When The Bottom Falls Out

Bible Book: Revelation  8
Subject: Tribulation; Judgment; Christ, Rejection of
[Editor's Note: This sermon is about judgment, plain and simple. It is a message I don't like to preach, but it is biblical and necessary to be proclaimed from time to time by a man of God. I developed and delivered this sermon as part of a series of messages on the Book of Revelation. Also, please note the extra illustrations I've included at the end of the message.]

Revelation chapters 8 and 9

Many years ago people used buckets for various chores and tasks. They would bring vegetables from the garden in a galvanized bucket or water was drawn up from a well to carry home in a bucket. A mason would carry bricks in a bucket and workers used them for many tasks. In those days, there were no plastic buckets and the metal ones were expensive. Buckets were used for a very long time and occasionally a bucket would become so old and worn that the bottom simply fell out it  while someone it was being using. You can imagine the frustration when a person was hauling water from the well to suddenly have the bottom of the bucket give way and the water splashed to be splashed all over the place. It was even more annoying and painful if the bottom dropped out of the bucket while hauling bricks to a job site!

One day something far more disturbing is going to occur. In due time the bottom is going to fall out of heaven and it is going to come crashing down upon this earth. That is what we are going to read about in Revelation, chapters 8 and 9 today. For just a moment let's rehearse where we have been in our study of this great New Testament Book.

We recall that Revelation is made up of three parts.

The first part involves chapter one and covers the things which John experienced as the beginning of the Revelation was given to him.

Part two was covered in chapters 2 and 3 and covered the church age. The church age is the current age in which we are living.

Chapters 4 and beyond cover the things which will happen after the church is removed. In this section we note that the redeemed, raptured saints are in heaven with the Savior. On the earth the antichrist rising to power and is establishing himself as dictator on the earth. We learned last week that 144,000 Jews will be sealed by the Lord during this time and they will go forth to share the gospel of the kingdom. Many Gentiles will be saved, and they will be martyred for their faith.

Immediately, those who are martyred for their faith in Christ will appear before the throne of God because they believed on Jesus and endured to the end! When we come to chapter 8 in Revelation we see the seventh and last seal on the heavenly scroll opened. When that last seal is opened, the terrible tribulation events are about to begin on earth. Turn with me in you Bible and note the message our Lord has given us.

I. The Amazing Silence in Heaven

Revelation 8:1, "When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour."

Why was heaven silent at this point? There is only one explanation for the holy hush that falls over the celestial landscape. The saints and angels know that something of great significance is about to occur. Perhaps they know it because of the seven trumpets which are given to seven angels. The trumpets speak of the call to alarm. Seven is the number of completion. Seven trumpets speak of the greatest possible danger.

You will recall that Joshua was told to march around Jericho seven days and for seven priest to blow seven trumpets of the seventh day. We read this in Joshua 6. The seven trumpets gave a message of destruction and judgment.

The heavenly inhabitants in the Book of Revelation know a terrible and awful judgment is about to fall on the earth, and there is a uneasy silence around the throne of God. We are made to remember the text from Habbakuk: "The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him. (Habbakuk). The earth will not pause, but will go on with its noise and activity; it is heaven that shall pause in awe of the impending judgment of God about to fall on the earth.

II. The Astonishing Supplication to God

Revelation 8:2-4, "And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand."

The next event John observed was an angel taking a censer (device for carrying incense and fire), that is filled with much incense and with fire. We are told what the incense signifies. The incense is the prayers of the saints rising up to God, but they must be mixed with fire in order to produce smoke. The fire is the picture of the brass altar, which signified the cross of Christ. Friend, without the cross of Christ there is no access to God through prayer. The fire of God's sacrifice is mixed with the prayer of the saints and then the bottom falls out of heaven unto the earth.

At this point we see the fire of God's wrath poured out of heaven unto the earth. Now, why does the Bible say that the prayers of the saints are involved in this passage? Every true believer prays as Jesus taught. We pray for God's kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven, and for that to be a reality, God must bring judgment to this earth, purge it and cast out the evil one forever! The angel mentioned in this passage is believed by many scholars to be Jesus, Himself. Why? Because it is through Him that we pray. He is the One who offers our prayers to the Father. Also, because He often appeared in Old Testament times as a messenger or angel. Such occurrences are called Theophanies - appearances of God in human form in Old Testament times. The appearance of the Messenger to Abraham in Genesis 18:2, to Jacob as recorded in Genesis 32 and to Joshua as recorded in Joshua 5 are considered some of the manifestations of God in human form in the Old Testament. So, even the Lord Himself is sometimes referred to as an Angel. Dear friend, Jesus never forgets a single prayer you offer in sincerity and faith. He keeps them. One day He will take all of them together and offer them up to the Father signifying the time when He is ready to answer the judgment side of those prayers.

III. The Awesome Suffering on Earth

(Read selective verses from Revelation  8:5 through chapter 9)

When the Lord pours out the fire from the censer upon the earth there are rumblings of thunder, lightning and an earthquake. These are the symbols of judgment. Suffering is about to intensify upon the earth.

A. There Will Be Suffering From Natural Causes

Forces of nature will be released upon the earth. (Describe some of the most recent occasion of a tsunami, hurricane, volcano or forest fire as an example in our day of natural disaster. Then call upon the hearer to image an unleashing of natural disasters at one time all over the earth. There is actually no way for a person to fully understand or grasp what that will be like.)

B. There Will Be Suffering From Evil Causes

Then we note that an abyss is opened and locust-like creatures emerge. They are led by one called Abaddon or Apollyon. Abaddon is Hebrew and Apollyon is Greek. Each word means, "Destroyer." This is none other than Satan. Satan is going to have even greater power to bring about sorrow and suffering.

