first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they
were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green
grass was burned up. Revelation 8:7.
of us living under the seventh seal need to be reminded of what it took for the
church to go out conquering and to conquer in the beginning of the Gospel
of us living today have either a dim recollection or no recollection at all of
what a conquering church is. Yes, we have seen some good times for the church;
some growth here; some growth there; but for the most part we have seen the
visible church declining and getting smaller. While there are some exceptions,
the visible church around the world is being bullied by secularism and false
religion into silence or subservience to the cultures in which it exists. Some
among us are so idealistic about the church that we refuse to see the obvious
and applaud the shrinking church in whatever form they experience it as a
beautiful and glorious thing.
will return for a glorious church, His church, but we are far from being that
church whether we call ourselves the Church of God or some other name.
first trumpet is a wakeup call to all that call themselves Christians and even
more to those that call themselves the Church of God. Something is missing: We
might have sound doctrine, we might reach our hands in fellowship to every
blood-washed one, but where is the power of God?
the opening days of the history of the church there was power in the preaching,
teaching, and lives of the church that produced results. On the Day of Pentecost
in response to the sermon Peter preached, the people were so moved that they
were cut to the heart and cried out to the Apostles: “Men and brethren, what
shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) That day 3000 souls were added to the church.
Following that day, we read that “the Lord added to the church daily those who
were being saved.” (Acts 2:47) The power of the gospel and the presence of the
Holy Spirit so motivated the church, so enlarged the number of the saved and the
number of congregations that we read in Acts 9:31 that they walked “in the
fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.”
the gospel changed? Has the Holy Spirit changed? No. What then has changed?
Apparently in this seventh seal we are not walking in the fear of the Lord and
the comfort of the Holy Spirit. If we really were, would we not also be
multiplied as was the early church?
The Events Under the First Trumpet
things follow the sounding of the first trumpet. The first was hail and fire
mingled with blood immediately follow the sounding of this trumpet. The second
thing is a response to hail, fire, and blood: a third part of the trees were
burned up and all green grass was burned up.
we can understand the response, we must understand the hail, fire, and blood.
This is nothing other than Holy Spirit empowered preaching of the gospel. This
is not just the preacher preaching louder or stamping his feet or jumping and
carrying on to get people’s attention or to emphasize what he is saying. This
is preaching and teaching that is submissive to the Holy Spirit as it was on the
Day of Pentecost.
see a picture of the hail in Psalm 105:32 “He gave them hail for rain, and
flaming fire in their land.” The Psalmist is referring to one of the plagues
God sent to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egyptian slavery.
Ephesians 5:25–27 tells us the importance of water to the life of the church:
“Christ . . . loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might
sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might
present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such
thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” The water that
cleanses the church is none other than the word of God. Christ applies the word
of God to the people so that spot, wrinkles and any such thing related to sin is
removed and the people are holy—thereby the church is holy. Rain is water that
falls from the heavens, and the hail of the first trumpet is the word of God
that comes to us firm and strong enough to beat down all the tolerance and
indifference we have allowed and invited into our midst that has grieved away
the Holy Spirit.
the angel sounds out the hail from his trumpet, of necessity the fire of God
must follow the sound and uncompromising preaching of the word of God. As we
have seen in our study of the Revelation up to this point, fire represents the
presence of God. Under the seventh seal we need a real Day of Pentecost to fall
on the church.
refresh our minds on the Day of Pentecost from Acts 2:1–4, “When the Day of
Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And
suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it
filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them
divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all
filled with the Holy Spirit.” From this we can see plainly that the Holy
Spirit is represented by fire, but the power of the first trumpet is not just
the presence of the Holy Spirit but, as on the Day of Pentecost, it is the
necessary filling of the Holy Spirit—they were ALL filled with the Holy
trumpet also mingles blood with the hail and the fire. Being that the hail is
the solid word of God and the fire is the presence of the Holy Spirit, it stands
to reason that the blood intermingled with them is the blood of Christ. That is
to say that the object of Holy Spirit anointed preaching is only the truth of
the gospel—what it actually took for God to redeem mankind. To understand the
importance of the blood, we have only to look back to the Exodus of God’s
people from their slavery in Egypt. On the night of the Passover, families
killed young lambs and put some of the blood on the doorposts and lintels of
their houses. That blood was their deliverance; God promised in Exodus 12:13,
“When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Jesus is the Lamb of God and 1
Corinthians 5:7 identifies Him as our Passover, “For indeed Christ, our
Passover, was sacrificed for us.” Matthew Henry explains this for us:
should die with our Saviour to sin, be planted into the likeness of his death by
mortifying sin, and into the likeness of his resurrection by rising again to
newness of life, and that internal and external. We must have new hearts and new
lives. . . . The sacrifice of our Redeemer is the strongest argument . . . for
purity and sincerity. How sincere a regard did he show to our welfare, in dying
sounding of the first trumpet reminds us that the early church went forth
conquering and to conquer because they preached the solid word of God under the
power of the Holy Spirit declaring salvation from sin as a present reality and
blessing of God’s grace through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Holy Spirit Anointing
trumpet also reminds us of how effective the Holy Spirit anointed early church
was: “And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned
are told that this gospel was thrown to the earth. From our study of the sixth
seal we learned that the earth represents those that are grieved by the presence
of Christ; those that do not keep God’s commandments; and those to whom the
Holy Spirit offers salvation. The earth of the Revelation is an element of
mankind that is not among the redeemed; it is those that are not saved from sin.
