Application of the First Four Trumpets

Image above from Wikimedia commons.

Application of the Major Teachings of Revelation 8

Application of Revelation 8

The two points of application in Revelation 8 are:
(1) the Prayers of God’s people for vindication in their persecution and sufferings — “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” [ESV; Rev. 6:10] and
(2) the judgments that fall on the earth-dwellers as a result of God’s intervention in answer to His people’s prayers.

I. Silence in heaven demonstrates God is attentive to our prayers. 

The Seventh Seal has content and is not just a dramatic pause. All of heaven is brought to silence so God can hear the prayers of His persecuted, suffering people. The suffering is caused by the the earth-dwellers who cannot reach God with their hatred, so they strike out at those who are His people. 

The phrase “those who dwell on the earth” (tous katoikountas epi tēs gēs) refers to those who are permanently at home on the earth and desire no other place (see Thayer, below). God’s people are pilgrims just passing through this earth. Hebrews 11:13-16 states all the Christian’s cherished desire —

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. [ESV; empahsis mine.]

II. The fact that God halts all other activity in heaven speaks of His feeling of our sufferings.

Gustave Dore heaven

Gustave Doré: Paradiso Canto XXXI.19. c.1868; innumerable angels surround God’s throne and constantly worship Him. They are hushed to silence when the humblest of saints pray!

God is not impassive — that is He is not without true feelings. God is also not capricious — that is He does not have emotions that flare out through loss of control. J. I. Packer clarifies this position over “open theism” that is heresy.

Impassivity [is not] unconcern and impersonal detachment…and is not insensitivity and indifference to the distresses of a fallen world; not inability or unwillingness to empathize with human pain and grief; but simply that God’s experiences do not come upon him as ours come upon us, for his are foreknown, willed and chosen by himself, and are not involuntary surprises forced on him from outside, apart from his own decision, in the way that ours regularly are. (See Packer, p. 16, below; emphasis mine.)

We are never alone in our sufferings. As the old hymn says — “God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head.”We have One at God’s right hand who intercedes for us in our suffering.

III. We are right to pray for righteous vengeance if our goal is the glory and vindication of God.


Image from Penterist showing the hands raised in prayer for avenging innocent blood. 

Remember the prayers in Revelation 6:9-11 —

9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice,
“O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. [ESV; emphasis mine.]

God hears and answers our prayers like this one from Rev. 6:10! Waiting for the answer is the difficult part. Every evil government will fall in answer to this prayer! Who would have thought the Berlin Wall would have fallen? People sell pieces of it as souvenirs. God rules from His throne and His will comes to pass in His time and way. Our timetable is not His. Ours to to pray in faith and wait. 

IV. In the first four trumpet judgments we see the removal of life-supports that lead to the fall of evil empires and wicked men between Christ’s first coming and His second coming.

Perhaps a chart might show the effects of the first four trumpets better than writing about them.

Trumpet Judgments and Effects on the Earth Dwellers

These removal of life’s physical supports partially (1/3rd) speaks both to unbelieving persecutors of Christians and to those who are believers in Christ. Unbelievers are warned to repent before it is too late. Those who are too much at home here on earth and adopt its thinking and ways will perish when God judges it. Believers who grow close to the ways and thinking of the earth-dwellers will suffer as a result. I am thinking of how compromise with the world may not affect us so much as it affects our children and grandchildren. (see Johnson, D. E. below)

V. The last three trumpet judgments show us that God’s patience has a limit. 

Let us witness to unbelievers of His free offer of Grace to all who believe and repent of their sins. As long as the final judgment has not yet come, there is hope for those who are lost. God can even save the church’s persecutors. Don’t forget Paul the Apostle!

Next time we will move on to Chapter 9 and the first woe.


Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Packer, J.I. (1986). “Theism for Our Time,” in Peter T. O’Brien and David G. Peterson, God Who Is Rich in Mercy (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

Thayer. (2020). Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Accessed 24 June 2020 from

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Fourth Trumpet Blast and Announcement of the Three Woes

Image above is “The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70,” by David Roberts (1850), shows the city burning (Wikipedia)

Revelation 8

12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night.


