The Seven Trumpets – Part 1
(This Chapter is Based on Revelation, Chapter 8)
Before we begin, Welcome to Revelation Speaks Lesson series. I am glad you have chosen to study the book of Revelation with us. If this is the first time you have seen this series, then I invite you to review the other lessons before completing this lesson. With each lesson building on what has been taught in previous lessons it is important to start at the beginning. You can click here and it will take you to the introduction page and previous lessons. At the end of this lesson I have my email listed so you can submit additional questions on this lesson or any previous lesson. Now let us begin!
Locusts streaming from a bottomless pit. An eagle that shouts, horses by the hundreds of million and a burning mountain that plunges boiling and hissing into the sea.
We arrive now at the seven trumpets. But not at the seven trumpets alone – for first of all, as we have come to expect, we’re going to find an introductory scene located in the heavenly sanctuary. Between the sixth and seventh trumpets we’ll also find scenes of end-time assignment and assurances.
We found a similar arrangement of sanctuary scenes and end-time scenes when we studied the seven seals.
The seven trumpets and the seven seals. We can, in fact, make several comparisons between them, in addition to this matter of their sanctuary and end-time scenes. For example, both trumpets and seals are arranged in groups of four and three. The first four seals form a group, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The last three trumpets likewise form a group of three fearful woes. See chapters 8:13 – 9:21; Revelation 11:4-18. Additionally, four angels hold four winds between the sixth and seventh seals; and four angels are seen bound near the River Euphrates under the sixth trumpet. See chapters 7:1-3; 9:14, 15.
There are interesting contrasts too. The four angels who hold the four winds in the seven seals are told to keep on holding them in order to delay judgment; see Revelation 7:3. But four bound angels in the sixth trumpet are released in order to inflict judgment in chapter 9:14, 15.
In chapter 8 verse 1, there is silence in heaven under the seventh seals. Yet, in chapter 11 verse 15 under the seventh trumpet, Christ’s coronation is acclaimed by loud voices.
There are also many interesting comparisons to be made between the seven trumpets and the seven last plagues, so many, in fact, that some readers have suggested that the trumpets are the same as the plagues. The difference between the trumpets and the plagues, however, leads us to call the seven trumpets warning judgments (again, how?). People who learn the lessons that the trumpets are designed to teach won’t have to suffer the catastrophic judgments of the seven last plagues.
However, the seven trumpets are bad enough in their own right. They constitute severe judgment warnings. In many places in the Bible God talks to us quietly, but not here. In the trumpets He fairly shouts at us, “Watch where you’re going! Look out!”
On a very much smaller and far more intimate scale, there are rare occasions in every family where our love for one another leads us to shout out a needed warning. And sometimes love has to punish as well as shout. There is a vast degree of difference between gently paddling the tender bottom of a mischievous three-year-old and issuing a divine decision to leave to the cruelty of its enemies an entire society that for hundreds of years has harassed its neighbors and opposed the truth. Nonetheless, the warning judgments of the seven trumpets may be perceived as an expression of love. Their purpose was to persuade “the rest of mankind” to “repent” – but tragically they “did not repent.” Revelation 9:20
The trumpet judgments are initiated by an act of one of the angels who ministers in the heavenly sanctuary. We would call the heavenly Sanctuary “a friendly place” and it is a loving, friendly place. But we call it “Cosmic Control, because the sanctuary is the place where God on His throne conducts the affairs of the entire universe.
Matthew 10:29, and 30 gives us the assurance that while God is conducting the affairs of the entire universe, God observes each sparrow that falls. He knows the number of hairs on our heads. Hebrews 1:14 shows us that even the angels take a keen personal interest in us, being sent forth to serve God’s children everywhere.
In Daniel 4:13-18 we read about an angel watcher who demanded the humiliation of King Nebuchadnezzar when his pride and ambition made him excessively oppressive to his subjects. God’s rich personal interest in us as our heavenly Father makes Him deeply concerned when we as brothers and sisters in His very large family, don’t treat each other as we should.
There are truly impressive grandeurs about the scope of the seven trumpets. Like the seven letters and the seven seals, the seven trumpets are located in the historic half of the Revelation chiasm. Like those others, the trumpets deal with the sweep of Christian history. But whereas the seven letters deal almost exclusively with the Christian church and the seven seals deal mainly with western Christianized civilization, the seven trumpets are concerned with all three of the great world religions that worship the God of the bible. The trumpets reveal god’s concern for Judaism and Islam, as well as for Christianity; and in dealing with Christianity, they focus in turn, on the great Eastern Orthodox Church as well as on the Western Church. The seventh trumpet involves all mankind and surveying the trumpets is a breathtaking experience.
