Plague Number Seven

13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 19 Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.”’” 20 Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, 21 but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field.

22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.” 23 Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail.

27 Then Pharaoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them, “This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. 28 Plead with the Lord, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” 29 Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the Lord. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. 30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.” 31 (The flax and the barley were struck down, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud. 32 But the wheat and the emmer were not struck down, for they are late in coming up.) 33 So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and stretched out his hands to the Lord, and the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured upon the earth. 34 But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses. – Exodus 9:13-35 ESV

In his written chronicle of these events, Moses provides no timeline, so it is difficult to know if there was any delay between the various plagues. The sixth plague, which featured anthrax-like skin lesions, must have eventually come to an end but Moses provides no details. And it is impossible to tell whether any time was given for the Egyptians to heal before the next plague began. Moses simply states that God told him to “Get up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh” (Exodus 9:13 NLT). This could have been the very next day after his last conversation with Pharaoh or it could have been months later. But whatever the case, God sent Moses and Aaron back to Pharaoh with the very same request they had repeatedly made.

Let my people go, so they can worship me. – Exodus 9:13 NLT

And, this time, God provided Moses with an important addendum to His original request.

“If you don’t, I will send more plagues on you and your officials and your people. Then you will know that there is no one like me in all the earth.” – Exodus 9:13 NLT

God wanted Pharaoh to know that the worse was yet to come. If the king continued to resist God’s request, the people of Egypt would suffer even greater distress and, this time, God let Pharaoh know that their very existence was in His hands.

“By now I could have lifted my hand and struck you and your people with a plague to wipe you off the face of the earth. But I have spared you for a purpose—to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth. But you still lord it over my people and refuse to let them go.” – Exodus 9:15-17 NLT

In a display of divine mercy, God informed Pharaoh of the exact nature of the next plague. He was going to send a hail storm so intense that if the Egyptians did not provide shelter for their livestock and servants, they would be pummelled to death. Anyone or anything that remained outdoors would die as a result of this supernatural storm. This message seems to have been directed to Pharaoh and his court officials. These would have been some of the wealthiest men in Egypt and they would have had possessed large land holdings where they grew crops and grazed their livestock. Moses indicates that some of these men took seriously the warning passed on to them from Moses and did as he had suggested. But others scoffed at the words of Moses and his God.

At the Lord’s command, Moses lifted his staff in the air and, immediately, the storm began, and it was like nothing the Egyptians had ever seen before. This was no ordinary hail storm. It was a divinely ordained, supernatural display of God’s power over all creation. And it was yet another direct attack on the gods of Egypt. Moses leaves nothing to the imagination when it comes to the destructive power of this storm.

The Lord sent a tremendous hailstorm against all the land of Egypt. Never in all the history of Egypt had there been a storm like that, with such devastating hail and continuous lightning. It left all of Egypt in ruins. The hail struck down everything in the open field—people, animals, and plants alike. Even the trees were destroyed. – Exodus 9:23-25 NLT

The Egyptian gods responsible for the care and well-being of livestock were powerless to do their jobs. Any animals left in the fields were destroyed by the massive hailstones that fell from the sky. Others were struck down by the lightning bolts that emanated from the dark storm clouds. Crops were completely destroyed. Trees were stripped of their limbs, leaves, and fruit. It was if the Egyptian gods were doing battle with one another.

The goddess, Nut, was believed to be responsible for holding up the sky and was often portrayed as a woman arched over the earth. Underneath her body lay her brother, Geb, the earth god. Together, these two gods, along with Shu, the god of the air, held the world together. The heavens, sky, and earth were protected by this trinity of Egyptian gods. But, on this occasion, they failed to do their jobs. From the domain of Shu came devastating hail that damaged the realm of Geb. To the Egyptians, it appeared as if Shu’s sister, Tefnut, the goddess of moisture, was playing a role by sending torrential rains along with the hail. And the violent nature of the storm did not seem to fit their understanding of Shu, who was associated with dry air and calm, and was supposed to provide a cooling and calming influence over the world. In a land where rain was sporadic at best, this storm was unsettling and anything but calming in its influence. For the Egyptians, it was as if all their gods were at war with one another.

“What would the worshippers of Nut have thought when they looked skyward not to see the blessings of the sun and warmth, but the tragedy of storm and violence. Nut was the sky goddess. It was from her domain that this tragedy originated. One reflects upon the responsibilities of both Isis and Seth who also had responsibilities relating to agricultural crops. The black and burned fields of flax were a silent testimony to the impotence and incapability of wooden and stone deities.” – John Davis, Moses and the Gods of Egypt

But it was all the work of Jehovah, the God of the Israelites, and the one true God was doing what the gods of the Egyptians were powerless to do: Providing His chosen people with divine protection.

