Beyond Today

Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow | Learn more...

You are here

The Day of the Lord Finally Arrives

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×

The opening of the seventh seal is accompanied by “silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Revelation 8:1 Revelation 8:1And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
American King James Version×
). All creation is awed by what is about to happen. The Day of the Lord, the event angels and saints have anticipated for thousands of years, has finally arrived. Centuries of prayers from the saints are symbolically compared to the fragrance of burning incense ascending from the temple altar to the very presence of God in heaven (Revelation 8:3-5 Revelation 8:3-5 3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunder, and lightning, and an earthquake.
American King James Version×
). The answer to those prayers is now imminent.

Once the seventh seal is broken, the entire scroll is finally opened. Much of the remainder of the book of Revelation is subdivided into seven major parts, each signified by the blast of a trumpet.

In the ancient world trumpets often were used to announce the approach or arrival of danger. They serve a similar purpose in Revelation. Here they announce the main phases of God’s judgment on this evil world—and on the devil, who has deceived it.

Combined, the seven trumpets (chapters 8-11) provide a summary of what will happen during the time known as the Day of the Lord. Revelation explains and describes the punishment each trumpet blast heralds.

Most of the following chapters (12-20) fill in details concerning the Day of the Lord, particularly about the persecuting worldly powers led and controlled by Satan and about Jesus’ victory over those powers. Chapters 21-22 give us a brief glimpse of the saints’ eternal reward.

The first four trumpets

The first four trumpets in Revelation 8 herald cataclysmic devastation. The first is a rain of hail and fire (Revelation 8:7 Revelation 8:7The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast on the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
American King James Version×
), perhaps similar to one of the 10 plagues God sent on Egypt at the time of Moses (see Exodus 9:13-35 Exodus 9:13-35 13 And the LORD said to Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, Thus said the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For I will at this time send all my plagues on your heart, and on your servants, and on your people; that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite you and your people with pestilence; and you shall be cut off from the earth. 16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised you up, for to show in you my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. 17 As yet exalt you yourself against my people, that you will not let them go? 18 Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as has not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now. 19 Send therefore now, and gather your cattle, and all that you have in the field; for on every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down on them, and they shall die. 20 He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: 21 And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field. 22 And the LORD said to Moses, Stretch forth your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man, and on beast, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. 23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along on the ground; and the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. 27 And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 28 Entreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunder and hail; and I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer. 29 And Moses said to him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands to the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that you may know how that the earth is the LORD’s. 30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you will not yet fear the LORD God. 31 And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom. 32 But the wheat and the rye were not smitten: for they were not grown up. 33 And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands to the LORD: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured on the earth. 34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses.
American King James Version×
). This could be describing phenomena such as icy hail mixed with lightning, a rain of superheated volcanic material from a gigantic eruption, or a meteor storm from space.

The second trumpet plague, a burning mountain thrown into the sea (Revelation 8:8-9 Revelation 8:8-9 8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
American King James Version×
), could also indicate a devastating super volcano or an asteroid impact. The third, a falling star burning like a torch (Revelation 8:10-11 Revelation 8:10-11 10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell on the third part of the rivers, and on the fountains of waters; 11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
American King James Version×
), also seems to refer to an asteroid or comet impact.

Then, following the fourth trumpet, light from the sun, the moon and the stars is obscured (Revelation 8:12 Revelation 8:12And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
American King James Version×
)—possibly as a result of the atmospheric debris from the first three catastrophes. A plague of darkness, similar to another of the plagues of Egypt (see Exodus 10:21-29 Exodus 10:21-29 21 And the LORD said to Moses, Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: 23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. 24 And Pharaoh called to Moses, and said, Go you, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you. 25 And Moses said, You must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. 26 Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither. 27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. 28 And Pharaoh said to him, Get you from me, take heed to yourself, see my face no more; for in that day you see my face you shall die. 29 And Moses said, You have spoken well, I will see your face again no more.
American King James Version×
), engulfs at least a third or possibly all of the earth. (An even greater darkness will later ensue during the seven last plagues.)

The targets of the first four trumpets are “the earth and the sea” (Revelation 7:2 Revelation 7:2And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
American King James Version×
). Though many deaths will surely result from these plagues, they are primarily directed toward mankind’s earthly life-support system. They devastate earth’s environment. God, our Creator, will provide ample evidence to every human being that He has full control over our life-sustaining environment.

