Welcome to A Revelation of Jesus. With this video we will kick off our study of the Seven Trumpets. Let me start with a brief overview. It will help you to read chapters 8 through 11 two or three times so that you will have the details in mind as we study them.
The introductory transition to the trumpets actually begins with the Seventh Seal, which is silence in heaven for about half an hour. Seven angels are given seven trumpets, and then John sees an angel standing before a golden altar with a censer full of incense, offering prayers that mingle with the fragrant smoke that ascends to God. The angel fills the censer with fire and throws it to the earth, and the trumpets begin.
The first trumpet is fire mixed with blood thrown to the earth that burns up a third of the trees. The second trumpet is like a burning mountain thrown into the sea, causing a third of the sea to become blood. The third trumpet is a star falling from heaven that makes a third of the water poisonous. With the fourth trumpet a third of the sun, moon, and stars are darkened.
The last three trumpets are called woes. With the first woe/fifth trumpet the bottomless pit is opened and a locust army comes out that torments people for five months. With the second woe/sixth trumpet four evil angels that have been bound at the river Euphrates are released, and an army numbering two hundred million kills a third of mankind. In spite of these disasters “the rest of mankind did not repent” (Revelation 9:20).
Suddenly the focus changes. John sees a mighty angel standing over the sea and the land who roars like a lion, and the enigmatic seven thunders sound. The angel gives John a little book to eat and tells him to “prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues and kings” (Revelation 10:11).
Next, John is told to measure the temple and learns that two witnesses will prophesy in sackcloth for 1260 days. When the days are over the two witnesses are killed, but after three and a half days they rise from the dead and ascend into heaven in a cloud. A great earthquake kills 7000 people and “the remnant are afraid and give glory to the God of heaven”. This ends the sixth trumpet.
With the Seventh Trumpet loud voices announce: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). Then John sees the temple of God opened allowing him to see the ark of the covenant. This sanctuary scene introduces the next section that begins in chapter 12.
The Seven Trumpets, like the Seven Seals, have interpretations that are all over the map. The vast array of interpretations shows that the Seven Trumpets are not easy to understand.
Before we can hope to comprehend the meaning of the Trumpets we will need to nail down the time frame, the actors involved, and whether the language used is literal or symbolic. By fully utilizing our toolbox, searching for links from the Old Testament and clues from the Chiastic structure, the Revelation timeline, and internal evidence from Revelation itself, we will be able to unlock some of the mysteries.
The chronology of the Seven Trumpets is very controversial but absolutely essential. Unless we can determine when the Seven Trumpets take place, we will not be able to know what they are or their significance. For that reason we are going to take quite a bit of time in this video to lay that foundation.
As we saw in video number 2, using models of interpretation results in confusing bias, but unfortunately most commentators use one of these models. Preterists point to attacks against the ancient Roman Empire by surrounding enemies. Historicists link the seven trumpets to obscure historical events such as the rise and fall of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Futurists speculate about the experience of those who are left behind after the Secret Rapture. Obviously, these cannot all be correct.
We have already found some clues to the time frame in the sixth seal. As we saw in videos 14 and 15, the symbols and scriptural references in Revelation chapters 4-7 show that the seven seals describe the first stage of the final judgment. The sixth seal focuses on the judgment of those who are alive just before the Second Coming of Christ.
The context of the sixth seal is the time when “there is a great earthquake; and the sun becomes as black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon becomes like blood. The stars of heaven fall to the earth… and the sky recedes as a scroll” (Revelation 6:12-14). In video 22 we compared this language with Matthew 24 and found that these are the signs of the Second Coming of Christ.
This doesn’t mean that all the events of the sixth seal happen just before Jesus returns, but since the sixth seal is about the judgment of people who will be alive at that time, the events that are linked to them will take place within the context of their lifetimes, not in historical times.
John sees three groups who will be alive when Christ comes. First, he sees those who reject Christ, who will hide among the rocks when they see Him coming. The next two groups are the 144,000 and the Great Multitude; but before they are presented John sees “four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree” (Revelation 7:1).
In video 23 we looked at scriptural evidence that indicates that these are actually evil angels that have been given permission to release the winds and bring about wars and disasters.