So let’s begin our study of the seven trumpets which is broken into two chapters.
The warnings of the seven trumpets are so severe and graphic that they seem to jump out of the one who reads Revelation, chapters 8 and 9. God is concerned for the eternal well-being of His children on earth. Judgment is coming! As the warning trumpets blast their alarm, are His children on earth sleeping? Apparently! Are they aware of their danger? Apparently not!
We will discover that six of the seven trumpet warnings are concerned with all three of the great religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church and later on, the Roman church. The seven trumpets involve all mankind and demonstrate how the entire world has moved and is moving toward judgment.
Let’s find out about these seven earth-shaking trumpets.
Read Revelation 8:2-13 – First four of the trumpets
1. How were the trumpets often used in the Bible? Jeremiah 4:5, 6, 19, 20
Answer: Gather people, Alarm for War, Get people’s attention, Alert the city to Danger
NOTE: It may be a little difficult for us to realize the importance of sounding of the trumpets in Bible times. In an age when news reporters tell us of any events of worldwide interest within twenty minutes of its occurrence all around the globe, we may find it difficult to begin to understand the very limited scope of communication during Bible times. Without TV, radio, telephones, newspapers, telegrams, etc., the trumpet’s blast held great significance: the call to arms, the warning of disasters, a call for repentance, and a solemn assembly.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: In both the Old and New Testament, the blowing of the trumpet symbolizes “the intervention of God in history.” In the Old Testament, the life of ancient Israel was closely connected with the blowing of trumpets. Here are some of the ways the trumpets were used:
a. To Gather or Assemble: Exodus 19:13; Numbers 10:2; Matthew 24:3
b. To Announce a Feast Day, Holy Day: Leviticus 25:9; Numbers 10:10; I Thessalonians
c. To Communicate in War Time: Joshua 6:20; II Samuel 18:16, I Corinthians 14:8
d. Worship: I Chronicles 13:8, 15:28; II Chronicles 5:13
e. Judgment: I Thessalonians 4:16
In most cases in the Old Testament, trumpets were used in the context of the temple liturgy and holy wars. Used in religious ritual service, and for a call to prayer and over burnt offerings as a reminder to the people that the Lord is your God.
The concept of “remembering” before God is crucial for an understanding of the theological meaning of the seven trumpets in Revelation chapters 8 and 9. Trumpet blasts in the Old Testament also designated the appearance of God in relation to the most important events in Israel’s history. In the giving of the law at Sinai, the Israelites experienced thunder and lighting, a thick cloud on the mountain and “a very loud trumpet sound” (Exodus 19:16; 20:18). At Jericho (Joshua 6:4-16) the trumpet sound played a part in the destruction of the city. The trumpets blew and the walls fell down. The trumpets were used to call upon God to perform his miraculous act.
Finally, trumpet blowing will announce the approaching Day of the Lord (Christ’s Second Coming) Joel 2:1; Zephaniah 1:16. At that day, “the Lord God will blow the trumpet, and will march in the storm winds of the south” Zechariah 9:14.
Trumpets play in roll in Revelation chapters 8-11 and as we shall see are associated with the end-time appearance and intervention of God. During Christ’s sermon on the Mount of Olives, Jesus spoke of a great trumpet sound when God’s elect are gathered together, (Matthew 24:31). Paul spoke of the day when at the last trumpet sound the corruptible will put on incorruption (I Corinthians 15:51-53). A very loud trumpet blast will accompany the second of Jesus (I Thessalonians 4:16-17). In Revelation we will see that the trumpet sound is a signal of the appearance of God in person of Christ (Revelation 1:10; 4:1)
Under the fifth seal we saw in Revelation 6:10 the saints are heard symbolically crying asking “How long O Lord, holy and true, will you not judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” We will remember that their prayers are not prayers for revenge but a plea for justice and deliverance. Revelation 8:2-5 shows, that the prayers of the saints are heard by God.
As we will see in our next two lessons that the seven trumpets are not natural calamities and disasters. Instead, they are manifestation of the presence and reality of Almighty God in history. The trumpets are God’s response to the injustice and harm being down to His people.
