REVELATION 8: THE 7 TRUMPETS - PART I
Updated: Apr 17, 2022
The Seven Trumpets are a series of Judgments upon the Roman Empire depicting the fall of this power, the fourth kingdom of Bible Prophecy as represented by the legs of iron of the Daniel 2 image and the fourth beast of Daniel chapter 7. The Trumpets are plagues (Rev 9:20) upon the Roman Empire which had become in a sense an apostate people. The same events which led to the fall of Rome are occurring today and this shows that Christ's second Coming is near...The final and seventh trumpet merges with the seventh plague of Revelation 16:17 in which the final fall and destruction of Pagan Rome in its PAPAL form is brought to view.
Seven Trumpets (7 First Plagues Rev 9:20) = Fall of Pagan Rome.
Seven Last Plagues = Fall of Papal Rome.
Bible Prophecy follows the repeat and enlarge principle in which scripture repeats the prophecy of Daniel chapter 2 in chapters seven, eight and eleven, adding more detail in the process. The fall of the nations of Babylon, Medo-Persia and Grecia follow the simple one nation replacing another, however, with “Rome”, there was to be no other kingdom following it apart from Christ’s eternal kingdom. The scriptures therefore, present a detailed description of the events which led to the collapse of the PAGAN Roman empire. This it does in the prophecy of the seven trumpets of Revelation 8 and 9. One might consider these judgments of the the seven trumpets on Pagan Rome as the Seven “first plagues” (Rev 9:20).
However, pagan Rome has undergone a change in transitioning to PAPAL Rome. The Scriptures therefore outline in the Seven LAST Plagues of Revelation, the final fall and destruction of ROME in its Papal form, describing these plagues as HER plagues and warning the people of God to come out of her that they might not partake of her sins and receive not of HER plagues. The seven last plagues occur after the close of human probation with the seventh trumpet merging with and identical to the seventh plague with a similar description of both events - see below. They both outline the final process in the destruction of ROME in its entirety, both PAGAN and PAPAL, the latter being nothing more than PAGANISM with a Christian veneer to it and therefore suffers a similar fate to the secular Roman power which gave “birth” to her.
Revelation Chapter 8
1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
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 al- tar, 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.
4 And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angelʼs 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.
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.
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.
10 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 riv- ers, and upon the fountains of waters;
11 And the name of the star is called Worm- wood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. 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.
The Seven trumpets are judgments upon an apostate people. As seven trumpets sounded around Jericho, before it fell, so the seven trumpets of Revelation sound prior to the fall of the whole world. The first four trumpets describe the major events which led to the fall of the WESTERN ROMAN Empire. The 5th and 6th describe events which led to the fall of the EASTERN ROME. The 7th describes events that lead the fall of the whole world in the days of PAPAL ROME. The trumpets give detail as the the fall and division of the Roman Empire as depicted in parts of Dan 2 & 7. The events which led to the sounding of the Trumpets are to occur again. To know our future we should look to the past.
The 7 Churches reveal Church history.
The 7 Seals reveal Social History. The 7 Trumpets reveal Military History.
SILENCE IN HEAVEN
verse 1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
Verse 1 completes the Seven Seals. Chapter 6 closed with the events of the 6th Seal, the 8th chapter begins with the opening of the 7th Seal. Thus chapter 7 stands parenthetically between the 6th and 7th Seals. The sealing work of chapter 7 occurs under the period of the 6th seal prior to the 7th.
The 6th Seal led up to events connected with the Second Coming - the heavens departing as a scroll and nature in commotion etc. but it ended just short of the 2nd Coming. The silence in heaven during the 7th Seal occurs during the Second Coming because Christ brings “all the holy angels” with Him. (Matt 25:31).
A day symbolizes a year in prophecy (Eze 4:6; Num 14:34) then a half hour (1/48 of a day) = 1/48 of a year, or ~ 7 days.
As the seventh Seal (v 1) describes the Second Coming, the Seven Trumpets of the following verses must obviously occur BEFORE the seventh Seal. This shows that sections of the Revelation such as the Churches, Seals and Trumpets do not follow sequentially but run CONCURRENTLY, covering the same, or similar periods of history, but stressing different aspects. The Trumpets retrace to some extent, the history already covered by the seven Churches and the seven Seals and emphasize political and military events. See General Introduction on Recapitulation.
verse 2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
This verse introduces a new series of events. SEVEN priests blew TRUMPETS in the Old Testament (1Chron 15:24). In Josh 6 the seven trumpets sounded prior to the FALL and DESTRUCTION of Jericho (Josh 6:4). So in Revelation SEVEN angels receive SEVEN TRUMPETS which sound prior to the end of the world.
Trumpets are associated with BATTLE and WAR “the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of WAR.” (Jer 4:19; Num 10:9; Eze 7:14; 1Cor 14:8). They are also associated with: GATHERING to God (Exo 19:13-17).
Number 10:7-10 show that trumpets:
Call for DELIVERANCE from enemies.
Announce SOLEMN DAYS
Announce the beginning of MONTHS Announce BURNT OFFERING, SACRIFICE and
Acts as MEMORIALS.
NB. The Feast of TRUMPETS HERALDED THE SOLEMN DAY OF ATONEMENT when the ark was seen in Godʼs temple (Lev 23:24-27). Indeed the sounding of the 7th trumpet actually refers to the ark being seen in Godʼs temple in heaven (Rev 11:19).
Sounding trumpets preceeded the DESTRUCTION OF THE ENEMY in the battle of Jericho (Josh 6).
Sounding trumpets also preceeded the DESTRUCTION OF THE ENEMY in the time of Gideon (Jud 7:19-23).
