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The Seventh Trumpet, Recapitulation, and Structure (Revelation 11:15-19)

Marcelo is the pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, and the author of Biblical Prayer for Today's Believers: Transform Your Prayer Life.

The Seventh Trumpet

Analysis

When the angel plays the seventh trumpet, John hears loud voices in heaven.

These voices proclaim that (1) the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of God and his Christ (his anointed), and that he (God) will reign forever.

In response to these voices, the 24 elders who were sitting on their own thrones fall on their faces and worship God.

  • They thank God because He has begun to reign
  • They call God The Almighty, and The One Who Is and Who Was
  • They declare that the nations raged, but God's wrath came
  • The time to judge the dead has also come
  • The time to reward has also come, and these are the ones who will be rewarded: God's servants, prophets, saints, and those who fear God's name, small and great.
  • The time to destroy those who destroy the Earth has also come.

After the 24 elders finish worshiping, John sees that God's temple in Heaven is open, and that the ark of the covenant is in it. Afterwards, there are lightnings, rumblings, thunders, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

Interpretation

Although when the seventh trumpet is sounded the twenty-four elders proclaim that God has began to reign, it is unlikely that God's kingdom has already been established on Earth at this point in the book's chronology. Neither have the dead been judged, nor have the saints been reward; nor have those who destroyed the Earth been yet destroyed. What is more probable is that the twenty-four elders are praising God because they are anticipating these things to take place soon. This view is reinforced if we consider that the seven trumpets take place chronologically after the seven seals of judgment and before the seven bowl of wrath.

The Seven Trumpets

Recapitulation

As we saw in my previous article, Revelation has by now given us a hint of a timeline (a chronology) by allocating the nations’ trampling of Jerusalem in the latter half of Daniel’s seventieth week and the ministry of the two witnesses in the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week. This is important to keep in mind because, as we read further in the book, we will see instances of recapitulation: instances when other vision, which come later in the book, are placed back in this same timeline, in Daniel’s seventieth week.

These instances of recapitulation often lead to questions regarding the chronology of the book. And as we think about the seventh trumpet, we find a good occasion to think also about the book’s chronology.

The seventh trumpet is very different from the other trumpets. However, it is reminiscent of the seventh seal, which causes some to think that the seventh seal is recapitulation to the seventh trumpet.

The first seal brought about a conquest; the second seal, a world war; the third seal, inflation; the fourth seal, death; the fifth seal, martyrs; the sixth seal, a cataclysm; but the seventh seal brought about silence followed by the seventh trumpets.

Similarly, the first six trumpets brought about horrible events on Earth. The first trumpet brought about hail mixed with fire and blood; the second trumpet, the waters are turned to blood by a mountain falling from Earth; the third trumpet, a star that falls turns the rivers and springs into wormwood; the fourth trumpet, darkness over one third of the day and one third of the night; the fifth trumpet, locusts; the sixth trumpet, the release of four angels and their armies; but the seventh trumpet brings about praises and worship in Heaven, and it results in God's temple in heaven becoming open and revealing the ark of the covenant.

The apparent lack of action in both the seventh seal and the seventh trumpet causes some to think that the seventh trumpet and the seventh seal are the same event, or at least parallel events.

However, unlike the seventh seal, which brought about the seven trumpets, there appears to be no connection between the seventh trumpet and the seven bowls of wrath, which are handed to angels further ahead in the book (Revelation 15:7). Moreover, the seventh bowl (which is poured in Revelation 16:17) appears to have more effects on Earth than the seventh trumpet. Although the seventh bowl also involves a proclamation (just like the seventh trumpet), this proclamation is about the accomplishment of God's wrath, and it merely consists on the phrase it is done.

Thus, it appears that, although the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet, and the seventh bowl of wrath are similar to each other because they close sets of seven forms of punishment, they are still not the same, and each of them is making reference to different events.

Structure

Thus, the book of Revelation is developed upon a very structured framework. The framework consists on 7 letters to the churches, 7 seals of judgment, 7 trumpets of vengeance, and 7 bowls of wrath. (Note, once again, that the seventh seal brings about the seven trumpets, but the seventh trumpet does not bring about the seven bowls of wrath. Then, the seventh bowl of wrath ends the display of God's wrath upon Earth).

Moreover, each set of seven is preceded and followed by visions. A vision of the resurrected Lord precedes the letters to the seven churches. Then, a vision of worship in Heaven precedes the seven seals. Next, a vision of the 144,000 and a multitude in white robes precedes the 7th seal.

