John's second vision concerns the 7 Trumpets. There are two key concepts that need to be understood from the outset:
1) The trumpets vision is parallel to the seals vision--the trumpets do not follow the seals on Earth.
2) The trumpets vision follows the same 4-1-2 structure as the seals. (If anyone wants to see this as 4-3, that's fine)
The first four trumpets are presented in quick succession:
A) 1st. Earth: 1/3 of trees and grass burned.
The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. (8:7)B) 2nd. Seas: 1/3 of seas turned to blood, 1/3 of fish die, 1/3 of ships destroyed.
Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.(8:8-9)C) 3rd. Fresh water: 1/3 of rivers and spring become undrinkable.
Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter. (8:10-11)D) 4th. Heavens: 1/3 of sun, moon, stars darkened.
Then the fourth angel sounded: 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 were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night. (8:12)If the reader were to compare the above four judgements with the creation accounts in Genesis, you would find that the four trumpets represent judgements upon all of his creation; and from the perspective of a person living in ancient times, these affect the four main areas of their environment: the earth/vegetation, sea, fresh water, and sky.
We can also synchronize these first four trumpets with the first four seals using Ezekiel 5:
‘Therefore, as I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. (vv. 11-12)The Old Testament helps us understand the visions of Revelation not only because of borrowed symbols, but because the judgements upon the Gospel Age will mirror those judgements upon the Israelites.
The Ezekiel 5 passage above links the 1/3 (limited) judgements of the trumpets with the specific occurrences of war, famine, pestilence, and death of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th seals and Matthew 24. These judgements are identified later in Ezekiel as "the four severe judgements upon Jerusalem":
For thus says the Lord GOD: “How much more it shall be when I send My four severe judgments on Jerusalem—the sword and famine and wild beasts and pestilence—to cut off man and beast from it? (Ez. 14:21)So, the understanding to take away from these first four trumpets is that man's environment has become hostile to him.
E) 5th Trumpet. Spiritual antagonism: idolaters will be tormented.
Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them. (9:1-6)Recall that the long passage of time described in Matthew 24 was described by deception, false prophets, false christs, and false predictions of His return. It is the position here that this period of spiritual antagonism correlates to that long period of deception--except that it has been compressed.
In the above we read that this authority is given to these spirits for a specific time period of 5 months. This 5 months is undoubtedly a symbolic number, and it appears to suggest the shortening of intervals between judgements, just as the change from 1/4 to 1/3 suggests an increase in the intensity of the judgements.
What is being expressed here is exactly what Jesus described in Matthew 24 when he said the [four severe judgments] are merely the beginning of sorrows. Sorrows, or birth pangs, travails, or labor pains--the frequency and intensity of which increase as the birth nears.
In order for this position to hold, it would need to be shown in the Bowl judgements another increase in both the frequency and intensity. In fact, the chapter on the Bowl Judgements does indicate this both in content and structure; this will be addressed in a later report.
The reader will notice that is only the idolaters during this time that are tormented by these spirits. God's people (sealed) would obviously not be subject to a judgement against abominations/idolatry--if they were guilty of this, they would not have been sealed.
In Ezekiel 9 we read that as part of God's judgement against Jerusalem, 7 men were called to execute the wicked: 6 with battle axes, and one with an ink bottle to mark the foreheads of the remnant, or those who did not worship other idols/abominations:
Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple. (Ez. 9:6)F) 6th Trumpet. The four angels from the Euphrates.
Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.Notice that the spirits of the 5th Trumpet had authority to torment (not to kill) for a specified duration of time; but here the angels are released on a specified time to kill, but only a limited amount. Again, this judgement period mirrors the time period given to the Israelites as described in Daniel 9: the 70 weeks.
Two points here are up for contemplation:
1) Does "kill" here mean physically, spiritually, or both? Spiritual death is a certainty here, but direct physical harm remains to be seen--as well as what form. However, looking at the rash of suicides resulting from the financial crisis, for example, shows how one can cause the other.
2) Has this trumpet been blown already, or is it still in the future? (this question also applies to the 6th Seal) It's impossible for anyone to say when torment turns into direct attack, but notice some of the more popular news/entertainment of the past decade:
- The heavy spiritual influence noticeable in the films covered here at NWOIB.
- The vampire and zombie craze.
- Documentaries like Zeitgeist or The God Who Wasn't There.
- Best-selling books on atheism from Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennet, Harris, et al.
- Music videos from performers like Rhianna or Lady Gaga with blatant "illuminati," masonic, or satanic symbolism.
Recall that Paul said people would give heed to these spirits:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Tim. 4:1-3)So, as speculation, does it seem as though the spiritual battle has increased from the 5th to 6th trumpets? The answer would have to be, yes, it certainly seems like it has.
The following points are also contentions here:
1) The four angels here are the same as described in Rev. 7 who are commanded not to harm anything until the servants of God are sealed.
2) The Euphrates River here is symbolic of a dividing barrier between the physical and spiritual world. A hedge of protection as described in Job 1.
3) What is being described here is the same event described by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:
And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. (vv. 6-8)4) This equates to the "unbinding" of Satan in Rev. 20.
5) This time equates to the final 30 days of Daniel's 1290 days (Dan. 12)
Finally, at the end of Chapter 9 and the Trumpet judgements, we read again why this is happening:
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.Recall the Grace and Judgement themes described by the first four seals in the previous vision. The first Seal was Jesus Christ bringing His New Covenant of Grace. Then followed the four severe judgements, which are here described as intended to call men to repentance.
Also in harmony with the 7 Seals is an expositional break inserted between the 6th and 7th signs. In the trumpet vision, this break will describe the "little book" and the Two Witnesses. These chapters will be addressed in Part 2.