Revelationʼs trumpets therefore point to: WAR; A CALL TO GOD (See Rev 9:20); HERALD THE DAY OF ATONMENT; and preceed THE FALL AND DESTRUCTION OF AN ENEMY OF GODʼS PEOPLE.
verse 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. verse 4 And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angelʼs hand.
Having introduced the trumpets another scene is introduced. An angel is presented as ministering in heaven. Another Angel (Gr. aggelos - messenger, not neccessarily a created being). Christ, who has always existed (Mic 5:2), is sometimes called “the Angel of the Lord.” (Gen 22:11-12; Exo 3:2-5).
Altar of incense
The altar, which stood in the first apartment of the earthly sanctuary (Exo 30:1- 10), was used throughout the year.
Christʼs merits mingled with the prayers of “ALL saints.” Rev 5:8; Exo 30:34-38).
The censer was used at the end of the year on the Day of Atonement - JUDGMENT Day (Lev 16:12). Here is proof that there exists in heaven a sanctuary and items of service of which the earthly was a figure.
Here is presented Christʼs mediation for ALL His people during the entire Christian Era, including the judgment and the end of His mediation when He will fill the censer with fire, but no incense, and cast it into the earth.
CLOSE OF PROBATION verse 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast [it] into the earth... No incense is added before the censer is cast down. This indicates no prayers for forgiveness possible and the end of Christʼs intercession for mankind - the CLOSE OF PROBATION when everyone has decided for or against the truth (cf. Rev 22:11).
verse 5 ...and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
The last part of Rev 8:5 describes the events of the SEVENTH TRUMPET, the “voices, and thunderings, and lightnings and an earthquake” (Compare the 7th trumpet in Rev 11:15, 19). These events are also those which occur under the 7th plague (Rev 16:17).
verse 6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. Having taken us through to the voices, thunderings, lightning, and earthquake that occur under the 7th trumpet in v 5, verse 6 takes us BACK IN TIME to introduce the first Trumpet. Note: verses 5-6 cannot be read chronologically as verse 5 mentions the events of the 7th trumpet whereas in verse 6 the trumpets have not yet even begun.
Why is the description of Christʼs whole ministry given in verses 2-5?
It is given as a message of hope to Christʼs people who would live through the sounding of the Trumpets. Some of the trumpets sounded while Christ ministered before the altar of incense in the Holy Place (v 3). The seventh trumpet sounds during Christʼs ministry before the ark of the testament in the Most Holy Place (Rev 11:15-19) and some will live through the worldʼs final events and witness the voices, thunders etc. at the end of the 7th trumpet.
THE TRUMPETS BEGAN IN THE PAST
(a) The feast of TRUMPETS occurred BEFORE the Day of Atonement when the ark was seen in the temple of God. (Lev 23:24- 27). (One of the functions of trumpets was to announce SOLEMN DAYS). So the TRUMPETS of Revelation began to sound BEFORE the temple of God was opened in heaven and the ark is seen under the 7th trumpet (Rev 11:19). The antitypical Day of Atonement began in 1844. See next point.
(b) When the 7TH TRUMPET sounded John saw, “The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.” Rev 11:15-19. The ark of Godʼs testament is in the holy of holies, the second apartment of the sanctuary. In the ministration of the earthly tabernacle, which served “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things,” (Heb 8:5), this apartment was opened only upon the great Day of Atonement for the cleansing of the sanctuary. Therefore the announcement that the temple of God was opened in heaven and the ark of His testament was seen, points to the opening of the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary in 1844 as Christ entered there to perform the closing work of the atonement. (See on Dan 8:14). Therefore, as the 7th trumpet points to events occuring in 1844 the first 6 trumpets must have occurred BEFORE 1844.
(c) The trumpets are “plagues” (Rev 9:20) which must sound BEFORE the seven “LAST” plagues. The 7 LAST plagues occur AFTER Christ ceases His intercession (Rev 15:1, 8; 14:10). The 7 trumpets began to sound BEFORE Christ ceases His intercession.
(d) The Trumpets appear in the first half of the structure of Revelation with other historically fulfilled prophecies. (See chart in the Appendix). The seven trumpet “plagues” (Rev 9:20) are the historical counterpart of the coming seven LAST plagues. SEE CHART ABOVE.
(e) The fall of Jericho represents the fall of the world (See Josh 6). Rahabʼs house = the church, the scarlet thread in her window = the blood of Christ. Priests circled Jericho 7 days and blew trumpets. On the 7th day they blew 7 times before Jericho was destroyed. So the 7 trumpets of Revelation blow and under the 7th trumpet (now blowing since the end of the 2300 days prophecy), the 7 last plagues occur, before the world is destroyed. As those in Jericho had opportunity to enter Rahabʼs house on all seven days, so men have opportunity for salvation during Revelationʼs trumpets. See
(f) The trumpets increase in intensity. The 5th, 6th and 7th are called “woes.” The 5th mentions torment, the 6th, killing. Under the 7th trumpet the worst horror of all occurs
- the 7 last plagues (Rev 11:18-19; 16:18).
(g) Rev 10 (The Great Disappointment of 1844) is described after the 6th trumpet (Rev 9).
The Seven Trumpets are SYMBOLIC
The Revelation is full of symbols, events and language drawn from other parts of the Bible. Revelation promises a blessing (Rev 1:3), and part of that blessing is that one must study the rest of Scripture in order to understand and decode the Revelation! If the trumpets could be understood by just reading them without reading any other parts of the Bible then we would miss out on this blessing.
The events described during the trumpets are NOT consistent with literal events.
