By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
As you live and prepare for the eventual return of Jesus, there is a period of time that will happen on the earth which is known as the Great Tribulation. This will be a time of horror and judgment upon the earth that will be unmatched by any other time in human history.
The book of Revelation describes the events that will take place during this time. Granted there are some symbolisms within Revelation, but once you understand them, the picture of what will take place during this time becomes a lot clearer.
One of the things mentioned are the seven trumpets. What we want to look at today is what are the seven trumpets in Revelation? It is probably not possible to give you a full, in-depth, detailed analysis of all the seven trumpets in one article. However, it is possible to give you enough information to encourage you to want to study further. Let’s begin.
Where Does the Bible Discuss the Seven Trumpets?
For deeper study and to understand what the seven trumpets in Revelation are, you will need to spend some time in Revelation chapters 8–11.
When you think of a trumpeter, one of the things that comes to mind is that they are used to make a grand pronouncement, like the entrance of royalty for example. These trumpets are no different – it’s just that the pronouncements are of a different type. Each one pronounces a different judgment upon the earth during the Great Tribulation.
When Are the Seven Trumpets Blown?
The trumpets are revealed after John sees a vision of the great crowd from every tribe and nation standing around the throne offering worship to the lamb of God. Here is what happens next.
“When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them” (Revelation 8:1-2).
The contrast of the silence in heaven compared to the great roar that was just heard must have really been deafening to John. As you see within the seventh seal there are seven trumpets which were to be blown. Each one will pronounce a type of judgment on the earth, and they will intensify as each subsequent trumpet is blown.
When you look a little closer at these opening verses in chapter 8, it seems the blowing of these trumpets is a response to the saints offering prayers to God. Consider Revelation 6:9-11:
“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.”
God, in response to the prayers of the martyrs who were killed during the Great Tribulation, vindicates his people with the blowing of the trumpets. God is judging the people of the earth and bringing vindication for his people all in one. By the way, the prayers of God’s people were referred to as incense, which is a reminder that God loves when his people cry out to him in prayer. So don’t ever stop doing that!
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The Trumpets and the Judgments
At the heart of the seven trumpets in Revelation are the judgments that come with the blowing of each one. Each trumpet will be blown by a different angel, but the angels are not named. Let’s consider each judgment.
The first trumpet brings devastation to the earth itself.
“The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up” (Revelation 8:7).
The second trumpet is targeted towards the seas.
“The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed” (Revelation 8:8-9).
The third trumpet affects the water supply which brings death to many people.
“The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water — the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter” (Revelation 8:10-11).
The fourth trumpet attacks the sky affecting the sun, moon, and stars
“The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night” (Revelation 8:12).
The earth, seas, water and sky are all affected by these first four judgments. These are all the things required for life, and God is affecting these things as judgment for those who have rejected him. After blowing the fourth trumpet, there is a brief pause before the last three trumpets are blown.
Revelation 8:13 – “As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: ‘Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!’”
In the middle of judgment God pauses. He decides to give additional warning of what is to come and at the same time give people an opportunity to repent. I think sometimes people believe God brings judgment because he likes to judge. He brings judgment because he is a just God. In order for God to be who he is, he must judge sin. Yet even in the judging process, God offers opportunity for repentance because that is his heart.
The Last Three Trumpets
As you can see with the first four of the seven trumpets in Revelation, things are getting pretty bad. But it’s about to get worse.
The fifth trumpet (Rev. 9:1-12)
This trumpet releases Satan with power to use demonic influence, described as locusts, to torment those who have rejected God. Surprisingly, they are allowed to torment but those who they torment won’t die. What an incredible time of torture and pain. Ironically the ones who are protected are those who had the seal of God on their foreheads.
The sixth trumpet (Rev. 9:13-21)
This trumpet brings an astonishing amount of death and an absolutely incredible response to it. With the sixth trumpet, four angels are released along with an army of 200 million which is probably a demonic army. They proceed to kill one third of all the people on the earth. Again, a time unlike any we have ever witnessed in human history. What is fascinating however, is the response of the people who survive this period:
“The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Rev. 9:20-21).
Instead of turning to God in repentance, they dig in with their defiance even more. The heart of man has grown so hard that even among great tragedy and death they refuse to turn from sin and turn towards God. They continue to reject his love and compassion. This shows you the danger and power of a hardened heart. That’s why the Bible warns against hardening your heart – there are dangerous consequences associated with it.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Chris Bair
The Last Trumpet
Before the blowing of the seventh and final trumpet there are a series of events that take place. I encourage you to read through Revelation 10 and 11 to get the full picture.
In Scripture seven is the number of completion, so the announcement associated with this trumpet falls right in line. Here is what happens when the seventh trumpet is blown:
“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
With this trumpet the announcement of Christ’s reign is made as we move to the completion of this period. While the tribulation doesn’t end right when this trumpet is blown, it is getting close. There are some major events left to play out but we know this trumpet is blown closer to the end of the Great Tribulation.
When you consider what the seven trumpets in Revelation are you see there is a lot to digest. If I have succeeded, you now have a slightly better picture of what they are and hopefully you will use this as a starting point to more study. I didn’t write this article as a final analysis, I would probably need a whole book for that, I simply wanted to get the ball rolling.
Hopefully this will challenge and encourage you to look into Bible prophecy and the end times without fear, but with open eyes. In all honesty if you are in Christ there is nothing for you to be afraid of. If for some reason, you should ever get fearful, always remember whose side you are on and know that when it is all said and done, we win.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.