The 7 trumpets in the Bible are described in the Book of Revelation as apocalyptic plagues that will occur during the end times prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ. If you are short on time, here is a quick answer: The 7 trumpets represent a series of divine judgments on the earth that include hail, fire, an asteroid impact, darkness, locusts, an army of horsemen, and thunderstorms and earthquakes.
In this comprehensive article, we will examine in detail what the Bible says about each of the 7 trumpets, what they signify, the symbolism behind them, their purpose in Revelation, and how they relate to other end times events described in scripture.
What is the Purpose of the 7 Trumpets?
The seven trumpets described in the Book of Revelation are part of a series of judgments from God that warn people to repent and return to faith in Him. Here are two key purposes behind the seven trumpets:
Part of a Series of Judgments
The seven trumpets are part of three sets of seven judgments (seals, trumpets, and bowls) that God pours out on the earth during the end times. The trumpets follow after the opening of the seven seals and precede the seven bowl judgments.
Each set of judgments reveals God’s wrath against the unrepentant wickedness of humanity.
The trumpets serve as a warning and call to repentance before the final bowl judgments. As each trumpet judgment increases in intensity, it demonstrates God’s justice and impending wrath on those who continue in rebellion against Him.
The judgments start out partial and escalate to global destruction. With each trumpet blast, people are given another chance to turn to God.
Warn People to Repent
A key purpose of the trumpet judgments is to warn people to repent before it’s too late. Each new judgment is an opportunity for people to wake up and turn to God. For example, Revelation 9:20-21 says that after the sixth trumpet, people still refused to repent of their idolatry and wickedness.
The trumpet blasts signal that the end is drawing near and time is running out. God in His mercy is patiently calling people to repent through dramatic displays of His power and righteous anger against sin. Tragically, many will still choose rebellion over repentance.
The warnings of the trumpets will lead to the final day of judgment and reward for all (Revelation 11:18).
When do the 7 Trumpets Occur?
According to many biblical scholars, the seven trumpets likely occur during the tribulation period described in the book of Revelation. This is a 7-year period of great suffering and turmoil on the earth prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The tribulation period is initiated when the Antichrist confirms a covenant or treaty with Israel, as described in Daniel 9:27. This begins a 7-year countdown to the end times events described in Revelation.
The first six trumpets are sounded during the first half of the tribulation period. The judgments unleashed by these trumpets include widespread ecological destruction and devastation on the earth. Here is a brief overview:
- 1st trumpet – Hail, fire, and blood are thrown to the earth burning up a third of the trees and green grass.
- 2nd trumpet – Something like a great mountain burning with fire is thrown into the sea turning a third of it to blood killing a third of all marine life and ships.
- 3rd trumpet – A great flaming star called Wormwood falls from heaven making a third of all freshwater bitter and poisonous.
- 4th trumpet – A third of daylight, moonlight, and starlight is taken away making days and nights significantly darker.
- 5th trumpet – Locusts/scorpions are released from the bottomless pit to torture people without God’s seal on their foreheads for 5 months.
- 6th trumpet – Four bound angels from the Euphrates river are released to command an army of 200 million mounted troops to kill a third of mankind.
After this comes several additional judgments and events including the ministry of the two witnesses, the woman fleeing to the wilderness, the reign of the Antichrist, and the mark of the beast. The seventh trumpet likely coincides with the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ to defeat evil.
The First Trumpet Judgment
Hail, Fire, and Blood
The first trumpet judgment is described in Revelation 8:7, which says “The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.”
This judgment brings destruction through hail, fire, and blood being cast upon the earth.
This judgment mirrors the seventh plague on Egypt, in which God sent hail, fire, and rain (Exodus 9:22-26). However, while the plague on Egypt affected only that nation, this judgment affects “a third of the earth.”
The judgment seems to refer to volcanic activity and blood-red rain poured out on the earth. The fire, smoke, and ash darken the sun and sky like a shadow.
The judgment results in a third of the earth being burned up, including a third of all trees and green grass. This shows the immense devastation brought on the earth. Scholars believe this judgment likely refers to the massive destruction of earth’s vegetation and agriculture, leading to severe famine and starvation.
A Third of Vegetation Destroyed
The imagery of the first trumpet judgment indicates that a third of all vegetation on earth will be destroyed, including a third of all trees and all green grass. This massive destruction of plant life will have devastating effects on the planet.
With a third of trees and all grass burned up, oxygen production will drop significantly. With less vegetation, more carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming. The loss of trees and grasses will also disturb delicate ecosystems and destroy habitats for wildlife.
Furthermore, the rampant wildfires sparked by this judgment will rage out of control since so much vegetation has been desiccated. The fires will further scorch the earth, burning up more land and vegetation.
For humanity, the agricultural consequences will be severe. With all grass burned up, livestock industries will collapse. With a third of trees gone, major staple crops like fruits, nuts, and rubber will be affected.
Famine and starvation will ensue, leading to conflict over the remaining food sources.
