By Dr. Roger Barrier, Crosswalk.com
I have been studying the book of Revelation, and I have lots of questions about the seven trumpets. What do they mean? What will happen when they are blown in heaven?
Near the end of Revelation, Jesus tells the apostle John that there is a blessing for all who read and study this book. I want that blessing! So, I often read and teach it. I would be glad to help you.
Let me begin with a REVIEW of the opening of the Seven Seals. You can find my most recent article on the Seven Seals here.
The first four seals are often called the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” (Revelation 6:6-8).
The White Horse represents peace. There will be peace on the earth for three and half years until its rider, the Antichrist, breaks the peace treaty with Israel he made. All hell breaks loose as he is given a bow and a crown. He goes out to conquer the world.
The Red Horse represents massive wars. He rides with a big sword!
The Black Horse represents famine, as the price of food skyrockets.
The Pale Horse represents death, as one quarter of the earth suffers from pestilence and disease.
Then, the fifth seal opens to reveal the martyred saints who are under the altar in heaven, pleading for God to take vengeance on those who killed them (Revelation 6:9-11).
When the sixth seal is opened, the whole earth is shaken by what can only be described as a nuclear holocaust. Millions die (Revelation 6:12-14).
The devastation is so great that people flee to the mountains and plead for the rocks to hide them from Jesus who is sitting on his throne. The wrath of God has come (Revelation 6:15-17).
Satan opens the demonic pits of hell for five months to in order that God might torture those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 144,000 Jews for Jesus evangelize the world. Great honor and praise are given to the Lamb of God (Revelation 7:1-17).
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/mstroz
Next, the Seventh Seal Opens to Reveal the Seven Trumpets
Right before the seven trumpets are blown, there is a thirty-minute interval of silence before the first trumpet sounds forth. Remember that heaven is filled with unending praise! So, this silence is ominous and unprecedented.
Why? What did the angels see? I believe that they see the end of the human race! They see the full extent of what man's rebellion against God has done. What they see is terrifying; and it takes their breath away.
Then, seven angels stepped forward to blow the seven trumpets; “Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets which were given to them” (Revelation 8:2).
At that moment, John sees the “Altar of Incense,” which represents the answered prayers of the martyred saints. They asked to God to avenge their martyrdom. Jesus is mingling their prayers with His blood before He executes judgment.
And the same God who has been pleading and interceding on behalf of the souls of humankind now turns to judge the world, pouring out His wrath and judgment upon those who would not receive Jesus as Savior (Revelation 8:3).
I’m reminded of Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, where he declares; “The Gospel is sweet to those who are saved; but, it is the fragrance of death to those who are perishing.”
The First Trumpet
The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, which fell on the earth; and one-third of the earth was burned up, and one-third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. (Revelation 8:7)
The meaning of this trumpet is quite straightforward. Among other things, the earth’s food supply is destroyed.
But don’t miss God’s mercy. Only one-third of these things are destroyed. There is still hope for the people who are left behind to repent and come to Jesus!
The Second Trumpet
The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea; and one-third of the sea became blood, and one-third of the living creatures in the sea died and one-third of the ships were destroyed. (Revelation 8:8-9)
The second trumpet is a direct attack upon the seas, likely by a falling meteor. Much of humankind’s need for food is furnished by the oceans. One-third of the creatures in the sea are destroyed.
For example, in Korea, next to rice, fish, seaweed and raw oysters are their main staples! There’s nothing like a heaping plate of raw octopus tentacles. I know, I’ve tried it. It is slimy but edible.
The Third Trumpet
The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven blazing like a torch, and it fell on one-third of the rivers and fountains of the waters the name of the star is wormwood. One third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died of the water because it was made bitter. (Revelation 8:10-11)
This is an attack on the fresh waters of the earth. “Wormwood” means bitterness. No one could drink this water and live.
Humans can live for 40 days without food, but no more than three or four without water.
It’s conceivable that this describes massive amounts of nuclear waste which will wash over the world.
The Fourth Trumpet
The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and one third of the sun was struck, and one third of the moon, and one third of the stars, so that one third of their light was darkened and one third of the day was kept from shining, and likewise one third of the night. (Revelation 8:12)
There’s a good chance that this refers to a nuclear winter, in which massive amounts of dust are kicked up into the atmosphere and all the lights diminished. Of course, we see already the smog increasing in cities and countries like China, Japan, and the United States.
