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Daniel and Revelation
Revelation 8-9 – The Trumpet-Plagues
Revelation 8:1-3 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (2) I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. (3) Another angel came and stood over the altar, having a golden censer. Much incense was given to him, that he should add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.
The trumpet-plagues take place during the time when the two witnesses will prophesy for 1260 days. The trumpet-plagues are specifically held back until the 144,000 are sealed (Revelation 7:3). After the time of the two witnesses and the trumpet-plagues is the 42-month reign of the antichrist, which is when the antichrist will have complete his rule over every tribe, people, language, and nation.
In the Old Testament, trumpets were used to announce the presence of God (Exodus 19:16-19, 20:18), the surrounding of Jericho (Joshua 6:4-20), the gathering of the people (Judges 3:27, 6:34), the announcement of news (1 Samuel 13:3, 2 Samuel 6:15, 2 Samuel 20:1), the signal that war is finished (2 Samuel 2:28, 2 Samuel 18:16, 20:22), and the announcement of a new king (1 Kings 1:34, 39, 41, 2 Kings 9:13). The seven trumpets do all these things. The seven trumpets are the wake-up call to the Church; that they must overcome sin. They clearly tell the Church that the pre-tribulation rapture did not happen, and that the time of the tribulation will have begun. The seven trumpets are a warning that Satan, the enemy, is about to have complete rule over the entire world.
During the time of the trumpets, there is time for more witnessing. In chapter 10, we see symbolism that equates to a call to preach. In chapter 11, we read about the two witnesses who prophesy during this time. So, during the time leading up to the complete rule of the antichrist, the Church is still witnessing and new believers are being harvested for Christ. In Revelation 11:13, we see that the Jews in Jerusalem turn to Christ. This is after the time when the two witnesses prophesy. But during the 42-month reign of the antichrist, no more work of the harvest can be done.
John 9:4 I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day. The night is coming, when no one can work.
The seven seals have four horses, which are about the "four winds" of the world during the end-time generation. Then there are two more seals about the end-time generation, then a "parenthesis," and then the final seal. Likewise, there are four trumpets that are about destruction to the earth itself. Then there are two "woes" against man, then a "parenthesis," and then the final trumpet. The seals, trumpets, and bowls all have this four-two-(parenthesis)-one pattern. The final trumpet leads us right up to the "night," when the antichrist rules. The "night” is the third woe.
Revelation 8:13 I saw, and I heard an eagle, flying in mid heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe! Woe! Woe for those who dwell on the earth, because of the other voices of the trumpets of the three angels, who are yet to sound!"
Revelation 9:12 The first woe is past. Behold, there are still two woes coming after this.
Revelation 11:14 The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe comes quickly.
Revelation 12:12b Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil has gone down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time."
That's a bit confusing, so let's look at more details about the woes. Just remember that the fifth and sixth trumpets are the first two woes, and the "night" is the third woe. After the first four trumpet-plagues against the earth, we are introduced to the three woes (Revelation 8:13). This verse clearly identifies the last three trumpets as the three woes. Then, after the fifth trumpet we are told the first woe has passed (Revelation 9:12). After the sixth trumpet, and after the "parenthesis" between the sixth and seventh trumpet, we are told that the second woe is past (Revelation 11:14). So, the fifth trumpet is the first woe, and the sixth trumpet is the second woe. But the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15-19) does not mention a woe. The third woe is not mentioned until verse 12 of chapter 12! And here we read that the "devil has come down to you, having great wrath." So again, the seven trumpets are during those final 1260 days that the two witnesses prophesy, which leads up to the "night," when Satan and the antichrist rule over every tribe, people, language, and nation. The seven trumpets warn us about the "night." The third woe is that "night" when Satan and the antichrist rule.
Revelation 8:4-6 The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand. (5) The angel took the censer, and he filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it on the earth. There followed thunders, sounds, lightnings, and an earthquake. (6) The seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
As each of the seven angels blow the seven trumpets, God's plagues are poured out on the earth. The first four trumpets signal plagues against the earth, but not directly against man. The fifth and sixth trumpets signal plagues directly against man. Again, we have our four-two-(parenthesis)-one pattern. Each of the seven trumpets can be compared, in order, with the seven days of the Creation. But instead of God creating, there is destruction.
1) The first trumpet is a plague of fire. On the first day of the Creation, God said, "Let there be light." Fire and light go together.
2) The second trumpet is a plague against the sea. On the second day of the Creation, God formed the sea by separating the waters under the sky from the waters in the sky. The second trumpet thus signals destruction against the sea that God created on the second day.
