Revealing Revelation – The Three Woes Introduced

11Feb11

Before continuing directly to the final three trumpets of tribulation set against apostate Israel in the first century, we must pause, as does the text, to offer a warning of the soon coming wrath. The last trumpets representing things more horrific than the first four. They also most like represent that actual attack on the city while the previous four represent the siege.

This pause of warning may quite properly represent the time when the Christian who were familiar with Jesus’ warnings in the Olivet Discourse to escape the city’s destruction escaped into the mountains.

Rev. 8:13 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!”

This unique warning is performed by an eagle that is flying in the heavens. It is not clear whether this warning was directed to the people of the land, or whether this was a proclamation made in the heavens for the sake of the martyrs under the altar, for whom this tribulation has been set against the people of the land.

The use though of a bird delivering the nesws is not an uncommon image. the Old Testament is filled with the warning of soon coming destruction with birds as a focal point of the image, especially birds of prey.

Deut 28:49 The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand,

Lam 4:19 Our pursuers were swifter
than the eagles in the heavens;

Hos 8:1 Set the trumpet to your lips!
One like a vulture [eagle] is over the house of the LORD,
because they have transgressed my covenant
and rebelled against my law.

Hab 1:8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
more fierce than the evening wolves;
their horsemen press proudly on.
Their horsemen come from afar;
they fly like an eagle swift to devour.

Even Jesus’ own words ring familiar…

Matt 24:28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures [eagles] will gather.

As had been seen previously the birds of prey are also used to describe the results of covenantal unfaithfulness (Gen 15, Deut 28, Jer 7, Eze 39, Rev 19). The use of the eagle is also an interesting image as many may have realized the symbol for the Roman army was the eagle. +

In fact, the standards that flew around the city when it was surrounded bore the image of an eagle. Some commentators may have accurately understood this image to represent the Roman army as it surrounded the city. This foreboding image would be very recognizable to those familiar with Jesus’ similar sounding warning.

The most important point, though, of this pause is that a warning has been sounded and the destruction of the city is nigh!

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