The First TrumpetsIntroduction – The Fall of the Western Empire
And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
The first four Trumpets describe the fall of the Western Empire of Rome. They symbolise the waves of so-called “barbarian invasions”, by the Goths, the Vandals, the Huns, and the deposing of the final Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, by Odoacer.
The first four Trumpets and the first four Vials share a connection. The visions affect the same differing areas in the same succession. In the first vision in each case the theatre or arena in which the events play out are said to be the “earth” or land. The second takes place in the “sea”. The third upon “the rivers and fountains of waters”. And the fourth in the heavens, among the heavenly bodies such as the sun, or sun, moon, and stars.
The order of history and war repeats itself in both the fall of imperial Rome, under the Trumpets, and the fall of papal Rome, under the Vials.
In both sets of visions, the “earth” is the general land area of the Western Empire of Rome. The “sea” denotes great naval warfare. The “rivers and fountains of waters” denote the riverlands and alpine areas in particular. And the heavenly bodies represent the rulers and political powers of the kingdoms that were darkened and eclipsed. The latter is a symbol that is well-documented throughout the prophecies of the Bible, and the imagery is also used by many historians.
The third part
In the visions of the Trumpets, which concerns the original Roman Empire, the additional phrase used for each arena is “the third part” – the third part of the land, sea, rivers, and the third part of the sun, moon, and stars. This corresponds to the fact that the area of interest in these Trumpets is only the Western third of the Empire – the original seat of Rome.
At the time of the barbarian invasions represented in the first Trumpets, the Roman Empire was divided into three main areas of influence. As well as the now divided Western Empire and Eastern Empire, the middle area of the Empire, north of the Mediterranean, was under the de-facto rule of the Goths who had migrated there en-masse. While ostensibly under the authority of the Emperor in the East, this was not the reality.
Though the prophecy deals with the Eastern Empire in the following Trumpet visions, the focus of the first four is on the original western base of Rome, and so needs to be differentiated from the rest of the Empire. When the Vial visions are later seen, the “third part” is not mentioned, because the area is no longer the third part of the Roman Empire, but the ten nominal kingdoms of Europe under the papacy, and needs no differentiation.
The “three parts” of the Roman EmpireAfter the death of Theodosius, the Roman Empire was divided into the Eastern and Western Empires. But in the decades leading up to this time the migrations of Huns from the east and north had pushed many of the Gothic peoples to migrate into the middle northern portion of the Empire. They gained a de-facto rule of the area, even though ostensibly subject to the emperor in Constantinople. It is the overturning of the Western “third” of the Empire that the first four Trumpet visions describe.
The First Four Trumpets
Hail and fire
Alaric and the Goths
The burning mountain
Genseric and the Vandals
The falling star
Attila and the Huns
Eclipse of the third
Odoacer and the fall
Revelation 5–7The Seven Trumpets
1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
3 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.
4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
8 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;
9 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.
10 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;
11 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.
12 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.
13 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 by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!