The 21 plagues of Revelation are found written in order, beginning with the seven Seals in order, followed by the seven Trumpets in order, and concluded by the seven Bowls in order. However, an analysis of the plagues' written contents will reveal something that is contrary...some of the Trumpets and Bowls actually coming to pass before some of the Seals, and some of the Bowls coming to pass before some of the Trumpets! Therefore, as much as this might rub us the wrong way, the written order does not represent the sequence in which the plagues will one day befall the earth.
We can call the written order, the "consecutive order," as Hal Lindsey does. This is the sequence held to tenaciously by most pre-tribulationists. It serves their rapture position by committing the controversial 7th Trumpet more or less to the midway point of the 70th Week, years before Armageddon (this by the way wrongly forces the 6th Seal into the first half of the Week). Another sequence is required for the one who understands the 7th Trumpet to be the post-tribulation return of Jesus to both destroy the tares and to rapture the wheat into the skies.
The sequences now held to by post-tribulationists and pre-wrathers are merely variations of the consecutive order, showing how difficult it is for minds to deviate from the written order. They move the Trumpet and Bowl plagues forward in time (as compared to the pre-trib sequence) so as to correctly position the 6th Seal after the Week, and yet that's not good enough because they (wrongly) place most of the Trumpets before the first Bowl.
Let's read a word from Hal Lindsey, and then comment:
"By far the most important aspect of interpreting Revelation is just how the seven seal judgments, trumpet judgments and bowl judgments relate to each other.
"If the judgments occur in consecutive order, then it tends to support the pre-Tribulation Rapture...If the judgments are concurrent, then it tends to support the mid- and post-Tribulation views" (The Rapture, Bantam Books, pg. 90, 91).
Hal then offers a listless attempt to provide evidence for his "consecutive" sequence by merely showing the existence of God's wrath in the tribulation period. He writes, "If it can be demonstrated that Divine wrath falls on earth prior to the second coming, then, their theory contradicts itself" (pg. 91).
This is untrue. God's wrath existing in the tribulation does not contradict the post-tribulation rapture. Pre-tribbers have so confused Christians on this point that even those who hold to the pre-wrath position carry the error into post-trib' camps. In fact, the very name of the new movement, "Pre-Wrath," was devised to express this position that Hal expresses above...so that if the position is in error, the very premise for the pre-wrath-rapture movement is effectively obliterated.
Yes, the rapture must occur prior to the fall of God's Wrath, according to many scriptures, but not prior to the Revelation plagues. even though those plagues are indeed a falling of God's wrath. For, as you must realize, the wrath of God falls at all times, but the wrath that we are to be delivered from, by the rapture, is none other than the Armageddon event; the wrath in the Revelation plagues is not to be included as part of the wrath that the Church is to be delivered from. Pre-wrathers fail us by not realizing this.
Hal failed to mention anything within the written particulars of the plagues in an effort to prove the consecutive order, no doubt because the written contents disprove his sequence at several points. Consider the 6th Seal, written as early as the sixth chapter. Although it is found written before any of the Trumpets and Bowls, it describes the self-same, darkening/shaking of the skies found in Matthew 24:29 that Jesus places "after the tribulation."
Because the cosmic disturbances in both the Matthew and 6th-Seal texts are enormous as well as identical, we do well to equate them as being the very same event. But Hal can't view the Matthew event as the 6th Seal because his consecutive order places the 6th Seal long before the end of the Week. Thus, Hal is forced to convey a difficulty, that the sun, moon, stars and skies will be darkened/shaken twice, once in the 6th Seal, and once again after the Week to fulfill the Matthew text. For those who are not familiar with the 6th Seal, here it is:
"And I saw when He opened the 6th Seal, and a great earthquake occurred, and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became as blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth...and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth and the great men and the chiliarchs and the rich men and the strong men and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one sitting on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand'" (6:12-17)?
What could be more descriptive of the post-tribulation period than, "every mountain and island were moved out of their places," a catastrophic event that could not occur within the Week because it amounts to a fatal blow on civilization itself? Surely, such a geological shaking would crumble city building after city building, explaining why the peoples seek out caves thereafter.
