THE SEVENTH TRUMPET
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. Rev. 11:15.
This event is the cause of great celebration in heaven:
And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, we give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. Rev. 11:16,17.
What is this event that causes so much joy in heaven? And are we able to locate it in time? Ellen White locates it in the future:
The signs of Christ’s coming are fast fulfilling. Satan sees that he has but a short time in which to work, and he has set his agencies to work to stir up the elements of the world, that men may be deceived, deluded, and kept occupied and entranced until the day of probation shall be ended and the door of mercy forever shut.
The kingdoms of this world have not yet become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. Do not deceive yourselves; be wide awake and move rapidly, for the night cometh in which no man can work. CT 414.
“That Christ rose up, and shut the door, and came to the Ancient of days, to receive his kingdom, at the 7th month, 1844, I fully believe. See Luke 13:25; Mat. 25:10; Dan. 7:13,14… His rising up in 1844, was to shut the door, and come to his Father, to receive his kingdom, and power to reign…” James White, A Word to the Little Flock, p.8.
Ellen White clearly places the announcing of Christ’s kingdom as an event to take place in the future. She also clearly equates it to the close of probation. That is why she exhorts her readers to move “rapidly” because the time would soon arrive “in which no man can work.”
This understanding agrees with a special announcement that is made under the sixth trumpet:
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. Rev. 10:7.
This enigmatic statement has been given in response to what was previously stated, namely, “that there should be time no longer” (Rev. 10:6). It is referring to the fact that there would be no more time prophecies after the 2300 year prophecy was fulfilled. And the reason why there would be no more time prophecies is because they are no longer necessary. And they are no longer necessary because very shortly [in heavenly terms], “the mystery of God should be finished.” In other words the end is very close. But why is it called the “mystery of God?”
The Mystery of God
The Bible speaks of two mysteries. There is the “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess. 2:7 cf. Rev. 17:5), and there is “the mystery of God.” The mystery of iniquity is a difficult one to understand. If it was possible to understand the reason and origin of sin, then it would also be possible, to provide a kind of justification for it. The mystery of God is a mystery to many, but for those who “have ears to hear” it is not a mystery. When Jesus finished telling His audience the Parable of the Sower, He concluded by saying, as He often did, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” His disciples then asked Jesus a question:
And the disciples came, and said to him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. Matt. 13:10,11.
Those who have ears to hear become “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). The apostle Paul was such a steward. He was blessed by being personally taught the “mysteries of God” by Christ Himself (see Eph. 3:3-11; Gal. 1:11,12). When Paul was writing to the Colossians he reminded his readers that he was a minister of the gospel and the church, then he continued, and defined what exactly “the mystery of Christ” is:
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col. 1:25-27.
Hid for ages – but now revealed, manifested, brought forth – the mystery of God is proclaimed to be – Christ glorified in His people. The Sanctuary reveals that salvation is made up of three stages: justification [in the courtyard], sanctification [in the Holy Place], and glorification [in the Most Holy Place]. As we have been moving through the Book of Revelation we have been in the courtyard, we have been in the Holy Place, now we are going to go into the Most Holy Place and witness the glorification of the Saints. But since this is the culmination of the history of the world and the hopes of the believers of all ages, this process of glorification will now occupy the second half of the Book of Revelation – in other words the second half of the book is a repeat and enlargement of the seventh trumpet. This is better understood as we examine the events that occur under the seventh trumpet.
The Kingdom of God
The promise given by the sixth angel is that this mystery of the kingdom of God would be completed with the sounding of the seventh trumpet. Therefore, we would expect to find events occurring under the seventh trumpet to be focused on the completion of God’s kingdom, and the events at the end of time.
Indeed, just as expected, the first thing that is announced, at the commencement of the seventh trumpet is: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” The kingdom was originally given to Adam (see Gen. 1:26,28). When Adam disobeyed God, he lost the Kingdom to Satan and Satan became “the prince of this world” (Jn. 12:31). The kingdom is therefore transferred through obedience and/or disobedience. This is proved because Satan offered the Kingdom to Jesus, on the condition that Jesus would bow down and worship him (see Lu. 4:5-7). Jesus wrested the kingdom from Satan, because He lived a sinless life in human flesh. Through His obedience the second Adam won back, what the first Adam lost, through his disobedience. After His death and resurrection Jesus said: “all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18).
