REVELATION
SEVEN TRUMPETS

Notes on Chapters 8:6 - 11:19
Cecil N. Wright

 I. FIRST FOUR TRUMPETS (8:7-12).

            The sounding of the Seven Trumpets results from the opening of the last of the Seven Seals, and is an integral part of them. As stated in Thrones and Closed Book (Notes on Chapters 4 & 5) the Seven Seals seem to be incorporate in the Seven Trumpets, and in the Seven Trumpets incorporate the Seven Bowls, so that the events of the Seventh Seal are not complete prior to the completion of even those of the Seventh Bowl much later in the text; also that the Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls are not necessarily consecutive, but may in part be simultaneous and overlapping and represent simply different aspects of the same general events.

            As with the Seven Seals, the Seven Trumpets are divided into two distinct groups of four and three, respectively; and there is an interlude, or parenthetic episode, between the sixth and seventh numbers of each series. The first four Trumpets introduce judgments upon the Roman empire symbolized by disorders affecting nature in four of its realms: the earth, the sea, the rivers, and the heavenly bodies. The symbolism of the remaining Trumpets is that of demonic disasters upon the inhabitants of the earth.

            Descriptions of the judgments correspond in large measure to the plagues of Egypt, but with modifications. The first four are not as severe and widespread as the last three – each affecting only a: "third part" of the category. All are designed as warnings to repent, but the first four are not as punitive as the last three, which are designated as "woe Trumpets. Some have thought the first four symbolize the overthrow of the western part of the Roman empire; the next two, the overthrow of the eastern part; and the last, the complete and final destruction of all the enemies of Christianity at the end of history. The interpretation adopted in these notes, however, is that the latter has reference to the overthrow of paganism in the Roman empire and its becoming nominally Christian, with a complete reversal of the status of paganism and Christianity in the empire – with rationale for said interpretation given later.

            1. First Trumpet (v.7): "and the first sounded, and there followed hail and fire, mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth" and the third part of the earth was burnt up, and the third part of the trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up."

            This is reminiscent of the plague of hail and fire upon Egypt (Exodus 9:22-26), but "blood" is added, which seems to symbolize war. In that case, the scorched and blasted land may indicate the devastation of destroying armies. It could be symbolic of Gothic invasion from the north in A.D. 409 and the sacking of Rome the next year under Alaric. Johnson points out some of the expressions of Gibbon concerning it as follow: "the tremendous sound of the Gothic Trumpet"; "At the first sound of the trumpet the Goths left their farms" (for the invasion); "the Goths conflagration"; "Blood and conflagration and the burning of trees and herbage marked their path." Italy had been invaded temporarily more than a century earlier, but not nearly as extensively and for a period of 619 years Rome itself had never been violated by the presence of a foreign enemy. So, when Rome was sacked and conquered it was a staggering blow, spreading consternation and gloom. But after six days the Gothic army evacuated the city, and not long afterward Alaric died, with his brother-in-law and successor concluding a treaty of peace two years later (412).

            2. Second Trumpet (vs.8-9): "And the second angel sounded and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and there died the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, even they that had life; and the third part of the ships was destroyed."

            In symbolism a mountain usually represents a king or kingdom (cf. 17:9-10), and here it is a "mountain burning with fire" – a volcanic mountain erupting and being cast into the sea, giving it the appearance of blood – which is reminiscent of the waters of the Nile in Egypt being turned to blood. Bodies of water or seas often represent a multitude of people (cf.17:18), but sometimes the literal and figurative are blended, as may be the case here, since warfare in which ships are destroyed is indicated. In the event, the attack on Rome would come from the sea instead of land as under Alaric. And in harmony with this line of interpretation, the symbolism of the Second Trumpet corresponds remarkably with the invasion of the Vandals under Genseric.

