The seven trumpet plagues of Revelation are some of the most disturbing and mysterious passages in the book.
Here we look at the first four trumpet plagues and what they might mean. Remember that we don’t have to know all the details to learn more about the loving God who’s trying to warn the world and save it from the terrible consequences of sin.
While the seven seals portray the spreading of the gospel in the world and what happens to those who reject God, the seven trumpets show the judgments of God on those who oppose God and persecute His faithful people.
If you want an introduction to why trumpets were blown and what they were used for in the Bible, you might want to read this first – Why are the Trumpets Blaring. But don’t forget to come back here and read about the first four trumpet plagues in Revelation, chapter 8.
First Trumpet: The Vegetation Struck
The first angel sounded: and hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. -Revelation 8:7
Trees represent people, often God’s people (Psalm 92:12; Matt. 7:18-20). God begins his trumpet warnings with those who claim to be his followers. The Bible says, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God…” 1 Peter 4:17. Will Christians turn to God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength before he returns? (Mark 12:30) According to this trumpet plague, sadly many will not give Jesus ALL of their heart.
Second Trumpet: The Seas Struck
Then the second angel sounded: and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. -Revelation 8:8-9
The sea in the Old Testament is often the symbol for people who oppose God (Isa. 57:20). The worldly beasts in Daniel’s vision also came from the sea (Dan. 7:2-3). God warns and punishes those opposed to his people so they will turn to him before he returns. God wants to save the lost. Will they listen?
Third Trumpet: The Waters Struck
Then the third angel sounded: and a great star fell from heaven, burning 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 men died from the water, because it was made bitter. -Revelation 8:10-11
John sees a star fall from heaven. The Bible elsewhere describes Satan (aka Lucifer) as a star falling from heaven (Isa. 14:12; Luke 10:18). Satan in this plague is poisoning the rivers and springs of water. Jesus wants to lead us to living waters (Rev. 7:17). He wants to lead us to himself – the source of the water of life (John 4:14; John 7:38; Rev. 22:17). When false teachings (aka apostasy) are presented as rivers of life, people will die from drinking this deception. God warns that this will lead people to destruction. God is calling us to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29). How do we know if someone is a false teacher? Test everything with what the Bible says. Read for yourself to see what God’s word says. God’s word is truth, and truth will set you free (John 8:31-32)!
Fourth Trumpet: The Heavens Struck
Then the fourth angel sounded: 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 were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night. -Revelation 8:12
When light is covered it results in darkness. “Darkness” is a lack of spiritual understanding or teaching things that are not according to the whole Bible (Isa. 8:20). Jesus is the true light of the world (John 1:9). When people reject the full light of the gospel they bring God’s judgment upon themselves. (John 3:19). Many people are presented with truth and light from God’s word but sadly turn away because it is inconvenient or not like what everyone else believes.
These trumpet warnings are terribly serious. However remember this. God does not cause evil. As God withdraws his protection because people have rejected Him, they experience the consequences of being separated from God and have no defense against the torments of the enemy. For more on this Biblical concept read The God Who Goes Away.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. -John 3:16-17