The economy will also take a major hit, with industries like timber, rubber, livestock, agriculture, food production, and tourism suffering huge losses. Prices of food, lumber, and agricultural products will skyrocket.
Overall, the massive deforestation and loss of vegetation will have environmental and humanitarian consequences more devastating than any other period in world history.
The Second Trumpet Judgment
Something Like a Mountain Thrown into the Sea
The second trumpet judgment describes something like a great mountain burning with fire being thrown into the sea (Revelation 8:8). This causes a third of the sea to become blood, killing a third of all marine life and destroying a third of all ships on the sea.
Just as the first trumpet brought ecological devastation to the land, the second trumpet brings ecological disaster to the seas.
Bible scholars have different interpretations of what this mountain could symbolize. Some believe it refers to a meteor or asteroid impacting the oceans. Throughout history, major asteroid impacts have caused enormous destruction and loss of life.
The Bible warns that environmental disasters will increase in the end times, so a catastrophic cosmic impact could certainly fulfill this prophecy.
Other scholars think the mountain represents a nation or governmental power that will severely damage the world’s oceans. Overfishing, pollution, oil spills, and other man-made issues are already wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems.
So this judgment could be a tipping point of humans destroying the seas to an irreversible degree. In any case, the devastation will be severe enough to turn the oceans partly to blood.
Death of Sea Creatures and Ships
The effects of this judgment are catastrophic for both marine life and seafaring vessels. A third of the living creatures in the sea die, destroying ecosystems and industries dependent on the oceans. And a third of all ships are also destroyed, causing commerce by sea to grind to a halt.
Here is a brief overview of the impacts:
- Mass mortality event for fish, whales, coral reefs, and other marine organisms
- Collapse of commercial fishing and seafood industries
- Loss of subsistence fishers’ livelihoods around the world
- Decline in tourism revenue for coastal regions
- Disruption of global shipping lanes and cargo transport
- Potential famines and food shortages from loss of seafood
- Risk of extinction for endangered marine species
This judgment represents a major blow to the world’s food supply and economy. With a third of all ocean life destroyed, the ramifications will be felt across industries and by all people who depend on the seas for sustenance or jobs.
Recovery efforts may take decades, especially for ecosystems and species already under threat before this catastrophe.
As with all the trumpet judgments, the environmental and economic impacts will be severe. But Revelation is clear that humanity will still refuse to repent before God despite these warnings (Revelation 9:20-21). So even greater judgments are to follow upon the world before the end of the age.
The Third Trumpet Judgment
Wormwood Falls From the Sky
The third trumpet judgment in the book of Revelation foretells a great star called Wormwood falling from heaven and poisoning a third of the rivers and springs (Revelation 8:10-11). Wormwood is a bitter herb, which signifies that the waters will become undrinkable and poisonous.
This connects symbolically to the bitter experiences caused by judgment.
When this trumpet judgment occurs, many people will suffer from lack of fresh water. With so many water sources contaminated, there will be tremendous struggles to find clean drinking water. This judgment targets something fundamental to sustaining life – water.
It will likely result in many deaths across the world.
Some Bible scholars believe Wormwood could reference a future asteroid or comet that will strike the earth. Its impact may pollute many bodies of water, causing them to become toxic. Others think Wormwood symbolizes nuclear radiation or poisoning from nuclear war, which would also contaminate waters across the globe.
Rivers and Springs Become Bitter
The prophecy states that many men will die from drinking the bitter waters poisoned by Wormwood. When this judgment occurs, sources of fresh water like rivers, lakes, ponds and springs will be significantly impacted:
- Drinking water will become scarce – Mass deaths could occur from lack of clean water.
- Agriculture and farming will suffer – Irrigation systems will spread the contaminated water.
- Food supplies will be threatened – Crops and livestock need fresh water.
- Hydropower may be disrupted – Contaminated waterways can’t generate electricity.
In addition to physical suffering, the bitter waters represent the spiritual bitterness that comes with God’s judgment. Those who reject God and continue in wickedness will ultimately reap bitter rewards for sinful choices.
This trumpet judgment alerts people to examine their hearts and turn from evil ways.
This sobering prophecy reveals that humanity’s rejection of God will have ecological impacts. But God mercifully warns people ahead of time to repent and turn to Him. Those who heed the warnings and get right with God will be spared from the worst judgments to come.
The Fourth Trumpet Judgment
Darkening of the Sun, Moon, and Stars
The fourth trumpet judgment describes a partial darkening of the celestial bodies – the sun, moon and stars (Revelation 8:12). One-third of the day and night will be without light. This could be caused by ash and debris in the atmosphere from a global calamity blocking out the sunlight.
The loss of light will likely lead to a drop in temperature as well (Isaiah 13:10; Ezekiel 32:7-8).
This judgment is reminiscent of the plague of darkness that God brought upon Egypt (Exodus 10:21-23). However, the Egyptian plague was more severe and lasted 3 days of complete darkness. The 4th trumpet judgment will be a partial darkening lasting an unspecified period.