            Gibbon says of Genseric that in "the destruction of the Roman empire" his name "has deserved an equal rank with the names of Alaric and Attilla." He began his conquest in Africa, taking Carthage and the whole of its province from Rome in 439. He then "cast his eyes toward the sea" and created a "naval power." With fleets that issued from the ports of Carthage (and) claimed the empire of the Mediterranean" – of which Rome had held undisputed mastery for six hundred years. In the course of time he cast anchor at the mouth of the Tiber and advanced from port of Ostia to the gates of the city of Rome. Gibbon states that "Rome and its inhabitants were delivered to the licentiousness of the Vandals and Moors, … The pillage lasted fourteen days and nights; and all that remained of public or private wealth, or sacred or profane treasure, was diligently transported to the vessels of Genseric." This occurred in 455. Three years later when the Roman emperor had prepared a navy of "three hundred large galleys, with an adequate proportion of transports and smaller vessels," the Romans were defeated by a surprise attack of the Vandals, when "many of their ships were sunk, or taken, or burnt: and the preparations of three years were destroyed in a single day" – in 458.

            3. Third Trumpet (vs.10-11): "And the third angel sounded, and there fell from heaven a great star, burning as a torch, and it fell upon a third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of the waters; and the name of the star is called wormwood: and a third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter."

            A star usually symbolizes a ruler or person of rank. In this case, a great burning star or meteor flashed across the sky, as it were, and fell upon a third part of the rivers, rendering them bitter, and many men died as a result. Meteors appear and disappear suddenly, which would indicate a suddenness with which the work of some significant personage would begin and/or end against Rome. In this case, the symbolism is in striking harmony with the career about Attila as a leader of the Huns, which embraced from 433 to 453, making him contemporary with Genseric part of the time, but beginning his career about five years later. As a military leader he was a star of the first magnitude, claming divinely given dominion or the earth. And "in the reign of Attila, the Huns again became the terror of the world," as they had been in earlier times and other parts under previous leaders. Gibbon says he "alternately insulted and invaded the East and the West, and urged the rapid downfall of the Roman Empire."

            It is said that before the year 400 the Romans knew nothing about the Hungarian nation (not to be confused with the present -day Hungarians, who had come into central Europe from the depths of central Asia, but that about the time of Attila appeared upon the banks of the Danube, the river boundary of the Roman empire, with eight hundred thousand fighting men. Overcoming opposition to the passage of the Danube, he rushed westward, crossed the Rhine river and on the Marne engaged in a tremendous battle with the armies of Rome, where the blood of the slaughtered is said to have made the river run with blood, and that from one hundred fifty thousand to three hundred thousand were slain. Then his army desolated the Rhine river to its mouth and turning southward, it met again the host of Rome on the banks of the Rhone river in furious combat. Finally, arriving on the banks of the Po river Attila contended for the mastery of Italy itself. Victorious, he marched further southward to take Rome. Unable to contend longer, however, the emperor and the senate sent a commission to meet him and obtain a treaty of peace. Upon receiving an immense ransom, he departed, recrossed the Danube, and soon died (453) – at Bud, on the north side of the Danube, which he had made the capital of the Huns.

            4. Fourth Trumpet (v.12): "And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and a third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; that the third part of them should be darkened, and the day should not shine for the third part of it, and the night in like manner."

            Johnson comments as follows: "We have found the Goths struck their blow (by land) about 409; the Vandals from the sea about A.D. 422; and Attila upon the rivers about A.D. 440. What follows? We are to seek the fulfillment in the next and final invasion or Rome. It occurred A.D. 476. Odoacer, king of the Heruli, a Northern race, encouraged by the apparent weakness of the failing empire, besieged and took the almost helpless city. Augustulus, the feeble emperor, was hurled down, the Roman Senate that had met for twelve hundred and twenty-eight years, was driven from the Senate chambers, the mighty fabric of the empire fell to the dust, and the great men humbled never to rise again. Sun, moon, and stars, emperor, princes, and great men, were smitten, lose their power, and cease to give light. There now began the period called by all historians the ‘Dark Age.’" (Incidentally, one of the plagues of Egypt was a preternatural darkness for three days.)

