Introduction to the Seven Trumpets
Jesus said, it is a narrow road that leads to heaven (see Matt. 7:14). Historically God’s people have repeatedly strayed from the road. Isaiah observed: “We all like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way…” (Isa. 53:6). Like the good shepherd, God will gently reprimand His people, to steer them back to ‘good pasture’ (see Eze. 34:14; Ps. 95:7; 100:3, etc.). However, if the sheep do not listen to the shepherd, the reprimands become more and more severe. The principle that applies, is described as:
When thy (God’s) judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Isa. 26:9.
Out of mercy and compassion, judgment follows judgment, until there is recognition, repentance and revival – or the end of probation and the execution of the final judgment.
The Seven Trumpets are God’s Judgments
The seven trumpets are announcing seven judgments on the ‘professed’ people of God. They are an apostate people, who are having difficulty to ‘hear.’ This is indicated by the fact that the purpose of the trumpets is to provoke the people to repentance (see Rev. 9:20, 21). This is also indicated by the fact that the true people of God are excluded from these judgments:
They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but [to hurt] only the people who do not have the seal (mark of ownership, protection) of God on their foreheads. Rev. 9:4. Amplified Bible.
However, just as in Old Testament times and also when Christ walked the earth, the people are ‘deaf’ and they cannot ‘hear’ – therefore the trumpets get louder and louder [the judgments become more and more severe]. This is indicated by the structure of the trumpets. The trumpets are divided into a first group of four and a latter group of three. The last three are introduced with the words:
And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of the heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound! Rev. 8:13.
The three latter trumpets are described as three woes, indicating an elevated degree of severity. Ellen White agrees that the seven trumpets are God’s judgments:
Terrible are the judgments of God revealed. The seven angels stood before God to receive their commission. To them were given seven trumpets. The Lord was going forth to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth was to disclose her blood and no more cover her slain. 15MR 219.
God Removes His Blessing and Protection
God has always promised to bless His people for their obedience and punish them for His disobedience (see Deut. Chapter 28). God has promised that: “the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” (Ps. 34:7). God is like a wall of protection around His obedient children, keeping out evil forces and blessing the people with health and prosperity. But when God’s laws are broken and His will ignored, the wall of protection is breached and evil is able to prosper and grow.
There are many instances, recorded in Scripture, where it would appear, that God is actively punishing His people by allowing their enemies to triumph over them. However, a more accurate understanding of these events, is one of God withdrawing His protection. The Psalmists understood how God dealt with His people:
I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide that I might fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lusts; and they walked in their own counsels. Ps. 81:10-12. (See also, Prov. 1:31; Rom. 1:24, 26).
The prophets also understood the consequences of disobedience. When the High Priest Jehoiada died, the king of Judah, Joash, lost his bearings and he allowed the people to slip into apostasy [worshipping idols]. The prophet Zechariah was sent with a message, about the withdrawal of God’s blessings and protection – a message which cost Zechariah his life:
And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? Because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you. 2 Chron. 24:20.
The same thing happened to the Northern Kingdom for the same reason. It was pronounced as being beyond help, because of its obsession with idols, the prophet Hosea announced that God had abandoned it to its own fate: “Ephraim [the northern kingdom] is joined to idols: let him alone” (Hos. 4:17).
When God removes His protection, He is simply stepping aside and allowing the natural consequences of people’s choices and actions to take effect. God has given mankind the freedom to choose [free will]. But incorporated in the privilege of free will, is the responsibility to choose correctly. One of the principles that operates in God’s universe, is that “you reap what you sow” (Gal. 6:7). Therefore, attached to the privilege of free will is the responsibility to choose wisely and correctly. There are consequences attached to every choice – consequences of good for correct choices and consequences of evil for wrong choices. When Hosea was denouncing the Northern Kingdom of Israel, for its disobedience and its worship of idols he said: “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (Hos. 8:7). In other words, the inhabitants Israel, were about to reap the consequences of their own choices. It is man’s own choice as to whether he will enjoy the happiness of God’s blessings or the pain of God’s judgments.
