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Bible: What Does Revelation 8-9 Teach Us About the Seventh Seal and the First Six Trumpets?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Seventh Seal

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Biblical Judgments

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Revelation 8-9: The Seventh Seal; The First Through Sixth Trumpets

The Seventh Seal

The opening of the seventh seal brings about utter silence in heaven for “about half an hour” (v. 1).

[Apparently, John still operated on Earth-time as he received this vision.

Taking away the last seal officially initiates the release of the remainder of God's wrath upon the Earth and its inhabitants.]

Seven special angels “who stand before God” each take a trumpet from others in attendance, and another angel, picking up an incense-filled golden censer, somehow combines the incense with “the prayers of all the saints” and offers them “upon the golden altar that stood before the throne” (underscoring mine) [vv. 2-3].

After the incense rising from the censer transfers these prayers up to God, the angel fills the empty censer with coals from the altar and casts it on the Earth, causing tempest-like effects and another earthquake (vv. 4-5).

Meanwhile, the seven angels ready themselves to blow their trumpets (v. 6).

[What purpose did the prayers serve?]

The First Four Trumpet Judgments

The first trumpet signals angels to cast a bloody hailstorm on earth in order to consume one-third of its trees and all green grass (v. 7).

A gigantic, fiery rock (“something like a great mountain burning with fire”)—perhaps a meteor—follows as the second trumpet sounds, causing one-third of the oceans to turn into blood (v. 8).

This catastrophe kills one-third of sea creatures and destroys one-third of the ships (v. 9).

Trumpet #3 sends the “star” Wormwood into one-third of the rivers and fresh springs, turning their waters bitter and poisoning many men to death (vv. 10-11).

A fourth trumpet causes one-third of the sun, moon, and stars to send diminished light upon the earth, depleting daylight hours by one-third (v. 12; cf. Lk. 21:25).

At this point, the apostle hears a threefold “woe to the inhabitants of the earth” coming from an angel flying in midheaven (that is, Earth’s atmosphere).

His announcement serves as a dire warning to those remaining alive that the last three trumpets will bring even greater suffering (v. 13).

"Locust" Invasion

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Revelation 9

The Fifth Trumpet

As the fifth trumpet sounds, an unidentified elect angel gives authority (“the key”) to “a star fallen from heaven to the earth” to open “the bottomless pit” (vv. 1-2a).

[John does not identify this fallen star as Satan; therefore, the angel may merely be the keeper of the prison of the demons.

The concept “bottomless pit” is difficult to comprehend, except in hyperbole.]

The apostle observes smoke arising from this pit (lit., the shaft of the abyss), smoke that obscures the sun’s already diminished light and pollutes the air (v. 2).

Also flying out of this hole come “locusts”; however, they are not ordinary locusts.

Not only does God command them not to touch anything locusts normally destroy (that is, grasses, shrubs, trees), but He also gives these creatures authority to torment (yet not kill) unsealed men for five months by stinging them as scorpions do (vv. 3-5).

Apparently, their sting is sufficient to cause excruciating pain, but not deadly enough to bring about the demise of these men (v. 6).

Now John describes the appearance of these “locusts,” suggesting its unearthly character (vv. 7-10).

The locusts wear gold-like crowns; their faces look like human males, but their hair like human females.

In addition, they have lions’ teeth (vv. 7-8).

Their iron breastplates indicate that they are equipped for battle, and their wings make sounds similar to those of a charging army of horses and chariots (v. 9).

Their tails resemble those of scorpions (v. 10).

Their king—“the angel of the bottomless pit”—presides over them; his name is translated “Destruction” in both Hebrew and Greek (v. 11).

[Again, this angel may, in fact, be Satan, yet he may merely rule the demons in the abyss.]

John announces that one woe is done, and two more remain (v. 12).

Evil Angel

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The Euphrates River

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A Great Multitude


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The Sixth Trumpet: The Release of Four Evil Angels

“A voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God” commands the sixth angel (who had just blown “the second woe”) to release four evil angels.

These demons God had long ago imprisoned at the Euphrates, and had prepared to let them go at a certain exact time (“the hour and day and month and year”) to incite two hundred million horsemen to kill a third of mankind (vv. 13-16).

[“Horns” symbolize strength.

This “voice from the four horns” does not necessarily command the sixth angel; he may just be passing on directions from a Higher Source.

This particular voice does not appear anywhere else in this book.]

As John described the locusts earlier in the chapter (see 9:7-10), so he depicts these beasts and their riders.

Clad in red, blue and yellow breastplates, these warriors rode lion-headed horses whose mouths emitted “fire, smoke, and brimstone,” killing a third of mankind, and whose serpent-like tails also caused devastating harm (vv. 17-18).

[Given the great number of horsemen, it is not possible to understand them as representing modern tanks and/or helicopters unless ground troops accompany these “horses.”]

Despite the deadly ferocity of these demonized creatures, much of mankind remains committed to demon worship, stark idolatry, murder, drug use, sexual perversity, and theft (vv. 20-21).

© 2013 glynch1

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