Holy Father, we want to know the truth; we want to know the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches on every topic, very much including the end times. We thank you for your glorious plan of salvation. We pray in Jesus mighty, holy name. Amen!
I’ll always quote from the New American Standard Bible unless I mention otherwise. Sometimes I’ll make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ].
In the last article we began to discuss the seven trumpets of the book of Revelation. Today, we’ll start with the sounding of the first trumpet at Rev. 8:7. I’ll read Rev. 8:7. “The first sounded [that is, the first angel sounded his trumpet], and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth, and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.” As many have pointed out, there is some similarity between the events of the first trumpet and the events of the seventh plague in Egypt at the time of the exodus (see Exod. 9:13-25). Under the seventh plague in Egypt, however, there was no mention of blood being thrown down to the earth, and there was no mention of damage being caused by the fire that accompanied the hail. Apparently the fire in Egypt was lightning. Undoubtedly the hail of the first trumpet will cause substantial damage, but this verse only mentions the damage caused by the fire.
I’ll read Exod. 9:18-26. God is speaking to Pharaoh through Moses in the first two verses here, “ ‘Behold, about this time tomorrow, I will send a very heavy hail, such as has not been seen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. (19) Now therefore send, bring your livestock and whatever you have in the field to safety. Every man and beast that is found in the field and is not brought home, when the hail comes down on them, will die.’ (20) The one among the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD [Yahweh] made his servants and his livestock flee into the houses; (21) but he who paid no regard to the word of the LORD [Yahweh] left his servants and livestock in the field. (22) Now the LORD [Yahweh] said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall on all the land of Egypt, on man and on beast and on every plant of the fields, throughout the land of Egypt.’ (23) Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, and the LORD [Yahweh] sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD [Yahweh] rained hail on the land of Egypt. (24) So there was hail, and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very severe, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. (25) The hail struck all that was in the field through all the land of Egypt, both man and beast; the hail also struck every plant of the field and shattered every tree of the field. (26) Only in the land of Goshen, where the sons of Israel were, there was no hail.”
I’ll comment on this last verse, because it is very relevant to the events associated with the sounding of the seven trumpets. As God protected the people of Israel in Egypt during the pouring out of the plagues, He will protect His elect during the sounding of the trumpets. His elect includes the end-time remnant of Israel, who will be sealed for protection (see Revelation chapter 7), and all true Christians. As we have discussed, it is very important that all the members of the elect end-time remnant of Israel be kept alive to receive the Lord Jesus Christ; they will not become Christians until after the rapture. And, as we have discussed, the judgments associated with the trumpets are not coming against God’s people; rather, they are coming (in part) in answer to our prayers for God’s kingdom to come and for His will to be done on the earth.
Under the sounding of the first trumpet “a THIRD of the earth was burned up, and a THIRD of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.” As we read of the first six trumpets, we frequently come across this expression “a THIRD.” Under the second trumpet we read that “a THIRD of the sea became blood, and a THIRD of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a THIRD of the ships were destroyed.” Under the third trumpet we read that a great star “fell on a THIRD of the rivers and on the springs of water…[and that] many men died from the waters because they were made bitter.” Under the fourth trumpet “a THIRD of the sun and a THIRD of the moon and a THIRD of the stars were struck, so that a THIRD of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a THIRD of it, and the night in the same way.” And under the great shaking of the sixth trumpet, we read that “a THIRD of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths.”
A THIRD of mankind being killed in a short period of time, something like a few weeks, is very difficult to comprehend. I’ll repeat a few sentences from what I said in the third article regarding the number of people who will be killed during the super-intense warfare of the sixth trumpet. If this is a third of mankind worldwide, the number of people killed will be more than two billion. The worldwide population now (November 2007) is almost up to 6 billion 800 million. I lean toward the idea that the number of people killed will be far less than two billion: Sometimes the Bible speaks of the earth, or all the earth, or all the inhabited earth, or the world, or the whole world, or similar expressions when it is clear (and it was clear to some extent back when it was written) that only a rather small part of planet earth is involved. (I’ll give several examples as we continue.) Even if the number killed was only a tenth of two billion, that would still be 200 million people, which is a staggering number. In World War II, for example, which lasted more than five years, the total number of deaths was about 50 million.
