Tag Archives: Spiritual warfare

A Tale of Two Lineages, and the Flood to Come (Genesis 5; Genesis 6)

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Scripture reading – Genesis 5; Genesis 6

Genesis 4 concluded with Cain being driven from the presence of Adam’s household (4:12-16), and him taking a wife, and establishing an ungodly lineage (4:17). Several sons and daughters were born of Adam and Eve’s union (5:4); however, it was a son whom Eve named Seth, that God chose as His godly lineage (4:25). Seth had a son whom he named Enos, and then we read, “then began men to call upon the name of the LORD” (4:26).

Genesis 5 – A Tale of Two Lineages

Before we identify the two lineages that proceeded from Adam and Eve, consider for a moment the incredibly long life spans of men from those first generations. For instance, Adam lived 930 years (5:4); his son Seth lived 912 years (5:8); and Enos lived 905 years (5:11). How might we explain the longevity of early human life?

Various scholars have tackled that question, and many have scoffed at the possibility of men living 900 years or more. There are generally two explanations that give some merit to the thought of men living long on the earth. One widely accepted belief concerns the earth’s atmosphere as an expanse of water “above the firmament” (1:7). Such an unpolluted atmosphere shielded man and the world from aging factors, such as, harmful UV radiation from the sun, and contaminates from space.

A second explanation for longevity, and one I believe may hold more weight, focuses on man’s DNA. It could be argued that the human race was genetically purer in the beginning (i.e., unadulterated, and stronger), with the exception of sin’s influence. Thus, there was less sickness and less propensity for disease as man had a greater ability to withstand the entrance of viruses, and cell mutation. Given the longevity of human life in those early centuries, the result was a boom in population growth that some have estimated could have reached billions of souls before the Flood!

The ungodly lineage of Cain was chronicled in Genesis 4:16-24, but we should note only a few of his descendants were named. Those who were recorded are named only because of their role in the Biblical narrative. The godly lineage of Adam, through his son Seth is given in Genesis 5 and takes us through to the birth of Noah, and his three sons, “Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (5:32).

Genesis 6 – Judgment and Destruction: The Worldwide Flood

The World Before the Flood (6:1-7)

The Antediluvian period (i.e., pre-flood) witnessed not only a population explosion (6:1), but an eruption in gross wickedness (6:1-3). That time was characterized by an unholy union, for we read, “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (6:2). The hearts of men were so consumed with wickedness, that even the godly lineage of Seth (“the sons of God”), intermingled with the “daughters of men” (6:2) [Some believe the “sons of God” is a reference to fallen angels or demons, taking possession of men’s bodies, and procreating a race of giants, described as “mighty men which were of old, men of renown,” 6:4].

Whichever interpretation you choose to follow, the compromise was so grave, God moved to intervene, and used the waters of a worldwide flood to cleanse the earth. Seeing the proliferation of sin, the LORD vowed, “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (6:3).

To fulfill His promise of a Redeemer who would be the seed of a woman and crush Satan’s seed (3:15), the LORD set the date of His judgment: My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (6:3). God observed “every imagination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (6:5). Grieved by man’s wickedness, the LORD declared universal judgment, saying, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them” (6:7).

The Heart of God (6:3, 6-8)

Yet, the Lord was loving and longsuffering, and gave mankind 120 years before His judgment (6:3). Grieved by man’s sin (6:6), God’s holy nature demanded He “destroy man…from the face of the earth” (6:7). Nevertheless, we read: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8). (Note, this is the first mention of God’s grace, but not the first evidence of grace. For example, it was an act of God’s grace when He sacrificed to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness with skins, 3:21.)

Noah’s Response to God’s Grace (6:9-18)

In all the earth, one man was chosen as the object of God’s favor. Concerning that man, we read, “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (6:9). He believed God, and determined to raise a godly seed in a world “filled with violence: and corruption (6:11-12). God foretold His judgment, saying, “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (6:13). Then, in an act of grace, the LORD commanded Noah, “Make thee an ark”(6:14).

How did Noah respond to God’s commandment, and covenant promise to save his sons, wife, and their wives? (6:18)

Closing thoughts – Noah responded in the same way all sinners must to be saved…Faith. He believed God! The author of Hebrews wrote, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things [and events] not seen as yet, moved with fear [took heed of God’s warning], prepared an ark to the saving [deliverance] of his house; by the which [faith] he condemned the world [of unbelief], and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah’s obedience was an expression of His faith in God, and he did “according to all that God had commanded him, so did he” (6:22).

I close with James’ exhortation: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:17–18).

What do your works say about your faith, and trust in God?

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Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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Heaven: The End is Only the Beginning! (Revelation 21; Revelation 22)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 21; Revelation 22

Review (Revelation 20)

The Devil was bound a thousand years in “the bottomless pit: (20:2-3), and those who survived the Great Tribulation enjoyed a season of peace, for Christ reigned upon the earth (Millennial Kingdom, 20:4-6). When the 1,000 years had ended, Satan “was loosed out of his prison” and went forth to deceive the nations of the earth (20:7-8). He gathered their armies to war against the saints of God, and “the beloved city” (Jerusalem) where Christ reigned (20:8-9). Suddenly, “fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them” (reminiscent of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, 20:9b; Genesis 19).