Notice exactly what is affected by the first four trumpet plagues. First “a third of the trees” and “all green grass” are burned up. Next “a third of the sea” turns to blood. Then “a third of the rivers and … springs of waters” are poisoned, bringing many more deaths (Revelation 8:7-12 Revelation 8:7-12 7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast on the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. 8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. 10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell on the third part of the rivers, and on the fountains of waters; 11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. 12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
American King James Version×
).

Although these events are terrifying, God remains merciful. He always prefers to impose lesser punishments first to give people an opportunity to repent. As He told Ezekiel: “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the LORD GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live’ ” (Ezekiel 33:11 Ezekiel 33:11Say to them, As I live, said the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?
American King James Version×
).

Rarely have whole nations repented and changed because of God’s warning punishments. Most people tend to become bitter toward God rather than admitting their own callous behavior and evil thoughts. Though the first four trumpets may cause a few to abandon their evil ways, most of humanity will not repent, even when later afflicted by far greater punishments (Revelation 9:20-21 Revelation 9:20-21 20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: 21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 16:9-11 Revelation 16:9-11 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which has power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. 10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial on the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, 11 And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
American King James Version×
).

When mankind stubbornly refuses to repent, God increases the severity of His punishments. “And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!’” (Revelation 8:13 Revelation 8:13And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the middle of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
American King James Version×
).

Specifying the next three trumpet blasts as woes aptly describes the punishments they represent. Now the targets are “the inhabitants of the earth.” The people themselves become the direct recipients of God’s punishments.

The fifth trumpet plague

The affliction of the fifth trumpet, the first woe, emerges out of a darkened atmosphere, again possibly polluted with smoke, dust and ash from the preceding plagues. Like the first and fourth trumpets, the fifth blast is reminiscent of one of the plagues that fell on ancient Egypt—that of locusts (see Exodus 10:1-20 Exodus 10:1-20 1 And the LORD said to Moses, Go in to Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might show these my signs before him: 2 And that you may tell in the ears of your son, and of your son’s son, what things I have worked in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that you may know how that I am the LORD. 3 And Moses and Aaron came in to Pharaoh, and said to him, Thus said the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me. 4 Else, if you refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into your coast: 5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remains to you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which grows for you out of the field: 6 And they shall fill your houses, and the houses of all your servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither your fathers, nor your fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were on the earth to this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh. 7 And Pharaoh’s servants said to him, How long shall this man be a snare to us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: know you not yet that Egypt is destroyed? 8 And Moses and Aaron were brought again to Pharaoh: and he said to them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go? 9 And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast to the LORD. 10 And he said to them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you. 11 Not so: go now you that are men, and serve the LORD; for that you did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence. 12 And the LORD said to Moses, Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up on the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail has left. 13 And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind on the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14 And the locust went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. 15 For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt. 16 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you. 17 Now therefore forgive, I pray you, my sin only this once, and entreat the LORD your God, that he may take away from me this death only. 18 And he went out from Pharaoh, and entreated the LORD. 19 And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. 20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.
American King James Version×
). However, these “locusts” in Revelation are apparently not insects but machines, with “breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings … like the sound of chariots”—possibly, from John’s first-century perspective, referring to deadly military aircraft such as modern helicopters. These torture people as with the sting of a scorpion (Revelation 9:1-10 Revelation 9:1-10 1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven to the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 3 And there came out of the smoke locusts on the earth: and to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. 5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he strikes a man. 6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 7 And the shapes of the locusts were like to horses prepared to battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. 8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. 9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. 10 And they had tails like to scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
American King James Version×
).

Though the sources of the afflictions are not specified, their effects are strikingly similar to the effects of modern chemical or biological warfare.

The director or “king” of this wave of affliction is described as “the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon” (Exodus 10:11 Exodus 10:11Not so: go now you that are men, and serve the LORD; for that you did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.
American King James Version×
, NIV). These titles, in Hebrew and Greek, mean “destruction” and “destroyer,” respectively. And we later see that the Satan-led “beast” power emerges from this abyss or bottomless pit (Revelation 17:8 Revelation 17:8The beast that you saw was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
American King James Version×
), showing that the locusts here are probably the forces of this Europe-centered power bloc directed by Satan.

As noted earlier, as the end of his reign approaches, Satan is filled with “great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12 Revelation 12:12Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
American King James Version×
). He is the master manipulator behind the massive armies gathering for their brutal mission. But God remains in control despite Satan’s rebellion against Him.

Notice the limitations God puts on the locust-like conduits of human suffering: “They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Revelation 9:4 Revelation 9:4And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
American King James Version×
).

