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Saturday, 11 March 2017 23:08

56. Introduction to the last three trumpets: warning, judgement will fall on the people who oppose God’s truth * Revelation 8:13

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13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!” (New American Standard Version )


*** An eagle flying ***: The word ‘eagle’ was translated from the Greek aetos, which means “vulture, eagle”. This word is used again in Revelation 19:17-18. Some Bible versions translated the word aetos as angel. But when we compare to other verses, we can see that the word vulture or eagle would match the judgement oracles against Israel we read about in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 28:49; Ezekiel 32:4; Ezekiel 39:17). Let's look at Hosea 8:1: “Set the trumpet to your mouth. He shall come as an eagle over the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law.” The blowing of the trumpet was going to happen because of the transgression of God’s covenant and of His Law. The apostate people would be cast out, and the vultures would be upon them (Ezekiel 32:4). This imagery reminds us of some things Jesus said. When talking about the events surrounding His Second Coming, Jesus said: “For wherever the carcass is, there will the vultures be gathered together.” (Matthew 24:28). The Greek word used in this verse is also aetos. The point is, some people will not be round up when the trumpet sound. They will be out, waiting for the vultures.

There are many examples in the Bible of times when the one carrying the sin is taken out of the scene. Adam and Eve were taken out of Eden when sin first came into the world (Genesis 3:23-24). Cain was sent out of the region after killing his brother Abel (Genesis 4:14). Jesus, in a similar way, was taken out of the city, where He was hung on the cross, carrying the sins of the world on his shoulders (John 19:16,17). On the Day of Atonement, two goats were involved in the end of the sacrificial ritual; one was to be the burned sacrifice, and the other was to be taken out of the camp, symbolically carrying away the recorded sins that had accumulated in the tabernacle during the year (Leviticus 16:21,22). It was the scapegoat. This part with the goat happened at the end of the ceremony, after the sacrifice ritual. The correspondent part in Revelation is also found in the final moments of the book. In Leviticus 16:21-22, we read that the scapegoat was to be taken out to a desolate place, outside of the camp. In the same manner, we see in Revelation 20:1-3,7-10 that Satan will be imprisoned in the abyss for one thousands years (a place of desolation, completely separate from the place where the saved will be). After some time, he will be let loose in order to receive his final sentence. Satan does not carry the sins as a symbol of the remission of the repented sinner. He carries the sin because his evil nature is revealed at the end of the history of the world. He is the embodiment of the separation from God caused by sin. Just as it was with the scapegoat, Satan will be sent out of the limits where God’s people are.

In all these examples, we see the one carrying the sin being placed on trial, outside God’s camp, away from the chosen ones. The work of Christ is to take sin away (1 John 3:5; John 1:29). This is exactly what He did at the cross. He paid the price for the sinner, even though He was innocent. But the fact that Jesus served the sentence that was ours, doesn’t finalize the trial we are on. The truly guilty party still needs to be identified. Satan’s accusations against God were heavy. But Calvary revealed God's character, and also Satan’s. The blood of Christ removed the sin from the sinner, even though Jesus was innocent. Satan is the true guilty one in this trial. The moment will come for him to receive his sentence for all the iniquity that was generated because of him.

In Luke 17:34-37, Jesus told the people an analogy about the saved people and the ones who would not enter the kingdom of God. In His scenario, some people would be taken away, some would be left. The ones taken away seemed to be doing very similar work to the ones who were left: some were asleep, some were grinding and some were working the field. But somehow, they ended up going through different experiences. The disciples were curious about where they were taken to, and soon the question came: “Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wherever the body is, there will the vultures be gathered together.” (Luke 17:37). The Greek word for vultures in this verse is also aetos. There is a lot of confusion about these verses, and people may think that the ones being taken away are the ones saved, and the ones staying are the lost people. But Jesus is clear: the ones being taken away are the ones who will be facing the vultures. They will be the target of His judgments. Jesus will take sin away of the camp. These verses are not a representation of people being secretly taken to Heaven, while the ones who stay behind are left to face trials. These verses are the demonstration of Christ’s justice as He executes His judgments. The vultures surrounding the ones taken out of the kingdom of God are there because they have “transgressed [God’s] covenant, and trespassed against [His] law” (Hosea 8:1).

*** Three woes ***: The word “woe” was translated from the Greek oúaí, which is an expression uttered in grief or denunciation, such as alas. In Revelation 8:13, the vulture is announcing three imminent woes that are coming towards those who dwell on Earth. Each of the woes comes with one of the following trumpets. But these instances are not the only moments in the Bible where this word was used: Matthew 18:7,8 is a good example of a similar woe. Jesus was speaking to the disciples about those entering the kingdom of Heaven. He said: “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! Therefore if your hand or your foot offend you, cut them off, and cast them from you: it is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” The woe comes because of the offenses of the world. And those causing these offenses will suffer. Just as we have to cut off and cast out anything that may be leading us to sin, Jesus will cut off and cast out the apostate parts of the Body of Christ (of the church). The term woe/Alas is mentioned in other parts of Revelation: Revelation 9:12; Revelation 11:14; Revelation 12:12; Revelation 18:10. These verses refer to the terrible things that will happen to those who oppose God.

*** Those who dwell on the earth ***: Once again, we see the target of God’s judgments. Those who dwell on the Earth are a contrast to the citizens of Heaven (see study #42). In Revelation 12:12, we see that the ones who dwell in Heaven should rejoice, while the ones who dwell on Earth are the target of the woe exclamation. The faithful chosen people of God are not the ones who will be targeted. And this concept is repeated throughout all of the trumpets so far. There is still time for the inhabitants of the Earth to make a different choice if they heed to God’s call.

*** Overview ***: The first four trumpets were warnings to those who had fallen out of the path of the truth. The next three trumpets show how the events seen in the first four went on to develop. Revelation 8:13 is an announcement of impending danger, warning about the demonic activities being unleashed on those people who rejected the true message of God. The presence of the vulture making the woe statement indicates that the intensity of God’s judgments is about to increase. The vultures are already flying over the carcasses of the spiritually dead. If the alert is being made public, it's because the people of the Earth still have time to change sides, and leave the dead end trail. They can still tread the path of the one who overcomes. They can still be completely transformed by the redeeming blood of Jesus. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

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