The Trumpets begin immediately after the 7th Seal. If you haven’t already, it is advised that you read the section on the Seals first. There you will also see a timeline of the full set of events as Revelation lays them out.
And here we have a ‘modern version’ of the same events. Compare the two charts and you’ll see they are essentially the same, with the modern chart adding more detail.
The reason I recommend looking at the Seals before jumping into the Trumpets is that I am convinced that the first four Trumpets happen in immediate succession, and a mere 30 minutes after the 6th and 7th Seals. This adds to the belief stated in Seal 6 that all men will believe it is Judgement Day.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: (Revelation 6:15-16)
Trumpet 1 – Trees & Grass Burn
And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. 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. (Revelation 8:6-7)
A third of all the trees on the planet are burned up, along with all grass. No need for that John Deere riding mower anymore.
Trumpet 2 – Oceans & Seas Are Poisoned
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; 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. (Revelation 8:8:9)
Something big and fiery hits the sea (or possibly an ocean) poisoning the water and causing a tidal wave that destroys a lot of boats. That new boat you just bought? Better plan on using it while you can.
Trumpet 3 – Freshwater is Poisoned
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; 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. (Revelation 8:10-11)
This is similar to the 2nd Trumpet except it hits inland freshwater, again poisoning it. Better stock up on bottled water.
And finally, we arrive at the fourth Trumpet.
Trumpet 4 – Sun & Moon Are Darkened
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. (Revelation 8:12)
There are various interpretations of this. Some people believe it means days and nights are shortened for an undetermined length of time. Perhaps permanently. I believe the light emitted from them (or reflected off, in the case of the moon) is diminished by a third, and most likely just for a few days or maybe a couple weeks. And here is why…
Consider all these events (including the 4 Trumpets and the 6th Seal) as the result of a nuclear attack. We have a monumental earthquake that moves the mountains and islands. Of course that would happen. ‘Stars falling from the heavens’. Absolutely. At least that’s what it would appear to be if you were an apostle in the first century. Then a third of all trees and all grass being burnt. Check. The oceans and freshwater being poisoned. I’m sure radiation already crossed your mind there. And finally, a well known result of nuclear war is a huge amount of particles being kicked up into the atmosphere, much like after a major volcanic eruption, only about a thousand times worse. The dust would result in a haze that would block out a significant amount of sunlight and moonlight. So we have a logical explanation for everything, and all happening in a very short period of time.
Talk about the mother of all bad days. No wonder “the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves”!
And don’t you think that would explain “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” coming out of great tribulation. I don’t know about you, but I would definitely classify nuclear holocaust as ‘great tribulation’. And to think that all those things happen in one day. I bet you hope you won’t be around for that. Well, I have bad news for you.
Trumpet 5 – ‘Locusts’ Attack
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. 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. (Revelation 9:1-2)
Quite often in the bible, especially in Revelation, a star is a reference to an angel. Considering this one is referred to as ‘he’ and carries a key, it’s a safe assumption. However, my opinion is that this angel isn’t opening a physical gate to the bottomless pit, altho I wouldn’t rule that possibility out entirely. Considering the world has just witnessed a nuclear war, opening a portal to a spiritual prison (as mentioned in Luke 8:31) might not even be noticed. And the smoke pouring out could either be real hellish smoke or merely a residual fire from the nuclear blasts.
Another option is that it might be the result of a massive bombing as in a ‘shock and awe’ style of attack. After all, the nuclear war wasn’t just for the hell of it (no pun intended). It was merely the beginning of a war. We can expect to see more military activity, but now in a more regional approach. More on that in a moment. First let’s discuss the next thing that we see.
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. 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. 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. (Revelation 9:3-5)
Locusts. But clearly not ordinary locusts. They pay no attention to any plant life. Their sole purpose is to attack men.
Many bible scholars take this at face value and assume the locusts are demonic. After all, they came out of the bottomless pit, right? Well, no. We were never told that! We are specifically told “And there came out of the smoke locusts”. It never says the locusts come out of the pit! We are only told they fly out of the smoke.
