Revelation 6:1-2 “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. 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 8:7 “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.”
Revelation 16:2 “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.”
So in comparing the three “firsts” we see that the first seal is the first horseman of the apocalypse which is a false christ on a white horse, sent to conquer. The first trumpet is hail mingled with fire and blood that is cast upon the earth and burns up a third part of the trees and grass are burned up and the first vial is a noisome and grievous sore that comes upon the men who have the mark of the beast and worship him. It is quite easy to see that these three “firsts” are nothing at all alike. In fact, there is a problem in that the first seal is opened before the tribulation, as it is the antichrist coming, yet the first vial is sent upon those who already have the mark of the beast. That creates a problem as you can't have the mark before the tribulation.
Revelation 6:3-4 “And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 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 8:8-9 “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; 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 16:3 “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.”
Now comparing the second set of judgments, we see that the second seal is the second horseman of the apocalypse which is war. This is man against man and is on land and possibly some sea battles, but mostly land. The second trumpet is a great burning mountain cast into the sea which turns a third of the sea to blood and destroys a third of the ships, as opposed to the second vial which is poured out by an angel (not the result of what appears to be an asteroid or comet) and all of the sea turns to blood and all sea creatures die. So while similar, these are not the same judgments.
Revelation 6:5-6 “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. And I heard a voice in the midst of 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 8:10-11 “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; 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 16:4 “And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.”
Here in the third set of judgments we see that the third seal is the third horseman of the apocalypse which is famine. This is a lack of food. The third trumpet is a star falling from heaven which turns a third of the fresh waters bitter and unusable. The indication from the word “Wormwood” and being turned “bitter” (not turned to blood) is that radiation is most likely the problem in this trumpet judgment, as a star (meteor/comet/asteroid) hitting the waters would leave them radiated (not turned to blood). The third vial is poured out by an angel (again not the result of the star) on the rivers and fountains of water and all of them turn to blood. Again there is a similarity between the trumpets and the vials, but it seems that the trumpets are only a taste of what is to come in the vials.
Revelation 6:7-8 “And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 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 8:12 “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.”
Revelation 16:8-9 “And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. 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.”
In the fourth set of judgments, the fourth seal is the fourth horseman of the apocalypse who kills by sword, hunger, other means of death and by the animal world. He has permission to kill one quarter of the world. In the fourth trumpet a third part of the sun, moon, stars and day are darkened so that they do not shine for a third part of the day and night. This does not seem to indicate that they are lessened by a third in intensity, as much as an actual third part of the day in terms of hours, meaning a third part of the earth possibly has an ash cloud covering it, so that the light cannot get through for a third part of the 24 hour period, as that third of the time zone is covered in ash clouds. This would make sense given the previous trumpet judgments of the mountain and star falling. An asteroid or comet hitting would create a cloud of ash, from the impact just as a volcano puts out ash. This is also a third, not a fourth part of the earth as is in the seal. The fourth vial is the sun getting much hotter and scorching men with fire. This indicates the entire earth (as opposed to a quarter or a third) is being subjugated to the sun's intensity increasing, which is quite the opposite of the fourth trumpet. In fact in in Isaiah 30:26 we are told how much hotter and how much brighter the sun will get. It will also increase the light of the moon (naturally since the moon reflects the sun's light). “Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.”
Revelation 6:9-11 “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: 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? 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 9:1-11 “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 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. 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. 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. 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 16:10-11 “And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; 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.”
Here we see some distinct differences in between the seals, trumpets and vials. The fifth seal is martyrdom. This in fact is not part of God's wrath, nor are any of the seals. (This is explained to a lesser extent in other articles on this blog, or thoroughly in my end times studies blog at http://endtimesstudies.blogspot.com/). This is directed solely at Christians, not at the unbelieving, wicked world and has nothing to do with the fifth trumpet or fifth vial. The fifth trumpet is a horde of demons being let out of the bottomless pit to torture and torment mankind for five months. The only ones protected from this horde are those who have God's seal in their foreheads. Note how in this judgment, the mark in the forehead is what protects people. Whether or not someone has the mark of the beast or not, if they do not have the seal of God they are targets, whereas only those who have the mark of the beast (Not everyone who does not have the seal of God will have the mark of the beast. Some have neither mark) are targeted in the first vial. The fifth vial is darkness covering the entire earth (the beast's kingdom will be a world-wide one). Note that they are still suffering the pain from the torture in the fifth trumpet, as well as the sores from the first vial. So these three things have nothing to do with each other and most certainly are not the same event.