As long as Hal and others stick to their pre-tribulation rapture, it won't occur to them that the "wrath of the Lamb," a phrase found in the 6th-Seal text that describes a particular/important wrath that arrives only at the arrival of the Seal, is distinctly the wrath of Armageddon. Or, if it can be shown that the 6th Seal is a post-trib plague, then the "wrath of the Lamb" doesn't arrive until after the Week, implying that the wrath is Armageddon. Pre-wrathers get this part correct...but then they wrongly place all the Bowls after the 6th Seal because they interpret the Bowls as wrath that the Church is to be delivered from.
And pre-wrathers, like pre-tribbers, have the sun, moon, and stars darkened twice, as if the 6th Seal was not the darkening of the skies found in Matthew. Jesus in Matthew 24:29 said:
And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then will the sign of the Son of Man appear in the sky..."
Make no mistake about it: the events mentioned with the 6th-Seal text are here said to be "after the tribulation" i.e. after the 42-month tribulation of Jerusalem. In this sense, I, too, am pre-wrath, but only if the "wrath" in "pre-wrath" refers solely to Armageddon.
The 5th Trumpet, because it is said to last for a minimum of 5 months, must be sounded before the opening of the 6th Seal, for there are not five months left in current history after the 6th Seal. All that remains is the post-tribulation period lasting a matter of weeks (Daniel 12:11-12), at most 75 days (I think 45). If the 5th Trumpet cannot occur after the 6th Seal, then a completely new sequential system must be drawn up which places the first five Trumpets before the 6th Seal.
THE SEVENTH TRUMPET
It is very important for pre-tribulationists to keep the 6th Seal from a post-tribulational timing because they position the 7th Trumpet after the 6th Seal, meaning that the 7th Trumpet would then become post-tribulational as well and therefore look too much like Paul's rapture trumpet that he calls, "the last trumpet" (1 Corinthians 15:52). Fortunately, we are not compelled by God to follow pre-tribulationist teachings, and the sooner we run from them the better. One only needs a quick look at the written details of the 7th Trumpet to realize its post-Week markings. For one, we see that on account of its sounding,
"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ" (11:15).
Daniel 7:25-27 is a mirror of this quote, saying, "And [the saints] shall be given into [the little horn's] hand for a time, times, and half a time. But the Court will sit and [the angels] shall take his dominion away...And the kingdom and the dominion [of the little horn], and the greatness of the kingdoms under all the skies, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High..." Does anyone imagine these transfers of powers -- from anti-Christ to Christ -- occurring during the Week, while the anti-Christ's 3.5 years are yet unfinished? Apparently, pre-tribbers must do just that...when placing the 7th Trumpet either during or before the 3.5 years. But wiser ones will recognize the transfers of powers to be post-Armageddon.
In the prophecy of the 70 Weeks (Daniel 9), we learn that it's only after all 70 Weeks that the sins of Israel are atoned for (verse 24). Daniel goes on to say (still in verse 24) that righteousness will not be ushered in, nor Christ be anointed, until all 70 Weeks have come to pass. In other words, the transfer of powers within the 7th-Trumpet text, that officially crowns Jesus as King, cannot arrive until after the 70th Week. If it arrived before, it would obliterate the very heart of the prophecy...which intends to inform us that all things will be made new under Christ after the 70th Week.
Note that in the 6th Bowl, the world's power is not yet in the hand's of Jesus. This means that the 7th Trumpet must come after the 6th Bowl; so far as I know, no one but myself holds to this sequence, and those who have been convinced by this chapter.
In Revelation 11:18-19, still within the written contents of the 7th Trumpet, the Armageddon theme is amplified:
"and your wrath has come, and the time to judge the dead and to give reward to your servants the prophets and to the saints...and to destroy the ones destroying the earth. And the Temple of God in Heaven was opened, and his ark of the covenant was seen in his Temple, and there occurred lightnings and voices and thunders and an earthquake and a great hail."
