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The Seven Trumpets Reexamined

“And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and

to them were given seven trumpets.”

-          Revelation 8:2


Please consider four introductory points:


1.   The Seven trumpets of Revelation are seven horrible judgments that will impact Earth during the Great Tribulation. These judgments will devastate the ecosystems of the planet so completely that Earth will not be able to recover. The book of Revelation describes these judgments as “seven trumpets” in the book of Revelation because a trumpet will sound in Heaven’s temple each time a judgment occurs. The first four trumpets will occur in rapid succession. These four judgments will be so catastrophic that they will sever the past from the future. Life for everyone on Earth will dramatically change once these events begin. Thousands of cities will be destroyed by fire and water. Twenty-five percent of the world’s population will die during the first few weeks, and global infrastructures such as communication travel, banking, manufacturing, and shipping will all but disappear. God’s judgments will impose great tribulation on everyone. The first four trumpets will cause the whole world to relate to God in a way that is presently unimaginable.


2.   The “full cup principle” is a prerequisite to the study of the seven trumpets. The “full cup principle” is a policy that God consistently uses to manage groups of people. A group of people can be cities like Sodom and Gomorrah, a nation like Israel, a world empire like Medo-Persia, or even the whole world, as in Noah’s day. This principle is fairly easy to understand. When a majority of a group becomes so degenerate and defiant that extended mercy has no redeeming effect, God reveals His love for the innocent victims of sin and future generations. He responds to the current generation by sending warnings and redemptive judgments, so that if possible, His wayward subjects will change course. If His warnings are ignored and His redemptive judgments do not produce repentance and reformation, God destroys that group by sending totally destructive judgments. This principle explains the appearance and disappearance of civilizations. The full cup principle is found throughout the Bible. For example, God destroyed the world with a flood in Noah’s day, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah in Abraham’s day, God collapsed the walls of Jericho for Joshua, God destroyed two-thirds of Israel and sent the remainder into Babylonian captivity (605-536 B.C.), and finally, God sent the Romans to destroy Jerusalem in A.D. 70. God will soon apply the “full cup principle” again to the world as He did in Noah’s day. The seven trumpets will be redemptive judgments (seven first plagues) and then the seven bowls (seven last plagues) will be totally destructive.


3.   God thoughtfully designed the seven trumpets to accomplish many objectives. One objective is confrontation. God wants to confront the false religions of the world with “gospel truth.”  The first four trumpets will set the stage for this confrontation. When billions of people see the sudden destruction of notably wicked places all over the Earth and the obliteration of twenty-five percent of the world’s population, almost everyone will be found in a state of genuine anguish, fearing the wrath of Almighty God. The first four trumpets will cause unimaginable destruction, and the chaos that will follow will be so great within each nation that each government will question whether it will be able to continue functioning. After the first four trumpets occur, the nations of the Earth will realize that mankind is dealing with one angry God. All of Earth’s political leaders and religious leaders will humbly unite in all out effort to appease God so that His wrath will immediately cease. Driven by fear and humbled by overwhelming destruction, the religious leaders of the world will implement a terribly misguided solution to appease God’s wrath. Unfortunately, their solution will stand in direct opposition to what God actually wants, and the confrontation between man’s solution and God’s plan will begin.


Another objective embedded in the seven trumpets is redemption. The “shock and awe” of the first four trumpets will shatter religious paradigms. All people, despite religious backgrounds, will listen and intelligently consider a gospel that is different from anything they have ever heard. This receptivity to another paradigm will be miraculous given the religious antagonism that has existed for centuries between Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Atheists, Catholics, Protestants, and Pagans. Today, no one religious body can claim that it knows more about Almighty God without being condemned by the other six. God will displace man’s arrogance by uniting mankind through fear. Overwhelming destruction will produce unimaginable suffering and hardship. God will level the playing field through humiliation so people will hear His gospel. This will provide an opening wedge that will cause people to listen to God’s servants, the 144,000. The 144,000 will boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. Thus, every religious and nonreligious nation will hear and thoughtfully consider a gospel that they would have refused to hear at any other time. (Matthew 24:14)  


There are other important objectives in the seven trumpets, but these two examples should demonstrate the point God has thoughtfully planned His forthcoming actions. God is love. He is deliberate and purposeful in all of His actions. It is a shame that God has to implement His full cup principle and destroy a large portion of Earth to get mankind to listen to Him. Yet, the good news is that millions of people from every nation will listen. The Great Tribulation will ultimately produce two distinct groups of people. One group, the sheep, will consist of people with pure hearts who will exalt righteousness and love truth. The other group, the goats, will consist of people who will do anything to save themselves from suffering and death.


Because God is deliberate in everything He does, I call the seven trumpets and seven bowls designer judgments. God’s plan for Earth and its inhabitants predates Creation, and His plan will be consummated soon. The Bible teaches “Intelligent Design.” Jesus created this world in six literal days and rested from His creative works on the seventh day. (Genesis 2:1-3) The Bible also teaches “Intelligent Demise.” Jesus will also destroy this creation over a course of 1,335 days. Nothing can stop Him once He starts the process.


