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The Seven Trumpets

Matt Densky - 6/16/2024

Scripture: Revelation 8:6-11:19


Jesus gives the apostle John an unfolding vision of God’s escalating judgments toward those who dwell upon the earth and oppose God and His ways. There are seven judgments in total, each being queued by an angel who blows a trumpet. The first four deal with creation unraveling, and the next two are more about death and destruction through demonic forces. The last, amazingly, is about God’s Kingdom and its coming.

All of these trumpets are meant to serve as warnings for those who dwell on the earth and are opposed to God’s ways. They are alarms sounding so that our attention becomes focused on the state of the world and recognize its brokenness…and our own. This is ultimately meant to lead to repentance, but unfortunately, it does not (Rev. 9:20-21).

In between the sixth and seventh trumpets, John has a vision of two witnesses who walk the earth preaching. The number two is most likely not literal here - John’s numbers are always symbols - the witnesses represent the church as a whole, answering the question, “What do those who believe in Jesus do amidst the judgments?” The answer is we repent, we preach, and remain faithful in the midst of persecution.

Eventually others do repent and believe in God. However, it is not just through the warnings alone but through the repentance, faithful witness, and even death of those who follow Jesus.


The seven trumpets are in the middle in a pattern of three sevens. First, the seven seals which were cracked open by the lamb. The seventh seal leads to the procession of the seven trumpets. The seventh trumpet will lead to the seven bowls. These are escalating judgments in the book of Revelation about God’s judgment being poured out on the earth. The vision that Jesus is giving John can be interpreted on multiple time tenses. Is what John is seeing applicable to the past? Yes. Is what he’s seeing happening now? Yes. Is what he’s seeing going to happen in the future? Yes. Every generation has the ability to interpret their present reality through the lens of Revelation because its events are unfolding and will continue to unfold. Not only time but there are multiple perspectives happening at once, especially in the pattern of three sevens in the middle of the book. The seven seals seem to have the perspective of the church and in particular, those who have been slain for their faith in the lamb. The seven trumpets take the perspective of those who dwell on the earth. 

The seven trumpets of God escalating judgments are God’s answer to the prayer of the martyrs in Revelation 6:10. “How long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

The trumpets are as follows:

Trumpet 1 (8:7) - Hail, fire, and blood cast on land. One-third burned

Trumpet 2 (8:8-9) - Burning mountain cast into the sea. One-third bloodied

Trumpet 3 (8:10-11) - Burning stars fall on rivers and springs. One-third embittered

Trumpet 4 (8:12) - Sun, moon, and stars. One-third darkened

Trumpet 5 (9:1-11) - Demons from the Abyss

Trumpet 6 (9:13-21) - Invasion of the calvary. One-third of mankind killed

Trumpet 7 (11:15-19) - Kingdom of the world becomes the Kingdom of God

The first four trumpets happen rapidly and are all about creation itself unraveling due to the brokenness of the world. These are a parallel of the Exodus plagues in Egypt and are meant to turn people towards repentance. But just like Pharaoh, hearts are hardened rather than softened.

The next two trumpets are terrifying in their account. Number five is about demons being released from the bottomless pit and tormenting people. Things will get so bad that people will long for death but not find it (Rev. 9:6). Think about that for a minute. Rather than repent and turn towards God, the hearts of people would crave death. Number six is a massive army of mounted invaders who bring death to many.

God’s desire in the midst of all of this is that people would wake up and recognize the world is falling apart, evil is rampant, and something is not right! Remember, these are not just futuristic events to come, these are things happening even within our own lives. John is using symbolism in many ways to help us grasp these things. Unfortunately, though, even with all of this death, destruction, and evil, people are still unwilling to repent (Rev. 9:20-21).

As I studied this passage, I reached a surprising conclusion. One of the things that I believe God also wants us to see here is his mercy. Now, at first glance, we see judgments and death, destruction and devastation, and even creation itself unraveling. But there’s also something else John writes. Over and over he mentions the fraction one-third. John’s numbers are never about statistics and always about symbols. So what could one-third mean? It means that God is merciful. This difficult passage is about God’s judgment towards evil powers and people who are being used to do evil. God rightfully could have allowed judgment to the fullest extent, but what we see instead are restrained judgments. One-third means two-thirds were unaffected. God is sparing two-thirds of the earth from fire, two-thirds of the waters from being poisoned, two-thirds from being darkened, and two-thirds from death. Again, the numbers are not literal. It is John’s way of capturing the big idea: even in the presence of judgment, God mercifully gives opportunities to repent and come to Him.

In chapter 11, we are introduced to two witnesses dressed in sackcloth prophesying (forth-telling God’s word). This is representative of the church as a whole. Again, numbers are symbols for John. The two witnesses are called lampstands in Rev. 11:4. Jesus refers to the churches at the beginning of the book as lampstands (Rev. 1:20). Out of those seven churches, only two were faithful to Jesus. They are also referred to as olive trees, which could be a reference to the olive oil used to anoint God’s prophets in the Old Testament which was symbolically pointing to being anointed by the Spirit of God. They are also dressed in sackcloth, which is an Old Testament reference to repentance. So we see in this image that the people of God, covered in repentance, burning brightly in the world, being filled with the Spirit of God and shining as lights as they faithfully forth-tell the Word of God, even in the face of pressure and opposition.  

This chapter ends with the witnesses being killed and then resurrected (symbolic for the perseverance of the church). This somehow leads to mass repentance from those who have been opposed to God and his people. Following this is the seventh and last trumpet. Once blown, Heaven itself erupts in praise, declaring that the kingdom of the world has now become the Kingdom of God.

Conclusion and Application: 

What do we do with the judgments?

  1. From the deepest parts of our hearts and most sincere parts of our will we repent of anything that is demanding our attention or allegiance away from Jesus.
  2. We pray for those far from Jesus.
  3. We hold fast to the Lamb and faithfully witness to the hope of the Gospel.

Somehow, it is through the repentance and willingness to lay down our lives for Jesus that many will come to know him. Let the description of the witnesses in Revelation 11 be true of us in the last days.

*We are a church located in Greenville, South Carolina. Our vision is to see God transform us into a community of grace passionately pursuing life and mission with Jesus.