Battle at Gettysburg, 1863. Stunning illustration from an original 1863 Harper’s Weekly newspaper.

I. We should pay attention to disasters as God’s warning of impending judgment.

vs. 12 The judgment on Light Sources — The Greek word for “stricken” is plessô. The noun form is plêgê from which we derive our English word plague. This is a judgment on the light reaching earth from heavenly bodies. This plague is reminiscent of the ninth plague (Ex. 10:21) in Egypt. Darkness always tends to frighten men. Any disturbance in the heavens should point out a warning to sinners. The effects of this plague is the lessening of the earth’s light. It does not mean that the days are shortened from 24 hrs. to 16 hrs., as some commentators hold. It simply means that only 2/3 of the normal light reaches the earth.

Darkness in day time is generally the effect of siege during war. As enemies burn the surrounding crops, day seems as night. (see Johnson, D. E., below). 

“At the opening of the sixth seal John saw the sun blackened, the moon turned blood-red, and the stars fallen to earth like figs (Rev. 6:12-13); yet now he sees sun, moon, and stars still shining in the sky and then struck with only a partial dimming.” (see Johnson, D. E., below). 

The quotation above underscores the conviction that the various judgments in Revelation are recapitulation of preceding judgments with an increasing focus on the end — also known as progressive parallelism. 


Delos Palmer painting depicting the “Dark Day.” 1934

On May 19, 1780 in Connecticut, at 9 a.m., the legislature was in session, trying to work through the maze of problems caused by “the horrors of an unnatural war,” as clerk Strong put it, when the sky began to darken. Within an hour, he wrote, it “occasioned a solemn gloom of unusual darkness.” In the lower house, work stopped as nervous legislators went to the windows to watch and wonder. It got darker still, and by 11 a.m. it was impossible to read or recognize another person’s features, even when they stood near the legislative chamber’s windows. Panic set in—both in the town and in the general assembly. Fearing that the day of divine Judgment—the Biblically prophesied moment when God would come to “judge the living and the dead” ­– had actually arrived, the lower house hastily adjourned, legislators groping their way through the darkness toward home.

Judge Abraham Davenport of Stamford called his fellows to their civic duty, even in the face of impending doom. “The day of judgment is coming or it is not,” Davenport told his fellow councilors. “If it is not, there is no occasion for alarm. If it is, I wish to be found in the line of my duty. I move therefore, that candles be brought.” See Normen, below). 

Cause of the Darkness and the Meaning

The incident with darkness during the daytime in 1780 was caused by forest fires, thick fog, and cloud cover. (see New England’s Dark Day below.)

II. We as Christians should proclaim Christ’s Gospel during times of disaster.

This story gives us a Christian response to the moral darkness around us today. Maybe this is a sign of the Day of Judgment. It certainly is a herald of judgment on us as Western society for our manifold sins and corruption of other nations around the world. As believers, we ought to be about our duty! We have the Gospel message and it is still “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes (Romans 1:16-17).” 

If it is not the final judgment that is upon us, let us all be about our duty of preaching the Gospel, which is always a proper response to any disaster. 

Revelation 8

13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”


Griffon Vulture Wikipedia

Griffon Vulture Wikipedia

III. We as Christians ought to warn the unrepentant of worse judgments to come if they do not turn to Christ.

vs. 13 The Eagle — The eagle (aetos) is a carrion bird of prey — the griffon-vulture (see Brown; pp. 172-6; below). It is a sign that carnage due to warfare or plague is imminent.

The Three “Woes” — The last three trumpets will be different from the other four. They will be direct judgments. Those who will not repent because of indirect judgments will be hardened by more direct ones.

