When the first angel sounds all green grass is burnt up.

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.
-Rev 8:7

When the 5th angel sounds it is commanded not to hurt the grass or the earth.

And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
-Rev 9:4

What grass was left for them not to hurt?

  • 4
    According to what hermeneutic? Interpretations that understand the sequence of angels/bowls to be layered on top of each-other will have a different take on this than more linear approaches. If you want only to know which is correct, this is the wrong site for you. If you want to understand how a particular millennial theology deals with this, you should identify which it is you want to hear from. If you just want a textual analysis, we should migrate this to Biblical Hermeneutics.
    – Caleb
    Dec 28, 2013 at 22:38
  • @ Only he is good.On the Bible Hermeneutics site i have posted a similar question-In the book of Revelation is the fifth angel the first angel to sound his trumpet?This question will help you understand your question.
    – 77 Clash
    Dec 29, 2013 at 11:30
  • 1
    There may be time enough between the two judgements for grass to grow back. There are some schools of theology that believe the tribulation period has been the entire post-Christ era, all 2000+ years of it.
    – KWallace
    Apr 4, 2022 at 21:21

6 Answers 6


Cecil is very correct in that the book of revelation was written with heavy use of symbolism. You really have to study the scriptures around the one you are confused about in order to understand them.

There is also the translation to consider. My New World Translation renders the scripture in Revelation 8:7 as:

"The first one blew his trumpet. And there was hail and fire mingled with blood, and it was hurled to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green vegetation was burned up."

However those scriptures are talking about the same thing whether it be grass or vegetation. I have the book, but it is not currently on the website. I will be using the book Revelation-ITS GRAND CLIMAX AT HAND! chapters 21 and 22 as my source for gleaning more from the book of revelation. The book itself is very well researched and breaks down each scripture and explains it. So on the topic's we are looking at in chapters 8 and 9 it says this.

"In the Bible, the word “earth” often refers to mankind. (Genesis 11:1; Psalm 96:1) Since the second plague is on the sea, which also has to do with mankind, “the earth” must refer to the seemingly stable human society that Satan has built up and that is due to be destroyed. (2 Peter 3:7; Revelation 21:1) The plague scenario reveals that false religion's third of the earth is scorched by the searing heat of Jehovah’s disapproval. Her prominent ones—standing like trees in the midst of her—are burned up by the proclaiming of Jehovah’s adverse judgment. All her hundreds of millions of members, if they continue to support false religion, become like scorched blades of grass, spiritually wilted in God’s eyes.—Compare Psalm 37:1, 2."

Really then false religion is not being literally burned up, but spiritually. They are at that point experiencing God's full disapproval of them.

Later in chapter 9 of revelations that book again elaborates as to what those symbols mean.

"First, though, let us examine other scriptures that will help us to understand this plague better. The Bible book of Joel, written during the ninth century B.C.E., describes a plague of insects, including locusts, that is similar to the one that John sees. (Joel 2:1-11, 25) It was to cause much discomfort for apostate Israel but would also result in individual Jews’ repenting and returning to Jehovah’s favor. (Joel 2:6, 12-14) When that time arrived, Jehovah would pour out his spirit upon “every sort of flesh,” while fearful signs and alarming portents would precede “the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.”—Joel 2:11, 28-32.

"There was a fulfillment of Joel chapter 2 in the first century. It was then, at Pentecost 33 C.E., that holy spirit was poured out, anointing the first Christians and empowering them to speak “the magnificent things of God” in many tongues. As a result, a large crowd assembled. The apostle Peter addressed those astonished onlookers, quoting Joel 2:28, 29 and explaining that they were witnessing its fulfillment. (Acts 2:1-21) But there is no record of a literal insect plague at that time, causing discomfort to some and leading others to repentance."

"Was there a figurative plague during those days? Yes, indeed! It came as a result of the relentless preaching of the newly anointed Christians. Through them, Jehovah invited those Jews who would listen to repent and enjoy blessings from him. (Acts 2:38-40; 3:19) The individuals who responded received his favor to a remarkable degree. But to the ones who refused the invitation, the first-century Christians became like a devastating swarm of locusts. Starting in Jerusalem, they spread through all Judaea and Samaria. Soon they were everywhere, tormenting the unbelieving Jews by publicly proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection, with all that this implied. (Acts 1:8; 4:18-20; 5:17-21, 28, 29, 40-42; 17:5, 6; 21:27-30) That plaguing continued until the “fear-inspiring day,” in 70 C.E., when Jehovah brought the Roman armies against Jerusalem to destroy it. Only those Christians who in faith called on the name of Jehovah were saved.—Joel 2:32; Acts 2:20, 21; Proverbs 18:10."

So something very similar was prophesied about locusts tormenting people and an outcome is given in the bible. So what about the modern time fulfillment of revelations locusts? Revelation 9:4-6

"They were told not to harm the vegetation of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And it was granted the locusts, not to kill them, but to torment them five months, and their torment was like torment by a scorpion when it strikes a person. In those days people will seek death but will by no means find it, and they will long to die, but death will flee from them."

And the books explanation:

"Notice that this plague is not directed first against the people or prominent ones among them—the ‘vegetation and trees of the earth.’ (Compare Revelation 8:7.) The locusts are to harm only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads, those of false religion who claim to be sealed but whose record belies that claim. (Ephesians 1:13, 14) Thus, the tormenting utterances of these modern-day locusts were directed first against the false religious leaders. How these self-assuming men must have been tormented at hearing it publicly announced that not only were they failing to lead their flocks to heaven but they themselves would not get there! Truly, it has been a case of ‘the blind leading the blind’! "

So now that we know what those passages mean we can analyze your question better. The green vegetation or grass mentioned in chapter 9 are the men that are not in a leadership position be it government or religious. They are the common people.

