Timeout: Disarray and Trivia in the Trumpets

If you have trouble understanding the trumpets in Revelation, consider this about the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:1-11):

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/sabbath-school/2019/timeout-disarray-and-trivia-trumpets
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Which view offers the most hope and assurance? The messages in Revelation are clearer than the identity of certain symbols and these messages shine above the problems associated with any particular interpretive point of view.

Thank you, Sigve, for having the courage and conviction to take a critical perspective on historicism. Your criticism of the taken-for-granted approach to acopalytic biblical literature in the SDA community is overdue. The irony of the ‘New’ vs. ‘Old’ historicism is that they both belie the necessity of a contingent interpretation of the so-called selv-evident ‘pillars’ of ‘Truth’.


As a teenager I was terrified by Revelation. now an old man, I find great assurance. He that John saw walking among the seven candle sticks is the one depicted in Rev 4 and 5.and the One descending as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. So I find Revelation as the full picture of Amazing Grace in a very wicked world and its fate.

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Tom, I remember you from LLU and appreciate your interest in Bible. You mentioned the One walking among the candlesticks. I think most people misunderstand, wonder what you think of this–

The Revelation that Christ gave to John, was not of Himself, but of “one like unto the Son of man…girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” Rev 1:13, KJV. The Greek word for paps is mastos, female breast. She is “in the midst of seven candle-sticks”–the seven churches in verse 20.

She tells Laodicea, You are…blind. Men usually recognize a woman by her breasts but Laodicea does not see who is knocking at the door.

As the US moves toward gender-confusion, it is important to get this right, because Christ said, “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven.” Matt 12:31.

Who is She? We understand God as our heavenly Father from our Lord’s prayer, but we overlook our heavenly Mother. Paul says, “Jerusalem which is above is the Mother of us all.” Gal 4:26.

A city cannot be a mother–that’s Her name! Christ is Their only begotten Son, but we overlook Their Daughter–the Daughter of Jerusalem. In Isaiah 37:22, 23; 2Kings 19:21,22, She was “blasphemed”–a sin of speaking against God. She proved Her deity that night 185,000 Assyrians were slain!

Christ is the only begotten Son; She is the only begotten Daughter. Song of Songs 6:9. She is Christ’s Sister, brought up with Him, Proverbs 8:1,30. She is also seen to be “my sister, my love, my dove,” Song of Songs 5:2. She as the Spirit took the form of a dove at His baptism, anointing Him for His ministry. John 1:32.

Earthly relationships recognize a line of authority from father and mother to their children. This holds true in Scripture as well. The Godhead is not "co-equal"–"the head of Christ is God," 1Corinthians 11:3.

Paul who wrote half the New Testament said we can understand the Godhead from the things that are made, Rom 1:20. We find how this is so in Gen 1:26,27 & 5:1,2. Five times it says we are made in Their likeness and image; twice it says “male and female.” Seven is the numerical signature of God.

Little children can understand they are like daddy and mommy. Theologians either don’t want to believe it or they have overlooked facts. “All roads lead to Rome,” but we should turn and go in the opposite direction.

We saw that Revelation began by revealing ‘One like unto the Son of man.’ It ends with an invitation to a wedding. “The Spirit and the Bride say come.” Rev 22:17.

But the “and” is translated from the Greek with an epexegetical kai. It means, “that is so say.” We look again. “the Spirit, that is to say the Bride…”

Perhaps we should see the New Jerusalem ‘coming down as a bride’ as Christ’s wedding gift to Her–“My Sister, My Love, My Dove, My Undefiled.” S.S. 5:2.

They loved each other from eternity as They grew up together, Prov 8:1,30. But they put their marriage on hold when man was lost in sin. Together They have worked for our redemption–He intercedes in heaven, and She taking the form of the Spirit to in the hearts of all who invite Christ into their lives, Rev 3:20.

“The Spirit also helps our infirmities…making intercession for us” Rom 8:26 NKJ. She was speaking through Christ when She said, “I will not leave you orphanos, I will come to you.” John 14:18. We would have been lost if She had gone to heaven with Christ, but She would not leave us orphans in this sinful world.

