“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.”(Revelation 11:15, KJV)
To begin, we will need to know that there are seven stages in God’s agenda. These seven stages span from the day of Pentecost till the time when the church is glorified. That is, it spans from the first day the Holy Spirit came on the 120 disciples in the upper room, till the instance when all the saints of God are glorified at the coming of Christ.
How do we know there are seven stages?
It is because there is a book containing God’s redemption plan, and this book is sealed with seven seals. We can find this in Revelation 5:1. It reads:
“And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.” (Revelation 5:1, KJV)
The seven stages come about as the intervals between the opening of each seal.
- The first stage is the period after the first seal is opened, and before the second seal is opened.
- The second stage is the period after the second seal is opened, and before the third seal is opened.
- and so on, …
- The seventh stage is the period after the seventh seal is opened, and the last things written in the book are completely done.
When a seal is opened, a portion of the book is revealed, making way for that portion to be fulfilled. As we mentioned earlier, the book contains God’s redemption plan – a plan to bring humanity back to Himself, and to take total control of the earth again. So, every revealed portion of the book contains things that lead to the full accomplishment of this plan. That is to say, in every stage, portions of the book are fulfilled, until the last stage when God has redeemed and glorified a portion of humanity for Himself, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our LORD. Revelation 11:15 is a prophecy of when this is fulfilled. It reads:
“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.”
(Revelation 11:15, KJV)
Upon reading this verse, we may wonder how the seventh angel relates to the seven stages. The seventh angel is a category of people who serve as messengers to declare the final contents of the book. They are called “angel” because they are a collection of messengers. They are called “seventh angel” because they declare the final contents of the book, after the seventh seal is opened. The act of declaring the opened contents of the book is what is represented as sounded. God’s principle is that the revealed portions of the book must be declared among men first before it is fulfilled. So, in this case, the seventh angel is declaring the final contents of the book so that it can be fulfilled.
We can now understand that this is the way the seven portions of the book are fulfilled. In every stage, a body of people serve as messengers to declare the opened portions of the book, so that they can be fulfilled. These people are the ones symbolized as the first angel sounding the first trumpet, the second angel sounding the second trumpet, the third angel sounding the third trumpet, the fourth angel sounding the fourth trumpet, the fifth angel sounding the fifth trumpet, the sixth angel sounding the sixth trumpet, and the seventh angel sounding the seventh trumpet. These seven angels sounding the seven trumpets are mentioned in Revelation 8:2 & 6. It reads:
“ 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.”
(Revelation 8:2 & 6, KJV)
We can now understand that:
- After the first seal is opened, the first angel sounds the first portion of the book.
- After the second seal is opened, the second angel sounds the second portion of the book.
- and so on …
- After the seventh seal is opened, the seventh angel (the archangel) sounds the final portion of the book.
Now, if we read Revelation 8:1, we will see that it says that after the seventh seal was opened that the seven trumpets are sounded. It doesn’t mean that all the seven seals are opened before the seven trumpets are sounded. It only shows that a seal has to be opened first, in every stage, before a trumpet is sounded.
Before moving on to identify what stage we are in, we should also note that there is one more thing that happens in every stage. A cup of judgment is poured out. This cup of judgment represents the judgments that God releases upon the world of humanity in every stage, as He gradually works towards making the kingdoms of this world to become His kingdoms. These judgments are poured out through a group of human messengers, in every stage, and these human messengers are again represented as angels. They are the seven angels that pour out the vial (the cup) of God’s judgment. They are mentioned in Revelation 15. Verses 1 and 7 read:
“ And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God…  And one of the four beasts (living creatures) gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.”
(Revelation 15:1 & 7, KJV)
In summary, we can thus understand that in each of the seven stages:
- A seal is opened by our Lord Jesus Christ, then
- A trumpet is sounded by a group of messengers, and finally,
- A vial (or cup) of judgment is poured out by a group of messengers (in most cases, the same messengers that sounded the trumpet)
For these symbols – the book, the trumpet and the cup of judgment – to make more sense to us, let us consider some scriptures. We will look at Ezekiel 2:8 – 3:4, Jeremiah 1:7-10, Jeremiah 25:15-16-30.
Ezekiel 2:8-3:4 NKJV reads:
“ But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.  Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it.  Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe. [3:1] Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.”  So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll.  And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.  Then He said to me: “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.”
From this passage we can learn some lessons about those people who serve as messengers to sound the opened portions of the book. Just as Ezekiel needed to eat this scroll, so also the messengers in every category needed to eat the opened portions of the book, after a seal was opened. As we can learn from this Ezekiel’s experience, eating the book simply means receiving the words of God. It is after a person has received the words of God that he/she can speak it. This is what the messengers in each stage experience. God reveals some truths to them, and they wholeheartedly accept it. They digest it – that is, they live by it. And then they serve as messengers to declare it.
The next passage is Jeremiah 1:7-10. It reads (NKJV)
“ But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak.  Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD.  Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.  See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, To root out and to pull down, To destroy and to throw down, To build and to plant””
This was the early stage of Jeremiah’s ministry, and here the Lord commissioned Him as His messenger to sound His trumpet (to speak His word). Isaiah 58:1 helps us to clearly see what sounding a trumpet means. It says: “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.”. So we see that with what God told Jeremiah in the passage above, He was commissioning him as His messenger to sound His trumpet.
After sounding the trumpet, Jeremiah then served as a messenger to pour the cup of God’s judgment. We find this in Jeremiah 25:15-16-30 which reads:
“For thus says the LORD God of Israel to me: “Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it.
 And they will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them.
 Then I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations drink, to whom the LORD had sent me:  Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and its princes, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse, as it is this day;
 Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his princes, and all his people;  all the mixed multitude, all the kings of the land of Uz, all the kings of the land of the Philistines (namely, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod);  Edom, Moab, and the people of Ammon;  all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastlands which are across the sea;  Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who dwell in the desert;
 all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes;  all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another; and all the kingdoms of the world which are on the face of the earth. Also the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.
 Therefore you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Drink, be drunk, and vomit! Fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you.”
 And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “You shall certainly drink!  For behold, I begin to bring calamity on the city which is called by My name, and should you be utterly unpunished? You shall not be unpunished, for I will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth,” says the LORD of hosts.’
 Therefore prophesy against them all these words”
From this passage, we can learn that the act of prophesying God’s judgment against a nation is symbolized as making that nation drink from the cup of God’s fury. Jeremiah made the nations drink from the cup of God’s fury by prophesying God’s judgment against them.
Now that we have some practical understanding of how messengers of God eat the book, sound the trumpet by speaking the contents of the book, and pour out the vial (or cup) of judgment by prophesying God’s judgment, we can now proceed to identify what stage we are in, so that we can make ourselves ready to be God’s messengers for the next stage.
As we proceed, we need to know some things.
- The things shown when a seal is opened are a summary of what will happen within that stage
- The things shown when a trumpet is sounded are the result of the ministration of those who serve as God’s messengers within that stage
- The things shown when a vial (or cup) is poured are the outcome of God’s judgment within that stage
Having this in mind, we can now proceed, by God’s grace, to identify the stage we are currently in. The stage we are currently in is Stage Four.