Revealing Revelation – The First Trumpet

15Feb11

It is now time to turn our attention to the beginning of the actual events that lead to the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the leveling of her precious Temple. Before dealing directly with the first trumpet, as we will in this post, we must first introduce ourselves to the use of the trumpet Biblically and try to understand why they would be used here in this book to describe what we find here.

Rev 8:6 Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.

Trumpets were used to call the children of God to order, to worship and to war. The sharp shriek if a trumpet is impossible to miss and can be heard from a great distance. So, here we see the trumpet used to call the Israelites to worship used as a warning sounding their soon utter destruction.

Trumpets were used by the Israelites to destroy their truly first great enemy when entering Canaan, the storied walled city of Jericho. The relation to the story of Jericho is striking not only for the use of trumpets but the consistent use of the number seven.

Also brought to mind in the these trumpet judgments are the plagues that were brought upon Egypt that God delivered to “rescue” His people from the evil enslavement of their oppressors. the same is pictured here with the oppressors being the Jews as they oppressed and persecuted the early Church. This makes even more sense as later in revelation we see the the city of Jerusalem referred to Egypt – the city in which the Lord was crucified. Like the fire discussed in the previous post reminded us of Sodom, we noted that Jerusalem is also called by that evil city’s name.

The final introductory note of importance is that, like the seals, the first four judgments are separated from the final three. In the seals we see the first four separated by the use of the image of the four horse and riders, while the final three of the trumpet judgments are separated out by the description of calling them the “three woes.”

It is capably argued that the first four trumpet judgments represent the siege of the city that lasted some three years while the final three deal more with the actual attack, which was quite short lived as the inhabitants of the city were, by that time, completely unable to defend themselves, their city or their Temple.

The history of the siege is such that little to no commerce from outside of the city took place. No trading or commerce. The countryside was destroyed with the vegetation along with it. This common Roman military practice made the siege horrific, but ensured a relatively quick battle once undertaken.

These judgments will also remind the reader of the covenantal unfaithfulness sevenfold promises of judgment found in Deuteronomy and Leviticus.

THE FIRST TRUMPET

Rev 8:7 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.

As mentioned previously, there are quite often spiritual and literal/physical parallels amongst the judgments. Here we find blood of the martyrs is mixed with the aforementioned fire and combined with hail in the powerfully symbolic image of devastation. The hail harkens back to the judgment plague set against Egypt (Ex 9).

Whether the hail is literal or not is up to debate, but it would not take too tremendous of a hailstorm to destroy the crops that have also already been set aflame by the armies of Rome. In fact, a common practice of the Roman army was to gather small animals like wild dogs and foxes, light their tails on fire and set them loose in the crop field setting the aflame.

We know that historically the Roman army did destroy the surrounding fields of crops and vegetation. Jospehus describes the devastation in such startling terms that if anyone familiar with Jerusalem in those days was to visit the area, “would lament and mourn sadly at so great a change; for the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste.”

This action of the Lord against apostate Israel was promised to them as a result of covenantal unfaithfulness.

Lev 26:14 “But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, 15if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, 16then I will do this to you:

…And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

… 19 I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.

…20 for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.

…26 When I break your supply of bread

…32And I myself will devastate the land, so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled at it.

…33and your land shall be a desolation

Deut 18:16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field.

…17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

…18Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock.

…23And the heavens over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you shall be iron. 24The LORD will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

…30 You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit.

…33 A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually,

…38 You shall carry much seed into the field and shall gather in little,

…39 You shall plant vineyards and dress them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes

…40You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives shall drop off.

…51It shall eat the offspring of your cattle and the fruit of your ground, until you are destroyed; it also shall not leave you grain, wine, or oil, the increase of your herds or the young of your flock, until they have caused you to perish.

There is more to be discussed as the result of these curses that are fulfilled during the siege and attack on the city, but that will be reserved for future posts. In fact, one of the promised seven fold judgments against Israel for being covenantally unfaithful would be being surrounded, destroyed and forced even to eat their own young, which all found fulfillment in the first century destruction of the city.

The internal factions within the city also led to this great strife as they continually destroyed the grain reserves within the city. So, they brought even a harsher judgment upon themselves by their own self-inflicted actions.

This spiritual promise sees literal physical and historical fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem and during the siege that led up to that destruction. This first of the seven trumpets is the least severe of all them as we shall see in the following posts.

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