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First Quarter 2019 • January, February, March
COMMENTARY—THE BOOK OF REVELATION
Week 7: February 9–15
COMMENTARY ON "The Seven Trumpets"
Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.
Throughout the rest of this quarter’s lesson, we will be handling Revelation as it is meant to be handled: literal, as it is written, except where it clearly is meant symbolically.
Chapter 1 is an introduction to the whole book.
Chapters 2 & 3 are letters to actual churches and also a prophetic description of the moral and spiritual condition of the Church down through the ages.
Chapters 4 & 5 take us to the things that will take place “after these things”, meaning after the things in Chapters 2 & 3 — the Church Age. Spiritually speaking, these are a prologue to the Tribulation which starts in Chapter 6, given from heaven’s perspective.
Chapter 6 reveals the beginning of the judgments on the earth sent by God. These are both punishment on those who rejected Jesus and a wake-up call for those who have not yet made their final decision.
Chapter 7 is an interlude, showing from Heaven’s perspective, those who are redeemed out of the Tribulation, answering the question at the end of Chapter 6 “Who is able to stand?” It also covers the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, the firstfruits who are saved out of the Tribulation and are sealed by God, then the Great Multitude of “every nation and tribe and people and tongue”.
Chapter 8 returns to earth and continues the judgments sent by God.
From the lesson:
Revelation 6:15–17 pictures Jesus returning to this earth and bringing judgment upon those who did evil to His faithful followers.
This assessment can’t be correct as Jesus does not return to earth until the 2nd Coming which occurs after the Great Tribulation.
What is coming next are the trumpet judgments which are progressively worse.
From the lesson:
The purpose of the seven trumpets is to assure God’s people that heaven is not indifferent to their suffering
No, if we take it literally as it is written, the trumpet judgments are the continuing judgments against the world.
Remember, this is not just a repeat of history, this is describing events that will happen “after these things” (Revelation 4:1), after the Church Age.
Trumpets were used in Israel on all their national occasions from calls to assembly to announcements of events. The number 7 is used in the Bible to indicate completeness or perfection. In this context it indicates the complete accomplishment of these judgments and God’s plans.
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
The lessons for these four days are so confusing and twisted that I will try to address the subject of all four at once.
The fifth seal is quite specific — it is the cry of the souls under the altar, those who have been killed for their faithfulness.
When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained (Rev. 6:9).
They have been killed for their faithfulness and witness.
The physical disturbances of the sixth seal is the direct intervention of the Creator upsetting the fixed order of the world. As the moon and the sun are given by God to mark day and night (Mark 1:32, Genesis 1:14, 16), show God’s order, permanence and faithfulness (Matthew 5:45, Ps. 19:1-6), show east from west (Revelation 7:2, 16:12), and indicate seasons (Genesis 1:14), so this indicates God’s overwhelming and catestrophic interference with this order as judgment and warning.
God designed the sun and moon to give light and give direction on earth, so His direct intervention in the normal order of the sky herald Christ’s return and judgment—His wrath on sinful man and the earth which is being worshipped in place of God.
The sky splitting open is not that of Christ’s return, as this is still during the Tribulation; rather it is a sign from the Creator of heaven and earth. This great shaking in verse 12 affects the entire universe, opening up a great window into heaven which will be visible to the whole earth.
These intrusions into the normal order of things will cause great terror in those who have denied the Creator of all things and have made up their own explanation which excludes God, by claiming that it all happened on its own without any God.
But despite their terror, they still do not repent. They want to die as they are struck with terror and their words “who can stand” indicate their belief that none can survive through the wrath of a God which they denied, but now must acknowledge if even for a moment.
From the lesson:
The purpose of the seven trumpets is to assure God’s people that heaven is not indifferent to their suffering.
The seven trumpets are directed at the Christ-rejecting world in judgment, rather than any supposed assurance to those who are saved. Saying that it is just “assurance” is to rob these judgments of any real power or impact.
The lesson’s claim that the trumpet judgments cover all of time from John’s time to the end of time is once again ignoring the clear progression of the time called the “Tribulation”. This is the time from the end of the Church age until the 2nd coming and shows progressively worsening judgments on “those who dwell on the earth” ( Rev. 8:13) and on the earth itself.
Those who reject God as Creator insert their own ideas as to the origin of the universe and life itself. Here we see the Creator God shaking the very foundations of the universe and destroying much of the earth as warning and judgment.
From Revelation 10:1 to 11:13 is a parenthetical section which tell some of the details of the Tribulation.
Starting in verse 14, John continues the narrative and the progression of the judgments on the earth and on those who reject God.
Verse 15 is a panoramic view of the rest of the Tribulation and shows the effects of the 7th trumpet and ushers in the reign of Christ in His kingdom. In effect, the 7th trumpet includes the seven Bowl judgments.