I cannot be dogmatic on this point, but I suspect that the number of people killed under the sounding of the sixth trumpet will be much closer to 200 million than two billion. Anyway, whether the number of people killed under the sixth trumpet is closer to 200 million, or more than two billion, we won’t have any trouble recognizing the events of the sixth trumpet when they come to pass. So too for the first five trumpets when they come to pass in sequence, in accordance with God’s prophetic word. He will get the attention of mankind worldwide.
Let’s look at several verses that will help demonstrate that the events of the first trumpet need not necessarily be understood to involve all the earth, and that the events of the sixth trumpet need not necessarily involve a third of all the people living on planet earth. And the same thing applies with most of the other trumpets. Let’s look at Dan. 2:37-39. (Daniel chapter 2 is discussed in some detail in my book, “The Mid-Week Rapture.”) In these verses Daniel is speaking to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Babylonian world kingdom, and he is beginning to interpret the important dream that Nebuchadnezzar had been given. “You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; (38) and WHEREVER THE SONS OF MEN DWELL, OR THE BEASTS OF THE FIELD, OR THE BIRDS OF THE SKY, HE HAS GIVEN THEM INTO YOUR HAND AND HAS CAUSED YOU TO RULE OVER THEM ALL. You are the head of gold. (39) After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which WILL RULE OVER ALL THE EARTH.”
The Medo-Persians overthrew the Babylonian world kingdom in 539/538 BC, and they became the next world kingdom the Bible prophesied about. A few hundred years later the Greeks, under Alexander the Great, overthrew the Medo-Persian world kingdom, and they became the next world kingdom the Bible prophesied about. The Greek kingdom was the “kingdom of bronze” just mentioned in Daniel chapter 2. I’ll give a very rough approximation to give you a feel for the size (for the geographical area covered) of those ancient kingdoms. The Greek and Medo-Persian world kingdoms were comparable to the size of the United States, not counting Alaska. The Babylonian world kingdom was smaller than the Greek and Medo-Persian world kingdoms, being something like one-fifth the size of those world kingdoms. The ancient Roman world kingdom, by the way, was also comparable in size with the United States, not including Alaska.
I’ll also read Dan. 4:20-22 to further demonstrate the point that the Bible spoke of the Babylonian kingdom as a world kingdom, whose dominion reached to the ends of the earth, even though it was understood in the days of Daniel, that that kingdom did not cover nearly all of the known earth, or include nearly all the people of the known earth. In these verses Daniel is speaking to Nebuchadnezzar, and he is interpreting a later dream that Nebuchadnezzar had. “The tree that you saw, which became large and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth (21) and whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged - (22) it is you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky AND YOUR DOMINION TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.”
Now let’s consider a few verses from the New Testament. Luke 2:1, for example, speaks of Caesar Augustus issuing a decree that “a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.” It is clear that the decree was limited to the Roman Empire of that day, which (though extensive) didn’t even cover nearly all of the inhabited earth that was known at that time. And in Rom. 1:8 the apostle Paul spoke of the faith of the Roman Christians “being proclaimed throughout the whole world.” Also see Acts 11:28; 17:6; 19:27; 24:5 and Rom. 10:18.
