Understanding Revelation / Chapter 2 — Rich Kelsey

Half-moon photo taken by Rich Kelsey

Chapter 2 The Trumpet Judgments:

“And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.” (Revelation 8:2)

A Trumpet Is a Shophar:

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand.” (Joel 2:1)

The Hebrew word for trumpet in this passage is,


These trumpets were traditionally made from ram’s horns and used in ancient Israel during war as a rallying cry. In the Book of Revelation, seven of these trumpets are given to seven angels. These trumpet judgments have significant meaning. They also have a definite purpose: to remove Antichrist from his throne.

Understanding that Revelation was written in symbols, let’s look to Old Testament Scripture for an example of trumpets being blown and then put together a model of what the trumpets in Revelation may signify. In the Old Testament book of Joshua, Israel’s conquest of Jericho is recorded; the Lord spoke to Joshua telling him to,

“Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse.” (Joshua 6:4–6)

The long trumpet blast according to Jewish tradition is called

“the last trump.”

The Israelites did as the Lord commanded and the wall of Jericho fell. No earthly weapon was used to bring that wall down; the battle was won through a work in the Spirit. The Lord promised Israel the victory, if Israel fought the battle according to His statutes. Israel did just as the Lord commanded.

In the last days, Christians will be facing impenetrable walls also; it’s recorded that once more God’s people will be faithful. As Revelation’s final trumpet begins to sound, the victory[1] will be ours.

The Chronology of the Apocalypse:

We can be fairly certain that much of the three and a half[2] year period Antichrist is given to rule earth has passed before this time of trumpets begins. Revelation’s trumpet judgments mark the end of Antichrist’s regime, with the seventh trumpet containing Revelation’s seven bowls of wrath.

In the book of Revelation, events escalate on a successive scale: to build a working model of Revelation’s time frame, let’s make some reasonable assumptions. Let’s consider that the same amount of time will expire between the loosing of all seven of the wax seals on Revelation’s scroll. Let’s also consider a seven-year time frame with each seal lasting one year. If this were the case, the breakdown of the main events in Revelation could follow this pattern: the first six seals take up six years, which is six-sevenths of Revelation’s total time frame. This would mean the trumpet judgments which are contained in the seventh seal occur during the seventh and final year. Within the seventh trumpet judgment, there are seven bowls of wrath;[3] therefore, all seven bowls will have the same duration as one of the trumpet judgments; meaning the seven bowls of wrath will last approximately seven weeks. Apparently, as we get closer to the battle of Armageddon, the judgments will follow each other in rapid succession, with each plague being more severe than the preceding plague.

God’s Servants Are Sealed:

(See Chapter 10, The 144,000 of Revelation)

The Apostle John records that before the seventh seal is opened, which contains the trumpet judgments, the servants of God are sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel:

“After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’” (Revelation 7:1–3)

This sealing of God’s servants points to divine protection from the coming judgments.

The First Trumpet Sounds:

“The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.” (Revelation 8:7)

If we were to take the meaning of this last text literally, from a purely scientific standpoint, we might surmise that hail and fire mixed with blood was the result of a nuclear conflict. And, if one-third of earth’s trees burned, the amount of smoke this would create and the amount of carbon dioxide it would produce would indeed cause famine on a major scale. This burning could also account for the moon turning red and the sun withdrawing its light, but wait! This type of devastation may be too much at this point in Revelation’s timeline. Evidently, there is still a year left before Armageddon. So, we should at least consider that the word usage in Revelation 8:7 could be figurative.

Hail and fire mixed with blood may represent spiritual warfare? Revelation’s first trumpet probably has more to do with the continued deception and apostasy of men and women rather than the literal destruction of vegetation.

(To the reader: If you have not read Understanding The Book of Revelation Introduction, please read it first before reading on)

A Symbolic Application:

Let’s consider the part of the verse where it reads,

“All the green grass was burned up.” (Revelation 8:7)

Why only the green grass? Why not the multitude of grass that is mature and still standing, about to be harvested? And what about the wheat and barley grass that is cut and baled, yet still lying in the fields? Maybe we’re not talking about grass at all. Could this term green in prophecy be speaking of people with shallow roots who have turned from the knowledge of God? The Bible says,

“… like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.” (Psalms 37:2)

Let’s look at the part of the verse where it reads,

“A third of the trees were burned up.” (Revelation 8:7)

In Revelation, speaking of Satan, where he is illustrated as a red dragon, it’s written,

“His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.” (Revelation 12:4)

The time frame when a third of these stars are flung to the earth is during Antichrist’s reign. And, because the term his tail is used (speaking of the dragon), this could refer to a time near the end of Satan’s reign.