In Tuesday’s lesson, the Ellen White quote makes some assumptions based on the use of some words also used in the Old Testament.
First, verse 1 says “another strong angel”. In the Greek “another” is the word allos which means another of the same kind. He is clearly an angelic being of the same kind, (another), but not the same as the sixth angel.
This claim by Ellen White that the angel is Jesus goes back to the Arian roots of Adventism and the Investigative Judgment which claim that Jesus was elevated to be equal with God, a supposed deed which caused Lucifer’s jealousy. That jealousy supposedly caused Lucifer’s claim that God’s Law was unjust and the need for us to vindicate God and His Law by obeying it.
This belief has the effect of denying the Deity of Jesus and makes Him a created being; and yet, Jesus is the One through whom all things were created:
He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him (Col. 1:15, 16).
Jesus created all things, so if He was a created being, He created Himself. But a created being is not God and cannot create anything.
The text in Hosea is not referring to end times but rather to a regathering of Israel into their land.
And Revelation 10:3, “and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars”, is not saying that the loud voice is the roar of a lion; rather, the loud voice is likened to the loud roar of a lion. To hunt up instances when God’s voice is like the roar of a lion, and then apply that meaning to this verse is confusing and not good exegesis.
The whole discussion in Tuesday’s lesson about “no more time” is nothing more than a rearranging of the meaning of these verses to insert the 2,300 days of Adventist theology. It is used to support the whole 2,300 day scenario and then reduced to that of simply saying that there will be no more prophetic times given after that of 1844.
In fact, the last 3 1/2 years or 1,260 days or 42 months are very specific time periods describing the exact length of the Great Tribulation. To twist it to insert the Adventist movement into the Bible is to do serious damage to the message and impact of the end times. This is what happens when you use eisegesis—reading into the Bible what you want it to mean—rather than exegesis—taking out of the Bible what it says.
And there is this ironic question at the end of Tuesday’s lesson: “What does this statement from Ellen White tell us about why we must avoid all future date setting?”
It is used to give weight and legitimacy to all of early Adventist date setting while ruling out any date setting after that time.
In Wednesday’s lesson, dealing with the little book, we see more of the attempt to insert unique and unfounded Adventist theology into the text.
There is no indication that the little book is the sealed prophecies of Daniel or that the bitterness is related to the unsealing of those prophecies.
It is pure assumption that John “represents the remnant church”. He is the prophet and the messenger and he is tasked with telling us what will unfold in endtimes.
Although understanding endtimes prophecies and seeing many of them being fulfilled is encouraging, “sweet”, it is also painful to see the exploding of sin and evil in these last days “bitter”. This will be compounded during the Tribulation as the results of God’s judgments get worse and worse.
Then once again, the author follows Adventist theology and inserts the early Millerite movement into Revelation. There have been many ‘bitter’ and ‘sweet’ moments in the Church age but this is used to support the idea that the Adventist movement is spoken of in Scripture and is therefore legitimate.
From the lesson:
John’s commission to “prophesy again” to the world points to Sabbath-keeping Adventists, raised up to proclaim the message of the Second Coming in connection with the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation.
Here, again, a non-Christian sect is inserted into the Bible to give it authority and legitimacy. This is a gross misuse of the message of Scripture.
The section on the measuring of the temple is taken out of context in order to support the Investigative Judgment.
Thursday: The two witnesses.
Notice first of all that it is “MY” two witnesses, meaning they are two specific people selected by God for His purposes.
To spiritualize them by saying they are symbolic for something such as the Old and New Testaments, and locate them in the past, “the prophetic period of 1,260 days/years (a.d. 538–1798)” is once again to distort the Bible.
The entire description of them, their physical appearance, their message, methods of self-defense, deaths, and resurrections are meant to indicate two humans with a special message. These are literal descriptions of literal people and their effect on the world—the people of the Tribulation.
Yes, there is much discussion and disagreement with the timing of their appearance, but that is not the issue and should not be used as an excuse to distort the Word of God.
Further thought. One again, the seventh trumpet is said to take us to the end of earth’s history, but that idea ignores the fact that the seventh trumpet brings on the seven bowl judgments. Judgments come before the end, not after the second coming. When He returns, Jesus will rule the earth, not pour out more judgments. But, having said that, in a sense is does take us to the end, as the Bowl judgments are included in the 7th Trumpet judgment.
Further down, item #5 says that “end-time Babylon is judged because it destroyed the earth.”
There are a few problems with this statement.
Questions at the end. #2 asks:
What problems do you see with drafting overly detailed prophetic charts of the final events after 1844? How can one safeguard against the pitfalls that charts like these may bring?
Ironically, the problem actually is the complete fabrication and the errors in the charts that led up to 1844.