The seventh seal leads to the seven trumpets. Then, a vision of an angel with a scroll, a vision of the temple, and a vision of the two witnesses precede the seventh trumpet. Then, the seventh trumpet is followed by visions about two beasts, the Lord with the one-hundred and forty-four thousand, the messages of angels, and the harvest of the Earth.

Afterwards, the seven bowls of wrath take place. The seventh bowl is then followed by more visions: the prostitute on the beast, the destruction of Babylon, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, Christ’s battle, the millennium, the final battle, the new heavens and the new Earth, and the New Jerusalem.

Within all those visions, there appear to be several instances of recapitulation, for which reason much of the book takes place within Daniel’s 70th week. Nevertheless, the 7 letters, the 7 seals, the 7 trumpets, and the 7 bowls keep the book moving forward, from the time that John saw the vision of the resurrected Lord (sometime in the past) to the time when the New Jerusalem descends from heaven (sometime in the future).

It appears, then, that most of the book is in chronological order, except when we are given reason to believe that something is out of order. These signals are usually given by the author through obvious recapitulations and through references to Daniel’s seventieth week.

Invitation

Dear friend:

I would like to invite you to share your thoughts, questions, and insights on the comments section below. I also would like to invite you to click on the links below to read my other articles the book of Revelation.

My Notes on Revelation 1:1-8, Jesus Is Coming

My Notes on Revelation 1:9-11, Jesus Speaks to John

My Notes on Revelation 1:12-20, Mysteries of the Son of Man

My Notes on Revelation 2:1-7: Letter to Ephesus

My Notes on Revelation 2:8-11: Letter to Smyrna

My Notes on Revelation 2:12-17, Letter to Pergamos

My Notes on Revelation 2:18-29, Letter to Thyatira

My notes on Revelation 3:1-6, Letter to Sardis

My Notes on Revelation 3:7-13, Letter to Philadelphia

My Notes on Revelation 3:14-22, Letter to Laodicea

Notes on Revelation 4:1, Does John’s Ascension to Heaven Teach the Rapture?

Notes on Revelation 4:2-3, Tracing the Throne of God

Notes on Revelation 4:4-11, The Sea, The Elders, and The Beasts

Revelation 5:1-7, The Scroll with Seven Seals

Revelation 5:8-14, Worshiping the Lamb

Revelation 6:1-2, The Rider on The White Horse

Revelation 6:3-11, World War X

Revelation 6:12-17, The Cataclysm

Revelation 7:1-8, The 144,000 Who Were Sealed

Revelation 7:9-17, The Multitude in White Robes

Revelation 8:1-13, The Seventh Seal, The Censer, and The First Four Trumpets

Revelation 9:1-12, The Fifth Trumpet: The Star, The Pit, and the Locusts

The Sixth Trumpet: Four Angels Loosed (Revelation 9:31-21)

Vision of the Angel with The Scroll (Revelation 10:1-11)

John Measures the Temple (Revelation 11:1-2)

Ministry of The Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:3-14)

© 2020 Marcelo Carcach

Comments

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 23, 2020:

I go with that. But this was really well done and it added to my understanding ;-) I got no answers.

Marcelo Carcach (author) from Westminster, MD on May 22, 2020:

Thank-you for asking. I think there is a difference between writing ABOUT the book and adding TO the book, or altering the book. By writing about the book, I am expressing my understanding and thoughts about the book, just as any preacher who preaches from the book would do. On the other hand, if I were to begin rewriting the book, inserting new elements (like a blue beast, for example) or remove elements already present in the book, then I would be doing what we are forbidden to do.

Marcelo Carcach (author) from Westminster, MD on May 22, 2020:

Thank-you. I will check it out. Yes, the seven thunders are quite a mystery. However, as interesting as they are, the seve thunders are mentioned briefly. Since they are not developed, they don't seem to correspond to the framework of the book, so they are usually not related to the chronology of the book. But I have to check out your article. Thanks again!

KC McGee from Where I belong on May 22, 2020:

Great article, I hope you will take the time and effort to review my Article relating to this same subject. I published it two days ago or so. I have a different take on the order of event as it relates to the Seven Seals, the Seven Trumpets and and the Seven Bowls. What is offen left out is the fact that in Revelation 10:3-4 in which Seven Thunders utter their vocies, which the angel tell John not to write down what the Seven Thunders had uttered. However, I believe what ever was said by the Seven Thunders will be events that is not to be made known to us before the Seventh Tumpet sounds.

Good article.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 22, 2020:

Just a quick question. Why do you write on a book that shall not be altered or added to. Seems you are doing both.

This is not meant as insult, rather open minded inquisitiveness.