While Armageddon is specified by the phrase, "to destroy the ones destroying the earth," the resurrection-rapture is implied by: "to give the reward to your servants the prophets and to the saints," The Elect are at this time appointed to Salvation while others are simultaneously appointed to Wrath; there is no significant time gap between the two events.
We see that the wrath of God has just arrived as of this last Trumpet, meaning that God states for the second time, as within the 6th Seal, that there is a special Wrath aside from all other wrath of God. The additional inference is, therefore, that the 7th Trumpet must be located very near to the 6th Seal...that the wrath mentioned in the 6th Seal is none other than the wrath mentioned in the 7th Trumpet: Armageddon. If this bores you, it's because it's too simple; yet it needs to be said because not everyone is getting it.
When in the 7th Trumpet the "door" to Heaven opens up for all the world to see, does it not represent the tempestuous, dreadful and radiant coming of Jesus??? But of course. The "lightnings and voices and thunders and an earthquake and a great hail" are a string of terms used conspicuously in Revelation no less than three times to specify Armageddon. As proof, the string is repeated in the indisputably Armageddon-related 7th Bowl.
Certainly, the "reward" held in Heaven for "the prophets" of the Old Testament does not arrive at some point in the midst of the Week, before the 70 Weeks are finished. And what could the reward be if not their resurrection into the Kingdom? Surely their resurrections will not take place until the kingdoms of the anti-Christ are in the hands of Christ. God said to Daniel, "You shall rest [die] and stand [be resurrected] in your lot at the end of the days" (Dan. 12:13). Even pre-tribbers confess that this resurrection of Old Testament saints occurs at Christ's post-trib' return, for the Daniel 12:1-2 text makes that timing very clear as being after the end of the anti-Christ. In fact, we see that it occurs as Michael stands up to support Israel in her (42-month) tribulation, even as we see in the New Testament that the rapture occurs with the war-cry and coming of Michael.
Therefore, it doesn't seem wise to envision Paul's "last trumpet" as sounding seven years prior to the 7th Trumpet of Armageddon. Would God be so dull/misleading as to call a pre-tribulation rapture trumpet, the "last trumpet," if it arrives prior to all seven Trumpets of Revelation? No, but if God has any concern for our understanding, the "last trumpet" of 1 Corinthians 15 is the last Trumpet of Revelation. For when God inspired Paul to write "last trumpet," He knew that He would soon write Revelation to us.
Even in chapter 10 of Revelation -- outside the written details of the 7th Trumpet -- that Trumpet is supported as the resurrection trumpet. Notice that the voice of the 7th angel may very well be the voice of Michael:
"...time will no longer be, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, whenever he is about to trumpet, even the mystery of God will be accomplished, as he preached to his servants the prophets."
It would be short-sighted to insist that Paul's "last trumpet" and the related "mystery" were not, one and the same, the 7th Trumpet of Revelation occurring at the fulfillment of the "mystery of God." Compare Revelation 10 above with Paul's words below:
"Behold, I tell you a mystery! We shall not all fall asleep, but we all shall be changed...at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised..." (I Corin. 15:52).
How did Paul know, prior to the writing of Revelation, that the resurrection-rapture would occur at the last trumpet? Aside from Divine Inspiration, he had the Word of God to go on, as he knew from Daniel 12 and from the Olivet Discourse of Jesus that the resurrection-rapture would be at Armageddon, which is the end of current history, meaning that there could not be any trumpets thereafter. But if he thought that the resurrection-rapture would occur years prior to Armageddon, he would not have called it the "last." Nor would Divine Inspiration have allowed it.
If further proof of the post-trib' nature of the last Revelation Trumpet is required, it is available. Consider that since it occurs after the Two Witnesses are killed, it must be post-tribulational, for the Two Witnesses are killed after their 1260-day ministry. Thus, pre-tribbers are prone to distort this text too, suggesting that the 1260 days associated with the Two Witnesses represent the first half of the Week. But the Two Witnesses are introduced in a verse immediately following the 42-month trampling of Jerusalem, and everyone knows that the trampling of Jerusalem is in the second half of the Week.
