18: Sounding of the Trumpets (Rev 8:1-9:21)
After the opening of the sixth
seal, John saw the sealing of the 144,000 and the presence of the great
multitude before the throne and the Lamb. This interlude has ended, and the
seventh seal is to be opened. Within the seventh seal are the seven trumpets of
judgment. As you study and interpret John’s vision of the calamities, focus on
the overall progression of events, the unfolding of God’s plan and purpose, as
well as the intended message for us without necessarily figuring out what each
of the elements symbolizes.
“When He opened the seventh seal,
there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels
who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets” (8:1,2).
Did You Know…?
1. Trumpet (8:2): “In OT times the trumpet served to announce
important events and give signals in time of war.” 13/1934
2. Altar (8:3): “The Altar of incense, called also the golden
altar to distinguish it from the altar of burnt offering, which was called the
brazen altar. Ex. 38:30… That in the tabernacle was made of acacia wood,
overlaid with pure gold. In shape it was square, being a cubit in length and
breadth and two cubits in height. Like the altar of burnt offering it had horns
at the four corners, which were of one piece with the rest of the altar. This
altar stood in the holy place.” 6/33
3. Censer (8:3): “A fire pan used to hold live charcoal for the
burning of incense (cf. Ex 27:3; 1Kgs 7:50).” 6/110 “A small portable vessel of
metal fitted to receive burning coals from the altar, and on which the incense
for burning was sprinkled.” 13/1934
4. Wormwood (8:11): “This plant is distinguished for its bitter
juice (Lam 3:15)…The Bible refers for wormwood—along with gall and hemlock—to
signify bitterness….” 5/254
5. Bottomless pit/Abyss (9:1): “Conceived of as the
subterranean abode of demonic hordes (see 20:1; Lk
8:31). The Greek word means “very deep” or “bottomless,” and is used in the
Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT) to translate the Hebrew word for
the primeval deep (see Gen 1:2; 7:11; Pr 8:28).” 13/1934
6. Locusts (9:3): “Locust plagues are one of the severest
plagues of mankind. The imagery of locusts, appearing like armies, advancing
like a cloud, darkening the heavens, and sounding like the rattle of chariots,
goes back to Joel’s vision of the locust army that came on Israel as a judgment
from God (Joel 1:4; 2:4-10).”9/493
7. Scorpions (9:3): “Large spider-like organisms that injure or
kill by means of a poisonous barb in the tail.” 13/1935
8. Abaddon/Apollyon (9:11): “The
Hebrew term ’a-badd^on means ‘destruction’ or ‘ruin’
(Job 26:6 mg.; Prov 27:20 mg.), and more often ‘the
place of ruin’ in Sheol (Job 26:6m g.; Prov 15:11 mg.; 27:20 mg.), or ‘death’ (Job 28:22 mg.), or
‘the grave’ (Ps 88:11 mg.). In late Jewish apocalyptic texts and Qumran literature, it refers to the personification of
death (IQH 3.16, 19, 32; IQ ap
Gen 12:17 [TDOT, 1:23]). The Greek term apolly-on
means ‘exterminator’ or ‘destroyer’….” 9/493
9. Euphrates (9:14): “The longest river in western Asia (about 1,700 miles). It marked the boundary between Israel and her historic enemies (Assyria and Babylon) to the east (cf.
key words suggest that John is attempting to describe things he has not seen
events in the trumpet judgments resemble the plagues in Exodus ch. 7-10?
1. Compare 8:1 with 7:9-12. Why do you think there was silence
in heaven? (cf. Hab 2:20; Zeph
1:7; Zech 2:13)
2. What were the functions of the censer and the altar in the
3a. What could the offering of the
incense in 3-4 represent?
3b. What does the angel’s action in verse
4. What does the offering of the incense have to do with the
5. Where is the golden altar placed? What does this teach us
about our prayers to God?
6. What effect does 6 give to the
7. Record below your observations on the events of the first
8a. Read these references on the sounding of trumpets: Lev
25:8-12; Num 10:2,3,9; Josh 6:12-21; Isa 27:13; Ezek
33:1-5; Joel 2:1, 15-16; Amos 3:6; Zeph 1:16; Mt
24:31; 1Cor 14:8; 15:52; 1Thess 4:16. On what occasions were trumpets used?
8b. Using the above references, what do you think is the
significance of the seven trumpets?
9. Revelation records of three “woes” (8:13; 11:14). What do
these woes refer to?
10. Record on chart H your observations on the events of the fifth
and sixth trumpets.
11. How are the events of the fifth and sixth trumpets more severe
than those of the first four trumpets? Is there any indication in the text of
such an increase in severity?
12a. How is the judgment of the sixth
trumpet more destructive than that of the fifth?
12b. What means of punishment do the locusts
and horses use?
13a. What indication is there that the star
in verse 1 is referring to a spiritual being rather than a physical object?
13b. From the authority that was given to
the angel of the pit, what can we learn about the nature of evil in today’s
14. Are the locusts literally insects? Explain your answer.
15. Who are those who have the seal of God according to another
passage in Revelation?
16a. What does 9:20-21 suggest as to God’s
purpose for sending the calamities of the trumpets?
16b. How are we sometimes like these people?
16c. What must we do in response to the
prophecies recorded here?
17. What modern-day events or realities do the trumpet judgments
bring to mind?