The Devil, the Antichrist (beast) and the false prophet were “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone….and [continue to be] tormented day and night for ever and ever” (20:10). Tragically, the judgment of the Great White Throne followed, and all whose names were not in “the book of life… were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (20:12-13).

Revelation 21

A New Heaven and A New Earth (21:1-3)

The judgment of unbelievers having ended, John beheld an incredible sight–“a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (21:1). The “new heaven” and the “new earth” were and are literal places the Lord prepared for His people (John 14:1-3), as the old world, scarred by sin, was no more. Interestingly, while our earth is three-fourths water, the new earth will have no sea (21:1b).

John described what he saw, writing, “I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (21:2). The new Jerusalem was untainted by the sin and wickedness of man. She was a “holy city,” like the bride for whom the groom comes, without flaw or blemish.

Then, John “heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (21:3). The identity of the one who heralded the news was not given, but God’s presence in the midst of His people was a wonderful sight. Because of His grace, and the fulfillment of His plan of redemption through the sacrifice of Christ, God was no longer a great way off, but was in the midst of His people.

All Will Be Perfect (21:4)

Revelation 21:4 records a promise suffering saints have cleaved to for two millennium. We read, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (21:4). Continue reading

The Call to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19; Revelation 20)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 19; Revelation 20

John recorded three events in Revelation 19. The first, the gathering of the saints of God for “The Great Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (19:1-10). The second event was the “Second Coming of Christ the King” (19:11-16), culminating in the third event—”The Battle of Armageddon” (19:17-21).

Revelation 20 recorded the “Binding of Satan for a Thousand years” (20:1-3), and “The Millennial Reign of Christ” (20:4-6). At the end of Christ’s 1,000-year reign, the devil will be loosed to deceive the nations, leading to the destruction of their armies, and Satan being condemned and “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone” (20:7-10). Revelation 20 concluded with the final judgment of unbelievers at “The Great White Throne” (20:11-15). Today’s devotional will be taken from Revelation 19.

Revelation 19

The understated majesty of the Scriptures often stuns me in my personal study in God’s Word. For instance, Revelation 19 records three of the great pinnacle moments in human history, yet the chapter begins simply, “And after these things” (19:1). What things? The fall and destruction of Babylon, the spiritual harlot that embodied the kingdom of the antichrist with its false religions, idolatry, and moral depravity (Revelation 18). After God took vengeance on the nations who shed the blood of the prophets and believers (18:24), John wrote:

“I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and  honour, and power, unto the Lord our God” (19:1). Who were these “people in heaven?” They were worshippers of God, most likely the angels, and other hosts of heaven, including the redeemed who had died and were forever with the Lord. John heard their voices praising God and saying, “Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power,” thus implying those things belong to the Lord and Him alone (19:1).

Exulting over the demise of Babylon, the people said, “For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand” (19:2). With the shout, “Alleluia,” they rejoiced in the destruction of Babylon (19:3). At the same time, the 24 elders and the four beasts (Revelation 4:4, 6, 7), “fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia” (19:4). Then, John heard a voice coming “out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great” (19:5). The voice was not identified, but perhaps it was that of an angel.

The Summons to the Great Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:6-8)

Suddenly, John heard “the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings” (19:6a). How loud, and powerful were the voices of the throng? It exceeded the deafening roar of the mightiest waterfalls, and the boisterous rumbles of the most frightening thunderstorms. What were the voices shouting? They were praising God for His strength and power, saying, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (19:7).

The Lamb was the focus of the rejoicing, for He was Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins, and the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36; Revelation 5:6; 7:10, 17; 17:14). The wife of the Lamb was described as a bride “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (19:8). The white speaks of the purity of the saints of God, and “the fine linen” symbolized their works of righteousness.

Even so, this is how God would have the members of His church, which is His body, to present themselves before Him. Being redeemed, and justified, His people should be sanctified [set apart] (Romans 3:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:8-9), to the end of presenting ourselves to Christ: “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

Closing thoughts (19:11-21) – Time and space do not afford more than a brief summary of the closing verses of Revelation 19. As John looked on, he witnessed heaven open, and the glorious emergence of Jesus Christ, riding on a white horse, and He was called, “Faithful and True” (19:11). It was the Second Coming of Christ, and He was going forth to “judge and make war” as He promised (10:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Titus 1:2). His coming was a picture of vengeance and justice (19:12-13), and “the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (the same attire as was worn at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, 19:8, 14).

With His Word as His weapon (Revelation 1:16; 19:15), the LORD executed God’s wrath upon the nations (19:15). John noticed, “on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (19:16). A description of the battle at Armageddon closes our devotion, even as the antichrist (“the beast”) was defeated, and he and “the false prophet…were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (19:20)

Revelation 19:20 is the first mention of the “lake of fire” in the Scriptures; however, it is not the last. Revelation 20 warns, “14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (20:14-15).

The “lake of fire” is the eternal destiny of all who reject Christ as Savior. Only by repenting of your sin, and trusting Christ as Savior, will your name be inscribed with the redeemed who will live forever with the Lord.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Globalist Seduction: Babylon, the Antichrist, and “Big Pharma” (Revelation 18)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 18

Seven bowls of God’s wrath were poured out on the tribulation world (Revelation 16-17). Yet, Babylon seemed to prevail, even as the people and nations of the world were reeling under the consequences of God’s wrath. The flesh of men was afflicted with ulcers (16:2), and the seas and fresh waters turned to blood (16:3-7). The sun’s shift scorched men under its rays (16:8-9), even as the earth was plunged into terrifying darkness (16:10-11). The Euphrates River dried up, as God made a path for the armies of the world to gather at Armageddon (16:12-16).