first trumpet reminds us of the commission Jesus gave to His church in Mark
16:16, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
of the world rejects the gospel but we are to recall that “a third of the
trees were burned up and all green grass was burned up” under the Holy Spirit
empowered preaching of the gospel. While things being burned up suggests some
kind of destruction, the destruction under the preaching of the gospel is a good
thing and something of which we need much more in our day.
one-third of the trees are burned up. In our study of the sixth seal we learned
that trees are plants that live on the earth. They have life but are deeply
attached to the earth so that they represent people that are unstable and
vulnerable in spiritual matters. There is always a population of mankind that is
in the valley of decision and these are the people who were moved by the Holy
Spirit anointed preaching of God’s word in the early days of the church. These
are the people that can be moved by the gospel in our day.
fraction one-third indicates the population that was moved by the gospel.
Religiously, the human race can be divided into thirds: One third being Jews as
it was so in the work of the early church. One third being pagan. Pagan can mean
any religion or lack of religion that does not acknowledge the One true God. And
one third Christian. This is the one-third affected by the preaching of the
gospel. As the gospel was preached, many Jews and pagans found all their good
works were burned up and were moved into the kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul
addresses this in 1 Corinthians 3:11–15,
no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus
Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious
stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will
declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each
one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it
endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer
loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
is the only foundation for true faith that brings one into a right relationship
with God. The gospel reveals that our human good works cannot redeem us from
sin; the gospel burns these up and leaves us hanging over the pit of hell. In
turn, the gospel also teaches us that repentance and faith in Christ with being
born of the Holy Spirit are the only means by which we are saved from sin.
the gospel reduces our good works and self-sufficiency to ashes, Isaiah tells us
the gospel is given “To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty
for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of
heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the
LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 40:3) The gospel makes us a new
creation, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified. Isaiah also
prophesied in 40:5–8,
glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For
the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said,
“What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like
the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath
of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the
flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
the redeemed we “worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus and have
no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3) We are not left to live a
worthless religion that keeps us in sin, we have the blessing of sin destroyed
out of our lives and the privilege of being filled with the Holy Spirit so that
we can live successfully for God.
sounding of the first trumpet is to remind us of our heritage as the church
build by Christ and the victory over sin and the world we enjoy under the
reality of the gospel. The trumpets give us the WHY. Why was the early church
successful in going forth conquering and to conquer? There are two reasons:
the first seal we saw the glorious church pictured as the white horse with the
rider having a crown and a bow. The early church accepted Christ as its head and
leader and all were committed to Him, even to death, to preach and live the
gospel under any and all circumstances. Today, the church must let Christ be the
head and leader of His church. He knows who the enemy is and He will give us the
wisdom to recognize the enemy and fight the battle in the way that leads to
righteousness. He knows every soul He is trying to reach with the gospel and He
will direct us to reach them specifically. And He knows the tactics He wants to
employ as He leads us conquering and to conquer.
second reason is seen in the letter to the church at Ephesus. This church loved
the Word of God and fought for it relentlessly. This church also knew who was
the enemy and tested them to expose their false professions of religion.
we must shake off the silence and inactivity that clings to the church like
dust. We must renew our allegiance to Jesus, not just as our personal Savior,
but also as our leader. We must be committed to follow Him and be active in what
He gives us to do to help the church to conquer. We must have a passion for the
word of God that motivates every aspect of our lives. We must let the Holy
Spirit put the word of God in our mouths and allow Him to let the hail, fire,
and blood be evident in testimonies, our interactions with other trees that need
burned up, and in the teaching of our congregation. And we must continue to send
prayers up to the censer in the hand of Jesus, our High Priest.
let us not fall into the pitfall that ensnared the church at Ephesus. They loved
the battle so much that it replaced their love for Jesus. Always remember:
“God is love.” (1 John 4:16)
this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of
judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in
love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the
one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. (1
John 4:17–19, NASB)