Part 021 – Understanding the Trumpet and Vial Judgments


A Study

Part 021

Understanding the Trumpet and Vial Judgments

The Trumpet and Vial Judgments

All of the judgments having to do with the redemptive terms of the inheritance are seen in the breaking of the seals of the seven-sealed scroll. And the seven-sealed scroll was the only thing in view in chapter six, when the Son took it from His Father’s hand and began to break it. Judgments in connection with the seven trumpets and seven vials are introduced later in the book (chs.8-10, 11b, 15, 16). But these are not judgments in addition to those seen when the seals of the scroll were broken. These are the judgments of the seventh seal, which bring to a completion all the judgments of the seven-sealed scroll. They are further descriptions of the same judgments, providing more information and detail. These judgments are to be understood in complete keeping with the manner in which the book is structured (“signified” Rev.1:1), along with the extensive use of metaphors. Using metaphors or similes, a symbolic type language, can often convey a more forceful and vivid picture than a lengthy statement. We find the extensive use of this type language throughout Scripture, particularly in this closing book.

First Trumpet (8:7), First Vial (16:2)

Both the first trumpet and the first vial have to do with THE EARTH. When the first angel sounded his trumpet, “hail and fire mingled with blood… were cast upon the earth”; and a third part of the earth and trees were burned up and “all” green grass was burned up. “The earth” is the sphere of Satan’s domain as he rules the earth and it is the sphere of man’s domain as he rules under Satan and his angels. In Scripture, “Trees” are used of man’s loftiness (Ezek.31; Dan.4) and of a national power in the kingdom of men (Judges 9:8-15; Luke 21:29, 30). Then, “grass” refers to those in the human race (Isa.40:6, 7; 1Pet.1:24) and “green grass” could only point to a prosperous or lofty condition of those in the kingdom. “Hail and fire mingled with blood” from above, “cast upon the earth” points to sudden judgment from God falling upon earth-dwellers (comp: Exo.9:23-25). Thus, the picture is, kingdoms are brought down and the loftiness of man is reduced to naught, leading to utter chaos and desolation in the kingdom of Antichrist.

When an angel poured out the first vial upon the earth, “there fell a noisome and grievous sore (a painfully bad wound) upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.” In keeping with the first trumpet judgment, this painfully bad wound undoubtedly refers to the mental state of those in the kingdom of Antichrist when the whole of that which exists in the kingdom is collapsing all around them.

In the case of Nebuchadnezzar, the first king of Babylon during the Times of the Gentiles (Dan.4:30-37; 5:18-21), his understanding and his kingdom were restored. Whereas, neither will be restored to those in the kingdom of Antichrist in that coming day, those in the final form of the kingdom of Babylon during the Times of the Gentiles.

Second Trumpet (8:8, 9), Second Vial (16:3)

Both the second trumpet and the second vial have to do with THE SEA. When the second angel sounded his trumpet, “a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea.” A third part of the sea became blood, a third part of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third part of the ships were destroyed. “A mountain” in Scripture signifies a kingdom (Isa.2:1-5; Dan.2:35, 44, 45). “Fire” has to do with judgment, and the “sea” is used several ways in Scripture ― having to do with death (Exo.14:21-28), with the Gentiles (Dan.7:2, 3; Rev.13:1) and with restlessness (Isa.57:20). The “great mountain” would have to do with the kingdom of Antichrist, “burning with fire” would have to do with God’s judgment befalling the kingdom. And being “cast into the sea” resulting in death and destruction of ships, would point to the Gentile kingdom, along with its interrelated trade and commerce, in death throes, in a state of restlessness.

When an angel poured out the second vial on the sea, the sea “became as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul died in the sea.” Both the second trumpet and second vial judgments together form a further description of the utter and complete collapse and destruction of the whole of Antichrist’s kingdom.

Third Trumpet (8:10, 11), Third Vial (16:4-7)

Both the third trumpet and the third vial have to do with THE RIVERS AND FOUNTAINS OF WATERS. When the third angel sounded his trumpet, a great star fell from heaven. And the star “fell upon the third part of the rivers and upon the fountains of waters,” resulting in the waters becoming bitter and causing the deaths of numerous individuals.

