Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 18 2013 - Revelation 9:1-21 – The trumpet shall sound

Let me remind you of the context for our reading this morning. In chapter 6 we read of those who had been killed for their testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ. They are by an altar in heaven, symbolic of the death of the Lord they have served, and they cry out, “How long, O Lord?” How long will this injustice continue? How long will God stand by and allow the innocent to suffer and evil and greed to triumph? How long before Christ returns in judgment to set the world to rights? This cry, surely, finds an echo in our own hearts.

Chapter 7 provided something of the answer. Christ does not delay the day of judgment because he does not care about the world that he has made. On the contrary, Christ delays because he has many more whom he purposes to save – a great crowd that no-one can number from every nation tribe and tongue. He will not only save his people, he will also protect them and bring them safe to glory – he will seal them.

Then in chapter 8, before the trumpets begin to be blown, we see that God is fulfilling his purposes through the prayers of his people. We are those through whom he is pleased to extend the boundaries of his kingdom into all the world.

But the cry of Revelation 6 has not been forgotten. The judgment of God is on its way. In Revelation 9, the blasts of the fifth and sixth trumpets herald the unleashing of judgments depicted in gruesomely graphic forms. With the fifth trumpet such torment is sent out into the earth that its inhabitants seek death but it flees from them. With the sixth trumpet, a terrible army is released to kill a third of mankind. But these torments do not cause the remaining two-thirds to repent of their evil ways – they “did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts” (9:20-21).

In all of these terrible judgments, those whom God has sealed remain protected (9:4). It is not that they do not suffer from the terrible things that go on in the world, but they are safe from the judgment of God and the wrath of the Lamb.

Truly this is a dark chapter. Yet as I read it, I thought of a very different trumpet blast. Paul writes, "For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed... Death has been swallowed up in victory... But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:52, 54, 57). The "last trumpet" (15:52) will sound the triumphant note of life, rather than heralding judgment and death. Jesus is risen from the dead; he has broken the power of sin and of death. Life, not death, is God's last word.

Thanks be to God!

Lord God, your word paints a grim picture of the world in which we live. Thank you that our hope is not in this world with its tempting but deadly indulgences but in Christ who has conquered death and who is Lord over all. Help us to live by faith; to live with confidence and joy in Christ our Saviour and to bring words of hope and acts of healing to those who are in pain and despair. Lord have mercy upon our suffering world. Bring many to repentance and to know the joy of your salvation.

Peter Misselbrook