Monday, October 31, 2016

Revelation 8:6-13

Revelation 8:6-13
Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.  The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.  The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.  The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night. Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

Today we meet the seven angels with the seven trumpets.  We don’t know for certain who these angels are, but church tradition holds that these angels are the seven archangels spoken of in Tobit 12:15. These angels are: Uriel (Fire of God; also known as God’s Keeper of the Light), Raphael (Healer of God), Raguel (Friend of God; also known as the Bringer of Justice), Michael (Who is like God; also known as the commander of God’s army), Sariel (Command of God; often also mentioned as Arazyal, the Angel of Death – though not all sources agree with this) Gabriel (Strength of God; also known as the Messenger of God), Remiel (Thunder of God; also known as the Compassion of God).  The important thing to keep in mind is that God’s angels serve God’s purpose.  However, such purpose is not always pleasant.  God’s purpose is always righteous, but His righteousness sometimes implies dealing out judgment.  This is why we can have God’s angels throwing down fire and hail and things that corrupt the sea and the fresh waters.  That’s how we can have the angel of death being one of God’s angels.  We should not lose sight of the fact that while God desires love, grace, and mercy, He is also a righteous God who will hold us accountable for our sins.

Why is it sometimes difficult to desire to see God in term of righteous judgment and not just grace and love?  What happens when we lose sight of both sides of God’s righteousness?

Second Thought:

When we read through the first of the four trumpet blasts, we find that they are eerily reminiscent of God’s displays of power in the Exodus story.  In the plagues of Egypt, we find God’s incredible control over nature.  Here in this story, we find that theme is repeated.  This time, however, it is on a global scale.  God is in control over nature.  God is capable of having His way with the earth.  God is the dominant presence in universe.  Furthermore, we can see that John is tapping into imagery that the people of Asia Minor would understand.  They would be familiar with the eerie red rain that comes when the conditions are right and winds pick up red sand out of Egypt and deposits it in the atmosphere.  As I’ve mentioned often, with the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius the people would be able to relate to a mountain falling into the oceans and making the water bitter.  John is truly trying to remind the people that God is in control of nature and our existence.

How does God demonstrate His control in your life?  When have you seen incredible displays of natural power and witnessed God’s ability to control forces that we cannot?

Third Thought:

We also come to the eagle’s interlude.  This is an ominous interlude.  It is as if the eagle is summarizing the natural destructiveness around it.  Nature comes to warn us when we stray against God.  How many times in the course of human history has our human greed and power over nature caused us to exploit nature until it fights back?  Often, nature itself is our greatest reflection of our sinful impulses.  What we need to remember, though, is the point of this whole passage.  Nature can reflect our sinful impulses because God is in control of it.  This is why the eagle cries his woe three times.  God uses nature to cry out to us and get our attention.  Our nature is fallen and corrupt.  The creation desires for us to see our nature and repent before it is too late.  But he also gives us a greater warning.  If we do not heed nature, then we will be forced to face the spiritual consequences.

Why do you think humans push against nature and exploit it?  When can you recall nature pushing back against our human greed and self-indulgence?

Passage for Tomorrow: Revelation 9:1-11
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