And the Trumpets Shall Sound
Hi. We’re knocking on doors around the area, hoping to secure donations and people to join us in protecting the oceans, rain forests, and all the animals that live in them. We’re worried about the ecosystem and global warming. Can we count on your help?”
The bright-eyed college coed and her male companion looked at me with genuine concern as they stood at my front door. She was holding a clipboard. He held an envelope for contributions, along with flyers for everyone who donated to the cause.
I have seen this scenario many times. I explained that, while I appreciate their desire to save the oceans, trees, and whales, there is looming a series of judgments from the Creator of all these things that will wreak havoc on the entire planet.
The apostle John, in exile on the isle of Patmos, received a vision from the Lord about “things which must take place” (Rev. 4:1). John saw the culmination of human history and the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments that will complete the righteous wrath of Almighty God.
The seventh seal will unleash the catastrophic trumpet plagues on the planet, already distressed and reeling from six seal judgments. Wrote Bible scholar John Walvoord: “The seventh seal…is important because it actually includes all the events from [Rev.] 8:1 through 19:10.”1
The First Trumpet
“The first angel sounded: and hail and fire followed, mingled with blood” (8:7). This trumpet blast is reminiscent of the Lord’s judgment of Egypt, when He “sent thunder and hail, and fire…to the ground” through Moses (Ex. 9:23). The key difference is that the plague on Egypt was localized, afflicting only the Egyptians and their animals and crops. The Revelation destruction affects the entire world.
It also contains blood, or a substance much like blood in appearance, smell, and texture. The resulting destruction will be horrific: “A third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass (Rev. 8:7).
The magnitude of this plague is immense. Trees, grass, and plants “breathe” carbon dioxide and, in turn, produce life-giving oxygen for humans and animals. Consequently, the earth may become extremely hot as the oxygen supply decreases and carbon dioxide increases, severely altering the global ecosystem and making breathing more difficult.
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” (v. 8). The Bible does not explain exactly what is cast into Earth’s seas, but it will have a tremendous impact on the many creatures living there and the maritime industry. It may be an asteroid or meteor.
This trumpet blast will destroy one-third of the salt-water oceans and one-third of all life in them. It will also directly impact commerce and business, as “a third of the ships were destroyed” (v. 9).
Thus God’s first two trumpets alone destroy, on a worldwide scale, a third of all trees, grass, and seas.
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” (v. 10). A great star, or possibly a comet, will fall to earth and ruin one-third of all fresh water, making it bitter. The Bible calls the star Wormwood.
Many believe this judgment will be some type of man-made disaster, like the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in 1986 in Ukraine; others feel it will be the result of nuclear fallout. The Bible is clear that this judgment is from God. The angel sounds a trumpet, and the judgment falls.
As with the previous two, this plague is global in scope, turning to poison a third of the world’s fresh drinking water. “And many men died from the water, because it was made bitter” (v. 11).
The Fourth Trumpet
The fourth trumpet blast will impact the solar system. The sun, moon, and stars will be dimmed by one-third. As people around the globe grapple with massive environmental changes, they suddenly will find themselves in a much darker world: “A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night” (v. 12).
Daytime will be darker and shorter, while night will be darker and longer. Historically, darkness has increased the difficulty of accomplishing anything. During the First Gulf War in 1990, for example, the majority of allied air strikes against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq took place with the morning light. Perhaps this particular judgment will help struggling Tribulation believers as they try to hide from the Antichrist.
After describing this judgment, the apostle John wrote, “I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying…‘Woe, woe, woe to…the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet’” (v. 13).
The Fifth Trumpet
This judgment is different from its predecessors: “A star [falls] from heaven to the earth. To him [the star] was given the key to the bottomless pit” (9:1). It appears this judgment unleashes Satan on the earth. Wrote Walvoord: “This star, probably representing Satan cast out of heaven at the beginning of the Great Tribulation (Rev. 12:9), was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.”2
Once opened, the abyss releases smoke that rises “out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace” (9:2). It brings additional darkness, enshrouding the planet in something akin to smog but far worse and on a far greater scale.
But things get worse still: “Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth” (v. 3). They are unique in appearance:
The shape of the locusts was like horses….On their heads were crowns…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…of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots….They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails (vv. 7–10).
Their king is identified as “Abaddon, but in Greek…Apollyon” (v. 11). Wrote Walvoord: “Though Satan is sometimes portrayed as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), here Satan and his demons are seen for what they really are, destroyers of people.”3 They will torment unregenerate humanity for five months: “Men will seek death and will not find it” (Rev. 9:6).
The Sixth Trumpet
The scene now shifts as the sixth angel’s trumpet unleashes “four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates” (v. 14). These are clearly demons, as holy angels are not bound.4 They will “kill a third of mankind” (v. 15). Nevertheless, people will not “repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood” or “of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (vv. 20–21). The word sorceries originates from the Greek word pharmakeion, meaning “pharmacies” or “drugs.”
The Seventh Trumpet
After an interlude of undetermined length, “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!’” (11:15).
“The seventh trumpet,” said Walvoord, “introduces and includes the seven bowl judgments of the wrath of God revealed in chapter 16.”5 This blast declares the literalness and eternality of Christ’s Kingdom. Jesus will never cease to reign.
While people today valiantly endeavor to save the environment, it will undergo cataclysmic judgment, according to the Bible. But God promises in Isaiah 11 that, in the future Kingdom Age, Earth not only will be habitable but will be restored. Animals, plants, and people will coexist on a Garden-of-Eden-like planet under the reign of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
- John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983), 2:951.
- Ibid., 952.
- Ibid., 953.
- Ibid., 953.
- Ibid., 957.