They are not sent to kill people (Revelation 9:5 Revelation 9:5And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he strikes a man.
American King James Version×
), only to torment them. God’s previous punishments were aimed at the environment. But now they directly target those who still refuse to repent. The agony caused by this plague will be so intense that many will prefer to die. “In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them” (Revelation 9:6 Revelation 9:6And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
American King James Version×
). God is still giving the world’s inhabitants an opportunity to recognize just how angry He is with their rebellious behavior so they can understand that He will no longer tolerate their sins.

Notice that God’s timetable for this punishment is precise. This plague affects human beings for five months (Revelation 9:10 Revelation 9:10And they had tails like to scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
American King James Version×
). God controls what happens and the length of time it lasts.

After five months of terrible afflictions, an angel announces: “One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things” (Revelation 9:12 Revelation 9:12One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
American King James Version×
).

The sixth trumpet plague

A voice tells the angel who holds the sixth trumpet: “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates” (Revelation 9:14 Revelation 9:14Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
American King James Version×
).

The Euphrates was the easternmost boundary of the Roman Empire at the time of the writing of Revelation. Except for a brief period later during the reign of the emperors Trajan and Hadrian, when Mesopotamia and Assyria became provinces of Rome, the Euphrates was generally considered the dividing line between the Roman provinces and territories controlled by other kings to the east.

It is not clear whether this river will play a similar role at the time of the end. But this could be implied in the wording of Revelation 16:12 Revelation 16:12And the sixth angel poured out his vial on the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
American King James Version×
, where “kings from the east” are again specifically associated with the Euphrates River.

Now to the next event. “And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind” (Revelation 9:15 Revelation 9:15And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
American King James Version×
, NIV). John then mentions the coming of a 200-million-man army (Revelation 9:16 Revelation 9:16And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
American King James Version×
). This event, the second woe or sixth trumpet plague, seems to be a massive counterattack against the European-led forces of the first woe or fifth trumpet plague.

By this time in John’s visions all nations have refused to repent. They have refused to respond to God’s warnings through famine, pestilence and environmental disasters, or the agony of the fifth trumpet. Therefore God will no longer restrain the beginning of an all-out world war—a global conflict that will soon climax at Christ’s return.

The time has arrived for God to allow man to slaughter his fellow human beings without restraint (except for those righteous few whom He has already sealed). An unimaginable carnage is about to begin. One third of the earth’s population will die in this conflagration. Apparently this will be in addition to the deaths from famines, disease epidemics and other catastrophes mentioned earlier—such as those over “a fourth of the earth” that were specified under the fourth seal.

John vividly describes this terrifying end-of-the-age conflict in the only way he can—in the language of the first century: “The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number. The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulphur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulphur.

“A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulphur that came out of their mouths. The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury” (Revelation 9:16-19 Revelation 9:16-19 16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. 18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. 19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like to serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

John could portray a terrifying array of modern weapons only with the vocabulary available to him at that time. Tanks and missiles and aircraft with machine guns, smart bombs and laser-guided missiles did not exist, so he could not begin to describe such weapons in a way we would immediately recognize. When we get into chapters 13-18 we will learn more details about Satan’s role in these destructive events.

The titanic war described in chapter 9 is the background of all the remaining punishments in Revelation. Keep this in mind as we continue. Chapter 10 and the first part of chapter 11 in particular must be viewed against this setting. Revelation shows that the final battle at the end of this conflict will be directed against Christ at His return (Revelation 19:19 Revelation 19:19And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
American King James Version×
).

As the return of Christ draws near, the book of Revelation describes the stubborn, unyielding attitude of most of mankind. “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21 Revelation 9:20-21 20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: 21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
American King James Version×
).

The seven thunders

In chapter 10, as prelude to the seventh and final trumpet—the third and last woe—John sees an angel holding “a little book open in his hand” (verse 2). The angel’s voice is compared with the roar of a lion. As the angel speaks, John hears seven thunderous utterances. Then John says: “… I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them’ ” (verses 3-4). Notice that God revealed more prophecy to John than He allowed him to record (Revelation 10:1-4 Revelation 10:1-4 1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was on his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: 2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the earth, 3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. 4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
American King James Version×
).

Next the angel emphasizes the importance of the imminent seventh trumpet. “The angel … swore by Him who lives forever … that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets” (Revelation 10:5-7 Revelation 10:5-7 5 And the angel which I saw stand on the sea and on the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, 6 And swore by him that lives for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: 7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he has declared to his servants the prophets.
American King James Version×
). The climax of the fulfillment of all the prophecies of the Bible will occur when Christ returns at the sounding of the seventh trumpet.

