Harry Whittaker
Revelation - A Biblical Approach

Chapter 26 - The Seventh Trumpet (11:14-19)

“The second woe is past, and behold, the third woe cometh quickly.” This third woe consists, first and foremost, of a triumphant declaration that the Lord is supreme. “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”

The very brevity of this climactic description of resurrection and judgement, and of the assertion of the authority of the Messiah is in itself something of a problem. There are two simple answers to this.

The fuller pictures of redemption are reserved, naturally enough, for the end of the book. Also, the structural development of Revelation almost requires that it should be so. In Revelation 8:1-6 it is easy to trace the Seventh Seal evolving into the greater details of Seven Trumpets. Now a further stage of development takes place. The vision of the Seventh Trumpet (Third Woe) is to be filled out into the more detailed revelations of ch. 12, 13. This is another heptad, although the seven-fold nature of this prophecy is not quite so readily discernible.


Here, in chapters 12, 13 are seven Dramatis Personae. And because the visions involve the interaction of these characters, the sharp sub-division characteristic of Seals and Trumpets is not followed.

The Seven Characters:

(1) The Woman clothed with the sun.
(2) Satan, the great red dragon.
(3) The man child.
(4) Michael.
(5) The rest of the Woman’s seed.
(6) The ten-horned Beast out of the sea.
(7) The two-horned Beast out of the earth (the False Prophet).

So the Seventh Trumpet’s description of what it involves need only be brief, because so much of it is soon to be expanded in the visions, which follow.

In this also lies the explanation of various other features. This Seventh Trumpet is also the Third Woe (8:13, 11:14). But if it consists of a mere five verses at the end of chapter 11, there is only one phrase of woe in it: “and thy wrath is come.” But there is plenty of woe in chapters 12, 13.

The words of 12:12: “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea,” suggest that this is part of the Third Woe; as also does the mention of “the third part of the stars of heaven” (12:4). Reminder that “the third part” is a phrase characteristic of the Trumpets is hardly necessary (it comes twelve times in Trumpets 1-6).

A further point of interest. If the quite arbitrary chapter division at 11:19 were ignored for the moment, it is then no easy matter to settle whether the end of the Seventh Trumpet comes at the end of v. 18 or v. 19. According to the structure being argued for here, this becomes a matter of minor importance, since it is now all part of the Seventh Trumpet, either in its summary form (end of ch. 11) or in its expanded form (ch. 12, 13).


It might be more correct is go even beyond the conclusions suggested here, and to extend the Seventh Trumpet to take in the Seven Thunders (chapter 14) and the Seven Vials (chapter 16) and the Seven Final Visions (chapters 17-22), for there can be no denying that Revelation 11: 15-19 does provide an admirable summary of the main action in the rest of the book.

Voices in heaven, saying ...

The kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.

24 elders worshipped God.
19:4 6

Lord God Almighty, which art and which wast.
16:5 RV

The nations were angry.

Thy wrath is come.
ch. 16

The time of the dead.
20:12; 14:3

Thy servants the prophets and thy saints.
16:6; 18:24

estroy them which destroy the earth.
14:18-20; 19:15-21

emple of God opened in heaven ... the ark of his covenant.

Lightnings, voices, etc.

All this is called the Seventh Trumpet. There must be some connection between this and Paul’s remarkable words, “ ... we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of a eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible” (1 Corinthians 15: 52) ... “the time of the dead that they should be judged.”


It is an interesting speculation, for which there is more evidence than many would consider possible, that much that is contained in the Apocalypse was earlier made known to the Apostle Paul in what he calls the “visions and revelations from the Lord ... unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). If that were so, then Paul certainly had more than sufficient reason for referring to the resurrection as “the last trump.” The following list of passages may be considered worthy of investigation:


1 Timothy
6:14, 15

1: 4, 5a

3:12; 5:13

21: 27; 13:8

1: 12
21: 7, 23, 24

4:11; 10:6



2:9, 10

5:17; 19:2

6:17 and 19:2

1 Corinthians
I5: 51, 52
11:15, 18

2 Corinthians
12: 1, 2


7:15; 21:2, 3

4:25, 26

2 Thessalonians
ch. 19, 20

ch. 13?


This Seventh Trumpet has other significant associations in the Scriptures:

1. The walls of Jericho fell after the city had been compassed on each of six days and then seven times on the seventh day, to the accompaniment of priestly trumpet blasts. It is easy to see the resemblance to the Seven Seals, the last of which introduced the Seven Trumpets, leading up to the downfall of the kingdom of man. Without the Ark of the Covenant in the lead, Jericho was impregnable. Hence in this antitype “there was seen the ark of his covenant” (v. 19). Furthermore, the walls oi Jericho only fell when “the people shouted with a great shout” (Joshua 6:20). Accordingly Revelation reads in this place: “And there were great voices in heaven, saying...”

2. Nor is it inappropriate here to mention Isaiah 27:13, especially since the preceding verse is itself a parallel to Revelation 14:15: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem” (Isaiah 27:13).

3. In the beginning of his ministry Jesus was “tempted of the Devil” with the enticement: “All these (kingdoms of the world) will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8, 9). But now the kingdoms of the world are become Christ’s, not through worship of the Devil, but by vanquishing him “by the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:9, 11).