The Purpose of the Judgments is to Save
Even though God’s judgments bring death and destruction, the purpose of the judgments is to save. Their purpose is to break up the hard hearts of people who cannot ‘hear’ and to free the people of their ‘stiff-necked’ attitudes. Therefore, unless there is recognition, repentance and revival on the part of the people, God’s judgments will grow progressively more and more severe. This was the experience of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom of Judea, and it was repeated again in the experience of the restored nation of Judea.
For example, God allowed the Babylonians to attack Judea and Jerusalem three times. Once would have been sufficient, if the Jews had heeded the counsel of Jeremiah, when he explained to them, that it was God’s will that they should surrender to the Babylonians and allow Nebuchadnezzar to rule over them. However, they refused to comply with God’s will, and each rebellion resulted in an exponential outpouring of judgments, until the entire city, with its focal center for Judaism, the temple, were destroyed and the majority made captive and exiled to Babylon. Even after this severity however, the purpose of the judgment was to save. After the final destruction, God sent a message, to the people, through Jeremiah:
For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jer. 29:11. Amplified Bible.
The Full Cup Principle and the Close of Probation
The Bible tells the same stories, and presents the same Truths in many different ways. The purpose of the diversity is so that we might understand at least some of the lessons God wants to teach us. Therefore, we can find other ways that God wants us to understand judgments and the purpose of the judgments. One such other way is revealed by the ‘Full Cup Principle.’
If God’s judgments are ignored, and there is no recognition and repentance, then the time must come for the last judgment – when there is no more mercy and the time of probation is over. Probation closes when an individual, city or nation fills up its ‘cup of iniquity’ – when their sins have made them so ‘deaf’ and so ‘stiff-necked’ that there is no more possibility for them to ‘hear’ and ‘turn’ their necks. When it is time for the final judgment, God employs the ‘full cup principle.’ God has a cup of wrath, from which the wicked drink:
But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them. Ps. 75:7, 8.
Punishment and death are “God’s strange act” (Isa. 28:21). It was never part of God’s original plan to perform ‘strange acts.’ When God looked at the finished work of creation, He saw that everything “was very good” (Gen. 1:31). And it was meant to stay that way. However, the record says that God when looked again upon the earth, things had changed:
And God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth… And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… And the Lord said I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth. Gen. 6:5, 7, 12.
This is the first recorded incidence of God’s strange act. Had God not performed His strange act, there would have been none left to save. Only Noah and his family, survived the judgment, that came upon the world at that time. God acted like a surgeon, who removed the cancerous growth, so that the rest of the body might survive. The majority had hardened their hearts to God’s mercy, which lasted for a period of 120 years – after which their probation came to an end. The Flood is the only judgment of God that has affected the whole world, to date. But there are many recorded instances of local or national judgments – there are many biblical examples of judgments upon peoples, cities and nations. These are localized instances where peoples, cities and nations having ‘filled up their cups’ of iniquity, closed their probation and brought judgments upon themselves.
Another example of the full cup principle at work, occurred when the Israelites finally inherited the land of Canaan – this was a time of judgment, upon the inhabitants of that land. God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham. But God also told Abraham, that he could not possess the land immediately. The reason why Abraham could not have the land immediately, was because the local inhabitants had not yet filled up their cup of iniquity:
…in the fourth generation your descendants shall return here [to Canaan, the land of promise], for the wickedness and guilt of the Amorites is not yet complete (finished). Amplified Bible.
The local inhabitants, could not be dispossessed, because their cup was not yet full. In fact, they remained in possession of the land for another 400 years. Such is the length and breadth of God’s mercy. However, God’s mercy does have its limits and eventually, people must “reap what they sow” and suffer the consequence of their actions. As the Israelites stood on the banks of the river Jordan and contemplated the task of conquering Canaan, before them, the Lord counseled them:
Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out before you, and to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Deut. 9:4, 5.
