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The Revelation of John contains a rehearsal of the vision John received of the future, our future. One of the quandaries I always find myself in when I read these revelations is when to consider them as figurative or symbolic and when to assume they are literal. This is especially true for me as I read of the seven seals. Much has been written, of which I have read only a small part, but I have had times in my life when an image or an event causes my mind to bring up a scripture. This happened again recently with respect to the plagues discussed in Revelations, chapter 8 and 9.

For many years, I have blindly assumed that the seals represented in Revelations were linear representations of periods of time, roughly 1000 years each. This idea has shifted somewhat as I read the descriptions of the sixth and seventh seals.

This is mainly driven by a consideration of the 144,000 described in Revelations, chapter 7, where twelve thousand are selected from each tribe and are ‘sealed the servants of God in their foreheads.’ This appears to be one of the main events of the sixth seal. Yet, later during the seventh seal, we find that the angels of destruction associated with the fifth trumpet are not to hurt those who were sealed:

“And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.”

I would suggest that those with the ‘seal in their foreheads’ are the same talked about the discussion of the sixth seal. Unless the 144,000 were not mortal, which I would also include as a possibility, they are among us during both the sixth and seventh seal.

If there is overlap between the times sixth and seventh seal, we could see events associated with the plagues of the seventh seal transpiring at the same time as other events.

With that background, I would like to discuss the events of the seventh seal as described in Revelations, chapter 7.

1 AND when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.

5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

Could the silence in heaven pertain to a period when there is no revelation? There has been decades now when there has been no meaningful revelation given to the church. Has the seventh seal been open for some time?

It is also interesting to note that a great earthquake is found at the beginning of both the sixth and seventh seals. Are the earthquakes we have experienced in the last few decades considered ‘great?’

The seven angels with seven trumpets represent the plagues that will visit the earth:

7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

Recently, as I was driving through the mountains of Colorado, I was amazed at the expanded devastation of the pine forests. Many trees have been killed by this infestation as is seen in this picture from Wikipedia.

Could this represent the first plague where a third part of the trees are ‘burnt up?’ Or could this killing be a precursor to a monster forest fire that would devastate a significant portion of this infested area?

8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;

9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.”

I have often heard the potential of the sea turning to blood as being a result of an algae outbreak, the red tide. But as I watch the events transpire in the Gulf of Mexico, I had this scripture come to my feeble mind as I saw the great plumes of brownish red oil spread out across the sea. This photo is from the National Geographic website.

If you consider Strong’s treatment of the Greek word for blood, ‘haima,’ you can find its extended meaning to include death, killing, and sacrifice. This ongoing devastation in the Gulf has unleashed a massive tide of red death that is taking a toll on the sea animals as well as those who make their living on the waters of the area.

As this disaster began, we were confronted with images of the burning deep water rig as captured in this photo from MSNBC.

“as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea.”

The tremendous fire that resulted from the blowout of this drilling rig caused the platform to sink into the sea and unleashed millions of gallons of oily red death upon the area. Is this in fulfillment of the second trumpet of the last or seventh seal?

What think ye?

11 Responses to “Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets”

  • Steve:

    The error with most Revelations analysis is assuming that every negative thing is evidence of fulfillment.

    For instance, focus on earthquakes.

    Earthquakes have happened throughout human history. Many in the past have been far, far greater than any modern quake.

    So, logically, how can a garden-variety 7 or 8 on the richter strength one be evidence of the end???? Some claim that earthquakes have increased in frequency and that must be a sign. How silly. I think the cause is modern media not more quakes.

    Or, the Gulf spill. Is it bad? Sure. But, if the sign is a bad spill what about the host of far larger ones that have happened in the Gulf of Arabia in the past?

    Or, pestilence. We haven’t had a single modern disease that even remotely matches the black plague.

    The end of the world implies something difference .. an increase and strength that no modern event even remotely matches. My suspicion is that we will know when something different is occurring.

  • Steve,
    I understand your perspective. The most important event in the history, in my opinion, was the ministry of Jesus Christ; an event that went largely unnoticed except by his followers. While scripture portends massive events in the future, I also question if the events leading up to the climax will only be seen by those who hear and see.