But why is it that the inauguration of the kingdom is left until the seventh trumpet? Why did He not receive it when He said that, “all power is given unto me”? Why did He not receive the kingdom immediately at His ascension into heaven? The answer is that from heaven’s perspective, it is pointless to have a kingdom without any “citizens.” In fact, the kingdom [or any kingdom] cannot exist without members. Therefore the next phase of the plan of salvation requires that people are encouraged to apply for membership in the kingdom. That a criteria for membership be published. That an advertising campaign should be organized. And a selection process to “investigate” the candidates be put in place. Only after this work had been done, and citizenship approved, could the kingdom be said to be “finished.”
This is precisely what we find in Revelation. We have been told that when the seventh trumpet sounds the mystery of God would be finished. We know that the mystery of God is the transforming power of Christ in us: “the hope of glory.” This transforming power is evident in the 144,000. It is the maturing of the church in the last days that brings the mystery of God to its conclusion. The work of the Holy Spirit has brought the seeds sown at Pentecost to perfection. There is no more work for Christ to do as High Priest ministering on behalf of His people – they have ceased to sin – there are no more sins to be forgiven:
When the image of Christ is perfectly reproduced in His people then He will return to take them home. COL
It only now remains to harvest the results of His work. Therefore, He removes His high priestly robes, puts on His kingly robes, and returns to earth to deliver His people:
I saw that the anger of the nations, the wrath of God, and the time to judge the dead were separate and distinct, one following the other, also that Michael had not stood up, and that the time of trouble, such as never was, had not yet commenced. The nations are now getting angry, but when our High Priest has finished His work in the sanctuary, He will stand up, put on the garments of vengeance, and then the seven last plagues will be poured out. EW 36.
The Close of Probation
Because the seventh trumpet announces the triumph of Christ’s kingdom, it also announces the end of probation. This is the climax that the trumpets have been warning the world about from their very inception. In the seven churches we hear Jesus gently exhorting His people to overcome, in the trumpets we see Jesus loudly calling upon His “professed people” to repent. In both instances the reason is the same. The close of probation is coming – after which there is no more opportunity for salvation.
Immediately after the announcement about the kingdom, we learn that “the nations were angry” (Rev. 11:18). As Ellen White says above, this is happening already and will culminate in the “time of trouble.” After the investigative judgment is completed and the kingdom is announced, there is no more need for the restraining power of the Holy Spirit, and His influence is now completely withdrawn. [Prior to the close of probation the world goes through what Adventists call “the little time of trouble” – after the close of probation “the time of trouble” also known as “Jacob’s trouble” begins. During the little time of trouble the Holy Spirit is still present on earth, after the close of probation the Holy Spirit’s presence is removed. See EW 85; GC 592, 607-612].
Daniel also saw the time when salvation would cease to be offered. He saw “Michael [Christ] stand up” and what immediately follows is the time of trouble:
Gabriel continued, “At that time, Michael, the Great Prince who watches over God’s people, will stand up to announce the verdict of the heavenly judgment and to bring all things to an end. But before this, a time of trouble will come on the whole world, such as has never happened since there first were nations. That’s when God’s people will be delivered, everyone whose name is written in His book. Dan. 12.1. TCW.
The investigative judgment determines who will be sealed among the living. The four angels hold back the “four winds” so that the earth, the sea or the trees are not hurt (see Rev. 7:1-3). But once the sealing process is finished, there is no longer any need for restraint. The four winds are let loose and because there is no longer any heavenly restraint on earthly events, the anger of the nations increases, and the time of trouble begins. The rest of the seventh trumpet and much of the rest of the Book of Revelation are about this time of trouble and its aftermath.
