Notes: "The Seven Trumpets" (2019, QTR 1, Lesson 7)

by admin admin February 10, 2019


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Sabbath (February 9): The Seven Trumpets

In Revelation 8:7-13 the first four trumpets are sounded. The long-held historicist interpretation of these first four trumpets is that these trumpets describe judgments against the Western Roman Empire in the decades leading up to its fall in 476 AD. The quoted explanation for each of these trumpets is taken from the SDA Bible Commentary.

The view favored by Seventh-day Adventists is that these trumpets retrace, to a large extent, the period of Christian history already covered by the seven churches (chs. 2; 3) and the seven seals (chs. 6; 8:1), and that they emphasize outstanding political and military events during this period. These events will be discussed below in the comments on the various trumpets (7BC 788).

  1. 1st Trumpet (Revelation 8:7). Visigoth invasion of Rome from ca. AD 396 – 410.

The earth, with its vegetation, is shown as the particular target of this scourge (cf. ch. 16:2). The scourge is singularly descriptive of the invasion of the Roman Empire by the Visigoths under Alaric. This was the first of the Teutonic incursions into the Roman Empire that played such an important part in its final downfall. Beginning about AD 396, the Visigoths overran Thrace, Macedonia, and Greece in the eastern part of the empire, and then crossed the Alps and pillaged the city of Rome in AD 410. They also ravaged much of what is now France and ultimately settled in Spain (7BC 788).

  1. 2nd Trumpet (Revelation 8:8:9). Vandal invasion of Rome ca. AD 455.

The catastrophe announced by the second trumpet has been seen as describing the depredations of the Vandals. Driven from their settlements in Thrace by the incursions of the Huns from Central Asia, the Vandals migrated through Gaul (now France) and Spain into Roman North Africa and established a kingdom centering around Carthage. From there they dominated the western Mediterranean with a navy of pirates, pillaging the coasts of Spain, Italy, and even Greece, and preying upon Roman shipping. The high point of their depredations came in AD 455, when for two weeks they looted and pillaged the city of Rome (7BC 789).

  1. 3rd Trumpet (Revelation 8:10,11). Hun invasion of Rome in the mid fifth century.

This has been interpreted as portraying the invasion and ravages of the Huns under the leadership of their king Attila, in the 5th century. Entering Europe from Central Asia about AD 372, the Huns first settled along the lower Danube. Three quarters of a century later they were on the move again, and for a brief period raised havoc in various regions of the tottering Roman Empire. Crossing the Rhine in AD 451, they were stopped by combined Roman and German troops at Chalons in northern Gaul. After a short period of marauding in Italy, Attila died in AD 453, and almost immediately the Huns disappeared from history. In spite of the short period of their ascendancy, so rapacious were the Huns in their devastation that their name has come down through history as synonymous with the worst slaughter and destruction (7BC 789).

  1. 4th Trumpet (Revelation 8:12). Decline of Roman Empire government.

The sun, moon, and stars have been interpreted to represent the great luminaries of the Western Roman government—its emperors, senators, and consuls. With the extinction of Wester Rome in AD 476…the last of its emperors ceased to reign. Later, its senate and consulship came to an end (7BC 789).

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Revelation 6:9-10. For what reasons might God have bothered to predict attacks against the Roman Empire leading up to its disintegration? (This political power cruelly oppressed Christians for centuries, and God has not forgotten their suffering.)

  • Read Daniel 2:21. What does it mean to you that God is involved in the political affairs of earth? (We can trust that nothing happens without His allowing it, and that He is guiding the affairs to earth to accomplish His purposes.)

Sunday (February 10): The Prayers of the Saints

In Revelation 8:2-5, John sees an angel standing at the altar of incense in heaven offering the prayers of the saints to God. This angel apparently represents Jesus, Who “ever liveth to make intercession” (Hebrews 7:25) for us.

Discussion Questions:

  • What does it mean to you that Jesus takes your prayers and presents them to God?

  • Compare Acts 2:1-4 with Revelation 8:5. Historically speaking, what event might Revelation 8:5 be pointing to? (Pentecost. The seven trumpets covers basically the same historical ground as the letters to the seven churches and the seven seals, and this history is the history of the Christian church, which in many ways began on Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.)