3) The third trumpet is a plague against rivers and springs of water. On the third day of the Creation, God made the rivers and springs of water when he separated the land from the sea. The third trumpet thus signals destruction against the rivers and springs of water that God created on the third day.
4) The fourth trumpet is a plague against the heavenly bodies. On the fourth day of the Creation, God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth" (Genesis 1:14-15). The fourth trumpet thus signals destruction against the heavenly bodies that God created on the fourth day.
Revelation 8:7 The first sounded, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. One third of the earth was burnt up, and one third of the trees were burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
Revelation 8:8-9 The second angel sounded, and something like a great burning mountain was thrown into the sea. One third of the sea became blood, (9) and one third of the living creatures which were in the sea died. One third of the ships were destroyed.
Revelation 8:10-11 The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from the sky, burning like a torch, and it fell on one third of the rivers, and on the springs of the waters. (11) The name of the star is called "Wormwood." One third of the waters became wormwood. Many people died from the waters, because they were made bitter.
Revelation 8:12 The fourth angel sounded, 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 them would be darkened , and the day wouldn't shine for one third of it, and the night in the same way.
The first four trumpets are plagues against the earth. In each case, the plague is against a third of the Creation. The fifth and sixth trumpets are against Man.
5) In the fifth trumpet the Abyss (Hell) is opened. Hell is the final death for those who do not have forgiveness by the blood of Jesus Christ. On the fifth day of the Creation, God created the animal life in the sea and the birds of the air. This life is in direct contrast to the death of Hell. Flying locusts were probably included in this day of the Creation, since this is the day that birds were created. Locusts are used to torture men, but not to kill them. The death of men is saved for the sixth trumpet, since God created Man in the sixth day.
Revelation 9:1-12 The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from the sky which had fallen to the earth. The key to the pit of the abyss was given to him. (2) He opened the pit of the abyss, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke from a burning furnace. The sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke from the pit. (3) Then out of the smoke came forth locusts on the earth, and power was given to them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. (4) They were told that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only those people who don't have God's seal on their foreheads. (5) They were given power not to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a person. (6) In those days people will seek death, and will in no way find it. They will desire to die, and death will flee from them. (7) The shapes of the locusts were like horses prepared for war. On their heads were something like golden crowns, and their faces were like people's faces. (8) They had hair like women's hair, and their teeth were like those of lions. (9) They had breastplates, like breastplates of iron. The sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, or of many horses rushing to war. (10) They have tails like those of scorpions, and stings. In their tails they have power to harm men for five months. (11) They have over them as king the angel of the abyss. His name in Hebrew is "Abaddon," but in Greek, he has the name "Apollyon." (12) The first woe is past. Behold, there are still two woes coming after this.
6) In the sixth trumpet, a third of mankind is killed (Revelation 9:13-21). As the first four trumpets were sounded, the plagues are against a third of the Creation. Now the plague is against a third of mankind. On the sixth day of the Creation, God created Man. The sixth trumpet thus signals the destruction of a third of mankind.
Revelation 9:13-21 The sixth angel sounded. I heard a voice from the horns of the golden altar which is before God, (14) saying to the sixth angel who had one trumpet, "Free the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates!" (15) The four angels were freed who had been prepared for that hour and day and month and year, so that they might kill one third of mankind. (16) The number of the armies of the horsemen was two hundred million. I heard the number of them. (17) Thus I saw the horses in the vision, and those who sat on them, having breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of lions. Out of their mouths proceed fire, smoke, and sulfur. (18) By these three plagues were one third of mankind killed: by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur, which proceeded out of their mouths. (19) For the power of the horses is in their mouths, and in their tails. For their tails are like serpents, and have heads, and with them they harm. (20) The rest of mankind, who were not killed with these plagues, didn't repent of the works of their hands, that they wouldn't worship demons, and the idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood; which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk. (21) They didn't repent of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their sexual immorality, nor of their thefts.
The parallels to God’s Creation put emphasis on the fact that these are warnings from God. People will say that God loves the world and a God of love and would not do these terrible things. But God also loves the Church, and God wants his Church to repent. The trumpet-plagues are a warning of God’s coming wrath. They are a measure of that wrath, given as a warning. The first five trumpet-plagues also have parallels to some of plagues on Egypt.
1) The first trumpet is a plague of hail and fire. The seventh plague on Egypt was a plague of hail (Exodus 9:22-25). This trumpet causes a third of the trees to be burned up. This plague on Egypt beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree.