When the seventh bowl of God’s wrath was poured out, His voice was heard and declared, “It is done” (16:17). The earth was then shaken by an earthquake greater than any before it, and the city of Jerusalem “was divided into three parts” (16:19), Islands fell into the sea, as the mountains were removed (16:20).

God’s judgment against Babylon began in Revelation 17, and continued through Revelation 18. As you read today’s Scripture reading (Revelation 18), remember Babylon was prophetically more than a great city. In the Book of Revelation, Babylon was a symbol of the power, authority, and government of the antichrist(identified as “the beast” in these latter chapters of Revelation).

Revelation 18 – The Fall of Babylon

The apostle John wrote, “I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory” (18:1). Remembering the earth was in the throes of darkness from the fifth bowl (Revelation 16:10-11), the angel’s appearance illuminated the sky “with his glory” (18:1). The same angel cried with a loud voice, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen” (18:2).

Reasons for Babylon’s Demise (18:2-3)

Like ancient Babylon, which was weighed in the balances of God’s justice and was “found wanting” (Daniel 5:27), the Babylon of Revelation was condemned (18:2-3). It had become a place for demonic spirits (18:2b), and every foul and unclean spirit (18:2c). Like vultures circling a rotting carcass, demonic spirits, like “every unclean and hateful bird,” waited for Babylon’s fall (18:2d).

Tragically, I find the sins of Revelation 18:3 indicative of the sins and wickedness of our current western nations: the United States being most prominent. Babylon was condemned for her sexual debauchery, and lust for wealth and riches (18:3). The world ruled by the antichrist will lead nations down a path of sexual perversity, and spiritual idolatry (18:3a). The kingdom of the antichrist will seduce the nations of the world with its wealth, riches, and pleasures (18:3b).

A Call for Separation and Judgment (18:4-7)

The voice of the angel (18:1) was suddenly interrupted when the Lord voiced from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, That ye be not partakers of her sins, And that ye receive not of her plagues” (18:4). The call for believers to separate from the world and its wickedness is found throughout the Scriptures. Although separation from the world is a Scriptural mandate, many 21st century believers and churches have failed to separate from the Babylon of our day. Surely, the command, “come out of her, my people,” should resonate in the heart of every believer who loves the Lord (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17).

Like the tower of ancient Babel (Genesis 11), the sins of Babylon were described as having piled up so high they “reached unto heaven” (18:5a). An angel called on God to punish Babylon, saying, 6Reward her even as she rewarded you, And double unto her double according to her works: In the cup which she hath filled fill to her double” (18:6). In essence, not only remember Babylon’s wickedness, but punish her doubly for the sins she has committed. The same angel described Babylon’s sins: Proud (for she had “glorified herself”), Sensual (“lived deliciously”), and Presumptuous (for the city boasted “I sit a queen, And am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (18:7).

Closing thoughts (18:8-24) – I conclude with a few observations. The nations of the earth were staggered by the wrath of God, but were especially shocked at the sudden demise and destruction of Babylon (18:8). The wealthy and powerful men of the earth were shocked and dismayed by the fall of the antichrist and his empire (18:9-10).
So much of the world economy was dependent on trade with Babylon, and the sudden failure of that nation sent economic shock waves across the world (18:11-14). The wealthy and powerful were terrified, and wailed, “Alas, alas, that great city…17For in one hour so great riches is come to nought” (18:16b-17a). Shipping and commerce were destroyed, as men who sailed the seas, cried, “For in one hour is she made desolate” (18:17-19).

The destruction of Babylon (representing the seat of the antichrist’s power and authority), gave cause for rejoicing in heaven (18:20). A “mighty angel” described the effect of Babylon’s annihilation: The sound of musical instruments fell silent  (18:22a), and the work of craftsmen and those preparing bread ceased (18:22b). Light was extinguished, along with the joys of the groom and the bride (18:23a).

Finally, given the world’s recent experience with “Covid-19” and vaccines, verse 23 should resonate with believers. We read, “For thy merchants were the great men of the earth; For by thy sorceries were all nations deceived” (18:23b). The root word for sorceries in the Greek language is “pharmakeia,” from which we get our English word “pharmacy or pharmaceuticals.” In the tribulation, “all nations” will be deceived by “pharmakeia” (In the United States, the revenue of the pharmaceutical industry in 2021 was $576.9 billion).

When people ask, “what is wrong with our world?” You can answer, “We are on the threshold of the Tribulation!”

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Armageddon and the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath (Revelation 16; Revelation 17)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 16; Revelation 17

Review – The Seventh Trumpet and Its Judgments (Revelation 11-15)

The seventh trumpet sounded in Revelation 11:15, and announced the third woe poured out on the earth and its inhabitants. Rather than repent of their wickedness, and turn to God, the nations of the world were stirred to anger and their sins demanded God’s judgments (11:18). The devil was revealed as the “great red dragon” (12:3, 9), and the antichrist, empowered by him, was promoted to rule over a great coalition of nations (13:1-2).

