3. Middle Difficulties

During the middle section of Revelation, between chapters six and sixteen, the focus is on difficulties and judgements on earth as we near the Second Coming of Christ immediately afterwards, in chapter nineteen.
This is in between the good news and heavenly scene in the previous chapter and the good news at the end as Christ comes to bring His kingdom to pass.
They affect the earth and its people, involve Satan, and become progressively worse and quicker.
And unfortunately, most people experiencing these on earth still end up remaining unrepentant and against God.
In addition to what these mean on earth, there are different theological views on God ‘causing’ these – whether a conscious decision to issue these judgements or more releasing sovereign control over earthly matters to allow Satan’s increased influence. 
There are twenty-one ‘things’ in total happening, grouped into the following three lots of seven: 

1. Seven seals 

These are the seals on the scroll in heaven linked to the first section and chapter five which are then consecutively opened. 

2. Seven trumpets 

These are angels from God’s throne blowing trumpets in consecutive order causing various happenings on Earth. 

3. Seven plagues 

These are plagues with God’s wrath, which are then poured over from bowls by angels causing final devastation and consecutive happenings on earth. 
Whereas a quarter of people are affected by the first seals, a greater third is in the following trumpets, and which affect both humanity and the environment. The final bowls are the most devastating with angelic input. 
Where the seals are spread out, time gets quicker to symbolic months and days when you come to the following trumpets and bowls. 
The last three of the middle trumpets are also described as ‘woes’, which means curse and, therefore, particularly bad.  

Biblical interpretation 

When understanding what they represent, the key is to understand the timing of these, individually and in connection with each group of seven. This will then link to what has or will still happen on earth according to this Revelation prophecy of Christ. 
There are also three interludes amongst these twenty-one happenings, which are separate;y covered in the next section. They focus more on God, heaven, and His people, and help further time and identify everything. 
Two of these interludes are between numbers six and seven for the first two groups of seven seals and trumpets; the third is at the beginning of the last seven plagues.
The last seventh one of all three groups (seals, trumpets and plagues) is also a similar earthquake-based event at the End of Time and the Second Coming of Christ. 
These three interludes are addressed separately in the next section rather than consequentially amongst these twenty-one happenings first to identify the overall patterns.
The following assumed interpretation of these twenty-one happenings is based on the Historicist method. The alternative Futurist position generally sees these as still to happen in the future but still with the same ending, and Preterists see them as already happening around the early church period. 
Here are the specific ways of interpreting these twenty-one happenings through this Historicist method:
1. Seals – repeating the same seven historical periods as the letters to the churches in the previous section leading up to the Second Coming of Christ.
2. Trumpets – broadly matching the same seven periods as the letters and seals to Christ's Second Coming. 
3. Plagues – seven separate and quick happenings at the end of time (still to happen) immediately after the last seventh trumpet is sounded and running parallel with final seals and trumpet. This leads to Christ’s Second Coming and the same ending as the initial seals and earlier letters to the churches.
Put another way, the churches, seals and trumpets cover events from Christ's first to His Second Coming to earth. The plagues focus in on just the very end of this period before Christ comes, after people have received the seal of God of the mark of the beast.

1.  Seven seals 

These are part of the scene in the previous chapters four and five with God’s throne in heaven and Christ as the Lamb being worthy to open now the scroll, which triggers End Time events:
“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.” – Revelation 6:1 
It is Christ Himself opening (and therefore triggering) these seven seals; there is thunder, emphasising the importance of these. 
The four beasts then help highlight this to John and tell him to come and see what is happening.
Each of these four beasts highlights the first four seals, which uniquely involve different coloured horses and are popularly called The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
At this point, Christ is in heaven after His Resurrection and Ascension. These seven ‘things’ are about to happen when opening the seals; therefore, logically covering this period from His first time on earth before His kingdom is finally manifested with His true believers at His Second Coming. 
Christ also wrote the previous letters to the seven churches, just as He is now releasing these seals on the scroll Himself (the trumpets and plagues afterwards are through angels).  
Considering the previous interpretation of the letters to the churches covering seven phases of time from Christ’s first to His Second Coming, it makes sense that these similarly numbered seven seals cover the same periods. 
Whilst the previous letters cover how Christ's church/body lives through this period and the response needed from His people, these seals then explain this from a heavenly perspective and how God’s Gospel message has been expressed but resisted by earthly and Satanic powers over time.
Here are the seven consecutive seals in detail and what they are assumed to represent over this time:

1. White horse 

The symbol of a horse is given for the first one (and for the following three seals):
“And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” – Revelation 6:2 
However, the focus is on the rider. Although not stated who they are, it is important to note what they’re doing and how this matches the horse's colour. 
The rider is successful in battle – described as having a bow, a crown, and conquering. 
Therefore, this matches the early church phase up to around 100 AD, where God’s church quickly and effectively spread through the Apostles and extensive church planting. 
The white colour of the horse then symbolises the purity of the church and God’s people at this time (there are also white robes, hair, garments, thrones, clouds, and stone in Revelation). 

