Robert Jeffress - When Gabriel Blows His Horn
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Perhaps you're familiar with the story of Israel's Exodus from ancient Egypt. When Pharaoh disobeyed God's command to let the Israelites go, God unleashed a series of natural disasters, illnesses, and death like the world had never seen. And while the plagues on Egypt were certainly terrible, the horrors that will take place during the tribulation will be even worse. My message is titled "When Gabriel Blows his Horn". On today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
Conservative media gets many things right, but not everything. In fact, there is one truth you will never hear from right-wing pundits or conservative news outlets. And that truth is this. Environmental problems like ozone depletion, rising and falling temperatures, floods, environmental problems in the world are real, and they are really the result of human activity. I know what some of you are thinking. Pastor, what have you been smoking? Have you secretly been watching MSNBC? How could you make such an outlander statement that there are environmental problems and they can be traced to human activity? Because I read my Bible, that's how.
You know, the Bible says in Genesis 1 and 2 that God created this world, and everything he created was good. The animals, the atmosphere, everything, the seas, the rivers, everything was good. But then Adam and Eve rebelled against God. And through that human activity of rebelling against God, sin entered the world and it infected every part of this world, including the environment. Yes, environmental problems are the result of human activity, sin. But the greatest threat to the environment, the greatest assault on the world will not come from the hands of mankind. The greatest assault on the environment is yet to come, and it will come from the hand of Almighty God. And it's the event we're going to look at today.
If you have your Bibles, turn to Revelation 8, as we discover what's going to happen to the earth when Gabriel blows his horn. Revelation 8. Now, if you've just joined us in this study of Revelation, we are in the Great Tribulation. The rapture of the church has already occurred. Believers are in heaven. And we've begun the final seven years of earth's history that will culminate in the literal, visible return of Jesus Christ. Remember what the tribulation is? It is that seven-year period of time that will begin when the antichrist signs a peace treaty with Israel, and seven years later it will end with the return of Jesus Christ at the climactic Battle of Armageddon. What is the purpose of the tribulation? It is God's judgment on the earth. Specifically, it is for the condemnation of unbelievers, but also the salvation of the elect.
Interestingly, there'll be a number of people who will be saved during these seven years of tribulation, and God's purpose is always redemptive in nature. And so the seven years of God's judgment actually comes in the form of three series of judgments. I put them on your outline there. First of all, there are the seal judgments in Revelation 6. The trumpet judgments in Revelation 8 through 11. And the bowl judgments in 16. And there are seven of each. Now, what is interesting and you need to understand these judgments is the seventh seal judgment actually includes all of the trumpet judgments, see that? And the seventh trumpet judgment is actually all of the bowl judgments.
Now we've already gone through the first series of judgments in Revelation 6. The seal judgments, we've looked at six of those already, and they're found in Revelation 6. Remember the first one is the appearance of the antichrist, the world leader who assumes power not with any war, but the world turns to him voluntarily because of the chaos on the earth. And we looked at the other ones, famine and destruction and the martyrdom of the saints. And the final, the sixth seal judgment, great cosmic disturbances. That's Revelation 6. Then when we get to chapter 7, John says, wait a minute, before we go forward, I want to share with you another aspect of the tribulation "You need to understand". And that is the 144.000 Jews whom Christ saves and then he seals supernaturally to be Jewish evangelists, to go around the world sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. And the result we see in Revelation 7 is that a multitude of both Jews and gentiles will be saved. That's Revelation 7.
Now, when we get to Revelation 8, we are ready to remove the seventh seal from the book that will unleash all of the trumpet judgments and all of the bowl judgments that are to come. Now, remember this scroll that has all of these judgements written in it, remember that seventh seal scroll? We talked about it in Revelation 5 in heaven. God the Father gives Jesus the lamb that seventh seal scroll, the book of redemption that contains a description of how this world was lost to Satan and it also identifies the terms by which this world will be redeemed and returned to its rightful owner. And the seventh seal scroll, it has seven seals on it. And you break one seal and a little bit of it's revealed, a second one, more. When we have finished the sixth seal, almost all of the scroll has been revealed. And then notice what happens, chapter 8:1, "When the lamb," that is Jesus, "Broke the seventh," the final seal, "There was silence in heaven for about half an hour".
