The Time of the End
A Study About the Book of Revelation
Arlen L. Chitwood
Silence in Heaven (2)
When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
And I saw the seven angels who stand before God and to them were given seven trumpets . . .
The first angel sounded . . . . (Revelation 8:1, 2, 7a)
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. This scroll was the only thing seen in the Father’s right hand in chapter five, this scroll was the only thing in view when the Son took it from His Father’s hand, and this scroll was the only thing in view when the Son began to break the seals in chapter six (breaking six seals in this chapter).
Judgments connected with the seven trumpets and seven bowls are introduced later in the book, when the seventh seal is broken (chapters 8-10, 11b, 15, 16). But these are not judgments in addition to those seen when the first six seals of the scroll were broken. These are judgments providing a further explanation, revealing detail and forming commentary, concerning judgments previously introduced, or the results of these judgments, when the first six seals of the scroll were broken.
Comparing the Trumpet and Bowl Judgments
When the seventh seal is broken, seven trumpets are seen. These seven trumpets are given to seven angels, and as each angel sounds, different judgments ensue. And, when the seventh angel sounds, seven judgments are again seen (chapter 10), which are apparently a reference to the seven bowls of wrath (chapters 15, 16).
The seven bowls are then seen to parallel the seven trumpets. Judgments seen when the seven bowls are poured out are not similar, subsequent judgments to those previously seen through the sounding of the seven trumpets, but, rather, they are the same judgments. They are further descriptions of the same judgments, providing more information and detail (ref. Chapter 16 in this book).
And, beyond that, the trumpet and corresponding bowl judgments, though not seen until the seventh seal is broken, do not describe judgments in addition to those previously seen when the first six seals were broken. Rather, they form further descriptions of the same judgments. They reveal detail and form commentary for the judgments occurring when these previous seals were broken.
Putting matters together from the beginning, the breaking of the first four seals — that which is occurring when four horsemen rode forth, each on a different colored horse — described, in an overall capsulated manner, events covering the whole of the Tribulation (Daniel’s Seventieth Week), along with events occurring immediately following, at the time of Christ’s return; that which is seen when the fifth seal was broken — Tribulation martyrs in heaven — resulted from that which occurred when the first four seals were broken; that which is seen when the sixth seal was broken — the complete disarray and collapse of world government, with its interrelated trade and commerce — described the end result of that previously depicted by the four horsemen riding forth; and the breaking of the seventh and last seal simply provides details for that which is seen when all the previous seals were broken, particularly the sixth seal.
Thus, all of that which is revealed when the seventh seal is broken (seven trumpets, then seven bowls) must be looked upon and studied together, as a unit; and this must be done in the light of that which is previously revealed when the first six seals were broken. The trumpet and bowl judgments actually describe different facets of one picture — the complete disarray and collapse of world government, with its interrelated trade and commerce, as previously seen in an overall scope when the sixth seal was broken. Each corresponding trumpet and bowl judgment (the first with the first, the second with the second, etc.) simply presents a part of the same picture, and together they fill in all the details that God has deemed necessary.
The whole of the matter could be likened to an artist painting a picture. First, by and through the breaking of the first four seals (activities seen when four horsemen rode forth), the artist would paint a somewhat overall, skeletal picture of events during the Tribulation. Then, when the fifth and six seals were broken, the artist would add more details to the skeletal picture (from both heavenly and earthly perspectives). Then, when the seventh seal was broken, the artist could finish the picture by and through adding all the details that God deemed necessary for the picture presented by that which is seen by and through the breaking of the seven seals of the scroll.
And numerous other details, of course, could be added by and through the interrelated asides in the book (chapters 7, 10, 11a, 12-14, 17-19), plus that which is seen in all previous Scripture, beginning with Moses.
Seeing the Trumpet and Bowl Judgments Together
(The trumpet and bowl judgments set forth a divinely designed orderly progression, following Christ’s return, in the final and complete ruin, utter collapse, and destruction of the end-time world system under Antichrist, who will occupy a position of worldwide power and authority, ruling from Satan’s throne. These judgments provide detail and commentary, particularly on that which is seen when the sixth seal of the scroll was broken. And the breaking of this sixth seal, in turn, answers a question asked when the previous seal was broken, along with providing detail and commentary for that which is seen when the first four seals of the scroll were broken.
This is the orderly arrangement, with all of the necessary information, in which matters surrounding the redemption of the inheritance are revealed through the breaking of the seals on the seven-sealed scroll.)