Another man of great wickedness, the false prophet, was empowered by the devil, and deceived the nations of the earth. He commanded all men and nations should worship the antichrist as god (13:11-15). Men who refused “the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name,” were denied an opportunity to “buy or sell” (13:17).

John beheld the Lamb, Jesus Christ, standing on mount Zion, and with him the 144,000 preachers of the tribulation (14:1). The apostle, then, saw three angelic messengers sent from the throne of God (14:6-8). The message of the third angel was a warning, that any who received the mark of the beast (antichrist) would be tormented forever (14:11).

Two judgments followed the third angel, and the first was portrayed as a harvest of grain (14:14-15), and the second a harvest of grapes (14:17-20).  Then, John “looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened” (15:5). “[S]even angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles [or belts worn round the waist]” (15:6). To each of the seven angels was given a “golden vial” or bowl filled with “the wrath of God” (15:7).

Revelation 16 – Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath

The Five of the Seven Bowls (16:1-11)

The seven angels were sent, and commanded to pour God’s wrath out of their bowls upon those who worshipped the antichrist (beast), and had accepted his mark in their hand or forehead (16:1). Each bowl or vial represented a judgment of God. The first angel poured out a judgment that caused “a noisome and grievous sore” (or ulcer, 16:2). The plagued poured out by the second angel turned the sea to blood, and so contaminated the waters that “every living soul [creature] died in the sea” (16:3).

The third angel, bearing the third bowl, turned the fresh waters of the earth to blood (16:4). Destroying the fresh water of the earth would be catastrophic for all humanity. Lest any complain and protest God’s judgment, the angel declared spoiling the fresh waters with blood was a fitting judgment for mankind, for “they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy” (16:6). Then, the altar itself said, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments” (16:7).

The judgment borne by the fourth angel followed, and was poured out “upon the sun” (16:8). The consequence was an increase in the sun’s heat and radiation that “men were scorched with great heat” (16:8). Rather than repent, and call out to God for mercy, men “blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory” (16:9).

Then, “the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat [throne] of the beast [antichrist]; and his kingdom was full of darkness” (16:10). The darkness shrouded the lands and people ruled by the antichrist (16:10), and the terror was so excruciating that men “gnawed their tongues for pain” (16:10b). Still, they did not repent, but “blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores” (16:11).

The Sixth Bowl – The Euphrates River Dried Up (16:12-14)

The judgment brought by the sixth angel was directed against “the great river Euphrates” (16:12), which is the longest and most important river in the Middle East. The region depends upon the Euphrates for navigation (ships can sail up the river some 1200 miles), and irrigation of farms and orchards. Although a 2000-year-old prophecy, the unthinkable is happening today…the Euphrates River is drying up! With the salt water and freshwaters polluted by blood, and the Euphrates dried up, John saw what he described as “three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet” (16:13). Frogs are deemed unclean (Leviticus 11:10, 41), and their vileness was symbolic of the demons that had influenced the antichrist and false prophet (16:13). So, was revealed the means by which those evil men had influenced the earth (16:14).

It was “the spirits of devils” that compelled “the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (16:14). While the nations of the earth gathered “into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (16:16), the Lord comforted those believers who had survived the judgments of the tribulation, and promised, “Behold, I come as a thief” (16:14).

The Seventh Bowl (16:17-21)

The seventh and final angel came forth with the wrath of God filling his bowl, and God lifted up His voice, and said with a loud voice, “It is done” (16:17).  Thundering’s, lightnings, and an earthquake greater than any that had preceded it followed the pronouncement (16:18). The city of Jerusalem was “divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” (16:19). The earth will be so devastated by the earthquake that islands and mountains will disappear (16:20). Hail will fall from heaven, and the weight of each hail stone will be “about the weight of a talent” (100 pounds or more, 16:21).

Closing thoughts – I hope to address the balance of our Scripture reading (Revelation 17) at another time, and in another year. I conclude for now with the observation that men will refuse to repent of their sins, even though all mankind will have suffered before the Second Coming of Christ. Instead of crying to God for mercy, the wicked who refuse the Lord will blaspheme the name of God (16:21). I close today with the invitation by the writer of Hebrews:

Hebrews 3:15 – “While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Faithful Witnesses: The 144,000 (Revelation 14; Revelation 15)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 14; Revelation 15

Author’s note – If you have been a follower of Heart of A Shepherd the past two years, you should share my sense of accomplishment as December 31, 2022 marks the conclusion of a two-year daily devotional journey through the Scriptures. What began as a devotional challenge to my church family, is now followed in over 200 nations and territories.

January 1, 2023 will mark a new beginning as Heart of A Shepherd returns to Genesis, and begins anew, a two-year chronological journey through God’s Word. It continues to be my goal to fulfill Paul’s challenge to Timothy when he wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Heart of A Shepherd will have a new website design as we begin a new year. If all goes as planned, current subscribers should have a seamless transition to the new website. Please email me at HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com if you find you are not receiving daily devotional posts.

Today’s Devotion and Scripture Reading

As we come to Revelation 14 and 15, we are prophetically in the latter half of the Great Tribulation. Christ opened the seventh and final seal of the scroll (Revelation 8:1), and seven angels with trumpets awaited their time to sound the judgment of God that followed (8:2, 6). Revelation 8:7 through Revelation 11:14 recorded the first six blasts of the trumpets. The seventh trumpet sounded in Revelation 11:15, and announced the third woe to befall the earth and its inhabitants during the tribulation.

