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18: Sounding of the Trumpets (Rev 8:1-9:21)
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18: Sounding of the Trumpets (Rev 8:1-9:21)

The Basics


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.

Key Verse

“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. Isa 8:5-8).”13/1935





Key Words/Phrases

General Analysis

1.   What key words suggest that John is attempting to describe things he has not seen before?

2.   Which events in the trumpet judgments resemble the plagues in Exodus ch. 7-10?

Segment Analysis


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 OT?

3a.       What could the offering of the incense in 3-4 represent?

3b.       What does the angel’s action in verse 5 symbolize?

4.         What does the offering of the incense have to do with the trumpet judgments?

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 scene?


7.         Record below your observations on the events of the first four trumpets.

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 world?

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?

Final Thoughts

17.       What modern-day events or realities do the trumpet judgments bring to mind?

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Publisher: True Jesus Church