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Revelation 8:6-13

The first angel sounded his trumpet … A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

The second angel sounded his trumpet … A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

The third angel sounded his trumpet … A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died …

The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.

(verses 7-12)


So many atrocities in our world. So many injustices. We see them constantly – they appear again and again in the ongoing news cycle. Nation against nation, person against person, rich against poor, strong against weak, the entitled overwhelming the disempowered; big business exploiting, tyrants dictating; the abused in turn abusing – humanity and all creation is wounded in the process. On it goes. Sometimes actions are called to account; sometimes not. Where is justice? Where is God?

This passage (and many others throughout the Scriptures) allow us to see that justice will indeed be done, that the righteous judgement of God will certainly be visited on the earth. Sin and wickedness will not go unpunished. Their consequences are real.

The scene for these present verses was set earlier in the chapter (verse 2) as seven angels, “who stand before God,” were each given a trumpet to blow. Clearly the devastations that flow from these trumpet blasts come directly from God himself. And if from God, then they are justly delivered. When Abraham asked his question centuries earlier, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”(Genesis 18:25), he knew the answer was a resounding, “Yes!”

These judgements are like the plagues visited upon Egypt in response to the hard-hearted oppression of Pharaoh towards God’s people. Indeed, much of what happens here in Revelation 8 is reminiscent of those plagues – vegetation decimated, waters turned to blood, rivers afflicted, and darkness oppressing the earth.

But though severe, these “plagues” are not yet the final judgement on humanity’s sinfulness. In each case it is only a third of the land or vegetation or waters or light that is afflicted. In effect, each trumpet blast serves as a warning that the justice of God is not absent – it will ultimately come in all its fullness. But in the meantime, the warning is given.

This, indeed, is the purpose of trumpets. The prophet Ezekiel declared that when the watchman “blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head” (Ezekiel 33:3-4).

When these trumpets sound, then, the devastation of one-third means there is still opportunity for repentance, for a turning from hard-heartedness and sin, and for a returning to the Sovereign Lord. Grace still reigns. Indeed, this door of opportunity is open today – pray that many more may receive this grace, instead of waiting for judgement to come.

And when, today, we do not yet see justice played out in its fullness (perhaps only to a third, or seemingly less) then the full story of Revelation assures us that justice will indeed yet come – that “the Judge of all the earth (will certainly) do right.” Or, to use the words of the prophet Amos (echoed by Martin Luther King, Jr.): “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24).


Sovereign Lord, the reality of wickedness and injustice in our world is great. The severity of judgement is real. Awaken the world to the reality of your coming justice, that here and now people may respond to your grace. To the glory of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.



What current injustices in our world weigh on your heart and mind? Ask the Lord for his justice to prevail, for his Kingdom to come, his will be done.

In light of the Lord’s coming judgement, who do you know that needs to respond to his grace now? Pray the Lord's grace upon them.


Photo by Lisa Yount on Unsplash

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