Thus, the Two Witnesses are going to be a direct testimony against those who trample Jerusalem, meaning that their 1260-day ministry must also take place in the latter half of the Week. Certainly, God is not going from the second half of the Week in one verse to the first half of the Week in the very next verse. Therefore, beware of those (mid-tribbers included) who place the ministry of the Two Witnesses in the first half of the Week, for they do this without textual justification merely to avoid a post-trib' 7th Trumpet.
Behold. After the 4th Trumpet, with three remaining Trumpets yet to sound, an eagle flying in mid-air cries out:
"Woe! Woe! Woe!...because of the remaining trumpet blasts of the three angels about to blast."
The meaning is clear: each Woe equals one trumpet blast. After the details of the 5th Trumpet are given, the text reads, "The first woe is past." After outlining plagues of the 6th Trumpet, as well as the resurrections of the Two Witnesses and the Jerusalem earthquake, the text reads, "The second woe has passed. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly. The seventh angel sounded his trumpet..." (11:14-15).
So, then, make no mistake about it, the third Woe and the 7th Trumpet are one and the same. And if the second woe is post-tribulational because it includes the Jerusalem earthquake occurring after the deaths of the Two Witnesses, then the subsequent third Woe/7th Trumpet must be more post-trib still.
A NEW SEQUENCE
Let me finally reveal a sequential system of the 21 plagues that I believe is correct. In it, the plagues are arranged in triplets, forming seven basic plagues in all. The sequence is read horizontally so that a Trumpet always follows a Seal and a Bowl always follows a Trumpet:
As you can see, the structure of this system is rigid; one cannot move any plague from the sandwiched position into which it is locked. As each Trumpet is located between a Seal and a Bowl, so (most) every Bowl is located between a Trumpet and a Seal, while (most) every Seal is located between a Bowl and a Trumpet. If any one plague can be shown not to fit this arrangement, then the entire system falls apart. If there were any doubts in my mind as to the viability of this system, I would not be presenting it to the public as anything worthy. There are but two minor problems which I can overcome to my satisfaction, while there are quite a few intriguing keys which make the system work surprisingly well.
- 1st Seal, 1st Trumpet, and 1st Bowl
- 2nd Seal, 2nd Trumpet, and 2nd Bowl
- 3rd Seal, 3rd Trumpet, and 3rd Bowl
- 4th Seal, 4th Trumpet, and 4th Bowl
- 5th Seal, 5th Trumpet, and 5th Bowl--end of 42 months and start of post-trib' period
- 6th Seal, 6th Trumpet, and 6th Bowl
- 7th Seal, 7th Trumpet, and 7th Bowl
The 6th Seal is more rightly placed as the 16th of 21 plagues so that, without difficulty, it can now become post-tribulational. Because Jesus confirms that the cosmic disruptions inherent in the 6th Seal occur "immediately" after the tribulation of Israel (Matthew 24:29), we can theorize that it's the first plague of the post-tribulation period. If true, the 5th Bowl immediately before it should end the 42-month trampling of Israel. And if we ask whether the written contents of the 5th Bowl substantiate its ending the tribulation period, the answer is overwhelmingly yes, for it says:
"The fifth [angel] poured out his bowl onto the throne of the beast; and its kingdom became darkened..." (16:10).
As an act of God proclaiming an end to the Beast's throne, the 5th Bowl cannot occur until the 42-month trampling of Jerusalem has come to a close, for it is categorically stated that the Beast gets 42 months to exercise his authority/throne (Rev. 13:5). Furthermore, we may not be justified in placing this Bowl after the 42 months; we should instead view it as the very event which puts a close on the official 42-month term, as this is exactly what its wording suggests. It does not mean that the anti-Christ is killed at the 5th Bowl, however, but only that his God-sanctioned rule is over, announced more portentously by the darkening of the cosmos in the subsequent 6th Seal.
THE SIXTH TRIPLET
The 6th Trumpet and 6th Bowl follow the 6th Seal, regardless of the sequential system adopted. However, in the triplet system above, both the Trumpet and the Bowl are situated as near as can be to the 6th Seal. This is very logical in that both the Trumpet and Bowl have to do with the movements of the Kings of the East across the Euphrates river. No one denies that the 6th Bowl is post-Week in timing, but pre-tribulationists place the 6th Trumpet somewhere in the middle of the Week, thus distancing it from Armageddon by some years.
