A number of people have said to me that the seals, trumpets, and vials in Revelation are all the same thing, but merely from a different point of view. Or at the very least that the trumpets and vials are the same thing, and that I just do not understand. I think I understand that numbering things one through seven means that they come in numerical order. And when one of those numbers contains something, it falls within that number. So for clarity's sake, I am presenting a few verses to clear up this issue as to why they are not only chronological, but that only the vials are God's wrath.
I have already done an article on this subject, found here,
First for a very short recap we look at the seals. Christ opens the seals on the scroll one at a time. This is how you open a sealed scroll, and John tells us that when he says "when he had opened the **th seal," telling us that they were being opened one at a time. So the only thing being opened is a seal and each seal has an event, none of which are the same as the trumpets and vials. Now does Jesus open them out of order? Well it does not say that they have a number written on them. John says that he opens one of them and from that point on he merely calls them in numerical order as Christ opens them, second, third, etc. from John's point of view. So they are opened one at a time and the order has been predetermined and Christ knows what that is.
Revelation 8:1-2, 6-7a, gives us the first verification that the six seals come before the trumpets. "And when he had opened the seventh seal, (which is the last seal opened in chronological order) 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....... And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The first angel sounded, and there followed...."
Now clearly it says that when the seventh seal (which comes after the first six) is opened, seven angels which are standing before God are given seven trumpets. And then they prepare to sound them, and what follows in that chapter is that there are six trumpets blown in successive order. So there is no question that the seals and the trumpets are chronological, whether you look at this from a Hebrew or Gentile point of view (which is the excuse I have been given for them not being chronological, I don't understand how to look at it as a Hebrew). Nor are they simultaneous as John doesn't say they all sound together. He says that the first angel sounds his trumpet and thus and so happens. Then the second angel sounds, and so forth. So again, these are chronological. To make this even more clear, in Revelation 9:12, John says that the first woe (which is the label he gives to the fifth seal) is past and there are two more to come. Well, there are still two more angels to sound their trumpets, so it is obvious that the two woes are the sixth and seventh trumpets. As they are yet to come and the fifth one is past, obviously these things are not happening simultaneously or even overlapping each other, which some like to say is happening. Every word of Scripture is there to lead us to truth, so we must not skip over them. The seals are in order, the trumpets are in order, and at the very least, the last three - five through seven - are not overlapping.
At the end of the sixth trumpet John says something that is very pertinent to distinguishing the trumpet judgments from the vials of God's wrath which are contained in the seventh trumpet. The dictionary defines "judgment" as "a misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment." "Wrath" on the other hand is defined as "extreme anger." There is a reason that the trumpets are called judgments and not referred to as God's wrath. God uses judgments or misfortunes and calamities for the purpose of punishment. Punishment is given to try to drive people to repentance. God sent many calamities as punishment on Israel to try to get them to repent of their sins against Him. Whom He loves, He chastens. It is the last resort to try to get someone to repent BEFORE God exacts His vengeance or sends complete destruction on someone. America is under God's judgment right now. We are suffering natural disasters, bad leadership, and all sorts of punishments to try to drive us to our knees in repentance. We are still here. We have not yet been the recipient of God's wrath. That is coming, though. Sodom received wrath, not punishment or judgment. It received God's complete anger and was annihilated. There was no warnings given through punishment to give them time to repent. There is a distinct difference between God's judgment and wrath.
When we look at the end of the sixth trumpet judgment we see these words. Revelation 9:20-21 "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." God has sent these judgments as a last resort to drive men to repentance. This was their last chance. If this were God's wrath, there would be no opportunity for repentance. By the time God's wrath is handed out, the time for repentance is long over, and God is just exacting His revenge on an evil world.
Finally we come to the seventh trumpet. Revelation says this in 11:14-19. "The second woe is past; (sixth seal) and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
And the seventh angel sounded; 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 the ark of
his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings,
and an earthquake, and great hail."
In the seventh trumpet we find that the last woe has come. Christ is declared King of the earth, taking Satan's control of earth away from him. The time for the dead to be judged and rewarded (which means that the dead must be resurrected first, then the Bema Seat judgment held) has come. And that God's wrath, the time when He will destroy (not punish, but completely destroy) those who have been destroying the earth, has finally come. And then we see that God's temple is opened, and for the first time John sees the ark of the testament (or covenant) which resides in the heavenly temple.
There is a pause in the narrative of the chronology of the seals,
trumpets, and vials at this point to fill in other information, because the time of
tribulation and judgment is over and it is time for wrath. As we know that we are not appointed to wrath, and we are to be resurrected/raptured at the last trump, we should find that at this point there is a rapture somewhere in the narrative, followed by God's wrath which corresponds to the event as described in Rev. 11, before the vials begin, and we find it in Revelation 14:14-20 "And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like
unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a
sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple,
crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy
sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest
of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. (resurrection/rapture) And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire;
and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying,
Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the
earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel
thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth,
and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
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." (wrath) This is followed by God's wrath.
Revelation 15:1, 5-8, 16:1 "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......... And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels,
Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the
Notice that John saw the temple opened for the first time in Rev. 11, and now in Rev. 15 it continues that narrative as he repeats that the temple of the tabernacle of the (ark) of the testimony has just opened. It has not been closed and reopened, it is simply continuing the previous narrative. The seven angels having the plagues (I believe the angels themselves are the plagues) are handed the vials of God's wrath or anger to unleash their plagues. In Rev. 11 we saw in the condensed statement that God's wrath has come after the last trump, concluding with lightnings, thunderings, earthquakes and hail. And we find the exact same conclusion of God's wrath in Revelation 16:18-21 "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." And we know that this is the end of God's wrath, because of the voice on the throne in Revelation 16:17 telling us it is done. "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." So we have a beginning of God's wrath at the last trumpet, and the end of it at the last vial.
Clearly Scripture teaches that these things are in chronological order, and that the trumpets are not part of God's wrath, but the last resort attempt to bring some people to repentance. And it does not work, for they do not repent. So God then pours out His wrath and destruction. I am hoping this clears up this erroneous interpretation that so many have on this issue.