During this period we are told that people will desire to die, but cannot die. Sometimes we think of death as an evil, when God in fact often uses it for our good. My mother lived till she was 87 years old, and did anything she desired. She drove her sister, who was about 90 years of age, to Daytona Beach, Florida when she was 86 years old. She lived alone in the she and my dad lived in for many years until he died and took care of everything herself - as she desired. Then, a few days after turning 87 years of age, we discovered that she had cancer. She died in three weeks. It was an act of the mercy of God that she died so quickly. She dreaded the thought of being in bed, unable to take care of herself. You see, death is often God's blessing - in fact, for the Christian (which my mother certainly was) it is a step into eternity with the Lord. To be absent for the body is to be present with the Lord for the child of God. However, during the tribulation some will pray to die, but will live on in a world of great sorrow.

C. There Will be Suffering from Battle Causes

Great war is going to break out on the earth. What does all this mean to us? Please note that there are three great lessons here.

1. First, note that forces are just waiting to be unleashed upon this evil world.

There are people who wonder how a loving God can allow suffering on earth. If they could only see the evil that is straining against God's protective barriers to unleash horror on the earth. Our Lord is holding back these forces, but the day will come when He will hold back no longer.

2. Second, see how much God loved us to give us a way of escape from our sins.

It is not necessary for anyone to go through the awful days that are coming. Jesus provides a way of escape - a path to forgiveness, grace, and eternal blessing.

3. Third, see that many foolish people will not repent

Some will not repent even when they are shown the horrors of evil and the grace of God, for the last thing we read in chapter nine is that the people still would not repent.


Now is the time time - today is the day. We are living in the day of grace. The Father is calling upon the souls of men and women to come to His Son, Jesus for salvation. He loves you and it is not His will that any perish. He loved you so much that He gave His Son for your redemption. Come to Him today.

For those who say that preachers who proclaim the coming judgment are using fear to get people to make a decision for Jesus, I say, "Fear that saves is better than Arrogance that condemns." Is fear really a bad thing? We use fear in our children to keep them for playing in the street or taking candy from a stranger. The medical community uses fear to keep us from habits that can cause horrible diseases to our body. The government uses fear when it portrays devastating accidents caused by people texting and driving to keep them from harming themselves or killing a innocent person in a car wreck. It is a good thing to fear that which harms and destroys and a better thing to embrace that which saves and heals. God loves you and offers you peace, purpose, forgiveness, joy and eternal life. It is a limited time offer - don't wait too long! If you miss your opportunity, you are going to find out that the fear presented in sermons was justified beyond your imagination!

Extra Illustrations:

It happened again! A mountain in Mexico that had lain dormant for a very long time suddenly came alive. It erupted with so much power that it became the world's largest active volcano. The 7,300 foot El Chichon giant had been quiet for hundreds of years before its explosive reawakening. It was a reminder of Mount St. Helens, which broke its long silence in 1980 when it transformed its majestic snow-covered peak and placid Spirit Lake into dust and vapor. In each case it was the kind of disruption that was unexpected. The people near the mountains had lived in complacency, never anticipating such drastic changes. Just like that, one day we must face God. It will occur suddenly – as a thief comes in the night. The only warning we have, is the warning we are hearing right now. Prepare today is the cry of heaven to the human soul.



The famous physician Dr. James Simpson of Scotland once gave this stirring testimony:

“When I was a student at the university, I saw a sight that lingers in my memory-a man being led to the gallows. His hands were tied, and his face was pale as death. Thousands of eager eyes were on him as he walked slowly to the place of execution. Did anyone ask to die in his place? No! He underwent the full sentence of the law alone. For many offenses? No! For only one! He had stolen some money, and he paid with his life. It was the penalty of a changing law, for it was the last time capital punishment was inflicted for that crime.”

I saw another sight I shall never forget-myself a sinner, standing on the brink of an eternal Hell. For one sin? No! For many grievous wrongs committed against the unchanging laws of God. I looked again and behold, Jesus Christ became my substitute! He bore in His own body on the tree all the punishment for my sins. He suffered, 'the just for the unjust,' that He might bring me to God.



This interesting item was in a magazine:

"Who am I? I haven't always been and I won't always be, but right now I'm on the move, measuring out life. People wait for me, submit to me, and fear me; but no one can stop me except the Lord Himself. Most men think I'm on the move forever, but I'm not. When God stops me; that will be it. Then it will be too late to forgive your brother, to apologize to your sister, to visit a sick friend, or to help the needy. Worst of all, it will be too late to repent and be saved. My name is TIME, and when I come to my end, you will go with me into eternity.



A college bulletin board read: "The end of the world has been postponed until next semester due to a shortage of harps and trumpets.”



A man was taken to court for stealing an item from a store. The man said to the judge, "Your Honor, I'm a Christian. I've become a new man. But I have an old nature also. It was not my new man who did wrong. It was my old man." The judge responded, "Since it was the old man that broke the law, we'll sentence him to 60 days in jail. And since the new man was an accomplice in the theft, we'll give him 30 days also. I therefore sentence you both to 90 days in jail.”



A traveling preacher was debating with a Texas oil man who doubted the reality of divine punishment. "Let me tell you about a remarkable incident," the preacher said. "In this morning's paper there's an article about a politician who was struck by lightning while he was lying. That was miraculous, wasn't it?"

"I don't know," the Texan replied. "It would have been more of a miracle if lightning struck a politician when he wasn't lying!"