Although Revelation does have more plagues than just the seven seals and seven trumpets (the seven bowls and the seven thunders—the latter of which John was not even allowed to write down their specific calamities: Revelation 10:4), this article will cover the seals and trumpets.
The article will discuss all 14 of these plagues, discuss the importance of the number seven in Scripture, and will cover why we should care about these events that will take place in Revelation.
Number 7 in the Bible: Symbolism and Importance
Number symbolism spans all of Scripture, and seven plays a particularly important role, especially in Revelation. Seven tends to mean wholeness and perfection. The reason the devil adopts the number 666 is because 6 tends to represent incompletion or imperfection.
Because each plague in Revelation comes in a septet, this signifies a completion or perfection of the wrath of God.
What Do the Seven Seals of Revelation Mean?
These seals make an appearance in Revelation 6:1-17 and Revelation 8:1-5. When John sees a scroll in heaven, which no being except for “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” can open (Revelation 5:4-5), John watches as God breaks open the seals one by one to unfurl the scroll.
The First Seal (Revelation 6:2)
This first seal introduces the antichrist onto the scene as a rider of a white horse. This rider wears a crown and will deceive many with talks of peace, but he will wage war against the saints.
The Second Seal (Revelation 6:4)
Despite the promises of peace from the antichrist, warfare will break out after this seal breaks. A red rider on a horse slays a great number of people.
The Third Seal (Revelation 6:5)
A rider on a black horse will spread famine throughout the earth. With whatever population is left on the earth from after the warfare, they will have to survive by bare means of food.
The Fourth Seal (Revelation 6:7-8)
Death, riding upon a pale horse, wipes out one-fourth of the earth. Many had attributed the events of the second through fourth seals to the great wars, famines, and bubonic plague which wiped out good portions of Europe in the 14th century.
The Fifth Seal (Revelation 6:9)
Those martyred will ask God how long until He judges the earth. They are told a little while longer and given a white robe.
The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12-14)
Catastrophic natural events take place from a rattling earthquake, the sun turning black, the moon turning blood-red, and mountains and islands disappearing.
The Seventh Seal (Revelation 8:1)
Silence fills heaven. Reminiscent of the Sabbath day of rest God took on the seventh day after creation, a brief pause occurs before the following judgements.
What Do the Seven Trumpets Mean?
After the silence, angels sound the seven trumpets, the next septet of judgment.
The First Trumpet (Revelation 8:7)
Hail, fire, and blood will rain down on the earth and wipe out one-third of all plant life.
The Second Trumpet (Revelation 8:8)
A burning mountain falls into the sea, turns one-third of the ocean to blood, and one-third of all sea life dies.
The Third Trumpet (Revelation 8:10)
A star called wormwood poisons one-third of all the freshwater supply.
The Fourth Trumpet (Revelation 8:12)
One-third of the moon, stars, and sun darkens.
The Fifth Trumpet (Revelation 9:3-11)
Demon locusts with human faces, long hair, lion’s teeth, and the power of a scorpion sting plague and sting nonbelievers for five months. Those who are stung will wish for death.
The Sixth Trumpet (Revelation 9:12-18)
Four fallen angels are released and wipe out people from sulfur and fire pouring out of their mouths. They manage to wipe out one-third of mankind.
The Seventh Trumpet (Revelation 11:15)
Another break from the plagues, and onto the seven bowls of judgment, 24 elders in heaven declare it’s time to destroy those who destroy the earth. The temple in heaven opens, featuring the Ark of the Covenant.
Why Should Christians Care about this Now?
God has provided us a blueprint of what will take place during the End Times. As we rapidly approach such times, we should be aware of the severity of judgment that will take place. When we have become cognizant of such catastrophes that will take place, we understand the great cost of Jesus’ salvation for us to spare us from God’s judgment.
We also understand we need to spread the Gospel to as many souls as possible, so they can receive God’s grace from this wrath. Keeping in mind some plagues only affect non-Christians (the locusts, for instance), if they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they will avoid some of these events that will take place in the future.
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 400 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel “Den” for July 2020. Find out more about her here.
Photo Credit: Getty