The book of Revelation speaks of seven successive trumpets that will sound prior to the return of Jesus Christ to earth. What do they represent?
The number seven is an often-repeated number throughout the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. This book, which was given to reveal what “must shortly take place” (Revelation 1:1), includes seven churches (verse 4), seven golden lampstands (verse 12), seven stars (verse 16), seven “lamps of fire … which are the seven Spirits of God” (4:5), seven seals (5:1), seven trumpets (8:6), a beast with seven heads and 10 horns (13:1), seven thunders (10:3) and seven last plagues (15:1), which are contained in seven golden bowls (15:6-7).
The seven seals, seven trumpets and seven last plagues form an outline of prophetic events that will occur before and at the time of Christ’s return to earth. As our articles “Seven Seals,” “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” and “Wrath of God” explain, the first five of the seven seals represent Satan’s wrath against God’s people and mankind in general. The sixth seal announces the wrath of God (Revelation 6:12-16).
The seventh seal represents the Day of the Lord—the major theme of the book of Revelation. This seventh seal includes God’s judgment upon disobedient mankind in the form of seven trumpet plagues (Revelation 8-9) and seven last plagues (Revelation 15-16).
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Seven trumpets and their meaning
When the seventh seal was opened, John saw seven angels with seven trumpets. As each angel blew his trumpet, John saw terrifying plagues unfold, and he used powerful symbolic language to try to describe what he was witnessing.
First Trumpet: Hail and fire mingled with blood will cause all the grass on earth and a third of the trees to be burned up (Revelation 8:7).
Second Trumpet: A great mountainous burning object will be thrown into the earth’s oceans, causing one third of them to become blood, one third of sea life to die and one third of the ships to be destroyed (verses 8-9).
Third Trumpet: John saw a burning star fall from heaven on sources of fresh water, causing the water to become bitter and kill many (verses 10-11).
Fourth Trumpet: The light of the sun, moon and stars upon the earth will be diminished by a third (verse 12).
Fifth Trumpet (also called the first woe): What John could only describe as an unusual type of locust (likely seeing in the vision modern military aircraft) will emerge on the earth that will inflict intensely painful stings upon humans for five months (Revelation 9:1-12).
Sixth Trumpet (also called the second woe): Four angels will be released to kill one-third of the earth’s remaining population via an army of 200 million (verses 13-19).
Seventh Trumpet (also called the third woe): As this trumpet is sounding, voices in heaven will say, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15).
Impact of the trumpets
Because of mankind’s disobedience to His holy and beneficial laws, God will bring this severe punishment upon earth’s inhabitants.Because of mankind’s disobedience to His holy and beneficial laws, God will bring this severe punishment upon earth’s inhabitants. The effects of the first six trumpets will include an ecological disaster of epic proportion. And as the planet struggles to support life, humans will have to endure such intense pain that they will desire to die (Revelation 9:6); and many will indeed die, as noted in the description of the sixth trumpet (verses 13-19).
While one would think that such intense punishment would cause people to repent of their sins, this will not occur. As the Bible explains, “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21).
Humans are going to be so set on their freedom to break God’s laws that they will be willing to die for their way of life rather than repent. What a truly sad state of deception Satan has perpetrated upon mankind (Revelation 12:9)!
Because people will not repent, seven additional punishments called “the seven last plagues” (Revelation 15:1) will come upon mankind. While these sobering judgments are destined to come upon the inhabitants on earth, our loving God does not desire any to ultimately perish (2 Peter 3:9) and will in due time give every human an opportunity to understand His way of life and choose whether to obey God or not. This opportunity will come during and after a 1,000-year period of time called the Millennium—a time when Satan will be bound and unable to deceive mankind.
For further study on this astounding plan of God, see:
- What Are the Seven Last Plagues?
- The Last Great Day
- Second Resurrection: A Second Chance?
- Resurrections: What Are They?
- Judgment of God: The Real Story
- Wrath of God
- The Wrath of God: How to Survive
- Three Woes: What Should We Learn?