There are many who draw parallels between the letters, the seals, the trumpets, and the vials. I think there are greater differences between these four groups than there are similarities, which will be explained as I go through this.
The seven letters show us the history of the church, from AD 34 to the second coming of Christ. The letters inform us about the condition of the church throughout the ages and what its duty is. They represent not only seven epochs from the early church, counting from the day of Pentecost to the second coming of Christ, but also a general description of what history will bring, and these events will follow one another.
Furthermore, the seven letters tell about the church’s historical events, and in a way take the temperature of the church’s condition throughout church history, from the early church to the second coming of Christ. These seven letters follow each other successively and tell a coherent story without any overlapping parts. These letters also divide the history of the church into seven different parts that are characteristic of the individual churches where the letters were addressed and where historical events distinguish between the different churches.
The seven seals tell us about what many choose to call the church’s political events. I would rather call it the battle between God and Satan, because here we get a good insight into the cosmic conflict. Here we see what God is doing for his people, how Satan responds to this, the results of Satan’s actions, as well as signs that herald the transition to the end times and the preparations for the plagues that will come under the trumpets and bowls.
These seals represent the church’s political history, and in this way, they are similar to the letters of the seven churches. They still differ from the letters in that way that they do not follow the same pattern. We can also divide the seals into three groups where A) the first four seals tell us about the battle between God and Satan over of the church that spans the same period as the seven letters; B) the fifth seal tells us of the consequences of the first four, and C) the last two which tells us what God will do in history.
The seven trumpets show us the first plagues that will affect everyone, including God’s faithful remnant. We also get an indication that God’s faithful will be sealed during this period, as well as the first of the last seven plagues. When the seventh seal opens, we see that this seal contains the seven trumpets, and we are moving into a new era in human history. Now, we must have two thoughts in mind at one time and see this in the context with the seven vials and look at what happened in Egypt when the people of Israel were brought out of slavery and went out from Egypt to possess the promised land.
It fell several plagues upon Egypt while Israel was there, and some of them affected the children of Israel too, but the seven last plagues that fell did not affect the children of Israel = God’s people. This is important to keep in mind. Looking at the contents of the seven trumpets and the seven vials below, and counting how many plagues they contain, we can figure out where on the timeline the 144,000 will be sealed. It is not the hour, the day or the year we want to find, but where we are on the timeline when this happens.
The seven vials show us the last plagues and the final resolution. God defeats the evil forever and ever. Chapter 15 concludes with the temple filled with smoke, which means that no one has access to the temple. Jesus has finished the investigative judgment and is on his way to the earth to redeem his faithful people.
The first five vials end the seven last plagues, and we find the seven plagues under the fifth and sixth trumpet and the first, second, third, fourth and fifth vials. The sixth vial tells us that Euphrates will dry up to make way for the Kings of the east. This must be understood figuratively, and the kings of the east are a picture of Jesus and his angels when they come to redeem God’s faithful remnant.
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [come] out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. Revelation 16,13
Many want to read this as the papacy, the fallen Protestant church and modern spiritualism, but I think we must put it all in the right context.
The dragon: The dragon is and will be the dragon – Satan. The Beast: In Daniel 11 we find the king in the north and the king in the south. The King of the North is a conglomerate of all religions and denominations – (with one small exception) – and is described here as the beast, who has absorbed the king of the south who embraced all secular isms that were in opposition to God. The False Prophet: There is also a religious ism, and it is modern spiritualism that has gained a foothold in almost all religions and denominations. It is the modern spiritualism that is the false prophet. These three form a union that we can call the unholy trinity.
And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, [and] so great. 19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. Revelation 16,18-19
The seventh vial must be understood both as 1) figurative and 2) literally.
1) Figuratively in the sense that the big city (Babylon) is divided into three. These three parts are the same as we saw under the sixth vial and are thus a union consisting of the three unclean spirits that make up the unholy trinity – the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. Due to God’s voice, a loud voice, which causes the spiritual earthquake, this constellation of power is now falling apart. The unity is lost, and they lose the ability to exercise their power, both together and individually.
2) Literally, a big, physical earthquake see also Rev 6,14 (and every mountain and island were moved out of their places) which prepares the way for the restoration of the earth as it was before the fall of man.