This view leads to the unreasonable teaching being widely propagated, that the killing of 1/3 the planet occurs somewhere in the middle of the Week. But if this is true, then the remaining 2/3 of mankind would be too wounded and disrupted to go on with normal life. Yet this is precisely as pre-tribulationists want you to view the Week, as though it were Armageddon itself, so that they can more-easily convince you that a rapture is needed before the Week.
The 6th Trumpet describes a massive Oriental killing machine, on the verge of entering the Israeli theater at the so-called "hour and day and month and year" (Rev.9:15). Surely this Appointed time is associated directly with Armageddon, especially as the incoming soldiers number 200 million while they in turn kill 1/3 of men. To substantiate its timing at Armageddon, the 6th Trumpet is within the "second woe." If the 6th Trumpet is thus post-tribulational (i.e. post-Week), it's back-to-back position with the post-Week 6th Bowl is certain.
The three Woes are all related to the Kings of the East, in my opinion. The first Woe, or the 5th Trumpet, represents the Kings of the East north of Iraq and attacking her to death, which could very well be the explanation for the darkening of the throne of the Beast in the very next plague (the 5th Bowl), in that Iraq acts as the Beast's military headquarters. Remember, Isaiah 14 calls this Beast the "king of Babylon." The Beast is not in Iraq at this time, but possibly in northern Africa as per Daniel 11:40-44.
Due to the great size of their army, the Orientals are easily identified as the "locusts" of Joel, "a great and strong people; there has never been the like, nor shall there ever be again to the years of many generations" (Joel 2:2). God calls these fighters, "His army" (Joel 2:11). Surely, then, the 200 million locusts cannot be unleashed upon Israel's mountains before the Beast's 42 months have fully transpired, for the Orientals come in the power of God specifically to put the Beast to his end.
We see in the 6th Bowl that the Orientals need to have the Euphrates river dried up before they can cross into Israel. Therefore, as the 6th Bowl is revealed as a post-trib' plague on the brink of Armageddon, how can the Orientals cross into Israel to kill 1/3 of men at any time during the Week?
Where some view the 6th Trumpet (the second Woe) as the killing of 1/3 the planet, I merely view it as the "release [of] the four angels which are bound at the great Euphrates river" (9:14). In other words, the killing of 1/3 of men doesn't occur in the scope of the 6th Trumpet, but rather that Trumpet is preparation for the Big Event (i.e. Armageddon) that eventually kills 1/3 of men. The 6th Trumpet plague is therefore the moving of a tremendous number of troops from Iraq and vicinity, to the upper (northern) Euphrates river.
The reading of the 6th Trumpet text suggests that 1/3 of men are destroyed very soon after the Trumpet -- and this is explained on account of Armageddon (the third Woe) being only days away. Thus, all three Woes are caused by the Kings of the East...remembering also that Jesus comes to Jerusalem from the east, no doubt giving the Orientals the inner stuff that leads to a crushing victory over the Arch Enemy. The 6th Bowl is, so to speak, the bundling up of the tares, prior to their burning:
"And the sixth [angel] poured out his bowl onto the great river Euphrates; and its water was dried, in order that the way might be prepared for the kings from the rising of the sun. And I saw out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet three unclean spirits as frogs; for they are spirits of demons performing signs, which go forth unto the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to assemble them to war on the great day of God Almighty [i.e. the Day of the LORD]. Behold, I am coming as a thief: blessed is the one watching and keeping his clothes, lest he walks naked and men see his shame" (Rev. 16:12-15).
Notice that Jesus, as a result of the 6th Bowl, has not yet returned to rapture the Elect. This is because he returns in the 7th Seal, the very next plague. Yes, Jesus will at that time be a plague, the worst of all. Notice that the Return, though post-tribulational, is the one in which Jesus comes imminently, as a thief. Therefore, any attempts to define the Return as a pre-trib event, by force of its Imminence, doesn't fly...unless one can show how the 6th Bowl is a pre-tribulational event (that's impossible).