            Further by Johnson: "The third part is named in each of these four judgments. The first fall on the third part of the earth, the second on a third part of the sea, the third on a third part of the rivers, and the fourth on a third part of the sun, moon, and stars. If they were to fall upon a third part of the great Roman world, (1) upon its land provinces, (2) upon its seas,(3) upon its river systems, and (4) upon emperors and rulers (sun, moon, and stars), the whole would thus be fulfilled. This is just what took place. During a great part of the period when the events were taking place which are covered by the seven trumpets, the great Roman world was divided into three parts. Gibbon, Chap. LIII., says: ‘From the age of Charlemagne to that of the Crusades, the world (for I overlook the remote monarchy of China) was occupied and disputed by the three great empires, or nations of the Greeks, the Saracens, and the Franks.’ ‘Three classes of men during that interval are conspicuous, the Saracens or Arabians, the Latins or Franks, inhabitants of the Western Europe, and the Byzantine Greeks.’ –Phil. Inquiries , Part III. These quotations, which might be multiplied, show that during the long period of a thousand years, a period embraced in the vision of John, the civilized world was divided into three distinct parts, a third part, the Western third part called the Latin or Frank part, that all the calamities of the four invasions of Goths, Vandals, Huns and Heruli fell. It was the Western third part, the Old Roman Empire, which fell forever under the blows."

            The striking correspondence between symbolism and Roman history, including sequence, is the most remarkable if not more than mere coincidence – if not divine prophecy and fulfillment.

II. FIRST TWO "WOE" TRUMPETS (8:13 - 9:21).

            John next said: "And I saw , and I heard an eagle, flying in mid heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, for them that dwell on the earth, by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, who are yet to sound" (8:1-13).

            This sets the last three trumpets off in a separate class from the four preceding and indicates increased misery for the inhabitants of the earth – likely the Roman portion of the earth particularly. And between the sixth and the seventh trumpets is an episode or interlude of significance for appreciation of the last trumpet. Hence, now we notice only the fifth and sixth trumpets.

            1. Fifth Trumpet (9:1-12): "And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven fall unto the earth: and there was given to him the key to the pit of the abyss" (v.1). John did not see a star fall from heaven, as the King James Version reads, but a star from heaven "having fallen unto earth," as the Greek literally reads. A star is a symbol of a leader. And in this case he may be "the angel of the abyss." Abaddon in Hebrew and Apollyon in Greek, which means "Destroyer" (v.11) – either Satan or one of his angels – possibly the latter symbolizing some outstanding false teacher and military leader.. The "abyss" is likely Tartarus (cf. 2 Peter 2:4) of the Hadean world, the abode of the wicked until resurrection and judgment, and not Gehenna, the lake of fire and brimstone, but whose occupants represent hellish influences. Having the "key" to the abyss evidently represents power to turn loose a multitude of evil workers.

            "And he opened the pit of the abyss; and there went up a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit" (v.2). Smoke would darken the sun wherever is spread, and may represent false teaching that, by shutting out the light of truth, would darken the minds of men (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

            "And out of the smoke came forth locusts upon the earth; and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power" (v.3). This is reminiscent of the plague of locusts upon Egypt, yet is different. Those destroyed vegetation, but these were not allowed to do so, but to hurt man –"only such men as have not the seal of God on their foreheads"—not kill them, however, but torment them five months so grievously that they would prefer death (vs. 4-6).

            The description of the locusts is interesting and quite unnatural. They were shaped like "horses prepared for war," which indicates that they symbolized warfare. They wore, not crowns of gold, but "as it were crowns like unto gold," evidently a significant factor of identification along with others. Their faces were as "men’s" hence must have been bearded; their hair was as that of "women," hence likely long; their teeth were as those of "lions," likely indicating of fierceness. The sound of their wings was as that "of chariots, of many horses rushing to war" – suggestive of great numbers as well as their military mission. And they had tails like scorpions, that is, with stings in them – to torment, but not to kill. (vs. 7-10.)

            The combined factors of identification have led historicist interpreters to believe that the rise and spread of Mohammedanism (or Islam) is what is symbolized. For one thing, it issued forth from Arabia, which was preeminently the land of the locusts in the Middle East and apparently the source of the locusts plague upon Egypt – being borne in on an east wind. Mohammed proclaimed himself a prophet, set out at the head of an army to propagate his religion by the sword, and conquered Arabia before his death in 632. Under successive leaders Mohammedan armies swept on from there, with one conquest after another in the Eastern world and in parts of the West. Syria fell in 634 (and Damascus established as the capital of their budding empire), Jerusalem in 637, Egypt in 638, Persia in 640, North Africa in 689, and Spain in 711. Not until 732 in a decisive battle at Tours, France, was the tide of conquest stayed. Twice after that, in 675 and 716, they besieged Constantinople but were repulsed each time. In 762 they moved their capital to Bagdad on the Tigris river and called it "the city of Peace." And Gibbons says, "War was no longer the passion of the Saracens" – a term by which the Arabs were popularly known in the Middle Ages. And by the year 782 they engaged in friendly correspondence with Christian rulers of Europe. But indicative of their scourge, possibly at its worst, from 634 to 644, it reported that they had reduced 36,000 cities to obedience, destroyed 4,000 church buildings, and built 1,400 mosques. And Gibbons says: "At the end of the first century of the Hegira [the flight of Mohammed from Mecca in 622] the caliphs [successors of Mohammed] were the most potent and absolute monarchs on the globe. Under the last of the Ommiades [a dynasty of caliphs in the East from 661 to 750] the Arabian empire extended two hundred days’ journey from east to west, from the confines of Tartary and India to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean."

            Furthermore, the Arabian armies were fierce and composed of horsemen, famous for their beards, wore their hair long, with yellow turbans on their heads, and are said to have worn iron coats of armor. And when they invaded Syria in 632, Abubeker, the successor of Mohammed, commanded: "Destroy no palm trees, nor burn any fields of corn. Cut down no fruit trees." This corresponds with "it is said unto them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only such men as have not the seal of God on their forehead."

            The question arises as to who commanded to hurt "only such men as have not the seal of God on their foreheads," whether God or the leader of the armies. If the latter, he would mean those who did not accept Mohammed as a prophet of God. If the former, reference would be to the true people of God. Either interpretation is linguistically possible.

            While it is true that the Arabian armies were primarily interested in making converts to Mohammedanism, and were dead set against paganism, they often exercised a great deal of leniency toward professed Christians if they recognized the political supremacy of Islam in the regions. "Ironically, considering the Arabs’ reputation in the West for proselytizing by the sword, their advance through Syria and Egypt was often welcomed by the Monophysite populations, who found the Islamic conquerors more tolerant than their own Orthodox brothers in Constantinople" (Religion at the Crossroads", 1980, p.40). Of conditions under later Islamic leaders (Turkish sultans) it is said: "After he routed a Byzantine army in 1301, Osman was joined by still more fighting Turks, and even Greek defectors. He also welcomed Christians who recognized his authority – and thus the supremacy of Islam.—and let them worship as they pleased" (Ibid. p.90). Also: "the Greek-Orthodox Bulgarians, who had been persecuted by the Catholic Hungarians, welcomed the religious tolerance under Ottoman rule" (Ibid. p.94).

            Although Islamic Arabs did not completely subdue the Eastern (or Byzantine) part of the Roman empire, they greatly shrank its borders and considerably weakened it political fabric. And what they failed to do, the Ottoman Turks, who were likewise Islamic, accomplished. And, if the symbolism of the fifth trumpet (the first "Woe") referred to the former, that of the Sixth Trumpet (the second "Woe") must refer to the latter.

            2. Sixth Trumpet (9:13-21): When the sixth angel sounded, John "heard a voice from the horns of the golden alter before God, one saying to the sixth angel that had the trumpet, Loose the four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates. And the fourth angels were loosed, that had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, that they should kill a the third part of men. And the number of the armies of the horsemen was twice ten thousand times the thousand: and I heard the number of them," said John (vs. 13-16).

            Angels are messengers or agents through which events are accomplished. In this case, the four angels are agents of wrath that had been confined beyond the Euphrates, the eastern boundary of the Roman empire. While four may be indicative of strength, it could have reference to the four principalities under the four grandsons of the leader who established the Turkish empire in western Asia. Coming originally out of central Asia, and having converted to Mohammedanism in the 9th and 10th centuries, by the second half of the tenth century A.D. they extended themselves as far west as the Euphrates river, the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire, but, somehow, were "bound" there for sixty years. In 1057, however they crossed the Euphrates with a tremendous cavalry and marched upon the eastern part of the Roman empire. By the beginning of the next century they were in control of most of it. By late in the 13th century, the Turkish empire had reorganized itself into the Ottoman Turks in power. Then they crossed into Europe. The eastern part of the Roman empire was soon shorn of all its territories and reduced to the city of Constantinople. And in addition to clashing and fighting back and forth with nearly every country that had been a part of the western Roman empire, and wearying them to a standstill, in 1453 the Turks successfully assaulted Constantinople with 200,000 soldiers, and with battering rams and cannons – the first ever used in a siege – and with a mighty slaughter took, on May 29, the last vestige of the once mighty Roman empire, And when more than a century later it reached its peak, the Ottoman empire extended from Persia throughout Asia Minor (or Anatolia, as it was called), into parts of Arabia, into most of southeastern Europe, throughout Syria and Palestine, and to Egypt and most of northern Africa, and penetrated deeply into parts of other areas where it molested but never gained and/or maintained control. Eventually it disintegrated and weakened to the point of being the "sick man of Europe." But on its way to ascendancy it achieved the disintegration and overthrow of the last vestiges of the Roman empire – the Byzantine portion – the Byzantine "third" of the civilized world – which seemingly was its main providential mission. The Saracens had achieved a part of that mission, and the Turks completed it and came to dominate for a long period of time the territory the Saracens had taken as well as that which they themselves additionally conquered.

            Out of the mouths of the preternatural horses seen in John’s symbolical vision "proceedeth fire and brimstone. By these three plagues was the third of men killed, … For the power of the horses is in their mouths, and in their tails: for their tails are like unto serpents, and have heads; and with them they do hurt." (vs.17-19).

            Historicist interpreters have seen in this a reference to the use of gun powder and firearms, employed for the first time in the campaigns of the Ottoman Turks – since at a distance it might look as if the smoke of guns fired by the riders was coming from the horses’ mouths, and that this was the source of their power. The other source was their tails. Johnson remarks: "this is a singular statement. No less singular is the fact that among the Turks the horses tail is a emblem of power. The number of horses tails determined rank. A Pacha of three tails is a great officer. The emblem of rule of the Pacha, the most wasteful, oppressive, unjust rule the world has ever seen, is likely the horse’s tail." If that seems farfetched, "Perhaps the serpentlike tails only signify the biting torture that would be felt by those who would have to suffer from the new kind of warfare indicated" (John T Hinds. Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Gospel Advocate company, 1937.)

            "And the rest of mankind, who were not killed with these plagues, repented not of the works of the hands, that they should not worship demons, and the idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood; which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk" and repented not of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts" (vs.20-21).

            This has a special reference to those who were guilty of idolatry and commonly associated sins. Although both the Saracens and the Turks were Mohammedans and were a scourge especially against such, they never succeeded either in converting or killing all who practiced it. Christians were as much opposed to idolatry as the Moslems (another name for Mohammedans) were, but did not use the sword (or guns) against it.

III. Interlude (10:1 - 11:4).

            1. The Little Open Book (10:1-11). This is the first part of an interlude before sounding the Seventh Trumpet. John sees another strong angel, not one of the seven with trumpets, having in his hand a little open book, who set his right foot upon the sea and his left foot upon the earth (land), and cried with a loud voice, responded to by the "voices" of the seven thunders – evidently ominous utterings, which John was forbidden to record. Then the strong angel swore by the Creator that there would be "delay no longer," but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the "mystery of God," according to what he had declared to his servants the prophets, would be "finished." (vs.1-7.) That is, a significant consummation that had been foretold would be accomplished. Then John was directed to take the little open book from the strong angel standing upon the sea and upon the land, and to "eat it up," which in his mouth would be "sweet as honey" but in his stomach would be "bitter." And he was told that he must "prophesy" (make known God’s message) again in regard to (epi, as in John 12:16, where it is translated "of") "many peoples and nations and tongues and kings." It would be a message of mercy upon some, which would be sweet, and of judgment upon others, which would be bitter to contemplate. This may possibly have reference principally to the remainder of "The Revelation" itself, concerned with the consummation, which is bitter-sweet indeed.

            2. The Two Witnesses (11:1-14): "And there was given unto me a reed like unto a rod: And one said, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the alter, and them that worship therein. And the court which is without the temple leave without and measure it not; for it hath been given unto the nations: and the holy city shall they tread under foot for forty and two months. And I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand and two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth" (vs.1-3).

            The measuring john was to do so reminiscent of that described in Ezekiel, Chapters 40-43 – to obtain dimensions of the pattern for the people to conform to if ashamed of their iniquities and interested in obedience to God (43:6-12) and acceptable by him (v.27). John was to measure the temple (the church), the alter (the worship), and the worshippers themselves. The outer court was not to be included in the measuring, being the court of the nations (Gentiles), who would tread under foot (persecute) the holy city (another term for the church) for 42 months (3 ½ years). During that time (expression also as 1260 days) God’s "two witnesses" would prophesy in "sackcloth" – a symbol of sorrow and mourning – obviously due to persecution. (A similar period of time was forecast, in Daniel 12:5-28, "a time, times, and a half." When there would be a "breaking in pieces the power of the holy people." See also 7:25 and the context, vs. 15-28.)

            The instrument for the above measuring was "given" to John. Not something he made; and , in harmony with the chapters referred to above from Ezekiel, it must have been the word of God – in this case, the teaching of the New Testament, already given to the apostles, who had been guided into all truth (John 16:13). Obviously, that would also be the message of God’s "two witnesses" who would prophesy in sackcloth for 3 ½ years.

            These two witnesses are described as "the two olive trees and the two candlesticks (Gr. lampstands), standing before the Lord of the earth" (v.4). this imagery seems to be suggested by Zechariah 4. The "olive trees" would supply the oil necessary of the lamps to give light. And, since the word of God is a "lamp" and a "light" (Psalm 119:105), the "oil" would likely be the Holy spirit by which the word is received by prophets and communicated. When Zechariah asked what the two olive trees in his vision represented, he was told, "This is the word of Jehovah unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of host" (4:6); Also, "These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth" (v.14) – referring to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, the high priest (3:1,8-9; cf. See Haggai 2:1-5) – so endowed (anointed) by the Spirit of God as to do the work assigned to them by the Lord.

            But the two witnesses of our text in Revelation are not so specifically designated, though they are called "prophets" – persons who by the Spirit of God receive and communicate to others the word of God. They are described, however, in terms reminiscent of Moses (Exodus 1:14-21 through Chapter 11) and Elijah (1 Kings 17:1-5 and James 5:17-18; 2 Kings 1:10-14) – yet they are not these. In all probability, reference is symbolically made to all Christian martyrs (witnesses) during the period under consideration – for they are killed – by the "beast that comes up out of the abyss and makes war with them (v.7) -- to be described later and referred to again and again. (Some have thought them to represent the Old and New Testaments, and surely they would speak forth the truths of such – "the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus" (1:2.9; 6:9; 20:4).)

            They are killed in the great city where our Lord was crucified (v.8) – likely not referring to his literal crucifixion, but to his being "crucified afresh" by enemies of his cause (see Hebrews 6:4 for such a figurative use of the word). And, if the crucifixion referred to is not literal, neither would the city likely be the one where he was literally crucified. "Spiritually" (that is figuratively) it is Jerusalem (because of its rejection of Christ and the persecution of his people); Sodom (because of its moral degradation); and Egypt (because of its cruelty and oppression). It is the antithesis of the holy city (New Jerusalem, yet to be depicted), and is preeminently the sin city (later referred to again and again as Babylon and described as a great harlot sitting upon "many waters", symbolizing "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues", (17:1-15), and likewise described as sitting upon a "scarlet colored beast" (17:3), answering to one referred to above in 11:7).

            Contempt for the witnesses put to death is shown by refusal to allow them to be buried (which was not true in literal Jerusalem in regard to Christ when he was crucified), as well as by the merry-making of "the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations" beholding their dead bodies in the city of their martyrdom – answering not to any one city alone, but to the Roman empire as a whole. Their rejoicing is short-lived, however, for after 3 ½ days the martyred ones are described as being restored to life, and then called into heaven. This evidently means that when the cause of the two witnesses was thought to be so vanquished as never to revive, it not only recovered but was even exalted (and therefore successful) beyond what it had ever been before. That was greatly frightening to the enemies of Christianity, and "in that hour" there was a "great earthquake" causing a part of the city of sin to fall, with many killed, and the rest giving "glory to God of heaven" – reminiscent of what has already been depicted under different symbolism, and will be repeated in various other ways as well. This has brought us through 11:13.

            "The second Woe is past: behold the Third Woe cometh quickly" (v.14).

IV. THIRD "WOE" TRUMPET (11:15-19).

1. Seventh Trumpet (11:15-18): "And the seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever."

  This represents a promised consummation. The strong angel that had said, "there shall be delay no longer" continued by saying, "but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then is finished the mystery of God according to the good tidings which he declared to his servants the prophets" (10:6-7). But it is doubtful if this refers to the victory of Christ at the end of history, unless in prospect and by way of prelude and assurance. It is more likely to be primarily his victory over paganism, to be symbolized yet in various ways in addition to what has already been done, including the symbolism of Chapter 19, after which there is still an interval represented as more than one thousand years before the end of history, as described in 20:1-10. See Chart of Revelation 6-22.

  The 24 Elders responded to the above quoted declaration by worshipping God saying, "We give thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who art and who wast; because thou hast taken thy great power, and didst reign. And the nations were wroth, and thy wrath came, and the time of the dead to be judged, and the time to give reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear thy name, the small and the great; and to destroy the earth." (vs.16-18.)

            While this could be said at the end of history, it is likewise applicable after the overthrow of paganism and enthronement, as it were, of Christianity in the Roman empire. Remember the symbolism of the two witnesses who were killed and were then restored to life and even called up into heaven (vs.3-13)? Also the promise to the souls under the alter (6:9-11)? Note likewise the "first resurrection" and the enthronement of a thousand years of the souls of those who "had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God," etc., to be described in 20:4-6. The latter appears to be the result of the sequel to, the overthrow of paganism, apparently symbolized for the last time in chapter 19.

            2. Verse 19: "And there was opened the temple of God in heaven; and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant; and there followed lightenings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail."

            The first part of this verse is designed to give assurance to the beleaguered saints that God’s covenant with them (all he has promised them) is ever held in remembrance, that they should not despair; and the second part describes omens of judgments upon theirs and God’s enemies, to be further described in succeeding chapters.

            If the interpretation adopted in these notes is correct, what has gone before general emphasis upon secular history of the Roman empire from the giving of Revelation till the dissolution of the empire, which had and would have a bearing upon Christians and Christianity; whereas what is to follow will emphasize more particularly and depict in greater detail the spiritual conflict between Christianity and its various enemies in the Roman empire during the same period, plus the final and over-all outcome at the end of history.

            Tough there is marked contrast between the first eleven and the second eleven chapters of Revelation, John’s vantage point beginning with Chapter 4 does not change till chapter 17 – being heaven itself – "in the Spirit," that is. Moreover, if the seven Seals incorporate the Seven Trumpets, and the Seven Trumpets incorporate the Seven Bowls, then the effects of these carry through to Chapter 20:6 – till nearly the end of history, depicted in 20:7-15, and a glimpse beyond history (21:1 - 22:5).