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The 7 Trumpets (Rev. 8:2 - 11:19)

Angel sounding the Trumpet

Overview

Bible Passage:

Read the prophecy in Revelation 8:2 to 11:19.

Theme:

The message of present truth and the realm's response to it.

Overview:

In even a brief perusal of the 7 Trumpets, one quickly recognizes that they involve calamity, affliction and suffering on massive scales. The descriptions are full of unpleasant conditions and destructive forces like fire, violence, darkness and torment. These types of descriptions are not new in Revelation, but are found throughout the Bible, portraying the disasters that result when nations turn away from God's ways. This prophecy focuses on what occurs when nations and entities persistently reject God's laws. They outline the judgments that afflict God's rebelling people & those ruling over them. See more about Judgment & the Sound of the Trumpet.

Nations/entities receive God's judgments after a moral fall (Jer. 48:21-47, 49:12-16, 8:7-13, Is. 47:6, Ez. 5:10-11), resulting from persistent rejection of God and His law. God endures long, but eventually withdraws protection to respect the entity's wishes, sending judgments that allow disasters to ensue. Their own actions bring about their afflictions. During each time of judgment, the Trumpet sound includes the warning to God's true followers, so they can escape (Ez. 33:4, Lk. 21:20-22, Rev. 18:4). Judgments affect ruling powers and inhabitants of the land, who all participated in rejecting God (2 Kings 21:10-18). After God does all He can to save, and the nation has descended into even worse crimes, the nation's fall is complete. This results in culminating catastrophes and power being taken from the ruling entity. God is in control of these events, and takes responsibility for placing and removing rulers (Dan. 2:36-38, Is. 14:24-25, Gen. 15:16, Hag. 2:22).

Verse-By-Verse

Revelation 8:2-6 "2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.1 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. 6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

Incense = Jesus' intercession. In Revelation 8:3-5, the burning of incense symbolizes Jesus mingling His merits with the prayers of His people to make them acceptable, a sweet odor rising up before the throne of God (Rev. 5:8, Ps. 141:2). The scene emphasizes that Jesus mercifully offers a time of intercession ("censor" offered with incense and prayers - 8:3) until those determined to rebel pass beyond help ("censor... cast it into the earth" - 8:5) and are allowed to experience the destructive results of their choices as portrayed in the 7 Trumpets (see more about Fire and Incense).

7 Trumpets = 7 successive time periods of warning and judgment. That the Trumpets cover consecutive periods, without gaps in between them, follows the same pattern established in other prophecies and as indicated by use of the number 7 (see 7 Churches). Also, the 5th and 6th Trumpets provide specific time frames, indicating each Trumpet describes large time periods and not just singular or short-term events.

Time Period #1 (34 AD to 217 AD): Trumpet #1

Revelation 8:7 "The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up."

Trumpet #1 = The Jewish nation loses homeland (31 to 217 AD). Judgments of destruction / death ("hail", "fire", "blood") affected the Roman realm. A portion ("third") of the people ("trees" - Is. 61:3, Ez. 17:24, Jer. 17:7-8) of the Jewish nation were destroyed ("burned" as Jesus predicted - Lk. 3:9, 21:20-24, 23:28-31, Ez. 15:6-8, Jer. 11:16-17, Is. 9:18-19, Ez. 20:45-47). The Jewish homeland ("grass," Greek=court/garden, the place where the trees dwell - Is. 44:4) was desolated. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD (est. one million killed). Jews continued revolts for many years while finding refuge in the Parthian Empire, which protected them until its last war with Rome in 217 AD. In 116 AD the Jews killed hundreds of thousands of Roman citizens. In an attempt to take back Jerusalem in 132 AD, 580,000 Jews were killed. They became so despised that Roman Emperors vowed to wipe out the Jewish race and religion. See more details about Trumpet #1.

Time Period #2 (217 to 486 AD): Trumpet #2

Revelation 8:8-9 "8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed."