  • Compare Revelation 8:5 with Revelation 15:8. Prophetically speaking, what event might Revelation 8:5 be pointing to? (The close of probation. As judgments against Rome, the seven trumpets conclude with the close of probation and the second coming of Christ, when Rome’s fate is sealed and then executed.)

For a DEEPER study on Christ’s intercession and the seven trumpets, please watch “Revelation’s Seven Trumpets,” a seven-episode video series from Pathway to Paradise Ministries. This series is available on DVD or can be watched online for free at www.

Monday (February 11): The Meaning of the Trumpets

While the first four trumpets identify political resistance and attacks against the pagan Roman Empire, the fifth and sixth trumpets focus on political and military attacks against Papal Rome and its allied armies. Many Bible students using the historicist method have seen these trumpets as referring to Islam in its interaction with Papal-led western Christianity. “A number of commentators have identified the fifth and sixth trumpets with the ravages of the Saracens [Muslim Arabs] and the Turks [Ottoman Empire]” (7BC 791). Martin Luther and his Swiss contemporary Heinrich Bullinger both understood the sixth trumpet to point to Islam, as did William Miller and many others.

Two fascinating time prophecies in Revelation 9 strengthen this interpretation of the fifth and sixth trumpets. In Revelation 9:5, an army of locusts is given power to torment men for “five months,” or 150 years according to the day-for-a-year principle. Similarly, in Revelation 9:15, the “third part of men” is doomed to be slain for “an hour, and a day, and a month, and year,” or 391 years and 15 days using the day-for-a-year principle. Unlike those before him, William Miller connected these two prophecies chronologically.

In 1838 Josiah Litch, one of [William] Miller’s associates in the second advent movement in America, revised Miller’s dates to AD 1299 to 1449 for the fifth trumpet, and 1449 to 1840 for the sixth. Litch accepted the date July 27, 1299, for the battle Bapheum, near Nicomedia, which he took as the first attack by the Ottoman Turks on the Byzantine Empire. He saw the date 1449 as significant of the collapse of the Byzantine power, for toward the end of 1448 a new Byzantine emperor, Constantine Palaeologus, had requested permission of the Turkish sultan Murad II before daring to ascend his throne, and he did not, in fact, receive the crown until January 6, 1449, after such permission had been granted. Litch believed that this 150-year period constituted the time during which the Ottoman Turks “tormented” the Byzantine Empire (7BC 795).

The time prophecies in the fifth and sixth trumpets, according to this view, are summarized below:

  • July 27, 1299. Battle of Baepheum, start of “five months” or 150 years in Revelation 9:5.

  • July 27, 1449. End of fifth trumpet and beginning of sixth trumpet. Start of time prophecy in Revelation 9:15 (391 years and 15 days). Byzantine emperor takes throne in this year after gaining permission of Turkish sultan.

  • August 11, 1840. End of sixth trumpet. Independent power of Ottoman Empire broken by European powers.

Because the Ottoman Empire first exercised its authority in 1449 by granting permission for the Byzantine emperor to ascend the throne, Litch predicted that the end of the time prophecy in Revelation 9:15 would be marked by an opposite dispaly of power—with the Christian powers of Europe exercising authority over the Turkish sultan. About one month before August 11, 1840, Litch announced that on that date he expected the Turkish power to be broken. Stunningly, Litch’s prediction proved to be accurate.

On that day the Turkish emissary, Rifat Bey, arrived at Alexandria with the terms of the London Convention. On that day also the ambassadors of the four [European] powers received a communication from the sultan inquiring as to what measures were to be taken in reference to a circumstance vitally affecting his empire. He was told that ‘provision had been made,’ but he could not know what it was. Litch interpreted these events as a recognition by the Turkish government that its independent power was gone (7BC 795).

