Tuesday, 22 December 2020
And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Revelation 8:2
This verse introduces the next heavenly vision. It cannot be assumed, nor is it likely, that the vision of the trumpets is a result of the opening of the seventh seal mentioned in verse 8:1. Rather, what occurred after that was described in verse 7:17.
Concerning the sounding of the trumpets which are to be described in the verses ahead, some insights should be considered now. Charles Ellicott notes the following –
“The series of visions which is now introduced extend to the close of the eleventh chapter. There are some features which may be noticed here. There is a marked correspondence of arrangement between these and the visions of the seals. As there, so here, there are introduced two subordinate visions towards the end of the series. The sixth seal was followed by the vision of the one hundred and forty-four thousand and the countless multitude: the sixth trumpet is followed by the vision of the little book and the seven thunders and the measurement of the temple of God (Revelation 10 and Revelation 11:1-14).”
Further, Bengel notes –
“The trumpets of the first, the second, the third, and the fourth angel, are closely connected with one another; and so likewise the trumpets of the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh angel, which alone have woe, woe, woe.”
Along with these insights, numerous other commentaries have pulled out various insights and have drawn many conclusions concerning what lies ahead. Some incorrectly view these events as a description of the entire church age. Some insert presuppositions and then twist what is said to fit those presuppositions. The wide variety of views makes a sound interpretation difficult. However, two points must be maintained regardless of any other interpretations –
1) The events are surrounding the revelation, or unveiling, of Jesus Christ. He is the central focus of what is being presented, and
2) These main visions are describing events that occur during the tribulation period, even if some visions are general snapshots of events in redemptive history that are provided for clarity for Israel to understand who Jesus is and what has occurred in His first coming.
What is likely, without being overly dogmatic that it is so, is that the trumpets are similar to the seals in that they present what will occur during the tribulation period without regard to a specific chronology. Rather, they reflect categories of destruction that occur as judgment on an unrepentant world progresses through the tribulation.
With these thoughts in mind, the verse now before us begins with, “And I saw the seven angels who stand before God.” This immediately introduces a problem because of the use of the definite article before “angels.” It seems to highlight them as if they have already been noted somewhere and the reader is expected to thus be familiar with them. Of this, several possibilities are given –
1) They are the angels referred to in the apocryphal book known as Tobit, where it is recorded, “I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One.” Tobit 12:15
2) They correspond to “the seven Spirits who are before His throne” of Revelation 1:4.
3). The definite article reflects a state of being where “it would be sufficiently understood, from the common use of language, who would be referred to – as we now might speak of ‘the seven members of the cabinet of the United States,’ or ‘the thirty-one governors of the states of the Union,’ though they had not been particularly mentioned” (Albert Barnes).
The first option is incorrect. Nothing in the true canon of Scripture further supports that notion. Further, angels don’t “present the prayers of the saints.” That is a mediatorial role belonging to Jesus Christ alone. This demonstrates that Tobit is not an inspired book of Scripture.
The second option is quite likely. The Lamb is the one who opened the seven seals, releasing those judgments upon the earth. As the judgments of the trumpets parallel those of the seals, it would make sense that the seven Spirits of God that are possessed by the Lord Jesus (see Revelation 3:1) are His “angels,” meaning “messengers,” of destruction upon the world that has rejected Him. Zechariah confirms that the Lord is the One to blow the trumpet in judgment –
“Then the Lord will be seen over them,
And His arrow will go forth like lightning.
The Lord God will blow the trumpet,
And go with whirlwinds from the south.” Zechariah 9:14
The third option is a possibility if the second option is found to be incorrect. However, as this is the “revelation” or “unveiling” of Jesus Christ, it is assumed here that these are the seven aspects of the Lord previously described in earlier verses. The Lord Jesus (these seven facets of who He is) is who is being portrayed.
Of these seven angels (messengers), it says, “and to them were given seven trumpets.” The word translated as “trumpet” is salpigx. It is a war trumpet. In this, it is used to loudly announce the coming vanquishing of His enemies. Elsewhere, such a trumpet was used to call the people of the Lord to war and to inspire them in the battle.
The trumpets are probably not ram horns (shofar), but rather are hammered metal trumpets – either of silver or gold. Numbers 10 provides an account concerning the use of hammered metal trumpets –
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 ‘Make two silver trumpets for yourself; you shall make them of hammered work; you shall use them for calling the congregation and for directing the movement of the camps.’” Numbers 10:1, 2
“When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies. 10 Also in the day of your gladness, in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be a memorial for you before your God: I am the Lord your God.” Numbers 10:9, 10
An insight from the Pulpit commentary states, “The use of trumpets on seven days at the destruction of Jericho, the type of all that is worldly, may have suggested the form of the vision here, in the announcement of the judgment and destruction of the world.”
The verses ahead will tell of the sounding of these trumpets and of the judgments upon the earth that result from them.
Life application: As you can see, these trumpets were for signaling major events surrounding the people of God, including war. When these seven trumpets begin to blow in Revelation, great and awesome events will follow them on the earth. The cataclysms which come with these trumpets are being shown us in advance so that we can make the right choices now that will save us from the pressures and tribulations they will usher in. Now truly is the time to call on Jesus and be spared from the difficulties ahead.
Let us consider this then. And then, let us do what is right, calling out for pardon from our offenses and for rescue from the troubles that are prophesied to come upon an unbelieving world. Let us call out to JESUS!
Lord Jesus, in Your word You have graciously given us precious insights into the future so that we can make the right choice now. May those who read Your word understand that it is truth, and may they be willing to call on Your name before the terrible times prophesied there arrive! Thank You for Your word and thank You for the sure promises they contain for those who choose You now. Amen.