We recently tackled a big portion of Revelation in our Sunday morning gathering at CrossHope Chapel, namely the presentation of the seven trumpets found in Revelation 8:6 through Revelation 11:19.
When we covered this at the Chapel I was able to address it in more details than I will give here. The reason for that is I shared a lot of what others have said and how others have interpreted these seven trumpets, because honestly, I can’t speak to it as dogmatically as I can other sections of Revelation.
The seven trumpets have always been a bit of uncertainty for me, at least when it comes the details. The 7th trumpet, as seen in Revelation 11:15-19, seems to be clearer in that it is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. I suppose one could say that the 7th trumpet could be the same as “the trump of God” in 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
So allow me to share here as I did at the Chapel and mention the two prevailing general interpretations of Revelation’s seven trumpets…
First, the futurist view has taken the position that the seven trumpets are descriptions of God’s wrath upon the earth during the tribulation. This view points to the trumpet as a call to war or a call to judgment, and this could very well be. The 7th trumpet for the futurist would be interpreted as the second coming of Christ as happening at the end of the seven-year tribulation but not the same as the rapture which would have taken place prior to the tribulation.
Second, the historicist view has taken the position that the seven trumpets are foretelling coming world events that will impact the church. They have cited the trumpets as symbolic of the Barbarian tribes from the north invading the Roman Empire, the European invasions of the Huns, the rise and conquests of Islam, and the fall of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks, which all were massive blows for Christendom and caused great distress for the church.
The historicist view sees the seven churches as revealing the spiritual condition of the church, the seven seals as revealing Satan’s attack on the church, and the seven trumpets as revealing the world’s events that will impact the church.
That is the general overview and the popular ways to interpret it. Now, let’s highlight some of the key verses and thoughts on their potential meaning…
Revelation 10:1-2 — Similar to the seals, we have a parenthetical interjection between the 6th and 7th trumpet, which here introduces us to the angel with the little scroll. Prophecy teachers debate if this angel is actually Jesus, because the description is similar to the earlier one in the book of Revelation and the rainbow above his head could signify his covenant making role.
An interesting side debate is about the “little scroll” that is open in the angel’s hand and if this could be the book of Daniel. In Daniel 12:4 he was told to “seal the book, even to the time of the end” and when we get into Revelation 11 we do find what may mirror Daniel’s sanctuary time prophecies.
Revelation 11:3 — We also have in this parenthetical interjection between the 6th and 7th trumpet, the introduction of “two witnesses.” The futurist view interprets this literally and believes the “two witnesses” to be Elijah and Moses or perhaps Enoch and one of those two. The interpretation is that these “two witnesses” will show up on earth during the tribulation and captivate the world with their witnessing.
There is one little problem with this interpretation, because Revelation 11:7-9 says that these “two witnesses” will be killed and refused burial. The problem is that Elijah, Moses, and Enoch have all been given immortality, through being translated and in Moses’ case resurrected, so they would be unable to taste death having received eternal life. They are no longer mortal, but have put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:54).
Now the historicist view interprets the “two witnesses” as symbolic and representing the Old and New Testament along with the times of the industrial revolution when the witness of the Bible was thought to have been extinguished from society. The rise of atheism in France led to the enacting of laws outlawing the Bible and those who believed it.
Revelation 11:15 — Here, we get to the sounding of the 7th trumpet and rejoice for that day when “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
The seven trumpets are presented over three chapters in Revelation but the sounding of the last one ushers in the great day of the Savior’s return. I can’t speak with a whole lot of certainty regarding the six trumpet but I do know that in the sounding of the seventh we will have a new earth and the reign of King Jesus.
For me, at least being confident in the 7th trumpet as the Lord’s return, whether that is as a futurist as the second coming following a seven year tribulation or as an historicist as the second coming as 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, there is a sense of peace in the fact that our God has a plan for us and we will be redeemed.
Next up, we will open to Revelation 12 this coming Sunday and I will be sending out those Study Highlights.