The Trumpets are clearly symbolic:
(a) The “blood” (Gr. haima - 99/99 times translated “blood”) falling in the first Trumpet is surely symbolic.
(b) The burning up of “all GREEN grass,” in the first Trumpet is symbolic (Rev 8:7). If this trumpet were literal fire surely ALL grass, not just “all GREEN grass,” would burn. Furthermore any fire that destroyed all the worldʼs green grass would incinerate dwellings, huts, wooden structures, clothing etc. Such an event along with all green grass (corn, wheat, rice etc.) being burnt up would mean that any survivors, men and beasts, would perish within a month or two when food reserves ran out. There would be nothing left for any of the other trumpets to affect! let alone continue for 5 months or more.
(c) The effects of the second Trumpet are not consistent with a literal asteroid hitting the sea as literal asteroids do not turn 1/3 of the sea into “literal” blood. This is clearly symbolic.
The mountain like mass destroying 1/3 of ships and fish is surely symbolic. If this were a literal asteroid etc. surely attention would be drawn to more than just 1/3 of ships! Anything that destroyed 1/3 of the worldʼs ships would destroy hundreds of millions of lives, in thousands of cities, but only 1/3 of ships is mentioned.
(d) One star falling upon 1/3 of the earthʼs rivers and fountains, is surely symbolic. A single star cannot fall on 1/3 of the worldʼs rivers. Furthermore falling comets do not turn water into wormwood - a poisonous herbal juice. This is also symbolic (Rev 8:11). Wormwood is apsinthos in Greek and laʼanah in Hebrew which is translated hemlock in Amos 6:12 KJV, and Deut 29:18 RSV.
(e) The smiting of 1/3 of the Sun, Moon and Stars, not the atmosphere, and the subsequent darkness for only 1/3 of the day and 1/3 of the night, is surely symbolic (Rev 8:12).
(f) The tormenting locusts-like horses with scorpions tails, the bottomless pit from which they come, the horses with serpent-headed tails and brimstone (sulphur) coming out of their mouths etc., are surely symbolic (Rev 9).
(g) The trumpets began in the past (See previous section). Nothing fitting a literal reading of the trumpets has occurred in the past.
For more detail showing that the trumpets are symbolic see the appendix.
How are we to decode the symbols?
We must allow the Bible to decode the symbols (2Pet 1:20; Isa 28:9-10). We must trace each symbol through the Bible, and where we find it decoded, put that meaning on the symbol. If it makes good sense we need look no further, if not, look again. As Jesus often used various symbols to represent the same thing, (Matt 13:31- 47), so various symbols are used in the trumpets to represent the same thing. e.g. earth, sea, rivers and fountains all symbolise people.
The trumpets are abundant with symbols that are used in more than one way. e.g. trees can symbolise the RIGHTEOUS (Ps 1:3) OR the WICKED. In Jude 1:12-13 trees, sea and stars symbolize the wicked. How can we determine which is correct in the trumpets? As the trumpets are punishments or “plagues,” (Rev 9:20) the things afflicted, earth, sea, fountains etc. represent the wicked.
The Significance of Seven
Seven indicates completeness (7 days in a week etc.), the message extends to the end of time.
In the Bible sevens are divided into 4 then 3 or more accurately 4 - 2 - 1:
4 Spring feasts - 3 Autumn Feasts
4 horsemen - 3 non horsemen (Rev 6).
4 Trumpets - 3 “Woe” trumpets (Rev 8-9).
4 days creating the inanimate - 2 days the creatures - 1 day the Sabbath (Gen 1).
4 trumpets fall on inanimate things - 2 men- tion creatures - 1 affects all.
4 trumpets are followed by three woes. (Rev 8:13).
Whom do the Trumpets affect?
The trumpets affect a wicked people because:
(a) The language in the trumpets is borrowed from punishments upon the wicked:
(b) Hail & fire burnt the trees & herbs of Egypt. Exo 9:25.
(c) Hail, fire and brimstone on Gog Eze 38:22.
(d) Assyriaʼs trees burned up. Isa 10:18-20. Judgments on apostate 1/3rds. Eze 5:1-4.
(e) The trumpets affected those without Godʼs seal (Rev 9:4) - the wicked.
(f) The trumpets were intended to lead the wicked to repentance (Rev 9:20).
(g) Trumpets mention all parts of creation: 1. Earth. 2. Sea 3. Rivers and fountains 4. Sun, Moon, Stars 5. Men tormented 6. 1/3 men slain. 7. Worldwide.
(h) This indicates that all the trumpets affect various parts of ONE whole.
(i) The trumpets are similar to the plagues which fell on Egypt: 1. Hail (Exo 9:22). 2. Sea to blood (Exo 7:14). 3. Rivers & fountains to blood (Exo 7:14). 4. Darkness (Exo 10:31). 5. Dark- ness & Locusts (Exo 10:12, 21). 6. 1/3 men destroyed (Exo 11; 12:29?). 7. Events at the Red Sea (Exo 14-15?). This indicates that all seven trumpets affect the oppressors of Godʼs people and affect various parts of ONE whole.The plagues on Egypt fell in response to the prayers of Godʼs people (Exo 3:7-8). The trumpets follow the prayers alluded to in Rev 8:3-4.
(j) The trumpets are called “plagues” (Rev 9:20) and are very similar to the seven last plagues. The seven LAST plagues will be punishments upon the wicked THREE PART world made up of the 1. Dragon, 2. Beast, 3. False prophet (16:13). The plagues will fall on Babylon after her sins have reached unto heaven (Rev 18:4) So the trumpets plagues were punishments upon a three part power which prefigured the end-time Babylonian world.