“Thy wrath is come”
Not only are the nations angry, but so too, is God. For thousands of years God has been tempering His judgments with mercy. But now that probation has closed His judgments fall on the earth without mercy. The seventh trumpet announces that “thy wrath is come” (Rev. 11:18). God’s wrath is defined as “the seven last plagues:”
And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. Rev. 15:1.
Chapter 15 of Revelation is also an account of the close of probation followed by the seven last plagues. It is repeating and enlarging upon what is already introduced under the seventh trumpet.
The Judgment of the Dead
The seventh trumpet continues “and the time of the dead that they should be judged” (Rev. 11:18). John saw the judgment of the dead: “And I saw the dead, small and great stand before God; and the books were opened” (Rev. 20:12). John also tells us when this judgment of the dead takes place.
At the second coming of Christ, John sees that Satan is “ceased” and confined for 1000 years. During that time the saints live and reign with Christ in heaven. The “rest of the dead” are confined to their graves at this time (see Rev. 20:1-5). They remain in their graves until the judgment of the dead is finished. One of the purposes of the 1000 year interregnum in heaven, is to judge the dead. Paul wrote that the Christians would judge the wicked: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the whole world?” (1 Cor. 6:2). When this executive judgment is over the wicked are raised in order to be sentenced. This is confirmed by the statement: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Rev. 20:5). “The time of the dead that they should be judged” is therefore referring to the executive judgment that begins in heaven, after the close of the investigative judgment. Judgment continues, it just changes location and it changes it changes defendants.
Reward the Saints and Destroy the Wicked
The world at this time [the end of probation] is divided into two classes; the saints and the wicked. The seventh trumpet message says that the former will be rewarded and the latter destroyed. When Jesus comes He says:
Behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Rev. 22:12.
The seventh trumpet begins with the announcement of Christ’s kingdom. It was always heaven’s intention that the kingdom would be the saint’s reward. Jesus said to His disciples, “Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom” (Matt. 25:34). After the investigative judgment was completed Daniel saw that the saints inheriting the kingdom:
But the heavenly court will convene and rule against the little horn and take away its power and destroy it. Then God’s people will be given their own kingdom which takes in the whole world, every country under heaven. It will be exclusively for God’s people, and it will last forever. It will be governed by the Most High God, and everyone there will obey Him and serve Him from a loving heart. Dan. 7:26,27. TCW.
The inheritance of the saints is repeated and expanded upon in Revelation chapters 21 & 22. Here we see the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven, the redeemed given access to the Tree of Life and paradise restored.
By contrast the wicked, suffer the consequences of their actions. They reap what they have sown. Apart from being unrepentant sinners, they are also guilty of being unfaithful stewards. God claims ownership over the earth and everything in it. The wicked however have been guilty of destroying the earth (see Rev. 11:18). The earth has been so damaged by sin and mismanagement that the only solution is to destroy it and remake it again. The destruction of those that destroy the earth takes place at the second coming of Christ and after they are resurrected for the sentence after the executive they are destroyed again.
The Most Holy Place
And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thundering, and an earthquake and great hail. Rev. 11:19.
This last verse of chapter eleven does not belong to the seven trumpets. If we include this verse in the message of the seventh trumpet, we will have a problem. This is because Ellen White attributes the opening of the temple and the access to the ark to 1844:
“The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.” Revelation 11:19. The ark of God’s 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. GC 433.
If we insist on making verse 19 part of the seventh trumpet we force Ellen White to contradict herself. This is because she identified the announcing of the kingdom as referring to the close of probation – something that is yet to take place. She then identifies the last verse of chapter 11 as referring to the events of 1844. Clearly there is a contradiction here. Everything that we know about the structure of the cycles of seven tells us that we do not proceed from the future into the past. The only solution to this apparent contradiction is to realize that the seventh trumpet does not include the last verse of chapter 11. And there are valid reasons for taking this position.
- Chapter and verse divisions are not part of inspired Scripture. They were added hundreds of years after the original manuscripts were written.
- Verses fifteen to eighteen form a narrative arranged as a chronological sequence. The chronology begins with the announcing of the kingdom. Then the twenty-four elders begin their praise and worship for this event, and this season of praise continues until the end of verse eighteen – excluding the last verse.
