Fourth Trumpet - Darkness

The fourth trumpet blast causes a partial darkening of the sun, moon, and the stars of heaven over Babylon - Revelation 8:12. 

Dark Sky - Photo by Victor Rodriguez on Unsplash
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 the book of 
Ezekiel, a judgment carried out by the ancient empire of Babylon. Now, darkness will consume the realm of the “Great City, Babylon” - (Ezekiel 32:7-11) - [Dark Sky - Photo by Victor Rodriguez on Unsplash].

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 night sky:
  • And the fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a 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” - (Revelation 8:12).
  • 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 PLAGUE

The Greek term rendered “struck” in the present passage is the verb plésso, which is related to the noun plégé that is rendered “plague” several times in Revelation. This 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 the book of Isaiah, another passage with a judicial pronouncement against Ancient 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 Egypt for refusing to free Israel.

BABYLON

But Revelation also weaves in allusions from the books of JeremiahEzekiel, and Isaiah, passages with judicial pronouncements against the Neo-Babylonian Empire. This anticipates the sentences pronounced against “Babylon, the Great Harlot” in chapter 18 of Revelation.

The use of pronouncements against Babylon is paradoxical. The “plagues” of the first four trumpets target the unrepentant “inhabitants of the earth.” Still, the unexpected agent of judgment is Babylon itself, the “burning mountain” that is cast into the sea, and the “burning star” that falls on rivers and springs.

Lunar eclipse - Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash
[Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash]

Thus, to punish the “
inhabitants of the earth,” God uses the very institution on which they depend for economic security, and, in turn, it 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 die when they choose to drink waters made bitter by the “burning star” that fell from the heavens.



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