The trumpet and bowl judgments are to be understood in complete keeping with the manner in which the book is structured (“signified” [1:1]), along with the extensive use of metaphors. And this would simply be a continuation of and be in complete keeping with that which is previously seen when the first six seals were broken (ref. Chapters 1, 13-15 in this book).
Using metaphors or similes, a symbolic type of language, can often convey a more forceful or vivid picture than a lengthy statement. And this is perhaps the main reason we find the extensive use of this type of language throughout Scripture, particularly in this closing book.
1) First Trumpet, First Bowl (8:7; 16:2)
Both have to do with the earth.
The sounding of the first trumpet and the pouring out of the first bowl, describing the first judgment two different ways, provides beginning detail and commentary for that which is previously dealt with in an overall scope. This first judgment provides beginning detail and commentary for that which is dealt with when the sixth seal was broken (showing the utter disarray and complete collapse of world government, along with its interrelated trade and commerce). And this, in turn, provides detail and forms commentary for that which is dealt with when the first four seals were broken, particularly in relation to where the entire matter leads.
The first trumpet judgment presents “hail and fire mingled with blood,” which were “thrown to the earth.” The “third” of the earth and trees was burned up, and “all” green grass was burned up.
Then, paralleling the preceding, by way of further explanation and comment when the first bowl was poured out, it is stated, “a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.”
“Hail and fire” from above, “thrown to the earth,” points to sudden judgment from God befalling the earth-dwellers. “Hail” is used in this manner in Isaiah 28:2, 17, and “fire” is used in this manner more than any other symbol in Scripture (e.g., Genesis 3:24; Exodus 3:2; Revelation 1:14, 15). “Hail and fire” used together, as in the seventh plague in Egypt during Moses’ day, could only show intensity relative to this judgment.
Then, the “hail and fire” are seen “mingled with blood.” “Blood” could point to either life or death. But, in the manner seen here, it is death. Thus, the end result of this judgment, as is characteristic of the judgments which are seen throughout the breaking of the seals on the scroll, is death (which would be mainly in relation to that which is in view — the government, trade and commerce [affecting man in relation to death indirectly]).
The “third” of the earth and trees was burned up, and “all” green grass was burned up (the KJV and NKJV do not include “the earth,” but the better Greek manuscripts available today do include it).
“The earth” is simply the sphere of Satan’s domain as he rules the earth and the sphere of man’s domain as he rules under Satan and his angels. And “trees” upon this sphere of Satan’s domain would apparently be used in a dual sense.
“Trees” are used in Scripture two ways. They are used of man’s loftiness (Ezekiel 31:1ff) and of national powers in the kingdom of men (Judges 9:8-15; Luke 21:29, 30). Both symbolic usages appear to be combined in Nebuchadnezzar’s experiences seen in Daniel 4:4-37.
Then, “grass” is used in Scripture to reference those in the human race (Isaiah 40:6, 7; 1 Peter 1:24). And “green grass,” as seen in the text, could only point to a prosperous condition, or a lofty condition (in keeping with the symbolism of a “tree”), of those in the kingdom.
Thus, the picture is in complete keeping with that which is previously seen by and through the breaking of the first six seals, with detail added. It is a picture of worldwide judgment in the kingdom of men, which here affects one-third of mankind within the kingdom of Antichrist but is enlarged to include the whole of mankind when the seven bowls are poured out.
Kingdoms are brought down, the loftiness of man is reduced to naught, and the final picture is one of utter chaos and desolation in the kingdom of Antichrist.
Now, that which is seen by and through the pouring out of the first bowl must be understood within this same framework, adding further information. Seemingly, the parallel doesn’t appear to exist. But bear in mind that symbolic language is being used.
The first bowl judgment refers to “a foul and loathsome sore [‘a painfully bad wound’]” befalling those “who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.”
To see that which occurs when the first bowl is poured out as a physical wound wouldn’t really fit within the parallel that must exist between the first trumpet and bowl judgments. But, on the other hand, seeing this wound as mental rather than physical would be perfectly in line with that which is brought to pass when the first trumpet is sounded.
Something often overlooked is the fact that sickness and disease, which can result in death, can have to do with either the physical or the mental part of man. And the two are so inseparably related that sickness or disease in one can often end up affecting the other as well.