2. Red horse 

This symbolises almost the opposite of the first white horse – to bring death and turmoil to the earth. 
“And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” – Revelation 6:3 
It states how the rider has a sword, and people will kill each other, causing peace to be removed from the earth. The red colour also symbolises blood and, therefore, death.
This matches the next phase of the church from approximately 100 AD to the early fourth century and around 323 AD when the church was severely persecuted.  

3. Black horse 

The third horse’s rider has an unusual item in their hands; a pair of balances:
“And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.” – Revelation 6:5
A loud voice then helps explain these as trading wheat and barley items and not affecting oil and water. 
“And I heard a voice amid the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” – Revelation 6:6 
This matches the period between the early fourth and sixth centuries (approx. 323 - 538 AD), when the church became part of the Roman empire after Constantine approved Christianity, up to when the new Papacy system would have complete political state control over Europe. 
The balances indicate a judgement is coming because of the compromise of the Gospel allowed in this time.
During this period, the wages for a twelve-hour long day’s work was one penny (a silver piece), plus the usual ration for an enslaved person was a measure of wheat (or less valuable three measures of Barley) every day to cover life’s basic needs. The oil then symbolises the Holy Spirit.
This contrasts with the olive trees and grapevines, which have deeper roots and are less prone to famine. 
Therefore, everything earnt was spent on food to survive, and often cheaper Barley, symbolising this period of spiritual famine and the rarity and value of God's true Word. Although, upon first impressions, it may seem to be favoured by society, in actual fact it had the life squeezed out of it.
This dark-coloured horse also confirms this position of the core church of true believers being enslaved within a new religious system away from the pure Word of God. 

4. Pale horse 

This next horse goes further in painting a bleak picture of things:
“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.  And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” – Revelation 6:8 
Things go pale once the blood and life are kept from them, and the rider is blatantly called ‘death’. ‘Hell’ is also referred to as following from a consequence of such death. 
This corresponds with the Dark Middle Ages from the early sixth century to the Protestant Reformation (538 AD - 1517 AD). The medieval Catholic church had control over spirituality until the Protestant Reformation brought God’s Word and life afterwards. 
This then affects the earth through killing with a sword, hunger, and death. This may also specifically identify the Black Death leading to the Peasants Revolt in 1381 AD.
Reference to a fourth of the earth being affected symbolises the literal geographical control of the Papacy during this period (approx. 70 million in Europe compared to 360 million in the world).
This is the end of the four horsemen, which explains how the Gospel has been attacked from the first-century church to the start of the game-changing Protestant Reformation. The colours of this help explain the issues against the Gospel in each of these four stages. 

5. Waiting martyrs 

The fifth seal now changes symbols away from the previous four horses, almost as a result of the last four horsemen. There is a picture of Christian martyrs under God’s alter in heaven:
“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:” – Revelation 6:9 
These martyrs are requesting judgement (and a time frame) for those on earth who had caused their death:
“And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” – Revelation 6:10 
Verse eleven clarifies their righteousness through white robes and that they need to wait for further martyrs to join them:
“And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” – Revelation 6:11
Some interpret these as literal souls in heaven, but the important issue is that these have already died and what God symbolises through this. It can also be compared to Abel's blood crying out in Genesis 4:10
This matches the end of the dark Middle Ages into the mid-eighteenth century and the consequences of the Protestant Reformation (1517 AD to 1750 AD). This resulted in martyrs dying for their faith in God’s Word and Christ’s supremacy. 

