Like the Old Testament campaign to conquer the Promised Land, that began with the overthrow of the Canaanite stronghold city of Jericho, the 7 Trumpets of Revelation 8 and 9 are intended to break the strongholds that Satan will have erected over the Tribulation world to clear the path to Jesus’ conquest of the earth.
But while the walls of Jericho were physical, Satan’s strongholds are spiritual.
What are Spiritual Strongholds?
Spiritually speaking, strongholds are the false/negative belief systems that allow Satan to have power over our lives. During the time of the Tribulation, the world has definitively chosen Satan as their god and master by worshiping the Antichrist and taking his mark.
Satan will have convinced the world that he is the omnipotent source of prosperity, provision, life, death, and overall control, both in the physical and spiritual realms.
So obviously, the vast majority of humanity will be operating under some seriously false and negative beliefs that Satan and his minions have deceived them into holding in order to give him his power over them.
The events of the 7 Trumpets will shatter those strongholds by systematically exposing these false beliefs. We’ll cover the first 4 Trumpet blasts in this post.
How Literally Should We Take All This?
The Trumpets will usher in some of the worst devastations the world has ever seen. The impact is almost unimaginable. So much so that many people, including some Bible scholars, try to dismiss, or allegorize the events in order to make them less destructive (and make themselves feel more comfortable).
However, if it isn’t already clear, I take Revelation (and the rest of the Bible) literally unless the Bible gives clear linguistic indication that the passage is allegorical, symbolic, rhetorical, or using poetic license. I see no such indications in Revelation 8 and 9, so I take these chapters literally.
The First Trumpet : Hail, Fire, and Blood – Devastating the Food Chain
With the first Trumpet blast, God rains hail, fire, and blood onto the earth resulting in a third of the earth and trees being burned up and all green grass being burned up.
Interestingly, this event mirrors the 7th plague that God sent on the Egyptians during the Exodus, except the entire globe is affected. Not to mention the inclusion of blood, which not only adds an element of the macabre but also makes it clear that this is a supernatural event.
The effects will be cataclysmic With a third of the earth burned, millions of residential and commercial property will be lost, resulting in trillions of dollars in value disappearing.
But that won’t be the worst of it! The burning up of all green grass means that the basic building block of the entire terrestrial food chain is gone!
Grazing animals and livestock will have nothing to eat and will quickly starve and die, meaning that the creatures who rely on them for food (including humans) will also begin to starve.
Strongholds Broken – Satan’s Control of Terrestrial Provision and Economy
Satan has spent at least the last three and a half years convincing the world that he, as “God”, is the master of the world’s economy, provision, and sustenance. But the first trumpet will permanently cripple the economy and food chain.
The massive die-off of starving food animals and vegetation will result in a worldwide famine. Billions will be left homeless due to their homes and business being destroyed.
Millions of tons of smoke and soot will pollute the air, blocking out the sun, severely lowering the planet’s temperature, changing weather patterns, causing the spread of sickness, disease, and further decimating the food supply.
The inhabitants of the earth will call upon their “god” to help them, and the fact that Satan is powerless to stop this or repair the damage will destroy the strongholds of belief in his omnipotence
The Second Trumpet : Seas Turned to Blood – Destruction of Maritime Provision
When the second trumpet sounds, a “great mountain burning with fire” is cast into the sea, and a third of the sea becomes blood, destroying a third of the sea life, and sea vessels.
Most commentaries see this “fiery mountain” as a meteor from outer space. And that might be the case, but the fact that most meteors are not made of blood leads me to believe that this a mostly supernatural event.
As with the first Trumpet, this event will also have a terrible effect on the economy and food supply, but this time on the maritime level. The portion of world commerce that relies on ocean shipping (which is enormous) will be severely disrupted, and the portion of the food supply that is based on sea life, which is also quite significant, will suffer.
Not to mention the horrific psychological effects of billions of gallons of blood in the oceans.
Some commentators try to minimize the effects of this event by stating that the Apostle John was only referring to the Mediterranean Sea. And while I can’t find anything in the short passage to refute this idea, I don’t think it makes much sense logical or contextual sense to limit the events of this Trumpet to a relatively tiny section of the earth when the other Trumpets affect wide areas of the planet
Strongholds Broken – Satan’s Control of Maritime Provision and Economy
This Trumpet continues to destroy the false belief that Satan is the “God” he has claimed to be. The suffering of the people will be greatly ramped up by this maritime disaster, and Satan is unable to do anything about it. What’s left of the economy will be in shambles.
The oceans, which form the vast majority of the earth’s surface will face the greatest ecological disaster to this point in history. Starvation will worsen as the millions of tons of fish will die.
The world will look like its coming to an end, and the so-called and self-proclaimed “god” is powerless to stop it. This will shatter those strongholds.