John then receives specific instructions: “ ‘Go, take the little book … and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.’ Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter” (Revelation 10:8-11 Revelation 10:8-11 8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which stands on the sea and on the earth. 9 And I went to the angel, and said to him, Give me the little book. And he said to me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make your belly bitter, but it shall be in your mouth sweet as honey. 10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. 11 And he said to me, You must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
American King James Version×
). The meaning seems to be that while there is initial joy and wonder in the message, this turns to heartache when the magnitude of the corrective actions required to turn humanity from its wickedness really sinks in (compare Ezekiel 2:9 Ezekiel 2:9And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent to me; and, see, a roll of a book was therein;
American King James Version×
; Ezekiel 3:3-14 Ezekiel 3:3-14 3 And he said to me, Son of man, cause your belly to eat, and fill your bowels with this roll that I give you. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. 4 And he said to me, Son of man, go, get you to the house of Israel, and speak with my words to them. 5 For you are not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; 6 Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words you can not understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you. 7 But the house of Israel will not listen to you; for they will not listen to me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted. 8 Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. 9 As an adamant harder than flint have I made your forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. 10 Moreover he said to me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. 11 And go, get you to them of the captivity, to the children of your people, and speak to them, and tell them, Thus said the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. 12 Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the LORD from his place. 13 I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing. 14 So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong on me.
American King James Version×
).

The angel further tells John, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings” (Revelation 10:11 Revelation 10:11And he said to me, You must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
American King James Version×
).

The prophecies here will be explained and proclaimed to the nations at the time of the end. God plans to ensure that the final proclamation of His prophecies, and the gospel itself, grabs the attention of all people!

God’s two witnesses

When the time of the end arrives God will raise up, in Jerusalem, two prophets to complete this phase of His work before Christ’s return. As His chosen witnesses, these two will carry out a spectacular mission on God’s behalf. They will perform dramatic miracles as they proclaim God’s plagues and judgments (Revelation 11:1-12 Revelation 11:1-12 1 And there was given me a reed like to a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. 2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. 7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10 And they that dwell on the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelled on the earth. 11 And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell on them which saw them. 12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying to them, Come up here. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
American King James Version×
).

They will exercise some of the same supernatural powers that God anciently granted to Elijah and Moses, two of the greatest prophets of old. “And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies [reminiscent of Elijah]. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy [as did Elijah], and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues [as did Moses], as often as they desire” (Revelation 11:5-6 Revelation 11:5-6 5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
American King James Version×
).

The work of the two witnesses is presented between the sixth and seventh trumpet plagues. Yet this is actually the time of the conclusion of their work—their prophesying lasts for 3 1 ⁄ 2 years, the same length of time Jerusalem will be occupied by the gentiles (Revelation 11:2-3 Revelation 11:2-3 2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.
American King James Version×
). Thus it will have commenced just before the Great Tribulation.

In addition to their activities described here, they appear to be directly associated with certain prophecies of Zechariah (verse 4; compare Zechariah 4:3-14 Zechariah 4:3-14 3 And two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side thereof. 4 So I answered and spoke to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? 5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said to me, Know you not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 6 Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts. 7 Who are you, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace to it. 8 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. 10 For who has despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth. 11 Then answered I, and said to him, What are these two olive trees on the right side of the candlestick and on the left side thereof? 12 And I answered again, and said to him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13 And he answered me and said, Know you not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth.
American King James Version×
).

We are introduced to the two witnesses at the temple site in Jerusalem. This, too, is significant. Throughout Revelation the temple is consistently associated with worship of God. We are told that “the court which is outside the temple…has been given to the Gentiles”—along with “the holy city” of Jerusalem (Revelation 11:2 Revelation 11:2But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus had earlier warned that a specific event will trigger many of the events described in the book of Revelation: “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” He continued: “For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again” (Matthew 24:15-21 Matthew 24:15-21 15 When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray you that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Christ’s words indicate that the devil will enable the prophetic Beast and False Prophet to commandeer the temple area, temporarily making it the center of their own satanically inspired system of worship. Opposing the Beast and False Prophet will be God’s two witnesses. Jerusalem will find itself in the vortex of a great spiritual battle as prophesied events reach their climax.

But how will the two witnesses and their message be received? People will loathe them. Like no other prophets in the history of God’s people, the witnesses and their message will be “hated by all nations” (Matthew 24:9 Matthew 24:9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
American King James Version×
).

