Revelation 8-9 • The Trumpets


[Group Leaders: This is a longer than usual study.]

There are those who attempt to draw a connection between what Scripture calls “the last trumpet” which coincides with the Resurrection and Rapture of the Church, and the final Trumpet judgments in Revelation. However, these are actually two different things, and what is demonstrated in the Trumpet sequence is an escalation from judgment which everyone experienced under the Seals, to the wrath of God on those left behind after the removal of the Church just prior between the 6th and 7th Seals. Once again we will see that the response of a hardened heart is not to soften and return to God, but to stiffen further to become even more stubborn, rebellious and unrepentant.

Read Mt. 24:31, 1 Co. 15:52 & 1 Th. 4:6

Q: Many commentators equate the 7th Trumpet in Revelation 11:11-15 as being the same trumpet in these corresponding verses. Why is that an incorrect interpretation?

A: The trumpet employed in these verses is employed exclusively for believers in the course of their simultaneous Resurrection and Rapture calling them to the Episunagoge—our meeting with Christ. The trumpets employed in Revelation 8-9 are announcing the wrath of God’s judgment upon non-believers still remaining on the earth.

Q: Is there a biblical precedent for this?

A: Yes, in Scripture there are two kinds of trumpets used for different purposes: the silver trumpets (“chatsotsarah”) and the ram’s horn (“shofar”). The silver trumpets are used exclusively by and for God’s people and according to His specifications, the ram’s horn occurs naturally and has been used in history past for and by nearly everyone.

Q: What is the main purpose of the silver trumpets?

A: For calling God’s people together for a meeting or for leading them out together.

The Lord spoke further to Moses, saying, “Make yourself two trumpets of silver, of hammered work you shall make them; and you shall use them for summoning the congregation and for having the camps set out.

— Numbers 10:1-2

Q: How were the sounding of the silver trumpets understood by God’s people?

A: There were distinctive signals which they were to recognize.

“When both are blown, all the congregation shall gather themselves to you at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Yet if only one is blown, then the leaders, the heads of the divisions of Israel, shall assemble before you. But when you blow an alarm, the camps that are pitched on the east side shall set out. When you blow an alarm the second time, the camps that are pitched on the south side shall set out; an alarm is to be blown for them to set out. When convening the assembly, however, you shall blow without sounding an alarm.

— Numbers 10:3-7

Application: It is in keeping with the main character of the Church in the Last Days to recognize the signs of the time, understand that He is near, and to know what to do in their ability alone from the rest of the world to understand and act accordingly to God’s calling.

Q: How was the shofar used?

A: It was commonly used to sound warnings of an approaching enemy and by the military to issue commands on the battlefield. In Scripture it is found at Jericho (Josh. 6:1-20), employed by Gideon (Jg. 7:8, 16-22) and used by David to signal troops. (2 Sam. 2:28; 18:16) It is often not just used for literal warnings, but in many instances for spiritual warnings, very often associated with the prophetic. (Is. 18:3; 27:12-13; Jer. 4:5-6; 6:1; 51:27; Zeph. 1:16; Zech. 9:14)

Point: The use of a trumpet where the calling is exclusively for God’s people parallels the character of the silver trumpets; when employed to make divine announcements, warnings or initiating judgments for everyone, such operate in the character of the shofar, or ram’s horn.

Q: Whereas the signals of the silver trumpets are to be properly understood, is the same required for the ram’s horn?

A: Not specifically, but in general all who heard it knew and dreaded what was coming, knowing something very bad was approaching.

Q: How does this reflect a significant difference between the Seals and the Trumpets?

A: The Seals are judgments experienced by everyone on earth; the Trumpets are an escalation to God’s wrath announced by God to those left behind to experience it. Each Trumpet is a prophetic “pre-announcement” for unbelievers.

Application: The silver trumpets announce the removal and rescue of God’s people and were experienced when Jesus returned for them between the 6th and 7th Seals; these shofars announce the wrath of God to come on the earth dwellers left behind.

Read 8:1-6

Observation: It must be kept in mind that the 7th Seal is actually comprised of all the Trumpets and Bowls.

Q: How does this heavenly scene reflect the overall structure of Revelation?

A: Before and between each major sequence of earthly events there is an interlude first revealing what is taking place in the heavenlies.

Q: How is what is now taking place in heaven a contrast to what just took place in Revelation 7:10-12?

