“The first angel blew his trumpet, and hail and fire mixed with blood were thrown down on the earth. One-third of the earth was set on fire, one-third of the trees were burned, and all the green grass was burned. Then the second angel blew his trumpet, and a great mountain of fire was thrown into the sea. One-third of the water in the sea became blood, one-third of all things living in the sea died, and one-third of all the ships on the sea were destroyed.”
Revelation 8:7-9 NLT
The sound of a trumpet blast reverberates around the Heavens and the Earth. Did those remaining on Earth hear it? Did they wonder if it really happened, asking those around them if they heard it as well? In his vision, John tells us that after the first trumpet blast there was a terrible event, of hail, intermingled with fire and blood, being deposited on the earth. And as a consequence, the earth burned out of control, losing one-third of the trees and all the grass. What did those who survived think about what was happening?
Such an event is totally beyond our experience today. We can only try, without really much success, to think it through. Did anyone make the connection between God’s judgment and their sin? Of course all those marked with God’s seal would have been helping them make that connection, but people’s hearts were probably hardened, as they preferred darkness to light. In Matthew 24:37-39, Jesus said, “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realise what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.” Isn’t it strange how resilient people can be. They can be experiencing a catastrophe but still rationalise their way through it.
And then there was a second trumpet blast. We don’t know if the two trumpet blasts were separated by just a short time, say a day or two, or whether there was a significant gap of a generation or more between them. Had the memories of the first blast been lost over the years? And was God now allowing another judgement to take place to grab their attention? The second blast preceded another catastrophe – a mountain of fire plunged into the sea. It caused a disaster as the water turned blood red, presumably with whatever the fire was caused by, and the result was too toxic for a third of all the fish and other sea creatures to survive. And the resulting shock must have caused something like a tsunami, that destroyed any ships in its way. A third of our maritime vessels were lost. The impact of the mountain of fire must have caused human casualties as well.
But here’s the thing. Will the people then again lapse into rationalisation, and shrug off the event as being no more than perhaps a collision with an asteroid or large meteorite, disastrous though that they may have been? Or will they finally get the message that God was at long last justly dealing with the sin and wickedness prevalent on the earth? We don’t know how people will respond or what will really happen in these terrible days, but God knows.
To us pilgrims, perhaps reeling with shock from reading what is going to happen, we can do three things. Of course we pray, even the more earnestly for people we know to get the message. And that brings the second thing we can do – we share our message – God’s message of hope and reconciliation – with the world around us. Thirdly, we look after ourselves as we make sure we stay close to our loving Heavenly Father. Only He can save us from the wrath and judgements to come.
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your presence in our lives and Your encouragement as we plod along on our pilgrimage through life. Please help us we pray to clearly deliver Your Gospel to the lost and dying around us. In Jesus name. Amen.