Revelation 12 identified the devil as the “great red dragon” (12:3-4). In Revelation 13, two men portrayed as beasts (13:1, 11), rose to power. They will be empowered by the devil, possessed by demons, and do great things. The first man, the antichrist, will beguile the nations of the earth, and establish a 7-year peace treaty. The world will believe the antichrist can insure peace and prosperity for all people. Yet, when 3.5 years are past, the antichrist will unleash his fury against God and His people, and demand he be worshipped as god (13:5-10).

A second leader, identified as “another beast” (13:11-18), will be the devil’s false prophet. He will demand all men worship the antichrist (13:12), and take his mark “in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (13:16). Those who refuse the mark, will be unable to buy, sell, or trade in the economy of the tribulation (13:17). The number of the beast (antichrist) was given as 666 (13:18). (Today’s devotion will be taken from Revelation 14).

Revelation 14

As John looked toward the future tribulation, he beheld “a Lamb” (15:1). Who was the Lamb? He was the same Lamb who unsealed the scroll with seven seals…Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Revelation 5:1-2, 5-6). John saw Christ, the Lamb, standing on mount Zion (the site of the Temple in Jerusalem), and with him were 144,000 evangelists (whom we met in Revelation 7, 7:4-8). They had preached the Gospel during the tribulation, and witnessed “a great multitude” from every nation call upon God for salvation (7:9-10). John heard what I believe was the voice of God, sounding like “many waters…a great thunder” and accompanied by harps (14:2).

The 144,000 and the Song of the Redeemed (14:3-5)

John listened as the 144,000 preachers began to sing a “new song before the throne” of God (14:3a). It was the song of the redeemed (14:3b). While it seemed all the world followed the antichrist, the 144,000 refused to defile themselves. They rejected the mark of the beast, and were counted by the Lord as “the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (14:4). The 144,000 were not only the first of many who remained faithful to God and the Lamb (14:4), they were also sincere in their witness, for “in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (14:5).

Three Angelic Messengers (14:6-11)

As John looked on, he observed three angels sent from the throne of God as messengers. Though the 144,000 evangelists had faithfully preached and called men to repent during the tribulation, God was merciful and also sent an angel to preach “the everlasting gospel” to all the world (14:6). The voice of that angel was loud, and he admonished sinners to turn to their Creator (14:7).

A second angel followed, and his message was one of judgment. He warned, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (14:8). In the Scriptures, Babylon was a type of the world, and represents here the world government and authority of the antichrist (14:8).

A third angel followed, and warned, if any worshipped the beast (antichrist), and accepted his mark in their forehand or hand, they would be condemned to God’s wrath. Their doomed was to be “tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb (Jesus Christ)” (14:10). Those sinners who received the mark of the beast were warned, they would be condemned to everlasting torment (14:11).

Closing thoughts (14:12-20) – Revelation 14 concluded with a prophecy of two judgments yet to come in the Tribulation. The first judgment was portrayed as a harvest of grain and described as seven bowls of judgments that would be poured out on the earth (14:14-16; 16:1-21). The second judgment was portrayed as a harvest of grapes, and is a picture of the battle of Armageddon (14:17-20; 19:11-21). The horror of that final battle, when the antichrist and his forces will be defeated, was revealed…for the blood of men who died in the battle will reach the “horse bridles,” and stretch for 200 miles.

Revelation 14:12-13 described those who will be saved, and martyred during the Great Tribulation. In spite of sorrows and persecution, there will be saints who persevere, keeping “the commandments of God” and keeping “the faith of Jesus” (14:12). Though many will die, the Lord declared them “Blessed,” for they will have rest, and their works will be commended by Him (14:13).

What do your works say about you and your faith?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Mark of the Beast is 666 (Revelation 13)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – Revelation 13

Our Scripture reading places us prophetically in the latter times described in the Bible as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) and the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:14). A scroll with seven seals was opened by Christ, and each seal announced a great judgment that would follow (Revelation 6). Breaking the first four of the seven seals, four horsemen of the Apocalypse went forth from the Lord leaving in their way paths of judgment, destruction and death (Revelation 6:1-8). Then, the fifth and sixth seals were opened, and each heralded a new season of suffering and sorrow (Revelation 6:9-17).

The seventh and final seal was opened in Revelation 8, and the judgments that followed were announced by seven trumpets. The troubles and trials of the first four trumpets were described in Revelation 8:7-12. Before the fifth trumpet was sounded, John observed “and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth” (8:13). Then, the fifth, sixth, and seventh trumpets sounded, and announced a season of “woe” that would afflict the earth and its inhabitants during the great tribulation (Revelation 9:1-11:19).

Revelation 12 introduced the presence of the devil who was portrayed as a “great red dragon,” and described the war he has waged against God since his fall (12:3-4, 7-9). Revelation 13 introduced two other characters and the role they will have when they join forces under the devil, and wage war against the Lord and mankind.

The Antichrist: The Beast of Revelation (13:1-10)

To put the introduction of the Antichrist in context, consider the preceding verse where his master, “the dragon,” was described as making war against Israel (portrayed as “the woman,” 12:1-2, 13-17), and “the remnant” of believers who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” during the tribulation (12:17).

