In the book of Revelation, John tells us about three different visions: seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. In many ways, the three sevens tell the same story three times. Think of it like a wide angle lens zooming down to a telephoto view on the same scene. We see the entire drama through the wide angle, but notice more details the more we magnify the image. Let me give you an example from Scripture.
In the first chapter of Genesis, we are told the entire story of creation from the time, “The earth was without form and void,”-Genesis 1:1, until God rests after six days of creative work. In chapter one, we are told, “God created man in his own image.”-Genesis 1:27. Then in chapter two, we are told the story of man’s creation again. Is these two separate events? Was man created in Genesis chapter one and then Adam was formed later? No. What we understand about Genesis applies to the visions of John’s Apocalypse. Genesis chapter two is telling us the same a story as chapter one. We are just being given more detail with a deeper Spiritual meaning. God breathed life into Adam, gave him a place to live, and a helper fit for him. Chapter two isn’t a different vision of chapter one, it is just a closer view with more details.
It is the same with Revelation. The seven seals of chapters six and seven give us an overview of world history. The seventh seal unveils another vision (the seven trumpets) that runs through chapter eleven. The scenes in chapters twelve through fourteen gives us a behind the scenes look at the forces at work in the visions. Finally, the seven bowls of God’s wrath are poured out. These visions do not occur sequentially in time. In other words; the scene revealed by the seals is not AD 30-300, the trumpets AD 300-1500, and then the bowls occurring AD 1500 until the end of time. These are things that, “must soon take place.”-Revelation 22:6. The visions given to John were to comfort Christians enduring persecution and to give them hope that Christ would be triumphant in the end.
While these three visions had direct relevance to the Christians of AD 100, they speak to Christians of all ages. Will there always be war, famine, and death? Until the Lord returns there will be. Will people persecute the faithful and celebrate any seeming defeat of the gospel? Revelation tells us it will happen and we can endure and will reign with Christ.
In the scroll with seven seals, we see the long view of history. The trumpets declare the victory of the church over any manmade opposition. The bowls of wrath describe how God will overcome the Roman Empire and anyone who persecutes the family of God.
May God bless our reading of his word.