So when the wedding begins in heaven, will we be there, ready to give Them our worship–worth ship that is fully due? This is the greatest story ever or never told. Will we share it, or will we be in a gender-confused Babylon calling Her He? Christ said blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven! Matt 12:31.

You may email direct, or I might not see , Ruhling7@juno.com

If I read the Trumpets right–rather than God attacking and punishing the earth for its sins and rejection of the Messiah–it’s the citizens and forces of earth that are attacking God and the Hebrew-Christian faith. Twisting it, abusing it and finding every possible way to wage war on the earth. It fits the picture of a lamb with an appearance of having been slain, bruised and bleeding. Bearly alive, after surviving the seals and trumpets.

This is shocking. It shows the meek and pacifistic side of heaven in its inability to wage hand to hand combat with the enemy. Heaven often sustains significant losses.

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Sigve, another very lucid expose of the failures of Historicism. I would love to read your commentary when it emerges? Can we have a hint towards this?

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This entire picture, sitting in those high bleachers, gave me goosebumps. When truth resonates, it overwhelms. Thank you.


Frank…I agree. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how anyone can seriously think the seals and the trumpets should be interpreted as God whacking His new Christian church with OT covenant curses. Hardly seems like a good teamwork approach to spreading the gospel, which is our job, right?

But what disturbs me the most, as I read this piece, was the less than studious or exegetical approach to interpreting the book of Revelation our church has taken over the years since Uriah Smith wrote his book…and how he appears to have simply modeled his writings after interpretations which were popular in the day. I guess I never knew this, and I find myself appalled. Even as someone who is not a biblical scholar, I can see obvious flaws in every page of the quarterly, which is filled with cliche after cliche. And the adult Sabbath School class I teach is in a catatonic state over my suggestions that we look more closely at the scripture itself.

When I suggested a couple of weeks ago that perhaps the rider of the white horse was not Jesus, one of the class members said in aghast, “But that would mess everything up”. And when I inquired exactly ‘what’ things would be messed up, he was speechless.

Maybe the real interpretation of the ‘lukewarmness’ of Laodicea is not so much a reflection of the laity, but the attitude of the church leadership with their apparent disinterest in seeking a real and relevant understanding of the book of Revelation and what it means to those of us who are living in-between the first and second Advent.


“Ranko Stefanovic’s commentary: FIRST TRUMPET: The biblical evidence leads one to conclude that the first trumpet blast portrays the consequences visited upon those who rejected and crucified Jesus and opposed the gospel. In the destruction of the Jewish nation with its capital city Jerusalem in A.D. 70, many of the Jews were ‘burnt up.’”

Jesus taught us to love our enemies, pray for them and do them good. Yet Stefanovic teaches that God blasted His enemies --killing over a million Jews (men, women and children) in 70 AD. Why? Because they disrespect and rejected Jesus. Then if that is not enough, God found new ways to punish the earth–he sent Islam.

Something is not right with this picture. Believers are required not retaliate when abused (persecuted), not even to be angry with an abuser or call them a fool. Yet God can freely blast humanity with all sorts of punishments (trumpets), even permitting believers who trust in him, to lose their lives, in the midst of God’s judgments. Does this make sense?

The opening of the seals shows a lamb (a defenseless animal, not able to even bit the wolf) bruised and beaten up, looking as if dead. As the sword went through believers who would not convert–the Lamb also received the blow. Again and again. In the end the conflict with evil was almost too much, even for God. No wonder John wept.

Evil is defeated by goodness. Not by using the same methods evil used–the bloody sword. Not by devestaving trumpets sent to punish the earth.


Yes…the lesson author’s approach seems like a misconstrual of how God will fulfill the Plan of Salvation. And don’t forget that while the angel told John in chapt. 4:1 that he would be shown what would happen in the future, the destruction of Jerusalem was at least 20 years before John wrote the book of Revelation.