In this trumpet, the fire is mingled with blood. In Revelation 15:2, the sea of glass is mingled with fire. The same Greek words are used. In Revelation 4:6 we saw a sea of glass before the throne. As people come to the Lord and overcome sin by the blood of Christ, during the trumpet-plagues, they stand on the sea of glass mingled with fire. And in Revelation 15:2, the sea of glass is full of people.
This is a wake-up call for the Bride. God made a covenant with Noah that He would not destroy the earth with water. But nothing was said about fire. God was willing to destroy His Creation with the Great Flood because of sin. Here, God is destroying a third of His Creation, with fire, as a wake-up call for the Bride to overcome sin.
2) The second trumpet turns a third of the sea into blood. In the first plague on Egypt, water was turned into blood (Exodus 7:20). This trumpet causes a third of the living creatures in the sea to die. This plague on Egypt caused the fish in the Nile to die (Exodus 7:21).
3) The third trumpet is similar to the second. Both are about water. But in the third trumpet, the rivers and springs turn bitter. When the Nile in Egypt turned into blood, people had to dig along the banks of the Nile to get drinking water (Exodus 7:24). Likewise, with the third trumpet, many people die from drinking the bitter water.
4) The fourth trumpet darkens the sun, moon, and the stars. A third of the day is without light, and a third of the night is without light. The ninth plague on Egypt was darkness (Exodus 10:21-23).
5) In the fifth trumpet, locusts are given the power of scorpions. The eighth plague on Egypt was locusts (Exodus 10:12-15).
The trumpets are a wake-up call for the Church, and the trumpets announce that Satan and the antichrist are about to have complete rule over the entire world.
The seven trumpets occur during the prophecy of the two witnesses. They prophesy for 1260 days. The two witnesses “have power over the waters, to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire” (Revelation 11:6b). In other words, the world relates the trumpet-plagues with these two witnesses. At the end of the 1260 days, they are killed and the world celebrates by exchanging presents (Revelation 11:10). But after three and a half days, they are raised up as the whole world watches.
The trumpets are all about building the Church. The seventh trumpet signals the fulfillment of this goal. The Church is built as the Church becomes serious about overcoming sin. Those who truly know Christ are led by the Spirit to overcome sin. This fact is given in each of the seven letters to the seven churches. The Greek word used for “overcome” can mean to conquer, prevail, or get the victory. This word is used in Revelation 5:5 in speaking about the victory of Jesus so that he could open the seven seals. And we can be victorious over sin by the blood of Jesus (Revelation 12:11). In Revelation 15:2, John sees the sea of glass is mingled with fire. As people come to the Lord and overcome sin by the blood of Christ, during the trumpet-plagues, they stand on the sea of glass mingled with fire (Revelation 15:2). The same Greek word for overcome is used in this verse. Revelation 15:2 is before the bowls of wrath. All Christians will have this victory before God’s wrath is poured out. The Church will be victorious as the trumpets are sounded. The trumpets are a signal for the battle over sin to be fought and for victory to be won. Revelation 21:7 NIV concludes with, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.”
An allusion to the seven trumpets can be found in Joshua 6. The Lord tells Joshua to march around the city of Jericho for seven days. An armed guard led the way. Seven priests carried trumpets and marched ahead of the Ark of the Covenant. On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times with the priests blowing the trumpets. The walls of the city collapsed and the victory was won.
Joshua 6:2-5 Yahweh said to Joshua, "Behold, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the mighty men of valor. (3) All your men of war shall march around the city, going around the city once. You shall do this six days. (4) Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark [of the covenant]. On the seventh day, you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. (5) It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall go up every man straight before him."
The victory at Jericho required the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant carried the Ten Commandments. Obedience to God’s laws is required for spiritual victory. When the seventh trumpet is sounded, John sees the Ark of the Covenant in the temple of God in heaven. Under the New Covenant, God’s law is written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-33, Hebrews 8:8). But this doesn’t happen overnight in the believer. It’s the process of sanctification. It’s all about the Church taking sin seriously. It begins with the opening of the seals. And it’s accomplished by the seven trumpet-plagues. So, at the seventh trumpet John sees the Ark of the Covenant in the temple of God. This is symbolic of the completion of God’s law being written in the hearts of Church, which is the temple of God.
When the seventh trumpet is sounded, voices in heaven say, “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. He will reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15). In other words, this is what is accomplished during the time of the trumpet-plagues. The conquering of the kingdom of the world is the victory. The walls of the city will collapse. The Church is built, and the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of the Lord. But this doesn’t literally happen at the seventh trumpet. The Church must first go through the desert of sanctification. Yet it’s considered accomplished at the seventh trumpet.