Before we go any further, let’s think about how John’s vision was given to him. Do you think he saw every event that unfolded on the earth from the beginning of the first seal being opened until the 1000 year reign of Christ ends and New Jerusalem is in place? That would be one long, and very convoluted vision! I highly doubt John or anyone else could deal with something like that. No, most likely he was shown key events. And even then, not necessarily everything leading into them. In fact, I believe John’s vision was very much like watching a movie trailer for the latest upcoming Hollywood blockbuster. Scenes cut from one to another abruptly and without explanation. The intent is to build up a common theme and emotion and to draw the viewer in without giving away spoilers.
Now let’s go back to the theory that this was a shock and awe attack. Smoke is billowing up from a recent smart bomb explosion. What’s the next course of action that a modern army would use? If you said ‘air attack’, you win a gold star. Standard military tactics involve a massive bombing run first… then air attack. And reading on in Revelation we see a great description of modern military helicopters. Imagine a typical war movie trailer. Smoke billows up for effect, and then helicopters appear, flying out of the smoke. Maybe God was showcasing his cinematic director skills for John! (I also like to imagine God having his angels play Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ as John sees this.)
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… 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. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. (Revelation 9:7,9-10)
Back before the invention of Abrams tanks and Humvees, armies used horses in battle almost exclusively. And unlike how Hollywood presents the war horses (totally unprotected from spears, arrows and swords), the armies of centuries past considered their horses quite valuable and protected them with armor and chainmail, sometimes more than the riders wore. Therefore, John’s description of the locusts as “horses prepared unto battle” would mean being armor plated. He repeats that description in the subsequent verses.
Also noteworthy is his explanation that they sound like many horses running into battle. That is just about exactly how I would describe a helicopter, too.
And finally, he describes the ‘sting of their tails’. Don’t you think a combat helicopter’s guns would remind a first-century apostle of a scorpion? Especially considering he had likely seen hundreds of scorpions in his life, but never saw a flying vehicle or a gun. All weaponry in his day consisted of swords, spears, bows or simple devices to throw stones.
On a final note, the duration of this Trumpet (also called the First Woe) is 5 months. To me, that would seem about the appropriate amount of time for an army to achieve air superiority and to stabilize a region enough to send in ground troops. And looking at Trumpet 6, that’s exactly what we can expect to see next!
What we were describing in Trumpet 5 was the beginning of what is known as the Psalm 83 War. It is also described in some detail in Daniel 11.
Trumpet 6 – 200 Million Man Army (And Much More)
Moving from Trumpet 5 to Trumpet 6, we transition from an air assault to a ground war.
And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. (Revelation 9:16)
First let’s address something that is argued back and forth endlessly on this verse. It basically says that John claims that the army, which we are to assume is the forces of the Antichrist who was the leader of the air assault, consists of 200 million men. John tells us flatly that he knows this because he hears the number. BUT, he doesn’t say where he hears that from!
Essentially all biblical scholars debate about what nation actually has an army of 200 million men, and generally assume it’s China, Russia or a combination of the two. Actually, I would probably agree with that logic, but that’s not where I’m headed.
The statement that John made was simply that he heard from some unknown (to us) source that the army was 200 million strong. He could have heard that from the leader of the army, boasting on his propaganda network. At one time Chairman Mao Tse Tung made that very claim of the chinese communist army. Perhaps this claim is what John was referring to.
But moving on…
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. 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. 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. (Revelation 9:17-19)
Here we have a pretty good explanation of how a 1st century AD man might describe a modern army of tanks and artillery. This is exactly what would be used in the ‘ground phase’ of a regional war, after air superiority is established.
Also note that the army kills a third of ‘men’. This probably refers to a third of the soldiers in the opposing army. I highly doubt it means a third of all the people on the planet, as many eschatology students claim. By their misinterpretation, a quarter of all the people on earth are killed in the Fourth Seal, and a third are killed here. Thus, they often claim, quite outrageously, that half of all the planet’s inhabitants are now dead. While I believe the situation on earth will be horrible at this point, it is not nearly that bad. After all, we see in the next couple verses that people see no reason to change their ways.
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: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21)
In other words, none of the things we’ve seen so far will be considered supernatural or unusual by the world population. Unusual and unpleasant, sure.. but supernatural? No. They will go on with their lives as best they can, not giving any serious thought to spiritual matters.