The Third Trumpet : Fresh Water Made Bitter – Poisoning a Primary Source of Life
The 3rd Trumpet heralds the falling of a Star called “Wormwood” that lands on a third of the freshwater sources, essentially poisoning them so that they kill anyone who drinks from them.
This is not a literal star since stars are millions of times larger than the earth and would completely vaporize the planet if one came into proximity. As we saw before when we looked at the False Apocalypse in Revelation 6, “stars” are symbolic of angelic beings. Further proof of this is that the “star” has a name – Wormwood. And it ONLY falls on rivers and springs. This is obviously not a celestial object, but an intentional spiritual event.
The first two Trumpets will greatly affect food, while this Trumpet will devastate the supply of fresh drinking water. Although human beings can survive for weeks without food, we can only live for a few days without water.
With a third of freshwater rendered undrinkable, many will die of thirst and dehydration. The Bible makes it clear that many will also die when their thirst leads them to drink the poisoned water.
As an aside, there was a fervor in the 80’s when the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred in the Soviet Union. The nuclear waste poisoned much of the land and water in the area and made it radioactive for many years. Many Christians were greatly concerned that this had prophetic implications because Chernobyl is Russian for “wormwood”.
But at worst, I believe this is just a coincidence for many reasons – the most important of which is that, as far as I can tell, the events of the tribulation did not occur in the late 80’s – unless you believe Milli Vanilli were the Antichrist and False Prophet (if you DO hold this belief, I have no counter argument. Milli Vanilli was an abomination).
Strongholds Broken – Satan’s Identity as the Source of Life
The first two Trumpets destroyed the strongholds of belief in Satan as the source of provision. This Trumpet and the next affect the very “godly” identity Satan has appropriated by pretending to be God.
God is the source of Life. Jesus is called “living water” multiple times in the Bible. Water (along with blood) is synonymous with life. With fresh water devastated, the strongholds of belief in Satan as a life-giving god will be destroyed.
The Fourth Trumpet – Darkness
When the 4th Trumpet is blown, a third of the sources of natural light (the sun, moon, and stars) are darkened. The Bible states that a third of the day and night are without light. So 8 hours of our day and night are TOTALLY without light. This does not mean its difficult to see, it means you can’t see AT ALL!
Not only will this be psychologically harmful (lack of sunlight causes deep depression), It will also harm animals and plants (the ones that are still alive) that rely on the light of the sun and moon, to navigate, breed, and perform other functions.
How does this darkening happen? Some commentaries attribute it to the dust and soot in the air from the fires and cosmic collisions from the previous Trumpets.
But that would only dim the light from the sun. It wouldn’t completely eliminate it for 8 hours only. Like the other Trumpets, these effects are intentional and supernatural.
Strongholds Broken – Satan’s Identity as the Source of Light
Satan’s original name (or at least his designation) is Lucifer – the light bearer. Since he does not (and cannot) change, “light” has always been a part of his identity. Paul states that he can still disguise himself as an “angel of light” in spite of his fallen state.
It’s pretty likely that he will promote himself as a “light bringer” in the Tribulation, not only because its familiar but also as a counterfeit to Jesus who is the “light of the world”
Moreover, those who have associated themselves with Satan through false religions and as his human minions (Mystics), always seem to adopt “light” in their identities (Sun worship, “Illuminati”, etc.)
But even when he was Lucifer, Satan was not a SOURCE of light. He only reflected the true light of God.
This Trumpet will show that Satan is NOT (and does not control) light and break those strongholds.
How Bad Does it Get?
One question that needs to be addressed is, how long do the effects of the Trumpets last? Some commentaries, like the Left Behind books, imply that they come and go pretty quickly. But I think we need to use logic and the Bible to take them on a case by case basis.
For example, the first Trumpet seems like a quick event, in that the vegetation is burned immediately. But its events will probably be felt for the rest of the Tribulation.
Grass is resilient and will start growing again after the next rainy season (although the lack of light and fresh water from Trumpets 3 and 4 will hamper this), but the soot in the air will take months (or longer) to clear. Also, trees take years to grow so they won’t be back.
There’s no reason to believe that the blood and poison of the 2nd and 3rd Trumpets will just disappear, so those effects will stick around. And it’s not clear if the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars is temporary, I’ll assume that the low light conditions will remain at least until Armageddon
Woe, Woe, WOAH!!
As bad as the first four Trumpets were, an Angel appears and essentially says “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” The 5th, 6th, and 7th Trumpets are going to be MUCH worse!
In the next post, we will look at the 5th and 6th Trumpets, which are primarily spiritual, and incredibly frightening. The unbelievers who rejected God and took the Mark of the Beast will begin to realize what it means to be outside of God’s spiritual protection.
And we will also examine what I consider the strangest and most puzzling passage in the entire Bible! Next Time