But, we must caution that these are not general plagues that will be poured out upon all people, they are only directed upon people who have resisted the spread of the gospel. They do have a redemptive aspect in that they service as a warning to the wicked as to what is eventually coming. They also serve as a mile stone, or marker as to how close Christ’s coming is happening.
There is still time for the wicked to repent. The question is, will they?
2. How do we know that these trumpets warn of war, devastation, and judgment? List the words in the following verses that deal with bloodshed, death and war:
- Revelation 8:7 Mingled with blood
- Revelation 8:8 Sea became blood
- Revelation 8:11 “Many men died waters.”
- Revelation 9:9 “Many Horses Running to Battle
3. What was given to the seven angels who stood before God? Revelation 8:2
Answered: Seven Trumpets
4. In what part of the heavenly sanctuary does the angel with the golden censer minister? Revelation 8:3
Answered: Holy Place before the Altar of Incense
NOTE: The message of the seven churches came from the candlesticks, or lampstands. The message of the seven seals pictures Christ standing before the throne of God, the message of the seven trumpets pictures an angel offering incense at the golden altar of incense. You will notice that the message of the seven trumpets of warning, like the churches and the seals, starts in the Holy Place of the sanctuary and ends in the Most Holy Place, with the judgment and the coming of Jesus. Just as Jesus started His ministry in the Holy Place in John’s day, so the churches, seals, and trumpets start there. Similarly, just as Jesus finishes His work in the Most Holy Place, so the churches, seals and trumpets finish thee with His coming. The angel with the censer is no doubt the same angel mentioned in Revelation 14:18. Jesus probably was the one who provided the incense.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: The angel was given much incense, which was undoubtedly given to him by Jesus Christ, our High Priest. Priests offered sweet-smelling incense at the little golden altar in the Old Testament Sanctuary. Maybe in heaven Jesus has the angel also offer literal incense. In any case the incense is symbolic of Jesus Himself, representing His sweetness and kindness, and especially His sacrificial death on the cross. It stands for everything that constitutes His goodness-His Merits, to use a theological term that convinces the universe that it’s all right for God to answer our prayers. The incense, whatever it is, is not offered to persuade God to love us! God already loves us! See John 16:27. It is because God loves us that He sent Jesus to live and die for us. See John 3:16 and GC 1:117.
The Bible doesn’t explain everything we’d like to have explained, but it does inform us that heaven is personally interested in our prayers. John saw an angel at heaven’s golden altar offering incense as we pray.
Revelation 10:7 leads us to conclude that the seventh trumpet happens at the time of the second coming of Christ. Revelation 11:15 further confirms this to be when Christ will reign forever and ever. It is important to note that at this point in Revelation Christ is referred to the One “Who is and Who was because you have taken your great power and begun to reign” while earlier in the book he was referred to the “One who is and who was to and who is coming” (Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8). Now in Revelation 11;17 he is no longer the God “who is coming” because he has already come and set up His kingdom. These leads us to conclude that the blowing of the seventh trumpet bring us to the very end of earth’s history just like the seventh seal does.
At the beginning of the Seven trumpets we are shown the Priest, which would be Christ being given much incense. In the ancient sacrificial system this would have been at the time of the evening sacrifice. A reminder that Christ died on the cross as our sacrifice at the time of the evening sacrifice.
As we saw in our study of Revelation 4 and 5, the death of Christ as our substitute for sin was represented by the Altar of Sacrifice in the court yard of the earthly Sanctuary. After his death Christ was placed in a tomb, which is represented by the Lever that stood before the door of the Holy Place. The lever representing Christ burial in the tomb and our symbolic burial of sin at the time of our baptism.
Then on the Day of Pentecost as the Holy Spirit was being poured out upon the disciples, Christ was being crowned as our King in the coronation ceremony which took place in the Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary. Christ was not only received coronation as our king, but also as our high priest. Now standing at the right hand of God with censor of incense Christ stands before the Altar and issues the command for the trumpets to blow, just as it had in the ancient Israelite service at the time of the evening sacrifice.
The seven trumpets begins with Christ in the Holy Place, and while these trumpet blasts are taking place upon earth, Christ moves from the Holy Place to the Most Holy Place to finish his service in the heavenly Sanctuary.
One last note on the trumpet. In ancient Israel the blowing of the seven trumpets signifies that the sacrifice has been made once for all. In the cross there is an offer of both grace and judgment. Grace for those who believe; these are saved and are already saved. But for those who reject and oppose the gospel, judgment has already begun. The trumpets are just another way of bringing this concept to view that runs through the entire book of Revelation.
