Brief Notes

The Seals,
the Trumpets,
& the Bowls (1)

26 January 2023

Understanding that
these are real things will
safeguard us in our
understanding of the
book of Revelation

Many people, even many Bible teachers, view the book of Revelation as being made up of so many symbols, of things that aren’t real, and for that reason they don’t take Revelation as seriously as they should.  But while some things in Revelation are symbolic, there is much more in this book that is actually quite real, and we need to be clear about that to have a healthy view of this crucial book.

Consider, for example, the seven trumpets. In Revelation 8:2 we are told:

And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.

The first mention of a trumpet in the Bible is when the Children of Israel stood before Mount Sinai:

“When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain.”…Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.
— Exodus 19:13,16

This trumpet was no mere symbol! Rather, it was a real trumpet, the trumpet of God, heard by human beings on the earth, to the point that it made them tremble (cf. Heb. 12:19).

Moreover, Paul confirms that the seven trumpets in Revelation are real, not symbolic, when he states that we will all be changed “at the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:52), and that “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with…the trumpet of God” (1 Thess. 4:16).

So, while these trumpets exist in the spiritual realm, not the physical, they are nonetheless quite real. At times their sound can break into the physical realm, and one day it surely will!

And if the seven trumpets are real, we can be assured that the seven seals and the seven bowls are as well.

In fact, there is in heaven today an entire temple, which is referred to several times in the book of Revelation (e.g., 11:1,19, 14:15). That these verses are speaking of a real temple, and are not merely using figurative language, the writer of Hebrews makes clear. First he tells us:

Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.
— Hebrews 9:11

And then he goes on:

It was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens [i.e., the earthly tabernacle] should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.
— Hebrews 9:23-24

So again, when the book of Revelation speaks of “the temple of God which is in heaven” (11:19), it is referring to something that is real, something that actually exists in the spiritual realm, not to a mere symbol. And so it is with the items in Revelation 20:1-3 that relate to the binding of Satan for the 1,000 years: the key, the abyss (cf. Luke 8:31), and the chain, not to mention the angel who does the binding. The same applies for other items in Revelation as well.

Understanding this will safeguard us from spiritualizing and explaining away so much of the Biblical prophecy in Revelation that should be taken literally.

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— 26 January 2023 —