What are the Seven Trumpets of Revelation 9?


We elect a government; the president presides over that government.”

Ken Starr, former Independent Counsel

The adage, ‘Prophecy is history written in advance; history is prophecy fulfilled,’ is helpful in interpreting and understanding the seven trumpets of Revelation.  A quick review of well-documented world history, specifically of and during the reign of the Roman Empire composed of its eastern and western divisions clearly reveal the history that fulfills this amazing prophecy.   

What are the seven trumpets recorded in Rev. 9?  Since this is definitely Bible prophecy, especially the two major prophetic books of the BibleDaniel in the Old and Revelation in the New, they cannot be literal trumpets of course. So what do these seven trumpets symbolize?

According to the chronology of Biblical prophecy, the world’s first empire or universal kingdom was Babylon. Babylon was overrun and replaced by Medo-Persia. Alexander’s Greece (Greek Macedonia) conquered and replaced the Medo-Persian empire. The Grecian empire was conquered by the “fourth kingdom strong as iron” on earth. See Nebuchadnezzar’s puzzling dream in Daniel 2: 1-23, and Daniel’s God-revealed explanation in verses 24:45.

The Roman Empire:  “1. The empire of ancient Rome from 27 B.C. to 395 A.D. 2 The Romano-Germanic empire founded by Charlemagne about 800. A.D. The Roman Empire was founded by Octavian, later Augustus, in 27 B.C. Anarchy had followed the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. His nephew, Octavian, gained control of Italy and the west, winning the east by defeating Antony at Actium 31 B.C. Becoming virtual dictator, he received the title Imperator Augustus (‘August Emperor’) from the Roman Senate. Egypt has been annexed 30 B.C. and during his reign, Roman frontiers extended to the Rhine and Danube in Europe; in the east to the Black Sea, Armenia, Mesopotamia and the Arabian Desert; in the south including Egypt and the northern coast of Africa. Part of Britain was conquered in 43 A.D. The first persecution of Christians was by Nero, 54-68 A.D. The empire reached its greatest extent under Trajan, 98-117 A.D, including Dacia (modern Romania), Armenia, Assyria, and Mesopotamia. His successor, Hadrian, 117-138, withdrew to the Euphrates; built Hadrian’s wall across Britain, where Barbarians threatened from the north.”-Webster’s Unified Dictionary and Encyclopedia, 1960.

Luke 2: 1-7 tells us Christ was born during the “Augustinian age.” He completed His mission on earth when He died and His Christian religion was introduced to the known world—all within the confines of the Roman Empire. Following the prophetic chain of earth’s great universal kingdoms established in Daniel’s vision recorded in Daniel chapter 2, it is therefore reasonable to expect that the downfall of Rome, which prophecy clearly reveals was closely connected with the history of Christ’s church, should be a subject of a special prophecy. Indeed. It is presented to the student of God’s Word and the whole world in general, as the seven trumpets of Revelation.

The Two Divisions of the Trumpets Focus on Rome

Why were trumpets used to symbolize this particular prophecy? In contrast to the sound of the harp and other ancient instruments, the trumpet and its startling sound was used anciently to summon soldiers to war. See Numbers 10: 9.  “When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets . . . “ So we know we are to see described non-stop war activity centered on the Roman Empire.  And so it is.

The first four trumpets deal with the breaking up of western Rome; the last three, with the overthrow of eastern Rome. These  last are also called “woe” trumpets.

Rev. 8: 2. Seven angels are given charge of carrying out this prophecy. (Note:  Seven angels are also given charge over the seven last plagues—“the mysterious wrath of God and the Lamb” “poured out without mixture” on all who persist in worshipping the beast and his image.”  Rev. 6: 16; 14: 9-11). There are also seven angels, including the familiar “first, second, and third angels”  described in Revelation chapter 14, who complete the final messages and work as immediately preparatory for earth’s final harvest in the glorious appearing Christ. rev. 14: 12-20.

Rev. 8: 6, 7. On account of the trouble with China, hordes of barbarians from N. Asia turn westward and poured into Roman territory.  The Goths under Alaric and two other organized bodies of barbarians, led the raids on the Roman territory. In A.D. 410, Alaric sacked Rome. About 407 Barbarian nations had taken their places in the conquered portions, namely: Franks, northern France; Vandals, Spain, later North Africa;Visigoths, Southern France and Spain; Burgundians, Switzerland and part of France and Germany; Suevi, Portugal and Northwest Spain; Ostrogoths,Italy; Huns, Southwest Russia (From Gibbon’s Rome, chs. 30, 31).

       Note: those underlined above are two of three Arian nations (the other was the Heruli)  that were fist “uprooted” through the instigation of the Bishop of Rome before the papacy came into full control of western and eastern Rome, ending pagan Rome’s stage.

Rev. 8: 8. From 429 to 468 A.D. Genseric, leading the Vandals of North Africa, made repeated attacks on the Roman Empire, destroying large fleets of vessels. So terrible was this warfare, that “Vandalism” is still a synonym for ruthless destruction. (Gibbon’s Rome, chp. 33, 37)

Rev. 8: 10, 11. The Huns, led by Attila the Terrible, made fierce attacks in the region of the Alps. Chalons was where the greatest battle took place. Attila’s raids from 451 to 453 A.D. , were finished 15 years before Genseric ceased to harass Rome from the South.

     After Attila’s war, the Heruli settled in Italy, the Lombards in Northern Italy, and the last of the ten divisions, the Anglo-Saxons, in England, about 471 A.D. (Gibbon’s Rome, ch. 35)

Rev. 8: 12. As ordained by God in creating them on the fourth day of creation (Gen.1 : 14-19), the sun rules the day, and the moon rules the night. In like manner, emperors, consuls, and senators, ruled Rome. In 476 A.D., the title of emperor ceased. In 541 A.D., consulship ended. In 552 .A.D., under Narses the senate was set aside. (Gibbon’s Rome, chs. 36, 40, 43).

