The seven trumpets are a series of disasters that strike the earth, and they comprise about 20% of the book of Revelation, from chapters 8 through 11. Although they are such a central part of Revelation, there is very little agreement among commentators as to what they are. In order to identify them it is essential first of all to know if they are literal or symbolic, and if they have already take place in history or are still future.
The extensive use of simile in the first six trumpets (chapters 8,9) suggests a fairly literal interpretation. John saw “something like a great mountain burning with fire…the shape of the locusts was likehorses…their faces were like the faces of men…” etc. The words forlike (Greek hos, omios) are used to indicate a similarity between two things that are compared rather than a metaphorical or symbolic usage.
Moreover, the chiastic structure of Revelation has the first 6 trumpets paired with the Seven Last Plagues, which are basically literal. This suggests that John saw real events and tried to describe them as best he could with the limitations of language that did not have words for things that did not exist at that time. For example, one author has fairly convincingly shown that the “locusts” of the fifth trumpet could describe attack helicopters.
The context of the seven trumpets suggest that they are still future. In chapter 7 the angel instructed that the four winds, which would harm the earth, sea and trees, should not be released until the 144,000 were sealed. The trumpets harm the earth, sea and trees, which suggests that they take place after the sealing of the 144,000, which takes place at the end of time.
Moreover, the 144,000 were “sealed… on their foreheads”. Although there are other seals mentioned in scripture, this is a specific sealing that takes place at the end of time. The locusts of the fifth trumpet are commanded not to harm people who are sealed on their foreheads, which shows that the context is the end of time.
The “angel from the bottomless pit” appears during the fifth trumpet. He is the same as the “beast from the bottomless pit” who directs the battle of Armageddon.
Thus the trumpets appear to describe a war that takes place at the end of time. Language links (that are examined in chapter 9 of The Book) show that this is the same war that is described in the book of Joel, and the last phase of the war between the King of the North and the King of the South that is described in Daniel 11, a war that pits the forces of militant Islam against an American and European alliance. This war will cause intense human suffering and will result in the death of 1/3 of the earth’s population. While this war is taking place the 144,000 will give the last message of God to the world, calling people to repent and to come out of Babylon.
If this interpretation of the trumpets is correct, we need to know as much as we possible can about what is going to take place and how we can survive it. There is a lot more information and scriptural support for this vital subject in chapters 8-11 of The Book.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]> Simile is “a figure of speech in which two distinct things are compared by using “like” or “as”, as in “she is like a rose”. Compare metaphor, which is “the application of a word or phrase to an object or concept it does not literally denote…(a) symbol” Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 1997, Random House.