As we will see, it is reasonable that the seven seals and seven trumpets refer to the same period of history between the cross and the second coming.
5. What happened when the first angel blew the trumpet? Revelation 8:5-7
Answer: Noises Thunder, Lightening, Earth Quake, Hail and Fire Followed with Blood and 1/3 of threes were burned up and all the grass was burned up.
NOTE: Usually “hail, fire, and blood” taken together characterize warfare.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Exodus 9:22-26; and Ezekiel 38:22-23: In these two passages we see that God uses the hail, pestilence and bloodshed along with fire to judge those who have been unfaithful to him. In the case of the Egyptians, they plagues that rain down upon them was to prove to the Egyptians and the Israelites that these foreign gods, gods made of wood, stone, and things of nature have no power to stand up against the God of heaven.
In Ezekiel Gog is representative of Satan and Magog represents the kingdom of Satan. Ezekiel makes it clear that hail stones the weight of about a talent will add to the destruction which is also being caused by fire.
Additional Note: Exodus is talking about the plagues that came upon Egypt. Plagues that were used not against the people, but against the gods of the people and to repair the Egyptians for their mistreatment of God’s people.
So the question remains, who all do the plagues rain down upon? God’s people, the wicked, or can they rain down upon both?
Additional Note: The answer is that the trumpet plagues can also fall upon God’s people. They fall upon God’s people that are not living up to their potential. Apostate Christians.
6. What two things were burned by the hail and fire mingled with blood? Revelation 8:7
Answer: 1/3 of the trees and All of the Grass
NOTE: As we turn the pages of Revelation, we read: “And it was commanded of them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have the seal of God in their foreheads.” (Revelation 9:4). Evidently the grass, green thing, and trees represent people for they were commanded to hurt only “those men which have not the seal of God.”
ADDITIONAL NOTE: This begs the question: does God punish? Has his love we have seen thus far in Revelation been turned to Anger? Does God both love us and hurt us? Does our High Priest, who always lives to make intercession for us, (Hebrews 7:25), sometimes punish us?
Evidently, yes. Sometimes love does have to shout-and punish. When we looked at the letters to the seven churches, we heard Christ tell stubborn sinners in the Pergamum Church that if they wouldn’t repent, He would war against them with the sword of his mouth. Revelation 2:16. We heard Him say to the self-satisfied, lukewarm Laodiceans, Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. Revelation 3:19
The New International Version renders that last verse, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” Today’s English Version has “I rebuke and punish all whom I love. Be in earnest, then, and turn from your sins.” Sometimes love does have to shout-and punish.
So the first trumpet blows out judgment against the Jews. I Peter 4:17 states: For time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and it if begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
We have seen from our study that the seven churches and the seven seals cover the span of Christian history and the first church and the first seal saw fulfillment during the first century – while John, who wrote Revelation, was still alive. So for the fulfillment of the first trumpet we look during the lifetime of the apostle John for an outstanding military disaster affecting people who claimed to believe in God.
Unquestionably, the disaster we are looking for was the great destruction of the Jewish nation and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. There is no need to retell the terrible story of the fall of Jerusalem. Be it suffice to say that during the siege just before and during A.D. 70, the Roman armies starved, crucified, shot with arrows, or hacked to death hundreds of thousands of Jews. Jerusalem disappeared in the words of Josephus, the Jewish historian who was present at the scene, and the Romans left “future visitors to the spot no ground for believing that it (Jerusalem) had ever been inhabited.”
Why? How could this happen? The Jewish nation had persistently rejected God’s prophets, finally they had demanded the death of the Son of God, who had come to save us all. So God reluctantly left them to the result of their own choices. “Your house is left unto you desolate,” Jesus said tearfully in Matthew 23:38. Jerusalem fell to its enemies because it first fell away from God.
Jesus foretold this day in two different Bible passages. Luke 13:6-9 where He pictured Heaven as patiently giving the gif tree yet another chance. Just before His crucifixion, Jesus finished the parable. Passing a fruitless fig tree growing beside the road, He stepped over to it and said. “May no fruit ever come from you again.” The tree at once withered away. The story is in Matthew 21:18, 19.
Listen to these words of Peter in I Peter 4:18 and 19. Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God “commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful creator.
