New Defender's Study Bible Notes
8:1 seventh seal. The seventh seal judgment comprises all the judgments of the seven trumpets. Similarly the seventh trumpet comprises all the seven vial (or bowl) judgments (Revelation 11:15; 15:7). Thus, except for parenthetical sections (e.g., Revelation 7, 10–15), the events described in the book of Revelation should be understood as sequential.
8:2 seven angels. These may well be archangels (Gabriel, Michael, etc.), since they stand “before God.” The book of Enoch (non-canonical but containing a certain amount of divine authority, as cited in Jude 14-16), does indicate that there are seven “presence angels.”
8:5 censer. The censer had contained sweet incense, representing the age-long accumulation of hitherto-unanswered “prayers of all saints” (Revelation 8:4). The same censer, which had brought the prayers up to heaven, now carries fire from heaven to the earth. The prayers are about to be answered via the final purgation of evil from the earth with the fire from heaven sent as a forewarning of the ultimate fires of hell (note Hebrews 10:26-29; II Thessalonians 1:7,8; Matthew 13:41-43; Luke 12:49).
8:5 lightnings. The brief respite from God’s judgments no doubt encouraged the earth-dwellers, like Pharaoh of old, to harden their hearts yet again. Suddenly, another storm strikes, with thunder and lightning (but still no rain), along with a milder earthquake and “voices”—perhaps warning calls from the angels (compare Revelation 14:6-7).
8:6 seven trumpets. All seven trumpet judgments are included within the opening of the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1).
8:7 cast upon the earth. The first trumpet judgment may well entail an angel-manipulated providential miracle, since nothing like a rain of “hail and fire mingled with blood” has yet been observed on earth for scientific analysis. The hailstones could actually be a hail of volcanic stones resulting from fiery eruptions associated with the preceding earthquake. How the descending fire would become mixed with blood, or with any substance that has the appearance of blood, is not known, though one could speculate.
8:7 burnt up. Forest fires and grass fires have been a scourge all through history, but this fire will dwarf them all. After a long period of worldwide drought and heat, these fires suddenly falling from heaven will seem to set the world ablaze (note also Joel 1:18-20). A third of the earth’s forest and all the grass will be left scorched and barren, even further augmenting the global famines.
8:8 great mountain. This great mountain-like asteroid or meteorite or whatever it may be could possibly be tracked by telescope as it approaches the earth. It might even be seen on television all over the world as it splashes down. Carrying lethal gases and burning when it enters the atmosphere, it will be more devastating than a nuclear bomb as it strikes the sea and quickly spreads death throughout the oceans of the world.
8:9 third part of the ships. The tremendous impact of the mountainous rock will generate great tsunami waves which will capsize and destroy many ships near the shores.
8:10 star from heaven. This second heavenly missile, unlike the rocky mass of the first, is primarily burning poisonous gases. Instead of striking the sea at one point, it breaks up in the atmosphere, scattering lethal chemicals into a third of the rivers, springs, and wells of the earth.
8:11 Wormwood. “Wormwood” is a translation of the Greek absinthos, and is a stupefying, often lethal plant product. The exact composition of the poisonous chemicals associated with this falling “star,” however, is uncertain. Possibly earthly astronomers will be able to ascertain its chemical composition spectrographically, realize its deadly nature, and name it.
8:12 the sun was smitten. While the earth’s evolutionary scientists may be able to devise naturalistic explanations for the phenomena following the first three trumpet judgments, this temporary reduction of the sun’s light (as well as its reflected light from the moon and planets) must surely convince them that these plagues are from God, just as the two witnesses will have been proclaiming (Revelation 11:3). Furthermore, the repeated impact of the plagues on “the third part” of everything from the trees to the ships to the sun will obviously be impossible to explain except by intelligent ordering of worldwide phenomena. The great men of the earth will be forced to realize that the real nature of what is happening involves the age-long conflict between God and Satan.
8:13 heard an angel. No longer can those on earth question the reality of God and His power when they hear and see a mighty angel flying in the sky proclaiming further judgments yet to come. Some manuscripts translate this as “eagle,” which is probably an early corruption of certain texts. If he is an eagle, however, he must be the fourth cherub at God’s throne (Revelation 4:7), with the likeness of a flying eagle.