The Loss of Light
The loss of sunlight by one-third will have catastrophic effects on plant growth. As plants make up the base of the food chain, there will likely be food shortages and famine. The drop in temperature will also make survival more difficult for humans and animals.
There may be an increase in health issues like depression that are exacerbated by lack of light.
With the sun, moon and stars darkened, people will be terrified of what is happening (Luke 21:25-26). However, for believers, this trumpet judgment is meant to serve as a warning sign and motivation to repent and turn to God.
It displays his authority over the universe he created and shows that the day of judgment is coming (Joel 2:31; Matthew 24:29).
While the 4th trumpet judgment will result in worldwide calamity, this is still part of God’s final effort to get the attention of unbelievers and allow them to repent before the last plagues come, according to Revelation interpreters.
However, previous judgments will likely harden the hearts of those who continue rejecting God.
The Fifth Trumpet Judgment
Locusts Released From the Abyss
When the fifth trumpet was sounded, the Apostle John witnessed a shocking sight unfold. A star that had fallen from heaven was given the key to the bottomless pit (sometimes translated as the “abyss”). When this pit was opened, smoke billowed out, darkening the sky.
And then the locusts came forth (Revelation 9:1-3).
These were no ordinary locusts. They were given power like that of scorpions, bringing agonizing pain to people for five months. The Scripture says they had a king over them, the angel of the abyss, called Abaddon in Hebrew or Apollyon in Greek, meaning “destroyer” (Revelation 9:11).
Truly a foreboding scene presented by these diabolical locusts!
|Key Scripture for reference
Five Months of Torment
The locusts were commanded not to harm the grass, plants or trees, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads (Revelation 9:4). For five agonizing months, these people were to be tortured with pain like that of a scorpion sting.
And it was said that people would seek death, but not find it.
What a frightening fate! The Scripture says people would long to die, but death would elude them (Revelation 9:6). The pain would be so great that some believe it may have been a form of psychological torment in addition to physical pain.
Truly, something one would never wish upon even their worst enemy. Let’s hope we never have to face such an ordeal as these locusts of torment bring!
|Key Scripture for reference
The Sixth Trumpet Judgment
Release of Four Angels
The sixth trumpet judgment involves four angels who had been bound at the Euphrates River being released to kill a third of mankind (Revelation 9:13-15). This foretells a future event during the end times where angels carrying out God’s judgment are permitted to bring about widespread devastation and loss of life.
The Euphrates River holds symbolic meaning in the Bible as one of the boundaries of the Promised Land (Genesis 15:18). The release of the four angels could represent godly restraint being removed from hostile spiritual forces, allowing them to wreck havoc.
A Third of Mankind Killed
The four angels lead a mounted army of 200 million to go out and kill “a third of mankind” (Revelation 9:16-19). Whether this speaks of a literal army or symbolic representation, it foretells a tremendous loss of human life during this future judgment.
Some believe this prophecy will be fulfilled during the tribulation period after the church has been raptured. Others think the language is symbolic of a large spiritual battle resulting in high human casualties.
No matter one’s eschatological interpretation, this foretells a sobering period of widespread death which the world has never seen. But it also represents God’s just judgment for those who refuse to repent and turn to Christ.
The Seventh Trumpet Judgment
The Time of Judgment Arrives
According to interpretations of the biblical book of Revelation, the sounding of the seventh trumpet signals that the time has come for God to pour out His wrath upon the earth (Revelation 11:15). The judgments that follow this trumpet are considered the final and most severe of the series of judgments described in Revelation.
The sounding of the seventh trumpet marks the end of the interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets that gave warnings of the coming judgments. Biblical scholars like John F. Walvoord note that with this trumpet, “the mystery of God is finished” and the time has arrived for the prophecies of the judgment to be fulfilled before the eventual establishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth.
Lightning, Thunder and Earthquakes
The Bible prophesies that with the sounding of the seventh trumpet will come lightning, rumblings, thunder and a great earthquake (Revelation 11:19). These physical manifestations indicate that the wrath of God’s final judgments are beginning.
Similar manifestations are also mentioned accompanying the seventh seal (Revelation 8:5) and seventh bowl (Revelation 16:18). The number seven in Revelation denotes completion and finality.
The earthquake prophesied with the seventh trumpet is described as a “great” one, indicating its severe and momentous nature compared to previous earthquakes mentioned in Revelation. As the well-respected theologian R.C.
Sproul writes on this verse, “No words can fully communicate the terror that is associated with the pouring out of God’s wrath.” Thus the dreadful signs accompanying this trumpet usher in the consummation of God’s judgment on a disobedient world.
In closing, the 7 trumpets represent 7 distinct judgments on an unrepentant world in the end times. As each trumpet blast signals a new wave of catastrophic plagues, we are reminded in Revelation of God’s ultimate authority and the coming day of judgment.
The purpose of the trumpets is to warn people to turn from their sins and embrace salvation through Jesus Christ before it is too late. Studying these prophetic biblical events gives all of us an urgent sense that time is short and Jesus Christ is returning soon to establish his eternal kingdom.