Yet God is consistent. The effect of His witnesses’ work will be similar to that of other great prophets. For example, God encouraged Ezekiel concerning the effect of his prophecies: “And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them (Ezekiel 33:33 Ezekiel 33:33And when this comes to pass, (see, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet has been among them.
American King James Version×
). We can expect no less from these two dynamic end-time prophets.

They will gain worldwide attention, giving them an unprecedented opportunity to warn the nations that they should repent of their sins and rebellion against God. Then, when God has seen that their message and warning has been delivered, He will allow the Beast to execute them. This, too, is part of God’s plan.

By that time the people of every nation will have seen and heard frequent reports on the activities of the two prophets through worldwide communications systems. This becomes clear from John’s statement that “peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves” (Revelation 11:7-9 Revelation 11:7-9 7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
American King James Version×
).

Notice mankind’s reaction to the murder of God’s prophets: “And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 11:10). The whole world, having hated the two witnesses’ rebukes and calls for repentance, celebrates their deaths.

But the rejoicing will be short-lived. Three and a half days after their execution, the two prophets will be resurrected (Revelation 11:11-13 Revelation 11:11-13 11 And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell on them which saw them. 12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying to them, Come up here. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. 13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
American King James Version×
)—at the very time the seventh trumpet announces the return of Christ and the resurrection and reward of God’s servants (see Revelation 11:15-18 Revelation 11:15-18 15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell on their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give you thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which are, and were, and are to come; because you have taken to you your great power, and have reigned. 18 And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
American King James Version×
; compare Hebrews 11:39-40 Hebrews 11:39-40 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
American King James Version×
). A startled world will have irrefutable proof of who is the true God and which is His religion!

What comes next will occur with astounding speed.

The last trumpet announces Christ’s return

“The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly. Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Revelation 11:14-15 Revelation 11:14-15 14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe comes quickly. 15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
American King James Version×
).

We reach the long-awaited return of Jesus, the Son of God, to establish the Kingdom of God. “And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: ‘We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned” (Revelation 11:16-17 Revelation 11:16-17 16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell on their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give you thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which are, and were, and are to come; because you have taken to you your great power, and have reigned.
American King James Version×
).

For God’s faithful servants this occasion calls for unrestrained joy and celebration. This is the time when those in the grave receive victory over death, when their faith in God is totally vindicated. The 24 elders’ special prayer of thanksgiving reflects the exuberant gratitude and excitement both the angels and the saints are certain to experience at that time (Revelation 11:16-18 Revelation 11:16-18 16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell on their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give you thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which are, and were, and are to come; because you have taken to you your great power, and have reigned. 18 And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
American King James Version×
).

Paul explains the importance of this occasion for those in the grave awaiting Christ’s return: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:51-54 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
American King James Version×
).

An angel told Daniel of this wonderful occasion, saying: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life …” (Daniel 12:2 Daniel 12:2And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
American King James Version×
). He explained: “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3 Daniel 12:3And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
American King James Version×
). (For a fuller explanation of the tremendous importance to you personally of the resurrection at Christ’s return, be sure to download or request your free copy of the booklet What Is Your Destiny? )

We should note, however, that Christ’s coming does not immediately bring universal joy. The final “woe” on the inhabitants of earth commences with the sounding of the last—the seventh—trumpet. John notes: “The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great—and for destroying those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18 Revelation 11:18And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

The remainder of the book of Revelation specifies which worldly entities must now quickly be destroyed before the Kingdom of God can be established in all its fullness under Christ’s rule.

Jesus also emphasizes the Father’s faithfulness and commitment to fulfill every promise and prophecy He has ever made by showing John, as the conclusion of this particular vision in Revelation 11, “the ark of His covenant … within His temple” in heaven (Revelation 11:19 Revelation 11:19And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightning, and voices, and thunder, and an earthquake, and great hail.
American King James Version×
). He reminds us that God will never forget His covenant promises, which were recorded by His prophets (Daniel 9:4 Daniel 9:4And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
American King James Version×
).

One such promise concerns the overthrow of Satan’s system. That is now about to occur. The full measure of God’s judgments is about to be expressed through the seven last plagues (Revelation 15:1 Revelation 15:1And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
American King James Version×
). Babylon the Great, the ruling city in Satan’s end-time empire, will be destroyed. But before it is annihilated, Christ reveals to us what it is and why it must be annihilated.

You might also be interested in...

Jesus told His followers to pray His Kingdom would come. But, what did He mean...
Many churches understand and teach that Jesus Christ will return. Far fewer...