The Revelation of John; Chapter 8 – The First Four Angels

25 Jun

I am continuing on with Revelation. In this series I have been comparing John’s vision with books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST – given in red).

See also chapter one,  two, three, four, five, first five seals, Sixth Seal I, Sixth Seal II, Seventh Seal Opens

Chapter Eight: Verse 6-13

The rest of chapter eight is the sounding of the first four trumpets, which herald the great tribulation that is to immediately precede the second coming. Whether these are to come in succession or all at once is not really specified. Either way there has never been such a great destruction since the flood in the days of Noah.

In the following paragraphs I will present my own thoughts concerning the meaning of these plagues, as well as what Bruce R. McConkie said regarding them (taken from the New Testament Institute Manuel).

First Trumpet

The First Angel

…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.


Brother McConkie speculates that this could refer to men using our own weapons and technologies. I think there is something in this idea. After all, at the time of John the primary source of energy would have been wood (or the trees) to make fire. Thus this could be seen as men consuming natural resources at an unprecedented rate.

The hail and fire could also refer to the destruction caused by various bombs that are dropped from the sky.

Second Trumpet

The Second Angel

…and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 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.


Brother McConkie simply refers back to the waters of Egypt turning to blood, but gives no actual interpretation.

To me the burning mountain sounds very much like a volcano. While the first plague may be of man’s creation, the second appears to be a natural one. A great volcano will erupt; or, perhaps, many volcanos will erupt in rapid succession. The flaming rock that is spewed forth would fill the oceans, killing life all around it and sinking any ship unfortunate enough to be caught.

Third Trumpet

The Third Angel

…there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.


First note that the second plague deals with the salt water in the oceans, while the third speaks of the freshwater.

I think I agree with Brother McConkie that this sounds very much like nuclear fallout and radiation contamination in the water supply. The star could be nuclear bombs, or simply power plants being destroyed. In either case the radiation would leak into the groundwater, which, coincidentally, happens to be about a third of the world’s freshwater supply.

Fourth Trumpet

The Fourth Angel

…the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.


Brother McConkie gives us nothing on this plague, except to say that God may not want us to know. That is entirely possible, but I will speculate anyway.

This speaks of one third of the sun, moon and stars being darkened. Could this be caused by the ash and debris of the first three plagues? If there were rapid volcanic activity, along with nuclear fallout and even pollution, could not this cause a darkening of the skies that would last for some time.


After the first four angels sound another angel speaks to the earth and tells those on it to prepare for the next three angels. It seems to me that this would indicate a short period in which there are no tribulations, given to men for them to prepare for the final tribulations.

This last verse does say “Woe, Woe, Woe” and three ‘woes’ are later referenced in Revelation (9:12; 11: 14), so the warning is a little more specific than it first appears.


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