We have seen that the first interval period between the sixth and seventh seals is a picture of conversion, describing a great ingathering of the saints. And indeed, even in most secular history books, the section beginning with Constantine is usually labeled something like The Triumph of Christianity, The Rise of the Christian Church, etc. And a great number of conversions to the Christian faith are what we do see playing out in history at this time.
Revelation 8 begins:
Now when the Lamb opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel holding a golden censer came and was stationed at the altar. A large amount of incense was given to him to offer up, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar that is before the throne. The smoke coming from the incense, along with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it on the earth, and there were crashes of thunder, roaring, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. Now the seven angels holding the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. Revelation 8:1-6
I have blogged very briefly about this passage once before:
The Lamb opens the seventh seal. There follows a period of silence, then seven angels are given seven trumpets. The event of the seventh seal is the seven trumpets. The next earthquake, or violent cultural, societal, and political upheaval, occurs with the beginning of the seven trumpets. Remember where we are in history. The empire has declined dramatically, paganism has fallen, Christianity has triumphed, the seat of Roman authority has been removed to Constantinople, but Rome has not fallen yet. Its fall, which the next four trumpets describes, and the complete changing of one political system – imperialism – for another – feudalism – occasions the earthquake which accompanies the seven trumpets.
Because the seventh seal contains the seven trumpets, the events of the seven trumpets must take place after the events of the first six seals. The first six seals were fulfilled from 96 ad to about 380 ad, so it is in this time period, about 380 ad and following, that we begin looking at the events of history. Now in chapter 7, there were four angels at the four corners of the earth, waiting to visit judgments upon the earth, who were stayed while great numbers were sealed for God. These four angels, I believe, and their four judgments, are the same as the first four trumpets which are described
in chapter 8. Now that those who are the Lord’s have been sealed, the judgments go forward.
It is interesting that the series of trumpet judgments opens with a scene of vast numbers of the prayers of the saints rising before God. This could indicate that the Church, because they knew the prophecy of Revelation and understood the standard teaching about the first six seals — that they were judgments which they had witnessed being fulfilled in the decline of the Roman Empire — was anticipating the beginning of the seven judgment trumpets, as they knew their place in history. Thus they were praying fervently in the face of the severe judgments which they were anticipating.
In just this way the Christians withdrew from Jerusalem before the Roman armies surrounded it in 68 ad, because they had been forewarned by Jesus’ prophecy recorded in Matthew 24 to do so. Because they knew God’s word and believed it, they anticipated the events of history and prepared for them accordingly. Incidentally, there is not a similar scene of the prayers of the saints being offered before the Lord at the beginning of the final series of judgments, the seven bowls of wrath; perhaps because by that time the Church had already forgotten much of the prophetic teaching.
To be continued …
Update: continued in Revelation 8: the first trumpet