The phrase “those who dwell on the earth” is a technical term in Revelation for those who are opposed to God and to his people (3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:8; 17:2) . That there will be severe judgments to follow the indirect ones speaks of the fact that God will not always be patient with unrepentant man. However, there is a limit to God’s longsuffering and forbearance. May God give us grace to respond to him when he speaks or acts.

Trumpets warn of impending judgment, but the final judgment will come in God’s time.

“St. Augustine’s Last Public Prayer” always stirs me not to give up in perilous times.

And it chanced at one time while we were seated with him at the table and were conversing together that he said to us: “I would have you know that in this time of our misfortune I ask this of God: either that He may be pleased to free this city which is surrounded by the foe, or if something else seems good in His sight, that He make His servants brave for enduring His will, or at least that He may take me from this world unto Himself.” (see Possidius, Chapter 29; below).

Next time application of the first four trumpets!

Notes (Sources of this study)

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Brown, C. (1979). The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Volume I. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Hendriksen, Wm. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Johnson, A. F. (1996). Revelation (Expositor’s Bible Commentary series). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Co.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

New England’s Dark Day. (2020). Assessed 19 June 2020 from

Normen, E. (2016). Darkness and Duty. Accessed 14 June 2010 from

Possidius (439). Life of St. Augustine; CHAPTER XXIX: Augustine’s last illness. Accessed 14 June from

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Second and Third Trumpet Blasts

Image above: The naum aquia (naval battle in the flooded Colosseum). Painter: Ulpiano Checa,  1894.

Revelation 8

8 The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. 9 A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

The first trumpet judgment involved disasters on the lands of the persecuters of Christ’s people. Let me make one fact clear. I do not believe the wrath of God falls on His people. They are shielded from harm by God Himself, just as ancient Israel was shielded from Egyptian plagues. (cf Exodus 9:6).

Note also that with some of the plagues, Israelites had something to do to insure God’s protection, Exodus 9 —

18 Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.

19 Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.

20 Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, 21 but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field.

God’s providential care of His people oftentimes includes the use of means that are human. God can act directly or He can act through secondary causes. We are to seek wisdom from God about our circumstances! Then, we are to follow that wisdom to insure our safety and well-being. 

Note God’s instructions to His people when He judges His enemies in Isaiah 26 —

Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by.
For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain.

There comes a time when God’s people have to absent themselves from the life of the world and carefully observe God’s wisdom in His word. 

The wrath of God falls in punishment on those who are not believers. Revelation 7 records the census of God’s warriors and their sealing with the seal of the living God. They are secured from heresy and harm by God’s wrath. 


Mediterranean Sea – Wiki Media Commons

I. We should hear God’s warning in every sea disaster. 

Fresco with Mount Vesuvius behind Bacchus and Agathodaemon, as seen in Pompeii’s House of the Centenary ca. AD 79.


vs. 8 The burning mass cast into the sea — This vision seems in John’s mind to be a volcanic-like eruption that slides into the sea. The explosion of Mount Vesuvius was fresh in the minds of all around the sea. The Greek word hôs (“like”) is used, so it is difficult to say how literally this vision’s fulfillment should be taken by us. The Romans referred to the Mediterranean Sea nostri maris (“our sea”). They were at the time the masters of their world in their thinking. Yet we know who is the Master — The Lord God Almighty!

The Rev. Peter Marshall preached at the Naval Academy hours before the announcement came that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese. His prayer at that time was helpful as a great many would soon be at sea in war.

In the Old Testament, “mountains” are symbolic of nations, especially evil, overweening nations (see Jeremiah 51:24-25; click the links in any of my posts and they will open in another window so you won’t lose your place here). 

This is most surely a battle at sea that affects and destroys 1/3 of the salt water and creatures therein. 

One third of the sea became blood — This imagery suggests the first plague in Exodus 7:20-21. The word “sea” has the definite article indicating the Mediterranean Sea was in John’s mind. see Isaiah 15:9 for a reference to “blood” as an image of a battle.

vs. 9 One third of the creatures in the sea are smitten and 1/3 of ships destroyed — This plague afflicts the salt water inhabitants. It also affects commerce and trade.