Let’s briefly discuss Antichrist’s world kingdom, as it will exist during the second half of Daniel’s 70th week. The Bible speaks of his kingdom covering the whole earth (see Revelation chapter 13, for example). There is no doubting that Antichrist’s kingdom will be very extensive, but I suspect that even that kingdom will not nearly fully cover planet earth. For one thing, the book of Revelation (and many Old Testament prophecies) shows that God will leave a large remnant of people of the nations to enter His millennial kingdom (see Rev. 15:4; 20:3, for example). But Rev. 14:9-12 show that none of these people will have worshipped Antichrist, or taken his mark. If they had worshiped him or taken his mark, they would be doomed to destruction; and they would not be entering God’s millennial kingdom.
The second trumpet is relevant to this discussion. Under the second trumpet we read of a mountain burning with fire being thrown into the sea. I agree with those commentators who assume that the sea here is the Mediterranean Sea. If the Mediterranean Sea is meant, it rather strongly supports the idea that the scope of the first trumpet and the sixth trumpet (and most of the other trumpets) need not be understood to speak of events happening on a planet-wide scale. Like I said, I’m not being dogmatic on this point - God will take care of the details - but this is an important topic for us to consider. It must be understood, of course, that the ancient Roman world kingdom was located where the Mediterranean Sea is located; the Romans controlled essentially all of the land around the Mediterranean Sea on all sides and the islands in that sea. It seems clear that the revived Roman world kingdom of Bible prophecy will also be centered in that part of the world.
I’ll read Rev. 8:7 again and make a few comments, “The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.” The “blood” that is mixed with the hail and fire will make the events of the first trumpet all the more ominous. God will get the attention of mankind worldwide through the sounding of the trumpets and the ministry of the two prophets of Revelation chapter 11, warning them that the day of judgment is very close at hand.
I assume we are to think of the fire causing damage to cities, buildings, etc. as part of what it means for a third of the earth to be burned up. The grass undoubtedly includes essential grains like wheat, oats, and barley. The fact that rain will not fall during the three and one-half year ministry of the two prophets of Revelation chapter 11 will undoubtedly lead to dry conditions where fire will spread rapidly and cause greater damage. I should point out that Rev. 9:4 speaks of “the grass of the earth,” which seems to show that at least some of the grass that is burned up will grow back. The Bible doesn’t mention that any people will be killed under the sounding of the first trumpet, but I assume that some people will be killed; however (as I mentioned), I assume the numbers will be relatively small. It is quite possible that no true Christians will be killed under the sounding of the first trumpet, and especially if we are looking to God for His protection.
Let’s go on to the second trumpet. I’ll read Rev. 8:8, 9. “The second angel sounded [the second angel sounded his trumpet], and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood, (9) and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed.” It makes a big difference what “the sea” means here. Many popular end-time teachers think that the oceans of the earth are spoken of here. As I mentioned, I favor the much-less-severe view that the Mediterranean Sea is meant. “Something like a great mountain burning with fire” probably refers to a meteor. Regarding a third of the sea becoming blood, see Exod. 7:17-25; Rev. 11:6; and 16:3-7. It is clear that some people will be killed under the sounding of this trumpet, but apparently the numbers will be relatively small, and especially if the Mediterranean Sea is meant, and it is quite possible that no true Christians will be killed under the sounding of this trumpet.
Let’s go on to the third trumpet. I’ll read verses 10, 11, “The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and if fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters. (11) The name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter.” This star that falls from heaven probably involves an evil angel. The book of Revelation speaks of evil angels falling (or being thrown down) to the earth (see Rev. 9:1, 2; 12:4, 7-9). These waters could be poisoned by material coming from a shooting star, or the poisoning could be supernatural. Many people will die from these poisoned waters, but the loss of life will apparently be quite limited considering the context, and it is quite possible that no true Christians will die under the sounding of this trumpet.
