The Prayers of Saints and Trumpets of Wrath – 17
Why won’t God do anything about the evil in the world? I hear that question a lot, and actually, I think about that question a lot. It has a lot to do with what I study and write about in my PhD work. I want you to think deeply for a second. We’re going to do a little exercise. If you were God, what would you do about the evil in the world?
Well, if you say, “Just get rid of it,” where does that leave you? Haven’t you sinned? Shouldn’t he then get rid of you? What if you say, “He should just make us where we do not sin.” Well, then you would lose a whole lot of good. We would just be robots and incapable of so much that we enjoy, like love.
We agree that evil should be dealt with. That’s justice. And justice is a good thing. But we also want mercy when justice should be given to us. And we want to know and experience love. Well, that’s exactly how God has dealt with evil. All of that. He expressed his love for you by taking on flesh, living the perfect life that you can’t, to die a sacrificial death in your place. And there’s coming a day when he will pour out his wrath, in perfect justice, on the world who has not received the free gift that he’s offered. There’s justice. There’s mercy. There’s love. And it’s all good and perfect.
We’ve seen his sacrifice and love, but we’ve yet to see his complete justice. So, that has us still crying out now amidst evil and hardship. And God wants us to cry out. And he promises to hear us and to act. He IS going to deal with evil, and it starts with your prayers crying out to him.
Keep praying. Your prayers will be answered. (1-5) In Revelation 6:10, the martyrs who died for their faith cried out, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then in the next verse they were told to “rest a little longer.” And what’s about to unfold is the answering of their prayers, and yours.
God is about to pour out his wrath on this world. And he has long planned its coming. There are echoes of it all throughout the Old and New Testament. And only God the Father has known its timing. So, why does God wait for these prayers? Have you ever wondered what the purpose of prayer is? Why should you pray if God knows what’s going to happen and God is in control and sovereign?
God’s sovereignty means that he not only appoints the ends, but the means by which those ends are reached. As Jim Hamilton says, “One of the means to the ends that God has appointed is prayer.” God uses your prayers as the means to accomplish his desired ends. He desires that you and I be involved in his work in the world, and that includes his justice coming.
So, if you ever feel like your prayers don’t matter, or they never get answered, let these verses encourage you. God may be saying, “Just a little while longer.” And he certainly hears them.
Creation will be judged. It’s not just humanity that is fallen, but creation itself is. What we see here is devastation that comes upon the earth and also impacts humanity. These judgements that follow these four trumpet blasts parallel those found in Exodus when God brought judgment upon the Egyptians and delivered God’s people. I think it is a purposeful parallel because God is doing the same thing, except this time on a far grander worldwide scale. He has delivered his people, and he is judging those who are against him.
(6-7) First Trumpet – 1/3 of earth burned
This first trumpet corresponds with the seventh plague that God brought against Egypt. Can you imagine the devastation this would cause? One third of all the earth, one third of all the trees, and all of the grass is completely burned up, sizzling, and smoke rising. Can you imagine being alive when this is happening? I once had to help put out a crop fire. It took us over an hour because the fire circle just kept growing larger and larger. It’s the most exhausted I’ve been in my entire life, trying to extinguish this fire to save a field of soybeans.
I remember the devastation caused when fire burned the Smoky Mountains in 2016. 2,460 houses were destroyed and 14 died. And it was caused by two boys little a few fires. Can you imagine the extent to this devastation…How much would be destroyed…How many would die? Not just at the start, but from lack of food and shelter? The first trumpet affects the dry land. Burned up. The second trumpet affects the sea.
(8-9) Second Trumpet – 1/3 of sea blood; 1/3 fish die; 1/3 ships destroyed
What happens with the second trumpet is like the first plague of Egypt, when the Nile is turned to blood and the fish died, except again on a far grander, worldwide scale. The picture we get here is incredible. Imagine a giant volcano erupting, being picked up, and hurled into the sea. Blood from the death of people and fish would turn the sea red. Tsunami’s would flow in every direction. In 2004, a tsunami came from the Indian ocean that was 164 feet high. 230,000 people died in Sumatra, Indonesia. It was caused by a 9.1 magnitude earthquake off the coast.