A: Whereas heaven burst into great praise at what took place in the Harpazo of the Church—God’s people brought to heaven, now there is breathless silence as judgment is about to fall upon the earth dwellers left behind.

Q: What is significant about the inclusion of “the prayers of all the saints”?

A: This reveals to us how what is about to come from this point on is directed at the non-believers left behind as such consequences would not be turned around and the saints’ own prayers used against them.

Q: Of what is v.5 a repeated pattern of where Revelation is concerned?

A: Similar events are featured before the Seals (Rev. 4:5), here between the Seals and Trumpets, between the Trumpets and Bowls (Rev. 11:19), and along with the 7th Bowl. (Rev. 16:18) They seem to always give warning that the storm is coming.

Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;

— Revelation 4:5

And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

— Revelation 11:19

And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.

— Revelation 16:18

Application: The stage is set for all that remains for the non-believers left behind to experience the wrath of God’s judgment.

Read 8:7-12

Q: In the 1st Trumpet, what do “the earth”, “the trees” and “the green grass” all have in common?

A: They are a source of food not just for mankind, but for the livestock and animals which mankind also depends on as a food source. What will inevitably follow is devastation to both food supplies. They also have in common a key role in the environment and atmosphere; it is difficult to grasp the scope of all the additional effects in this arena as well.

Q: Although this is most certainly a literal event, how might it be a symbolic warning of something greater?

A: In Scripture, mankind is metaphorically called “grass” (Is. 40:6) and trees. John the Baptist said, “…therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire”. (Mt. 3:10) This may be a warning of what is about to come upon mankind, especially in light of the hail being accompanied by “fire, mixed with blood”.

Q: In the 2nd Trumpet, is this literally “a great mountain”?

A: No, it is “something like” to indicate this is the best description John could provide of this phenomena. Note that it destroys both the sea life in the sea and the ships of commerce which are on the sea.

Q: How does this relate to the 1st Trumpet in its net effect on mankind?

A: This is mankind’s other great food source.

Q: Although a literal event, how might this serve as a parallel symbolic warning as well?

A: The sea is a repeated biblical metaphor of the Gentile nations, and a “destroying mountain” is symbolically used of Babylon in Jeremiah. This may symbolically represent what is about to come upon the world system Revelation refers to as “Babylon the Great”.

“But I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all their evil that they have done in Zion before your eyes,” declares the Lord.

“Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain,

Who destroys the whole earth,” declares the Lord,

“And I will stretch out My hand against you,

And roll you down from the crags,

And I will make you a burnt out mountain.

They will not take from you even a stone for a corner

Nor a stone for foundations,

But you will be desolate forever,” declares the Lord.

— Jeremiah 51:24-26

Q: How does the 3rd Trumpet relate to both the 1st and 2nd Trumpets in its net effect upon mankind?

A: This is not just the final source of mankind’s food supply, but fresh water is critical in and of itself for all life.

Q: What is the dual meaning of “wormwood”?

A: It has multiple meanings in Scripture:

Application: Each of these judgments has something to do with mankind’s food supply, food being the most common biblical metaphor for God’s Word. Having completely rejected God’s Word and ways, the first judgments literally take away what those left behind have spiritually rejected.

Q: So how might this apply to the 3rd Trumpet?

A: It is not describing a spiritual condition where a third of mankind is given over to idolatry and deception and the abandonment of God’s Word, but rather is a literal, physical judgment taking place BECAUSE all of these spiritual conditions are present and normative for all those remaining on the earth. It is an example of “you reap what you sow” for those rejecting God’s Word and substituting something else.

Point: Because those remaining have spiritually dined on wormwood, the judgment is to literally experience wormwood.

Q: How does the 4th Trumpet actually invoke a multiplying effect on the previous three judgments?

A: The sun is critical to the healthy ecosystems of the land, sea and waterways. A reduction in sunlight would incur debilitating effects not just on plants and trees, but the plankton in the ocean as well.

Q: What might this be symbolically addressing?

A: It may reference the spiritual darkness to be encountered by those remaining who have reject Christ the Light. They are given over to literal darkness because they have chosen spiritual darkness.

Q: What is the meaning of “the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way”?

A: It would seem to reference a change in time where instead of 24 hour days, a change in celestial mechanics introduces 16 hour days. This is physically possible by a shift in the earth’s orbit and would be extremely disruptive to all remaining life on earth.