What power prefigured the end-time Babylonian world and suffered a series of wars and judgments which led to its collapse? The early church called the Roman Empire “Babylon” (1Pet 5:13).
The parallels between the Roman Empire and the end-time world are striking. Before the Roman Empire suffered the century of disasters (AD378-476) which led to its downfall, several things occurred which will occur again before the seven LAST plagues fall. See chart.
The Seven trumpets are said to affect third parts, evidently of some three part whole. Godʼs enemies sometimes come in three part (Jud 6:3; Rev 16:13, 19). Those in apostasy were three part (Eze 5:12; Rev 12:4). This indicates that the recipients of the trumpet plagues are an apostate people of God. Rome became in a sense an apostate people of God after the conversion of Constantine. Incidentally Rome was literally divided into three parts before itʼs fall. See Map.
The seven trumpets are divided into a first set of FOUR then a second set of three. It is significant that there were FOUR prominent invasions which led to the fall of Western Rome:
1. The Goths
2. The Vandals
3. The Huns
4. The Heruli
Appropriateness of the symbols.
The symbols employed in these judgments are appropriate in view of the reason the judgments are given.
1. A hail storm falling on those who had fallen on others like a storm.
2. A burning mountain falling on those who had rejected the law of God which was given when Mt. Sinai burned (Deut 4:11).
3. Those who polluted the streams of truth had their waters made bitter.
4. Those who had rejected the light of truth had their Sun, Moon and Stars darkened.
When decoded the trumpets points to a series of calamities that befell the Roman Empire. The amazing thing about the trumpets is that even the undecoded symbols point to the same conclusion! It is as if God wanted this understood whether one used sound Biblical methods of interpretation or not. Some who simply read the trumpets and then looked in history for a series of warlike events have come to the correct conclusion!
The sounding of the turmpets denotes the order of their commencement, not the period of duration.
FIRST Trumpet ~AD395
verse 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.
Hail = A Judgment an invading army punishing an apostate people of God. (Eze 38:9, 22; Isa 28:2, 17). The hail is the AGENT of destruction. In the northern hemisphere the cold, and therefore hail, comes from the north (Job 37:9).
Fire & Blood = Destruction and Death (Gen 9:5,6; 1 Kings 2:5; Eze 21:32; Ps 79:3).
Earth = People. Here those in apostasy that are the recipients of this judgment. (Isa 28:2; Lev 26; Jer 9:10-12). Trees = People good or bad. Here the wicked that are the recipients of this judgment. Trees may represent powerful leading people in comparison to grass. Ps 37:35; Dan 4:20-22; Eze 31:3).
Green = Flourishing (Jer 17:8. In Ps 92:14 “flourishing” means “green.” See margin).
Grass = Common people, here the wicked that are the recipients of this judgment. (2Kings 19:26; Ps 37:1-2; Isa 40:6, 7; 1Pet 1:24; Isa 44:3-4).
Third part = A portion of Godʼs professed but apostate people. (Eze 5:12; Rev 12:4).
As apostate ʻChristianʼ Rome had fallen as a storm upon the faithful so a bloody hail storm fell upon her. The Goths, from the frozen regions of northern Europe, fell like a (Hail) storm upon a portion of the Roman Empire (Earth, third part). They were the first foreign enemy to conquer the city of Rome destroying and slaughtering (Fire & Blood) leaders (Trees). Romeʼs flourishing days were over (All Green Grass burnt up).
Incidental symbolic relevance
When decoded the symbols describe a series of judgments on the Roman Empire. Amazingly, even the UN-decoded symbols point to a series of judgments on the Roman Empire. See incidental comments.
Much of this symbolism in this first trumpet literally fits the Goths who came like a hailstorm from the frozen north of Europe! They even began their invasions in winter crossing frozen rivers and burned and slaughtered many.
Valens [the Roman Emperor] “was informed that the North was agitated by a furious tempest.” Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 7 Vol. ed. “The Worldʼs Classics,” Vol. III, p 111.
“A formidable tempest of barbarians of Germany was ready to BURST over the provinces of Gaul.ʼ Gibbon, Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol. 3, p307.
“The Gothic Invasion [AD395] was in arms...deserted their farms at the first sound of the TRUMPET...The barriers of the Danube were thrown open, the savage warriors of Scyitha issued from their forests...directed by the bold and artful genius of Alaric...the whole territory was blasted by the baleful presence;...FLAMING villages...the deep and BLOODY traces of the march of the Goths.” Gibbon, Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol. 3, p283, 286.
Gibbon, tells how the poet Claudian of Verona bewailed the destruction of the trees: “His TREES, his old contemporary TREES must BLAZE in the conflagration of the whole country.” Gibbon, Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol. 3,
“Alaricʼs course was to Italy, as he told an Italian monk. He felt a secret preternatural impulse which directed and even impelled his march to the gates of Rome. As his trumpet sounded and his march advanced, terrible omens and prognostications preceded him. “The Chris- tians” says Gibbon, “derived comfort from the powerful intercession of the saints and martyrs. [this reveals the apostasy of the Christians] Thrice, in fulfillment of his destiny, he descended from the Alps onto the Italian plains, marking his course at each step as the awe struck historians of the times tell us, in country and in town with ravage, CONFLAGRATION and BLOOD, till the gates of Rome itself were opened to the conqueror and the Gothic FIRES BLAZED around the capitol,” E.B. Elliott, Horae Apocalypticae, Vol. 1, p351-353.
When an Italian monk plead with Alaric to spare Rome “[Alaric said] he did not feel disposed to commence the siege, but found himself compelled by some hidden and irresistable impulse to accomplish the enterprise.” Sozamenʼs History, Bk. 9. Chap. 6.