6. Suffering earth  

The opening of the sixth seal results in a large earthquake and specific terrible things happening on Earth:
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs when she is shaken of a mighty wind." - Revelation 6:12-13
On the understanding that this covers the period from the mid-eighteenth century (1750 AD) onwards to the Second Coming of Christ, specific details can be matched with this period (Christ also warned of 'the signs of the times' in Matthew chapter twenty-four):
a) Earthquake – the world’s worst-ranked earthquake was in Lisbon on 1st November 1755
b) Sun going down19th May 1780 was described as the darkest day in history through an eclipse of the sun; it was dark as night at 9:00 am. 
c) Moon-like blood – the following evening, a red moon appeared 
d) Falling stars – during the night from the 12th to 13th of November 1833, an unprecedented scale of falling stars in the universe occurred
These initial ones cover physical happenings at the beginning of this sixth period which helps us date this. The remaining verses clearly explain what's happening right at the very end of time, just before Christ's Second Coming:
"And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” – Revelation 6:14-17 
There is a judgement scene, with people even recognising that this is from God on His throne and Christ the lamb. 

7. Heavenly silence 

This happens at the beginning of the eighth chapter, after the first interlude between seals six and seven (described in the next section). 
There is just one verse at the beginning of chapter eight that describes a straightforward thing that happens when the seventh last seal is opened – silence in heaven for half an hour:
“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.” – Revelation 8:1 
The day-year principle of interpreting Bible prophecy per the Historicist method equates this to approximately one week. 
This logically indicates the Second Coming of Christ. Considering how Scripture describes many angels accompanying Him back to earth at His coming, this would explain why heaven is silent and potentially empty of angels:
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:” – Matthew 25:31 
Whereas the other six seals can represent the same time periods as the previous letter to the churches, this seventh one is only at the Second Coming of Christ, with the sixth seal extended until this point.

2. Seven trumpets

The second group of seven happenings on earth after the seven seals are seven trumpets being sounded.

“And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.” – Revelation 8:1-2

Angels then sound these (and the following seven plagues) compared to Christ, Himself being involved in the initial seven church letters (the angel stars in His hand) and the previous seven seals (the Lamb unsealing the scroll):

"And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;" - Revelation 8:8

These trumpets focus more on the earth than on God's people through Christ.

Another angel then appears and describes something that helps explain the timing and purpose of these trumpets:

“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.” – Revelation 8:3

This additional angel has a golden censer and a mixture of incense (symbolising the merits and Salvation of Christ) and the prayers of the saints.

These are presented before God’s altar. Therefore, this symbolises the beginning of Christ’s ministry in heaven after His Ascension and, logically, the start of these trumpets.

The prayers of people mixed with the incense of Christ's righteousness are the focus at this time.

“And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God out of the angel's hand” – Revelation 8:4

However, the censer focuses on God's judgement of the earth, with His fire from the alter then triggering adverse events.

“And the angel took the censer, and filled it with the fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightning, and an earthquake.” – Revelation 8:5

The trumpets, therefore, logically follow the same time period as the previous seven seals – from Christ’s first to His Second Coming.

Although these trumpets in verse two are straight after the last seventh seal in verse one, the word 'and' can simply mean an additional aspect to this Revelation that then goes back in time rather than consequentially afterwards. 

Where the previous letters and seals focussed on God’s church of believers and His Gospel message over time (from Christ Himself), these trumpets now focus on the consequential judgements and effect on the earth and people who reject this message and God's people (through angels).

However, as we'll see when we come to the plagues, these trumpets are only partial rather than full judgement. Trumpets are also a symbol in the Bible of announcing war or judgement and calling people’s attention to something special.

As we look at what each of these seven trumpets and periods means, there are three specific differences worth noting:

1. The last three trumpets are described as woes, whereas none of the other eighteen happenings between the seals, trumpets, and plagues are.

“And I beheld and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth because of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!” – Romans 8:3

A woe is a severe warning from God; therefore, these last three trumpet judgements must be carefully noted. They deprive people of Salvation with severe demonic attacks on the truth.

These also affect men, whereas the previous four only affect the earth.

2. Whilst the Historicist method of interpretation roughly matches these to the same seven time periods as the previous seals, there are differences in the exact historical detail and timing of the trumpets.

There are then variations of what specific historical events match these periods within a Historical method. 

The one I've assumed focuses more on the same time periods as the seals and letters and other kingdoms affecting God's people and message where appropriate, like Israel itself.

Another interpretation is the mention of matching three different sections of the Roman Empire - first the Western through the first four trumpets, and then the Eastern and Central regions through the last three woes. I've referred to this as well, where possible. 

