One of the enduring mysteries of the Tribulation is the 7 Thunder Judgments that are not revealed. Their timing is also interesting because they seem to be a component of the 2nd Woe, which is associated with the 6th Trumpet Judgment.
In Revelation 9 the 5th angel blows his trumpet and unleashes the first of three woes that had been announced in Revelation 8:19. These presage an escalation of God’s wrath upon the unbelieving world. The 5th Trumpet Judgment is one of the most shocking. From the bottomless pit of hell, a.k.a. Tartarus, legions of demonic entities are allowed to escape to torment mankind. The text tells us they have a king over them named Abaddon in Hebrew, or Apollyon in Greek (Revelation 9:12). He is given the key to this place of horrors to release hordes of locust-like creatures. What these are is the stuff of science fiction and nightmares. They are likely the rebellious sons of God and their demonic followers who were imprisoned there after the Genesis 6 period when Yahweh brought the flood to destroy all that lived on the earth (2 Peter 2:4-5).
God is in charge of all this. He restrains these satanic entities, allowing them to only sting and torment people not protected by the seal of God. The distress humanity suffers causes them to seek death, but they aren’t allowed that escape.
Very possibly in this same timeframe, the 2nd Woe released by the angel commences the 6th Trumpet Judgment. Whereas the 1st Woe was completely demonic in nature, this 2nd Woe appears to fuel a world war initiated by China. Its troops cross the Euphrates River which has providentially dried up. Does the terrible distress caused by the locust stings cause these troops such anguish that their only recourse is killing as many people as possible in order to gain some imagined semblance of relief? Whatever the dynamics, all people on the earth will suffer as fully 1/3 of them are killed. Note that in the giving of this number, it differs from the 4th Seal in Revelation 6:7-8. In that Judgment, Death and Hades were given authority over 1/4 of the earth, but didn’t necessarily kill that much of the world population. Here with the 6th Trumpet, the text specifically states that this number of people die.
It is at this point that the 7 Thunders come, even though the 2nd Woe brought by the 6th Trumpet Judgment has not yet ended. Here is what Revelation 10:4 tells us:
And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.”
Whatever is the nature of these judgments, they must be awful. God has kept what they are hidden, despite telling us in His prophetic Word that they will come. What could be worse than what we’ve already seen of all that will afflict everyone on the planet? A surprise set of judgments, of course, that no one knows what they’ll be and do. Revelation 10:7 informs us:
… but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.
The 7 Thunders are a mystery, but they will be revealed – likely in the most horrible of ways. Mankind, reeling from the demonic locust stings and the awful war that claims billions of lives, will face these mysterious, devastating judgments that cause such a bitter reaction in John’s stomach as he eats the scroll detailing them (Revelation 10:10).
Yet, the judgments are just and right. This is evidenced by the fact that their proclamation in the tiny scroll is sweet to John’s taste. Nothing that God does is unfair. Mankind gets what it deserves for its rebellion against God and the poor choices everyone on earth during this time had made in disobedience to Him.
Can you imagine living here during these seven years? Who would want to endure such suffering? This is why God desires His people to know these prophecies in order to warn others. Seven years of Tribulation are coming. Few living on the earth will escape a horrible death. It may come from having turned to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or at the hand of God raining down His wrath.
This is not a period that God has planned for those who currently believe in Him – the Bride of Christ – to encounter. He does not intend for us to face His wrath. Why? Because through the trust we’ve placed in His Son, we’re not destined for it. Jesus already took our punishment upon Himself. Are we supposed to experience double jeopardy? Of course not! God’s very character is at stake here. He promised to deliver us from this most awful time of judgment and to keep His people from it.
Jesus has prepared a place of sanctuary for us in heaven (John 14:1-3). Let’s believe and look forward to that while the earth receives its just rewards.