Chapter 13

The Seven Trumpets, Part 1
(The first seven plagues)

INTRODUCTION

The seven trumpets mark the beginning of God's judgments or wrath on the world. They effect much of, but probably not all of the entire world, as the seven last plagues do. Nevertheless, they cause enormous devastation and questioning. They instigate the world in setting up the mark of the Beast, which we will cover in a later chapter. In seeking answers to their dilemma, people turn to their clergy. However, no solace is found. In rage, they turn upon the redeemed, only to find their way thwarted for God has sealed them. They are protected by His mighty ones.

SCRIPTURE

The first four trumpets

Rev. 8:6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.

7The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth [or land]. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

8The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, 9a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

10The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water-- 11the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.

12The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.

Ps. 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah

Dan. 2:26 Then king Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), "Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?"

27Daniel replied, "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these:

29"As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. 30As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.

31"You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue --an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. 32The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. 34While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

36"This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. 37You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

39"After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 40Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron --for iron breaks and smashes everything --and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

44"In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands --a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

"The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy."

Matt. 21:21 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.

Mark 11:23 "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

COMMENTARY

As we studied earlier in chapter entitled "The Apocalyptic Sequence of Events", if we consider the seven last plagues to be primarily literal, which I find no evidence for otherwise, than in order to be consistent, the seven trumpets must also be primarily literal. And indeed, a plausible understanding of these is possible.

From our study of Ezekiel, we recognize that these disasters or calamities are "unheard of". They are something that mankind is not familiar with and has not experienced within our lifetimes. Therefore, they are not what we would consider common place disasters. But rather, they are something unique and devastating.

Until rather recently, we could not have understood these events since the lack of scientific basis was missing. However, that gap has now been filled. While it is difficult to within 100% accuracy say that my interpretation is correct, as an engineer and scientist, it is most reasonable explanation that I could find for these events.

The first four trumpets are very consistent with what astronomists, geologists and paleontologists say could happen in the event of a shower of large meteors, followed by a sea based asteroid impact, followed closely by a land based asteroid impact.

A scientific paper which I wrote on this subject has been included in a slightly modified form in an Appendix to this book. The paper was originally handed out to scientists at the International Near Earth Asteroids Conference held in San Juan Capistrano, California from June 30 to July 3, 1991. This meeting was sponsored by the NASA Ames Research Center, the Planetary Society and other organizations with a primary emphasis to discuss asteroid impacts.

In brief, in 1980 a theory was postulated by Nobel Laureate Luis Alvarez, his son Walter and their colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley that the dinosaurs became extinct through the consequences of a large asteroid impact. While I don't quite agree with this theory (believing that the dinosaurs were killed by the Flood), the results of the ensuing research into this area over the past 12 years have cast quite a bit of light into interpreting the first four trumpets.

Evidence for this theory comes from the unusually high levels of the element Iridium found in the thin layer of sediment occurring just above the layer containing the skeletons of the last remaining dinosaurs. Iridium does not occur commonly in the earth's crust, but is found commonly in meteors and asteroid (as well as the earth's magma layer and core). An asteroid is simply an oversized meteor and ranges in size up to 60 miles in diameter.

The second point of evidence is that in this layer containing high levels of Iridium, there is also found a high concentration of resinous soot from what appears to be a worldwide forest fire.

Thirdly, there is evidence that at the time of the extinctions, that there was both a large sea based impact and a smaller land based impact. The first crater has been located in the Yucatan peninsula region of Mexico, the second and smaller impact crater is near Manson, Iowa.

Fourthly, scientists theorize that what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs was not so much the direct explosion, but rather the extensive coldness and darkness that followed the impact, a kind of nuclear winter.

Let's look at these further.

While many of us don't realize it, the earth and most heavenly bodies travel at very high rates of speed, somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000 to 100,000 miles per hour. When one body collides with another, energy primarily in the form of heat and explosive energy is released. A six mile chunk of asteroid, upon impacting the earth at 70,000 miles per hour would release the energy equivalent to 10,000 1 megaton nuclear bombs and throw around 1013 tons of soil, dust, rock and other debris into the air. That's enough to cover the earth with a layer of dust 3 feet thick if evenly spread over the earth's surface.

Evidence for asteroid impacts is found commonly throughout the universe. Most of the craters on the moon were caused by asteroid impacts rather than volcanic action. Some of these resulted from impacts with asteroids as large as 60 miles in size, though these are not commonly seen any more having been swept from our solar system by the gravitational pull from the planets and sun. Most asteroids still out there are smaller now, primarily less than 6 miles in size.

