Church of the Good Shepherd

Towards Repentance

Some place the Trumpets in the distant future ... after the Rapture.

I think we see God's people and God's enemies mixed here.

They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. - Revelation 9:4

  • Why is it good to have an honest view of pain, frustration and brutality?
  • How are these 7 trumpets (more like 7 tortures) comforting?
  • Remember the original audience...
    • 90 AD
    • Domitian was the emperor
    • Christians were marginalized, oppressed and sometimes killed for their faith.
    • They were accused of incest, cannibalism and atheism
    • How does this help them?
    • How does the end of the chapter ... hearing about people not repenting ... how does that comfort, heal and give hope?

The more I study the world, myself, human nature and the Bible, the more convinced I am that we need a more nuanced view of life than many of us have.


Annie Dillard's, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

  • 60's flower child
  • Wanted to live by this creek and find inner harmony as she watched the water flow, life develop and the seasons past.
  • She found herself shocked because nature is red in tooth and claw.
  • Story - Water bug sucking brain and innards from a frog.

"'Evolution loves death more than it loves you or me. ... I had thought to live by the side of the creek in order to shape my life to its free flow. But I seemed to have reached a point where I must draw the line. It looks as though the creek is not buoying me up but dragging me down."

Look: [a] robin may die the most gruesome of slow deaths and nature is no less pleased; the sun comes up, the creek rolls on, the survivors still sing. I cannot feel that way about your death, nor you about mine or either of us about the robin's ... We value the individual supremely, and nature values him not a wit. It looks for the moment as though I might have to reject this creek life unless I want to be utterly brutalized. ...

Either this world, my mother, is a monster or I am a freak.

Consider the former: the world is a monster. ... There is not a people in the world who behaves as badly as praying mantises. But wait, you say, there's no right or wrong in nature; right and wrong is a human concept. Precisely: we are moral creatures in an amoral world. ...[A] monstrous world running on chance and death, careening blindly from nowhere to nowhere, somehow produced wonderful us. ... I crawled out of a sea of amino acids and now I must whirl around and shake my fist at that sea and cry Shame! ... We little blobs of soft tissue crawling around on this one planet's skin are right, and the whole universe is wrong.

Or consider the alternative. ... Creation itself is [fine, and ] it is only human feeling that is freakishly amiss. The frog that the giant water bug sucked had, presumably, a rush of pure feeling for about a second, before its brain turned to broth. I, however, have been sapped by various strong feelings about the incident almost daily for years. ...

All right then. It is our emotions [and values] that are amiss. We are freaks, the world is fine, and let us all go have lobotomies to restore us to a natural state. We can leave the library then, go back to the creek lobotomized , and live on its banks as untroubled as any muskrat or reed.

You first."

So that's the dilemma.

Annie Dillard saw that nature was full of brutality and death.

We see the same...and are pushed one level further.  Not only do we see nature difficult, but we see God's plans as difficult.

1.  God's Goal is Repentant Hearts

He will do anything to get people there.

-This passage talks about the wrath of God made visible through seven judgments.

  • In a moment we'll talk about the details
  • For now, why is He doing this?

Goal - Repentance


The New Testament word for repentance means changing one's mind so that one's views, values, goals, and ways are changed and one's whole life is lived differently. The change is radical, both inwardly and outwardly; mind and judgment, will and affections, behavior and life-style, motives and purposes, are all involved. Repenting means starting to live a new life.  (J.I. Packer, Concise Theology)

Heidelberg Catechism

Q.88 What is involved in genuine repentance or conversion?

Two things: the dying-away of the old self, and the coming-to-life of the new.

Q. 89 What is the dying-away of the old self?

It is to be genuinely sorry for sin, to hate it more and more, and to run away from it.

Q. 90 What is the coming-to-life of the new self?

It is wholehearted joy in God through Christ and a delight to do every kind of good as God wants us to.

Repentance Isn't Asking Forgiveness for Breaking the Rules

"Legalistic remorse says, ‘I broke God's rules,' while real repentance says, ‘I broke God's heart.' Legalistic repentance takes sin to Mt. Sinai, gospel repentance to Mt. Calvary. Legalistic repentance is convicted by punishment, gospel repentance becomes convicted by mercy."  - Timothy Keller, Church Planter Manual

Repentance isn't a Work that Gets Us back to God ... Its what it feels like to God Home

C.S. Lewis, Repentance "is not something God demands of you before He will take you back...; it is simply a description of what going back is like."