God had said to Abraham that the wickedness of the people of Canaan had not reached its limit. But after the passage of 400 years – the people of Canaan had reached a level of wickedness, that God could no longer tolerate. Like Pharaoh in Egypt, they had rejected the influence of the Holy Spirit. Each rejection makes the heart, that much harder, and increasingly more difficult to reach and soften. When people’s hearts are hardened to the point where there is no possibility to ‘hear’ anymore, they are classified as being ‘beyond help’ [or having sinned against the Holy Spirit, see Matt. 12:31,32], and judgments come. Such was the situation at the time of the Exodus. It was not just a time of freedom for God’s people, it was also a time of judgment [sometimes called a ‘time of visitation’ see Isa. 10:3; Jer. 10:15; Hos. 9:7; Lu. 19:14; etc.], on the people of Canaan.
Long before the 400 years were over, the record says that others also had their ‘time of visitation.’ Scripture says, that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was “very grievous” Gen. 18:20. Therefore, Christ with two angels assisting Him came down from heaven to conduct an ‘investigation:’
And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. Gen. 18:20, 21.
The result of the ‘investigation’ required that the Lord, once more, had to act like the lifesaving surgeon. In order to save others, He had to destroy the cities – another cancerous growth had to be exorcised. But not all perished in the ‘visitation’ – Lot and His daughters were preserved – those who could be saved, were saved.
Noah and his family escaped the flood. Rahab and her family were saved in the destruction of Jericho. And the whole city of Nineveh repented and was saved from destruction at their ‘time of visitation’ when the reluctant prophet Jonah, preached that their cup was nearly full. Thus, God’s mercy, even in these ‘times of visitation’ will still reach out to save. In fact, the whole purpose of God’s judgments are to save. God’s judgments are like loud trumpets, blasting out a warning message to a deaf world. The purpose is to rouse the lukewarm, to shake the impenitent, and open the eyes of the deceived. “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isa. 26:9).
Are God’s Methods Fair and Reasonable?
Some find it difficult to accept, that God works in this manner. It seems to be contrary to the God of love and the example of Jesus. However, God’s love works on the principle of free choice. People are free to accept or reject His love. The attitude of most people is simply to ignore God. God knows that this can never lead to the happiness, that most people desire. It is the equivalent of somebody being in possession of a complex piece of technology, and trying to operate it, without referring to the manual that is freely given with it. Therefore, God is reduced to drastic means, to get people’s attention. When God destroyed Jerusalem and sent His own people into captivity, He said to His people I am doing this to, “give you a hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). Amplified Bible. The people, most likely, found these words a little hard to understand [most of us do when calamity strikes]. Nevertheless, the purpose behind the trumpets is the same – to give the people “a hope and a future.”
We all know, through personal experience, that when calamity strikes, human beings almost always, react with one of two responses. We either blame God [why me God?], or we turn to God and ask for his help. Soldiers know, that there are no atheists in foxholes. Calamity, deadly danger and destruction tend to force us towards God and repentance. God uses judgments to convert and bless mankind, because mankind is generally too stubborn, to respond in any other way.
Being the fair and reasonable God that He is – God has always warned mankind, well in advance, what His intentions are. The principle is: “The Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). After indicating His intentions, God then sends a series of lesser judgments, in the hope that people will heed them and “learn righteousness.” If the lessons are not learned the judgments become more and more severe. This was the experience of Egypt. The Egyptian plagues grew exponentially in severity, culminating in the death of the first born, throughout the whole nation.
Jerusalem was forcibly taken by the Babylonians twice. But the people would not listen to Jeremiah, as he explained to them that this was God’s punishment for their sins. Therefore, the Babylonians came a third time and utterly destroyed the city and the temple. This pattern has been repeated throughout history, and will be continued, with lesser judgments becoming more and more severe, until the great Day of Judgment when the whole world will be destroyed. A remnant of the whole world will be saved, just as we see remnants being saved from the previous judgments. The seven trumpets in Revelation are a part of this pattern. They are a series of lesser judgments, severe enough, to give people pause, and to consider their personal position with the Lord, before the last trumpet is blown – which introduces the calamities at the end of the world.
Judgment Begins at the House of God
It is not just the wicked that God treats in this manner. God is even more particular about the behavior and reputation of His own people, than He is about the rest of the world. It is a great privilege to be reckoned as belonging to God’s people, but it is also a great responsibility. This is because God’s people are meant to be an example and a lesson book to the people of the world. Jesus said “ye are the salt of the earth” and “ye are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13, 14) etc. Jesus also added that a light is no good if you hide it, and salt is equally of no value if it loses its flavor – and if it does lose its flavor, it is “good for nothing” and should “be cast out” (Matt. 5:13-16).