Let’s go on to the fourth trumpet. I’ll read Rev. 8:12, “The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way.” I’ll read what I said under this verse in my paper on Revelation chapters 1-10 that is located on my internet site. The darkening by a third goes with the “third” factor of the first six trumpets. It’s not clear exactly what will happen here, but it shouldn’t be difficult to recognize when it comes to pass in sequence after the first three trumpets. This probably just means that a third of the light coming from the sun, moon, and stars to the earth will be blocked out (darkened) under the fourth trumpet. Surely it will be obvious that something quite unusual is taking place. Some believe this speaks of a partial eclipse (which seems rather complicated when applied to the sun, moon and stars). Others speak of the light being blocked out for a third part of the day (like for four hours) and for a third part of the night. This view also seem rather complicated, but God certainly could do it this way. This partial darkening foreshadows/anticipates the somewhat complete darkening of the sun, moon, and stars that will come to pass in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week (see Isa. 13:10; Joel 2:31; 3:14; Zeph. 1:15; Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25; and Rev. 6:12). Also, under the fifth bowl of wrath the kingdom of Antichrist will be darkened (see Rev. 16:10, 11). It doesn’t seem that anyone will be harmed, much less die, under the fourth trumpet.
I’ll read Rev. 8:13, the last verse of this chapter. “Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in mid-heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound [or, who are going to sound]!” The warning judgment of the fifth trumpet is called the first woe in Rev. 9:12. (No one will die under the sounding of the fifth trumpet.) The intense judgment of the sixth trumpet is called the second woe in Rev. 11:14. And the seventh trumpet, with its very extensive judgments, is called the third woe in Rev. 11:14. These woes are directed “to those who dwell on the earth.” The words “those who dwell on the earth” here, and typically throughout the book of Revelation, exclude God’s people who will be living on the earth at that time (see Rev. 6:10; 11:10; and 13:14, and there are several more examples).
Now we’re ready to discuss the fifth trumpet. I’ll quote Rev. 9:1, “Then the fifth angel sounded [he sounded his trumpet], and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him.” As the New American Standard Bible points out in the margin, the Greek behind the translation “bottomless pit” is “the shaft of the abyss.” I believe it would be much better to translate “the shaft of the abyss” here. The English word “abyss” from the Greek noun “abussos,” which was used here and in verses 2 and 11, was also used in several other verses in the New Testament. In Luke 8:31, for example, the demons were imploring Jesus that He would not command them to go away into the abyss. And in Rev. 11:7; 17:8 it is mentioned that Antichrist will come up out of the abyss, referring to his coming back from the dead.
This fallen “star” here in verse 1 was an evil angel. With the key that was given to him, this evil angel could now open the shaft of the abyss. The fact that the key, which ultimately came from God, was given to this evil angel shows that God is in control, including the timing of the sounding of the fifth trumpet. God often uses evil beings in His end-time judgment of the world. See Rev. 9:14, 15 for an important example, where four evil angels play a major role under the sounding of the sixth trumpet. And these verses speak of those evil angels having “been prepared for the hour and day and month and year.”
I’ll read Rev. 9:2 using the more literal translation, “He opened the shaft of the abyss, and smoke went up out of the shaft, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the shaft.” The fact that John saw smoke come out of the shaft of the abyss that darkened the sun and the air doesn’t necessarily mean the sun and air will be darkened when the fifth trumpet sounds in the last days. Will we physically hear the first six trumpets when they sound? Maybe not, but the events of the trumpets will definitely come to pass in accordance with God’s prophetic word. It seems clear that we will physically hear the seventh and last trumpet when it sounds.
I’ll read Rev. 9:3, “Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.” A large number of locusts came into Egypt under the eighth plague (see Exod. 10:1-20). Joel 1:1-2:27 is another important cross-reference for the “locust” attack under the fifth trumpet. Cross- references to Joel will demonstrate this fact as we continue. Exodus 10:1-20; Joel 1:2-27 speak of an invasion by a very large number of literal locusts, but it is clear (based on the description of the locusts) that the “locusts” of the fifth trumpet aren’t literal locusts. In agreement with many, I consider them to be demonic locusts. They come up from the abyss, from the underworld. John saw these demonic locusts, but these locusts probably will not be visible during the time of their attacks. As we continue, verses 5, 10 will explain the likeness of these demonic locusts to the scorpions of the earth.
