Revelation 8

 The Seventh Seal

Rev. 8:1 there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour

The Doctrine and Covenants speaks of this same silence in heaven. Interestingly, in that account, we are told that the face of the Lord is unveiled immediately after the silence. This chronology is not apparent from the Revelation which rather gives the impression that the desolations poured out upon mankind begin at the end of the silent period.
And there shall be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour; and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled;
And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him. (D&C 88:95-96)
Orson Pratt
Whether the half hour here spoken of is according to our reckoning-thirty minutes, or whether it be according to the reckoning of the Lord (21 years) we do not know. We know that the word hour is used in some portions of the Scriptures to represent quite a lengthy period of time. For instance, we, the Latter-day Saints, are living in the eleventh period of time; and for aught we know the half hour during which silence is to prevail in heaven may be quite an extensive period of time. During the period of silence all things are perfectly still; no angels flying during that half hour; no trumpets sounding; no noise in the heavens above; but immediately after this great silence the curtain of heaven shall be unfolded as a scroll is unfolded. School children, who are in the habit of seeing maps hung up on the wall, know that they have rollers upon which they are rolled up, and that to expose the face of the maps they are let down. So will the curtain of heaven be unrolled so that the people may gaze upon those celestial beings who will make their appearance in the clouds. The face of the Lord will be unveiled, and those who are alive will be quickened, and they will be caught up; and the Saints who are in their graves, will come forth and be caught up, together with those who are quickened, and they will be taken into the heavens into the midst of those celestial beings who will make their appearance at that time. These are the ones who are the first fruits, that is, the first fruits at the time of his coming. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 16: 328.)
Rev. 8:2 I saw the seven angels...and to them were given seven trumpets
Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?
A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years-the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.
Q. When are the things to be accomplished, which are written in the [8th and] 9th chapter of Revelation?
A. They are to be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ. (D&C 77:12, emphasis added)
Rev. 8: 3-4 another angel came... having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense
A censer is an incense burner hung from a chain. As the censer is swung back and forth, the smoke and aroma from the incense is released. The rising smoke released by the censer is symbolic of the prayers of the saints ascending before God. This was the same symbolism used in the tabernacle of Moses wherein the priest burned incense made with sweet spices and pure frankincense (Ex. 30:34-38).

Rev. 8:5 the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire... and cast it into the earth: and there were voices...

The prayers of the saints arising before God stir in Him the righteous indignation of the angels and heaven itself. All those who have been unjustly persecuted, martyred, and even tortured prayed unto God for relief. For most, no relief came immediately. But their prayers were kept in the fire of the altar before God. Recompense would come eventually.
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? (Ps. 13:2)
Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded. (Ps 7:6)
Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous. (Job 27:7)

Rev. 8:5 and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake

These destructions come upon the wicked for persecuting the saints and for rejecting their testimony. They are a belated answer to the prayers of the saints.
And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men's hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people. (D&C 88:88-91)
Gerald N. Lund
The plagues, the famines, the thunderings and lightnings, the hail and the earthquakes are all necessary, for the children of men will not otherwise heed the warning voice of the Lord. In these times of chaos and catastrophes which are coming, the missionaries of the Church will be called home, and the Lord will preach his own sermons to the people. (The Coming of the Lord [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971], 42.)
Brigham Young
All we have heard and we have experienced is scarcely a preface to the sermon that is going to be preached. When the testimony of the Elders ceases to be given, and the Lord says to them, "Come home: I will now preach my own sermons to the nations of the earth," all you now know can scarcely be called a preface to the sermon that will be preached with fire and sword, tempests, earthquakes, hail, rain, thunders and lightnings, and fearful destruction. What matters the destruction of a few railway cars? You will hear of magnificent cities, now idolized by the people, sinking in the earth, entombing the inhabitants. The sea will heave itself beyond its bounds, engulfing mighty cities. Famine will spread over the nations and nation will rise up against nation, kingdom against kingdom and states against states, in our own country and in foreign lands; and they will destroy each other, caring not for blood and lives of their neighbors, of their families, or for their own lives. (Rulon T.Burton, We Believe [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], The Last Days, #401)