Therefore, God holds His own people to a stricter account, than others. This is because they know God’s will [or they have the opportunity to do so]. And if they know God’s will – they will also know their duty. By contrast the rest of the world does not know these things, or their knowledge is only partial. Therefore, there is a principle that prevails in the area of responsibility and it is: “…judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Pet. 4:17).
The events recorded in Ezekiel chapters 8, 9, & 10, provide a good example, of God’s judgments upon His own people. It also provides a good example of a local close of probation, which is a type for the larger worldwide antitype and final close of probation at the end of time.
Ezekiel was shown a vision of, the abominations that were done in the land, by God’s own people in Jerusalem, and even in the temple. The sins of the people, especially the sins of the leaders of the people, provoked the Lord to anger. In His mercy the Lord had already sent judgments to encourage the people to repentance, but they had refused – now it was time for mercy to stand aside, and allow the ‘rod of iron’ to reign. It was time to send the Babylonians again for the third and final time. God said to Ezekiel:
Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them. Jer. 8:17, 18.
Twice I have gently disciplined them by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, but this time I will not spare them nor will I pity anyone. Even if they shout their prayers to me, I will not listen. Eze. 8:18. The Clear Word, paraphrase.
The destroying angels are then summoned. But before they are allowed to do their work, another angel dressed in linen, and with a writer’s inkhorn by his side, is called to go through the city of Jerusalem and “set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (Eze. 9:4). The destroying angels are then instructed to slay without pity, all those who do not have the mark – beginning at the temple – the place where ultimate responsibility for doing God’s will on earth, resided. This same angel is then instructed to, “Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims and scatter them over the city” (Eze. 10:2, 7).
God has always promised to bless His people for obedience. But He has also reserved the right, to withdraw all blessings and punish His people for disobedience. And He has consistently used judgments to bring His people ‘back to the straight and narrow’ throughout history. God used natural disasters, such as drought, in the time of Ahab and Elijah. But more often than not, He allowed His people to be attacked, defeated and oppressed by heathen armies and nations. Saul was an arrogant and disobedient king. During his reign the Philistines were able to oppress the Israelites. The situation did not change until David and Solomon reigned in glory. However, even David’s and Solomon’s sins did not go unpunished, and when Solomon’s reign came to an end the nation was divided into two.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel was oppressed and destroyed by the Assyrians. The same fate awaited the southern kingdom of Judea – Babylon destroyed it. Why did God allow foreign powers to conquer His own people? The reason is because they were useless to Him, in their apostate condition. When salt loses its flavor, “it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt. 5:13). God’s own people were a blemish and a stain on the very character of God Himself. Therefore, they had to be corrected, and the only way to correct them was to ‘visit’ upon them judgments.
The seven trumpets are a continuation of the very same policy, which God has consistently used, to discipline His people throughout history. The trumpets are a prophetic record of the disasters that come upon an apostate people. In keeping with the historical types, these disasters are most often foreign powers and nations that are allowed to attack and oppress God’s disobedient people. God is trying to achieve the same results, that He has always been trying to achieve, that “the people might learn righteousness when the judgments of God are in the land” (Isa. 26:9).
Therefore, the consistent call of Christ, in His messages to the seven churches, was the call to OVERCOME. The reason for this appeal is obvious – judgments are coming – culminating in the final judgment. The call to overcome is a call to prepare for these judgments. In the seven seals, we saw those who had heeded the call to overcome – the 144,000. The trumpets cover the same ground, but in accordance with the pattern, they take us still further into the future and they repeat and enlarge on what has already been covered.
Type and Anti-type
All major the major narratives that appear in the Book of Revelation, have corresponding counterparts in the Old Testament. The Old Testament narratives are the types and the Revelation narratives are the anti-types. Therefore, true to the biblical principle of type and anti-type, the seven trumpets have a type to be found in the Old Testament.