When an angel poured out the third vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; “they became blood.” Then the angel calls attention to the righteous judgments of the Lord. Those on the earth “have shed the blood of saints and prophets,” and these same individuals have been given “blood to drink; for they are worthy.”

“Stars” are used to denote individuals (both angels and men) in positions of authority, spiritual and/or political (Rev.1:16, 20; 6:13; 12:1, 4). “Waters” are used to denote “peoples, and multitudes, and nations and tongues” (Isa.17:12, 13; Rev.17:1, 15). Here, the waters not only become blood, but they become bitter and thus waters here are associated, not with life, but with death, and takes one beyond death, even to the bitterness of death. And the punishment ― a drinking, a partaking of the whole of the matter ― is as terrible on the one hand as it is righteous on the other. It is here that the cry of the saints seen under the altar begins to be addressed (Comp Rev.6:9, 10 with Rev.16:5, 6). Those in the kingdom in that coming day will find themselves having to pass through something far worse than physical death, and they will fully know and experience the bitterness of death.

Fourth Trumpet (8:12, 13), Fourth Vial (16:8, 9)

Both the fourth trumpet and the fourth vial have to do with HEAVENLY BODIES. When the fourth angel sounded his trumpet, a third part of the sun, moon, and stars were smitten; and this resulted in darkness for “a third part” of both the day and the night. Then an angel is seen flying through the midst of heaven proclaiming with a loud voice to those on the earth, “Woe, woe, woe.” And this proclamation of Woe is echoed because of the three angels which are yet to sound (which would include the angels pouring out the last three vials as well). The sun, moon and stars are used to reference the governing powers in Antichrist’s kingdom. Because of the complete collapse of that government, where life and light once existed, death and darkness begins to pervade the kingdom.

When an angel poured out the fourth vial on the sun, power was given to the smitten sun “to scorch men with fire.” And those being scorched blasphemed the One having power over these plagues, repenting not. This, of course, is not a reference to the intensity of the sun itself being increased, for the sun is being used in a metaphorical sense, referring to the main governing authority in the kingdom. The reference is to the utter collapse of the government, seen at its center, being the cause of intense anguish among all those in the kingdom.

Fifth Trumpet (9:1-12), Fifth Vial (16:10, 11)

Both the fifth trumpet and the fifth vial have to do with DARKNESS THROUGHOUT THE KINGDOM OF THE BEAST. When the fifth angel sounded his trumpet, “a star fell from heaven unto the earth.” And “the key to the bottomless pit” was given to this star (an angel). And this angel “opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace.” This smoke was so thick that it blotted out the sun, resulting in darkness across the land. Then locusts came out of the smoke, which had hair like women’s hair and teeth like lions’ teeth and tails like scorpions. And these locusts were given power over “those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads,” “to hurt men five months.” And the condition in those days will be such that men will “seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”

When an angel poured out the fifth vial upon the throne of the beast, his kingdom became full of darkness. Those in the kingdom of the beast in that day will gnaw their tongues for pain, and blaspheme the God of heaven, but repent not of their deeds.

The “sun” is a reference to the central governing authority in the kingdom, and the sun being darkened can only be a reference to the utter collapse and ruin of the central governing authority, producing darkness throughout the kingdom. The locusts coming with smoke from the underworld, have a king, whose name is Abaddon in Hebrew and Apollyon in Greek (Rev.9:11); both words mean Destroyer. “The underworld” (abyss) is seen in Scripture as an abode of demons (Luke 8:31; Rev.20:3; Rev.17:8). The locusts coming up can only refer to a demonic plague – possibly loosing of the demons in 2Pet.2:4 and Jude 6.

Thus the picture is that of a kingdom in utter collapse and ruin, and men who are already in unimaginable anguish being tormented by demonic spirits unleashed throughout the kingdom (as in Luke 8:26-33; 9:38, 39) with people seen gnawing their tongues in pain (Rev.16:10). “And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them” (Rev.9:6). This is what Gentile world power under Antichrist will be reduced to, immediately before it is destroyed.

The last two trumpet and vial judgments

The last two trumpet and vial judgments are different from the first five. The first five describe how the kingdom of Antichrist will be brought into utter collapse and complete disarray and ruin. The sixth trumpet and sixth vial judgment describe how the Lord will destroy that kingdom. The seventh trumpet and seventh vial judgment describe how everything will be brought to a full and complete end.