The Trumpets Begin to Sound
“Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.” Let us make a few preliminary remarks about these trumpets before they are blown: 1) Unlike the seals which were directed to everyone on earth, saint and sinner alike (for even the saints must endure war and its ravages), the trumpet blasts seem directed especially towards the wicked. Of course, believers will have to endure the consequences of these plagues as well, just as we endure the consequences of the choices of evil men now. Still, these plagues are the judgments of God on wicked men for the wicked deeds. 2) These plagues seem eerily similar to those God sent on the Egyptians which led to the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 7-12). We might assume that these plagues are the prelude of a similar exodus for the children of God to the heavenly Promised Land. 3) It does seem that the trumpets are the beginning of the end. They represent one last call to sinful men to repent and believe. This does not mean that such judgments have not occurred in the past. There have been harrowing times before, such as life in early medieval Europe after the fall of Rome, the Viking invasions of Britain and France (Normandy) in the eighth and ninth centuries, the revolutions throughout Europe in the eighteenth century, and the wars of the twentieth—the bloodiest century of all. And that’s just the West! We don’t know when our Lord shall return, but we can always be ready.
But most of all, these trumpet judgments expose man in his natural, sinful condition: Unrepentant and clinging to his sin at all costs, even his life (9:20-21). These plagues serve the same purpose they did with Pharaoh: They harden men’s hearts. Even though a third of the vegetation is burned up, a third of the seas are filled with dead creatures, a third of the fresh water is contaminated, and a third of the light of the sun, moon, and stars is smitten—men still refuse to come to their senses. They are drunk on sin. God’s mercy is on display in that only “a third” of these necessities is stripped away. The time will come (the seven bowls) when judgment will be final and everything stripped away. Until then, God’s judgments are a call to repent and live; men shall refuse.
It’s an ugly picture of us; I say “us” because this is us in all our pride and hard-heartedness had not God sent His Holy Spirit to birth us anew. We bow before the throne and worship Sovereign God who now vindicates His name and answers the prayers of his elect. Our homecoming is the judgment of the world. Soon we shall follow Miriam in the dance to Moses’ song.