Sermon: The Seven Trumpets: Revelation 8:6–9:21; 11:15–19

Old Testament Reading: Joshua 6:1–21

“Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.’ So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, ‘Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.’ And he said to the people, ‘Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.’ And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. But Joshua commanded the people, ‘You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.’ So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp. Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days. On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, ‘Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.’ So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword” (Joshua 6:1–21, ESV).

.New Testament Reading: Revelation 8:6–9:21; 11:15–19

“Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. 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. 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. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. 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. 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. 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. 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!’ And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them. In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come. Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound. The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts… [Turn to Revelation 11:15] Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.’ And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.’ Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail” (Revelation 8:6–9:21; 11:15–19, ESV).


Did you know that Donald Trump is actually mentioned in the book of Revelation? It’s true! The book of Revelation actually predicted his election long ago. And not only that, the book of Revelation predicts that the Trump family will be in power for seven generations, for there are seven angels here in Revelation 8 who have seven trumps to blow. Donald is the first, but six more will surely follow, and then comes the end.

I’m joking, of course. Believe it or not, this view – the view that the trumpet cycle has to do with Donald Trump – is out there. One of you shared with me last week that you had interaction with someone who really believed this.

Now, while I will admit that this particular interpretation – the one about Trump – is far more radical and ridiculous than others that I have encountered. Do notice that this interpretation is made possible by the futuristic and hyper-literalistic interpretation of the book of Revelation that is so popular today. It grows out of the same soil as those interpretations that claimed that the book of Revelation, or other prophesies in scripture, had something specific to say about the four blood moons, Y2K, the first Iraq war, the birthmark on Mikhail Gorbachev head, and 9-11. The thing that all of these theories share in common is the presupposition that the book of Revelation is mainly about events yet in our future, and that the each vision will be exhaustively fulfilled by one particular individual or historical event.

It’s as if the futurist reads Revelation and then begins to formulate a checklist under the heading “Prophesies To Fulfilled In The Future”. Then they grab the newspaper or watch the news and begin to look for opportunities to check things off of their list. “Trump… Trump… trump-ets! I found it! I’ve cracked the code! Let’s write a book, make a YouTube video, and organize a conference!” I mock it because it is so ridiculous and yet so prevalent today. This way of thinking concerning Bible prophesy is all around us, friends. And it’s shameful. It brings shame to the name of Christ.

To the Christian who is caught up in this I ask the question, when are you going to step outside of the theological echo-chamber that you have constructed for yourself, critique your own theological system honestly, and come to terms with the fact that the futurist system of interpretation has produced so many unfulfilled and embarrassing predictions that have been published for the whole world to see? Just read some of the early works of the popular dispensational writers such as Hal Lindsey. See how wrong they have been! And understand that the modern popular dispensational preachers are doing the same thing as they read with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other, trying in vain to connect all of the dots. They are operating according to the same interpretive principles as those who have gone before them. Time will prove them wrong too, I’m sure of it. But they will have sold millions of books by then. And sadly, they will probably publish new books and sells millions more, even after their old predictions have been proven wrong. Why? Because people have an appetite for the sensational, and also short memories.

Let me repeat a few things that have been said many times before in this sermon series but are necessary to keep in mind as we transition from the seven seals to the seven trumpets.

One, the book of Revelation is not organized chronologically. It is not a chronological description of how things will go in the last seven years of human history, or anything like that.

Please notice that some of the realms and bodies that are effected when the trumpets are blown beginning here in 8:6 were earlier said to be completely dissolved when the sixth seal was opened.

Look back to 6:12: “When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place” (Revelation 6:12–14, ESV). We have here a symbolic description of the of time when all of creation will be shaken to its core and dissolved, being eventually replaced with the new heavens and new earth that are described to us at the end of the book of Revelation.

But notice that here in the trumpet cycle those same bodies come back into view and they are described as if they are whole. And when they are effected they are said to be effected, not in whole, but in part. Take for example the fourth trumpet in 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” (Revelation 8:12, ESV). When the sixth seal was broken in 6:12 these heavenly bodies fell and vanished away. But here they are again. How can that be? It is because the book is not organized chronologically.