Note that this trumpet is temporary. Later, in Revelation 16:8-9, the sun’s power is intensified. Perhaps that means the sun’s ultraviolet rays increase or the oxygen layer dissolves.
At this point, a “flying eagle” appears in heaven, proclaiming three great woes on mankind. These woes are trumpets numbers five, six, and seven. The woes are a warning that it's time to come to Jesus!
Look, I’ve heard crying with a loud voice, as it flew admit, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blast of the other trumpets which the three angels are about to blow.” (Revelation 8:13)
Imagine an empty sky and one solitary eagle winging its way across the zenith of the sky, forewarning of the doom to come. Throughout Scripture, whenever God does anything in the way of judgment, He always warns. That’s His mercy and grace!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/myshkovsky
The Fifth Trumpet (The First Woe)
The three woes are indicators of deepening intensity.
Blowing the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:1-11) is a long and involved passage. I’ll give you the highlights.
Satan is given the keys to the “abyss,” the prison for fallen angelic spirits. These are the worst of the fallen angels (see Jude 6). The demons we have on earth are of another order. In Luke 8:26-31, when Jesus heals the Gadarene Demoniac, the exorcised demons plead to Jesus; “Please don't cast us into the abyss."
The smoke, the veritable soot of Hell, comes forth to cover the earth. From the abyss comes forth filthy, dirty demonic spirits in the bodily form of locusts, arrayed for battle. They have faces with hair like a woman’s hair and teeth like a lion’s teeth; they have tails like scorpions and their power lies in their tails. Their king is named “Destroyer,” referring to Satan himself.
The demons are instructed not to touch anyone who has the “seal of God” on their forehead. But on the other hand, those without Christ’s seal are tormented for five months. The locusts’ sting is like the sting of the scorpion. During that time men and women will pray to die; but Jesus will not allow it for the next five months.
Satan is the arch counterfeiter; God seals His believers with the Holy Spirit. Satan seals his followers with a false seal: the sign of the beast, the number 666 on their forehead or right hand. All those with the mark of the beast will be either tormented and destroyed.
This trumpet is sounding a picture of hell where people can’t die even if they want to.
The Sixth Trumpet (The Second Woe)
Once again, the verses describing the sixth trumpet (Revelation 10:13-21) are also quite involved. I will summarize and highlight them for you.
The “horns of the golden altar” refer to the voice of Christ calling for judgment. What a change! The very altar where Christ has been pleading for mercy now becomes the place where He orders judgment. It’s terrible when sin cries out for judgment. But now mercy cries out for judgment.
Now, a demon-empowered army of 200 million soldiers is poised on the eastern side of the Valley of Armageddon, waiting to be released toward Israel. This area has great significance. Sin was first committed here in the garden of Eden. The first murder took place here. Nimrod, the father of idolatry built a city there, and here, iniquity will have its last vestiges on earth.
Revelation 9:17-19 describes the destruction that they reap on humankind.
A cursory reading seems to fit with armaments like jet planes and tanks and anti-tank missiles. This giant war machine—moving from the East to Jerusalem—appears to be a nuclear army, under demonic control, that a leaves trail of nuclear destruction.
There is much symbolism in these verses:
Smoke from the Abyss may be germ or chemical warfare or nuclear clouds of radioactive fallout and debris.
Sulphur (brimstone) describes melted earth and materials.
Zechariah chapter five describes this scene: People's tongues cleave to the roofs of their mouths, skeletons stand there as melted flesh falls from bones.
This is a taste of Hell on earth … and yet, the people still refuse to repent!
The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor will give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot either see nor here nor walk; nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or immorality or thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21)
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Hasan Almasi
The Seventh Trumpet (The Third Woe)
The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is soon to come. Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying, “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:14-15)
When the seventh trumpet blows, there is a time of great rejoicing in heaven. But soon after, the rejoicing is stopped as the seven angels pour out the bowls of God’s wrath upon earth.
What Do the Seven Trumpets Have to Do with Me Today?
In 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Paul tells us how we are to behave and what we are to do as we prepare for the seventh trumpet to blow and the and bowl judgments approach:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing … Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patients and in teaching.
“Preach” means to share the Gospel with those who do not yet know Jesus Christ. “Instruct” means to teach Christ-followers how to live on earth in a way that honors God. “Exhort” means to encourage others with the truth that Jesus has taken back the world through His death, burial, and resurrection. He will return and reign forever and ever!
Jason, I hope this helps to give you a better idea of what the Seven Trumpets mean—and that you are encouraged in the knowledge of God’s justice.