Another focuses more on the happenings of pagan and papal Rome; this is the fourth overall kingdom affecting people from Christ’s Resurrection according to the Historicist interpretation of the prophecies in the Book of Daniel.

Whatever specific historical details these are seen to match, these trumpets are partial judgements against systems and kingdoms against God and His people.

3. The last seventh trumpet technically ends just after Christ’s Second Coming.

So, this includes the Millenium period afterwards and the completion of judgement on non-believers at the Second Resurrection, as we'll see in a later section.

The seven plagues are therefore a further judgement that begins after the start of this seventh last trumpet and finishes at Christ's Second Coming.

The seven trumpets 

Here are the details of each of the seven trumpets that are consecutively sounded:

1. A fiery hailstorm

Continuing with the scene of the fire from the censer causing these trumpet judgements, we have hail mixed with fire now, and both then mingled with blood:

“The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth:” – Revelation 8:7a

The consequence is damage to the earth – grass ruined, and a third of trees burnt from this fiery hailstorm:

“and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.” – Revelation 8:7b

This act of judgement can be matched to Israel in their role of crucifying Christ, as outlined in Matthew chapter twenty-four.

This eventually triggered the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD via the Romans because of rejecting Christ’s message, according to the seventy-week prophecy in Daniel chapter nine, when applying the same Historicist method of interpretation.

Although the Romans governed during this period, Christ gives the comparable analogy of trees to the Jews at this time and their days of good green leaves of accepting the Gospel:

“But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed, are the barren, the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” – Luke 23:28-31

In short, they were God's chosen people throughout the Old Testament who didn't accept Christ as the Messiah going forwards. 

This matches the first century period until 100 AD after Christ’s life on earth and judgement upon Israel.

As an alternative, a more Roman emphasis identifies Rome's downfall from the Visigoths invasion around 396-428 AD led by Alaric after the death of Roman Emperor Theodosius, providing the opportunity for the first successful attack and downfall of the Western Roman Empire and Rome.

2. A fiery mountain

The theme of fire and damage to a third of the earth continues with the second trumpet’s call, this time through a mountain being on fire and thrown into the sea, causing the sea to become blood:

“And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;” – Revelation 8:8

This causes sea creatures and ships to be destroyed in the same one-third proportion:

“And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.” – Revelation 8:9

This can be linked to judgement upon the pagan Roman Empire, with the symbolic fiery mountain then affecting the nations as symbolised by the sea.

This matches the period from the end of the first century to Constantine in the early fourth century (100 AD - 323 AD). 

Jews and Christians saw Rome as the new ‘Babylon’ in this period because they caused the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple and caused great persecution.

The more specific Rome interpretation links this to the Vandal's invasion in 455 AD, under their leader Genseric.  They sailed up the Tiber river to attack Rome, and although the Roman armada had more ships, the Vandels lit theirs to affect the Romans then and cause a symbolic burning in the sea. 

The modern word ‘vandalism’ stems from the victory of these tribes, causing destruction.

3. A star called Wormwood

Further damage to a third of the earth happens with the third trumpet, causing the waters to become ‘wormwood’ and bitter, and then people dying:

“And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood, and many men died of the waters because they were made bitter” – Revelation 8:11

Whereas the sea in the previous trumpet symbolises a broader group of people, these sources of freshwater (like a river) indicate more individuals within a wider group being affected.

“And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;” – Revelation 8:10

This was all caused by a falling star in heaven burning like a lamp, with the same name as Wormwood. This is logically Satan, who is described elsewhere in Scripture as a fallen angel.

Wormwood is specifically a bitter herb, therefore indicating poisoning of the truth amongst people. Moses also used it as a symbol of idolatry (Deuteronomy 29:17-18).

This matches the beginning of the Middle Dark Ages and the emergence of the Papacy across Europe between 323 and 538 AD. This new form of spiritual teaching began to affect both the church and secular society, causing idolatry and apostasy.

The Roman-focused basis identifies this with the invasion of the Roman Empire by the Huns under Attila between 451-453 AD in the Alps and Italy, a short, but very intense and effective attack on the Western Roman Empire.

4. The solar system

The fourth trumpet refers to three essential features of the sky's solar system going dark – the sun, moon, and stars:

“And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise” – Revelation 8:12

The same portion of one-third is also causes darkness in both the day and night.

Scripture helps identify these as Christ being represented by the sun, and the moon is God’s Word which gets its light from the sun and Christ. Thirdly, stars then symbolise God’s people (see the Symbols Checklist).