In keeping with the first trumpet judgment, the painfully bad wound that is seen when the first bowl was poured out undoubtedly refers to a mental rather than to a physical condition. Mental suffering is something which can, at times, far exceed the physical, which would account for the state in which individuals will find themselves because of that occurring when the first trumpet sounds. The picture apparently shows the mental state of those in the kingdom of Antichrist when all of that which exists in the kingdom is collapsing all around them.
And unlike Nebuchadnezzar, the first king in Babylon during the Times of the Gentiles in Daniel 4:30-37 (cf. 5:18-21) — whose understanding and kingdom were restored — neither will be restored for those having a part in the kingdom of Antichrist during that coming day, those having a part in the final form of the kingdom of Babylon during the Times of the Gentiles. Only utter, complete destruction will await them (cf. Daniel 2:35, 44, 45).
2) Second Trumpet, Second Bowl (8:8, 9; 16:3)
Both have to do with the sea.
When the second angel sounded his trumpet, “a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea.” A third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
A “mountain” in Scripture signifies a kingdom (Isaiah 2:1-5; Daniel 2:35, 44, 45; Matthew 16:28-17:5). “Fire,” as previously seen, has to do with judgment. And “the sea” is used several ways in Scripture — having to do with death (Exodus 14:21-28; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:2; Colossians 2:12), with the Gentiles (Daniel 7:2, 3; Revelation 13:1), and with restlessness (Isaiah 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 could only include all three symbolic usages of the sea. It will be a Gentile kingdom in its death throes, and only a state of restlessness could possibly exist in the kingdom at this time.
Isaiah 57:20, 21 would be an apt description of the kingdom in that coming day:
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
“There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”
Then, the result of this great mountain burning with fire, cast into the sea, is seen to be death and the destruction of ships in the sea. “Death” could have to do with individuals in the kingdom, but it is apparent, particularly as seen in the related bowl judgment, that this refers more specifically to that being dealt with — the government, along with its interrelated trade and commerce. And the latter (trade and commerce) is specifically singled out by and through attention being called to the destruction of ships in the sea, for ships were then/are today used primarily to transport goods from one place to another (cf. Revelation 18:17-19).
And exactly the same thing is seen when the second bowl is poured out. An angel poured out the second bowl on the sea. And the sea “became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.” The second trumpet judgment dealt with one-third of that which was affected, but the second bowl judgment dealt with the whole, carrying the matter to completion. And it is evident from information given when this bowl is poured out that “death,” which is seen as all-inclusive, cannot be a reference to individuals in the kingdom but rather to the government, along with its interrelated trade and commerce.
Both the sounding of the second trumpet and pouring out of the second bowl show exactly the same thing as seen when the sixth seal was broken, with detail added. Both together form a further description of the utter and complete collapse and destruction of the whole of Antichrist’s kingdom.
Each of the trumpet and bowl judgments shows a different facet of the matter.
3) Third Trumpet, Third Bowl (8:10, 11; 16:4-7)
Both 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 of the rivers and on the springs of water, resulting in the waters becoming bitter and causing the deaths of numerous individuals.
When an angel poured out the third bowl upon the rivers and fountains of waters, “they became blood.” Then attention is called 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 it is their just due.” (cf. Genesis 9:6).
“Stars” are used in the book of Revelation to denote individuals (both angels and men) in positions of authority, spiritual and/or political (1:16, 20; 6:13; 12:1, 4).
“Waters” are used to denote “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” (Isaiah 17:12, 13; Revelation 17:1, 15). “Waters” form the source of life (Exodus 17:3-6; Isaiah 55:1; John 4:6-14; 7:37, 38), but in the text the waters not only become blood, but they become bitter. Thus, the waters here are associated, not with life, but with death. And they are actually associated with something beyond simply death itself. They are associated with a bitterness in connection with death, which takes one beyond the normal thought of death. And the whole of the matter is associated with both the kingdom of Antichrist and those in the kingdom.
The sources of all national life become associated with a death beyond the normal thought of death — the continuing collapse of the kingdom, trade and commerce, and the continuing deterioration of the mental state of those in the kingdom.
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:
When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held.
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (6:9, 10).
And I heard the angel of the waters saying: “You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things.
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” (16:5, 6).
The reference, of course, is not to a physical drinking, but to something far worse. 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 its bitterness.
4) Fourth Trumpet, Fourth Bowl (8:12, 13; 16:8, 9)
Both have to do with heavenly bodies.
When the fourth angel sounded his trumpet, a third of the sun, moon, and stars were struck; and this resulted in darkness for “a third” of both the day and the night.