Can you see how absurd it is to think that one section of the book of Revelation must follow another chronologically? It just doesn’t work. The seal cycle took us to the end of time with a description of the dissolution of the heavens and the earth on the last day. But the trumpet cycle takes us back to a time before that last day and presents us with a universe that is intact. The judgments portrayed in the first six trumpets are not full and final, but partial and restrained. Only 1/3 of the realms mentioned are said to be effected when the first four trumpets are blown. Trumpets five and six also portray partial and restrained judgment. But trumpet seven will take us to the end again. The book of Revelation recapitulates. It starts over many times, chronologically speaking.

Two, remember that the book of Revelation it is not only about our future, but was for the people who received it in 90 A.D. It was for them and for you and me. They too were blessed to read this book and to keep what is in it, for the things portrayed in this book were near to them (see Revelation 1:3 and 22:7). There is no reason to think that what is portrayed here in the first six trumpets has only to do with things yet future to us. Everything in the book from beginning to end points in another direction – that what is portrayed in the book of Revelation had as much relevance for Christians living in 90 A.D. and 900 A.D. and 1900 A.D. as it does for you and me.

Three, remember that the book is not to be interpreted literally as if what John saw was video footage of particular historical events shown to him ahead of time. Do you want to be sure to misinterpret the book of Revelation? Then read it as though it were Paul’s letter to the Romans! Better yet, read it as though it were the book of Exodus, or some other historical book which has as it’s objective a literal description of a particular historical event. Read Revelation as if were a historical recounting of an event given to John ahead of time. Do that and you will be sure to misinterpret the book. Ignore the genre. Forget about the fact that it is apocalyptic and prophetic literature. Ignore the similarity between Revelation and other prophetic passages in the Old Testament and the way the New Testament interprets those (not literally, but symbolically). Do all of that and you will be sure to make this book into a monstrosity and bring shame to the name of Christ as you make false predictions that never come true (read John Hagee’s book, The Four Blood Moons, for an example of that).

Brothers and sisters, understand that when I say we must not interpret Revelation literally, I do not mean to say that the book will have no real historical fulfillment. I’m afraid that that is what dispensationalists hear us saying when we say, “do not interpret the book of Revelation literally”. What we mean is this: “the truths that come to us in the book of Revelation – truths that have been and will be fulfilled in human history – come to us in this book by way of symbolism.” That is what we mean when we say “it is not to be taken literally”. But I’m afraid what dispensationalists here us saying is, “nothing in this book will ever come true in human history at all.” No, friends. We affirm that the book of Revelation communicates truth to us. We believe that what is says has and will come to pass in human history. What we deny is that these visions shown to John are to be taken as if they are were a literal description of particular events that are yet future to us.

Brothers and sisters, churches are not literally lamp stands, are they? And Jesus does not literally look like lamb with seven horns, does he? And when God pours our his wrath on the last day it will not literally come about because an angel scoops up literal coals from a literal fire and throws them down upon to earth.  Indeed, these visions that we have encountered communicate truth to us. Christ is walking amongst his churches. He is indeed at the Fathers right hand because he has obediently atoned for sins as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. And God will indeed judge from his holy habitation, pouring out his wrath on that last day. But these glorious truths are communicate to us in this glorious book by way of symbol. We must not forget it lest we slip back into the error out which many of us have come.

How do the popular dispensationalists interpret the first four trumpets? Well, probably in many ways. But I did pull a commentary written by Tim Lahaye, one of the authors of the immensely entertaining but incorrect, “Left Behind” series off my shelf to see. In essence his interpretation of the first four trumpets is that there will come a day when lot’s of meteorites of various sizes and kinds will fall to the earth igniting fires and and poisoning rivers and the sea. Also, and I quote, “day and night will seem to be reversed, for there will be 16 hours of darkness and 8 hours of daylight” (Revelation Unveiled, 167-168).  This is his way of explaining how “a third of the sun [will be] 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.”