This identifies the continued Middle Ages between 538 AD and 1,300 AD and the full implication of the Papacy system. This caused the darkening of God’s Word, where Christ’s light is restricted to God’s people.

Taking the more Roman stance, this is the point of the Western Roman Empire's final fall. The sun is seen as symbolising Odoscer from the Heruli who conquered Italy in 476 AD, abolished the Empire, and became the new king. The moon is the Byzantine emperor Justinian who extinguished the consulship in 541 AD. The stars are the banishment of Sanates by Totila the Goth in 553 AD. 

5. The bottomless pit

The fifth trumpet identifies things appearing from a bottomless pit onto earth when opened.

Although a fifth angel sounds this trumpet, a falling star from heaven comes to unlock this pit on earth:

“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. And he opened the bottomless pit;” – Revelation 9:1-2b

Four things then happen.

1. There is rising smoke from the pit, which darkens the sun and air

“and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit.” – Revelation 9:2b

2. Locusts appear with power on earth against men without God’s seal on their foreheads (but not any greenery and vegetation).

“And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads” – Revelation 9:3-4

Although the final point of people receiving either the seal of God or the mark of the beast has not been reached yet, this offers general protection to people (symbolising trees and greenery) and true believers of God who have the characteristics of the final seal of God.

These locusts are described as horses for battle, with gold crowns on their heads – with comparable men’s faces, women’s hair, lions teeth, iron breastplates, wings sounding like chariots, and tails with stings to hurt men:

“And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle, and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.” – Revelation 9:7-10

3. Harm to these men is timed as five months and described as like a striking scorpion man who then wants to die but cannot.

“And to them, it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.” – Revelation 9:5-6

4. They had a king who was the angel of the pit, and a name in two languages:

“And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon” – Revelation 9:11

Abaddan means destruction in Hebrew, and Apollgoan means destroyer in Greek - both referring to Satan.

The falling star, which, as before, is Satan, now symbolises the release of something terrible in his kingdom and dominion, as illustrated by the bottomless pit.

Therefore, this can outline the increasing influence of Satan, such as the Counter-Reformation, and the end of the Dark Middle Ages until the Protestant Reformation, between 1300 and 1517 AD.

This links with the parallel fifth seal and martyrs for the faith waiting for Christ’s victory.

More specifically, this can be seen as identifying the judgements against the Eastern Roman Empire through the rise of Islam and matching the Roman Empire's method of interpreting these trumpets. This Roman interpretation sees this fifth trumpet starting earlier from 610 AD to 1499 AD. It sees the fallen star as the founding prophet Mohammend from the Arabian desert wasteland causing the smoke false teaching. This rise of Islam was not to cause harm to God's people as they hated immortality and idolatry but to simply move them and be against non-believers and the Eastern Roman Empire. They didn't eradicate Christianity but rather forced it out of this area in the Eastern Roman Empire.

Their invasion of the Eastern Roman Empire with colourful turbans and long black hair on fast horses is symbolised by the picture of locusts here, an animal representing a kingdom but with no central king yet. The lion's teeth symbolise intensity in battle and breastplates their armour in battle.

Applying a day-year principle for the five months time frame equates to 150 days/years when using the Jewish 30-day monthly calendar. This correlates to when Islam first invaded the Eastern Roman Empire under king Osmar I in 1299 AD; before this, they had no king with Mohammed's first prophecy in 610 AD. 150 years later in 1449 AD Constantinople finally became a state to the Muslims (the capital of Eastern Europe). 

This all then affects Christ (as symbolised by the sun) and the Holy Spirit (by the air/wind).

6. War from angels

The sixth angel’s trumpet triggers four voices in heaven from the corners of God’s alter and four angels from the river Euphrates on earth:

“And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates” – Revelation 9:13-14

Whilst there were four angels in the first interlude affecting the whole earth emphasising God's people, we have four localised ones here focusing on the river that supplies water to Babylon. 

Again, a third of men on earth are killed, with a new time frame of one hour, day, month and year:

“And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.” – Revelation 9:15

Applying the same day-year principle within the Historicist interpretation, this equates to 360 years (1 year), plus 30 years (1 month), plus one year (1 day), plus fifteen days (1 hour) – totalling 391 years and 15 days.

A large army is then issued (two hundred thousand) with a description of those riding horses:

“And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions” – Revelation 9:16-17a.