Imagine the devastation of an active volcano being thrown into the sea. What happened in 2004 would seem mild in comparison. And ships all around it would sink to the ocean floor in far greater devastation than the Titanic. The dry land was affected by the first trumpet, the sea by the second, and the rivers and springs will be affected by the third.
(10-11) Third Trumpet – 1/3 of water becomes toxic
Like the second trumpet, the third trumpet is like the first plague. It affects the water. This is the only place in the New Testament where “Wormwood” is mentioned, but it is mentioned eight times in the Old Testament, where it is associated with bitterness, poison, and death (Deut 29:18; Prov 5:4; Jer 9:15; 23:15; Lam 3:15, 19; Amos 5:7; 6:12).” It’s the name of a plant and the bitter-tasting extract that comes from it. It makes water undrinkable.
You know water is essential to life, right? You can live 43-70 days without food. You can only live three days without water. Many places around the world, in third world countries, do not have an accessible supply of clean water to drink, and it affects so much. 1.1 billion people in the world today don’t have clean water to drink. That’s about 1 in 7 people worldwide. That’s over three times the population of the United States. When water is such a necessity to live, when it is scarce, getting it becomes priority. Hours each day are spent walking to get to clean water. It keeps children out of school and parents away from work. So, it adds to the poverty of the people without access to clean water. And the water they get often carries diseases, so it brings sickness with it. Access to clean water means education, income and health. A lack of access to clean water means a lack of those things.
If already in the world over three times the population of the United States doesn’t have access to clean water, imagine the devastation if a third of the clean water that exists was suddenly made undrinkable. The worldwide devastation is hard to fathom. But it is coming as part of God’s judgment.
(12) Fourth Trumpet – 1/3 of earth in darkness
This fourth trumpet corresponds with the ninth plague on Egypt where the Egyptians suffered three days of darkness while the Israelites had light (Ex 10:21-29). Y’all, we take so much for granted. Everything we know and take for granted will be shaken. And this judgment is to fall on those who don’t follow Jesus Christ.
This darkness that falls upon the earth is indicative of the state of each persons’ soul and your soul if you haven’t accepted the free gift of salvation that is only offered in Jesus. Though the world is in darkness, Jesus is the light. From the beginning, when Jesus came, he came as light shining in darkness. And the darkness has not and cannot overcome him (John 1:3-5). The darkened hearts of unbelievers…and if you are an unbeliever, you have a darkened heart. You haven’t seen the light. You are pursuing death and darkness even as you think you are pursuing what brings you life.
John 1:9-10 speaks of the first coming of Jesus, saying, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.”
He came that first time to bring grace and mercy to all who would believe. He came to die and rise from the dead to give you life. A free gift. A free gift that required such an incredible sacrifice. And all you have to do is “Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). And if you don’t…just as his glory is revealed through his grace in his first coming (John 1:14), his glory is revealed through his wrath and just judgment in his second coming.
(13) God’s judgments reveal his glory.
A large creature like an eagle is flying overhead shouting, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth!” Justice is going to be done. And justice is good. God has given you a chance to be saved. Are you going to glorify God as you receive his free gift of salvation? Or are you going to be one of the many who get the just judgment that they deserve?
If you are a follower of Christ, and this world is increasingly difficult and dark, remember: You can endure a little while longer.
“God does not reject the prayer in 6:10, “how long?” He answers it in 6:11, “a little longer.” Let’s trust him until the time comes.”
And for you who have not yet placed your faith in Jesus, he is offering salvation to you right now before it’s too late. Just as the saints are crying out in prayer and it is lifting up to God, so can it be with you.
“Salvation is as near as a prayer: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10:13).”
 James M. Hamilton, Jr., Revelation, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 198.
 John MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 (Chicago: Moody, 1999), 249.
 Elliot B, Mina M, Ferrier C., Complete and voluntary starvation of 50 days. (Clin Med Insights Case Rep. 2016), 67-70.
 Hamilton, Jr., Revelation, 208.
 Daniel L. Akin, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary (Nashville: B&H, 2016), 176.