    “That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand”

    The rest of the world may not see and understand what is transpiring, until the very end. As it see it, it could go either way.

  • Steve:

    Spektator, good point.

    I guess that raises the issue: Are the last days a dramatic series og unique events or an ordered set of common events?

  • I think it may depend on your perspective.

    Does He come as a ‘thief in the night?

    How many of the bridal party will be awake when He comes?

    I would find it easy to believe that most of the world would not understand what is happening until…

    Read the last chapter of the book of Helaman and you will find a people who, for the most part, didn’t accept the signs that were presented. They hardened their hearts and didn’t think it was ‘reasonable’ that the prophecies could be true. Right up until they happened. It could easily be the same way this time.

  • Tom:

    Thought I might respond to the original comment, which I partially agree with. We, as humans, have the tendency to do “knee-jerk” reactions. In particular, we’re quick to ascribe a certain meaning to a certain event, no matter the outside forces.

    There’s actually a good deal of research (which one can find if they’re looking for it) which suggests that although the frequency of earthquakes hasn’t gone up over the past few decades, the magnitude of said quakes is experiencing a definite upward trend (i.e. trending toward bigger and badder earthquakes).

    This image: http://urbansurvival.com/week.h426.gif dates back to the early 1970s and shows the upward trend of larger magnitude quakes.

    2nd point: the oil spill isn’t just a garden variety oil spill, which is apparently common in the Gulf of Arabia, or so the first comment suggests. I don’t think we can underestimate that sucking sound coming from the earth right now…unless, that is, you’re following the MSM on this issue.

    Currently the admitted leakage per day is in the neighborhood of 50,000 barrels. Per day. That’s the equivalent of nearly 2.1 million (yes, that’s MILLION) gallons per day. Spilling into the ocean. EVERY DAY. That’s Put another way, that’s the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez oil spill happening every 5 days. Is this really a run of the mill, garden variety oil spill? Let’s be honest with ourselves…anything leaking 2.1 million gallons of oil per day isn’t exactly some “normal” occurrence.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/11/bp-oil-spill-estimates-double

    I’d really like to know what the long term effects of this oil spill will be, but to throw it away as some small, paltry event defies my logic (which isn’t hard to do, but still) and is an uninformed statement, at best. Plus, if we want to venture into predictive linguistics, those running the predictive linguistics time machine are saying that this leak isn’t getting stopped until sometime near Christmas. Of 2011. If the leak continues at its present rate, then by the end of this year we’d be looking at ANOTHER 378,000,000 gallons of oil in the ocean. That’s to say nothing of another 365 days worth of spillage if it isn’t contained until Christmas time 2011.

    I could easily envision how a serious amount of the earths water gets poisoned by this spill…especially if it makes its way into the ocean conveyor belt and gets carried around to God-knows-where and does God-knows-what to God-knows-who.

  • Steve:

    Tom,

    The fact that there has been a small upward trend in severity in the past 40 years is pretty minor.

    Big earthquakes have occurred throughout history. The biggest loss of life was a quake in 1586 in China. It had nearly 4 times the casualties of any modern quake. Just in the past 1000 years, there have been a multitude of big quakes. Logic indicates that even more occurred before this period.

    As to the size of the Gulf spill, it isn’t even the biggest there — that ranking goes to a 1979 Mexican rig (of note, that spill only contaminated about 2.5% of the coast and was gone in about 4 years).

  • Tom:

    It’s interesting how the earthquake has also morphed from one blaming the media for the uptick in earthquakes to now discounting the fact that there have been a multitude of “big quakes.” Statistically speaking, the uptick in earthquakes is anything but a “small uptrend.” Those trend lines don’t move as they do, especially since the mid-80s, portray anything other than a “small” trend. The monthly rate of larger magnitude earthquakes has more than doubled since the mid-80s. Is that we now constitute as a “small uptrend?” If we only look at the statistical probability and statistical relationship needed to produce the red trend line in the picture, you’d need far more than a “small” anything.

