Have you ever been to a symphony? If you arrived early you would have seen the members settling in and unpacking. In that busy scene some would be standing others sitting. Chairs would be slid here and there and music situated on stands. Certain instruments would be fitted together and all would be tuned. The cacophony of tuning would be all around the orchestra in great preparation. As the concert moment draws nigh the conductor may draw the members into a final tuning session after which it goes quiet. His arms will go up, he will look at each section, catching eyes of members, ensuring the now tuned instruments are all ready.
6 Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. (Revelation 8:6–ESV)
In Heaven that day the seven angels prepared their trumpets. Verse 2 says that the angels were given these trumpets, but had not used them. Here in verse 6 they prepare to use them, but have not yet used them. They had been waiting their turn as that 5th angel offered incense and threw his censer to the earth.
Think back to the symphony. The quiet posturing of the members before the conductor is as good as an announcement, and in heaven the posturing of the angels with the trumpets did much the same.
“Trumpet number 1, sound off”
7 The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. (Revelation 8:7–ESV)
Hail + Fire + Blood. That destructive trinity was concocted in heaven and thrown to the earth.
Hail is precipitation which is not useful for humanity. Its destructive potential is not hard to imagine most of us having been near a hail storm at one point or another. It destroys crops and vegetation. It harms our cars and roofs sometimes dramatically. Livestock and people can be injured if the hail is large enough.
The year before I taught this lesson a single hailstorm in San Antonio, Texas resulted in that year’s fourth largest global insurance payout. Note that this was a hailstorm in just one city with hail measured as large as four and a half inches. To put it into perspective the other greater payouts that year were (decreasing order): Kumamoto earthquake in Japan, Hurricane Matthew, and the Louisiana flooding.
While hail seems only to produce negative results fire at least can be good or bad. It is not hard to let one’s mind stray to forest fires whipped by high winds and dry vegetation. It seems yearly we hear of such fires in the Southwest or Colorado. Sometimes these are started on purpose. The fires of trumpet 1 were purposeful.
Blood rain of Kerala
Blood as the third component of the storms was more difficult to place. Was John seeing a supernatural assembly of blood dumped upon the earth during floods and fires? Why would hail and fire be natural phenomena and rain not? The opposite question could be posed as well. If blood rain is just symbolic why not hail and fire?
I did some investigation and red rain is not unheard of. Colored rains are not impossible and in the southern Asian countries red rain has been reported many times. The rain is colored red by an algae: Trentepohlia annulata. When they are suspended in rain droplets they color the rain red.
I had not heard of this phenomenon before preparing this lesson, but clearly it occurs. It is an evocative event that scares people.
Trumpet number one…a bad actor
The combination of hail, fire and rain will come in such swaths as to destroy large tracts of the earth. As natural phenomenon these can be open to interpretation by people. Some will admit a divine role while others will diminish it. I came across an interesting website called QSponge.com. I’d never heard of that before. On it, though, a contributor named Lucy said the following about red rain:
“…it’s just that if you don’t know it’s a natural phenomenon, it looks scary because it does seem as if blood is falling from the sky – and that made people think they were being punished by the heavens, or warned about something…” (Link)
Now, please don’t figure I am casting aspersion on the Lucy contributor. I know nothing of her and in fact was looking for a natural phenomenon to connect with blood rain as mentioned by John. It seems there is such a phenomenon. It is my sense that God uses natural occurring events to carry out his plans. His carrying out, though, remains a thing which may be interpreted as a thing from God or a thing from nature. Differences of opinions will be posited by the diversity of humanity. I think God will use natural phenomena to achieve his goals. They are his goals, nonetheless.