Revelation 8:6-13: Pruning.
“Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.7 The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.8 The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, 9 a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.10 The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water – 11 the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.12 The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.13 As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in mid-air call out in a loud voice: ‘Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!’” NIV
A general comment should help us as we look at the remainder of chapter 8, and then chapter 9: ‘According to John’s revelation, God sent these seven plagues upon the earth in order to lead people to repentance. These plagues were meant to destroy only a part of the earth, not the entire earth. However, men did not repent; instead, their hearts became even harder. Just as in Egypt the heart of the Pharaoh was hardened when God sent plagues upon the Egyptians, so it will be at the end of the world. At that time, when the final tribulations come, men’s hearts will become even more hardened, and they will begin to revile God. And just as God led His people, the Jews, out of Egypt, and into the land He had promised them, so at the end of the world God will lead all believers out of the final tribulation and into His presence in heaven.’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied New Testament Commentary’, p.976.
As you read today’s passage you will no doubt ‘hear’ echoes from the book of Exodus, and the story of the plagues sent on Egypt.
Note too that the repeated thirds are not to be taken literally. They refer to a pruning, a cutting back. As already intimated, the aim is to produce the fruit of repentance, but this is not forthcoming; and as you will see from the last verse, there is worse still to come.
It has been said that some people want to serve God only in an advisory capacity! Many in their number would no doubt suggest to Him that He shouldn’t behave in such a strong-handed manner. But God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and we often fail to take into consideration ‘the exceeding sinfulness of sin.’
This Is God’s world, and He has every right to do whatever it takes to cleanse it from all evil.