    As to the oil spill, so now we’re going from a run of the mill oil spill to comparing it to the 1979 spill? At least we’re getting closer to the scale of this spill…

    Ironically (perhaps), it will only take 66.6666 days of oil spillage from this mess in the Gulf to match that oil spill in Mexico. That puts us at June 25th, for those keeping track. And, that is assuming the actual estimate we’re now hearing is accurate (which this shaky math is nevertheless built on). Somehow the spill figure manages to keep climbing…but it’s not like the MSM or BP or the Gov’t have it in their interests to keep that number low while the plumes grow. Anyway you look at it, with a spill that has no closure/stoppage date in site and seems to go on through the entire year of 2011, it’ll surpass the 1979 spill in a matter of days and double it by the end of August – again, assuming the spillage rate doesn’t continue to climb like it has over the past weeks.

    If you base your calculations on the size of some of the oil plumes already measured in the ocean, then you’ve already surpassed that Mexico spill, but then you are relying on someone (who has it in their interests to potentially misreport the actual size of the plum). One plume, reported back in mid-May to be 10 miles long, by 3 miles wide, by 300 feet thick. That plume alone, accounting for the likely oblong shape, could potentially hold as much 62 BILLION cubic feet of oil – or 469 BILLION gallons of oil.

    Perhaps you don’t like that plume size. Well, a different marine scientist found a plume (back in May) that was 15 miles long x 5 miles wide. If that plume was only 2 feet thick (average thickness across the plume), then you’re looking at a spill rate of 28.6 MILLION gallons per day. If that’s the case, then we’ve already surpassed the 1979 spill (last week).

    Perhaps you don’t like that plume size. Just yesterday there were reports of a plume that is 40 miles long by 2 miles wide. If that’s true, then assuming the plume is only 2 feet thick (average thickness across the plume), then you’re looking at 33.3 BILLION gallons sitting in that “little” oil plume. Assuming that’s the only plume in the ocean (and it’s not) then you get a figure that approaches 600 MILLION gallons spilled every day since April 20th.

    Now, I’m only belaboring the point…but let’s think through the assumptions before we argue this or that point. If we want to argue logically (and there’s no reason not to), then logic dictates – based simply on easy mathematical calculations – that this oil spill is anything but what’s being bandied about in the MSM and has already exceeded whatever the largest spill was prior to 2010.

  • Steve:

    Tom,

    How can one draw trends on earthguakes when you are looking at a 40 year period? Given the Earth’s age, the so-called uptick and the relatively minor severity in historical terms is small. Surely you are not arguing that today’s quakes are significant in terms of the past few centuries, given the massive quake in Syria in the 12th Century, huge European & Asian quakes in the past 1000 years, etc.?

    As to oil spill, it is a bad thing. My point is that treating it as a sign of the Apocalypse given its moderate size historically, even if the flow measurements are off by a magnitude.

    I still believe, as I started, that the true end of days will be far more dramatic than anything we’ve seen because what we’ve seen is within historic bounds.

  • Spek, my understanding is the following:

    1: the first sign of the sixth seal is the earthquake;
    2: the earthquake does not indicate the opening of the seal, just that it is the first sign given of the seal, letting people know what seal they are living in;
    3: this great earthquake has not happened, yet;
    4: when it does happen, everyone who witnesses it will know it is the first sign of the sixth seal (3 Ne. 1: 16-18);
    5: though a percentage of the population will afterwards deny it (3 Ne. 1: 22) because of circulating lies, and this will happen with each succeeding sign;
    6: just as \”in the days that the prophecies of Isaiah shall be fulfilled men shall know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass\” (2 Ne. 2: 7), so also in the days that the prophecies in Revelations shall be fulfilled, men living during that fulfillment will know of a surety (i.e., no more guessing);
    7: the overlap theory of the seals (6 and 7) is incorrect;
    8: much of Revelation is speaking of celestial happenings, or of signs originating in outer space (planets, comets, meteors, etc.), which is why everyone on the Earth can see (and experience) these signs;
    9: however, \”as above, so below,\” so many of these signs will have their counterpart on Earth;
    10: the main signs of destruction given in Revelation are done by the Lord Himself, not by man, via interplanetary plasma events, which will affect the human psyche on a primitive level;
    11: the populations of the earth won\’t get touched by the Lord until He first \”touches\” (or deals with) His covenant people (Gentiles, then Israelites);
    12: none of these great signs will happen with subtely for the Lord intends to leave all men without excuse: those who deny the signs will have to do so as one walking in the noon day sun and calling it darkness;
    13: as conditions among men (and in the heavens) will change so as to initiate (and fulfill) the signs, speculation based upon current conditions is pointless;
    14: the only part of the world who will not understand the happenings will be those who are unfamiliar with the Bible prophecies, in other words, (the heathens);
    15: everyone else will be expected to believe and repent;
    16: we are currently in a mercy phase, meaning that the Lord\’s arm of mercy is still extended towards the Gentiles;
    17: the Lord\’s sword of destruction will not appear until after the Gentiles have rejected the fulness of the gospel;
    18: the gospel will go to the Jews after the Gentiles reject the gospel;
    19: the gospel has not, yet, gone to the Jews, because the Gentiles have not, yet, rejected the fulness of the gospel;
    20: everything we see around us, then, which is destructive, is either a natural process or a man-made action, or a combination thereof; the Lord, as yet, hasn\’t begun His miraculous and marvelous work and a wonder, such as was done with Pharaoh and Egypt during Moses\’ time;
    21: these signs, then, are still future events, though the time for their initiation may be this very year, for all we know.

  • I’m in the “these calamities we see around us today are not the signs” camp. What we see, as Steven and Anarchist correctly point out, is simply business as usual.

    The initial analysis, “Seven Angles, Seven Trumpets,” smacks of sectarian millennialism, which the Lord condemned in Joseph Smith’s first vision as false. Why we reject other Christian notions but accept their views of prophecy as our own puzzles and dismays me. Nearly every Latter-day Saint that takes up the topic of the last days makes this same mistake. This is especially disconcerting when Joseph and subsequent prophets gave us a prophetic tradition of our own. Why we have abandoned it puzzles me.

    Perhaps the two best models for the latter-day destructions are the Exodus and the pre-Christ, Nephite calamity. Neither was man made; both involved a series of destructions (darkness, earthquake, thunder, lightning, tectonic and water movement, etc.) that happened either in rapid succession or concurrently, rather than discrete events, as today’s run-of-the-mill disasters are; and in size, they were both several orders of magnitude greater than anything we’ve see in our day–oil spills, tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes included.

    Additionally, I would argue that the cause was external to the Earth, that it was cosmological or astral in nature. I submit that the Exodus “pillar of fire and smoke” was a planet sized object with a comet-like tail that appeared to stand vertical on the horizon, and that it’s dangerously close pass to the Earth caused all the calamities of the Exodus (worldwide tides, earthquakes, fire and “hail,” red water, darkness, etc.).

    The striking similarities between the Exodus plagues/miracles/destructions and those predicted in prophecy for the last days indicates to me that they are caused by similar cosmological or astral agents. Couple that with various statements by Joseph Smith to that effect — “… the last, grand sign will be called a comet, a planet …” — and you have your answer about the nature and cause of upcoming catastrophes. For more, check our my website and blog.

  • There was a recent news article regarding the impact on the Gulf of Mexico from the high levels of methane ejected from the drilling disaster. Apparently the methane levels are higher than any in recorded history and are believed to be causing ‘dead zones’ in the water due to depleted oxygen. The full article can be found here. If these dead zones do become broadly distributed, they could lead to a much larger impact on marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. “and a third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died.”

    Will these plagues be natural events or supernatural? Each of us should form their own response to the question. Perhaps my faith is not as strong as that of Anarchist or Anthony and I need to see the linkage between the catastrophes around us and the hand of the Lord.

    I am puzzled by the use of the Exodus as an example for things to come. As I read it, the camp of Israel was led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night. A comet would, by necessity rotate around the earth so, to me, it doesn’t seem likely that such a celestial event was the cause. In Exodus 14:20 one finds this
    “And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.”

    I don’t believe a cosmic event would be able to come between the Israelites and the Egyptians.

    As for the plagues, if I were an Egyptian and possibly many of the Israelites, in that time, would I have attributed the frogs and flies to God or classify them as an extraordinary ‘natural’ event? He who has eyes, let him see.

    In the end, we may disagree on the details, but the assumption is that we can agree with this: He, who is prepared, shall not fear.

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