Briefly, Revelation 13:1-10 gives a spiritual portrait of the Antichrist (the “beast”) and the power imparted to him by the dragon (the devil, 13:1-2). With the exception of a few who refused to take the mark of the beast, the world will worship the antichrist, even while he wages war against those who will be saved during the tribulation (13:3-11).

The False Prophet of the Tribulation (13:11-14)

John observed another who arose after the Antichrist (the first beast, 13:1-3), and described him as “another beast coming up out of the earth” (13:11a). Though portrayed as beasts, we must remember these are real men, given over to serve Satan and empowered by demon spirits. While the Antichrist was determined to be the supreme ruler of the nations of the earth (13:1-2, 8), the second man, portrayed as a beast, sought to persuade men to worship the Antichrist (13:12). He manifested demonic power like the Antichrist (13:12), performed miracles (calling fire down from heaven, 13:13), and persuaded men to worship the image of the antichrist (13:14).

The Mark of the Beast and His Reign of Terror (13:15-18)

Revelation 13 closed with verses that should resonate with some living in a society that is becoming more oppressive and restrictive. Recent advancements in “Artificial Intelligence” (AI), and robotics has made what we read in verse 15 not only convincing, but plausible. For instance, John observed the second beast (13:11), whom scholars identify as the “false prophet,” and it was said to have “power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (13:15).

The sign of those who worshipped the beast was a “mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (13:16). Again, modern technology has instituted small devices that can be implanted in the body, and serve as digital conduits of every detail of a man’s life, private information, and movements. There are politicians and maniacal authoritarians who would have government control every aspect of our lives, finances, and freedoms. The ground work and means for this phase of the tribulation is already present, for the ”false teacher” will control the economy, and “no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (13:17).

Closing thoughts (13:18) – The closing verse stated, “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (13:18). The meaning of that statement is uncertain, but we can deduce some meaning in this: the number seven is the number associated with God, and His perfection (for He created six days, and on the seventh rested); the number six is the number of man (for man was created on the sixth day, and by sin is imperfect). So, we read, “the number of the beast…is Six hundred threescore and six (666)” (13:18).

What does it mean? I don’t know, but I know this…the days of the Antichrist are numbered, and his judgment is determined. John observes in Revelation 19:20 – “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

By the way, do you know your days are also numbered? David exhorted believers, “12So teach us to number our days, That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Two Powerful Witnesses of the Tribulation (Revelation 11; Revelation 12)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – Revelation 11; Revelation 12

Note from the author: Today’s reading marks the start of the final week of a two-year chronological study of the Scriptures. I confess a sense of accomplishment, and I trust you might feel the same if you have been on this spiritual journey with me.

Next Sunday, January 1, 2023, “Heart of A Shepherd” will return to the Book of Genesis. A new, 2-year chronological Scripture reading schedule is available, and you are invited to subscribe and join this shepherd, as we go back to the Beginning (Genesis 1:1). Complementing my “Heart of A Shepherd” devotions, will be a sermon series that will be a Journey Through the Bible, and parallel the weekly devotional schedule. The new series is titled, “Logos: A Journey of Faith, Hope, and Love,” and will be preached at Hillsdale each Sunday morning, 10:30 AM. Join me as we journey from the Beginning (Genesis 1:1) to Eternity (Revelation 22:21).

Today’s Scripture reading is Revelation 11 and 12, and our study will be taken from chapter 11.

Having witnessed the warnings and judgments that followed four of the seven trumpets (Revelation 8:7-12), John recorded he heard “an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth” (8:13). The first woe began when the fifth trumpet sounded, and the devil was “given the key of the bottomless pit” (9:1). Opening the gate of the pit, an innumerable host of demons emerged in the form of locusts, and darkened the sun and air (9:2-3). They went forth to afflict and terrorize the inhabitants of the earth (9:4-12).

The sixth trumpet sounded, and the second woe came forth (9:13). An angel loosed four angels (whom I believe were demonic beings) that were “bound in the great river Euphrates” (9:14). Those four beings were followed by 200 million “horsemen” (I believe demonic spirits, 9:16-17). One-third of humanity was slain (that number would be over 2 billion today, 9:18). Tragically, in spite of the suffering, men would not repent of their wickedness, and continued in their sin (9:20-21).

The seventh and final trumpet was heard in Revelation 10, and marked the final woe, whose judgments continued to Revelation 11:15).

Revelation 11

I believe chapter 11 marks the beginning of the final triumph over evil. As John looked on, he was compelled to take a reed, essentially a measuring rod, in hand and “measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein” (11:1). The purpose for measuring was not given, but I believe it was God’s way of meting out and marking for judgment those who would be saved from destruction (11:1). Then, John was commanded to not measure the outer court of the Temple, with the explanation “it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (11:2).

The ancient temple in Jerusalem had an outer court called, “The Court of the Gentiles,” and Gentiles were allowed to only enter that area of the Temple grounds. So, it was a place where “they tread” (11:2). The Temple built during the Tribulation will also have a Court of the Gentiles and “the holy city (Jerusalem) shall they [the Gentiles] tread under foot forty and two months” (11:2). (Forty-two months is equivalent to 3.5 years and marks the latter half of the seven years of Tribulation.)

