Revelation. God sets before his church the triumph of the crucified One. The early church is going through persecution. They are experiencing wave after wave of troubles; some of them going through martyrdom for Jesus Christ. But the great truth that undergirds all other circumstances in this life is the triumph of the crucified One. ‘Be of good cheer,’ says Jesus, ‘I have overcome the world.’
Well, we come to Revelation chapters 8 & 9 (we will consider 8:6-13, the first 4 trumpets this week). Chapters 8 & 9 parallel chapters 6 & 7 and later chapters 11ff (see especially chap. 16). That is, they are to be understood not as chapters following consecutively or chronologically from chapters 6 & 7, but rather, they are synchronous. In other words, these chapters tell, perhaps more intensely, the same reality that chapters 6-7 told earlier with the openings of the scroll. Each of these are covering the span of time between the first and second comings of our Lord Jesus Christ, but from slightly different perspectives. They are looking at the same scene, if you will, but viewing it from slightly different angles; underlining different emphases; highlighting different ways in which God engages and acts in this world.
In Revelation 8 & 9 we come to the 7 trumpets, or the first 6 trumpets. For, like the seals in chapters 6 & 7, chapters 8 & 9 follow the same pattern. For example, in chapters 6 & 7 we saw the first six seals opened and then we had an interlude or parenthesis which led us into the seven trumpets. Likewise, in chapters 8 & 9 we will see the first six trumpets and then an interlude, and finally, the seventh trumpet.
Now the significance of the trumpets would have been very obvious to these early Christians. Because of their familiarity with Old Testament language, they would have known that trumpets announced an alarm, and were designed to startle, alert or awaken. Trumpets announced the imminence of God’s judgment; they were alarms to the unconverted. Hence, they are awakening calls announcing the imminence of the righteous judgments of God.
I hope you can join us this week as we consider ‘When the Trumpets Sound’ from Revelation 8:6-13. Will you pray for our services, that Christ would be exalted in our worship? Will you invite someone to come along with you? Will you pray and participate in our children’s park day this Sunday afternoon from 5:00-7:00 pm at Moncrief Park. Perhaps you can bring along some of your neighbors.
For Christ and His Kingdom,