And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
To them were given seven trumpets. Many instruments of music are mentioned in the Bible, but the trumpet is the one that stands out prominent amidst them all. There are stringed instruments, of which the chief is the harp; and there are those whose sound is produced by striking the stretched skin of which they are made, as the cymbals; but none are named so frequently as the trumpet. In Numbers 10:1-10 there are given express commands for their construction, and throughout the Bible, from the giving of the Law at Sinai down to the sounding of the last trump, and this vision of the seven trumpets, we continually meet with them. We are, therefore, justified in attaching significance to them and regarding them as symbolizing truths God would have us learn. For he commanded both their making and their use. They played a prominent part in connection with the divinely ordained worship both of the tabernacle and the temple, and the whole land of Israel echoed at divinely appointed seasons with their spirit-stirring notes. A glance at a concordance will show bow constantly and on what occasions they were used. What, therefore, may we learn from them? They teach -
I. GOD HAS A MESSAGE FOR US. Had they been a merely man-devised instrument, we could not have said this; but when we find that they were adopted by God in his service, we cannot err in regarding their clear, loud notes as telling of his message and will. And, in fact, they were used to indicate to Israel the advent of seasons of worship - the new year, the new moon, the jubilee, and other occasions when God commanded his people to render special service. And these special messages remind us of God's great message to mankind, which he has given to us in his Word. He has not left us unthought of, uncared for, uninformed. It was not likely that he would. He has made known to us his will.
II. THE MANNER OF THAT MESSAGE. Such truths as these are suggested by this trumpet-symbol.
1. How urgent! The trumpet blast was startling, arousing; its clear, loud note penetrated the dullest ear, and reached those afar off, and forced all to listen. And such message of urgency God's Word brings to us. "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead!" - so it speaks to us. "How shall we escape if we neglect," etc.? It is no mere matter of indifference, but life and death hang upon it. And:
2. How warlike! The trumpet note was emphatically the music of war. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 42:14) represents as a blessed condition not then attainable, and a land all unlike his own, "where we shall hear no sound of trumpet." And in this vision of the seven trumpets war is their most prominent meaning. And thus we are reminded of our Lord's words, "I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword." God's Word is a battle summons, a call to "fight the good fight of faith." It is what we do not like, but which we must accept, would we share those rewards which are given "to him that overcometh."
3. How terrible! The hosts of Midian fled in dismay when the blast of Gideon's trumpet burst on their startled ears. Terror seized on them and made them an easy prey. And in this chapter it is the terribleness of the judgments of God upon his enemies which the seven trumpets tell of. And God's Word is terrible to those who know him not. The Bible is a dreadful book to the impenitent man when awakened, as one day he will be, to his real condition before God. It is like the prophet's scroll to him, written within and without, of sorrow, lamentation, and woe. To the froward it shows itself froward. But:
4. How animating to the hearts of the people of God! The trumpet, like the loud cheering of troops as they dash forward in the fight, heartens them; and the trumpet sound was designed to do this. And God's Word is full of heart-cheering truth to all them that trust in him. And:
5. How joyful was the sound when it proclaimed, as so often the trumpet did, the advent of some glad festival, some "acceptable year of the Lord," the jubilee especially! And in the Feast of Tabernacles the general hilarity was heightened by the frequent sounding of the silver trumpets by the priests. "Blessed are the people that hear the joyful sound" - this is said of God's message of grace, and such joyful sound is the characteristic note of the gospel. And:
6. flow irresistible is the trumpet sound! The lofty massive walls of Jericho fell down fiat before the trumpet blast. The dead, so insensible to all else, shall hear that call; "for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised." "All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth." And so today where God's Word comes in power, dead hearts are roused and sleepers awake. O blessed power of God's Word, that it will, it must, have obedience rendered to it! "He speaks, and it is done; he commands, and it stands fast." But if resisted now - as too often it is - the obedience that will have to be rendered at the last will be to the word, "Depart, ye cursed!" But now it bids us "come." Let us hear that. - S.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.