“At the hour of midnight...the iunhabitants [of Rome] were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic TRUMPET. Eleven hundred and sixty three years after the foundation of Rome, the Imperial city, which had subdued and civilized so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of the Germany and Sythia.” Gibbon, Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol. 3, p380.
“In the time of Constantine the Roman empire was divided into three great sections.” Dr. Cumming, Apocalyptic Sketches, Vol. 2., p63.
Incidentally Constantine literally divided Rome into three parts which lasted till AD500. See Enc Britannica, Vol. 3, 1989, p563, art. Constantine II. See map. See Gibbon, Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire. The trumpets affect 1/3 parts of the Roman Empire.
SECOND Trumpet ~ AD428 - 468
verse 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; verse 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.
A mountain = A kingdom, one government, NOT kingdoms. (Jer 51:24-25; Dan 2:35, 44). Like the hail “CAST” upon the earth in the first trumpet this mountain “CAST” into the sea is the AGENT of destruction, NOT the recipient.
A burning mountain = A kingdom on its way to extinction. God said He would turn Babylon into a BURNT mountain (Jer 51:24-25), i.e. an extinct kingdom.
A burning mountain also brings to mind Mt. Sinai and the giving of Godʼs law, covenants, blessings and warnings. (Deut 4:11-31).
Sea = Many peoples, here those in apostasy that are the recipients of this judgment (Isa 57:20; 17:12; Jer 51:42; Rev 17:15).
Became Blood = Violently taken life (Gen 9:5,6; 1 Kings 2:5; Ps 79:3).
Third part = A portion of Godʼs professed but apostate people. (Eze 5:12; Rev 12:4).
Sea Creatures = People either good or bad. (Matt 13:47-48; Hab 1:14; Isa 60:5).
Ships = Economics. (Ps 107:23; Rev 18:17, 19; Eze 27:24, 25).
As apostate ʻChristianʼ Rome had broken Godʼs law, so she reaped the consequences. Following the Goths, the Vandal kingdom (mountain), a sea-faring people, not from the frozen north of Europe but from Carthage on the burning hot coast of North Africa, fell upon the peoples of the Roman Empire (Sea) killing many (blood). For several years they repeatedly attacked parts of the coasts of the Roman Empire (Third part) ʻvandalizingʼ and even looting the city of Rome itself. Many men (Sea creatures) died and Rome suffered economic loss (Ships destroyed).
The mountain was “burning” on its way to becoming a burnt mountain, a symbol of an extinct kingdom. So the Vandals as a people have become extinct.
Much of this symbolism literally fits the Vandals kingdom! They were primarily a naval sea power which settled on the coasts of Africa and twice defeated Roman navies, on one occasion burning 1100 Roman ships and their crews!
“The Vandals were UNIQUE among the German nations by the fact that they maintained a FLEET.” J.B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, Vol. 1, p162.
“The Vandals repeatedly visited the coasts of Spain, Ligyria, Tuscany, Campania, Lucania, Bruttium, Apulia, Calabria, Venetia, Dalmatia, Epiraeus, Greece and Sicily. They were tempted to subdue the island of Sardinia so advantageously placed in the centre of the Mediterranean and their arms spead desolation or terror from the Columns of Hercules to the mouth of the Nile.” Gibbon, Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 4, p1-2.
“The FLEETS...became under Genserics guidance the FIRST NAVAL POWER of the Meditterranean...At length the work [of ravaging the coasts] became almost monotonous and the choice of a victim hard. Once, when the FLEET had weighed anchor and was sailing forth from the broad harbour of Carthage the helmsman turned to the king and asked for what port he should steer. ʻFor those men with whom God is angry,ʼ answered the Vandal king and left the winds and the WATERS to settle the question who were the proper objects of the wrath of heaven.” Thomas Hodgkin, Dynasty of Theodosius, p219-220.
The Vandals even SAILED up the Tiber River and sacked the city of Rome. Amongst the treasures they took were the golden candlestick and the golden table that Titus had captured from the temple in Jerusalem. On their return to Carthage a terrible storm arose and one SHIP alone sank beneath the waves - the ship carrying the golden candlestick and the table.
THIRD Trumpet ~ AD451 verse 10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burn- ing as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; verse 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.
Great Star = Great person / angel / minister or church (Isa 14:12-15; Dan 8:10, 24; 12:3; Rev 1:20; 12:4; Jude 1:13). Like the hail and the burning mountain this star is evidently the AGENT of destruction, NOT the recipient. It causes affliction (worm-wood). This star does not appear to be Satan for he fell long before this star fell.
Heaven = A place of prominence (Rev 11:12; 12:3; 14:6).
Fell = To attack (2Chron 25:13) or to apostatize. (2Thess 2:3; Luke 10:18). As the trumpets are judgments falling on an apostate power this falling star is an agent of destruction falling upon apostates.
As it were a Lamp = God, His Word or His witnesses, (2Sam 22:29; Ps 119:105; Matt 5:15-16) or the wicked (Prov 13:9; 20:20). Here evidently a wicked individual for this lamp is an agent of destruction & apparently goes out.
Third part = A portion of Godʼs professed but apostate people. (Eze 5:12; Rev 12:4).
Rivers & Fountains of waters = Life-giving truth (John 7:38; Ps 36:9) or people. (Prov 25:26; James 3:11-12). Here apostate people as these waters are the recipient of this judgment from God.