When the seventh seal is broken, it means the scroll is completely opened and everyone in heaven can see all of the final judgments against the earth. They can see all of the trumpet judgments, all of the bowl judgments. And when the heavenly residents see what awaits this earth, there is a collective gasp you can hear in heaven. It's as if everybody takes his hand and puts it over his mouth. They can't believe what the Lord is about to do to the earth. In Zephaniah 1:7, Zephaniah warned, "Be silent before the Lord God, for the day of the Lord is near".
One writer describes this silence as the silence in a courtroom when the jury comes back after their deliberation and the foreman of the jury stands up to announce the verdict and people are silent as they await the verdict. Someone else has described this as the silence that precedes a thunderstorm or a tornado. You know, right before the storm comes, the birds quit singing, the insects quit chirping. There's an eerie silence. That's what you have here, this eerie silence, as everyone awaits these judgments. Look at verse 2. "And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them". Who are these seven angels who stand before God? We don't know, it's conjecture. Many people believe it's the Archangels. People like Michael, angels like Gabriel. Special angels who will be given each one one of these trumpets to sound. Trumpets are very important in scripture. I've listed here five primary uses of trumpets in the Bible. To announce ceremonial processions. To assemble Israel for war. To announce the new year. Trumpets will be used in the future to regather Israel at the second coming of Christ. And finally, there'll be a trumpet that will announce the rapture of the church.
Remember 1 Thessalonians 4? "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, "With the voice of the Archangel and with the," what? "The trumpet of God". I'm ready to hear that one, aren't you? Believers are going to hear that one day, that trumpet blast that signals the rapture of the church. These trumpets signify the beginning of a war. These angels are going to sound the trumpet to announce God's war on planet earth. Each one has a trumpet. But before the first angel blows the trumpet, notice something else John sees, and that is the angel with the gold censer. Now, this is so interesting to me. Look at verse 3. "Another angel," not one with a trumpet, but "Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer". I'll explain what that is in just a moment. "And much incense was given to him so that he might add it to the prayers of all of the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints went up before God, out of the angel's hand".
Now you're probably wondering, what in the world is this talking about? Remember in the Old Testament temple, there were two altars. One was called the altar of sacrifice, the brazen altar, and it was busy day and night. Priests were continually offering animal sacrifices on that brazen altar. But there was a second altar, a golden altar. It was called the altar of incense. It was in the holy place. In fact, it stood right before the veil that separated the holy place from the holy of holies. That was the altar of incense. And the priest would go up, and to the burning coals on the altar of incense he would add incense that would waft its way to heaven, signifying how pleasing the sacrifices were, like a pleasing aroma in the nostrils of God.
Now what John sees in heaven is an angel standing before that first altar, the altar of sacrifice, and like the priest would do, using some tongs to remove the burning coals of the altar of sacrifice and placing them in a gold receptacle. It was called a censer. It was just a golden receptacle you would carry on a chain. And he would use the tongs and he would put those coals in that golden censer and take them to the altar of incense. And he would mix with those burning coals incense. And this time John sees the angel mixing with the hot coals the prayers of God's people that are again wafting their way into the presence of God, like a fragrant aroma. It says that the angel gathered all of the saints, the prayers of all of the saints. That is he has collected all of the prayers of all of God's people for all time, and he is offering them as a sacrifice to God.
You know, this tells us something about the importance of prayer to God. God values the prayers of his saints. God values your prayer. There is not one prayer you offer that goes unnoticed by God. In fact, over and over again, the Bible describes your prayers as incense, a fragrant aroma to God the Father. And sometimes one of the greatest sacrifices we make to God is through our prayer. This passage is teaching us that our prayer is like offering a sacrifice that is pleasing to God. You say, well, in what sense is our prayer a sacrifice to God?
Christian philosopher Peter Kraft puts it like this. He writes, "Prayer is a kind of death. It's a rehearsal for death. In praying, we die to ourselves, our wills, our ordinary consciousness and desires and concerns, even our ordinary world, and we enter God's world, aligning our minds and wills with God's. We die to our time. We sacrifice our loaves and fishes to him, and he multiplies them". Isn't that insightful? When we pray, "Not my will, but your will be done," we're offering a sacrifice to God.
And listen to me, you may not have two nickels to rub together. You may not feel like you can serve God in any tangible way. There's some of you right now watching on television or listening on radio, maybe you're in a hospital, maybe you're home bound and you think, "I have nothing to offer to the Lord". You have the best gift of all to offer to him, and that is your prayers. God treasures your prayers, and every Christian can pray. That's the picture we see here. But the particular prayers that John sees the angel gathering are the prayers of the tribulation saints who have been praying for relief from the terrible calamity that is going on during these seven years.