The Old Testament type, for the seven trumpets, is found in the blowing of trumpets in association with the Jewish festivals. At the beginning of each new month (heralded by each new moon), the Israelites were instructed to blow trumpets (see Num. 10:10; Ps. 81:3-5). The Israelites were also given a comprehensive system of festivals, which were a theatrical form of expressing the gospel, for a nation of people who could not read. The religious year began in the month of Abib (also called Nisan) and finished seven months later in the month of Tishri. There were four festivals in the spring, beginning with Passover and three festivals in the autumn, ending with Tabernacles. The purpose of the festivals was to illustrate the Gospel, beginning with the cross of Christ and ending with judgment and the Second Coming of Christ.
Incorporated into the festivals, was the blowing of trumpets to mark the beginning of each new month. This means that seven trumpets, were blown within the parameters of the Jewish religious year. The reason seven trumpets were blown within the religious year, was because the blowing of trumpets was also used as an ancient communication method, especially as a warning for approaching danger, or a crucial event. The crucial event, for the Jews, in the religious year was the Day of Atonement (the day of judgment). The Day of Atonement was the most solemn day of all the festival days, for the Jews. This was the day when it was determined who was worthy to continue as a member of the Kingdom of God. Who was worthy to celebrate the next festival of Tabernacles (entry into heaven). Therefore, the blowing of trumpets throughout the religious year, was to warn the people, to get ready for the Day of Atonement. This blowing of the trumpets culminated on the first day of the last month, with a massive blowing of trumpets throughout the land, called the festival of trumpets. The purpose of this massive accumulation of trumpets, was to provide a last warning. The purpose was to make as much ‘noise’ as possible to alert the people that the Day of Atonement was only ten days away. The purpose was to alert the people, of the fact, that they ought to prepare themselves for judgment. In other words, the purpose was to encourage spiritual revival, so that the people were prepared to meet the Lord.
Just as the purpose of the seven trumpets blowing throughout the religious year, was to warn the people about the approaching Day of Atonement, so too, the anti-typical seven trumpets, as depicted in the Revelation, were to warn the people about the approaching anti-typical Day of Atonement. Just as the purpose of the seven trumpets blowing throughout the religious year, was to prepare the people to meet the Lord, so too, the anti-typical trumpets, were to blow seven times, to prepare the people to meet the Lord. The purpose of the seven trumpets in the type, is the same purpose in the anti-type. The purpose is to warn the people that the great Day of Atonement is coming. Therefore, the anti-typical trumpets were blown throughout the history of the church and the world, to warn the people that judgment would begin on the anti-typical Day of Atonement. Therefore, we should expect to find the anti-typical Day of Atonement somewhere in the seven trumpets.
The Trumpets and the Roman Empire
We have already noted that the Roman Empire and its successors occupy a central position, in the prophetic picture. The trumpets can only be understood, when we recognize, that it is within the orbit of the Roman Empire, from the time of Christ until the end of time, that the ‘great controversy’ between Christ and Satan is to be fought. Thus, as the Roman Empire becomes nominally Christian, with the ‘conversion’ of the emperor Constantine, and as the church unites with the state, the judgments begin to fall. The trumpets are an historical account of the wars and political upheavals that strike the Roman power, but they strike the empire because of the apostate condition of its church.
With the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine, two significant things happened. The Roman Empire became nominally Christian and it eventually divided into two halves – a Western Empire and an Eastern Empire. Rome remained the capital of the western half, but the imperial throne took up residence in the east at Byzantium, where a new imperial capital called Constantinople was built. Initially the empire was to be ruled by co-emperors, one in the west and one in the east.
The first four trumpets, cover the downfall of the empire in the west, up to the end of the last western emperor. It was with the removal of the last western emperor, and the subsequent political vacuum that was created, that the new form of Roman power – the Roman papacy was able to develop. Therefore, the first four trumpets correspond to the historical church period of Pergamos. It was at this time that the Roman power began to strengthen itself by uniting church and state. It was at this time, that pagan practices began to infiltrate the church and the true gospel began to be obscured and corrupted. God sent four loud trumpet blasts, to call the church to repentance.