The results of a large asteroid impact have been postulated as follows (these are repeated in the article in the appendix along with their sources):

1) Loss of life directly under and for hundreds or thousands of miles around the impact zone.

2) Dust, ash, rocks and debris (ejecta) from the impact would enter the atmosphere, the stratosphere, and perhaps even be ejected out of the earth's gravitational field. This ejecta could spread hemispherically and perhaps globally via the jet stream.

a. This could result in a form of nuclear winter called impact winter - This would be characterized by a cooling climate, reduced photo-synthesis by plant life, coating of the planet with a layer of dust and other materials, and the probable extinction of certain forms of life unable to cope with the climactic changes.
b. Larger pieces of hot ejecta would fall back to the earth over large distances, igniting many fires. The wholesale burning of forests and grasses would deposit a layer of resinous soot over much of the earth as well.
c. Possible reorientation of the earth's magnetic field (long term effect).

3) Severe straining of the earth's crust resulting in:

a. Earthquakes and other earth movements.
b. Increased volcanic activity.
c. Damage to aquifers and water tables, increased sedimentary pollution of rivers, lakes and other bodies of water.
d. Disruption of underground utility services such as electric, gas, communication, water and sewage. Probable widespread contamination of potable water supplies.

Additionally, an oceanic impact would result in:

4) Enormous tidal waves (up to 4 miles high at the point of impact) affecting coastlands near and far distant from the impact. Coastal cities and shipping could be destroyed or heavily damaged.

5) A rapid heating of the water around the impact, killing much of the sea life and deoxygenating the water. This could result in the rapid growth of anaerobic algae also known as the red tide.

6) Water would be vaporized by the heat of impact and stay aloft long after the dust had settled. This vapor could produce a green house effect after the initial impact winter, and temperatures could skyrocket, resulting in additional extinctions.

Not a very pleasant scenario, and yet one we find that closely parallels the first four trumpets. Let's review the first four trumpets one by one.

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. (verse 7)

A large meteor shower, "falling balls of fire" of meteors of sufficient size to reach the ground would ignite world-wide fires. Additionally, God will open up the storehouses of hail, and pour them out on the earth's inhabitants. In the book of Job, God asks him the question,

"Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? (Job 38:22 , 23)

In this final great conflict between the forces of God and of evil, Jesus himself will be there, warring and battling for His people.

The fire burns up much of the world's food supply. Famine is an immediate result. Buy or sell food? You'd better get a permit. How about the mark of the Beast?

Calamities! Disasters! Sudden? Unexpected? Yes! To those who refuse to believe.

God has withdrawn His protection from the earth. The four angels holding back the winds have been removed. And now the land, the sea and the trees get devastated.

The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. (verses 8, 9)

A large asteroid falling to the earth would appear as a blazing mountain or falling star to the ancients. In this trumpet, a large asteroid impacts the ocean. The ensuing enormous waves wash over the coastal cities and even those more inland, wiping them out of existence. Thousands of ships are overturned and sink with their cargo. Millions perish. The exploding asteroid kills many sea creatures, to a much greater extent than a stick of dynamite thrown into a lake brings up fish. The carnage is awful. Blood stains the water. The resulting heat from the explosion further deoxygenates the sea water, resulting in the rapid growth of the red tide, anaerobic algae. Much of the sea immediately around the point of impact is sterilized of life.

The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water-- the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. (verses 10 ,11)

The asteroid that is on its destiny course with the earth above, has split into two sections, possibly from an impact with another asteroid earlier (not unusual). The two sections have come back together as there is not much else to pull them apart in the great void of space. As the asteroid enters the atmosphere, a chunk is torn loose. Since it is smaller, it heats up faster from the friction of the earth's atmosphere. It begins to blaze brighter than the main asteroid, as bright as a star as it falls. It impacts the earth with a mighty explosion, shattering the earth's crust and penetrating deep into the magma layer. Dust, soil and rock is kicked up into the air. Smoke billows from the exposed magma below.

The shocks reverberate throughout much of the earth, shattering aquifers and water reservoirs. Sewage pipes are broken and their reeking contents pour out unfiltered onto land and into the rivers. Hazardous waste containers stored underground crack open and their poisonous contents seep into the water supplies of the world. The ejected dust settles on everything, much heavier than that from Mount St. Helens or Mt. Pinitubo settles on the rivers, streams and lakes.