The focus is fire/smoke/brimstone coming from them, which kill people and with power in their heads and tails:

“and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. So by these three was the third part of men killed by the fire, smoke, and brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents and had heads, and with them, they do hurt” – Revelation 9:17b-19.

We then have a glimpse of the two-thirds of men who were not killed from this and how they are still unrepentant to God:

“And the rest of the men who were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor their thefts” – Revelation 9:20-21

In terms of how this links with history, this can be seen as increasing secularism and non-religious philosophies emerging at the end of the Dark Middle Ages (from 1517 to 1844 AD). Also, when looking more at the Roman Empire, the development of the Ottoman Empire and Turks were introduced in the earlier trumpet.

Four sultans of Turkey converted to Islam (Aleppo, Iconium, Damascus, and Baghdad) like the four angels, who then used military might to spread this. The uniforms of the Turkish horsemen were red, blue, and yellow, as described here, and fire symbolised gunpowder used in their warfare. Also, horses' tails were used with the Quaran in battle and were located near Babylon.

Plus, if you take the 27th of July 1449 (which was the end of the time prophecy in the last trumpet) to the 11th of August 1840, when the Turkish Ottoman Empire would surrender the four powers of Europe and lose its independence (England, Russia, Prussia and Austria), this matches the prophesied time span of 391 years (and predicted by someone called Josiah Lynch just before it happened).

7. God’s temple

For the last trumpet, the focus is on heaven and voices declaring that earth’s kingdoms are now God's & Christ’s, to last forever. This is after an interlude and described in the middle of chapter eleven:

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” – Revelation 11:15

There is then a fantastic scene of worship to God by the twenty-four elders identified in chapters four and five and a declaration of His greatness:

“And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned” – Revelation 11:16-17

This leads to a scene of reconciliation and judgement, with Christians receiving rewards (therefore, they must have already been judged by this point). However, there are also others still to be judged, causing their anger:

“And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” – Revelation 11:18

The finale is God’s temple being opened, right to the central Most Holy Place holding the Ark of Covenant, which then causes unusual happenings:

“And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightning, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” – Revelation 11:19

This clearly describes events leading up to the Second Coming of Christ from the point of judgement and the fate of people on earth being set as they all oppose God's will.

This then leads to the earth's kingdoms becoming God’s – matching the prophecy in Daniel chapter two of a stone smashing the worldly kingdoms at His Second Coming.

Therefore, this is from 1844 AD and the commencement of God's judgement, and technically lasts until after Christ's Second Coming and the following Millenium period, after which the judgement of everyone is complete, as we'll see later.

3. Seven plagues

The third and final group of sevens are plagues released on the earth and the most severe of all the twenty-one happenings.

Whereas the seven trumpets generally mirrored the seven seals over time (and the initial seven letters to the churches), these plagues are best understood to come immediately after all these on their own.

So while the seventh church's letter and seal run right to the Second Coming of Christ (and the seventh trumpet just after), these plagues happen just before up to the Second Coming of Christ while the seventh of each is still happening.

The main reasons for this are:

1. They happen consecutively one after the other, as sometimes there is mention of the effects of a former one later on:

“And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.” – Revelation 16:11

2. They are clearly stated as the ‘last’ plagues right at the beginning of chapter fifteen:

“And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues” – Revelation 15:1a

3. There is a reference to people now being sealed by God or having the mark of the beast, not a status mentioned in the seven seals or trumpets:

“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.” – Revelation 15:2

This is a glorious picture here before we get into the detail of each plague of God's people. They have overcome the beast and the mark/image/number and probably a glimpse at the end of the time after the Second Coming after people have decided on the seal of God or mark of the beast on earth. 

4. God’s judgement is described as already happening, something that is considered further in the later section:

“And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be because thou hast judged thus.” – Revelation 16:5

5. There are now severe consequences for the earth and people concerning the fullness of God’s wrath and everything directly affected.

In short, God's wrath is being focused on the wicked, which believers will still be witnessing but not affected by, just like the ten plagues of Egypt in the Old Testament. 