We should see in every disaster involving the sea, a battle the Almighty institutes against those who persecute His people. Our God is the sovereign over the environment.

Revelation 8

10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.

II. In every disaster in connection with fresh water we should hear God’s warning.



vs. 10 The Fresh Water Smitten — This plague is the fresh water counterpart to the previous one that affected the salt water. This is a burning object. It along with the volcano in the last trumpet is symbolic of Divine visitation. The text says that it affected 1/3 of the rivers and the springs.

At times, God touches the fresh water of a land to draw people away from earthly pursuits and fix them on the eternal! Such things are warnings to unbelievers and to believers alike. The Texts on which the following hymn are based: Isaiah 55:1, 2; Matthew 11:28-30.

vs. 11 The Star that Fell — Wormwood” (apsinthos in Greek) is a bush like our western sage bush. It is a variety of artemesia absinthium. All of them have a bitter taste.

There is a liqueur made from it that can either kill a man, if given in a large dose, or leave him mentally deranged, in a smaller dose.

Bitter Water — This judgment against the fresh water leads to the death of many (polloi) . It is restricted to 1/3 of mankind. This is a reversal of the miracle at Marah (Exodus 15:23 ff)

Next time, the fourth trumpet and the announcement of the Three Woes.

Notes (Sources of this study)

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Hendriksen, Wm. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Johnson, A. F. (1996). Revelation (Expositor’s Bible Commentary series). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Co.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The First Trumpet Blast

Revelation 8

7 The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

Image above from: Brady Smith USDA Forest Service

Structure — The entire trumpet series can be divided into two parts — (1) the first four and (2) the last three. This is similar to the seals forces that are unleashed in the world.

In the first four trumpets we have (1) indirect judgments, and for the most part nature is touched. Man is only affected indirectly, but powerfully. In the last three trumpets (2) the judgment is direct and more potent. It seems that the Lord is warning in the first four and is judging in the last three.

Parallels between the Seals and the Trumpet Judgments

I. God is in total control of the disasters He brings upon the earth to punish the persecutors of His people.

Note with the beginning of the trumpet judgments, we see specific, but partial, judgments brought on those who persecute Christ’s people. I draw parallels between the first four seal judgments (abstract forces) and the first four trumpets in the chart above.

The background to the effects of the first four seals is Ezekiel 14:13-14; 21. 

Siege attack in Roman times

Roman Siege Warfare from Ancient History Encyclopedia

I agree with Dennis E. Johnson that the first century believers would have seen the images of apocalyptic judgments as a description of war and its effects on a city or region under siege. “These four are the Lord’s weapons against lands and cities that defy his authority (see Johnson, D. E., below).

The key to interpretation of the images in apocalyptic literature is to note the impact of the images would have had upon the original audience, first. The Churches of Asia Minor would have seen these images as characteristics of siege warfare on their region.

The hail, fire, and blood would have destroyed their food supplies on the land. God is declaring war upon nature where His people are persecuted. He is also cutting off material things that people use to make their lives comfortable. This is the essence of idolatry — Romans 1:25 — “to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator.

II. We ought always to keep in mind this judgment comes from the throne room of God.

Not only are the plagues from Egypt applied to the first century situation, the siege against Jericho and the subsequent fall of its walls are, too. If we find ourselves witnessing the wrath of God being poured out on sinful people, we must not shrink back in fear. God always punishes the persecutors of His people. God promises to bring down evil governments and nations all throughout the church age. He will use one evil nation to bring down another less evil nation. God will then bring another to bring down the winner (see Habakkuk for this strategy!).

God is sovereign over all nations and people. Trumpet-judgments are God’s war on ungodly persecution of His people!

I don’t always feel like singing in my prayer times, but I do feel much encouraged when I do! I love Paul Gerhard’s hymn — “Give to the Winds thy Fears.”