The first four trumpets fall on the western half of the Roman Empire. They follow one another in quick succession until the Western Empire is destroyed. The next two trumpets fall on the Eastern Empire [later to be called the Byzantine Empire], until it too is destroyed.
The sixth trumpet includes a parenthetical portion that introduces the Advent Movement and the French Revolution. The French Revolution is included at this time because it too strikes the Roman power, and gives it it’s “deadly wound” (Rev. 13:3). The seventh and last trumpet falls on the resurrected Roman Empire as described in the latter half of Revelation, especially chapters 13, 17 and 18.
The prophetic picture, dwells at length, on the final destruction of this persecuting power. This assertion is supported by the fact that, the first six trumpets fall on a third of the trees, the grass, the sea, etc. This indicates a local application – restricting the main focus to a certain part of the earth – in this case the Western and Eastern Roman Empires. The last trumpet is not restricted in the same manner. The last three trumpets are introduced as “woes” (Rev. 8:13). This indicates increasing exponential severity. But the first two of the three are still localized – the one-third rule still applies. The last “woe” – the seventh trumpet introduces “the end” (see Rev. 10:7), therefore the one-third rule does not apply. The seventh trumpet is universal in its application – it affects all mankind – all over the world [although not simultaneously] – and brings history [as we know it] to an end.
The Introductory Scene
All the series of sevens (churches, seal, trumpets and plagues), have an introductory scene. The purpose of the introductory scene is to set the stage for the events that follow and to introduce the main points or themes, within the series of seven. The introductory scene for the trumpets, begins with these words:
And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. 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. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. Rev. 8:1-4.
These verses tell us, that at the beginning of the trumpets, Jesus is still in the heavenly sanctuary, mediating on behalf of sinners. The ‘angel’ is Jesus. He is mediating between the sinners and the Father, sitting on the throne, symbolized by the incense rising from the Altar of Incense. But then a dramatic change takes place:
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. Rev. 8:2-4.
The casting down of the censor, which contains the mediating incense, indicates that, the ministry of mediation is over – probation has closed – from henceforth there is no more mercy. Therefore, what the introductory scene is telling us is this: the time period of the Trumpets begins when mercy and salvation is still available by the ministry of Jesus in Heaven. However, at some point within the Trumpets period, this ministry ceases and probation closes for the world. And the end quickly follows. The end of the world is included in the introductory scene by the use of the words: “and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake” (Rev. 8:5). The mentioning of ‘voices’ and ‘thunderings’ and ‘lightnings’ and an ‘earthquake’ are all indicating that the end of the world has arrived, with the additional mention of ‘hail’ or ‘great hail’ (see Rev. 11:19; 15:21; 19:1-6).
Trumpets are instruments used to issue signals. For example, the sounding of trumpets was used to signal instructions, on the march from Egypt to the Promised Land (see Num. 10:1-8). Trumpets were also used for religious purposes, signaling celebration, observance etc. (see Lev. 23:24; Num. 10:10; 2 Chron. 29:26, 27; Ezra 3:10). Trumpets were also used for signaling political purposes (see 2 Kings 9:13; 2 Chron. 23:13). Trumpets were also used for military purposes to warn of danger etc. (see Num. 10:9; 31:6; Joshua 6:4-20; Judges 7:8-22). Thus, the fundamental purpose of trumpets was to warn, herald and provide direction in God’s Kingdom.
The same purpose is evident in the seven trumpets of Revelation. Seven trumpets are blown, in order to direct God’s people, to consider their spiritual condition. In His mercy God is warning His people, that He cannot tolerate their apostate condition forever. The trumpets are God’s warnings, that time is running out for humanity – the human race is filling up its cup of iniquity – probation will eventually close – this world will come to an end.
In addition, the emphasis on the close of probation, is reinforced (repeated and enlarged) by the blowing of the seven trumpets, heralding the fulfilment of the great anti-typical Day of Atonement. The Jewish festivals were observed, to celebrate momentous events in the history of the Israelites. However, the festivals are also prophetic. Therefore, God wants the fulfillment of this prophetic part of the festivals to be revealed. Therefore, God sends seven loud trumpet blasts, to warn people that the Day of Atonement and the Second Coming of Christ is at hand. Jesus constantly said, “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.”