Trumpet #2 = The Roman empire divides (217 to 486). The second time period encompasses the fall of Rome ("mountain" - Jer. 51:24-25, Joel 3:17, Dan. 9:16, 2:35-45) as central authority divided into various nations ("sea" - Rev. 17:15, Is. 57:20). This division was also prophesied in Daniel as 10 toes (Dan. 2) and 10 horns (Dan. 7). The process involved much fighting and death ("blood") as the military took control of government. Rome's economy ("ships" - Rev. 18:17-19, Ez. 27:9,29-34) was greatly affected as the increasing number of Germanic people couldn't be absorbed and the army became unsustainable. See more details about Trumpet #2.

Time Period #3 (486 to 752 AD): Trumpet #3

Revelation 8:10-11 "And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; 11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter."

Trumpet #3 = The spread of idolatry (486 to 752). The messengers of the church in Rome ("star" that fell - Rev. 1:20) had fallen because of pagan practices, unbiblical teachings and idolatry ("wormwood" - Deut. 29:16-18, Jer. 8:14, 9:13-15, 23:13-16). As the Franks united with the church, its armies ("rivers" - Jer. 46:8, Ez. 29:3, 32:2, Is. 8:7) were corrupted by the false religion and spread it to a portion ("third") of the realm. This was when the use of icons and images was intensely debated and finally accepted as the norm. By the end of this period, the western part of Europe was ruled entirely by kings converted to the papal version of Christianity. This coincides with the 3rd Church, Pergamum, that brought in idolatry through the doctrine of Balaam, and the 3rd Seal with its scarcity of God's Word. See more details about Trumpet #3.

Time Period #4 (752 to 1299 AD): Trumpet #4

Revelation 8:12-13 "12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. 13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!"

Trumpet #4 = The gospel is obscured (752 to 1299). As the papacy became politically dominant (in addition to already being ecclesiastically dominant), a long period of spiritual darkness afflicted the realm. Christ's righteousness ("sun"), the Scriptures ("moon") and true messengers ("stars") were obscured ("darkened"). The Bible was not made available and true messengers were persecuted. The truth about God, His Word and His sanctuary were suppressed as the papal system pointed people to earthly priests/church for salvation instead of to Jesus. This coincides with the spiritual darkness of the 4th Church, Thyatira, and the spiritual death of the 4th Seal. See more details about Trumpet #4.

Time Period #5 (1299 to 1449 AD): Trumpet #5

Revelation 9:1-12 "1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. 5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. 6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 7 And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. 8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. 9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. 10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. 11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. 12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter."

Trumpet #5 = Turks torment the Byzantines (1299 to 1449). Messengers of Islam ("star" that fell) obscured the gospel and Christ's character ("sun") with false doctrines ("smoke"). These beliefs originated from the desolate and sparsely inhabited Arabian desert ("bottomless pit" - Lk. 8:30-33, Mk. 5:9-13). The Islamic army of Ottoman Turks ("locusts" - Ex. 10:12-15, Joel 2:4-5,25) began attacking Byzantine lands in 1299. For the next 150 years ("five months") Ottoman rule extended over the Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans, controlling nearly all former Byzantine lands surrounding the city of, but not overtaking, Constantinople ("should not kill them"). They did not attack within the Roman realm during this time, where God's people ("tree," "seal of God") dwelt ("grass," court/garden), but inflicted great hurt and terror ("torment") right outside their borders (note the eastern half of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, had long ago ceased to be part of the Roman realm). When the Council of Basel failed in a last effort to form an east-west union (it disbanded in 1449), which could have provided military aid to Byzantium from western princes, all hope ended for the Byzantines. This ended the time of tormenting without killing as the Ottomans were released from the threat of an east-west union and free to pursue conquest of the Byzantine capitol. See more details about Trumpet #5.

Time Period #6 (1449 to 1840 AD): Trumpet #6

Revelation 9:13-20 "13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.2 16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. 18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. 19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. 20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: 21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts."