The only place without hail was the region of Goshen, where the people of Israel lived. – Exodus 9:26 NLT

It was as if a celestial dome had been erected over the land of Goshen, preventing the hail and lightning from reaching the Israelites and their property. They were completely safe. But the Egyptians suffered greatly. Their losses were catastrophic. And it appears as if this plague got Pharaoh’s attention.

“This time I have sinned,” he confessed. “The Lord is the righteous one, and my people and I are wrong. Please beg the Lord to end this terrifying thunder and hail. We’ve had enough. I will let you go; you don’t need to stay any longer.” – Exodus 9:27-28 NLT

But Pharaoh’s rather convincing display of remorse didn’t fool anyone. Moses was well aware that this was yet another ploy to buy Pharaoh time. He had no intention of letting the Israelites go but simply wanted the storm to end. So, Moses offered to intercede with God on behalf of the Egyptians, but he also informed Pharaoh that he knew he was lying.

“As soon as I leave the city, I will lift my hands and pray to the Lord. Then the thunder and hail will stop, and you will know that the earth belongs to the Lord. But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord God.” – Exodus 9:29-30 NLT

Despite the devastating damage done by the storm, Pharaoh once again hardened his heart and refused to keep his word. He had lived to resist another day. His kingdom lay in ruins. All crops were destroyed. Fruit-bearing trees were shorn of their produce. Tens of thousands of sheep, goats, cattle, camels, and donkeys lay lifeless in the fields. And it is likely that many of the poorer Egyptians were struck down by the plague as they attempted to save their livestock as the hail rained down.

With this plague, death becomes a dark reality in God’s intensifying display of divine judgment. No longer will discomfort and inconvenience be the sole outcomes of His wrath. Now the lives of the Egyptians themselves will be susceptible to God’s righteous indignation. No one and nothing was outside His reach or protected from His judgment. Not even Pharaoh.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

It Is Done.

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. 21 And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe. Revelation 16:17-21 ESV

199-001On the cross, after having endured the wrath of God against the sins of man, Jesus spoke His final words, “It is finished.” He had been persecuted, ridiculed, rejected, spat upon, and tortured to the point of death. And just before He breathed His last breath, He declared that His work was done. He had completed what He had come to do. With His sacrificial death on the cross, He would make possible the redemption of sinful mankind by providing a means by which they could, through faith in His substitutionary death, have their sins forgiven and their relationship with God the Father restored. The apostle Paul provides us with the unbelievable significance of Christ’s sacrificial act.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. – Romans 5:10 ESV

Just a few verses earlier, Paul stated that “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6 ESV). But not every ungodly person accepted the free gift of salvation made possible by God’s grace through Christ’s death. There were many, including the majority of the Jewish population on earth at the time, who refused to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They preferred to remain in their sins. As John writes in his own gospel account: “the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19 ESV). The work of Jesus, to make salvation available to all men, was finished on the cross. There was nothing left for Him to do. Except return to the earth one day. And all that John has been and will be shown in the visions recorded in the book of Revelation, are meant to be the preface for Christ’s second coming.

But it is interesting to note the words used to signify this last of the seven bowl judgments. John hears a loud voice coming from the temple in heaven and from the very throne of God. It shouts the three simple words, “It is done!” It is likely that these words came from the mouth of God Himself. He is declaring that the final judgment has come. The end of the tribulation period is getting ready to come to a close. There is more that will happen on earth after the seventh bowl is poured out, but this portion of God’s plan for earth and mankind is complete. Now the Messiah can return and set up His Kingdom on earth. But even more than that, His statement sets up an ever great moment that will take place at the end of the millennial reign of Christ on earth: The arrival of the New Jerusalem. John’s vision of that reality is recorded later in his book, and it envisions the days immediately after the completion of Jesus’ 1,000-year reign, the Great White Throne Judgment, and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth. John is allowed to see the arrival of the New Jerusalem, as it descends from heaven to earth, and on the throne sits God Almighty, who declares, “I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5 ESV). And then John hears those three simple words yet again: It is done!

And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:6-8 ESV

The pouring out of the seventh plague from the seventh and final bowl was not the end, per se, but it represented the completion of one thing and the beginning of another. God was now ready to send His Son back to earth. And this news is accompanied by remarkable signs and wonders:

flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. – Revelation 16:18 ESV

These are all signs of God’s divine judgment. But they also represent His holiness and almighty power. These same signs had all been evident when God descended upon Mount Sinai in the wilderness.

16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. – Exodus 19:16-18 ESV

God was in their midst and it was unmistakable. And now, with the pouring out of the final judgment, it was also clear that God was behind all that was about to happen. This was the work of the almighty, all-powerful God of the universe. And all these fantastic sights and sounds were more than just a divine pyrotechnic show. John immediately sees “the great city” split into three parts. This is most likely a reference to Babylon, which John mentions just a few verses later. Babylon is the poster boy for all cities on earth, representing the age of the Gentiles and man’s rebellion against God. Babylon’s sordid history goes all the way back to the time of the tower of Babel, when mankind refused to obey God’s command to spread across the earth. Instead, they determined to build a high tower and a great city, from which they would create a great nation – all in open rebellion against the will of God.

“Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” – Genesis 11:4 ESV

Their arrogance and pride led to God creating multiple languages, making it impossible for them to communicate with one another. As a result they dispersed and gave up their building project. And yet Babylon would continue to exist as a city, becoming the icon for man’s pride and rebellion against God. And John sees this great city split into three parts, most likely as a result of the great earthquake. “God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath” (Revelation 16:19 ESV). God has a long memory. He doesn’t forget and always remembers to repay those who have stood opposed to Him and His people. But Babylon is not alone. John indicates that “the cities of the nations fell” as well. The age of the Gentiles is coming to an end. The domination of the Gentile nations over Israel is being brought to a close. And Jesus spoke of this very day.

Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. – Luke 21:24 ESV

It is interesting that the seventh bowl is mentioned as being poured out in the air, and yet the results of this judgment all take place on earth. Perhaps this has to do with Satan’s dominion over the air and the earth. Paul described Satan as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2 ESV). This bowl is poured out in Satan’s domain and impacts the world over which he has been allowed to have dominion. John says that “every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found” (Revelation 16:20 ESV). Evidently, there will be dramatic changes to the topography of the earth. There will be cataclysmic changes to the earth’s crust, causing never-before-seen alterations to the seas and the land. As always, there are those who try to minimize or simply eliminate the literal interpretation of this passage, choosing instead to view this as a symbolic destruction of the political systems of the earth. But there is no reason to doubt that God could not or would not do exactly what John is seeing take place. The very stability of the earth is at the mercy of God Almighty. Nothing will remain as it once was. Mountains and islands will be removed. All that mankind has come to know as reliable and unchangeable, will come to an end.

And then, the 100-pound stones fall from the sky. This devastating and obviously destructive event will leave people cursing God. The death and damage caused by this divine display of God’s power and wrath will be unprecedented. Buildings, animals and people will be destroyed. Everything man has built will succumb to these massive stones falling from the sky. It is interesting to note that stones were used to build the tower of Babel and here, God uses stones to destroy the cities of men. And back in the gospel of Matthew, we have recorded the words that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees.

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” – Matthew 21:42 ESV

And Jesus goes on to tell them, “And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him” (Matthew 21:44 ESV). God is bringing His judgment upon the world. He is raining divine destruction upon the earth and all those who live on it. And “the plague was severe.” God will literally stone all those who have blasphemed His holy name. This is the penalty prescribed by God Himself for all those who blaspheme His name.

“Take outside the camp him who has cursed; then let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him.” – Leviticus 24:14 ESV

As we will see in the very next chapter, God will begin to deal specifically with the religious and political systems of the earth. He will mete out His divine wrath on the Antichrist and his kingdom, as well as the false prophet and his apostate church. Amazingly, after all the devastation and destruction brought by the seven bowl judgments, mankind will still oppose God. The Antichrist will still maintain his control over the nations of the earth. And the people of earth will still bow down to his image, giving glory to him that was rightfully owed to God alone. But those things are quickly coming to an end. Because, as God has said, “It is done!”

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


The God of the Impossible.

1 When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.

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 8:1-7 ESV

SSc_4.jpgbe9d4c41-5f5a-4b83-95fc-c032346dee0cLargeAs we stated earlier, chapter seven appears to act as a parenthesis between the opening of the sixth and seventh seal. John was introduced to the 144,000 Jews on earth and the countless number of martyred saints in heaven, the victims of persecution and death at the hands of the Antichrist. Now, John’s attention, and ours, is returned to the seals. There is yet one final seal to be opened by the Lamb, and this one will be unique. While it will bring yet more judgments upon the earth, they will come with an intensity as yet unseen. And they will come in the form of seven bowls of judgment that will be poured out in rapid succession on the earth and its inhabitants.

As Jesus opens the seventh seal, John notes that there is silence in the throne room for a 30-minute period. While this may not sound like a very long time, it is essential that we remember all the references to sounds and singing that John has recorded up to this point. His vision of heaven has been replete with sounds of all kinds. He had heard God Himself speaking.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Revelation 1:8 ESV

John had also heard a loud voice that sounded like a trumpet, saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea” (Revelation 1:11 ESV). John had also had the distinct privilege and responsibility of writing down the words of Jesus, spoken to the seven churches. 

