For an overview of the trumpets, it is important to know that we have to see the whole context of Revelations. We saw the lining up of the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls of wrath. The sixth seal seems to be the same event as the seventh trumpet, which seems to be the same event as the seventh bowl. However, there is more that happens in Revelations. Why would we place the trumpets in the second half of the final tribulation? Why would we place it at the beginning – or at least close to the beginning?
It has been argued by many (I seem to be the only one I can find that holds to a futurist view and puts them close to the beginning) that the trumpets progress from the middle of the week to the end of the week. The argument is that the sealing of the 144,000 doesn’t happen until the middle of the week, and since the four angels are holding back the four winds from harming the land, sea, and trees (7:2-3), then the seven trumpets must be after this. Why, you might ask? If you look at the first four trumpets, they seem to be harming the land, sea, and trees.
I have no problem with this reasoning. Where my contention comes is that there is nowhere that I can find that would support the sealing of the 144,000 at being explicitly at the middle of the week. Why can’t they be sealed at the beginning? I don’t see anything in any text that would explicitly limit the sealing of the Jewish people to being at the middle of the week. Rather, it seems to make sense to me that if in Daniel the temple is rebuilt and the sacrifices are being offered that there would be a people who stray away from this. I can think of multiple rabbis that I’ve heard mention this is a bad idea. I can think of other rabbis who are excited to participate at the temple (there is almost no doubt in the mind of most religious Jews that the temple will be rebuilt).
Right away, then, we would see a dividing line. There would be a segment of Jewish people that are not devoted to the sins of Judah. They separate from the men who would go contrary to the Law by making a pact with death and hell. They see it as against God, and in that, I wouldn’t doubt that there would be some sealed at the very beginning. It makes perfect sense to me when I read Daniel that there are those who will “forsake the holy covenant” (Dan 11:30) and “violate the covenant” (Dan 11:32) “because of rebellion” (Dan 8:12). The rebellion doesn’t explicitly have to be that they some how start a riot or war, as in the days of Titus. It could very well be that by confirming the covenant (Dan 9:27), they are indeed violating the covenant. The next step is merely to affirm that this Antichrist figure is indeed god, and allow him to build up that abomination of desolation.
In regard to the trumpets being the full seven years, what arguments do I have to make such a claim? We’ve already mentioned that the trumpets seem to be much weaker in caliber to the seals. The first four would be before the abomination of desolation, and the fifth seal would be the Antichrist march on Israel. We see the fall of a star (compare Rev 12:7-9), and the star opens up the Abyss. Then, these “locusts” attack anyone and everyone who does not have the seal of God. Who are they that would have the seal of God? They are Jews. Go back to Ezekiel 9 and look at the context. This is speaking of Jerusalem, and not speaking of all nations. Compare Rev 9:1-12 with Joel 1-2. We see the symbolism of “locusts” used in Joel as an “army from the north” to march down and utterly devastate the land of Israel. John is pulling from this imagery to explain what he is seeing in his vision.
So, when we see that the king over the locusts, the angel of the Abyss, is the destroyer, it makes sense then that this is somehow relating to the establishment of the abomination of desolation. We can compare this with Rev 11:7, where the Antichrist figure (the beast) is actually claimed to “come up from out of the Abyss”. The destroyer, the king over this locust army, is the Antichrist. Satan is the star that falls to the earth to open up this Abyss. We see the “abyss” described again in Rev 13:2, where out of the seas a monster comes forth, and this is the Antichrist figure. Then, again we find in Rev 17:8 that this beast is the one that comes out of the Abyss.
We saw earlier the correlation between the fallen star and the fall of Satan in Rev 12. If we keep reading Rev 12, we come to verse 12 that reads, “Woe to the earth and sea, because the devil has gone down to you!” What are the last three trumpets called? They are the three great “woes”. John is using similar language here for a reason. The fifth trumpet lines up too well with the fall of Satan, the establishment of the Antichrist and the abomination of desolation, and the “woe” given to the earth and sea. If the fifth trumpet is the march on Jerusalem and establishment of the abomination of desolation, then it only makes sense that the first four trumpets are before that. If the establishment of the abomination of desolation takes place halfway through the final week (Dan 9:27), then once again, it makes most sense that these other trumpets take place in the first half of the week.
So, in the expression of timing, we find that the seals and trumpets both go from the beginning – or near the beginning – unto the end of the Tribulation. There is an interval between the sixth and seventh seal, and an interval between the sixth and seventh trumpet. We find another interval – albeit only a verse – between the sixth and seventh bowl of wrath. This is the progression that John has chosen. It would appear that in the chronology of events, John has chosen that the seals and trumpets are the full seven years, and that the intermission would return to the beginning as well. Now, in regard to Rev 10-11, we find the scroll that the angel holds to take us back to Rev 5. Why? Remember what the scroll represented. The scroll represented the judgments to be poured out upon Israel and Jerusalem. In Rev 11, we find the exact same thing to be true. (It should be noted that Rev 11 is the final 3 ½ years.)
So, when we look at the overview of the trumpets, what we find is a lot of reference to these cataclysmic events mentioned elsewhere in prophecy. Because we can somewhat line up those events being referenced, we can better understand where John is telling us the progression of events are taking place in our timeline. It takes incredible painstaking attention to the details to line all of this up correctly, and even with such attention it seems rather difficult to line everything up.