Trumpet #6 = The Ottoman's army slay many (1449 to 1840). When the Ottomans ("horsemen") were released from fear of a union of Christian powers in 1449, they were no longer restrained ("loose") from annihilating ("killing") the Byzantine empire. Their armies ("river Euphrates") made an enormous fighting force during this period ("two hundred thousand thousand"). They quickly conquered the capital in Constantinople and extended their land into eastern Europe and to the gates of Vienna, terrifying Europeans. They were known as a "gunpowder empire" ("mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone"). Those in the realm who experienced these judgments did not change ("neither repented they") and continued to worship idols and perform treachery ("murders," "sorceries," "fornication," "thefts"). In the late 1830s, Egypt attacked the decaying Ottomans, threatening to dominate the empire. European powers offered to help Turkey and on August 11, 1840, the Turkish Mustesbar for Foreign Affairs arrived in Alexandria and placed his nation's fate in the hands of an alliance of European Christian powers to negotiate with Mehemet Ali, Pacha of Egypt. This occurred exactly 391 years and 15 days ("hour, and a day, and a month, and a year") after the Ottomans were released to operate without the threat of a Christian alliance in 1449. See more details about Trumpet #6.

Time Period #7 (1840 to Second Coming): Trumpet #7

Revelation 11:15-19 "15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.4 19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail."

Trumpet #7 = False doctrines drunken (1840 to 2nd Coming). This 7th period of warning and judgment is described in great detail in Rev. 14-18 (3 Angels' Messages and fall of Babylon). False doctrines ("wine") are spread to all the nations (Rev. 14:8). The period encompasses the pre-advent judgment (court scene of Dan. 7:13-14,22-27) that enables Jesus to receive the realm ("kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord" - Rev. 11:15), the unique end-time display of Christ in His church ("mystery of God... finished" - Rev. 10:7, Eph. 5:25-32, Eph. 2:19-3:21, Eph. 1:9-10, Col. 1:24-29), and Jesus' phase of ministry in the Most Holy Place during the heavenly Day of Atonement (Rev. 11:19). It also includes wars and rumors of wars ("nations were angry") and the 7 Last Plagues ("wrath is come" - Rev. 11:18, 16:1, 17:1), and ushers in the post-advent judgment ("the dead...judged"). See chart and more details about Trumpet #7.

Interlude Prophecies Inbetween the descriptions of the 6th and 7th trumpets are two prophecies (Rev. 10-11), one describing a little book being eaten (Revelation 10); and one describing the beast that would arise from the bottomless pit (Revelation 11). Both prophecies emphasize the increased understanding and elevation of God's word during the first half of the 1800s and help pinpoint the timeframe of the transition from the 6th to 7th Trumpet. They revolve around events occurring between 1789 and 1844 that introduce the prominent players during the 7th Period, which are:
  • (A) God's end-time church, identified as those who "prophesy again" after experiencing the sweet book turned bitter (Rev. 10), and
  • (B) Satan's end-time political power, identified as the power behind the French Revolution (Rev. 11).
Note: The fact that these prophecies were written inbetween the 6th and 7th trumpet, doesn't necessarily mean that there is a gap, or length of time between the end of the 6th trumpet and the beginning of the 7th trumpet. The use of gaps is not a technique used in other prophecies and allow for a disordered method of interpretation. In other prophecies, similar interludes describe what will take place during the transition into and during the final portion of the prophecy. This technique of using interlude descriptions isn't meant to insert an additional time period or gap, but rather to provide additional details, and to help us locate where the prophecy is in time and with what other events it coincides. The 7 Churches and 7 Seals of Revelation provide good examples of the way seven consecutive time periods cover the expanse of the Christian era with no gaps inbetween. The use of the number "7" symbolizes completeness, which wouldn't leave allowance for gaps, but rather indicate that the 7 Trumpets continue one right after another. The 7 Churches, 7 Seals and 7 Trumpets thus cooperate to provide an excellent overview of the condition, activities and events of the church, the spread of the gospel and the rejectors of the gospel over the Christian era.

Time Line

Prophecy timeline of the 7 Trumpets in Revelation 8-11
(click on image to enlarge)

Additional Resources:

Judgment & the Sound of the Trumpet
Fire and Incense
Mystery of God
The Little Book (Rev. 10)
The Bottomless Pit
The Beast that Ascends from the Bottomless Pit (Rev. 11)
Freemasonry and the French Revolution (Rev. 11)
The 7th Trumpet Start Date
Seal of God

Continue to the next study: Red Dragon (Rev. 12)