Chapter four introduced even more sounds to John’s ears as he heard “rumblings and peals of thunder” (Revelation 4:5 ESV), and the voices of the four creatures around the throne of God as they shouted, ““Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8 ESV). John made note that these creatures, whoever they are, never cease shouting their praise, day or night. It is non-ending and never-ceasing. And it is accompanied by the 24 elders who throw their crowns before the throne of God, shouting:

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.” – Revelation 4:11 ESV

In chapter five, John recorded hearing the four creatures and the 24 elders singing a “new song.” And they were joined with “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands” of angels and “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea” as they sang praises to God and the Lamb who was slain.

So what’s the point? It’s that the 30-minutes of complete silence would have been deafening to John’s ears. It would have been like a football stadium filled with excited fans before the start of a game, who are asked to pause for 15 seconds of silence. The difference in the noise level would be shocking to the senses. And that is how this must have impacted John. The opening of the seventh seal was going to be a game-changer and everyone in the throne room of heaven seemed to recognize that this was the beginning of the end. It is the proverbial silence before the storm. The prophet Zephaniah spoke of this coming day.

Be silent before the Lord God!
    For the day of the Lord is near;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice
    and consecrated his guests.
And on the day of the Lord‘s sacrifice—
“I will punish the officials and the king’s sons
    and all who array themselves in foreign attire. – Zephaniah 18:7-8 ESV

After the 30 minutes of silence, seven angels are given seven trumpets, and an eighth angel was given “a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne” (Revelation 8:3 ESV). We are not told who these angels are, but they obviously have authority given to them by God. They are created beings God has designated to play significant roles in His sovereign plan for the judgment of the world. The eighth angel appears to fulfill the role of a priest, offering holy incense before the altar of God. He holds a censer full of burning coals, to which he adds incense and the prayers of the saints. This would appear to be a reference to the prayers of all those on earth who had come to faith in Christ, but who were suffering at the hands of the Antichrist. They are praying for God’s protection and deliverance, much like the saints underneath the alter in chapter six had done.

“O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” – Revelation 6:10 ESV

The persecuted saints back on earth are crying out for justice to be done. They are out to God to redeem and rescue them. And the smoke and aroma from these prayers mixed with incense, rose up before God. Then the angel took the coals from the altar, placed them in his golden censer and cast them down to earth. These coals symbolize the judgment of God and that judgment has a reason behind it: The persecution of the saints. Their prayers and pleas, mixed with tears, are mingled with the fiery coals, and cast down on the earth and its inhabitants. And John records that ,immediately, “there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake” (Revelation 8:5 ESV). What a contrast to the 30 minutes of silence that opened up this chapter. The storm was coming. The judgment of God was falling in all its holy intensity.

Once again, John records a moment of tension-filled anticipation as the seven angels, holding the seven trumpets, prepare to blow them. All throughout the Scriptures, trumpets are used as instruments to proclaim coming judgment or as a call to worship. They were blown to assemble troops for battle. They were loud and distinct, impossible to ignore, and unmistakable in their purpose. This scene in Revelation is very similar to that found in the book of Exodus when God appeared before the people of Israel from Mount Sinai.

On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. – Exodus 19:16 ESV

John, as a Jew, was very familiar with the trumpet call and he would have anticipated that something highly significant was about to happen. And, one at a time, the angels begin to blow their trumpets, each representing a distinct aspect of God’s judgment on the earth. John records that as soon as the angel blew his trumpet, “hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth” (Revelation 8:7 ESV). With the opening of the seventh seal, a whole new wave of judgments began. The intensity of God’s wrath was increasing exponentially. We know from Ezekiel 5:2 and Zechariah 13:8-9, that this event is going to have devastating consequences. John reports that “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 ESV). While this appears to be a judgment on the planet itself, the effects of this kind of destruction of nature will have dire consequences on those living at that time. It will devastate agricultural production and completely destroy forests on the earth. The fires that result from this judgment will most likely spread, taking human life with them.

As we will see with the unfolding of the rest of the trumpet judgments, there are going to be a great many similarities between these plagues and those that fell on the nation of Egypt, as recorded in the Old Testament. God is going to bring hail, turn water into blood, darken the sun and moon, unleash pestilence and cause the death of many. It will be far greater than anything the world has ever seen or endured. And the supernatural description of these events let us know that they are from God. While we can spend time trying to apply natural explanations to these events, it seems clear that they are intended to display the sovereign power of God. He has authority over nature and is able to do signs and wonders that defy explanation and stretch the limits of human reason. We are not intended to understand all that John describes. We will never be able to fully explain how these seemingly impossible judgments happen. But for a God who created the entire universe in a literal six-day span of time, none of this will too difficult for Him to do. We need to recall the words of Jesus, spoken about His heavenly Father:

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26 ESV

And it’s at moments like this, when faced with what appears to be the impossible, that we need to recall the comforting words spoken by God to Abraham, concerning His ability to keep His promise to give Abraham a son in his old age:

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” – Genesis 18:14 ESV


English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson