The fourth trumpet blast caused a partial darkening of the sun, moon, and the stars – Revelation 8:12.
The darkening of the sun, moon, and stars is based on the ninth Egyptian plague that darkened the land for three days. It also employs imagery from the judicial pronouncement against Pharaoh in Ezekiel, a judgment carried out by the ancient empire of Babylon. Now, darkness will consume the realm of end-time “Babylon” – (Ezekiel 32:7-11).
The fourth trumpet blast and the fourth “bowl of wrath” are connected – Both impact the same parts of the creation, the luminary bodies in the heaven:
- (Revelation 8:12) – “And the fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun was smitten, and a third of the moon, and the third of the stars, in order that the third of them might be darkened, and the day might not shine for the third of it, and the night, in like manner.”
- “It was poured out upon the sun to scorch men with fire, and men were scorched with great heat and blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues” – (Revelation 16:8).
The Greek term rendered “strike” is the verb plésso, which is related to the noun plégé or “plague.” The usage is deliberate and reminds the reader of the connection between the trumpet blasts and the plagues of Egypt – (Revelation 9:18 – “By these three plagues was the third part of men killed”).
The darkening of the sun, moon, and stars also borrows language from Isaiah, another passage with a judicial pronouncement against Babylon:
“The burden of Babylon that Isaiah saw…Wail, for the day of Yahweh, is at hand… Behold, the day of Yahweh is coming, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine” – (Isaiah 13:1-13).
The imagery draws heavily from the judgments of Yahweh against Ancient Egypt for refusing to free Israel. But Revelation also weaves in allusions from the books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, passages with judicial pronouncements on the Babylonian Empire. The language anticipates the sentences pronounced against “Babylon” in chapter 18 of Revelation.
The use of pronouncements against Ancient Babylon is paradoxical. The “plagues” of the first four trumpets targeted the unrepentant “inhabitants of the earth,” but the unexpected agent of judgment was Babylon itself, the “burning mountain” that was cast into the sea, and the “burning star” that fell on rivers and springs.
Thus, to punish the “inhabitants of the earth,” God used the very institution on which they depended for economic security, and which in turn will be destroyed utterly – (Revelation 8:5, 9:20-21).
To this point in the narrative, it is not human beings that are destroyed by the trumpet blasts, but a third of the things connected to their economic security: Agriculture, transportation (ships), water, and light – The very things on which the economic power of “Babylon” is built. So far, men only died when they chose to drink waters made bitter by the “burning star” that fell from the heavens.
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