[This is an excerpt from my book, Mankind’s Final 7 Years Before Christ Returns: A verse-by-verse explanation of the book of Revelation]
8 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
With the breaking of the seventh seal, the scroll will be opened. The scroll contains the wrath of God. The seven trumpet-judgments, and the seven bowls of God’s wrath are contained within the scroll. This is such a solemn occasion, that all heavenly activities stop, all the praising and worshiping from Revelation 7:9-12 ceases, and all of heaven is rendered silent. God’s wrath, however, will not be immediately poured out.
The wrath of God is often, though inaccurately, called the Day of the Lord. The wrath of God is actually the first segment of the Day of the Lord, which is much longer than one day. Specifically, the Day of the Lord begins with the wrath of God, and ends at the end of the millennium (2 Peter 3:8; PS 90:4; Joel 3:14-21; Obadiah 1:15-21; Zechariah 14; Isaiah 34:8; 61:2; 63:4).
2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
Though the seven trumpets are considered to be part of God’s wrath, they are specifically the proclamation of God’s judgment against unbelievers. God’s wrath will be poured from the seven bowls which follow. The trumpets are given to seven specific angels, possibly archangels, who stand before God. (See also- Joel 2:1-11)
Some people try to read into the events of the seven trumpets some kind of nuclear holocaust or other man-made events, but that simply cannot be the case. We saw, in our study of the seven seals, that the first five seals were the evils of man, and particularly the evils of the Antichrist, against mankind. The seven trumpets, however, are specifically from God.
In chapter seven, we saw that the servants of God were sealed for protection from the events of the seven trumpets (much like the Israelites during the ten plagues of Moses). At this point, as we shall see, unbelievers can still be saved. These trumpets are a warning for unbelievers. Ezekiel 33:4-5 says, “Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.” (See also- Joel 2:30-32)
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.
During the fifth seal, the martyred saints asked God to avenge their blood. These may be some of the prayers offered before God.
5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
This is the proclamation that the trumpets are about to sound. That the angel used the same censer to offer incense and then cast fire onto earth, shows that the events of the seven trumpets come from God.
6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
The trumpets, like the seals before them, will come in two sets- four which are similar, and three which are similar. The first four trumpets deal with nature, while the last three deal directly with humans.
7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
While this event is disastrous to unbelievers, Joel 2:30 calls it a sign, or “wonder” (marvel) for believers. Jesus placed this event precisely between the Great Tribulation and His second coming (Matthew 24:29-30; Mark 13:24-26).
8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
For those who view the seals, trumpets, and bowls as occurring simultaneously, this is one of the contradictions. When the second bowl is poured out, in Revelation 16:3, every living thing in the sea dies.
10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
The word, for wormwood, only occurs this one time in the New Testament, but a similar word appears eight times in the Old Testament. Wormwood means bitter and poisonous.
12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
The first trumpet affects the land, the second affects saltwater, the third affects fresh water, and the fourth affects the cosmos.
This third-part darkening of the sun and moon should not be confused with the time of the sixth seal, when the sun is darkened and the moon turns to blood.
13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
Some translations use the word eagle, rather than angel. The eagle, when used symbolically, generally shows protection of God’s people. Yet, we shall see, in chapter 14, that this was, in fact, an angel.
As bad as the first four trumpets were, the remaining three will be much worse. The first four were directed at the earth and cosmos, while the last three will directly affect humans. These are referred to as the “three woes”. The remaining three trumpets are directed specifically at the followers of the beast.