The Powerful Witness of Two Preachers (11:3-14)

John described “two witnesses” that would “prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth” (3.5 years, 11:3). They were described as “two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth” (11:4). Olive trees and their oil, and two candlesticks, were indicative of light and the powerful witness of the two prophets (11:4). God warned He will be jealous of His witnesses, and described the power of their words as “fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies” (11:5).

Like Elijah, who prayed and God shut up the heavens that it did not rain (1 Kings 17:1), and Moses whom God gave power to turn water to blood, and “smite the earth with all plagues” (11:6), the two witnesses will be powerful like the two great prophets (in fact, scholars suggest they will in fact be Elijah and Moses).

The Murders of God’s Witnesses and the World’s Contempt (11:7-10)

Only when their ministries were finished would an attack on the witnesses be successful (11:7a). At that time, “the beast” (not Satan, but most likely the antichrist), would rise up from the “bottomless pit” and “make war against them [two witnesses], and shall overcome them, and kill them” (11:7)

The bodies of the witnesses were left to decay in the streets of Jerusalem (described as “the great city,” and so wicked they were “called Sodom and Egypt” (11:8). John beheld how the people and nations of the world looked on the bodies of the dead witnesses with contempt, and the people of the earth celebrated their deaths by giving and exchanging gifts (11:10). Everyone rejoiced, for they had been tormented by the words and testimonies of God’s prophets (11:10).

The Miraculous Resurrection of Two Witnesses (11:11-13)

The celebration of the wicked came to a sudden halt when, “after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them” (11:11). When 3.5 days were passed, the world looked on in terror, as those who had celebrated their deaths, now watched as the two witnesses rose to their feet, and were commanded by the Lord, “Come up hither” (11:12). Within the same hour, a great earthquake struck Jerusalem, destroying one-tenth of the city, and slaying 7,000 men (11:13).

Closing thoughts (11:13-19) – The Scriptures do not say those who survived the earthquake repented of their sins, but John records they were terrified, and “gave glory to the God of heaven” (in other words, they acknowledged all they observed was God’s work, 11:13). This event marked the conclusion of the second woe (11:14), and was followed by a blast from the seventh trumpet, marking the beginning of the final woe (11:15). Lord willing, I will address this section of our Scripture reading in another year.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Emergence of the King of the Bottomless Pit (Revelation 9; Revelation 10)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – Revelation 9; Revelation 10

Continuing our study in the Book of Revelation, we find ourselves chronologically in the prophetic time known as the Tribulation. The prophet Jeremiah foretold it would “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Christ taught His disciples, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). The apostle Paul, in his letter to believers at Thessalonica, foretold a false peace would precede the Tribulation, and people would say, “Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

Christ had opened six of seven seals that bound a scroll recording the judgments that would precede His Second Coming (Revelation 5). Six seals and their judgments were recorded in Revelation 6, and that chapter closed with the announcement, “the great day of his [God’s] wrath is come” (6:17). The seventh seal was opened in Revelation 8, and “there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour” (8:1).

Then, “seven angels which stood before God…were given seven trumpets” and would announce seven divisions of God’s judgment to come (8:2). Four of the seven trumpets were sounded by angels in chapter 8, and each was followed by four judgments (8:7-12). As John looked on, he “heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!” (8:13) As we will see, Revelation 9 will reveal the fifth and sixth trumpets to announce the first and second woes to follow.

Revelation 9

The Sound of the Fifth Trumpet (9:1-12)

When the fifth trumpet sounded, John “saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit” (9:1). Though the identity of the “star” was not given, by comparing other Scriptures with our text, it is clear the “star” was figurative of the devil. The falling star was the fallen angel Lucifer, who is the devil (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-16; Luke 10:18). He was given a “key to the bottomless pit,” where a multitude of demons were chained awaiting their day of judgment (1 Peter 3:19-20).

When the devil “opened the bottomless pit…there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace” (9:2). The place of torment was a place of fire and darkness, and the smoke that billowed up from the depths of the pit darkened the sun and the air (9:2). John then observed what he described as a horde of locusts that emerged from the pit (9:3). Though named “locusts,” we can construe from the description they were symbolic of the demons of hell coming forth as an innumerable swarm of evil spirits (9:3). They were forbidden to hurt the grass or any green thing that was growing, but were permitted to afflict men who had “not the seal of God in their foreheads” (for they were not of the Lord, 9:4).

Locusts generally have a lifespan of five months, and so these that emerged from the pit were permitted to torment men five months (9:5). The pain and sorrow of that day would be so great, men would cry for death to release them from their misery, but even “death shall flee from them” (9:6). The appearance, terror and sorrow afflicted by the demons (portrayed as voracious locusts) was recorded in Revelation 9:7-10.

The King of the Demons Revealed (9:11-12)

Unlike locusts which swarm in mass so thick they might darken the sky for hundreds of miles, the locusts described by John were organized under a vile king. Who was the king? He was identified as “the angel of the bottomless pit” (9:11). The “bottomless pit” was a place of fire, darkness, and eternal torment (Job 26:6; 28:22). Job described it as “a fire that consumeth to destruction” (Job 31:12). Solomon warned, “Hell and destruction are before the Lord” (Proverbs 15:11). So, the demons of the pit were organized under the rule of one “whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon” (9:11). With that revelation, the first woe was ended, and two more would follow (9:12).

