The MT and NU texts have eagle (αετου [aetou] ) instead of angel (αγγελου [angelou] ). If an eagle rather than an angel, it is interesting to note that one of the living creatures was said to be like a flying eagle (Rev. Rev. 4:7+). A few manuscripts have ἀγγέλου ὡς αἐτοῦ [angelou hōs aetou] , an angel like an eagle.1 Since Rev. Rev. 4:7+ relates to the description of one of the four living beings, it may be that John intends the eagle mentioned here to have the same significance.2 The midst of heaven can describe the atmospheric heavens where birds fly (Rev. Rev. 19:17+). Later, it is an angel (TR, MT, and NU texts) which flies through the midst of heaven (μεσουρανήματι [mesouranēmati] ) having the everlasting gospel to preach (Rev. Rev. 14:6+).
Woe, woe, woe
The angel announces that the judgments associated with the sounding of the final three trumpets are especially severe. Gen. 3:1-5; Num. Num. 22:28-30).3 The first two of the remaining three trumpets unleash demonic forces upon the world: the fifth trumpet results in the release of a demonic hoard of locusts (Rev. Rev. 9:1-12+); the sixth trumpet releases four fallen angels who lead what appear to be a demonic army against mankind (Rev. Rev. 9:13-21+, Rev. 11:14+). In the sounding of the seventh trumpet (the third woe), after the subsequent bowl judgments have reached their climax, the kingdoms of the world will be Christs (Rev. Rev. 11:15+). The two demonic judgments and seven bowl judgments will be especially terrible for those dwelling upon the earth. Woe is also said to the inhabitants of the earth when the devil is cast down to earth (Rev. Rev. 12:12+). If it is an eagle (rather than an angel) which cries, perhaps it cries in anticipation of the feast of carrion which awaits it (Job Job 39:27-30; Luke Luke 17:37; Rev. Rev. 19:17-18+).4
Vulture may be more appropriate than eagle, for, in a sense, this bird will be calling its fellows to devour the carrion that will result from Gods judgments (Mtt. Mat. 24:28). This vulture is a seemingly insignificant augury of the gathering of its ilk to the final judgment of Armageddon (Rev. Rev. 19:17-18+), an insignificant omen which will rapidly become a voracious flood of scavengers.5The threefold repetition of woe corresponds to the three remaining trumpets and emphasizes the completeness of the sorrow to follow. See Three: Life, Resurrection, Completeness, the Trinity. One reason for using [the word woe] which usually refers to great calamity is that these [judgments] will have people, not objects of nature, as their direct objects.6
inhabitants of the earth
Inhabitants is κατοικοῦντας [katoikountas] , the ones presently dwelling upon the earth. These are the earth dwellers who will experience the remaining severe judgments to come. These are the ones who steadfastly refuse Gods mercy throughout the period of severe judgments, but continue to harden their hearts and blaspheme God (Rev. Rev. 16:21+). See Earth Dwellers. Dear reader, today is the day of salvation. If you have not yet left the ranks of the earth dwellers to join those whose citizenship is in heaven, beware! For each day of delay provides further opportunity for your heart to harden:
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways. So I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest. Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called Today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. Heb. 3:8-13)
4 Concerning birds feeding upon carrion as a result of Gods judgment: Deu. Deu. 28:26; Job Job 39:30; Eze. Eze. 39:4, Eze. 39:17-20; Jer. Jer. 7:33, Jer. 12:9, Jer. 15:3, Jer. 16:4, Jer. 19:7; Mtt. Mat. 24:28; Luke Luke 17:37; Rev. Rev. 19:17-18+.
5 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 8:13.