Revelation 6:12-17 “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. 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 9:13-21 “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. 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. 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 of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which 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 of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”
Revelation 16:12-14 “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. 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. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
Now we come to the sixths in these sets of events. The sixth seal is the sun going dark, the moon turning to blood, the stars falling,the heavens being rolled back as a scroll, and men running to hide in the rocks for fear. Note that the people recognize these events as the ones prophesied in both the Old Testament and the Mount of Olives Discourse as the signs that will precede the Day of the Lord or God's wrath on the world. So now we can see by these signs that the seals are not part of God's judgment on the world, they are signs that herald it, therefore are not part of His wrath and cannot be the same as the vials in particular, as they are directly called God's wrath in Revelation 11:18 “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.” This announcement is made at the beginning of the seventh trumpet. The sixth trumpet is what appears to be a non-human army of 200 million (look at their horses, they are not earthly creatures) which kills a third of mankind. (This is not an army from China). Again, notice that the trumpets often deal with only a third of the world. It is this trumpet judgment and the sixth vial, that in particular are always said to be one and the same. That is because the sixth vial is the Euphrates River being dried up so that the armies of the world (not China) can be gathered to come against Jerusalem for Armageddon. People like to put these two events together and say that the 200 million must be the army at Armageddon and in particular, China, as it comes across the Euphrates from the east. That is not what it says. First of all, the sixth trumpet has the army riding supernatural creatures, which it is doubtful that there would be a human army doing that. Secondly, China does not have that many troops at present. A great article that dealt with this problem was written by Prophesyproofs at http://prophecyproof.blogspot.com/2011/01/revelation-916-insights-on-200-million_05.html. After the earth has been decimated in population by a fourth in the fourth seal, by an undisclosed number of people in the third trumpet and third vial, and another third of mankind in the sixth trumpet, not to mention all those who are not mentioned that may die in other judgments, it is hardly likely that China will rally this many troops to go against Jerusalem. Thirdly, the sixth vial says that all the nations of the world are rounded up to come together at Armageddon, not just China. They are similar, yes, but they are not the same. The army in the sixth trumpet is a supernatural army that kills a third of mankind. The army in the sixth vial are humans from the nations that go against Jerusalem, and we know that at Armageddon it is the army that is killed, which is not the case in the sixth trumpet. In the sixth trumpet, the army does not get killed; it does the killing. Clearly this set of three events are not the same.
Revelation 8:1-2 “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.”
Revelation 11:15-19; 14:20-15:1,5-8“And the seventh angel sounded (a trumpet); and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 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. 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. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.......... And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs......And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God......And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and 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 for ever and ever. 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 16:17-21 “And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 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.”
Now we get to the last set of events, the set of sevens. And what do we find. We find that the seventh seal is.......the trumpets. And then we see that the seventh trumpet is.........the vials. The seventh vial is a great worldwide earthquake which divides Jerusalem into three parts and collapses the cities of the world, then Babylon is completely destroyed, and hail that weighs 100 lbs. each falls on all of mankind. So we are being told that the trumpets are the seventh seal and the vials are the seventh trumpet. This means that the vials cannot be the same as the seals or trumpets as they are contained within one trumpet, specifically the last trumpet. And the trumpets cannot be the same as the seals, as they are contained in one seal, specifically the last seal. For all of these things to be happening in one's, two's, and etc. the seventh trumpet and seal would have to be opened at the same time as the first seal. It is the only way that they could then be grouped together in one's, two's, three's, etc. But clearly we see that Christ opens the seals one at a time and in ordinal fashion and that the trumpets sound one after another also in ordinal fashion. Likewise the vials are poured out one after another, not simultaneously. Therefore if these events were to be outlined they would look like this.
I. Seal 1 - Antichrist
II. Seal 2 - War
III. Seal 3 - Famine
IV. Seal 4 - Death
V. Seal 5 - Martyrdom
VI. Seal 6 - Day of the Lord Signs
VII. Seal 7 - Trumpets
.........A. Trumpet 1 - Hail with Fire
.........B. Trumpet 2 - Burning mountain
.........C. Trumpet 3 - Star named Wormwood
.........D. Trumpet 4 - 1/3 Sun, Moon, Stars, Day & Night Darkened
.........E. Trumpet 5 - Horde of Demons for Five Months
.........F. Trumpet 6 - 200 Million Supernatural Army
.........G. Trumpet 7 - Vial Judgments - Wrath of God
..............1. Vial 1 - Sores on Those Who Take Mark
..............2. Vial 2 - Seas Become Blood
..............3. Vial 3 - Rivers Become Blood
..............4. Vial 4 - Sun Scorches with Heat
..............5. Vial 5 - Darkness Over the Earth
..............6. Vial 6 - Euphrates Dried, Armies Gathered for Armageddon
..............7. Vial 7 - Earthquake, Hail, Babylon & World Cities Destroyed
So common sense and logic, as well as a comparison of the contents of each clearly shows that the idea that the seals, trumpets, and vials can go hand in hand is simply impossible. I believe the reason that people say that they go together is that they want to make the Scriptures fit the theory that they believe, rather than see what the Scriptures say and let that dictate their beliefs. We should not do that with God's Word. Truth can only be found when we allow God to tell us how things happen, not when we try to make God's Word fit our preconceived ideas. Because those of us who grew up in any kind of religious homes come pre-programmed to these preconceived ideas of the theology we were taught, it is very difficult to leave them behind and be able to look at God's Word as if we have never seen it before, so that we might see what He is saying, rather than what we think or want Him to be saying. We must set aside biases and just read the Word clearly and literally to see what God says. Too many times we spiritualize rather than just taking things at face value, or come up with ideas and “see” them in the Scriptures when they aren't really warranted, or twist the grammar around to change the order or events, or any other number of things that we do to the Word. This is one of those cases. People have been told that this army of 200 million must be the army at Armageddon, as they know that will be a huge army and this is a huge army. Then they decided it must be referring to China, because it says they come from the east. Because of this they end up putting the sixth trumpet and vial together. That isn't what the Word says. People have trouble understanding how Revelation plays out, and so they try to make it work by forcing things that are not so. We are all guilty of it to some degree, but we need to strive to not allow it to happen. We must take God's Word at face value, even when we don't understand it, and keep studying and working at it until God shows us how it makes sense simply taken as He wrote it.