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

— John 3:19-20

Observation: The first four Seals were initiated in heaven out of direct sight and made visible with representatives of earthly agency in the guise of the Four Horsemen; the first four Trumpets came down directly from heaven as something “thrown” (1st & 2nd Trumpets), or which “fell” (3rd Trumpet) or was “struck” (4th Trumpet). These all specify that in each instance the source is the hand of God.

Application: These literal judgments of God’s wrath are taking place because of the spiritual conditions which mankind has chosen to embrace. They are literal expressions of the greater spiritual situation.

Read 8:13

Q: Why might this be a phenomenon which will be literally witnessed by those on earth?

A: The eagle is “flying in midheaven”, which is the highest point in the visible sky. John is not describing this as taking place in heaven, but in the earthly realm.

Q: Within this brief message, what may further indicate that at this point the Church has been removed?

A: The three woes are specifically directed at “those who dwell on the earth”. Revelation identifies those left behind and rejecting Christ as earth dwellers in various forms.

Point: “Apokalupsis”—or “revelation”, is an unveiling where the veil is lifted to reveal more and more clearly what is behind it. It would appear that more and more is being revealed, even to those left behind.

Q: What exactly is a “woe”?

Point: These three “woes” in the midst of the Trumpets sequence are strong textual evidence that what is taking place is God’s wrath and why there is never any repentance on the part of the “earth dwellers”.

Application: A “woe” is never employed as a warning to repent or in the course of an offer for reconciliation, but solely to pronounce judgment where all that is left is God’s wrath leading to the eternal destination of hell.

Read verses 9:1-12

Q: Have locusts been used previously in Scripture as a metaphor representing something else?

A: Yes, they are on prominent display in Joel where four types of locust represent the successive invasions of ancient Israel and Judah by the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires.

What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten;

And what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten;

And what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.

— Joel 1:4

Q: How do we know for sure that Joel’s locusts represent a nation authorized by God to undertake judgment on His behalf?

A: Because Scripture itself provides the meaning.

For a nation has invaded my land,

Mighty and without number;

— Joel 1:6a

The Lord utters His voice before His army;

Surely His camp is very great,

For strong is he who carries out His word.

— Joel 2:11a

Observation: Joel provides further parallels in that many of the descriptions of the locusts in his vision correspond to those of John’s vision.

Its teeth are the teeth of a lion,

And it has the fangs of a lioness.

— Joel 1:6b

Their appearance is like the appearance of horses;

And like war horses, so they run.

With a noise as of chariots They leap on the tops of the mountains,

Like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the stubble,

Like a mighty people arranged for battle.

— Joel 2:4-5

Q: With what End Times phenomenon is Joel’s vision specifically associated?

A: It is associated with “the day of the Lord”. (Joel 1:15; 2:1-2, 11, 30-31; 3:14-15)

Application: The last days of Israel and Judah provide a pattern, a foreshadowing, of what is to take place in the Last Days as an ultimate fulfillment during “the day of the Lord”. An army is unleashed to fulfill God’s judgment. What was first experienced only by Israel and Judah on a small scale is ultimately experienced by everyone on a global scale.

Q: How might this first “woe” fit with the spiritual reason behind each of the first four Trumpets?

A: Each of the first four Trumpets were literal expressions of the spiritual condition of those left behind. Here, likewise, those destined to become permanent residents of hell are tormented by those already residing there.

Q: How is this in keeping with the character of the “woes” which Jesus and Scripture pronounce?

A: This is a judgment from hell experienced by those going to hell. A “woe” is not an inducement to repent, but a pronouncement on those who have decidedly rejected Christ.

Observation: Comparison of Joel & Revelation

Joel Revelation
An earthly army in the character of locusts from an earthly nation is released as a tool of God’s judgment. A demonic army in the character of locusts from “the bottomless pit” is released as a tool of God’s judgment.
The leaders of this tool of God’s judgment from the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires are satanically influenced. Satan’s subordinate, the “fallen star from heaven”, leads this demonic tool of judgment.
The activities are directed only against the geographical lands of Israel and Judah. The physical environment is exempted and all activities exclusively applied to “only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Rev. 9:4) with no geographical limitation.
The four successive invasions resulted in the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities and their total destruction. The goal is neither destruction of the environment nor death, but “to torment for five months” (Rev. 9:5) everyone in the whole earth with the mark; it is a judgment on the living.