Is not the implication of the quote above that the Orientals are coming to strip the Beast of his powers, and that this very contest is the basis of Armageddon? The "kings of the entire inhabited earth" would seem to depict the United Nations. In my current opinion, the "dragon" to whom Rome has been Granted (by God) represents the European Union; the "beast" represents a Russio-Arabic alliance, and the "false prophet" represents the United States and/or Britain.
As the Beast (Gog) is finding military success in northern Africa, Daniel says: "But news from the east and from the north shall trouble him. Then he will go out with great fury to destroy and to devote many to destruction" (11:44). Hence, the Beast decides to confront the Orientals, which is why he pitches his command post at Jerusalem (v 45).
Because the soldiers of the Beast repent not of their sins even after 1/3 of them are killed (Rev. 9:20-21), God sends the 7th Bowl to finish the job...which also destroys the Orientals. I view the 7th Trumpet as Armageddon Part One, the Military Affair, while the 7th Bowl is Armageddon Part Two, the Supernatural Affair...at which time the earth shakes and seethes with inner heat, turning the atmosphere into a turbulent weapon with incredibly high cloud formation, enabling ice bombs to form up to two feet in diameter (Rev. 16:21).
THE SEVENTH TRIPLET
The 7th Seal is of very short duration; it's positioned in the triplet system as the 7th Trumpet is "about to sound" (Rev. 10:7). Thus, while the 7th Trumpet must come after the 6th Bowl, an obvious thing that pre-tribbers and pre-wrathers find strange, stranger yet to all prophecy scholars is that the 7th Seal likewise occurs after the 6th Bowl!
- 5th Seal, 5th Trumpet and 5th Bowl--end of Week and start of post-trib period
- 6th Seal, 6th Trumpet and 6th Bowl
- 7th Seal, 7th Trumpet and 7th Bowl
The resurrection-rapture, of course. In the sequence I hold to, the awesome 7th Seal is positioned immediately after the 6th Bowl's preparation for Armageddon but before the 7th Trumpet initiates Armageddon. I submit to you with all logic, therefore, that the 7th Seal is the very day in which "the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky" (Matthew 24:30) -- i.e. the Resurrection-Rapture. It fits perfectly for the rapture to take place at the 7th Seal, as positioned in the list above, just as the seventh Trumpet is "about to sound" (Rev. 10:7). It's now of no wonder that there is "silence in Heaven" (8:1) if the angels are poised to descend to the clouds for a gathering of the Elect. Whom in Heaven would dare be in common conversation then?
As the 7th Seal evolves quickly into the 7th Trumpet, the Ark of the Covenant is seen in an opening of Heaven (Rev. 11:19) i.e. Jesus appears before all the eyes of mankind, along with voices from Heaven and a train of charging angels, all amid tempest and lightning. Thus, during the 7th Seal, all is quiet in the sky, and then suddenly the Noise begins.
Those who say that the seventh Seal is not closely related to Armageddon should take notice of the Armageddon terminology (to be quoted below) written just after the Seal's mention in 5:5. Because of that terminology, I do not believe that the seventh Seal is the prelude to, or the embodiment of, all seven Trumpets. Simply because the seven Trumpets are all written immediately after the seventh Seal does not convince me, for I have learned that the written order is not necessarily the actual order to befall the earth.
Perhaps the best evidence which can be found to prove the close relationship between the 7th Seal, 7th Trumpet, and 7th Bowl, is in the repetition of terms written in conclusion of each one. After the seventh Seal is written, we find that:
"[a censer] was filled with fire from the altar and cast into the earth; and there occurred thunders and voices and lightnings and an earthquake" (8:5).
In conclusion of the seventh Trumpet, it is written:
"And the Temple of God was opened in the sky, and His ark of the covenant was seen in His Temple, and there occurred lightnings and voices and thunders and an earthquake and a great hail" (11:19).