Wormwood = Affliction and misery that come AS A RESULT of having already broken Godʼs law. (Lam 3:15, 19; Deut 29:17-18; Jer 9:13-16; Prov 5:3-4). As apostate ʻChristianʼ Rome had broken Godʼs law and polluted the fountains of living water with false doctrines and practices so Rome was to drink the resulting wormwood of affliction and misery. The next terrible attack to fall upon Rome came from the Huns led by Attila (the Great Star). They fell upon a portion of the apostate Roman Empire (third part) spreading affliction and misery upon the people (Rivers & Fountains) and many men died.
Incidentally much of this symbolism literally fits the Huns whose attack was intense and of a comparativelly short duration, like a falling star - they continued only about a year in the region of the Alps. Furthermore they primarilly affected the region of the Alps from which many of Romeʼs rivers and fountains flow!
FLAMED FORTH.” Jordanes, Origin and Deeds of the Goths, Chap. 24, p 38. (Mierowʼs Trans,)
“The rise of the great Hunnic power which threatened European civilization in the fifth century was as SUDDEN AS ITS FALL.” J.B. Bury, History of the Latter Roman Empire, Vol. 1, p161.
“This invasion is the most celebrated in our peopleʼs discourses, of all those which the barbarians have made upon us; and is the most talked of among the vulgar [common people]...and now all the countries which were within the Apennine mountains and the Alps, were full of flight, of depopulation, of slaughter, of slavery, of burning and despair.”
Sigonius (A Contemporary) cited in William Whiston, Cambridge Prof. Essays on the Book of Revelation, p184-187.
Attila was called “The Scourge of God.” “In the reign of Attila, the Huns again became a terror of the world;...that formidable Barbarian who alternately insulted and invaded the East and the West, and urged the rapid downfall of the Roman Empire.” Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 3, p494.
FOURTH Trumpet ~ Rome falls AD476
verse 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.
Sun, Moon & Stars = Leading authorities & powers. The Sun and Moon rule the day and night. (Gen 1:16; Gen 37:9-10). The Sun, Moon and Stars may also symbolise the light of truth in its various manifestations: The pure church is clothed with the Sun with the Moon under her feet and she has a crown of twelve stars (See on Rev 12). In this trumpet the Sun, Moon and Stars evidently refer to something evil because God sends this judgment upon them.
This fourth and final affliction on Western Rome completes the set of afflicted things - the total creation:
3. Rivers and fountains,
4. Sun, Moon, Stars. (cf. Rev 14:7).
Third part = A portion of Godʼs professed but apostate people. (Eze 5:12; Rev 12:4).
Day = A period of time not necessarily literal (Gen 2:4). The “day of salvation” (2Cor 6:2). The days when Sun Moon and Stars donʼt shine is evil. (Ecc 12:1-3). As Apostate Rome had virtually extinguished the light of truth, so the ruling powers in Western Rome, of which there were exactly three; the Emperor (Sun), consuls (Moon) & senate (Stars) (third part), were successively extinguished. The fall of Western Rome is dated AD476 when the last Emperor of the West resigned and Odoacer, king of the Heruli, became the first Barbarian to reign in Italy. The consul & the senate lingered a few more years before disappearing, AD541; AD552-3.
The emperors etc. in the East continued but the Sun, Moon and stars in the West- which had smitten Godʼs people were gone along with the Western Empire. (Ps 121:6). Incidentally as the Sun, Moon and stars represent all the ruling lights of day & night, so Western Romeʼ had three ruling powers in government at the time of this trumpet and all three disappeared in their order; Sun, Moon, stars!
“Odoacer was the first Barbarian who reigned in Italy, over a people who had once asserted their just superiority over the rest of mankind. The disgrace of the Romans still excites our respectful compassion.” Gibbon, Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 4, p63.
The apostates did not learn the lesson. Following the fall of Western Rome the church would become even more corrupt and not just 1/3 of the light of truth would be darkened but almost all in the spiritual night of the Dark Ages.
WOE, WOE, WOE
verse 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! Some manuscripts say “eagle flying...” An eagle faced angel? “Set the TRUMPET to thy mouth. He shall come as an EAGLE against the house of the LORD, because they have TRANSGRESSED MY COVENANT, and TRESPASSED AGAINST MY LAW.” Hos 8:1.
The last three trumpets are called “Woes” and describe punishments upon the professedly Christian, but apostate, Roman Empire in the East.
The first 4 trumpets described the downfall of Western Rome. The 5 & 6th trumpets describe the rise of Islam and the downfall of Eastern Rome. The 7th describes the downfall of the entire world over which Papal Rome will preside. See Rev 11:15-19.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN?
1. We learn that apostasy leads to ruin.
2. We learn that when other means fail, God will allow calamities in order to turn people from wickedness.
3. To see the future look to the past. The events which led to the seven trumpets prefigure events which will lead to the seven last plagues. As the apostate church united with the State, enforced Sunday laws and persecuted the sabbath-keeping minority, so Satan will again inspire the apostates church to unite with the State and persecute those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Rev 12:17) just before the plagues fall. (See Rev 13 & 16).
4. As God warned the Roman world through the preaching of the early church- before the trumpet “plagues” (Rev 9:20) occurred, so He has raised an end-time Movement to warn the world before the seven LAST plagues fall under the seventh trumpet. The rise of this Movement is described in Rev 10. It is placed there as it arose between the sounding of the 6th and 7th trumpets.
5. As the trumpets (“plagues” Rev 9:20) affected the three part Roman Empire, so the seven last plagues will affect three part global Babylon (Rev 16:13, 19).
The early church called Rome “Babylon” (1Pet 5:13) and it prefigured end-time global Babylon - Papal Rome, the King of the North.
6. The events described in the first four trumpets give details as to how Rome was divided into the nations of Europe as seen in Daniel 2 and 7.
