The heavenly worship is stopped so that the trumpets can be heard. These trumpets are both a judgment and a warning. They are judgments in that people are punished and die. They are warnings in that they are partial judgments, one-third of the full judgment. At first, God sent a partial judgment as a warning that the people should repent and turn to Christ.
The First Trumpet
“The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up” (Revelation 8:7).
The first trumpet is a warning to the earth, or land, which is referring to the land of Israel. These are judgments against Jews who had not converted.
The Second Trumpet
“Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed” (Revelation 8:8-9).
The second trumpet is a warning against the sea, which is a symbol of the Gentiles. Rome will face losses in this battle as well. They need to repent and turn to Christ.
The Third Trumpet
“Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter” (Revelation 8:10-11).
The third trumpet is a warning against the rivers and the springs of water, which are symbols of the Temple.
In Revelation, Satan is called by seven different names. The first of these is Wormwood, which is a poisonous plant. Satan had taken over the temple and the priesthood because the Jews had rejected Jesus.
The Fourth Trumpet
“Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night. And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!’” (Revelation 8:12-13).
The fourth trumpet is a warning against the rulers and the inhabitants of Israel. If they do not bow the knee to Jesus, they will be struck down. This is their warning. Judgment will get worse in the next three trumpets, which are the three woes from verse 13.
The Fifth Trumpet
“Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit” (Revelation 9:1-2).
The fifth trumpet unlocks the gates of hell. Demons are released upon Israel.
“Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Revelation 9:3-4).
These demons have the power to torment everyone except believers.
“And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them. The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things” (Revelation 9:5-12).
Five months is how long Rome held Jerusalem under siege. Here we see two more names of Satan: Abaddon and Apollyon. The fifth trumpet is the first of three woes. The sixth and seventh trumpets will be the second and third woes, respectively.
The Sixth Trumpet
Like the sixth seal, the sixth trumpet also contains three visions.
The First Vision of the Sixth Trumpet
“Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind” (Revelation 9:13-15).
The sixth trumpet releases the four arch-angels who were delayed at the sixth seal.
“Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed--by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm. But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:16-21).
Two hundred million angels ride out to battle the enemy.
The Second Vision of the Sixth Trumpet
“I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.’ The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets” (Revelation 10:1-7).
The description of this “other” angel matches that of Jesus Christ. He prepares to read a book, which contains the seven thunders, but this is sealed up for later. There is to be no more delay of vengeance. The vengeance will be poured out after the seventh trumpet sounds.
“Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, ‘Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.’ So I went to the angel and said to him, ‘Give me the little book.’ And he said to me, ‘Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.’ Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings’” (Revelation 10:8-11).
John eats the book and suffers the same reaction as Ezekiel when he did the same thing (Ezekiel 2:8-3:3). The book was a condemnation of Israel. John must continue to record the prophesy of judgment against Jerusalem.
The Third Vision of the Sixth Trumpet
“Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months’” (Revelation 11:1-2).
John measures the temple, which is a sign that it will be destroyed. He is told that Rome will tread Jerusalem for forty-two months, which is 3½ years. This is the length of time that Rome will occupy outer court before destroying the temple.
“And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them” (Revelation 11:3-7).
Israel has 3½ years to repent before their destruction. The law required two witness for capital punishment (Deuteronomy 17:6), so God raises up two witness to testify of Israel’s sin for three years and 5½ months. They are called two olive trees and two lampstands (cf. Zechariah 4). They are like Moses and Elijah in their miraculous powers. After the allotted time, the two witness are martyred.
“And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (Revelation 11:8).
Verse 8 is very important as a clue to the imagery in Revelation. The city where all of this is taking place is “where our Lord was crucified,” which is obviously Jerusalem. Jerusalem is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt because both Sodom and Egypt received warnings of destruction but did not repent. So, Jerusalem will receive warnings of destruction but they will not repent.
“Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 11:9-10).
The martyrdom of these two prophets will be celebrated throughout Jerusalem and even in the land of Israel.
“Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here.’ And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly” (Revelation 11:11-14).
After 3½ days, these two witnesses are resurrected, and they ascend to heaven, being seen by many. A tenth (tithe) of the city falls, and seven thousand are killed. This leads many to repentance.
The second woe is the sixth trumpet. The third woe is the seventh trumpet.
The Seventh Trumpet
“Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’ And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: ‘We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth.’ Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail” (Revelation 11:15-19).
The wrath of God is finally about to be poured out upon Jerusalem. The temple on earth will be destroyed. This is the long-awaited sign that Jesus has ascended as King. The Old Covenant era will officially be over. The New Covenant will have come in its fullness. Heaven rejoices at this.
Summary of Seven Trumpets
1) Judgment against Land (Israel)
2) Judgment against Sea (Gentiles)
3) Judgment against Waters (Temple)
4) Judgment against Heavens (Jewish Rulers)
5) Five months of siege (1st woe)
6) Three visions of sixth trumpet (2nd woe)
6a) Release of four archangels and 200 million angels
6b) The Book
6c) Two witnesses
7) The Kingdom of Christ announced (3rd woe)