When an angel poured out the fourth bowl on the sun, power was given to the sun “to scorch men with fire.”
The sun, moon, and stars are used in a collective sense to reference the whole of the governing powers in Antichrist’s kingdom. There is a universal crash in the government; and where life and light once existed death and darkness begin to pervade the kingdom, and this continues until the whole is affected (cf. Matthew 13:33).
This is the same thing previously seen when the sixth seal was broken. Also, the fourth trumpet and bowl judgments are similar to the succeeding fifth trumpet and bowl judgments and belong together in the sense of the former being continued and carried to completion in the latter. Only one-third is affected in the fourth trumpet judgment, with nothing being stated along these lines in the fourth bowl judgment. But the matter is carried to completion in both the fifth trumpet and bowl judgments, with the whole being affected.
The fourth bowl judgment has to do with one central thing — individuals being “scorched” by “great heat” from the stricten sun, as it is seen when the fourth trumpet sounds. 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. And being scorched with great heat must be understood in line with the way that the “sun” is being used in the passage.
The reference is to the utter collapse of the government, seen at its center (the sun), being the cause of not just anguish but of intense anguish among those in the kingdom (note the painfully bad wound when the first bowl was poured out). And this results, not in a change of mind (repentance), but in their blaspheming the name of the One in control of the entire matter (ref. to a corresponding and continuing scene in the fifth trumpet and bowl judgments).
5) Fifth Trumpet, Fifth Bowl (9:1-12; 16:10, 11)
Both have to do with darkness throughout the kingdom of the Beast.
When the fifth angel sounded his trumpet, a star fell “from heaven to the earth.” This star, an angel, held the key to “the bottomless pit [lit., ‘the shaft of the underworld,’ i.e. a shaft going down into the underworld].” He opened the shaft, and smoke so thick that it blotted out the sun came up from the shaft, producing darkness; and locusts came out of the smoke.
The locusts had tails like scorpions, and they were given power over those having received the mark of the beast to torment men “five months.”
When an angel poured out the fifth bowl “upon the throne of the beast . . . his kingdom was full of darkness.” Those in the kingdom are then seen gnawing their tongues for pain and blaspheming “the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores.”
The fifth trumpet and bowl judgments simply form a continuation from the fourth trumpet and bowl judgments, bringing the kingdom of Antichrist into its final form immediately before it is destroyed.
As previously seen, an angel came down and opened a shaft going down into the underworld. And smoke came up out of the shaft, with locusts coming out of the smoke. The smoke was so thick that it blotted out the sun, producing darkness throughout the kingdom; and the locusts coming out of the smoke had tails like scorpions, and in verse five they were given power over men to torment them for “five months” (the normal life-span of locusts, which couldn’t very well be a reference to literal time, for all the judgments seen under the seventh seal will evidently occur during the seventy-five-day period seen in Daniel 12:11-13 [note the five months of judgment in a type of the Tribulation during the Flood in Noah’s day, with torrential rain falling and subterranean water rising for one hundred fifty days — Genesis 7, 11, 12, 24; 8:1, 2]).
Again, the “sun” is a reference to the central governing authority in the kingdom, and the sun being darkened by smoke can only be a reference to the utter collapse and ruin of the central governing authority in the kingdom, wrought through judgment from God (smoke associated with fire).
The locusts have a “king over them,” the angel of the bottomless pit (underworld), whose name in the Hebrew is “Abaddon” and in the Greek “Apollyon” (9:11). Both words mean Destroyer. “The underworld” in view (Greek: abussos, “abyss”) is seen in Scripture as an abode of demons and the place where Satan will be bound during the Millennium (Luke 8:31; Revelation 20:3; cf. Revelation 17:8). In this respect, it appears evident that the locusts coming up in the smoke from the shaft going down into the underworld can only refer to a demonic plague (possibly a loosing of the angels in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6).
Thus, the picture is that of (Luke 8:26-33; 9:38, 39), (an expression found only here in Scripture [16:10]).
Is it any wonder that Scripture states:
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)
This is what Gentile world power under Antichrist will be reduced to immediately before it is destroyed.
(The last two trumpet and bowl judgments are different than the first five. The first five describe different facets of the last two. Then these last two trumpet and bowl judgments are dealt with in the next chapter of this book [Chapter 18], with the last trumpet and bowl judgment further dealt with in the following chapter [Chapter 19].)