When I taught at a Bible School early in my ministry, I had privilege to teach a German Lutheran Sister — Schwester Waltraut Menzel. She was from the Diakonissen Mutterhaus Aidlingen, Germany, about 17 miles from Stuttgart. She was certainly a shining example of German Christians at their best! When our oldest son had meningitis at 18 months, she sat with him often so my wife could have some relief, during his 10 day hospital stay.

She gave me a book, Bright Valley of Love: The True Story of a Handicapped Child Who Finds a Haven of Love in the Nightmare of Nazi Germany. It is about a German community for handicapped individuals, Bethel, that was founded in 1867. Bethel stood firm during the Nazi period. It still exists today.


This former farmhouse building accommodated the first patients with epilepsy of the Rhinish-Westphalian Asylum for Epileptics founded in October 1867 above.


Epilepsy hospital “The Mara”. The Mara today is one of the main institutions of the Bethel Epilepsy Centre above.

The director of the community, pastor Friedrich Bodelschwingh, Jr., resisted Nazi attempts at removing the persons under his care. When given notice the T-4 group would be soon coming to remove untermenschlich (“sub-humans”) from their community, courageously, he sent this reply to the Nazis —

“You can put me into a concentration camp if you want, that is your affair. But as long as I am free, you do not touch one of my patients. I cannot change to fit the times or the wishes of the Führer. I stand under orders from our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Pastor Bodelschwingh, Jr. pictured below on a German postage stamp honoring him.)


German postage stamp honoring the son of the director of Bethel. He helped the community remain faithful and unharmed during the Nazi era.

Many times the Nazi T-4 organization threatened to transport all patients at Bethel to be euthanized, but the director refused to give in. In their darkest hour, a young crippled boy, Gunther, would appear outside Rev. Bodelschwingh’s study and sing Paul Gerhard’s hymns to encourage his faith. In that book, I first learned “Give to the Wind thy Fears.” (see Bethel Foundation, below.)

His grandmother had dropped him off, saying he was “loony , and all of the rest of Bethel residents were loony too.”

Later, Sister Marie at Bethel told Gunther, “When you sing praises to God, Gunther, somehow you remind us that we are not carrying our sorrows and troubles all alone” (See Hong, below). 

We too can stand for Christ in the midst of threatening judgments on our country or region or church. The wrath of God that falls on wicked people angers them so much that they strike out at God’s people! They cannot acknowledge God exits, so they strikeout at those who believe He does. We must “give to the winds our fear” and follow God who is faithful to His promises in all seasons of life.

III. Those who persecute God’s Church are at war with God, and God is at war with the persecuters of His people.

Saints may feel under siege by their neighbors, caught in the middle as it were between God and the punished earth-dwellers. We must take up prayers that God will send His judgment against hardened opponents of God’s work. We always hope for salvation, even of those who persecute Christians, but some are so determined to wipe out Christ’s Church that they refuse to repent.

One third — It is significant that these plagues all involve 1/3 of things. This speaks of the partial answering of the prayers of the saints now. There will be token fulfillments all through the age of the church and just before the end there will be the complete fulfillment. The seven bowls will record the final manifestation of the wrath of God. The trumpets are only warnings of impending doom, and are, therefore, partial. The first area affected is that of man’s natural environment — the greenery. Food supply was always an object of destruction in a siege. We do well to see that God inflicts punishment from natural occurrences — weather, etc.

The partial character of these judgments reveal God is punishing in part before the end of the age. To believers God warns not to be too closely aligned with their “earth-dwelling” neighbors. These are they who are in step with the times and social elitists

Next time, trumpets two and three.


Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Bethel Foundation. (2020). Accessed 5 June 2020 from

Hendriksen, Wm. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Hong, E. H. (1976). Bright Valley of Love: The True Story of a Handicapped Child Who Finds a Haven of Love in the Nightmare of Nazi Germany. Augsburg Press.

Johnson, A. F. (1996). Revelation (Expositor’s Bible Commentary series). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Co.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.


© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved