The First Four Trumpets

And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. (Revelation 8:6)

When the seventh seal is open, John sees seven angels to whom seven trumpets are given. The prospect of the judgments yet to come causes silence in heaven for the space of about a half hour, according to John.[1] The preceding six seals brought the initial judgments of the wrath of God and the Lamb, but they are mild compared to what comes next.

The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up” (Revelation 8:7, emphasis mine). Many students of the Book of Revelation see symbolism throughout the book. While the book does present many objects in the form of symbols, those symbols are usually explained for the understanding of the reader. For example, in the first chapter, John sees Jesus standing in the midst of seven candlesticks (1:13) and holding seven stars in His right hand (1:16). Jesus reveals that “mystery” in verse 20; the candlesticks represent the seven churches to whom the book is addressed, and the seven stars represent the “angels” or “messengers,” i.e., pastors, of the seven churches. The combined symbolism shows Christ abiding in the midst of His churches.

Some symbolism is not explained directly but can be inferred from what we read in other places in Scripture. For example, John describes Jesus clothed with a “garment” down to His feet, and a golden girdle about His chest (1:13). We know from Leviticus that this is priestly apparel. His white hair symbolizes wisdom.[2] Also, when something is to be taken as symbolic, it is almost always preceded with “like” or “as” indicating simile. For example, “his eyes were as a flame of fire” (1:14) does not mean that Jesus had fire coming out of His eyes, rather, the symbolism indicates discernment and omniscience. His feet were “like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace” (1:15) is symbolic of judgment.[3] Clarence Larkin said, “In that day those feet that trod the Via Dolorosa of suffering will be like unto INCANDESCENT BRASS, that shall tread and crush Antichrist and Satan when He comes to ‘Tread the WINE-PRESS of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.’ Rev. 19:15.”[4]

Sometimes simile is not indicated, but the symbolism can be discerned from the context and from other references in Scripture. For example, John sees Jesus with a sharp two-edged sword coming from His mouth (1:16). This seems rather strange; however, we see this image again in Revelation 19:15. What can this mean? Well, what normally comes out of a mouth? The most obvious answer is “words.” In his Gospel, John called Jesus, “the Word.” “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, emphasis mine). John says that the Word (Jesus) created everything. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). In Genesis, we learn that all of creation (except for that of man) was accomplished through the spoken Word. God said, “Let there be…” and there was. We also know that God has also given us His written Word, the Bible. The entire Psalm 119 speaks about God’s Word. There we find these words: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). The writer of the Book of Hebrews gives us this perception: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). So, by looking at other Scriptures, we can discern that the sword proceeding out of Jesus’ mouth is nothing less than His Word, which when spoken will cut down all of His enemies because it is by His Word that we will all be judged.

So, why have I gone down this long rabbit trail without explaining the judgment of the first trumpet? I did so to show that what is described is NOT symbolic. We must take this verse (and those that follow) literally. The first trumpet sounds and “hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth” (8:7). There is no symbolism indicated here – no simile. This is a supernatural phenomenon; however, it is not unprecedented. God sent hail mixed with fire on Egypt as the seventh of ten plagues to convince Pharaoh to set the Israelites free.[5] However, this judgment comes with a twist. Blood, not rain like blood, comes mixed with the hail and fire. The fire burns one-third of the earth’s trees and grass. This will be an ecological disaster.

“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” (Revelation 8:8, emphasis mine). John sees an enormous object fall out of the sky and into the sea. Notice that John employs simile here – “as it were a great mountain” Surely John had seen meteors before, but this was unlike anything he had ever seen. It looked like a mountain to him, and it was burning. We know that when meteorites enter our atmosphere, the atmospheric friction causes them to ignite. Often, they burn up completely before striking the earth. When they do not incinerate completely, they impact the earth with explosive force (depending on their size). There is a meteor crater in Winslow, AZ that is a mile in diameter, which was created by a relatively small meteor.[6] That is just a pebble compared to what John sees. This is a large asteroid that enters the earth and crashes into the sea. Such an impact will cause huge tsunamis and kill much aquatic life. Anything near the impact site will be wiped out. John says, “And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed” (Revelation 8:9).

“And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter” (Revelation 8:10-11, emphasis mine). Without a doubt, this assuredly is an asteroid. The Greek word translated as “star” is astēr, and it refers to any luminous celestial object. The idea of an asteroid strike is not a farfetched idea. These free-floating objects in space concern NASA to the point that they actively attempt to identify and track “near-earth objects” (NEOs) whose trajectory intercept Earth’s orbit.[7] Because of their concerns about possible collisions, NASA actively works on “defense” strategies to intercept and redirect asteroids with the potential to strike the earth. Wormwood will escape NASA’s defenses and score a direct hit on the planet. Unlike the “mountain” that hit the sea at the second trumpet, Wormwood hits land, and the fallout poisons one-third of the drinking water on the earth and many die from drinking the water.

“And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise” (Revelation 8:12, emphasis mine). Again, this is not symbolic. What could cause the dimming by one-third of the light from the sun, moon, and stars? Many possibilities exist. God controls all of the elements, and it is certainly possible that He simply turns down the dimmer switch. However, it makes sense to me that the third trumpet brings the effects of the fourth trumpet. In other words, when that giant asteroid, Wormwood, strikes the earth, the impact will send debris high into the atmosphere, and the wind currents will spread it all over the earth effectively covering the entire planet in a blanket of dust. We know what volcanos do when they erupt. The ash they spew into the air darkens the sun and makes the moon appear blood red, and these are small compared to Wormwood.

John sees another angel. “And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!” (Revelation 8:13, emphasis mine). Things are going to get worse. I am thankful that I will not be around to experience what is coming.

Reader, are you prepared for what is coming to the world? You do not need to go through the Tribulation, God’s wrath, that is coming upon the world. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life,” and ask Jesus to save you from the wrath to come.


[1]  Revelation 8:1-2

[2]  Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 16:31 – “hoary head” means “white” hair

[3]  J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, Vol. 5 (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1983), p. 895.

[4]  Clarence Larkin, The Book of Revelation Illustrated, (Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, Philadelphia, 1919), p. 11.

[5]  Exodus 9:13-35

[6]  Meteor Crater | Barringer Space Museum | Winslow, AZ

[7]  NASA Office to Coordinate Asteroid Detection, Hazard Mitigation | NASA

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