And after the seventh Bowl is poured out, it is written:
"and came a great voice from the throne out of the Temple, saying: It has occurred. And there were lightnings and voices and thunders and a great earthquake occurred, such as never occurred since man has been on earth...and every island fled, and mountains were not found. And a great hail as a talent in size came down out of the sky ..." (16:17-21).
I don't have room to show you here, but see for yourself how these same terms are all found in the Psalm-18 depiction of Jesus' return.
The written order of the 21 plagues therefore carries the reader three times from start to finish of the tribulation period, first by the Seals, then by the Trumpets, and finally by the Bowls. We can therefore expect the rapture to appear written (or implied between the lines) more than once.
CAPPING GOD'S ANGER WITH THE BOWLS
I see strong concord in the triplet system. The same-numbered Trumpets and Bowls share similarities. For example, the 1st Trumpet and 1st Bowl are both plagues on the LAND; the 2nd Trumpet and 2nd Bowl are both plagues on the SEA; the 3rd Trumpet and 3rd Bowl are both plagues on the RIVERS; the 4th Trumpet and 4th Bowl are both plagues on the ATMOSPHERE; the 5th Trumpet and 5th Bowl are both plagues on the BEAST'S KINGDOM; etc, just as if each Bowl finishes what its corresponding Trumpet begins. In fact, it has occurred to me that each Seal = one (corresponding) Trumpet and one (corresponding) Bowl.
That is, the opening of the 7th Seal unleashes the 7th Trumpet and 7th Bowl so as to cover two phases of Armageddon; the 6th Seal unleashes the 6th Trumpet and 6th Bowl and therefore covers the upper-Euphrates river region on the one hand and later northern Israel on the other; the 5th Seal doesn't appear as a plague against the world but never the less unleashes the 5th Trumpet and 5th Bowl and thereby covers the Beast's kingdom in/around Iraq (that location is my personal theory); in the 4th Triplet, the atmosphere is apparently filled with much debris in the 4th Bowl as a result of the 4th Trumpet; etc. Again, these similarities show continuity from Trumpet to Bowl and supports their back-to-back positions.
All the Trumpets appear to represent warfare; this is a Biblically-sound idea. Each Bowl can then be viewed as end-results of corresponding Trumpets. Indeed, the Bowls are Said to represent the completion of wrath:
"...the seven last plagues [Bowls], because in them the wrath of God is completed" (15:1).
This quote is thought by virtually everyone to mean that the Bowls occur last of all, after all the Seals and all the Trumpets. However, in light of all the evidence which so strongly demands a rejection of the consecutive order, the Bowls must be last in quite a different way. In the Triplet system, the Bowls are last only inasmuch as they are last in each triplet, wherefore they cap the wrath of God in each case. If we reject this view, then there develops the problem in having to squeeze all seven Bowls after the 7th (Armageddon) Trumpet, or else do what pre-tribbers do: put the 7th Trumpet illogically midway in the Week.
The book of Revelation does not out-rightly tell us when the 21 plagues begin. Some have them starting centuries ago by tying them to certain historical events. But because the first triplet includes a sore (singular in the Greek text) on those who take the mark of the beast (Rev. 16:2), it would seem that the first triplet, and, therefore, all 21 plagues, begin in the second half of the Week...after the skincode is enforced. On the other hand, the skincode will almost certainly be optional in the first half of the Week so that the plagues may begin then.
It appears that the first triplet occurs in the latter stages of the first half of the Week, and sets in motion the Beast's assault on Israel that is called the "abomination of desolation." It should be said that I am biased towards the idea that all four Horses (i.e. the first four Seals) are plagues on Jerusalem because I see all four in Ezekiel's account of end-time Jerusalem's desolation (chapters 1-11, especially 4-6). But as the first horseman is given a crown, would that not depict the start of the Beasts's 42 months of God-sanctioned authority (Rev.13:5)? If so, then it's the Beast who rides, and he's bent on overcoming Jerusalem. The 3rd Seal/horseman seems to be a reflection of Ezekiel 4:9-17; the 4th Seal/horseman appears equivalent to Ezekiel 5:12-17.