That concludes chapter 9, and we have an odd break in the narrative. Chapter 10 discusses the Little Book, which I will cover in a separate post.
So we pick up the action in chapter 11, and immediately notice a change in tone.
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. (Revelation 11:1-2)
This signifies that the Third Temple is now being built (or has been finished). Well how could that have happened if we were just in the middle of a war scene? The answer is, the war is over. The Antichrist ends it when he confirms a 7 Year Treaty.
And both these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time appointed. (Daniel 11:27)
At this time, Israel somehow (by the power of Yahweh, of course) survives relatively unscathed while the nations around her are devastated by the Psalm 83 War. Israel not only recovers, but flourishes. And finally builds the Third Temple!
Another note is that Jerusalem will be restored to her glory and will have no walls and the people will frequently declare that they are finally living in ‘peace and safety’. This comes into play during the final siege of Jerusalem, immediately before Armageddon, as Ezekiel describes.
After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them… And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates (Ezekiel 38:8, 11)
But that’s jumping ahead a bit. Israel is living in supposed peace. They have freedom to reinstate the daily sacrifices. It would all be going great for them if some troublesome Witnesses didn’t show up.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. (Revelation 11:3-6)
See what I mean about those Witnesses? Just when things finally improve for Israel, they show up and cause droughts, plagues and turning water into blood. I suspect these guys aren’t going to be very popular.
Now just for the record, I am not going to make any claims (at least at this point) about who the Witnesses are. There are heated debates about whether they are Elijah, Enoch, Ezekiel or a few other less popular choices. But for now, we’ll just focus on the ‘facts’.
And the fact is that the Witnesses have been sent by Yahweh to be a witness of the wickedness of men, just as the two angels were sent to Sodom and Gomorrah prior to the all too well known fire and brimstone weather pattern that wiped those cities forever off the map. You see, the Lord established way back in Deuteronomy that two witnesses are necessary to bring a conviction against anyone.
One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15)
I suppose this is to eliminate convictions based on a ‘he said, she said’ case. So, sticking to His own precedent, the Lord sends Two Witnesses to confirm all the wickedness going on in the world, and particularly Jerusalem. And just to make things fair, He keeps them there for 3 and a half years. Plenty of time for people to atone for their actions.
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. (Revelation 11:7-10)
But rather than changing ways, we see the exact opposite. In fact, the people are so happy to see them killed that they celebrate exactly the same way that the muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan did when the Twin Towers fell. They danced in the streets and gave each other gifts.
Now keep in mind that we’re still following the 6th Trumpet, which is also known as the second ‘woe’. And to recap, so far we’ve seen a ground war involving a ‘200 million soldier army’ followed by a peace treaty that allows Israel to build a Temple and reinstate the sacrifices. During the beginning of the peace treaty, we’ve also seen two supernaturally protected christians roaming around Jerusalem giving ‘fire and brimstone’ sermons and backing up their statements with very unpopular plagues.
After three and a half years of tormenting the residents of Jerusalem, the Antichrist personally kills them. There is much rejoicing and just to make their point, they refuse to allow the bodies to be buried. They are left out on the street untouched so everyone can see that the Antichrist was able to kill them when no one else could.
And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. (Revelation 11:11-12)
But the Lord has the last laugh when he resurrects them. No other religious leader has EVER managed to do that. Not even Satan can do that. Only Christ and a few of His prophets working in the name of Yahweh have brought the dead back to life. Clearly this is a shock to the people who moments earlier were celebrating their ‘victory’.
Then, just to make His point…
And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. (Revelation 11:13)
Yahweh causes a huge earthquake to tear up the city, killing 7000 people. This combination is too much for the remaining population and they acknowledge the true living God.
The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. (Revelation 11:14)
Finally, we make it to the end of the 6th Trumpet, after more than three years. But we are warned that the final woe is starting without giving anyone time to catch their breath.
Trumpet 7 – ‘Thy Wrath Is Come’
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. (Revelation 11:15)
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. (Revelation 11:18)
The final Trumpet now sounds. From this we can conclude that the Rapture is about to happen.
Those who are still left will then experience the Vials, also known as the Wrath of God.