Interpreting the First Four Trumpets.
The trumpets sound after the interlude in heaven following the opening of the seventh seal. As stated, the first four trumpets are no different than the forces unleashed in the first four seals, which also appear as the four winds of C. 7. Rather than new events under each of these signs, it is a repetition of the same forces or conditions in each instance; indicating the surety, nearness and scope of the coming tribulation. Children learn by listening and repetition, adults by doing and repetition. Here the “three R’s” are once again at work — Repetition, Repetition, and… Repetition. The three-point process for teaching anyone – fast or slow. The sounding of the trumpets is the call to arms; and the fight will be over quickly. If you ignore the “four blasts,” following those is the really deafening fifth one.
The seventh seal begins the final segment of the unfolding of the purpose of God as it is revealed in the book, and as is clearly stated in C. 10:7. The forces are not any different from the previous. They are now just described in different terms.
“In the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as he declared to his servants the prophets.”
The martyrs have been crying out for justice from God and Christ against their persecutors and tormentors. When the seventh seal is broken this judgment begins. It is not immediate, but is drawn out with the sounding of seven trumpets over time. The trumpets then signal partial judgments (heralded events) in response to the prayers of the saints. The plagues that are unleashed are described like the plaques that were visited upon Egypt. All plagues are directed upon the godless, as the godly have all been sealed and are safe. These again are obviously understood to be spiritual plagues, not out and out disasters of the flesh. It simply points to the physical calamity that arises from ignoring what you ignore.