“There are four of these “trumpets,” and it would be a matter of inquiry whether there were four events of sufficient distinctness that would mark these invasions or that would constitute periods or epochs in the destruction of the Roman power. At this point in writing I looked upon a chart of history, composed with no reference to this prophecy, and found a singular and unexpected prominence given to four such events extending from the first invasion of the Goths and the Vandals at the beginning of the fith century to the fall of the Western Empire AD476.” Dr. Albert Barnes, Notes on Revela- tion. Chap. 8.
CENSER THROWN DOWN “I saw Jesus, who had been ministering before the ark containing the ten commandments, throw down the censer. He raised His hands, and with a loud voice said, “It is done.” And all the angelic host laid off their crowns as Jesus made the solemn declaration, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (Rev 22:11)” E.G. White, Early Writings, p279-280.
SEVENTH TRUMPET “The nations were angry...” Rev 11:18 “We are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecies are fulfilling. Strange and eventful history is being recorded in the books of heaven-- events which it was declared should shortly precede the great day of God. Everything in the world is in an unsettled state. THE NATIONS ARE ANGRY, and great preparations for war are being made.” E.G. White, Selected Messages Book 1, p221.
SEVENTH TRUMPET - 1844 “The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.” Revelation 11:19 [7TH TRUMPET]. The ark of Godʼs testament is in the holy of holies, the second apartment of the sanctuary. In the ministration of the earthly tabernacle, which served “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things,” this apartment was opened only upon the great Day of Atonement for the cleansing of the sanctuary. Therefore the announcement that the temple of God was opened in heaven and the ark of His testament was seen POINTS TO THE OPENING OF THE MOST HOLY PLACE OF THE HEAVENLY SANCTUARY IN 1844 as Christ entered there to perform the closing work of the atonement.” Great Controversy11, p433.
Note: As the 7th trumpet pointed to 1844 then the first 6 trumpets must point to events BEFORE 1844.
SEVENTH TRUMPET “When Godʼs temple in heaven is opened, what a triumphant time that will be for all who have been faithful and true. In the temple will be seen the ark of the testament in which were placed the two tables of stone, on which are written Godʼs law. These tables of stone will be brought forth from their hiding place, and on them will be seen the ten commandments engraved by the finger of God. These tables of stone now lying in the ark of the testament will be a convincing testimony to the truth and binding claims of Godʼs law.” E.G. White, 20MR, p221.
QUESTIONS Are the Trumpets & Plagues the same?
The trumpets are similar to the seven last plagues but different. See Chart
Do the trumpets occur AFTER the sealing? Rev 7:3-4 says that the earth, sea and trees are not to be hurt until AFTER the sealing of the 144,000. As the first, second and fifth trumpets describe earth, trees and sea being hurt this has led some to conclude that the trumpets sound AFTER the sealing.
However several points argue against this:
1. The earth sea and trees that are harmed after the sealing are harmed by the four “WINDS.” The earth, sea and trees hurt during the trumpets are NOT harmed by winds but by HAIL, FIRE, BLOOD and as it were a burning MOUNTAIN.
2. The ORDER and NUMBER of things harmed after the sealing is DIFFERENT from the ORDER and NUMBER of things harmed by the trumpets.
After the Sealing - Earth, SEA, Trees. Under the Trumpets - Earth, TREES, Sea, AND Sun, Moon, Stars.
3. The sealing is a WORLDWIDE event indicating that the harming of things after the sealing is likewise worldwide. The harming of things by the trumpets however is LIMITED
\\\ only 1/3 of the trees and 1/3 of the Sea, 1/3 of the sun moon, stars.
4. The trumpets are called “plagues” (Rev 9:20) i.e. the 7 FIRST Plagues so they must occur BEFORE the 7 “LAST” plagues. The opportunity for salvation is past when the last plagues fall. Oppourtunity for salvation is still available when the trumpets sound.
5. The fall of Jericho typifies Revelationʼs trumpets and the fall of the world. Salvation for those in Jericho was still available while the trumpets sounded.
6. When the 7th trumpet sounded John said, “the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament.” (Rev 11:15-19). As the Most Holy place in the earthly temple was only opened revealing the ark on the Day of Atonement when the sanctu- ary was cleansed, (Lev 16), the 7th trumpet therefore points to the antitypical Day of Atonement when the sanctuary in heaven is cleansed. As this event began in 1844. (See on Dan 8) the first 6 trumpets must therefore have occurred BEFORE 1844.
So what does the hurting of the earth, sea and trees after the sealing refer to? These things will be hurt during the 7 last plagues (Rev 16:2, 3, 8. The 7 Trumpets which affected the Roman Empire are types of the end-time global plagues.
Is there evidence that Rev 8:1 is not directly related to Rev 8:2 and on? The order of things mentioned in Rev 8:2-6 forms a pattern called a chiasm.
A Seven angels with seven trumpets (2) B Angel, altar, censer (3a)
C Incense, prayers of the saints (3b) D Altar before the throne (3c)
Cʼ Incense, prayers of the saints (4) Bʼ Angel, censer, altar (5)
Aʼ Seven angels with seven trumpets (6)
Revelation 8:1 has no part in this chiastic structure indicating that it is the end of a former subject.
Can the trumpets understood literally or are they symbolic? The events described during the trumpets are NOT consistent with literal natural events. The Trumpets are clearly symbolic:
1. Why would the first trumpet burn up “ALL” the “GREEN” grass? If literal wouldnʼt all grass, not just green grass, burn up? The specification of “green” grass surely indicates something symbolic.