Rev. 8 Seven trumpets, seven vials, and Moses

Seven angels sound seven trumpets (Rev. 8-13)
The seven last plagues (Rev. 15-17)
Ten Plagues upon Pharaoh and Egypt (Ex. 7-12)
Hail and fire mingled with blood destroys 1/3 of trees and green grass
A noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast
Plague 7: The Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground.
Plague 6: Boils upon man and beast
Third part of sea became blood, killing 1/3 of sealife, destroying 1/3 of ships
The sea became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea
Plague 1: All the waters in the river were turned to blood, And the fish died; and the river stank
Third part of rivers and fountains of waters became bitter (wormwood). Many men die.
The rivers and fountains of waters became blood
Plague 1: All the waters in the river were turned to blood, And the fish died; and the river stank
Night and day darkened by 1/3 of sun, 1/3 of moon, and 1/3 of stars being darkened
The sun scorched men with fire. And men blasphemed the name of God
Plague 9: There was a thick darkness in all the land for three days
Smoke from bottomless pit releases locusts which torment men for 5 months with the sting of their tails
The beast and his followers gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed because of their pains and their sores
Plague 8: east wind brings locusts which destroy fruit and herbs
Plague 6: Boils upon man and beast
Euphrates River: Four destroying angels released to slay 1/3 of men. Army of 200 million horsemen kill 1/3 of men.
Euphrates River: Unclean spirits from the dragon, beast, and false prophet come like a plague of frogs to the battle of Armageddon
Plague 2: Frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt
Lightnings, voices, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail destroy them which destroy the earth
Voices, thunders, lightnings, and a mighty earthquake destroys cities. Islands and mountains flee. Great hail from heaven.
Plague 7: The Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground.
Plague 10: Firstborn of man and beast die
As we specifically study the plagues and destructions of Revelation, it helps to review similarities between the two sets of plagues listed in the Revelation. The first comes with the seven angels blowing seven trumpets (Rev. 8-13). The second comes with the seven vials poured out upon the earth (Rev. 15-17). While these are likely separate occurrences, the similarities are remarkable. With the exception of the first one, the destructions of the seven trumpets and the plagues of the seven vials parallel one another.
Probably even more useful is the comparison to Moses bringing plagues upon Pharaoh and Egypt. From the Book of Exodus and epoch movies of the same story, we understand what these plagues were like, approximately how long they lasted, and that they represent God's power over man. For instance, one might wonder if the locusts which torture men with the sting in their tails is a figurative expression of some modern warfare (Some have interpreted these locusts to be prophetic descriptions of modern helicopters). However, the literal way in which man and beast were cursed with boils in Egypt would suggest that the plague is from God, not manmade.

Rev. 8:7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood

In the epic Cecil B. DeMille film, "The Ten Commandments," great hail comes down upon the ground igniting fire which runs upon the ground. There is no natural explanation for this sort of occurrence. It could only be a curse from God. John describes another element that Moses does not-blood.   In Exodus 9:23 it says "The Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground."  No mention is made of blood in this passage.  However in the plague from the first angel, there was hail and "fire mingled with blood."  The fire is mingled with the blood of those killed by fire. Joel warned, "I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke." (Joel 2:30)
Also the fire destroys 1/3 of the trees and green grass. But grass and trees are not the only things killed. This burning is the first part of the fulfillment of the words of Malachi, "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up." (Mal. 4:1)

Rev. 8:8-9 the third part of the sea became blood... the third part of the creatures... died... the third part of the ships destroyed

"If the 'great mountain burning with fire' were a volcano, its lava would look like blood flowing into the sea around it." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 111.)
Bruce R. McConkie
We have no way of conceiving what kind of a natural calamity would destroy a third part of the sea life and of all ships. Will it be a volcanic eruption of such magnitude as to involve whole continents? (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 383.)

Rev. 8:10-11 the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters

The dictionary explains that wormwood is "A European woody herb (Artemisia Absinthium) of a bitter slightly aromatic taste." (Webster's New English Dictionary, Unabridged, 2nd ed., [Springfield, Mass: G. & C. Merriam Co., 1945]) In context of John's writings, wormwood means bitter or grievous. Contaminated water supplies could easily bring enough disease to kill many people.
In Moses' day, the lakes, ponds, storage water, and the Nile itself were turned to blood so that the fish died, the river stank, and the Egyptians couldn't drink of the water. They dug for wells away from the Nile to obtain uncontaminated water. This curse lasted 7 days (Ex. 7:14-25).

Rev. 8:12 the third part of the sun... and the third part of the moon, and... stars [were] darkened

There must be some relationship between this plague and the most common sign given of the Second Coming-that the sun shall be darkened, the moon turned to blood, and the stars fall from the heavens. No other single sign is repeated more in the scriptures. We are reminded of the Nephite sign, that there were three days of darkness at the death of Christ (3 Ne. 8:20-23). By this sign, the unrepentant Nephites knew they were in trouble. The sign was apocalyptic in magnitude. So will it be apocalyptic in magnitude when the a third part of the sun, moon, and stars are darkened.

Rev. 8:13 Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth

Not all destructions are equal. Some are one-woe destructions, others are two-woe destructions, but the worst are three-woe destructions. The three angels yet to sound each bring a destruction that eclipses the former.
"Woe denotes great trouble and anguish; three woes magnify the trouble and anguish. The first woe occurs when the fifth angel sounds his trumpet (9:1-12), and the second woe accompanies the sixth angel's trumpet blast (9:13-21) and is fulfilled in Rev. 11:14, although there is an interlude in chapter 10. John does not identify the fulfillment of the third woe." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 113.)