- The King James Bible begins verse nineteen with the word “and” almost all other Bible versions begin verse nineteen with the word “then.” The word “and” implies continuity with what preceded. The word “then” implies a break with the preceding context. Therefore the word “then” is preferred here because verse nineteen contextually belongs to the next scenes that are opened up to John.
- The contents of the seventh trumpet (not including verse nineteen) function like a chronological account that introduces the rest of the Book of Revelation. The rest of the book repeats and enlarges the summary that is presented in the seventh trumpet (see EW 36).
- Placing verse nineteen contextually with the seventh trumpet forces Ellen White to contradict herself. Understanding that verse nineteen is not part of the seventh trumpet, recognizes the unique and inspired insight Ellen White has on Scripture.
The Seven Trumpets and the Festivals
The seven trumpets of Revelation are the antitypical fulfillment of the seven trumpets that were blown in the Jewish festivals. The Jewish festivals were a yearly cycle of events that occurred over a seven-month period. This seven-month cycle was a prophetic picture of the entire plan of salvation. It began on the first day of the first month (the month of Abib see Ex. 12:2; Num. 10:10). On the first day of the month trumpets were blown and eleven animal sacrifices were made. This was repeated on the first day of every subsequent month, until the seventh month. On the first day of the seventh month there was a massive blowing of trumpets throughout the land, and ten additional sacrifices were made, and ten days later the Day of Atonement occurred. The blowing of trumpets, from the first month onwards was to prepare the people for the Day of Atonement and the Day of Atonement was to prepare the people for the festival of tabernacles that took place five days later. All of these festivals are related to each other. Each of them represents major events that had to occur in the plan of salvation.
All the other festivals were essential milestones on the spiritual journey towards the Day of Atonement and tabernacles. Passover was essential because here the believers were participating in the death of the Lamb and they were being taught to “eat my flesh” (trust in Christ for salvation). They ate unleavened bread because they were putting sin out of their lives. They participated in the festival of the wave sheaf because they were trusting in the resurrection of Christ to obtain eternal life. They were then given the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. And the trumpets kept blowing each month to remind them that there would come a day when they would be examined as to whether the spiritual contents represented by these festivals had truly produced the fruit that they were designed to do. A special reminder was given in the last month – ten days remained before the most solemn day in the history of the science of salvation. “Get ready, Get ready, Get ready, the Day of Atonement is near.”
The seven trumpets of Revelation are the antitype of the seven trumpets that were blown each month in the Jewish festivals. And they have been blown throughout history fulfilling the same role and purpose as the original trumpets – to announce the Day of Atonement and the chance for eternal life represented by tabernacles.
The Advent movement has deep roots. We can trace its origins at least as far as Sir Isaac Newton at the end of the seventeenth century. Isaac Newton was one of the world’s greatest scientists – famous for the discovery of gravity. What is not commonly known about him is that he wrote as much about the Bible as he did about science and mathematics. Newton’s theological specialty was prophecy, with emphasis on the Book of Daniel. Newton was “running to and fro” in the book of Daniel and “knowledge was being increased.” Many others followed Newton, and soon a worldwide expectation developed that the second coming of Christ was imminent.
However, the Advent movement received its greatest impetus in the United States of America, with the calling of William Miller. Miller was a farmer who had fought in the 1814 war against Britain, and as a consequence of his wartime experience he gave his life to Christ and devoted himself to the study of the Bible. And because of his study in Daniel he too was convinced that Jesus was coming back, and on the basis of the 2300 year prophecy he even said the second coming would take place in 1843.
Miller became increasingly convicted that he needed to share his findings with the unsuspecting world. However he was a reluctant evangelist. He did not feel he was able to speak publicly about his discoveries. He therefore made an arrangement with the Lord. He suggested to the Lord that if he received an invitation to speak, then he would consider that this was a sign from the Lord that he would have to do so. He considered that he was safe because in all the years that he had been studying no one had showed much interest in his discoveries and no one had ever invited him to speak. Within half an hour his nephew was knocking on his door inviting him to speak at church. The year was 1831 – the Advent movement was launched. The trumpets were about to blow throughout the land.