I’ll read verse 4, “They [the demonic locusts] were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” Apparently at least some of the grass that was burned up under the first trumpet will have been replaced by newly grown grass. In Rev. 7:1-8 we learned that the end-time elect remnant of Israel will be sealed on their foreheads for protection. As we have discussed, they won’t become Christians until after the rapture, so they will need a special seal for protection during the sounding of the first six trumpets, especially during the great shaking of the super-intense warfare of the sixth trumpet. It is necessary for them to remain alive to receive the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christians who will be living on the earth in the days before the rapture when the first six trumpets will be sounding will not need a special seal. As born-again Christians they will have already been sealed by God with the blood of Christ and with the indwelling Holy Spirit (see Eph. 1:13; 4:30; and 2 Cor. 1:22). I’ll read Eph. 1:13. “In Him [in Christ], you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
As I have mentioned, the fact that the demonic locusts will not be able to touch God’s people will make this warning judgment all the more effective at getting the attention of the people of the world, warning them and calling them to repent.
I’ll read Rev. 9:5, “And they [the demonic locusts] were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man.” Verse 10 also mentions five months. I assume that this demonic locust attack will last for a literal five months. Verse 10 also mentions that these demonic locusts “have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men.” The fact that these demonic locusts will not be able to touch the elect, that it will follow in sequence after the first four trumpets, and that it will last for five months, just like the Bible said, will make this warning judgment all the more effective. Furthermore, it will be all the more effective yet if the two prophets announce this judgment before it comes to pass (like Moses announced the plagues in Egypt before they came to pass). Even if they don’t announce this trumpet (and the other trumpets) before they come to pass, they undoubtedly will speak of the judgments of the trumpets before the people of the world.
I’ll read verse 6, “And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them.” See Job 3:21; 7:15; Jer. 8:3; and Rev. 6:16. I don’t believe there is any idea here that God will prevent men from killing themselves. This verse just emphasizes the fact that the torment that results from the sting of these demonic locusts will be quite severe. Like I mentioned, God will get the attention of the world through the sounding of these trumpets.
I’ll read Rev. 9:7-9. “The appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads appeared to be crowns of gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. (8) They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions. (9) They had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle.” I’ll quote the NIV on the second half of verse 9, “and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle.” Joel 1:6, speaking of a literal locust invasion says, “For a nation has invaded my land, Mighty and without number; Its teeth are the teeth of a lion, And it has the fangs of a lioness.” I’ll also read Joel 2:4, “Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; And like war horses, so they run.” The fact that the demonic locusts had hair like the hair of women apparently means that they had long hair.
I’ll read verse 10, “They have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months.” I’ll read verse 5 again, “And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man.”
Verse 11, “They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon [which means destruction], and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon [which means destroyer].” Apparently the king of these demonic locusts, the angel of the abyss, is an evil angel under Satan who has authority over the abyss. God, however, has the ultimate authority everywhere. These demonic locusts could not come up out of the abyss without the permission of God. He is the One behind the sounding of the trumpets, and like the book of Revelation shows, He frequently uses evil beings in His end-time judgment of the world.
I’ll read Rev. 9:12, “The first woe is past [that is, the warning judgment of the fifth trumpet is now past]; behold two woes are still coming after these things.” That is, the super-intense judgments of the sixth and seventh trumpets are still to come
Revelation 9:13 brings us to the sounding of the sixth trumpet. These verses on the sounding of the sixth trumpet are extremely important, but I won’t discuss these verses here. We have already discussed these verses in some detail, especially in the third article of this 24 article series. Also, these verses are discussed in my book and in my paper on Revelation chapters 1-10 that is located on my internet site
It’s time to stop. In the next article we’ll start with Revelation chapter 10, which is a very important, very interesting chapter. God bless you!