But before they do, “Another angel ascends from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cries with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads’. And [John] heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 7:1-4). These verses show us that when the sealing of the 144,000 has been completed, the disastrous four winds will be turned loose and “the earth, the sea and the trees” will be harmed.
And that is just what happens with the first two trumpets. “The first angel sounded: and hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up… Then the second angel sounded: and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood” (Revelation 8:6-9).
The fact that the same earth, sea, and trees that were to be harmed by the four winds are harmed in the first two trumpets is strong evidence that the beginning of the Seven Trumpets coincides with the release of the four winds, which takes place immediately after the sealing of the 144,000. The 144,000 appear during the sixth seal, which is in the context of people who will be alive when Christ comes. Therefore the Seven Trumpets do not fit with historicist or preterist interpretations that would put them hundreds or even thousands of years in the past.
Since it is essential to get the chronology right, let’s look for other evidence. Again the sealing of the 144,000 can help. Notice that the 144,000 were sealed “on their foreheads” (Revelation 7:3). In video 23 we saw that all true Christians are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).
But the sealing in the forehead, also called “having the Father’s name written on their foreheads” (Revelation 14:2), is a special sealing that God gives during the time of the end, in contrast to “the mark of the beast on the forehead” of those who reject God (Revelation 13:16,17, 14:9-11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, 20:4).
Now notice the fifth trumpet in Revelation chapter 9. A star fallen from heaven is given the key to open the bottomless pit, and out comes an army of fearsome locusts who torment people with such terrible pain that “men will seek death… they will desire to die” (Revelation 9:5,6). But the locusts are not allowed to attack everyone; they are only given permission to harm “those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Revelation 9:4).
This shows that the locust army appears during the time after the 144,000 have been sealed in their foreheads. This rules out the second century or the medieval period that preterist or historicist interpretations would require for the fifth trumpet.
The Seventh Seal provides more evidence that the Seven Trumpets are final events. You may want to review video 26 for more details, but briefly, the Seventh Seal, like the seventh in all of Revelation’s series of seven, is an introduction to what comes next, namely the Seven Trumpets.
The seventh seal consists of just one sentence: “When [Jesus] opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Revelation 8:1).
In Revelation the phrase “an hour” is used to describe a period of judgment, most notably, “the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10). We saw that “the hour of trial” is analogous to “the time of trouble such as never was” in Daniel 12:1 and “the great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world” that Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:21.
The phrase “half an hour” in the seventh seal shows that the hour of trial is divided into two parts consisting of a symbolic half an hour apiece. The first half an hour must be the Seven Trumpets because the Seventh Seal, “Silence in heaven for half an hour,” is an introduction to them.
The chiastic structure pairs the Trumpets and the Seven Last plagues, showing that they are the second “half an hour”. A comparison of the Seven Trumpets and the bowls of the Seven Last Plagues indeed shows some striking similarities:
- With the second trumpet a third of the sea turns to blood, whereas in the second bowl all the water in the sea becomes blood.
- In the third trumpet a third of the rivers and springs become poisonous, and with the third bowl all the water turns to blood.
- The forth Trumpet causes a third of the day and night to be dark, and the fifth bowl causes the entire kingdom of the beast to be dark.
Because of these similarities, some commentators have called the Seven Trumpets the “little” time of trouble and the Seven Last Plagues the “Great” time of trouble. The point is that both the Seven Trumpets and the Seven Last Plagues are part of the Great Tribulation and take place during the final events.
An end-time interpretation of the Trumpets is supported by the Book of Daniel.
The apocalyptic visions of Daniel are the most like Revelation and provide a model for its structure. Review video number 3 to see that each of the four visions begins with a review of the world history that most affects God’s chosen representatives, in Old Testament times the Jewish nation and in New Testament times the Christian Church.
We saw that each of the visions skims over history and then focuses attention on the final crisis and God’s victory and delivery of His people through the judgment. As each vision proceeds, there is no going back and reexamining the history, just a continuing focus on what the final oppressor does on earth and what God does from heaven to terminate the enemy’s influence and save His people.