Because revelations is very symbolic is is tough to say what portion of mankind is included in the grass/vegetation or what it means for them to be burnt up. That could mean a spiritual burning or withering. Thus they are spiritually weakened, but they can be hurt or weakened further.

  • The Greek words translated for Grass where χόρτος and χόρτον. Both the same word yet in different cases. Leads me to believe that disasters where of specific location (Rev 1:20) Is it possible that all the green grass of Ephesus was burned up? And that no grass of Sardis was to be destroyed? What if the Locusts in (Revelation 9:7-11) where to describe the Roman soldiers. I was reading the 7's; 7th letter, 7th seal, 7th trumpet, 7th wrath, and I noticed a huge fault line under Laodicea.
    – Decrypted
    Jan 11, 2014 at 16:47

No need to engage in heavy symbolism here :).

The fifth angel (which is called "fifth" to help us understand the literal sequence of the angelic appearances, otherwise words have no meaning at all), is merely being instructed not to hurt nature, but to limit the hurt to mankind.

Taking the angelic wrath accounts as literal events (because Revelation doesn't tell us otherwise), we are told that a specific amount of trees were burned up by the fire; quite possibly "all" the green grass may simply refer to all the grass around those areas rather than every single blade of grass around the world. After all, the hail and fire 'only' destroyed 1/3 of the world's trees, affecting only certain parts of the earth, so it makes sense that all the grass in those areas were affected as well, and the rest unaffected. As elsewhere in the Bible, "all" has to be taken in context, and I think the context is limited to the 1/3 of the earth affected by the fire.

  • How do we know that it was all the grass of the world that was burnt up and not just the grass of Ephesus? How do we know that the angels were told not to harm the grass of Sardis? "And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them." (Rev 8:2) and "...The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches..." (Rev 1:20). So in context. What proof do you have that these disasters happened to all the earth?
    – Decrypted
    Feb 8, 2014 at 16:30
  • The fire was cast upon "the earth." No location specified. So 1/3 of the earth was hit with fire. I have no reason to think that it was an extremely localized fire; "the earth" tells me the magnitude of the disaster.
    – Steve
    Feb 8, 2014 at 19:38
  • If I heard a comet hit the earth, I don't expect the entire planet to be hit.
    – Decrypted
    Feb 8, 2014 at 23:20
  • @Onlyheisgood. Exactly. The fire hit locally somewhere on "the earth." "all" the grass in that locality was burned up, not the grass in the whole earth. You got it.
    – Steve
    Feb 9, 2014 at 3:44

There may be time enough between the two judgements for grass to grow back. There are some schools of theology that believe the tribulation period has been the entire post-Christ era, all 2000+ years of it.


Grass in scripture is often a metaphor for people.

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. (Psalm 37:1 NIV)

From context, it seems that the first trumpet involves a judgment against people of all sorts, both wicked and righteous. The fifth trumpet is only against wicked people who have not been sealed by God.

Also, some translations might say a half or a third or a quarter for the scope of some plagues. However, "second part", "third part", and "fourth part" may be more accurate. It is counting the index of the plague in its series, not giving the exact fraction affected.

The statement "all green grass was burnt up" also need not apply to the whole earth, but a geographic region of the earth that is in focus, likely the Middle East, where most ancient prophecies apply.

The judgments of the early seals, trumpets, and bowls may apply to a restricted part of the earth but as they progress a larger proportion of the earth is encompassed by the action until the whole world is affected by the final plagues. This is consistent with what Ellis Skolfield wrote in his books on Eschatology.


The thing we need to remember first is that the Revelation was written mostly in Symbolic language. The reason for this may well have been that Christians were being very much persecuted at that time, as is witnessed by the fact that John was currently serving a sentence on Patmos for being a Christian.

Even so we know from experience that when Grass, trees and indeed forests are burned they reseed from seeds, roots, and so forth even though the green grass had been burned there would still be grass available.

However in the same spirit of translation the idea here is that the 5th angel was sent to punish mankind and not nature.

John due to his circumstance would have used every trick he could think of and Surely the Angels themselves would have made sure that the messages to the Churches, and the word of Jesus would be preserved and as innocuous as necessary to not arouse the suspicion of the Romans. Certainly John would have been under strict Roman observance, since the Island of Patmos was in fact a penal colony.

  • He said it must soon take place (Revelation 1:1). I do not see the time for regrowth.
    – Decrypted
    Feb 8, 2014 at 16:16
  • @Onlyheisgood. How long did it take God to cover the Earth with grass?
    – BYE
    Feb 8, 2014 at 16:52
  • Good point, he made it less then a day I think. Although his regrowing of the grass isn't pointed out in Revelation.
    – Decrypted
    Feb 8, 2014 at 20:58

Though John saw the many different events of the future in probably a few hours, the actual events span many years including the thousand years, and could also include many days/weeks/months/years between the events, for example [Revelation 9:5] explicitly states five months for that particular event. So there could be gaps of days, weeks, months or even years between the events, and there could be time to recover, at least partially, between the events. Revelation 9:20+ indicates that these explicit interventions at that point in mankind's history may be secondary, the actual purpose being, to give a final chance for the inhabitants of that time, instead of dismissing these events as wayward meteorite, or UFO attack, or cigarette wildfire, or genetic monsters, or rogue robots, and later on going after the "wondrous beast".

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