The trumpets were blown throughout the world, but Christ did not come in 1843. Further study convinced the Adventists that there was a delay (see Hab. 2:3; Matt.25:1-13), and that their expectations would be fulfilled on the Day of Atonement in 1844 – the 22nd of October. Their determination of the date was correct for two reasons:
- Astronomers know that when you calculate dates from before Christ (BC) to after Christ (AD), accuracy requires that the year zero is taken into consideration and an extra year has to be added to any calculation. Historians have tended to ignore this requirement and the addition of an extra year was not recognized when Miller and the other Adventists were calculating the prophetic dates. Therefore, when they finally settled on 1844 as the year when the 2300-year prophecy would be fulfilled they were correct.
- It is sometimes said that the Millerite Adventists got the date right but the event wrong. This is not quite correct. They also got the event right, but they misunderstood the event. Their calculation that the antitypical fulfillment of the Day of Atonement would occur on 22nd October 1844 was correct – but their reasoning that the Day of Atonement signified the return of Christ was wrong.
Every sincere believer wants to see Jesus come back in their lifetime. The Millerite Adventists were blinded from discovering the truth because of their enthusiasm to see their fondest wish come true. The disciples of Christ were in the exact same position, when Jesus was entering Jerusalem for the last time. At that time the disciples were expecting to see their fondest wishes come true. They were expecting to see the kingdom of Israel restored in their lifetime. Both the disciples and the Millerite Adventists were severally disappointed.
God allowed both disappointments to happen for the same reason. On both occasions commissions were to be handed out. People were about to be appointed to do a special work for the advancement of God’s kingdom. In the case of the disciples they were about to receive the “great commission” (see Matt. 28:19). In the case of the Adventists who survived the “great disappointment” they also were given a “great commission” (see Rev. 10:11). In both cases God needed to test His people. God needs “witnesses” (see Isa. 43:10-12). He needs “wise ones” who are “faithful servants” (Dan. 12:3,10; Matt. 24:45). God cannot afford to give such important tasks to people who have not been tested. Both disappointments were necessary and were part of God’s original plan from the beginning of the world.
The churches, the seals, and the trumpets are all covering the history of God’s church, the history of the world and the history of the apostate church, from the establishing of the Christian Church, to the end of time. They do not always correspond to the exact starting and ending dates, and it is not always possible to establish exact starting dates and ending dates for each individual church, seal and trumpet. The most important point of correspondence is the fact that they all share the number seven. This indicates two things:
- The churches, seals and trumpets are all numbered seven, to indicate that they are meant to be understood together. Just as the seventh day Sabbath, the seven-year Sabbath cycle for the land, and the seven times seven cycle of the jubilee are also meant to be understood together. The series of sevens is built on the principle of repeat and enlarge each series of seven building on the previous and adding to the prophetic picture.
- The number seven is symbolic of perfection and completion. Therefore, we understand that the purpose of these churches, seals and trumpets and indeed the whole purpose of the Book of Revelation are to provide us with a perfect and complete understanding of the vital events to take place from the foundation of the church to the end of time. Following on from this is the hope that this understanding will assist and encourage the people of God to complete and perfect, their salvation, through Christ.
Each cycle of seven carries us further and further into the future. Generally the churches and the seals end with the second coming of Christ. The trumpets extend beyond the second coming, beyond the 1000 years in heaven, to the final destruction of the wicked and the restoration of all things. The events that are chronologically presented in the seventh trumpet function like an introduction to the rest of the book – where these events are repeated and expanded upon.
By recognizing and understanding the historical and chronological fulfillment of prophecy as outlined by the seven churches, seals and trumpets. We can be encouraged, and have our faith fortified, knowing that those portions of the prophetic picture that are yet to be fulfilled – will take place, as certainly, as those in the past have been. Scripture says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). The Book of Revelation can give us the knowledge we need. If we have the “ears to hear” this knowledge will result in revival, reformation and redemption. .