The fulfillment of Litch’s prediction gave much credence to the Advent movement and strengthened the conviction of many that the predicted fulfillment of the 2,300 year prophecy in a few years was in fact true. Years later, Ellen White said this about the time prophecies in Revelation 9:

In the year 1840 another remarkable fulfillment of prophecy excited widespread interest. Two years before, Josiah Litch, one of the leading ministers preaching the second advent, published an exposition of Revelation 9, predicting the fall of the Ottoman Empire. According to his calculations, this power was to be overthrown “in A.D. 1840, sometime in the month of August;” and only a few days previous to its accomplishment he wrote: “Allowing the first period, 150 years, to have been exactly fulfilled before Deacozes ascended the throne by permission of the Turks, and that the 391 years, fifteen days, commenced at the close of the first period, it will end on the 11th of August, 1840, when the Ottoman power in Constantinople may be expected to be broken. And this, I believe, will be found to be the case.”—Josiah Litch, in Signs of the Times, and Expositor of Prophecy, August 1, 1840. {GC 334.4}

At the very time specified, Turkey, through her ambassadors, accepted the protection of the allied powers of Europe, and thus placed herself under the control of Christian nations. The event exactly fulfilled the prediction. (See Appendix.) When it became known, multitudes were convinced of the correctness of the principles of prophetic interpretation adopted by Miller and his associates, and a wonderful impetus was given to the advent movement. Men of learning and position united with Miller, both in preaching and in publishing his views, and from 1840 to 1844 the work rapidly extended. {GC 335.1}

Discussion Questions:

  • Is it significant to you that the time prophecy of Revelation 9:15 ended only a few years before 1844? Why or why not?

  • For what reasons might God have predicted the rise of another major world religion other than Christianity?

Tuesday (February 12): The Angel With an Open Book

In Revelation 10:1-6 John sees an angel with a “little book open.” This “book” (Greek bibliaridion) is different than the sealed “book” (Greek biblion) or scroll in Revelation 5:1, and the Greek suggests than the book in Revelation 10:2 is small, perhaps a section of a larger whole. Seventh-day Adventists have long understood this “little book” as pointing to the previously sealed prophecies of Daniel, particularly the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 (see Daniel 8:26 and 12:4). Revelation 10, then, predicts a time when the 2,300 day (or year) prophecy would be “opened” and understood. Significantly, this is exactly what was happening in the years leading up to 1844. Also significant is the fact that John sees this “open book” immediately following the conclusion of the time prophecies in Revelation 9. The angel’s statement that “there should be time no longer” (Revelation 10:6) points to the conclusion of prophetic time in 1844 when the 2,300 years were completed. In Revelation 10:7 John is told that “the mystery of God should be finished” at this time.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Colossians 1:27. What is the mystery of God? (Christ in you, the hope of glory!)

  • Read 1 John 4:17. What will our experience be when Christ is living in us? (We can have “boldness in the day of judgment”). Why can we have boldness? (Because “as he is, so are we in this world”).

  • What do these promises mean to you?

  • Read Ephesians 5:25-27,30-31. What do you think these promises mean to Jesus? (Possible answer: Jesus has promised that He will have a people that reflect His character when He returns, because He is living in them.)

Wednesday (February 13): Eating the Scroll

In Revelation 10:8-12, John is told to eat the little book. When he does so, it tastes “sweet as honey” (Revelation 10:9) in his mouth but then turns bitter in his stomach. The Great Disappointment on October 22, 1844, was a similar experience for the Advent believers, for they were expecting Christ’s second coming on this day at the conclusion of the 2,300 year prophecy in Daniel 8:14.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Daniel 7:13,14. What event is described here? (The coming of Christ in heaven to the Father. This is the “coming” that the 2,300 year prophecy actually pointed to.)

  • Read Daniel 7:9,10. What is another term to describe what began in heaven at this time? (The judgment.)

  • Read Daniel 7:11,21,22. What is another purpose for this judgment? (To break the power of the little horn, or papal Rome. Keep in mind that the seven trumpets describe God’s judgments against Rome in its pagan and papal phases. The seventh trumpet and the heavenly judgment that started in 1844 accomplishes, among other things, God’s final judgment against the Roman power and its physical and spiritual destruction upon God’s people.)

In Revelation 11:1-2, John is told to measure the temple and God’s people worshipping inside of it. The Greek word translated as “measure” can literally mean “to judge according to any rule or standard.” The heavenly judgment starting in 1844, then, is also referred to in these verses. In John 12:48, Jesus warned that all people will be judged by the Word of God, and in Revelation 10:11 the Advent believers are commanded to preach and “prophesy again” to all the world.

