The Seals, the Trumpets, & the Bowls (2)
meaning of these signs
will give us a better
understanding of the
book of Revelation
In the previous Note I shared that the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls in Revelation are all real things, not mere symbols. (See “The Seals, the Trumpets, & the Bowls – 1.”) And I have to say that after working on that Note, I had a deep feeling myself of just how real God’s administration in the spiritual realm is.
Yet, in addition to being real things, they also have a spiritual significance, which we should seek to understand. This will give us a much better grasp of the book of Revelation as a whole.
The first series of “sevens” are the seven seals (Rev. 8:2). The seals on any book, like the ones the Lamb is opening in heaven, can be opened in secret; if you were in the room next to me and opened the seals on a book or a letter, I probably wouldn’t know it.
In the same way, God’s administration in heaven today is being carried out in secret. The Lamb has already opened the first four seals and sent forth the four horses. Yet, even though He did this shortly after He ascended to heaven, the people of the earth do not know it. The first horse relates to the preaching of the gospel, while the last three signify war, famine, and pestilence, respectively (Rev. 6:1-8; cf. Mt. 24:7, NKJV).
We will not know when the fifth seal is opened, either; in fact, it’s possible that it has already been opened. At that time the martyred saints will cry out to God to avenge their blood (Rev. 6:9-11). This seal indicates that the time of God’s tolerance, the Age of Grace as it has been called, is coming to an end, but even this seal is opened in secret.
Only when the sixth seal is opened will God’s administration begin to come into the open; at that time there will be supernatural signs appearing in the heavens and a great shaking on the earth (Rev. 6:12-14). Then the people of the earth, knowing full well in their own conscience just how guilty they really are, will cry out to the mountains and the rocks,
“Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
— Revelation 6:16-17
Then the seventh seal will bring in the seven trumpets (Rev. 8:1-2). While the seals signify God’s working in secret, no one can miss the sound of a trumpet. So, the seven trumpets signify that God’s working is now fully out in the open for all to see.
In the first four trumpets, God will damage the earth itself—the trees, the grass, the sea, and the rivers and springs of water—and also damage the sun and the moon and the stars (Rev. 8:7-12). This is to show mankind that the earth is no longer a safe place to dwell.
In his preaching of the gospel the Apostle Paul urged people to…
…“Turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
— Acts 14:15-17
That, however, was in the Age of Grace, which we are still in today. When the trumpets are sounded, that age will be over; it will be the time of God’s judgment.
And that judgment will become still more severe with the last three trumpets, which are the three “woes” that are to come upon “those who dwell upon the earth” (Rev. 8:13). At that point God will begin to judge man directly, first by the plague of the demon-possessed locusts, then with the 200 million horsemen (Rev. 9:1-21), and then by the judgments of the seven bowls, which are actually a part of the seventh trumpet:
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”
— Revelation 16:1
The first four bowls closely correspond to the first four trumpets, in their judgment on the earth, the sea, the waters, and the sun, though in a greatly intensified form. The last three carry out God’s further judgments and prepare the way for the battle at Armageddon (Rev. 16:1-21).
But why does God use bowls to pour out His ultimate wrath upon the earth and mankind? Very simply, because a bowl can only hold so much.
In Daniel’s vision of God’s throne as recorded in Daniel 7 we are told:
A fiery stream issued
And came forth from
— Daniel 7:10
The “fiery stream” here signifies that God’s holiness is infinite; there is no limit to it, for it always streams forth. But, that is not the case with God’s wrath; thank the Lord, the uttermost manifestation of His judgment and fury upon the earth is not by “seven streams,” but by seven bowls, for even then God still limits His judgment.
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— 28 January 2023 —