The book of Revelation speaks of seven trumpets that will sound before the return of Jesus Christ to earth. Why will God send the seven trumpet plagues?
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).
- Seven last plagues (15:1) 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).
Seven trumpets of Revelation interpretation
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). This seventh trumpet also includes the seven last plagues.
Impact of the seven 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.
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.
Why the seven trumpet plagues?
Why will God send the seven trumpet plagues mentioned in the book of Revelation? What is the purpose of these plagues, and how do they prepare the world for Jesus Christ’s second coming?
The great day of His wrath
The apostle John gives the setting of the seven trumpets in Revelation 6.
In Revelation 6:17 John quotes the fearful people of that time crying out: “The great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
Why is God so angry? Why would the Lamb—the loving Son of God who gave His life for us and who wants everyone to be in His family—be so angry at the world that He sends these plagues?
God hates sin
A couple of important passages from Isaiah help explain why God is angry. Isaiah 58:1 says: “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”
God hates sin because it is the antithesis of what He is. It destroys us. It causes the pain and suffering of our world, the broken families, the violence, the mental anguish, the meaningless lives and purposeless deaths. Satan uses sin to try to thwart God’s plan and keep us from becoming God’s children. (Learn more in our article “What Is Sin?”)
The next chapter of Isaiah contains these additional reasons God hates sin:
“Your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. … Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways” (Isaiah 59:2, 7-8).
God sees the permanent damage that sin can cause: eternal death! So He uses temporary punishments to try to get our attention.
The Day of the Lord: A call to repentance
Joel 2:1 says: “Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand.”
God continues in verses 12-13: “‘Now, therefore,’ says the LORD, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your hearts, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”
God’s punishments are for the purpose of calling us to repentance. God wants to forgive people and have them become right with Him. He wants us to become His children. (Learn more in our articles “What Is Repentance?” and “Children of God.”)
Why seven plagues?
But why does God need seven terrifying plagues to bring people to repentance?
At the end of Revelation 9 is a prophecy of what will happen even after the first six destructive plagues have occurred.
“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).
If one plague would wake everyone up, that’s all God would use. But obviously it will take all seven trumpet plagues to finally bring this world to repentance.If one plague would wake everyone up, that’s all God would use. But obviously it will take all seven trumpet plagues to finally bring this world to repentance.
Satan has done his best since the time of Adam and Eve to inoculate humanity against feeling guilt for breaking God’s laws. He has worked to convince people that God’s laws are not valid, and to make repentance seem pointless, ridiculous or foolish.
After the seventh trumpet
When the seventh trumpet sounds, Jesus Christ will be announced as King of Kings (Revelation 11:15).
Verse 18 then summarizes many of the events of that seventh trumpet and beyond: “The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.”
Those who have been destroying the world will be destroyed. The angry nations will be defeated, and God’s righteous anger will be spent. Jesus Christ and the saints will be ready to rule—and to teach those who come out of that terrible period ready to repent.
While 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.
After all of the bad news, the prophesied best news ever will be fulfilled! And the people of the world will finally be ready to hear—and to repent—and to change. The trauma of the seven trumpet plagues will be overshadowed by the wonderful world tomorrow that will come! God speed that day!
Read more about the plagues and how to avoid them in our articles “What Is the Day of the Lord?” and “The Wrath of God: How to Survive.” Read more about the good news on beyond that time in our article “Best News Ever.”