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What are the trumpets in the Book of Revelation?

Trumpets are used in the Bible for a number of things:
  • To announce the coming of the Lord (Exodus 19)
  • To gather God’s people for a sacred assembly (Numbers 10)
  • To signal the armies (Joshua 6 – Jericho, Judges 7 – Gideon)
  • To praise God (Psalm 47, 98)
  • To warn the people of coming destruction (Ezekiel 33)
  • Many of the prophets use the trumpet imagery – Amos, Joel, Hosea, Zechariah
The trumpets in Revelation Chapters 8-11 are used to announce the coming of judgment.  Each of the trumps announces a different judgment on a different part of the earth.

FIRST TRUMPET: Hail and fire – a third of the GRASS on earth burned up. 

SECOND TRUMPET: Blazing mountain (volcano) thrown into the sea – a third of the OCEAN turns to blood, creatures die, ships destroyed. 

THIRD TRUMPET: A meteor (or an angel/star) hits drinking water supply – FRESH WATER turns bitter.  Could mankind survive if a third of the rivers turned bitter?

FOURTH TRUMPET: A third of the SUN, MOON and STARS are struck.

FIFTH TRUMPET:  Some sort of locusts are released and sting on non-believers.  It’s a judgment on PHYSICAL HEALTH.  These locusts can’t be real and are described in fantasy terms.

SIXTH TRUMPET: A large army kills lots of people.  A judgment on MANKIND and our SAFETY.

SEVENTH TRUMPET: A final call, a closing bell announcing the end.

Are these real events that have occurred or will occur?
  • The devastation that would occur on earth by the first trumpet would ruin life was we know it.  Take away the oceans (second) then the fresh water (third) and we’re cooked.  There’s no way the earth could exist by the time the sun was turned down by a third and the moon destroyed by a third.
  • The earth could barely survive the literal devastations of the Seals.  Now this?
Do the references have to do with the Old Testament?

Joel, in 835 BC, spoke of a locust plague that devastated the area and compares it to a greater judgment coming soon, an army.  Known also as The Day of the Lord.  The opening of Joel 2 talks about trumpets and judgment.  John borrows Joel’s descriptions of judgment.

1 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-

 2 a day of darkness and gloom,
       a day of clouds and blackness.
       Like dawn spreading across the mountains
       a large and mighty army comes,
       such as never was of old
       nor ever will be in ages to come.

 4 They have the appearance of horses;
       they gallop along like cavalry.

 31 The sun will be turned to darkness
       and the moon to blood
       before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.  Joel 2:1-4, 31


So what are the trumpets announcing?

In Revelation Chapter 11, the trumpets climax with the measurement of the temple.  It is found that the temple does not measure up.  Once it is found to fall short, the final trumpet sounds.

The trumpets seem to be announcing that a harsh judgment was about to strike, devastating the world, because the temple did not measure up to God’s standards.

It is impossible for these to be future events because of the literal devastation they would cause on the earth in the early stages.

John uses apocryphal language to bring attention to the seriousness of the upcoming event through fantastic images and hyperbole.  It is not meant to be taken literally.