The decision that Jerusalem should be left to its fate fell like fire from heaven, but the fiery destruction was accomplished by the city’s pagan enemies, the Romans.
However, if this was God’s judgment, his intention was to wake people up. Note the following: in the writing of many early Christian leaders, the fall of Jerusalem was cited as evidence that God’s true people needed to be more deeply spiritual than were the Jews who worshiped God but rejected his Son.
Also remember this: to whom much is given, much is expected (see Luke 12:48). The Jews had been given much in regards to the understanding of the scriptures, yet they failed to do so. Thus, they were held responsible for their lack of due-diligence
Compare Ezekiel chapter 9 to I Peter 4:17. Ezekiel chapter 9 makes it clear that hail and fire symbolize divine judgments that would fall on the enemies of Israel. But Ezekiel also talks about sealing those that are faithful to God, so that they will be unharmed by the coming judgement. This is reminiscent of what we will see later in Revelation. But Ezekiel also makes it very clear that even if you are one of God’s people, but have not established a relationship with Christ that allows his character to be reproduced in your life, then you can miss out on this seal of God and suffer the same fate of the wicked.
IMPORTANT NOTE: God’s judgement also begins with the house of God. God’s faithful followers. We will explore this more in the lessons to come.
7. What great empire persecuted the early Christian church? Revelation 1:9
NOTE: “I John, both your brother and companion in tribulation . . . was on the island called Patmos for the Word of God . . . “Patmos was a Roman Empire Prison. John, like many other Christians, was persecuted for the “Word of God.”
Additional Note: Led by Alaric beginning about A.D. 396 the Visigoth overran Thrace, Macedonia and Greece, they crossed over the Alps and pillaged the city of Rome in 410 A.D. They also ravaged much of France and eventually settled in Spain
Finally the unthinkable happened. Alaric, once a Roman officer, led the Germanic peoples in the first successful invasion of the city of Rome. The symbols of ice and fire mingled with blood find meaning in this brutal invasion from the north, breaking the backbone of the Roman Empire. The eastern half of the roman Empire would survive to live another day. The West was domed to die.
These next three trumpets are God’s judgments on pagan Rome. Since the time of John’s death, the tranquility and peace of the Roman Empire began to fall apart.
8. What was thrown into the sea when the second angel blew his trumpet? Revelation 8:8, 9
Answer: Something like a great mountain burning with fire. A 1/3 of the sea became blood and 1/3 of the living creatures in the sea died and 1/3 of the ships were destroyed.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: In Revelation 17:1 and 15 waters symbolize peoples and multitude and nations and tongues. Thus the sea of the second trumpet is a sea of humanity. The living creatures in the sea and their ships are people and their material possessions. The fiery mountain that plunges into the sea, destroying the sea dwellers and their ships, is an invading tribes on the rampage.
Jeremiah 51:25 brings vividly before us the scene of a burning mountain. In this case God is saying that he is against the destroying mountain who destroys all on earth. At the time of the second trumpet, who is the only world power? Daniel saw a vision in Daniel chapter 2 in which there were four world powers. During Christ life time and the time of the early Christian church there is only one world power left for the other three had passed into the pages of history. You are correct, it is Rome. So it would appear that the first trumpet was against God’s people, the Jews, who had rejected the Gospel message and this second trumpet then against Rome who were the instrument used by the Jews to put Christ to death and then later persecuted the Christians. It is hard to imagine two groups that were more opposed to each other than the Jews and the Roman Empire, yet the two united to kill Christ and oppose the spread of Christianity.
For this it appears our first two trumpet blasts or judgements are against these two groups, the Jews and the Roman Empire.
NOTE: The second attack on the Roman Empire was by sea. The amphibious armies of the Vandals, under the leadership of Genseric, left destruction all the way from Gibraltar to the mouth of the Nile. His attacks were almost all from the sea. In one night he destroyed half of the ships belonging to Rome, destroying 1,113 ships and killing more than 100,000 men in the Battle of Carthage! So much havoc and devastation was caused by this man that until this day we refer to malicious damage as vandalism!
Between 378 and 476 the 10 kings of Daniel 7:24 barged through the western border of the Roman Empire. In 378 the Visigoths wiped out an entire Roman army, including the Roman emperor Valens. In 410 they ravaged Rome itself, the first time anyone had done so in 800 years
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Jeremiah 51:25; Behold I am against you, O destroying mountain, Who destroys all the earth, says the LORD. “And I will stretch out My hand against you, Roll you down from the rocks and make you a burnt mountain.”
