6 Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.
Before beginning explanation of the Trumpet-Judgments, we should perhaps look at the big-picture.
…The strange and startling events of the world’s history [are] the alarm notes blown by God’s angels across the world, to remind us of the war in which every citadel of evil must inevitably fall. (see Ellicott, below.)
I. God’s trumpet-judgments speak differently to us as Christians than they do to the non-believers.
To the wicked persecutors of Christ’s Church, trumpet-judgments say — repent of of your wicked ways or you will perish with the godless system you so value. “World (cosmos in Greek) most often refers to the humanistic system that is at odds with God (Matthew 18:7; John 15:19; 1 John 4:5).” (See Got Questions below.)
Golden Lampstand Church in China; Left: original building; Right: blown up by CCP.
Images from AP.
To God’s people, trumpet-judgments are a summons to the spiritual battle through prayer.
Ephesians 6 enlightens us about the war we involved in —
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
God’s people are facing evil, fallen angels at work in the world system opposing Christ and His Church. We must bear this in mind because physical weapons are ineffective against the forces of evil working behind human beings who believe their lies. Only fervent prayers can break down the evil infra-structure built up in the spirit world behind evil humans being’s actions. II Corinthians 10 denies to us the use of physical weapons —
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
When Paul describes the armor, he gives us the defensive/offensive armor with which to engage in prayer!
18 pray…at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Some might view what I have said about defensive/offensive weapons to be strange. They see everything but the Sword of the Spirit as defensive. Think about it for a moment. When soldiers go the war, they do not throw weapons from the armory at the enemy. They confront the enemy as active soldiers who are outfitted with weapons from God’s armory. God equips us in Christ for the spiritual warfare in which we are engaged. We are His praying soldiers!
When we see various catastrophes occurring around us, we ought not despair or worry. God is at work, and we should pray and ask that His will be accomplished through what is occurring. We may not understand why things happen, but we can rest assured God has ordered those circumstances.
II. Trumpets signal to believers that God is present to bring this evil age to an end.
Not only are the trumpet-visions connected with the Exodus plagues, but they are also connected to the Battle of Jericho. See Joshua 6 for the account of the fall of Jericho’s walls (the link will open in a separate window).
Hebrews 12:26-27 reveals that we are meant to feel unsure about our earthly surroundings. If they totter and we find no place where we feel secure, we ought to set our hearts on that place that cannot be shaken. We ought to trust in God who is our refuge and fortress.
26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. (ESV).
The trumpet visions portray limited disasters and distresses in the midst of history, events that are bitter foretastes of the final, unrestrained strained destruction of all opposition to God’s reign at the end of the present world order (see D. E. Johnson below).
So, God is intent on destroying this evil world and its system and giving the renew earth to his people. The trumpet-visions show us how God does this partially throughout the last days that extend from Christ’s resurrection to His second coming at the end of the age.
We should not look to the symbols in Revelation as if they are newspaper accounts and then transfer them to 21st Century life. Fire = missiles, etc. I suggest that we ought to pay close attention to
(1) the sphere of judgment: land, sea, rivers, and sky
(2) the extent of judgment: 1/3
(3) the effects of the judgment: world system interrupted, God’s people shielded, and wicked punished.
These areas will yield the best interpretation and application to our everyday lives as we will see as we progress through the trumpet-judgments in future posts.
III. Trumpets hail a New Exodus of believers from this world to the kingdom of God.
These plagues are now shown to be typological or prophetic foreshadowings of God’s judgments against unbelievers throughout the church age and culminating in the last judgment, which initiates the final exodus of God’s people from this world of captivity into eternal freedom (see Beale, below).
Trumpets in ancient Israel in the wilderness signaled preparation to march toward the promised land. Revelation allows us to see in disasters around us that we Christians are on the march toward the eternal kingdom of God. We are not yet at our final destination. We will leave this place of suffering and godless living to take our place there. All unrest around Christ’s people ought to cause us to see Christ is leading his people in a New Exodus toward their eternal home. Remember, these trumpet angels come from the very presence of God. He is in control!
Trumpet specifics next time.
Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.
Ellicott, C. J. (1878). Ellicott’s Bible Commentary For English Readers, Volume 3 Reprint (Harrington, DE: DelmarvA Publications. Kindle Edition.
Got Questions. (2020). “What does it mean that we are not to love the world?” Blog post; accessed 29 May 2020 from https://www.gotquestions.org/do-not-love-the-world.html
Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Luther, Martin. (1853 printing). Bible in German. (Leipzig, Germany: Baumgärtners Buchhandlung, 1853) p. 291. Image above the post.
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