Point: These last two points provide a good reason why this army may literally be demonic and not representative of an earthly equivalent because of its selective reach across the globe to only torment those with the mark and exempt those sealed by God.

Q: Why couldn’t these be literal locusts, genetically altered or some such thing?

A: Proverbs 30:27 states, “The locusts have no king; Yet all of them go out in ranks” in referring to literal locusts. This bit of Scripture seems to be included to rule out this possibility so that this either has to be a literal demonic horde or a representative earthly counterpart. They are not literal, leaderless locusts.

Q: With what is “Abaddon” associated with in the Old Testament?

A: In Job 26:6 and Proverbs 15:11 and 27:20 it is found side-by-side with “Sheol” to describe the ultimate worst destination.

Q: is there a parallel between the 5th Seal, the 5th Trumpet and the 5th Bowl?

A: It is hard to ignore that the 5th Seal focuses on martyrdom and persecution of the Church and the 5th Trumpet is a kind of persecution on the unsealed. It is further interesting to note that the 5th Bowl is directed at “the throne of the beast, and his kingdom”. (Rev. 16:10)

Application: The 5th Trumpet and first woe is unprecedented torment and persecution of those who have not simply rejected Christ, but are in active opposition to Him.

Read 9:13-19

Q: What was one of the primary reasons we were able to make a distinction between the locust figures used in Joel and those in the 5th Trumpet?

A: Their place of origin. Knowing that one rose from earthly nations and the other from the bottomless pit greatly aided in clarifying the difference between something describing forces of human agency versus the demonic.

Q: How does this aid us here?

A: Although released by angelic agency, the forces themselves are clearly earthly in nature as indicated by their being “bound at the great river Euphrates”. (v.13) They originate in the earthly realm.

Q: What is the chief difference between the activities of the demonic locust army and this earthly one?

A: The locust army only tormented selectively and exempted the environment while this human wave is not selective at all and kills “a third of mankind” (v.15) with collateral damage to the environment seeming to be inevitable.

Q: What should we make of the fact that these angels “had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year”?

A: While we still cannot use this to set a date, it indicates that God has a plan and that it will be carried out according to His will and timing.

Q: Is John describing this army’s literal appearance?

A: Because he uses the descriptor “are like”, it is far more likely that John as a 1st Century individual is describing the best he can what modern warfare looks like in a future very distant from him.

Q: Considering the wars documented in the Old Testament, especially where Gentile nations are concerned, what may be replaying here in the same character?

A: In the Old Testament, God often threw enemy nations into a profound confusion so that they began attacking and warring against themselves. It would seem that the kingdoms left behind, rather than being united, turn against each other.

Observation: A fourth of mankind was killed in the course of the Seals, which roughly equates to 2 billion as the population presently stands, and this additional one third of those remaining would therefore comprise an additional 2 billion. As noted before, there was only a maximum loss of 80 million or so in all of World War II, providing an idea of the size and scope of what is being described. By today’s population count, at least one half of mankind will have been killed by this point.

Application: The 6th Seal unleashes mankind against each other in the ultimate war to date.

Read 9:20-21

Q: How might this list summarize the two main areas which those left behind refuse to give up?

A: That which they worship in place of Christ and the immoral behavior they pursue in contradiction to His Word. Verse 30 lists the objects of their false worship and verse 31 the highlights of their immorality.

Observation: H. A. Ironside in his “Lectures on the Book of Revelation” states concerning these verses, “If the cross of Christ, with its marvelous exhibition of holy love, will not reconcile men to God, punishment will never avail to win their hearts”.

Application: When the judgments of God fall on those with rebellious hearts, it does not lead to repentance but instead hardens them in their sins even more.

Overall Application

“He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.

— Deuteronomy 8:3

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

— Titus 3:5

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

— Ephesians 5:25-27

Food is a repeated biblical representation of the Word and water our sanctification by the Holy Spirit through the Word. What is presented in the Trumpets’ directed focus against the world’s water and food supplies, while literally taking place, is a symbolic judgment for the rejection of God’s Word. This will be ultimately expressed at the end of Daniel’s 70th Week when the earth dwellers left behind have their final meeting with Christ and they experience the ultimate consequences of His Word:

From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty…And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

— Revelation 19:15, 20-21