9. When the third angel sounded, what fell from heaven, burning like a lamp? Revelation 8:10, 11
Answer: A Great Star
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Revelation 1:16, 20; Job 38:7; Revelation 12:4, 7-9: All three of these verse talk about angels. In Revelation chapter 1 it is talking about the seven angels that are messengers to the seven churches. In Job 38:7 angels are referred to as stars. It is also interesting to note that text uses the language, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? It is believed by some Bible scholars that the reference to the Morning Stars singing together is referring to a time when Lucifer and the Pre-Incarnate Christ sang together before the throne of God. In Revelation 12:4 we see this an angel being thrown out of heaven and it drew a third of the angels with it when it fell from heaven.
So angels can represent God’s minister that are sent to the church to proclaim God’s end time messages to the church. But angels also represent both heavenly beings that have remained faithful to God the Father and Jesus and as we see in Revelation, angels can represent Satan and the fallen angels. Isaiah 14:12-15 mentions a star of the morning falling from heaven, which is a reference to Lucifer and his rebellion against God.
10. How did Jesus describe Satan when he was thrown out of heaven? Luke 10:18
Answer: Like lightening from Heaven
11. Who all were thrown out of heaven with Satan? Revelation 12:7-9
Answer: 1/3 of the angels
NOTE: Angels are called “Stars.” Wormwood is a poisonous and bitter plant, a fitting symbol of the fallen angel Lucifer. When Attila the Hun struck Rome, it seemed like the Devil himself had fallen on the empire. None of the invasions were pleasant, but this third one was the ugliest of all. This third and most bitter attack came by way of the rivers where Atilla often made his headquarters. Called “The Scourge of God,” Atilla and his barbarians raped, murdered, and turned into smoldering ruins city after city without mercy or compassion. What Atilla did to Rome, the Devil is in the process of doing to this world.
ADDITONAL NOTE: In Revelation 8:10 and 11 describe 1/3 of the waters becoming bitter. The name of the star is Wormwood and in verse 11 it states that 1/3 of the waters became wormwood and men died from the water because it was made bitter.
Wow, what is happening here? Naturally occurring springs of water have always been precious as s sources of drinking water. Revelation 21:6 offers spiritually thirst people an opportunity to drink of the fountain of the water of life. In Isaiah 12:3, Proverbs 13:14 and John 7:37, salvation, true wisdom, and Christ Himself are likened to springs, wells, and water. In Jeremiah 2:13, God rebukes His people for forsaking Him, the fountain of living waters and hewing out for themselves broken cisterns that cannot hold water. David and Jeremiah both compares a man who has delighted in the Word of God with “a tree firmly planted by streams of water (Psalm 1:3; Jeremiah 17:7-8) In John 7:38-39 Jesus used the symbol of rivers and springs of water as a symbol of the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God which a person receives when the Holy Spirit comes into his or her life.
But the third angel blows his trumpet and 1/3 of the waters becomes bitter and poisonous. When this great star fell from heaven It falls upon fresh waters and poisons 1/3 of the water with the same symptoms as if the people had eaten wormwood. The waters and springs in this instance represent spiritual nourishment which in this instance has become bitter through sin a apostasy. The falling of the star (Satan) and the defiling of the fresh water supplies are symbols of the apostasy and perverted gospel teaching that began to creep its way into the Christian church which resulted in spiritual death. It was after A.D. 321 that paganism and Christianity began to merge and the once pure life transforming power of the gospel became corrupt making Christianity more of a scourge than a blessing to mankind
It would appear to those looking at Christianity from afar that Satan instead of Christ is in control of the church. So it is clear that the period of the third trumpet is the time after the fall of the Roman Empire. All the Apostles warned that this would happen to the church and as we saw in our study of the seven churches we can see the teaching of Balaam and Jezebel creeping into the church.
Strangely enough it was Judaism and the Roman Empire that kept these false teachers in check. But when they fell the restraining effect of these two entities fell with them and the consequence was apostasy and spiritual death of many who drank of the polluted and poisonous water of false doctrine which is portrayed symbolically in the scene of the third trumpet
To quickly review; who fell to earth for exalting himself and telling lies? Satan; and now Satan promulgates his errors through human teachers. Fountains of waters in contrast to heavenly bodies of the next trumpet, are found on earth. We can conclude that the third trumpet foreshadowed a polluting of Christian truth in God’s church on earth taught by so called Christian teachers.