And I want you to notice what this angel does. It's really strange. After he has taken the coals and mixed them with incense and taken them up to the altar of incense, look at what happens in verse 5. "Then the angel took the censer and he filled it with the fire," that is the coals of the altar, "And he threw it to the earth". That is, he takes hot coals he has just put on the altar of incense, he uses the tongs, puts them back in his censer. He collects the incense, the prayers of the saints, puts them back into the censer, and he empties that censer, the hot coals and the prayers on the earth. And what happens after that? "And there followed peels of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake". The tribulation is in full force at this point.
What is the relationship between the prayers of God's saints that have been poured out on the earth? Here is the picture. The great judgment of God against the earth is the result of the prayers of God's people. What have God's people been praying for thousands of years? Thy kingdom come, God. Thy will be done on earth as it's being done in heaven. Christians of every age have been praying for justice. They've been praying for an end of suffering. They've been praying for the return of Jesus Christ. That is the prayer of every true Christian. And now the angel is pouring out those prayers on the earth and saying, "Those prayers are about to be answered". Lightning is the sign of a thunderstorm thundering, the earthquake, these are all the direct result of the prayers of God's people through all the ages.
Walter Wink, the theologian, said, "The message is clear. History belongs to the intercessors who pray the future into being". That's what these Christians through the ages have been doing. They have prayed the future, God's future judgment and Christ's future return into being. And now we're ready for the sounding of the first four of those trumpet judgments, beginning in verse 7. You'll notice that the first four of these trumpet judgments are against the earth, against nature, and the final three are against mankind. And people say, well, do we take these literally, are these literal judgments? These are so fantastical, are they literal? Well, the plagues against Egypt were literal plagues that resulted in the people's release. There's no reason not to take these literally, especially with the specificity that you find, as we'll see described in just a moment.
Now, these first four trumpet judgments are very short. They're like the staccato burst of a trumpet, they don't take long to unleash. And notice the destruction against the earth is measured in fractions, 1/3 or 1/4. It's not total destruction. Not yet, anyway. Let's look at that first trumpet, fire on earth. Verse 7. "The first trumpet sounded and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth". We don't know for sure what John is describing here. Perhaps it's a result of the volcanic activity mentioned in verse 5 when John talks about the thunder and lightning and earthquakes. Perhaps these earthquakes have caused volcanic activity throughout the world that is causing lava and rock to be spewed into the atmosphere and it returns as what looks like hail or meteors striking the earth. Perhaps this is literal blood that's the result of humans and animals caught up in that destruction. We don't know for sure.
Dr. Henry Morris, the father of our Henry Morris and John Morris, he speculates that perhaps this could be the earth passing through the tail of a comet, like Halley's comet, and a meteor shower. But whatever it is, the devastation is real. Notice the results. "1/3 of the earth was burned up". Can your mind comprehend what it would be like to have 1/3 of this world burned up? We've seen the tremendous devastation in Australia. That's localized destruction.
Imagine if that were worldwide. "1/3 of the earth was burned up". Just imagine the drought of having the earth burned up. The mudslides with all of the top soil removed that would occur. Not only that, "1/3 of the trees were burned up". There's about, they tell us, 3 trillion trees in the world. I don't know who counted them, but they say there are about 3 trillion trees. Imagine a trillion trees, the rain forest being devastated, what that would do to our ecological system. And imagine no wood for construction, imagine what it would do to animal life. And not only that, "All the green grass was burned up". Again, later on we're going to see that some of the grass is going to be protected, but in this trumpet judgment all of the grass, or at least green grass is going to be destroyed.
Think again about the tremendous damage to our ecosystem if you lost 1/3 of the green grass in the world. You know, as I read about this first trumpet judgment, the natural world, the third of the world burned up, the trees destroyed, and then I read further as we'll see in a moment, the marine life, 1/3 of all marine life destroyed, and I think about all of this ash and smoke going into the atmosphere, I can't help but think about the current discussion going on in our country right now, in our world, about the environment and concern about the environment. Now let me be very clear. I believe we ought to take care of the environment. I think we are stewards of the world that God has given us. I have no argument with that, I think that's biblical. But today there seems to be those who have put so much emphasis on the creation, they have forgotten the Creator.