If these stars falling depict men and women falling from their faith in the gospel, then the trees that are burned up may represent people as well. One thing is certain: When the first trumpet sounds, the war in the spirit will escalate.

Revelation paints a picture of all the forces of evil, knowing this is their last hurrah, lashing out at everything they can. Satan and his whole entourage are about to be removed from power. Their opportunity to deceive mankind and wreak havoc on the earth is coming to an end. So, they are trying to spoil what’s left of their domain:

“Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—nothing escapes them. They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle…  Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine.” (Joel 2:3–5 & 10)

The Second Trumpet Sounds:

“The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.” (Revelation 8:8–9)

Before we decide if Revelation 8:8–9 should be taken literally, or if it has figurative meaning, let’s look at passages where we find the word sea elsewhere in Revelation. The word sea is found 26 times in the book of Revelation. Here are a few examples:

1. “Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation 12:12)

2. “And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea.” (Revelation 12:18)

3. “And I saw a beast coming out of the sea …” (Revelation 13:1)

Within prophetic Scripture the earth can represent political strongholds while the sea can be an illustration of multitudes of people, languages, and nations.[5] The expression sea creatures is used in the Bible in reference to men, as in this passage,

“You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler.” (Habakkuk 1:14)

The terms, ships and captains can also have figurative meanings. For example, Jesus is the captain[6] of our salvation.

The devil’s fury will not be focused upon a literal sea, his woes will affect multitudes of people, of different languages, consisting of many nations. People expecting natural plagues in the days ahead will fail to notice the more subtle deceptions Satan will be manifesting.

A mountain on fire being hurled into the sea is speaking of Satan’s governmental forces impacting the nations, affecting multitudes and eventually burning out and coming to an end:

“‘I am against you, O destroying mountain, you who destroy the whole earth,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will stretch out my hand against you, roll you off the cliffs, and make you a burned-out mountain.’” (Jeremiah 51:25)

Jesus said,

“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” (Mark 11:23)

Was Jesus Christ speaking in figurative language? Probably.

People expecting a real mountain, or what looks like a mountain, to be cast into the sea during the days of Revelation’s trumpet judgments, are misunderstanding Revelation’s narrative. Throwing down the powers of darkness and the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms is what the book of Revelation is speaking about.

The creatures in the sea who die represent men and women who die spiritually due to the strong pressure this mountain imposes upon their unstable faith. Part of their lack of faith could be due to a misunderstanding of scripture. After all, if they knew what to look for in the time of deception and how to prepare for it, why would they die in the sea?

The Third Trumpet Sounds:

“The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water—the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.” (Revelation 8:10–11)

This great star falls on rivers and streams; one-third of the earth’s water is affected! From a strictly geological standpoint, it would be impossible for a natural star or meteor to only affect fresh water; because on a scale of this magnitude, if it were a physical object, the oceans would also be impacted.

Bitter waters in Scripture are illustrations of spiritual deception, which can lead to spiritual death.

What Do the Prophets Say about Rivers and Streams?

Jesus cried out saying,

“‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit.” (John 7:37–39)

Streams of fresh water depict the Spirit of God. In the last days, Satan and his whole host will pollute our spiritual environment. Satan wouldn’t be satisfied with just harming people’s bodies, he wants to thwart Christ’s victory where it matters the most: by destroying people’s faith in the gospel of Christ.

The Fourth Trumpet Sounds:

“The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.” (Revelation 8:12)

This trumpet plague is speaking of a great loss of light.

Darkness in Prophetic Scripture:

It will be earth’s darkest hour before the dawn arrives:

“Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination. The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them. The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God.” (Micah 3:6–7)

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[1] “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthains 15:51)

[2] “The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months.” (Revelation 13:5)

[3] “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.'” (Revelation 16.1)

[4] Acts 2:2

[5] Revelation 17:15

[6] Hebrews 2:10