I mention the Trump interpretation and also quote from Lahaye so that we might keep in mind just how different our approach to the book of Revelation is. When they read Revelation and seek to understand a particular passage they look up from the text and to the newspaper and try to imagine how these things in the text will come to pass in the future. When we read Revelation and seek to understand a particular passage we look to the immediate context, we consider the obvious structure of the book and it’s overarching message. We look to other places in the New Testament that speak clearly concerning the time of the end. And we also look to the Old Testament expecting to find the key to the symbolism of the book of Revelation there. Scripture interprets scripture. And from there we look upon the world and see the many ways in which the truths communicated in this book have been fulfilled from the time of their writing up until this present day. Of course we trust that those things yet to be fulfilled – all those things that will happen on that last day – will be filled accordingly.

So what do the trumpets mean then?

Well, the general message is this: Our God will indeed respond to the prayers of his people for vindication by pouring out partial and perpetual judgments upon the wicked while preserving his people as they live on this earth leading up to the eventual final judgment and the consummation of all things.

Trumpets 1-6 symbolize these partial and perpetual judgments of God poured out upon the ungodly. Trumpet 7 will again describe the end to us with the shouts of those in heaven saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15, ESV).

The book of Revelation is repetitive, isn’t it? The seal cycle communicated a similar message. It too was about the preservation of God’s people and also the judgment of God’s enemies through both partial and perpetual judgments (seals 1-4), and also the full and final judgment (seals 6 and 7).

The two cycles – the seven seals and the seven trumpets – have a similar message, but they are not identical. The trumpets have a different emphasis than the seals. They give a different perspective on things. The seals revealed that this age will marked by trials and tribulation. There will be wars, and rumors of wars, plagues and famines. Indeed, the righteous and unrighteous will both be effected by these things. To the righteous the trials and tribulations are but a refining fire. To the unrighteous they are forms of judgment. God’s people will be preserved. But the enemies of God – those not in Christ – will be judged.

The trumpet cycle, though it has a similar message to the seals, emphasizes that God is active in his judgments even now. He is ability to judge with precision, not only on that last day, but even now. He has the ability to judge a particular people while keeping others unharmed and for himself. He will judge in a restrained way, that is to say, partially and perpetually. These judgements – partial and perpetual – serve as a kind warning to the wicked that a greater judgment – full and final – will one day come. These partial perpetual judgments have a way of bringing glory to his name and also encouraging the faith us his people as they live as exiles in this world.

Where do I get all of that from this text? It is by using the same method of interpretation that we have used from the beginning of our study of this book. Instead of looking to the newspaper and to the future in search of a literal fulfillment of the passage, we are to look back to the Old Testament to understand the meaning of the symbolism that we find here. Isn’t this what we have been doing all along – looking to the rest of scripture, particularly the Old Testament to help us understand the the things shown to John?

When we read about the seven trumpets there are two passages in the Old Testament that should come to mind. One we have already read. It is the story of the fall of Jericho. The other would be more difficult to read in this setting given the length of it, but you know it well. It is the story of the Exodus and the plagues poured out upon the Egyptians.

Today I will say a few things about the importance of the Jericho story. We will bring the Exodus story into view as we move through the trumpet cycle more slowly in the weeks to come.

Concerning Jericho, remember that the people of Israel had been delivered from Egypt, being led out by the mighty hand of God under the leadership of Moses. It was the ten plagues, which we will come back to in the weeks to come, which were used to free them. The people of God passed through the Red See unharmed, but they did not immediately enter into the promised land because of their faithlessness, so they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Moses eventually died along with the rest of the faithless generation, and Joshua took the lead. He was charged with leading the next generation of the people into the promised land. They crossed the Jordan and the first obstacle in their way was the fortified city of Jericho.

What were they to do? These men were assembled for war. You would expected them to besiege the city. But instead God commanded that the priests take the lead. They were to take the ark of the covenant and walk around the city every day for seven days. Seven priests were given seven trumpets to blow. For the first six days they were to walk around the city one time while the priests sounded their trumpets. But on the seventh day they were walk around the city seven times. After they had walked around the city seven times on the seventh day with the seven priests blowing their seven trumpets the people were to shout and he city would be delivered into their hands. This happened. No one was spared except the prostitute and her family who had aided the Hebrew spies days earlier.

