Global warming is legit and I think if we were to go back in time and tell John, the author of the book of Revelation, he wouldn’t be surprised.
The Seven Trumpets and wrath
At the end of the Seventh Trumpet, the 24 Elders cry out, “ . . . Your wrath came, and the time came . . . to destroy those who destroy the earth” (Rev 11:18).
For a number of years, this verse puzzled me. It seemed straightforward. Those who destroy the earth, God will destroy. But I couldn’t figure out what it has to do with the book of Revelation. It seemed random.
Then it finally struck me!
NB: I have been arguing in the last several posts that we are seriously misreading the book of Revelation when we concluded that the Seven Seals (Rev 6:1-17; 8:1, 5) represent the Wrath of God.
Are the Seven Trumpets God’s Wrath?
If the Seven Seals are not God’s wrath, then what about the Seven Trumpets (Rev 8:2, 6:-9:21; 11:14-19)?
One of the key elements of John’s narrative (yes, the book of Revelation is telling a story and if we don’t recognize this, we will fail to grasp much of what John is saying) is that John’s story centers on God’s answer to the “prayers of the saints” (5:8; 8:3, 4), which I believe corresponds with the cry of the martyrs’: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (6:10).
In the series of Seven Seals and the Seven Trumpets, the martyrs are essentially told, “Not yet” (6:11—my loose paraphrase of Rev 6:11).
NB: For more insights into the book of Revelation and what it meant then and what it means for us today, tune into the determinetruth podcast (also available on iTunes; Spotify; or wherever you get your podcasts; and don’t forget to “follow” us and to share it with others).
A careful reading of the book of Revelation affirms that both the accounts of the Seven Seals and the Seven Trumpets explain what happens during the “not yet.”
That is, one of the functions of the Seven Seals and the Seven Trumpets is that they are a response to the prayers of the saints by informing the saints as to what will transpire during the delay.
One of the first things we learn is that it will be difficult for the people of God (which I can address in future posts; suffice it to say for now but the notion of a rapture seriously undermines the biblical call to persevere).
In addition, God’s delay in bringing justice for the martyrs also means that human rulers remain in power. And guess what happens when we rule? Wars happen. Wars that create famines and food shortages happen. And famines that bring about death and diseases happen. (Seals 2, 3, 4; see Rev 6:3-8)
This is not God’s doing! It is our doing.
All we need to do is read the first few pages of Genesis to realize this. Adam and Eve choose to make the decisions of good and bad on their own terms (Gen 3). Then in the very next account Can kills his brother Abel (Gen 4). This is the biblical story. When we rule we kill one another. WE NEED GOD’S WISDOM; which is what the fear of the Lord is all about (Prov 1:7).
The Seven Seals announce death and destruction to humanity: the Seven Trumpets announce destruction to the creation
The destruction that takes place on the earth in the account of the Seven Trumpets, in the same way as the first four Seals, represents what happens when God delays in bringing about the end (justice) and allows human rulers to rule.
In the first four Seals, human rule brought deception, war, famine, and death to humanity (6:1-8).
In the first four Trumpets, human rule brings destruction upon the four parts of creation (the land 7; the sea 8-9; the fresh waters 10-11; and the heavenly bodies 12).
This is why Rev 11:18 says that God will “destroy those who destroy the earth.”
So, when we begin to learn about global warming and its destructiveness to the creation, we should not be surprised.
NB I will address global warming more in a future post. I’ll just say for now that global warming makes a lot of sense in light of the biblical narrative. And “No,” I am not saying the Bible predicts global warming.
The account of the Seven Trumpets cannot be God’s doing.
In addition, anyone who claims that the Seven Trumpets are the direct acts of God must also account for the fact that the Fifth and Sixth Trumpets (Rev 9:1-19) describe demonic hordes that unleash pain and suffering among humanity.
The first demonic horde (Fifth Trumpet) comes from the Abyss (9:1-2): note the “Abyss” is likely synonymous with hell—as is evidenced by the smoke that comes out of it (9:2-3). These demonic hordes are granted the authority to inflict suffering but not death upon humanity (9:4-6). That they are demonic is evidenced in that, “They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek, he has the name Apollyon” (9:11).
The second demonic horde (Sixth Trumpet) kills one-third of humanity (9:18). That they are demonic beings is indicated by the fact that the command goes forth, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates” (9:14).
(I don’t think Michael or Gabriel were ever “bound.”—just sayin).
Furthermore, the war that these demonic beings wage corresponds to the “Armageddon” passage in 16:12-16; 19:19-21; and 20:7-10—but we will have to save this for a future post also)
Suffice it to say that I find it very hard to believe that God is the agent of demonic hordes that ultimately wage war against the people of God.
At this point, some may wish to contend that God is sovereign and as such He is the agent behind the destruction that follows the sounding of the Seven Trumpets, including the acts of the demonic hordes.
Before I respond to this, let me just point out the absurdity of this claim. What kind of God do we believe in? I know that many have held to this belief for quite some time. In fact, some very good scholars in the field of the book of Revelation have held to this view. But have we really stepped back and thought, “Hmm, I am not sure this makes any sense”?
In response, I would note: Yes, God is sovereign. That is one of the fundamental points behind the Book of Revelation. Apocalypses by nature were written to assure their readers that God is in control and that He will ultimately bring them justice and relief from their suffering.
When it comes to Satan and demonic hordes, God’s sovereignty means that they are not so out of control that they can do anything they want, nor can they act for as long as they want. They are limited in scope and time.
The Seven Trumpets and Global Warming
I teach biblical interpretation at a seminary. One of the first things we do in the course is to discuss the history of poor interpretations. When it comes to science, unfortunately, the church has been too quick to reject science because we feel threatened by it.
So when science began to argue that the world was round, some Christians rejected it because the Bible allegedly teaches that the earth has 4 corners.
When science began to suggest that the Sun is the center of our solar system, some rejected it because the Bible says that the Earth is the center of the universe.
Perhaps, then we should be more careful when it comes to things such as global warming.
NB: What I find very interesting here is that those in the church who have run to reject global warming as a hoax have not run to the Bible per se, but to their wallets. Global warming is a conspiracy, they claim, designed to destroy American businesses (I was just looking at a book that says this the other day while finishing up some research at the seminary’s library).
There is, as always, more to say, but let me close with this:
Rev 11:18, which says that God will “destroy those who destroy the earth,” affirms that God is not the direct agent behind the Trumpet plagues. It must mean that others are destroying the earth and that God will bring justice against those who do so. That is, God will bring justice against those who cause the destruction of the creation that is set forth in the first four Trumpets.
That human rule brings destruction to the creation corresponds precisely with John’s narrative. Sure, you might question whether or not global warming is real, but it seems to me that if we were to tell John he wouldn’t be surprised in the least.
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