ARE THE TRUMPETS LITERAL OR SYMBOLIC?
Another important consideration is whether the figures used in the trumpets should be considered to be fairly literal, or instead are highly symbolic or metaphorical. Obviously, much of Revelation is highly symbolic, but the extensive use of simile in the first six trumpets (chapters eight and nine) suggests a fairly literal interpretation. John saw “something like a great mountain burning with fire…the shape of the locusts was like horses…their faces were as the faces of men” etc. The words for like and as (Greek hos, omios) are used to indicate a similarity between two things that are compared rather than a metaphorical or symbolic usage.
This understanding is supported by the chiastic pairing of the trumpets with the seven last plagues (see ). One of the helpful features of the chiastic organization is that it allows a comparison of the analogous sections to see if the corresponding section uses symbols and figures in a literal or a highly symbolic way. The section analogous to the 7 trumpets is the seven last plagues/judgment of
This is followed by the judgment of Babylon, which uses highly symbolic language, with beasts, horns, a woman, hills—and in this section there are explanations for a number of the symbols that are used.
From this pattern we would expect that the seven trumpets would also have two sections, one relatively literal and the other more symbolic. This seems to be the case, with a relatively literal section from Revelation 8:7 through 9:21 (the first six trumpets) followed by a symbolic section in chapters 10 and 11 (the seven thunders, the eating of the little book and the two witnesses).
 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
 There are some symbols in this section such as the River Euphrates (v. 12) and the unclean spirits like frogs (v. 13). But even verse 13 uses simile rather than metaphor (“like frogs”), and is a reference to the plague of frogs in
 For example, “the ten horns are ten kings…the waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues” (Revelation 17: 12, 15).
 This phenomenon is also found in the seals (chapters 4 thorough 7) which are highly symbolic. Their analogous section, the executive judgment found in chapters 19 and 20 is also highly symbolic.