The events in the Book of Revelation will happen in a particular order. John shows that fact by the structure of his book.
So, the book records three series of judgements. The first series is called the seven seals; it begins at Revelation 6:1. The seals are objects that hold a book closed. As Christ breaks each seal, a judgement happens upon the earth.
In the period after Christ opens the seventh seal, the judgements called the seven trumpets begin (chapter 8). The trumpets are loud musical instruments that seven angels (special servants of God) sound. After each trumpet, there is judgement upon earth. After the seventh trumpet, the final series of judgements called the seven bowls begin (chapter 16). Then Christ will return to rule.
Before the fifth trumpet, John saw a bird that was counting the last judgements. The bird had flown so high that it could see events both in heaven and on earth. It declared three woes against the people on earth (8:13). “Woe” is a word that expresses terrible troubles. Those troubles would happen after each of the last three angels sounded their trumpets (see Revelation 9:12 and Revelation 11:14). So, the three woes means the troubles that follow the last three trumpets.
John gives the period of time that each woe will last. The first woe lasts for five months (9:5). The second woe includes the war in Revelation 9:13-21 and the two witnesses in Revelation 11:1-13. The period of three and a half years appears in Revelation 11:2-3. The third woe is another period of three and a half years (13:5). That includes the rule of antichrist (an enemy of Christ who imitates Christ), the judgements called the seven bowls and the defeat of Babylon. We are not sure whether those time periods are actual; they may have special meanings. However, it shows us that John is not just repeating the same judgements; his book has order and structure.
Next part: The 7th trumpet (Revelation 11:15)
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© 2016, Keith Simons.