Keep in mind that the Book of Revelation is not like the book of Daniel with its multiple visions and stories from Daniel’s life. Revelation is like the visions of Daniel. Each vision of Daniel begins with the chronological and geographical setting; for example, “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me… I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam” (Daniel 8:1,2).
This kind of introductory context setting is only found once in the Book of Revelation, in chapter 1: “I John, was on the island that is called Patmos… on the Lord’s Day, and in the midst of Seven lampstands I saw One like the Son of Man” (Revelation 1:9,10).
From there Revelation is presented as one continuous vision, with a historical overview found in the Seven Churches of chapters 2 and 3. According to the model of Daniel’s visions, we would not expect several repeated overviews of history as Revelation continues.
Taking into consideration all the evidence we have looked at for a last-days context of the Seven Trumpets, let’s put the Trumpets on the Revelation timeline.
In video 13 we introduced the timeline, showing that in Revelation, as in all of the Bible, there are actually two timelines, one showing what God is doing in and from heaven, and the other showing what is happening on earth. In video 26 we showed that the Seven Seals are on the “in-heaven” timeline. But with the Seven Trumpets events return to earth.
We last looked at events on earth when we studied the Seven Churches, which outline the history of the Christian Church from the time John saw the vision until the time of the end. The last church, Laodicea, is described as lukewarm, believing that she is “rich and in need of nothing, not knowing that she is actually wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). The Laodicean Church symbolizes the apathetic modern church that is little different from the society around her.
We Laodiceans are oblivious to the fact that while we are absorbed in our self-centered lives, the first stage of the judgment is taking place in the heavenly courtroom. But as the time for the beginning of the Seven Trumpets approaches, events that Jesus described as “birth pains” begin to shake up our complacency (Matthew 24:8).
If we were aware of what is happening in the invisible spiritual realm, we would see that Satan and his evil angels are using events such as Covid 19 to shake people out of the church, while Jesus is using the same events to shake people out of their complacency and into the 144,000. Notice how the birth pains, shaking, and later rain fit on the Revelation timeline.
Earlier in this video we mentioned that the sixth seal brings to view three categories of people who will live through the Seven Trumpets and on to the Second Coming of Christ. There are those who reject Jesus and eventually fight against Him and His followers. There are the 144,000 who are all in for Jesus.
The final group is the Great Multitude. The Seven Trumpets tell the story of the battle for their souls.
Satan and his followers will do everything they can to gather them into his camp and will use disasters, war, and chaos to disorient and confuse the multitude so that they will succumb to the overwhelming deceptions that Jesus warned against in Matthew 24.
At the same time, Jesus will leave no stone unturned in His efforts to bring the great multitude into the family of God. Matthew 9:36 tells us that when Jesus sees a great multitude, He sees a multitude of individuals, and He loves and wants each one. “When Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:36-38).
Jesus is still looking for laborers, especially as we approach the final crisis. Jesus is ready to pour out the latter rain of the Holy Spirit on His messengers, the 144,000. As we saw in videos 25 and 26, the 144,000 will powerfully proclaim the gospel and the appeal to come out of Babylon. They will share compelling prophetic messages symbolized by the Seven Thunders and the little book that John was commanded to eat.
Going to every corner of the world as the two witnesses, they will demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit to an extent that has not been seen since the Day of Pentecost. And ultimately, they will share in the victory of their Lord Jesus Christ: the great multitude will join them, and with the Seventh Trumpet all of heaven will proclaim: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Revelation 11:15).
It is an exciting story of an awesome time in human history. The birth pangs and the shaking that we are already experiencing tell us that we who are alive now may very well have the opportunity to be a part of it. Although it promises to be a fearsome experience, the end of the story will see us singing “a new song” of victory.
Jesus is standing at the door of our hearts, knocking, hoping that we will open the door so that He can come in and transform our lives. Now is the time for us to leave behind the Laodicean lifestyle and join Jesus in the greatest mission of all time!
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To see all the videos in this series check out the Revelation of Jesus playlist or the Seven Seals playlist; the links are in the description. These videos are based on the book “A Revelation of Jesus” by David Lackey, available from online bookstores.