The 7 trumpets are totally contained in the 6th seal…this is when all hell breaks loose and Satan’s true character is revealed fully. This is what he does when he is left to his own devices I wonder if the half hour of silence in heaven isn’t like the pause at the very top of the roller-coaster ride…right before your breath gets taken away.

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what an interesting, but funny thought. I love roller coasters, but I don’t keep quiet at the highest point, I yell out a lot!!! I start asking myself why did I do this? I start laughing, and sometimes I close my eyes. But you could be right, maybe thats what the silence is. But where would you see the seventh seal?

Thank you for work in distilling these thoughts on revelation within our community. The more I think about other ways of seeing revelation, the more I am encouraged. We need to find a way of reading revelation that brings us closer to the world we live in and closer to the God who lives amongst us. When we push against punitive logic we are telling ourselves in the same moment how to respond to evil done against us. So I prefer to read revelation in this way than in a way that requires me to carry a history book and to memorise dates and philosophies. this reading allows a non-scholar to also share with confidence not not arrogance or judgement.

I watch God’s Prophetic Surprises on youtube. Dan Smith plainly stated that he could not see what he was meant to see in the trumpets, from the time he was in seminary. I think that is true for many of us around the world, what the church wants people to see in the trumpets many can not see, so we are told whats in there and it never does stick because its hard to see the emperor’s new clothes.


Many scholars do support an early date for Revelation… before the destruction of Jerusalem. This was an older view that lost ground and is now gaining traction again, at least with some. Just a bit of a different idea.

Along with this, some see the harlot on the beast as a reference to Jerusalem, and also as the great city called Sodom, where our Lord was crucified. The former is in line with the OT imagery of unfaithful Israel as an adulterous woman or prostitute. No Gentile nation is ever called this. Only Israel, when they were unfaithful to the covenant relationship with God. The latter is a more literal reference to where Jesus was crucified. it wasn’t in Rome, nor was it by the papacy. It was outside the gates of Jerusalem. It’s a pretty heavy comparison.

Additionally, the harlot riding the beast ends up being attacked and devoured by it. Jerusalem and its leaders rode Roman political power to crucify Jesus, and to then put pressure on and persecute his followers, the fledgling church. However, by AD 66-70, in the midst of Jewish rebellion, Rome turned on Jerusalem and burned the temple to the ground, and destroyed the city. This would have been a timely and relevant message that John was delivering to the seven congregations, who faced pressure from both Rome and the synagogue down the street. It also fits this imagery in the book.

Could one say that what was reaped had been sown, and refer to it as consequences of rejecting God and his Messiah, and ostensibly covenant relationship? Jesus himself speaks about such results in the gospels for those who rejected him and his gospel of the kingdom. To reject the lifegiver is to reject life itself.




Remember that what the editors of the lesson quarterly do with the author’s manuscript may not reflect what the author originally wrote.

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Thank you Dr. Tonstad. Your understanding of the text is that of an artist and poet. Metaphors are neither or false; rather their strength is in what they evoke. Concluding with the view from a seat in the heavenly council and drawing our attention to the passages in Job of Leviathan was a masterpiece of poetic imagination.


Read: Metaphors are neither true nor false, rather they evoke.


Exactly! Would the original target audiences see history in advance as this book is read to them?
Are they going to recognize someone with a sword for a tongue as the Lamb of God? Are any two people in any age going to take the same message home with them?

How many would say, “How about that? The pope is going to lure people into receiving the mark of the beast!”


The information about those modifications was published elsewhere and from my observation, principally had to do with a more excoriated picture of the papacy, as well as references to the Trinity. I don’t believe the lesson author was modified significantly in relation to the 7 Trumpets lesson.

It would seem that Jesus’ 2nd coming is what happens right after the 7th seal is opened. Rev. 10:6b-7 says “…God will wait no longer. But when the 7th angel blows his trumpet, God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled. It will happen just as he announced it to his servants the prophets.” NLT Also, Rev. 11:15-19 elaborates on the theme.