The former trumpets only affected a third of the planet and, therefore, a form of preliminary and partial judgement on earth before these final plagues which are described as filled and full:

“for in them is filled up the wrath of God...And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.” – Revelation 15:1b & 7

There is also a description of those who have not received the mark of the beast praising God and stating that His judgements will now be manifest:

“Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.” – Revelation 15:4

6. There is a powerful scene directly in God’s temple, which no one can now enter:

“And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled” – Revelation 15:8

There is a mix of consequential plagues from the angels that are caused by vials of God’s wrath as provided by one of the four beasts:

“And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth forever and ever.” – Revelation 15:6-7

7. Later in chapter eighteen, when plagues are referred to, they state a time frame of one day.

Applying the day-year principle, this equates to one year literally, which may indicate what all these last for:

“Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” – Revelation 18:8

8. There is no interlude amongst these seven plagues, whereas there is between numbers six and seven for the former seals and trumpets.

The third interlude is at the start of these seven plagues after the last seventh trumpet.

9. There is a pattern of these seven plagues progressively mirroring the trumpets rather than repeating them simultaneously.

The trumpets are a partial foreshadowing and 'type' of the total and final 'antitype' plagues afterwards, for example:

• The trumpets affect a smaller local scale, whereas the plagues on a larger global scale.
• The plagues announce God’s judgement over everything after the trumpets focus on God’s people in the churches and seals.
• The plagues have a more moral and severe response to earth’s happenings.

10. The response of people is different. While they can still repent and turn to God in the trumpets which warn them, they can't live in the plagues after receiving the mark of the beast.

What the seven plagues are 

On the understanding that these are yet to happen in the future, no historical events can match these.

There are also different views of whether these will be literal plagues as described or more symbolic.

Although these come across as God being harsh, they reveal how the wicked still don't even want to turn and repent to God and treat His people fairly. At this point, they can't successfully turn to God anyway because of final decisions on the seal and mark on people; it reveals that they don't even want to.

Although not directed at God's people who are sealed, these are still important to know in order to understand what seven stages the earth will go through under God's final judgement to reach Christ's Second Coming.

Subsequently, these are each described below more as they are written rather than being able to suggest further what these might symbolise. 

1. Sores

The first plague is a sore on people and those that specifically have the mark of the beast (and worship its image):

“And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth, and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.” – Revelation 16:2

This is affecting the physical condition and security of people. 

2. Blood sea

The sea then becomes like blood, with everything in there dying:

“And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea, and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.” – Revelation 16:3

This may symbolise trade and the economy, which the sea is important for, and how this is now being severely affected (and outlined later in the fall of Babylon).

3. Blood rivers

The third plague is along the same lines as the last one, but this time affecting both rivers and fountains of water that turn to blood:

“And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea, and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.” – Revelation 16:4

This will logically indicate food shortages and famines. 

We also have details about the reasoning for this bloody water. Considering that living people need to drink water to survive on the earth, this is stopped by the one thing they have caused to be shed from believers – blood.

“For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.” – Revelation 16:6

Verse five provides interesting feedback from these waters about God's justice in these plagues, no matter how severe. 

It's also interesting how this and the last plague turn into blood, considering the reference to blood and death, which people have assumed as God's behaviour over time (and answer to believer's symbolic plea in the fifth seal). 

Therefore, judgement is against the Eastern Roman Empire through the fifth and sixth trumpets. The Islamic Ottoman Empire rose to do this and destroy idolatry and immortality and stop the Roman apostasy from spreading further. Therefore, they were not actually against God's true believers who had conquered by the end of the fifth trumpet but then lost their control by the end of the sixth.

Put another way, Islam attacked the Eastern Roman Empire in the fifth trumpet, and Islamic Ottoman Turks then destroyed Constantinople and the Eastern Roman Empire in the sixth. 

Verse twenty details 'remaining men' that will then be dealt with in the next seventh trumpet; the remaining spiritual Papal Rome after the Western and Eastern parts has been judged in these first six trumpets:

4. Sun and heat

We then have the sun affected by the plagues, and therefore able to affect men with heat:

“And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun, and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.” – Revelation 16:8

Ironically, sun worship has always been part of worldly systems to some degree over time, and this is now what is harming people. 

This will logically also enhance famines and droughts from the earlier plague.

“And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.” – Revelation 16:9

These plagues are now affecting people more personally and causing a hostile reaction and must realise that these are coming from God. 

This is the consequence of God's Word not being available then and causing a spiritual famine after people's decision on the seal and mark. 

5. Beast

The fifth plague then affects the beast, the central system and kingdom on earth used by Satan against God.

Applying the Historicist method of interpretation, this identifies the Papacy and Catholicism based in Rome. 