What is this all about?

Well, just as the people were rescued out of Egypt by the might hand of God, and just as they were sustained in the wilderness by God those 40 years, so too would they take the land. Their salvation, beginning, middle, and end, was the work of the LORD.

I need for you to understand that the story of the Exodus, the passing through the Red Sea, the wilderness wanderings, and the conquest lead by Joshua (which is the Hebrew name for Jesus), functions as kind of picture or prototype of our salvation in Christ Jesus. The New Testament makes this so abundantly clear.  These historical events were redemptive historical events. They were events pregnant with redemptive significance. The Israelites at once experiences a kind of salvation while also living out in prototypical fashion a picture of the greater salvation to come through the Christ

You have been redeemed, not merely from Egypt, but but from the power of sin and death. You have passed through, not merely the waters of the Red Sea, but the waters of divine judgement that they symbolize. You are wandering as sojourners in a dry and arid place – this is not your home. But you will one day inter into the land that has been promised to you – not some mere sliver of land in Palestine – but the new heavens and the new earth that Abraham saw with eyes of faith. And who will lead you there? Not Joshua the Son of Nun, but Joshua the Christ.

Therefor the story of the fall of Jericho, though certainly a real historical event, functions typologically in the Bible. It symbolizes the final judgment. The day will come when God will judge all of the kingdoms of this world and bring his people safely into the promised land. Jericho along with the rest of the conquest is type of that.

The whole trumpet cycle is based upon that story. Just as the people of God under Joshua’s lead circled the city for six days sounding trumpets as a warning of impending doom, so too, God by pouring out partial and perpetual judgments through his angels, is warning of the full and final judgment yet to come. And just as the city of Jericho fell with the sounding of the trumpets on the seventh day, so too the kingdoms of this world will fall and be overrun – “The kingdom of the world [will] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15, ESV).

In the scriptures trumpets warn of impending doom. They signal the coming of the Lord in glory. It was true of the Jericho event. The sounding of the trumpets on the first six days warned the inhabitants of the city of impending doom. When the seven trumpets were sounded by the seven priests on the seventh day after the seven fold circumnavigation of the city, the doom suddenly came upon the city – the city of Jericho became the city of the LORD and of his covenant people.


Though you do not hear them with your natural ears, trumpets are sounding around you day and night warning of the impending doom that will suddenly come upon the unbelieving world. Wars, rumors of war, famines and plagues, natural disasters, the rise and fall of nations, the death of loved ones – are they not reminders of our sin and the fact that we will stand before the God who made us on that last day to give an account?

The one who knows Christ hears these trumpet blasts with ears of faith and understands their significance. The one not in Christ ignores the warning. Those in Christ are like the Israelites who marched around the city. They knew what the first trumpet blasts on the first six days were for – they were warning sings. But I would bet that the citizens of Jericho thought little of the priests armed with their rams horns, for they persisted in their unbelief.

I do wish that the unbeliever would here the warning that sound all around them. How often I have preached to those grieving the loss of a loved one at memorial service saying, “don’t you see that life will not go on forever, that death will touch us all, and that we will stand before the God who made us. The trumpet blast is loud and clear to me, but how rare it is to see someone awake from their sleepy slumber.

Brothers and sisters, I do wish that you would grow accustom to thinking in this way. I wish that when you read of this catastrophe or that, would see them for what they are – trumpet blasts – forms of judgment in miniature which warn of impending doom.

Also, give thanks to God that in his mercy he has restrained his judgments, leaving time for his elect to be brought to repentance and faith, gathered to himself.

“And Jesus began to say to them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Mark 13:5–8, ESV). The first six trumpets can be compared to birth pains. They are not the end, but they warn of the end. They are the precursor of fill and final judgment that will poured out on that last day.

Comments are closed.

"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

© 2011-2022 Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church