2.  Details of the Trumpets

Echoes of Old Testament stories

  • Reversal of creation (Genesis 1-2)
  • Replaying of the Plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7ff)
    • None of this is new
    • God has been calling people to repent since the beginning of history

1st Trumpet - The Earth is Afflicted

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. - Revelation 8:7

1.       Notice that this present judgment is partial. 

1/3 of the Earth was burned.

  • In this present age, between Christ's 1st & 2nd Comings, God's mercy in Christ is still available.
  • There is still time to repent

2. Symbolic Nature of this Burning of the Earth

-          This represents any kind of destruction that damages the earth.

-          What we would call natural or environmental disasters can be seen as God getting our attention.

2nd Trumpet - The Sea is Afflicted

The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. - Revelation 8:8-9

1.  God's Partial Judgment

- only affecting a significant minority of the world.

2.  John's Readers

  • People living in Rome and Asia Minor would have naturally though of the horrible burning of Jerusalem in 70 AD. and the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.
    • As Vesuvius completely engulfed the city of Pompeii, the molten lava spilled into the Gulf of Naples, destroying the harbor and consuming all the ships.
    • With these events in mind, they certainly could picture, "something like a great mountain, burning with fire, [being] thrown into the sea."


  • This affects the ECONOMIC welfare of the people
    • Reminds us that our prosperity is a fleeting condition.
    • America's situation
    • Colson

§         We all want our nation to repent.

§         "The nation cannot be saved unless the Church is first revived."

3rd Trumpet - The Rivers are Afflicted

Read v.10-11

The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter. - Revelation 8:10-11

The Star named "WORMWOOD" falls from the sky

  • Actual name of a plant in the Mediterranean
  • Bitter tasting, and if ingested would cause a very upset stomach
  • If it somehow got into a water supply, many people could be harmed.

Here, we see Satan falling from Heaven, and turning something that brings life (water) into something twisted and bitter.

This points, not to a coming water crisis, but to a crisis of the soul.

  • The Samaritan woman used to strain daily in the heat, drawing water to satisfy her Christ
  • Jesus told her, "Only I can give you the water that will make you never thirst again."
  • Likewise, Wormwood twists our sin and turns it bitter, so that it never satisfies our thirst
  • This happens so that our deeper thirst can be slacked by the living water of the gospel.

4th Trumpet = The Sky Is Afflicted

The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night. - Revelation 8:12

This time judgment is connected to our sight.

How will this happen?  Eclipses, smog, nuclear winter?

Michael Wilcock, a great Anglican scholar wrote, "The important thing here where the supernatural events of Revelation are concerned is not HOW they will happen, but WHY they happen.

  • The WHY is clear
  • The darkening of sight is a reoccurring theme in the Bible
  • It is a symbol of people who can't recognize the truth of Jesus Christ.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. ...He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. - John 1:1-3, 10

This Trumpet = God intensifying physical darkness to create a longing for the true light, the light of men - Jesus Christ

In v.13, we see an eagle cry out 3 Woes

The eagle is there to feast on the carnage that is to come

The 1st 4 Trumpets judged the entire world, trying to stir men to repentance

The last 3 Trumpets, God strikes mankind Judging without quarter.

5th Trumpet - Mankind is Tormented


In this passage, the Abyss opens and an ugly army of locusts spill forth.

-          During the Exodus, the last and worst plagues only affected the Egyptians, not the Jews

-          Likewise, here we see God separate His people from this tribulation.  People who are sealed with the Holy Spirit are spared.

The leader of this demonic hoard is Abaddon, the destroyer (Greek equivalent - Apollyon)

o       Mission is to destroy & torment

o       Not to kill, but to make life a literal Hell on earth

o       So great is the suffering that the prefer death

This lasts for 5 months = the average span of life for this sort of creature

One interpretation shows how this might be working out today:

  • The images of this judgment shows how the rejection of Jesus unleashes demonic fury into our world
    • Smoke - first anti-Christian ideas take the form of false ideologies
    • Locusts - bad ideas take form in government, religion, education, etc
    • Attack - these institutions inject violently anti-Christian an inhumane energies into our world
  • It's a bad idea that black people were property, inhuman.
    • This bad idea took form in slavery, oppression ... even intense cruelty sponsored & defended by many churches
    • The result was a culture of inequality that has taken a hundred years to push back...but still has far too much influence in our world.
  • It's a bad idea that a baby is just a fetus...a parasite living in the womb of a mother
    • This bad idea takes the form of abortion clinics giving abortion on demand
    • The result is that we have young women walking around with wounds in their hearts, their souls tormented.

