Saturday, 2 January 2021
And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!” Revelation 8:13
John has just reported what he saw in the sounding of the fourth trumpet and the judgments associated with it. Now, his eyes are redirected, and he says, “And I looked, and I heard an angel.”
Manuscripts vary here in saying either, “an angel,” or “one eagle.” For those who believe it properly reads “angel,” their support for it comes from Revelation 14:6 –
“Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.”
The claim for this view is that the words “another angel” mean that what is presented here in verse 8:13 must obviously be speaking of a first angel. It sounds logical at first, but is the term “another” referring to this angel in Revelation 8:13, or another angel in the succession of angels that are presented in the book?
The term “another angel” (or a close variation such as “another mighty angel”) is used nine times in Revelation (7:2, 8:3, 10:1, 14:6, 14:8, 14:15, 14:17, 14:18, & 18:1) when speaking of a general succession of angels without regard to any other particular angel. Further, with “another angel” presented between verse 8:3 and verse 14:6, the defense does not hold up. Whether the term “another angel” or “one eagle” is correct is debatable, but the defense of tying verse 8:3 to verse 14:6 is unsound.
If this is an angel, it signifies a messenger of any sort. If it is an eagle, it is still a messenger, but the symbolism can be derived from other passages of the Old Testament where the nesher, or “eagle,” is found –
“The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young. 51 And they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you.” Deuteronomy 28:49-51
“Set the trumpet to your mouth!
He shall come like an eagle against the house of the Lord,
Because they have transgressed My covenant
And rebelled against My law.” Hosea 8:1
“Their horses also are swifter than leopards,
And more fierce than evening wolves.
Their chargers charge ahead;
Their cavalry comes from afar;
They fly as the eagle that hastens to eat.” Habakkuk 1:8
The Hebrew word nesher comes from an unused root meaning “to lacerate.” Thus, this is an eagle or other large bird of prey. From these and other verses, it is apparent that the eagle represents a quick, decisive creature that strikes at its enemies in vengeance. Such aligns well with what is seen in the coming judgments.
The angel or eagle now being presented is very likely another manifestation of Jesus. This is not without precedent as the Lord of the Old Testament is likened to an eagle several times –
“As an eagle stirs up its nest,
Hovers over its young,
Spreading out its wings, taking them up,
Carrying them on its wings,
12 So the Lord alone led him,
And there was no foreign god with him.” Deuteronomy 32:11, 12
“Behold, He shall come up and fly like the eagle,
And spread His wings over Bozrah;
The heart of the mighty men of Edom in that day shall be
Like the heart of a woman in birth pangs.” Jeremiah 49:22
These and other verses, and the symbolism of the eagle representing the fourth gospel (the book of John), allow for this to then be another part of the unfolding revelation of Jesus Christ, heralding the events that are to follow upon the earth. And so, whether angel or eagle, it next says it is “flying through the midst of heaven.”
Here is introduced a word that is seen just three times in Revelation, mesouranéma. It signifies the meridian, or the highest point in the heavens (the zenith) that the sun occupies in the middle of the day. It is not speaking of the space between heaven and earth. This divine messenger (whether angel or eagle) is “saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe.’”
The Greek word is an interjection commonly used by Jesus in the synoptic gospels, ouai. It signifies grief, and thus one could also say, “alas.” Repeating this three times is a means of providing strong emphasis, and thus doom is being proclaimed because the denunciation is directed “to the inhabitants of the earth.”
As is common, the Greek word used for “earth” could be speaking of the land of Israel, the Mideast, or even the entire earth. The sounding of the sixth trumpet specifically mentions the area of the Euphrates, and so the word here certainly extends to those coming from that direction and area, but it does not mean that those troops are not destroyed in the land of Israel during the battle described in those verses.
Because of the sheer number of those mentioned in that trumpet judgment, the “inhabitants of the earth,” here, surely speaks of many peoples from many places, if not the entire planet. With that understood, the call of woe continues with the words, “because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”
That is specifically speaking of the three final trumpet judgments. There is much destruction and there will be innumerable deaths associated with them.
Life application: The repetition of a word in the Bible is meant to call stress to that word, such as when we use boldface, italics, or when we put an exclamation point at the end of a sentence or word. Only a very few times in the Bible is a word repeated three times. When these occur, they are not just stressing a point, but they are stressing it to the highest degree.
Some other instances of a triple repetition are in Isaiah 6:3, Jeremiah 7:4, Jeremiah 22:29, Ezekiel 21:27, and Revelation 4:8. The above verse is conveying to the world that what has happened so far with the first four trumpet judgments will be nothing compared to what is coming in the next three. The world is headed for immense trouble from these three trumpet judgments, and it will only continue to get worse because another series of judgments will follow the trumpets. What is coming will be targeted and decisive in nature.
In understanding this, one purpose of the book of Revelation is that it serves as a warning to the people of the world of what lies ahead. One could dismiss its contents if it was a stand-alone book. But the terminology used in it is derived from all of the rest of the Bible, a book which has carefully and exactingly produced numerous fulfilled prophecies already. As this is so, and with this impeccable track record, the contents of the book are to be taken seriously. They are to be accepted as true and reliable prophecies of what is coming upon the world. And that is to be based on the world’s rejection of God’s offer of His Son. Man is given the choice to accept or reject what God has done. Be wise. Call out today for God’s saving offer of JESUS!
O Lord, when Isaiah looked up and saw you in the temple, he cried out Holy, Holy, Holy. Your glory overwhelmed him. However, the world today simply shrugs a shoulder and turns its back on You. How can we be held guiltless when we reject our Creator? Surely You are righteous in bringing judgment upon the world. Give us hearts now to understand our state and turn to You through Your offer of grace and mercy – Jesus. Amen.