Once again God left his people to the results of their own choices. Hosea 4:17 “Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.” Matthew 23:38 “Your house is left desolate.” The western medieval church succumbed to the seductions of Satan, the fallen Wormwood angel. Step by step conforming to the patterns of secular and pagan culture. God allowed it to do so. In the process, the church lost most of its power to transform people. Instead it often abetted them in their crimes. The sweet sparkling fountain of life became muddied and bitter. It became like wormwood.
12. What happened when the fourth angel blew his trumpet? Revelation 8:12
Answer: 1/3 of the Sun, Moon and Stars were darkened
ADDITIONAL NOTE: John uses the term 1/3 over and over again. Why? It shows judgment is not complete.
NOTE: When Oadacer, one of Attila’s generals and leader of the German Heruli attacked Rome, he removed the emperor and crowned himself as ruler. Before long the famous Roman Senate and the consuls ceased to function. On the ruins of old pagan Rome grew a new religious Rome. Much of Christianity had become like the world, loving money, power, and prestige. With the demise of pagan Rome and the rise of papal Rome, there settled on Europe a time period called the “Dark Ages.”
“God’s law and Christ’s priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary . . ., or continued intercession, were surely obscured by an all-too-earthly system of laws and priests and sacrifices.” God Cares, Vol. 2 p. 242.
It may be well to remember that the real enemy of Rome was Rome herself! It was the immorality and corruption that opened the way for the attack of these barbarian tribes. The medieval church misinterpreted the Scriptures and Christ. Under its administration, the light of heaven was dimmed. The forth trumpet was fulfilled: “I will put out your light.”
Additional Note: The scene described here is reminiscent of the ninth plague of Egypt which was darkness (see Exodus 10:21-23). In his prophecy against Egypt described in terms of the plague of darkness in Exodus (see Ezekiel 32:7-8). Darkening of celestial bodies in the Old Testament prophetic books is consistent symbol of the appearance of God in judgment (see Isaiah 13:10; Ezekiel 32:7-8; Joel 2:10; Joel 3:15).
The forth trumpet like the three that came before it are to be understood as a symbolic representation of God’s judgement against apostate humanity, rather than a literal darkening of the sky. The absence of light is darkness and the absence of spiritual light is spiritual darkness. The Prophet Micah uses this imagery in describing the apostasy of the prophets in Judah: “Therefore it will be a night for you – without vision, and darkness for you – without divination. The sun will go down on the prophets and the day will become dark over them” (Micah 3:6)
Light in the New Testament stand for the Gospel. Jesus himself is the ultimate source of spiritual life. He is the true light that enlightens everyone in the world (John 1:9). Jesus made it very clear that darkness is the consequence of ignoring or denying the gospel. It is in this sense that the symbolism of darkness of the fourth trumpet plague must be understood.
The third trumpet is further developed in the fourth trumpet scene. While the third trumpet scene depicts in symbolic language the consequences of spiritual decline and apostasy of the medieval Christian church, the forth trumpet scene portrays the deepening of the prevailing darkness in the world in the period that followed the Dark Ages. After the first wave of reformers pointed the masses back to the Bible by emphasizing the simplicity and purity of the gospel, a new generation of Christians sprang up. These were so-called Protestants that subscribed Protestant Scholasticism which was characterized by theological polemics and controversies. During this period the Christian life became less about a personal relationship with Christ and more a matter of membership in the official church.
Perhaps another and better way of understanding what is happening under the forth trumpet is the temporal darkening of the spiritual sources of true light, namely, the Bible gospel, under the prevailing influence of secularism. Secularism obliterates the gospel of Christ as the only source of spiritual life. But this is only partial darkness for only 1/3 of the world is in darkness. But the effects of this darkness become more evident as we hear the fifth and sixth trumpet blasts.
Why does John use the term 1/3 when talking about the Sun, moon and stars?
It shows judgement is not complete.
God’s warning trumpets call us to become loving obedient Christians, letting His light shine through our lives to others. We cannot afford to sleep through the trumpets.
□ I choose to follow the truth as it shines from Jesus.
□ I want my life to shine brightly with the unselfish love of Jesus.
□ I don’t want to be asleep during the final trumpet warnings.
Supplemental Reading: God Cares vol. 2 pp, 228-243.