6th Trumpet - Mankind is Visited by Destruction


This section continues with the biblical symbolism of unexpected death as a warning to move unbelievers and unrepentant sinners into the arms of God.

200 Million Troops of the Devil's Cavalry

Ancient World:

Most of Israel's enemies lived in the region of the Euphrates River.

-          Many times, they crossed the river to bring death and destruction to Israel, all with the goal of bringing people back to God.

-          Rome's Eastern boundary was at the Euphrates also, with the threat of the Parthians beyond

-          Because this, the people lived under constant threat of death

These angels are released to kill 1/3 of all mankind

Response ... No Repentance

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. - Revelation 9:20-21

Puritan Saying - "The same sun that melts the ice also hardens the clay."

3.  Jesus Went Through Pain for Us

Jesus was abandoned on the Cross.

He suffered the white-hot wrath of God.

-          This wrath is holy and just

-          God was right to be angry

o       The only catch was that Jesus isn't the supposed to be on the receiving end of this wrath

§         It's supposed to be us.

o       Jesus was with God from time eternity

§         He has heard God's voice every moment that ever had a moment

§         Yet on the Cross he hears only silence

§         God turns his back, withholds his love, his voice, his comfort

§         Jesus is abandoned

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" - Matthew 27:46

G.K Chesterton, "God seemed for an instant to be an atheist."


For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. - 2 Corinthians 5:21


The U.S.S. Astoria was a heavy cruiser that saw duty during World War II's Battle of the Coral Sea and at Midway, then was sunk in August of 1942 at the Battle of Savo Island. On board in the fight for Savo was Signalman third class Elgin Staples. Sometime around 2 a.m. on the ship's final day, Staples was blown overboard when one of the Astoria's gun turrets exploded. In the water, wounded in both legs by shrapnel and in a state of near-shock, Staples was kept afloat by a narrow lifebelt which he had activated by a trigger.

In his book The Grand Weaver, Ravi Zacharias tells the fascinating story of what happened next.

"Four hours after being blown into the Pacific, Staples was picked up by a passing destroyer and returned to the Astoria. Even though the cruiser had been severely damaged, her captain was trying to beach the ship in order to save her. When his attempts failed, Staples found himself back in the water. By now, it was noon.

"This time it was the U.S.S. President Jackson that plucked him out of the water. On board, Staples studied the little lifebelt that saved his life twice that day. He noticed the belt was manufactured by the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio, and carried a registration number.

"Allowed to go home for a visit, Staples related his story to the family and asked his mother, who worked for Firestone, the purpose of the registration number on the belt. She pointed out that the company was holding employees responsible for their work in the war effort and each worker had his/her own number. Staples recalled everything about that lifebelt, including the registration number. As he called it out, his mother's eyes grew large. She said, 'That was my personal code that I put on every item I was responsible for approving!'

"His mother had made the belt which had saved his life twice."

Zacharias concludes, "The one who gave him birth and whose DNA he bore gave him rescue in the swirling waters that threatened to take his life. If an earthly parent playing the role of procreation can provide a means of rescue without knowing when and for whom that belt would come into play, how much more can the God of all creation accomplish?" (www.joemckeever.com)

4.  It takes Love and Pain to Pierce our Hearts

C.S. Lewis, Repentance "is not something God demands of you before He will take you back...; it is simply a description of what going back is like."

"We must take refuge from God in God." A. W. Tozer

Blowing up a rock takes a drill and dynamite.

Building a tunnel and come to a giant boulder

  • Just dynamite and you sheer off pieces
  • Just drill and you'll drill forever
  • Drill first and put the dynamite into the core


Repent Even If you Don't "Feel" Like Repenting

 "Come for repentance, if you cannot come repenting. Come for a broken heart, if you cannot come with a broken heart. Come to be melted, if you are not melted. Come to be wounded, if you are not wounded." - Charles Spurgeon, The Precious Blood of Christ



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