The seventh trumpet or “third woe” ushered in the consummation of the kingdom and the final judgment – Revelation 11:15-19.
When the seventh seal was opened, a half-hour of “silence” in heaven ensued before the seven angels began to sound their “trumpets” when the prayers of the “saints” were heard. When the “seventh trumpet” sounded, “loud voices” in heaven declared the triumph of the kingdom and the “Lamb,” for the nations had become his possession as promised.
The “seventh trumpet” is the “third woe” that was pronounced against the “inhabitants of the earth.” Its blast means vindication and glory for the “saints,” but judgment and condemnation for the unrepentant.
- (Revelation 11:15-16) – “And the seventh angel sounded; and there came to be loud voices in heaven, saying: The kingdom of the world has become that of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for the ages of ages. And the twenty-four elders who before God do sit upon their thrones fell down upon their faces and rendered homage to God, saying: We give thanks to you, O Lord God, the Almighty, Who is and Who was; because you have taken your great power and become king.”
The one “who is and who was” is the same phrase found in the prologue of Revelation, and in the vision of the Throne, only here, the third stanza is dropped – “He who is coming.” Because the “Day of the Lord” has arrived, the coming of God is no longer anticipated. We have reached the end of the age, the consummation of the victory of the “Lamb.” – (Revelation 1:4, 4:8).
- (Revelation 11:17-19) – “And the nations were angered; and your wrath came, and the fit time of the dead to be judged, and to give their reward to your servants the prophets and to the saints, and to them who revere your name, the small and the great, and to despoil them who were despoiling the earth. And the sanctuary of God which is in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant in his sanctuary appeared, and there came to be flashes of lightning and voices and claps of thunder and an earthquake, and great hail.”
The time arrived for the dead to be judged and to “destroy them that destroy the earth.” The phrase alludes to the dirge from the Book of Jeremiah against Ancient Babylon, a passage heard previously in the second trumpet:
- (Jeremiah 51:25) – “I am against you, O destroying mountain, that destroyed all the earth; I will stretch out my hand upon you, roll you down from the rocks and make you a burnt mountain” – (Revelation 8:8-9).
The declaration heard after the “seventh trumpet” sounded also echoes words from the prophecy of Daniel:
- (Daniel 7:26-27) – “But the judgment shall be set, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it till the end. And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most-High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”
“The sanctuary of God…and the ark of his covenant.” In the ancient Tabernacle, the lid of the ark constituted the “mercy seat” from which Yahweh reigned over Israel, “between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony.” The ark symbolized His covenant faithfulness and loving-kindness. The mercy seat was the point of contact between heaven and earth where His presence was found – (Exodus 25:21-22).
At this point in the vision, the sanctuary is open, and the ark is in plain sight. This anticipates the picture in the vision of “New Jerusalem” where there was no “sanctuary,” for the “Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary, and the nations walk amidst its light and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it” – (Revelation 21:22-24).
The “seventh trumpet” signals the time of final judgment – “Your wrath came, and the dead were judged,” and thus, the series of trumpets ends with the “wrath of God” completed, as will the “seven bowls full of wrath.”
Before the “seven angels” began to sound their trumpets, another angel hurled fire from the “golden altar” onto the earth, which was followed by “claps of thunder and voices, and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.” The same phenomena repeat at the close of the “seven trumpets,” only with the addition of “great hail.” They also occur in the vision of the Throne, and at the end of the “seven bowls of wrath.” Each time they are seen and heard, a new element is added – an “earthquake,” “hail,” “a great earthquake,” and “great hail” – (Revelation 4:5, 8:5, 11:19, 16:17-18).
There are verbal links between the “seventh bowl of wrath” and the “seventh trumpet.” When the seventh bowl was emptied, a great voice from the sanctuary declared, “It is done!” Likewise, when the “seventh trumpet” sounded, “great voices” declared the victory of God over the kingdoms of the world. The “seventh bowl” produced a “great earthquake” that divided the “great city.” Likewise, prior to the “seventh trumpet,” blast, a “great earthquake” caused a tenth part of the “great city” to fall.
The final trumpet blast signaled the time for the “dead to be judged, and to reward your servants the prophets, the saints, and them that fear your name, the small and the great.” This echoes the “Great White Throne of Judgment” when the dead, the “great and the small” were standing to be judged. The clause, “great and small” links the two passages.
Likewise, when the seventh trumpet sounded, the wicked were condemned just as they were before the “Great White Throne of Judgment.” Thus, both visions include the judgment of the dead. The wicked are condemned, and the overcoming saints “rewarded.” That is, the same final events are described in both visions, though from different perspectives – (Revelation 11:5-19, 20:11-15).
The “third woe” brings the series of “seven trumpets” to their intended conclusion at the end of the age. The “Lamb” reigns uncontested over the nations, all those who were “destroying the earth” have themselves been destroyed, and the righteous have been vindicated and inherited all that was promised to “him who overcomes.”