Thursday (February 14): The Two Witnesses

Revelation 11:3-14 predicts the terrible results of rejecting God’s Word as illustrated in the French Revolution. The terrible scenes of this bloody revolution did not occur at random, however; they were the direct result of papal rule and its suppression of the Bible. The book The Great Controversy explains:

The war against the Bible, carried forward for so many centuries in France, culminated in the scenes of the Revolution. That terrible outbreaking was but the legitimate result of Rome’s suppression of the Scriptures. (See Appendix.) It presented the most striking illustration which the world has ever witnessed of the working out of the papal policy—an illustration of the results to which for more than a thousand years the teaching of the Roman Church had been tending. {GC 265.2}

The suppression of the Scriptures during the period of papal supremacy was foretold by the prophets; and the Revelator points also to the terrible results that were to accrue especially to France from the domination of the “man of sin.” {GC 266.1}

The violence of the French Revolution was directed against the Bible, Christianity in general, and particularly against the priests and other representatives of the Roman church.

All too well the people had learned the lessons of cruelty and torture which Rome had so diligently taught. A day of retribution at last had come. It was not now the disciples of Jesus that were thrust into dungeons and dragged to the stake. Long ago these had perished or been driven into exile. Unsparing Rome now felt the deadly power of those whom she had trained to delight in deeds of blood. “The example of persecution which the clergy of France had exhibited for so many ages, was now retorted upon them with signal vigor. The scaffolds ran red with the blood of the priests. The galleys and the prisons, once crowded with Huguenots, were now filled with their persecutors. Chained to the bench and toiling at the oar, the Roman Catholic clergy experienced all those woes which their church had so freely inflicted on the gentle heretics.” (See Appendix.) {GC 283.2}

Revelation 11:9 predicts that for “three days and a half” the “two witnesses” (the Old and New Testaments) would be slain. This was fulfilled beginning in 1793 when decrees were passed by the French Assembly which abolished the Christian religion and set aside the Bible, making France an officially atheistic nation.

“France is the only nation in the world concerning which the authentic record survives, that as a nation she lifted her hand in open rebellion against the Author of the universe. Plenty of blasphemers, plenty of infidels, there have been, and still continue to be, in England, Germany, Spain, and elsewhere; but France stands apart in the world’s history as the single state which, by the decree of her Legislative Assembly, pronounced that there was no God, and of which the entire population of the capital, and a vast majority elsewhere, women as well as men, danced and sang with joy in accepting the announcement.”—Blackwood’s Magazine, November, 1870. {GC 269.4}

Discussion Questions:

  • For what reasons might God have allowed the horrible violence of the French Revolution, and especially its attack on the Bible, to take place?

  • What lessons can we learn from this dark period in history?

Friday (February 15): The Seventh Trumpet

The seven trumpets may be understood as describing God’s judgements against Rome both in its pagan and papal phases. The fifth, sixth, and seventh trumpets are also called the first, second, and third woes (Revelation 9:12 and 11:14) for good reason. These judgments are directed against papal Rome, an institution that claims to represent God but, according to the Bible, is identified as the “man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and enemy of God and His people. Revelation’s three woes are reminiscent of Christ’s woes against the Jewish leaders of His day and their pretended devotion to God (see Matthew 23).

The sixth trumpet, or second woe, begins in Revelation 9:13 and ends in Revelation 11:14. This important part of Revelation predicts the rise of three world-wide movements that oppose Rome’s power, activities, and teachings. These movements are:

  1. Political Islam in the form of the Ottoman Empire (Revelation 9:13-21).

  2. The Advent Movement (Revelation 10:1-11:1).

  3. Political atheism in the form of the French Revolution (Revelation 11:2-14).

Of these three world-wide movements, only one, the Advent Movement or the “remnant of the woman’s seed” (Revelation 12:17), is used by God to share the everlasting gospel and ultimately break Rome’s power. The final conflict between this heaven-led movement and earth’s iron empire takes up much of the second half of Revelation (chapter 12-18). We will begin our study of this final conflict next week.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How important is it for God’s people to remember that it was a “mighty angel” from heaven that initiated the Advent Movement? What would be the dangers of forgetting this?

  2. How should we deal with discouragement personally and corporately? What bright hope is held out in Revelation for God’s people in their seemingly futile struggle against evil?

  3. What messages of hope have you discovered in the seven trumpets?

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