After a pause in the judgment narrative in order to seal the servants of God and to give us a glimpse of the final glorification of the saints in chapter seven, we resume now with the Lamb opening the seventh seal in chapter eight. As He does, there is silence in heaven for half an hour, followed by seven angels receiving seven trumpets. Before they sound the trumpets to warn of coming judgment, another angel offers incense that is mixed with the prayer of the saints; and immediately after that he fills the censer with fire from the altar in heaven and, in symbolic fashion, hurls it to the earth to demonstrate the severe divine judgment that is about to take place.
Like the seals in chapter 6, the trumpet judgments are divided into groups of 4, 2, and 1. The first four are directly aimed at the created world: dry ground, the seas, the streams and rivers, and finally the celestial bodies: sun, moon and stars. These, of course, affect human life as well. The judgments brought about by trumpets 5 and 6, which we read about in chapter 9, are directed at unrepentant sinners. They are the works of demonic forces, to bring about torment and death. Nonetheless, the destruction brought about by these six trumpets is partial in scope, as noted by the term 1/3. Their purpose is to call people to repentance before the sounding of the 7th trumpet, which will bring about the full and complete wrath of God on mankind, as demonstrated by the pouring out of the seven bowls of wrath.
Do these six trumpets bring about repentance among those living at the end times? Sadly, no! We’re told in Rev 9:20-21: “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”
This passage tells us that as we get closer to the end, God’s judgments will intensify, but mankind will become hardened in their rebellion against Him. Hence, we are to proclaim the gospel today, while it is still the day of mercy. Secondly, this passage shows us that there will be a major disruption of daily lives for those living at the time of these judgments; but for those of us who are in Christ, we need not fear these judgments, because we are eternally secure in Him. He has made us priests and kings to our God, and we shall reign with Him in His eternal kingdom. Hallelujah!