This was outlined in the prophecies in Daniel and is developed further in the interludes in the next section between these twenty-one punishments.

“And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast;” – Revelation 16:10a.

It describes the seat of this beast, clearly symbolising the central and focal part of this system.

The following verses explain the consequences of this, the main one being darkness within, or more darkness with such a beast against God being dark anyway.

This causes pain to ‘them’ within this kingdom, which turns to blasphemy against God and still no repentance.

“and his kingdom was full of darkness, and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.” – Revelation 16:10b-11

People must realise that this religious system is showing its true colours and darkness which intensifies people's difficulties from the previous plagues. 

6. Euphrates & Armageddon

The sixth plague is on the river Euphrates which causes waters to dry up in it:

“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates, and the water thereof was dried up,” – Revelation 16:12a

It’s important to note that this river fed the original city of Babylon, something developed further in a later section.

Therefore, symbolically this means those supporting the false religious worldly system at the end of time. This logically results from the darkness and questioning of the beast system in the previous plagues. 

This triggers something else – the preparation of Eastern Kings, presumably from the problem of no water supply.

“and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.” – Revelation 16:12b

John then sees something else that, although separate, must also be linked to this sixth plague.

Three unclean spirits appear in the form of frogs, and worth noting how they come out of the mouths of different entities (and worth noting how frogs catch their prey from their tongues):

“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.” – Revelation 16:13

This appears to represent a false form of the trinity of three ‘persons’ – Satan Himself (as the Father), the beast (as the Antichrist), and the false prophet (as the Holy Spirit).

The purpose of these unclean spirits is to do miracles (false and demonic ones), which are also referred to in a later interlude section, and are similar to the miracles that Pharoah did in the ten plagues of Egypt.

“For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles,” – Revelation 16:14a

This is a counterfeit spiritual revival, following the real one through the three angels in the third interlude before these final plagues.

This enables them to gather kings and the whole world to a finale against God, referred to firstly as that great day of the almighty and then secondly as a place called Armageddon:

“which go forth unto the kings of the earth and the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty...And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” – Revelation 16:14b & 16

This plague is not actually the actual last battle of Armadden which is the next seventh plague, but rather the preparation of people for this. 

Although many will have been killed by these severe plagues so far, some will still be alive ready to witness Christ's Second Coming. 

As events worsen on earth during these plagues, it's as if the previous, more subtle ways of Satan behind the scenes are being exposed, and people are trying to escape from these.

Hence, reference here to other miracles and evil spirits working amongst people across the earth who are increasingly helpless, as Satan uses all possible means to deceive the world against God.

There is then a warning to people, presumably referring to God’s people as a general reminder to not be affected by this worldwide influence (at this point in the plagues everyone will have made their unchangeable decision for God or Satan anyway):

“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walks naked, and they see his shame” – Revelation 16:15

This is the first time Christ speaks directly after the warning to the last Laodicean church in chapter three (and also referring to garments they already have). He is warning people to be ready and make the right decision for Him and be sealed just before these final plagues, not necessarily His Second Coming afterwards. 

7. Earthquake

The final seventh plague is poured into the air generally rather than a specific part of the earth, as a general pronouncement from God:

“And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air;” – Revelation 16:17a

This triggers an awesome scene in heaven with consequences back on earth; these match the happenings of Christ’s Second Coming to earth for the final victory and commencement of His new Kingdom.

A heavenly voice straight from God’s temple says it is completed:

“and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.” – Revelation 16:17b

There is then the most significant earthquake on earth ever, along with voices, thunder, and lightening (whether literal or symbolic):

“And there were voices, and thunders, and lightning; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great” – Revelation 16:18

Two other things are then described.

Firstly, the effect on the earth in terms of cities generally and a particular ‘great’ city, and then islands and mountains:

“And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell:...And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” – Revelation 16:19a & 20

This also includes a place or system called Babylon, detailed in the following chapters and later section (and the shattering of the false trinity from the previous plague).

“and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” – Revelation 16:19b

Although these seven plagues give an overview of what will happen at the very end of time just before Christ returns, the following chapters then provide further detail of this fallen Babylon system in the world ultimately controlled by Satan.

Secondly, the effect upon people on earth, which links back to this particular plague and focuses on hail causing harm:

“And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.” – Revelation 16:21

Although there is debate on the exact equivalent weight of a talent, it's accepted that this is severe hail causing substantial harm to people and things on earth. 

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