Rev. 8: 13The last three trumpets are woe trumpets.

Rev. 9: 1-11. The rise of the Mohammedanism. “The wise man Agur declared that ‘the locusts have no king, yet go forth all of them by bands’ (Prov. 30: 27; cf. v. 1). The “locusts “in the present passage, however, are more highly organized in their destructive work, for they have a ruler whose commands they follow. “Some who apply the fifth and sixth trumpets to the Moslem Arabs and Turks see in this king a reference to Osman (Othman I) (1299-1326), the traditional founder of the Ottoman Empire. His first attack on the Greek Empire, which according to Gibbon, took place on July 27, 1299, they take as marking the beginning of the five month period of ‘torment’ (Rev. 9: 7, 10).”

So for about 600 years the Arabs were like “locusts without a king.” But near the close of the thirteenth century, Othman (Osman ) I founded a government. On July 27, 1299 he entered Nicomedia,– the first attack of the Ottoman government on Eastern Rome. (Gibbon’s Rome). They were “to hurt men five months” (30 days to a month, prophetic time reckoning) —150 years. Thus, July 27, 1299 plus 150 years, equals July 27, 1499.

Rev. 9: 12-21.  Previously, John saw four angels that had power to restrain the winds of strife from blowing (chap. 7). These angels had worldwidepowers. The present “four angels” appear to be localized. Most commentators who interpret the fifth trumpet as applying to the Saracens have seen the Turks in the sixth. Some identify the four angels as the four sultanies of the Turkish (Ottoman) Empire, which are identified as Aleppo, Iconium, Damascus, and Baghdad—the central strength of the then-Ottoman Empire. In 1449, John Paleologus, the Greek emperor, died. His brother, Deacozes, would not take throne unless by consent of Amurah, the Turkish sultan.  Thus the power of Turkish Empire was “loosed for a day, a month, and a year,” or for 391 years and 15 days they would have power.  July 27, 1449 plus 391 years and 15 days equals, August 11, 1840. Note the following:

       “In the year 1840, another remarkable fulfillment of the prophecy excited wide-spread interest. Two years before, Josiah Litch, one of the leading misters preaching the Second Advent, published an exposition of Revelation 9, predicting the fall of the Ottoman Empire. According to his calculations, this power was to be overthrown ‘in A.D. 194, sometime in the month of August;’ and only a few days previous to its accomplishment he wrote: ‘Allowing the first period, 150 years, fifteen days, commenced at the close of the first period, it will end on 11th of August, 1840, when the Ottoman power in Constantinople may be expected to be broken. And this, I believe, will be found to be the very case.” (Litch, Josiah, article inSigns of the Times, and Expositor of Prophecy, Aug.1, 1850/ GC 335.

       “At the very time specified, Turkey, through her ambassadors, accepted the protection of the allied powers of Europe, and thus placed herself under the control of the Christian nations. The event exactly fulfilled the prediction.’ When it became known, multitudes were convinced of the correctness of the principles of prophetic interpretation adapted by Miller and his associates, and a wonderful impetus was given to the Advent Movement. Men of learning and postion united with Miller, both in preaching and publishing his views, and from 1840 to 1844 the work rapidly extended.”- (Great Controversy, 1911 ed. p. 335)   

Rev. 9: 13-21. To save Turkey from being overrun by Egypt, Turkey accepted the intervention of England, Russia, Austria, and Prussia. An ultimatum was drawn up by the great powers which pledged themselves to coerce Egypt, if Egypt refused to accept terms.  As long as the Turkish sultan held the ultimatum, he still maintained his independence. But as soon as the document was in the hands of Mehemet Ali, it was beyond the sultan’s power to control the situation. The document was put into the power of Mehemet Ali, and disposed of according to his orders, August 11, 1840. Since then Turkey has been called “the sickman of the East. (GC 334, 335).

    Q. Who was Mehemet Ali? The Frosina Information Network on the internet says“Mehmet Ali (1769-1840) established a dynasty in Egypt which endured for over a century. He was born of Albanian parentage in Cavaila, a small Macedonian seaport. This Albanian soldier of fortune led an Albanian contingent accompanying a Turkish expedition in 1798 [note that date] to expel Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops from Egypt, then a Turkish province. After the French withdrawal in 1801, prolonged factional struggle led Cairo to ask this Albanian adventurer to serve as governor of Egypt, and Constantinople confirmed the appointment in 1804. . . . Mehmet Ali was far ahead of his countrymen, while his moral character, enlightened mind and distinguished ability qualified him for the title Founder of Modern Egypt.”

Rev. 11: 14. The third woe did not immediately follow the second, but when it did, it came quickly.

Rev. 10: 7; 11: 14.  The finishing of the work by the third angel’s message, which would be finished under the seventh trumpet, began in 1844 A.D!

Note. – For a fuller explanation of the woes trumpets, see “Prophetic Expositions,” published 1842, by Josiah Litch; also an “An Exposition of the Seven Trumpets,” Review & Herald, 1875.

God used Medo-Persia to dismantle Babylon Empire, then Greece to dismantle the Medo-Persian empire, then Rome to dismantle the Grecian empire. Whom did God use to dismantle the “strong as iron” Roman Empire? The barbarians from the north, who overran western Rome and the Muslims from the south who ravaged eastern Rome! Now we know from Bible prophecy what the past role of the Moslems was in the Biblical history of nations on earth!