Bitter water, poisonous water? Yes, so awfully yes! Disease, the plague as we know it, runs rampant from lack of clean water. God's judgments are real. The wicked have rejected the water of life. Now they have the water of death to deal with.

The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night. (verse 12)

The tons of debris cast into the air from the asteroid impacts, as well as the smoke from the vast fires of the first trumpet, cover the sky with a canopy of darkness. The jet streams carry the debris far distant, producing darkness over a large part of the earth. However, most of the debris stays in the hemisphere that experienced the impact, since weather patterns usually do not cross the equator. Around a third of the earth is affected.

The enormous cloud effectively prevents the light from the sun, moon and stars from reaching the ground. The world which has chosen spiritual darkness, now is experiencing physical darkness as well.

Forward to the Next Chapter  |   Back One Chapter  |  To Revelation Table of Contents

 

Comments from Footnotes

The prophet Ellen White also saw scenes reminescent of what John saw.  I include two different visions she had.

"Last night a scene was presented before me. I may never feel free to reveal all of it, but I will reveal a little.

"It seemed that an immense ball of fire came down upon the world, and crushed large houses [perhaps an asteroid or large meteor?]. From place to place rose the cry, "The Lord has come! The Lord has come!" Many were unprepared to meet Him, but a few were saying, "Praise the Lord!"

"'Why are you praising the Lord?' inquired those upon whom was coming sudden destruction.

"'Because we now see what we have been looking for.'

"'If you believed that these things were coming, why did you not tell us?' was the terrible response. 'We did not know about these things. Why did you leave us in ignorance? Again and again you have seen us; why did you not become acquainted with us, and tell us of the judgment to come, and that we must serve God, lest we perish? Now we are lost!'

"Every church member is to train the intellect, in order that he may gain a clear understanding of the will of God concerning him; everyone is to educate the voice, that he may communicate a knowledge of the Scriptures to those who are in ignorance. May God help us to stand, like Daniel, in our lot and place during the days of probation that remain." --Manuscript 102, 1904 as quoted in Reflecting Christ, pg. 243.

Note that the context of the above implies that the work of warning the lost must occur prior to the falling of the ball of fire, "during the days of probation that remain." Once that event takes place, it is indicative that probation has closed. "Now we are lost!"

In the next vision, note the line "the day of the Lord is right upon the world when the evidence" (balls of fire) "shall be made sure."

"In the night I was, I thought, in a room but not in my own house. I was in a city, where I knew not, and I heard expression after expression. I rose up quickly in bed, and saw from my window large balls of fire [perhaps meteorites?]. Jetting out were sparks, in the form of arrows, and buildings were being consumed, and in a very few minutes the entire block of buildings was falling and the screeching and mournful groans came distinctly to my ears. I cried out, in my raised position, to learn what was happening: Where am I? And where is our family circle? Then I awoke. But I could not tell where I was for I was in another place than home. I said, Oh Lord, where am I and what shall I do? It was a voice that spoke, "Be not afraid. Nothing shall harm you."

"I was instructed that destruction hath gone forth upon cities. The word of the Lord will be fulfilled. Isaiah 29:19-24 was repeated. I dared not move, not knowing where I was. I cried unto the Lord, What does it mean? These representations of destruction were repeated. Where am I?
     " 'In scenes I have represented that which will be; but warn My people to cease from putting their trust in men who are not obedient to my warnings and who despise My reproof, for the day of the Lord is right upon the world when evidence shall be made sure. Those who have followed the voices that would turn things upside down will themselves be turned where they cannot see, but will be as blind men.'

"These words were given me from Isaiah 30: 'Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.' [Isaiah 30:8-15 quoted.]. . . .

"I was instructed that light had been given me and that I had written under special light the Lord had imparted." --Manuscript 126, 1906. (Diary, August 23, 27, 1906.) as published in Manuscript Releases Volume Eleven, pg. 361, 362, in the chapter entitled, "Cities Destroyed by Balls of Fire."

Forward to the Next Chapter  |   Back One Chapter  |  To Revelation Table of Contents

 

BiblePlus Home Page  |  Scripture Compilations  |  Other Copyright Notices

Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society.  Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.  All rights reserved.  Many thanks go to Zondervan.

Scripture compilations, and commentaries copyright 1992-2003 by BiblePlus/The Bible Research Company.  All rights reserved.   The Bible Research Company/BiblePlus is a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ, and to disseminating the marvelous truths of the Bible.