(2) Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
Who are these seven angels? John speaks of them not by way of introduction, but as if we already know who they are. We have been introduced to seven angels before, back in Revelation 1:20. They were the angels of the seven churches. Remember, back in 1:20, that the angels are not a figurative sign, but they are the revealed mystery of the figurative sign (the stars), making the angels actual angels (see comments on 1:20). Many commentators misunderstand the angels of the seven churches and make them out to be human letter deliverers, or the preachers of seven congregations in Asia, but Christ said that they were literal angels (in one of the few places in Revelation where the Lord reveals the literal interpretation; we can’t miss the freebees!). Here in chapter eight, John sees these seven angels again. Last time they were messengers to the churches, this time they are messengers to the Jews. The message is the blasting of the seven trumpets; the message is that of war. Israel has breached the covenant and the time for her judgment has come.
“Seven trumpets were given to them.” This brings my mind back to the days of Joshua! In Joshua 6:1-5, God gives the orders of battle against the city of Jericho. It was with the blast of seven trumpets and the shout of the people of God that the walls came tumbling down: “So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city” (Joshua 6:20). What an awesome event! But consider that this is what we are seeing in Revelation 8:1-5. With seven trumpets (v.2) and with the cry of the people of God (v.3-4) the foundations begin to shake (v.5) and it won’t be long before the city (Jerusalem) is laid waste.