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.
Note.-- Habershon, an old Church of England writer, says: "In Psalms 18:8 the wrath of God is compared to fire; and the effects of His wrath, which are war, famine, and other scourges, are described under the same simile. And thus it is explained by Sir Isaac Newton.... Such a fire was cast upon 'the earth,' the Roman world, the territorial platform of prophecy; 'and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings,' wars and hostile invasions; 'and an earthquake,' or a complete overturning of the established order of things. So complete indeed was the change effected by the first four trumpets alone, that new forms of government, new manners, new laws, new dresses, new languages, new names of men and countries, were everywhere throughout the Western Empire introduced."--- "Historical Exposition" (London, 1841).
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.
Note.-- Dr. E. B. Elliott (Church of England): "And then the first trumpet sounded. His [Alaric the Goth's] course was to Italy. As he told an Italian monk afterward, 'he felt a secret and preternatural impulse, which directed, and even impelled, his march to the gates of Rome.'"
"Philostorgius, who lived in and wrote of these times, saith that 'the sword of the barbarians destroyed the greatest multitude of men; and among other calamities dry heats with flashes of flame and whirlwinds of fire occasioned various and intolerable terrors; yea, and hail greater than could be held in a man's hand fell down in several places, weighing as much as eight pounds.' Well therefore might the prophet compare these incursions of the barbarians to 'hail and fire mingled with blood.' Claudian in like manner compares them to a storm of hail in his poem on this very war:
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.
Note.-- Led by Genseric, the Vandals created a naval power, and from Northern Africa swept the sea and plundered Rome itself.
Sidonius, the Christian poet, wrote in the time of the Vandal attack by sea;
"Now that the fleets, the arsenal, the docks of Carthage were all their own, now that its harbor -- one of the finest in the Old World -- reflected everywhere the Vandal flag, they became under Gaiseric's guidance the first naval power on the Mediterranean.... At length the work [of ravaging the coasts] became almost monotonous, and the choice of a victim hard. Once when the fleet had weighed anchor and was sailing forth from the broad harbor of Carthage, the helmsman turned to the king and asked of what port he should steer. 'For the men with whom God is angry,' answered the Vandal king, and left the winds and the waters to settle the question who were the proper objects of the wrath of Heaven."-- "The Dynasty of Theodosius," Thomas Hodgkin, pp. 219,220.
10. And the third angel sounded, and 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;
11. 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.
Note.-- The devastating power of the Hunnish nation, under Attila, fell upon the regions of "the Upper Danube, the Rhine, and the Alpine fountains of waters."
"Already Attila had made bitter, besides the surplusage of more Eastern scenes, the river line of the upper Danube and Rhine, and the Alpine fountains of waters. Many had died and still continued to die, that drank of the waters, through famine, disease, and pestilence. This being done, his course was to end. 'Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther.'
"Returned from Italy, he recrossed the Danube; reached the royal village between it and the Teiss; and there, the very next year, was suddenly cut off by apoplexy. This occurred A.D.453. So the meteor was extinct; the empire and power of the Huns broken. The woe of the third trumpet had passed away."-- "Horae Apocalypticae" Rev. E. B. Elliott, A. M., Vol. I, p.358.
12. And the fourth angel sounded, and 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.
Note.-- Under Odoacer, the mixed barbarian armies in the pay of the empire revolted, and dethroned the last puppet emperor of the West. Later the famed senate and consulship of Rome were abolished, by about 541 A.D. These offices have been likened to the sun, moon, and stars of the imperial glory of Rome. These were "darkened."
The judgments announced by the trumpets had fallen on the Western "third" of the empire. The next judgments were to touch the Western third of the empire as well, of which Constantinople was the capital.
13. And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!