2. The hail of the first trumpet is NOT a literal meteorite shower burning up 1/3 of all trees on earth and all green grass worldwide. Such a conflagratrion if literal would incinerate dwellings, huts, wooden structures, clothing etc. Such an event along with all green grass (corn, wheat, rice etc.) being burnt up would mean that any survivors, men and beasts, would perish within a month or two when food reserves ran out. There would be nothing left for any of the other trumpets to affect! let alone continue for 5 months or more.
3. Surely the “blood” (Gr. haima translated blood 99/99 times) raining down in the first trumpet is symbolic. 4. The effects of the second Trumpet are not consistent with a literal asteroid hitting the sea as literal asteroids do not turn 1/3 of the sea into “literal” blood. This is clearly symbolic.
5. Scientists say that a literal mountain sized asteroid (~1km in diameter) impacting the sea would cause the end of civiliza- tion. The ocean is the very worst place a large asteroid could hit as the sea is deadly efficient at carrying the destructive energy around the world. Most major cities are coastal and the resulting tsunamis from a mountain-sized asteroid would rise to a terrifying heights and travel many kilometers inland. Such an impactor is called a global killler. There would be no civilization left after such an event to need bother with any other trumpets! If the mountain were an asteroid hitting the sea why would the Bible focus on the loss of 1/3 of ships? Surely the destuction of all the great coastal cities would be far more significant than the loss of 1/3 of the ships!
6. The falling star of the third Trumpet is clearly symbolic. Comets do fall but A SINGLE meteorite or comet cannot fall on 1/3 of ALL the worldʼs rivers and fountains. Surely this is symbolic.
7. Furthermore literal falling stars do not turn water into literal “wormwood,” poison- ous herbal juice. This is clearly symbolic. Wormwood is apsinthos in Greek and laʼanah in Hebrew which is translated hem- lock in Amos 6:12 KJV, Deut 29:18 RSV.
8. How could 1/3 of the literal Sun, moon and stars be smitten so that the day is dark for just 4hrs and the night is dark for 4hrs. Note the sun moon and stars are smitten, NOT the air. Furthermore computer models show that literal darkness caused by the dust from a literal mountain sized asteroid impact would take months or years to clear, certainly not just 1/3 of a literal day and 1/3 of a literal night.
9. The man-faced, locust-horses of the 5th and 6th trumpets are clearly symbolic. Many, even of those who try to keep things literal, claim that these locusts SYMBOL- IZE demons becoming visible. However the Bible does not say that locusts represent “demons” neither does it say that rising from the bottomless pit refers to them be- coming visible. Such private interpretation are condemned by Scripture (2Pet 1:20).
Seven trumpets before the Ark
When David brought the ark back from the Philistines seven trumpets went before it. (See 1Chron 15:24). This may typify Rev- elationʼs trumpets going forth before Christ comes to gather His people who bear His law of love in their hearts and minds.
Does the following show that the historical application of the seven Trumpets is wrong? “The battle of Armageddon will be fought, and that day must find none of us sleeping. Wide-awake we must be, as wise virgins having oil in our vessels with our lamps. What is this? Grace, Grace. The power of the Holy Ghost must be upon us, and the Captain of the Lordʼs host will stand at the head of the angels of heaven to direct the battle. Solemn events before us are yet to transpire. TRUMPET AFTER TRUMPET IS TO BE SOUNDED, vial after vial poured out one after another upon the inhabitants of the earth...Wake up the mighty men. Let the MESSAGES of the past 50 years that HAVE BEEN SOUNDING now be seen in their true force and bearing by REPETITION.” E.G. White, Manuscript Release, Vol. 14, p288 (Letter 112, 1890).
This passage is not in conflict with an historical application of the seven Trumpets because:
1. In 1888 the same author wrote: “[Rev 11:19 quoted, which is part of the 7th trumpet] the announcement that the temple of God was opened in Heaven, and the ark of his testament was seen, points to the opening of the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, in 1844, as Christ entered there to perform the closing work of the atonement.” The writer is not contradicting her previous statement which she reafirmed 21 years after the letter.
2. This passage makes no direct reference to language of the seven trumpets neither does it quote any verse. Trumpets often refer to messages.
3. The context speaks of trumpets TO BE SOUNDED and then refers to warning MESSAGES that have been SOUNDED and are TO BE SOUNDED again. “Trumpet after trumpet is to be SOUNDED...Let the MESSAGES of the past 50 years that HAVE BEEN SOUNDING now be seen in their true force and bearing by REPETITION.” E.G. White, Manuscript Release, Vol. 14, p288 (Letter 112, 1890).
Trumpets can refer to warning messages: given by Godʼs people [Isa 58:1.” E.G. White,
3. This letter was written to her children in 1890. It is too much to believe that she was was correcting what she had written in the 1888 Great Controversy, correcting all the pioneers, correcting the entire Adventist Church worldwide, in a letter written to her children.
3. If she had been correcting herself and everyone else by writing this letter to her children, they didnʼt get it. Our evangelists and writers continued to teach the historical fulfillment of the trumpets. Even her own husband continued to teach that the trumpets were in the past. She made no correction. They perceived no correction. There was no correction.
4. 21 years AFTER this letter was written the 1911 Great Controversy was released. Did Ellen White “correct” this new edition or place the trumpets in the past as she had in the 1888 Great Controversy?
She REAFFIRMED the historical fulfillment of the trumpets:
“[Rev 11:19 quoted, which is part of the 7th trumpet] Therefore the announcement that the temple of God was opened in heaven and the ark of His testament was seen points to the opening of the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary in 1844 as Christ entered there to perform the closing work of the atonement.”
As the 7th Trumpet pointed to 1844 the first 6 trumpets must have sounded BEFORE 1844. The letter of 1890 in no way disproves the historical application of the seven trumpets.