4. The Seventh Trumpet celebrates the victory in words, which echo, strange as it may seem, the last verse of Obadiah’s prophecy. There is particular appropriateness about this, since that short prophecy memorializes in bitter terms the age-long enmity between Jacob and Esau and the outcome of it all when God establishes His Chosen People in their Land. Revelation 11:10 has already foretold how “they that dwell in the Land” (the Arabs) will gloat with vindictive satisfaction over the hapless Dlight of Israel immediately before the advent of their Messiah. “Thou shouldest not have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress” (Obadiah 12). So this annunciation of the Kingdom in Obadiah’s own words is specially apt.

5. “And he shall reign for ever and ever.” The words are a quotation either of Psalm l0: 16 or of Psalm 146:10. The first of these celebrates how God will “break the arm of the wicked ... the nations are perished out of his land.” The second makes contrast between the futility of human power and the wondrous ways of God. The Psalm continues: “The Lord looseth the prisoners (out of the tomb; Zechariah 9:11, 12). The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind; the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down; the Lord loveth the righteous ... but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.”

6. It may be thought strange, perhaps, that the hymn of the twenty-four elders should be called one of “thanks,” since it seems to be a statement of fact-the mighty works of God in the inauguration of His kingdom. But one thing in particular the twenty-four elders do well to give thanks for - that God has destroyed or is about to destroy them, which destroy the earth! The corresponding phrase in Revelation 19:5 is: “Praise our God...” Let it be noted that to thank God is to praise Him, and to praise Him is to thank Him. Feeble men blessed by His grace have nothing else to offer.

7. In this hymn, as in Revelation 1:8, are catalogued all the divine names, for now in the bringing in of God’s Kingdom all His divine titles find their fulness:



Shaddai: Ts’vaoth

which art, and wast and art to come.

But here, according to the best texts, the final title is “which art, and wast” (so also in 16:5). The omission of the final clause is almost to be expected. God’s Kingdom is now set up, the culmination of His wondrous purpose is at hand. So to speak of Him as a God who “is to come” is now (in Revelation 11:17 and in 16:5) utterly out of place.


8. Again the Psalms are quarried for gems of praise to offer before the throne: “Thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned; and the nations were angry.”

Two Psalms, 97 and 99, begin: “The Lord hath reigned” (so the Hebrew), and both end in “holiness,” but whereas one of them goes on: “let the earth rejoice,” the other continues: “let the nations be angry” (LXX). But the anger of the nations notwithstanding, God’s Kingdom is established - through God’s anger: “thy wrath is come.” It is an anticipation of the Seven Vials to be poured on the wilful and rebellious.

9. This Greek word (orge) employed to describe both the anger of God and of godless nations is worthy of examination. By contrast with another word (thumos), which signifies “an outburst of passion,” this term means rather “a cold, settled hostility” - the anger of policy in contrast to thumos, the anger of emotion.

Scripture generally uses orge with reference to the wrath of God, and thumos with reference to the wrath of men, but in several places in Revelation, such as “the winepress of the wrath of God” and “the vials of the wrath of God” thumos is employed, as though to suggest that in the Last Days human wickedness will be so great that even the Almighty will be unable to contemplate it dispassionately. In two places (16:19 and 19:15) the words are used in combination as though in a desperate attempt to express the idea that God’s anger has reached its utmost bound,[49] cp. Ezekiel 38:18: “my fury shall come up in my face.”

10. The wrath of God is vented specially on “those that destroy the earth.” This phrase identifies Babylon Jeremiah 51: 25) and the Beast (Daniel 7:7, 23). It has already been pointed out that it was only in its ruthless policy against the Jews in A.D. 70 that Daniel’s Fourth Beast “devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it.” Everywhere else Rome took the blessings of peace, settled government and the rule of law. So this wrath of God is to be against “those that destroy the Land,” the Power which fills the role of that Fourth Beast in the Last Days. Even so, the reader can hardly refrain from wondering if there will not be a much wider application of this trenchant phrase. In these days of rampant pollution and ruthless exploitation of the earth’s resources, those who grieve to see God’s fair world so devilishly misused need reassurance that not only the curse of Eden but also the curse brought by selfish heedless men will one day be removed.

By contrast with their destruction, this is also “the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward to thy servants the prophets, and to thy saints, and to them that fear thy name, small and great” (and see Daniel 7:27). What different classes do these several phrases indicate7 “Them that fear thy name” is probably equivalent to “God-fearer,” which in John’s day was the current description of a kind of half-proselyte to Judaism (e.g. Acts 10:2:22; 13:16). Thus, “them that fear thy name” would now mean Gentiles in Christ (Psalm 102:15), leaving the other phrases, “thy servants the prophets” and “the saints” to describe Jewish believers as in 13:7 and Daniel 8:24.

11. Appropriately John now sees “the temple of God opened in heaven” - the temple with its exalted divine throne and the multitude of the redeemed offering thankful service, the temple which he had been commanded to measure - this temple, concerning the very existence of which the world has been in complete ignorance, is now made manifest to all. And there in the midst is seen especially the ark of the covenant with its blood-sprinkled mercy-seat (without which there is no temple) and beneath which reposed the three symbols of resurrection: the dead rod which budded, the corruptible manna which never corrupted (Revelation 2:17) and the tables of the law which were destroyed, and made anew.

“And there followed (RV) lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”

These words, repeated in the Seventh Vial (ch. 16:18), suggest that, whatever other fulfilment of the Seventh Vial may be traceable in recent world history, the true application is only to be found in the wrath of God made manifest when the Kingdom has actually come.

[49] The passages where orge is used of the wrath of man: Matthew 5: 22, Luke 15: 28 Ephesians 4:26, are specially interesting and instructive.
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