4.   Some people believe the book of Revelation was written in chorological order. Consider these two verses: “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 to them were given seven trumpets.” (Revelation 8:1,2)


Many people think these two verses are in chronological order. This is not the case. If we approach the book of Revelation with the presupposition that its contents were written in chronological order, we will become hopelessly confused. For reasons that were discussed in the chapter titles, “Getting Started with the Book of Revelation,” we know the book of Revelation contains twelve prophecies. There is chronological order in Revelation, but this order is found within each prophecy. Remember, I use four rules as a basis for my understanding of apocalyptic prophecy. Specifically, Rule One of Apocalyptic Prophecy states: “An apocalyptic prophecy has a beginning and ending point in time and the events occur in their stated order.”


If you are not technically inclined, you may wish to skip the following section and return to it after you read the rest of the chapter. I have elected to include this segment early in the story of the seven trumpets because you need to understand that references in more than one apocalyptic prophecy can tie to the same event.


Take a moment to consider Diagram 12.1 Notice that the six seals in Prophecy #1 and the six trumpets in Prophecy #3 are in chronological and numerical order.


Next, look at the three elements within Prophecy #2. The first element is the sealing of the 144,000, and by simple deduction, we know that this sealing occurs before Earth is hurt and the Great Tribulation begins.


The second element in Prophecy #2 is a scene that takes place in Heaven after the Second Coming. An innumerable number of people who went through the Great Tribulation are seen standing around God’s throne. Finally, the third element in Prophecy #2 is a numbered element – it is the seventh seal. Carefully notice that the events within Prophecy #2 are in chronological order even though the seventh seal is the only numerical item in this prophecy.


At first, it might seem that the seventh seal in Prophecy #2 is disconnected from the six seals in Prophecy #1. God deliberately put the seventh seal at the end of Prophecy #2 so that we could accurately determine the timing of the seventh seal!


Notice how this works: Obviously, the seventh seal has to occur after the sixth seal (the sixth seal is the Second Coming). Then, because there is chronological order in Prophecy #2, we know the seventh seal occurs after the numberless multitude are seen standing around God’s throne. This also confirms the seventh seal occurs after the Second Coming. And, according to Revelation 20:12, the Book of Life is opened once – at the end of the 1,000 years. From our study on the seven seals, we know that the Book of Life is the “book” that was sealed with seven seals. Therefore, the breaking of the seventh seal on the Book of Life occurs at the end of the 1,000 years. There is no wiggle room on this conclusion because God put the twelve prophecies together in a very tight matrix. When we use valid rules of interpretation, there is harmony from the sum of all the parts!


The prophecies in both Daniel and Revelation have many elements that occur simultaneously. For example, in Revelation, the breaking of the fourth seal in Prophecy #1 (God’s four judgments – sword, famine, plague, and wild beasts) and the sounding of the first trumpet in Prophecy #3 occur at the same time. In fact, the seven trumpets cause sword, famine, plague, and wild beasts to occur!


The next point is important, but few Bible students understand it. Rule One of apocalyptic prophecy forces a new prophecy to begin whenever chronological order is broken. This concept explains why Revelation 8:2 starts a new prophecy. In other words, the seven trumpets cannot be given to the seven angels after the seventh seal is broken and the 1,000 years have ended, even though both events are contained in the first two verses of Revelation 8. Rule One forces Revelation 8:2 to become the starting point of a new prophecy because Revelation 8:2 does not chronologically follow Revelation 8:1. Whenever chronological order is broken, Rule One forcers us to declare the ending point of the previous prophecy and the starting point of a new prophecy. It is a challenging, time-consuming process to find the twelve prophecies in Revelation, but with God’s help, we can identify the twelve prophecies. Blessed is the one who reads and understands the book of Revelation. (Revelation 1:3) 


The Bottom Line


If a person does not properly understand the timing, nature, and purpose of the seven trumpets, he cannot understand Revelation’s story. Ironically, most Christians do not appreciate the necessity of understanding the seven trumpets for three reasons.

First, millions of Christians have been misled by the doctrine of a pretribulation rapture. Because these Christians believe they will not be on Earth during the seven trumpets, they are not especially concerned about them. Their attitude is, “Yes, the seven trumpets are interesting, but not critically important. As long as we are ready fore the rapture, we have nothing to worry about.” A second group of Christians have also been misled on the seven trumpets. They believe the seven trumpets occurred in the distant past, but interestingly, their attitude is similar to the first group. Their attitude is, “Yes, they are interesting if you are interested in history, but they are not critically important today. As long as we have a good relationship with Jesus, we have nothing to worry about.” The last group of Christians scoffs at the importance of Bible prophecy. Their attitude is, “Bible prophecy is a nose of wax that people can manipulate according to whim and bias. The Bible can be made to say anything. Bible prophecy has no bearing on my salvation. As long as I have a good relationship with Jesus, there is nothing to worry about.”


This indifference reminds me of the ten virgins in Matthew 25. “The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’” (Matthew 25:5,6) Christians have gone to sleep, but the first four trumpets will awaken them and many will suddenly discover that they have been deceived. Many will be angry and bitter toward God and whore fault will it be?   



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