Closing thoughts (9:13-21) – Notice the sixth trumpet will sound and introduce the second of three woes (9:13). This time of judgment will continue through to Revelation 11:14. Imagine the terror on the earth when the devil is given the keys to the bottomless pit, and unleashes the demons of that place to swarm the earth, leaving a path of death and destruction. Billions will perish after suffering afflictions so grave they will cry for death to come, and even “death shall flee from them” (9:6). Yet, even those sorrows will not move men to repent.

I invite you again, repent of your sin, and accept Christ as your Savior before it is eternally too late!

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Judgment: Seven Seals and Seven Trumpets (Revelation 8)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – Revelation 8

Our study in “The Revelation of the Apostle John” finds us in the midst of the Tribulation as we come in our search into Revelation 8. The setting continues to be the throne of heaven (Revelation 4:2), and the focus those things witnessed and recorded by John the apostle (Revelation 4-7). He had beheld God sitting on His throne, and holding in His right hand a book or scroll bearing seven seals (Revelation 5:1). (Some scholars have suggested the scroll was the deed to the earth, its inhabitants, and those things which were yet to come. Perhaps that is an apt depiction).

As John looked on, he heard the voice of a “strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” (5:2) John wept when no one was found worthy to open the book (5:2). Yet, there was someone, and it was Christ whom the Scriptures described as “the Lamb” who stood by the throne of heaven (5:6). When He took in hand the scroll, John heard all creatures of heaven, earth, and sea lift up their voices and say, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (5:13).

When the first seal was opened, the first of four horsemen emerged riding on a white horse. I have identified him as the antichrist, and we know from Scripture he will proffer a peace treaty, and will rule a large part of the earth without going to war (Revelation 6:2). Christ then opened the second, third, and fourth seals, and each was followed by the emergence of a horsemen bringing with him death and destruction (6:3-8). The fifth and sixth seals followed, and introduced an ever-growing terror and a time of suffering such as the world had not known, Yet, the time of tribulation was only beginning (Revelation 6:9-7:17).

Revelation 8 – The Seventh and Final Seal

When the seventh seal was opened, the prophetic moment was so terrifying in its anticipation, that “there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour” (8:1). I have wondered, has there ever been a time past when heaven was silent? It seemed the angels looked in stunned, foreboding silence. By the time the seventh seal was broken, the earth was in the midst of great tribulation, and was filled with violence, suffering, sorrow, and death. What more could befall humanity and men not repent, and cry out to God for mercy?

Seven Angels Bearing Seven Trumpets (8:2-5)

John then saw seven angels, “which stood before God, and to them were given seven trumpets” (8:2). (The names of the angels were not given, but I wonder if the angel Gabriel was not one of the seven. Remember, he identified himself to Zechariah as one that did “stand in the presence of God,” Luke 1:19). Since ancient times, trumpets have been a means of communication. They have been employed in war, worship, announcing the coronation of kings, and sounding a warning of judgment.

The seven angels did not sound their trumpets, and John observed “another angel [that] came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer” (8:3). The heavenly altar was a “golden altar…[and] was before the throne” of God (8:3). The angel carried a golden pot of coals upon which incense burned (8:3b), and the smoke rising from the incense symbolized the “prayers of all saints” (perhaps the prayers of the tribulation saints, 8:3, 4). The “golden altar” was reminiscent of the altar of incense nearest the curtain that had separated the outer courts of the Tabernacle and Temple from the “Holy of holies” (wherein was the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat).

Suddenly, the silence of heaven was broken when the angel bearing the censer, “filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth” (8:5). The horror of judgment was heard from the earth as “there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake” (8:5).

The Blaring of Four Trumpets (8:6-12)

We read, “the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound,” and thus heralded a time of dreadful judgment should follow (8:6). The first trumpet sounded, and hail, fire, and blood fell from heaven to earth and one-third of the trees and grasses of the earth were burned (8:7). A second trumpet sounded, and John saw “a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood” (8:8). Perhaps describing a great volcanic explosion, the result was one third of sea creatures died, and one third of the ships at sea were destroyed (the hardships that would follow this catastrophe are unimaginable, 8:9).

The sound of the third trumpet brought a disaster caused by a great meteor or asteroid passing through earth’s atmosphere (described as a burning lamp or torch, 8:10). It fell to the earth and polluted the rivers and fresh waters (8:10). This astronomical wonder was called “Wormwood,” a plant with toxic leaves (8:11).

The fourth, of the seven trumpets, was a judgment that extinguished one third of the light of the sun, moon, and stars (8:12). Imagine the terror of the darkness, and the hardships caused when one third of the light and heat of the sun was eroded. Agricultural crops would fail, plunging temperatures would stifle growth in many regions, and death would ensue.

Closing thoughts (8:13) – A threefold angelic cry of “Woe,” followed the first four of the seven trumpets, and there were yet three more trumpets that would sound the terror of God’s judgment (8:13). I close with a couple of observations. The first, the “smoke of the incense” that was burned on the golden altar before God’s throne reminds us God hears the prayer of His people (8:3-4). Secondly, the judgments that followed the soundings of the trumpets remind us no sin of man will go unpunished.

Though the wrath and judgment of God will be poured out on the earth, I remind you, the Lord is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Will you turn your heart to the Lord, and receive his offer of salvation, before it is too late?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.