- 7 Seals
- 7 Trumpets
- 7 Bowls
However, the seventh seal simply introduces the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet does the same for the bowls. So, in terms of chronology, it would read:
Seal 1, Seal 2, Seal 3, Seal 4, Seal 5, Seal 6, Trumpet 1, Trumpet 2, Trumpet 3, Trumpet 4, Trumpet 5, Trumpet 6, Bowl 1, Bowl 2, Bowl 3, Bowl 4, Bowl 5, Bowl 6, Bowl 7
Leaving us with a chronology of 19 events. In today's article, we will focus on the first four trumpets and the first four bowls. Skipping over trumpets 5 and 6, as they focus less on natural judgments and more on supernatural/spiritual events.
Judgement Through Nature?:
With that said, before you consider my view you should take into account the nature of biblical judgments. In most (if not all) cases of large-scale judgments on humanity, God acts through the forces of nature, rather than causing physics-defying events to occur.
For example, the Noahic Flood. Whether you believe the flood is local or global (I take the local flood view), most would admit that the flood was a judgement through nature. Genesis describes the flood not as God supernaturally creating floodwaters out of nothing, but simply natural aquifers (fountains of the great deep) and rainstorms causing the flood.
"In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights." Genesis 7: 11-12 (ESV)
They were of course, sovereignly directed by God. God is ultimately responsible for, and in control of, all of nature.
You will find that most of the judgement miracles in the bible make sense in terms of natural process. The ten plagues of Egypt, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the parting of the Red Sea, Elijah calling down fire from heaven, etc.
It stands to reason that this could apply to the final judgments on the world as well. This is my view on the first four trumpets and the first four bowls.
Breaking Down The Text:
Let us review what Revelation describes:
"The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.
The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.
The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night." Revelation 8: 7-12 (ESV)
"So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.
The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.
The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,
“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,
for you brought these judgments.
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!”
And I heard the altar saying,
Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
true and just are your judgments!”
The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory." Revelation 16: 2-8 (ESV)
So, this describes eight events occurring.
- First, fire and hail rain down and destroy 1/3rd of the world's vegetation.
- Second, a great burning mountain falls from the sky into the seas and 1/3rd of the seas are poisoned and everything in them dies.
- Third, a star falls from the sky and poisons 1/3rd of the world's liquid freshwater.
- Forth, the light from the Sun, Moon, and Stars is dimmed by 1/3rd.
- Fifth, painful sores break out on the people of the earth.
- Sixth, the remaining 2/3rd of the world's seas are poisoned as well.
- Seventh, the remaining 2/3rd of the world's liquid freshwater is poisoned.
- Eighth, heat from the sun increases and torments the people of the earth.
From a scientific perspective, what is occurring here? Is this physically plausible, or does it require supernatural intervention?
The answer is *yes*, it is physically plausible. In fact, we have evidence that similar events have occurred in the past, although long before humans were around.
65 Million Years Earlier:
The fossil record contains evidence of mass extinction events occurring in the past. To most people, the best known is the K-Pg mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Best known for good reason, as it is the one we know most about. The other four mass extinction events are unclear in terms of cause.
What does this have to do with Revelation? Well, following the Asteroid impact that triggers the K-Pg extinction, there were some...unsettling results:
- Firestorms: Literal fire raining from the sky. This is when wildfires are so huge they have the ability to create their own weather systems.
- Hypercanes: Somewhat hypothetical, but likely would occur following the climate disruption caused by a large impact event. These are essentially hurricanes on steroids.
- Atmospheric Haze: The smoke and debris from the impact and burnt foliage creates a worldwide haze that blots out the sun, causing short-term (around 1 or 2 years) global cooling,
- Acid Rain: Nitric-Oxide released into the atmosphere from the impact would mix with the rain and create a toxic acid rain.
- Ozone Layer Depletion: The same Nitric-Oxide would rapidly deplete the ozone-layer (which protects us from UV radiation) through chemical reactions. At first, this would not be a problem, as the smoke and ash layer would protect us from ultraviolet radiation. But after it clears, 1 - 2 years later, we will be left with almost no protection from ultraviolet radiation and suffer the full extent of its harmful effects.
- Heat Wave: Due to the combination of: No ozone-layer, reduced vegetation, and increased carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere, global temperatures would rise far above normal levels.
See any parallels between this and the effects described in Revelation? This does leave a few loose-ends, but I think they make sense upon further investigation.
Presenting A Plausible Scenario:
Now, I will present a hypothesis on how these events might play out:
1. A large asteroid comes near the earth and breaks into three parts, which proceed to orbit the earth chaotically.
2. One chunk of the asteroid explodes in the atmosphere in the southern Atlantic, igniting huge firestorms, acid rain, hurricanes, and tsunamis across the southern hemisphere. Burning up most of the plant-life in Africa and South America. Note: Africa and South America possess a large portion of the world's vegetation, but only a small minority of the human population. (First Trumpet)
3. Another chunk strikes the Pacific Ocean, releasing some element (probably iron, phosphorus, or a platinum-group metal) into the water that causes immense algae blooms, depleting the waters of oxygen and rendering them poisonous. Potentially killing all creatures that depend on those waters. Note: No ocean besides the pacific even nears 1/3rd of the planet's total ocean, making it the most likely candidate. (Second Trumpet)
4. The third and final chunk strikes near the great lakes in North America, having a similar effect of poisoning them and the connected river systems. This would render their waters useless for the people of North America. Note: the water of the great lakes and surrounding rivers accounts for about a third of the world's liquid freshwater. (Third Trumpet)
5. The smoke from the asteroid strikes and burned vegetation depletes the ozone layer and creates a haze which reduces light from the sun (and other heavenly bodies) by around 1/3rd, causing severe global cooling for a few years. Note: A similar figure to what is estimated for the K-Pg extinction event. Incidentally, this haze would give the sky a reddish tint. (Fourth Trumpet)
6. Later, as the global haze fades, more UV radiation gets through the atmosphere and causes people to break out with horrible sores. (First Bowl)
7. Perhaps as a result of acidification or substances from the asteroids (or perhaps just a result of the food chain crumbling from the devastation), the entirety of the world's water is poisoned. All sea life dies. (Second and Third Bowl)
8. The haze finally is gone, allowing the full extent of the UV rays from the sun to reach earth. This, in addition to the greatly increased carbon-dioxide, methane, and sulfur from the asteroids, replaces the impact winter with a severe worldwide heat-wave. (Fourth Bowl)
Note: The couple years for the global "haze" to fade allows time for the 5th and 6th trumpets (Trumpet 5 is said to last about five months) and the ministry of the two witnesses (Said to last 3.5 years, though this may overlap with some of the trumpets).
Although not perfect, I believe I have lain out a scenario that plausibly explains the natural judgments of the first four trumpets and the first four bowls. Eschatology is a hard topic and the symbolism-code used is often difficult to crack. This is my first stab at eschatology on this blog and I hope I did a good job. I would love input from my readers.
As always, thanks for reading!