This astounding statement caught my attention and was something I was simply not aware of. I heard that the 6th Trumpet of Revelation 9:13-21 was likely to be blown at any moment, certainly within the year. This statement also suggested the troubling thought that I must have missed the sounding of the first 5 trumpets of Revelation 8 and 9. So, was this new news that God had just now revealed? I heard this pronouncement as I was watching a You Tube video of the Jim Bakker show on which he had Irvin Baxter. Irvin Baxter was the one who said that the 6th trumpet, in which one-third of mankind is killed, could happen at any day, and actually might even be underway as he spoke. (Keep in mind that this show aired in 2017 and ISIS and other terrorist groups were waging war in the middle-east including the area around the Tigris-Euphrates region). It appears now, in the light of several passing years, that the 6th Trumpet never did blow or perhaps it is a very long blast that is ongoing. Unless the news channels missed it, 1/3 of mankind (that is; around 2½ billion people) have not recently perished.
Jim Bakker’s enlightened response to this declaration by Baxter was “wow”. Well, enlightened is probably not the right word to use; but by saying “wow”, Jim Bakker, before his TV audience, was giving validity to Baxter’s statement. Baxter then went on to explain that he had come to his truly marvelous view when he came to realize that the 3rd Trumpet (where something like a burning mountain hit the fresh waters of the earth and made them “bitter”; that is, poisonous) was the destruction of the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl in April of 1986. He arrived at this, he said, when he learned that the Russian word for Chernobyl was “wormwood,” thus connecting this with the 3rd Trumpet judgment. According to Wikipedia, however, and other sources the word “Chernobyl” is the common mugwort (Artemisia) plant and is used for medicinal purposes and for tea, no mention of it being poisonous. So Baxter, tying in his flawed definition of Chernobyl with the biblical word “wormwood,” concluded that the meltdown at this nuclear plant in the 1980s was the 3rd Trumpet judgment. This then led him to reach back to the 2nd Trumpet and conclude that this was the Second World War. The reasoning behind this was that in that judgment 1/3 of the ships on the sea were destroyed. He allegedly found out that 1/3 of the ships in the world at that time were destroyed. He did not, however, expound on the point of Revelation 8:8-9 that one-third of the oceans became blood, nor that one-third of the sea creatures died (neither of which happened in WW2).
The 5th Trumpet, where the locust-like creatures come out of the smoke of the bottomless pit and torment men for 5 months, was related to the Gulf War. He arrived at this amazing conclusion by noting that hundreds of oil wells were set afire and caused sky-darkening smoke to engulf the land, just like the smoke coming out of the bottomless pit. He also observed that the locusts had breastplates of steel and the faces of men which were the war planes (and their pilots) that were part of the Gulf War. The “clincher” for him was the fact that the king of the bottomless pit was called “destroyer”. This, said Baxter, is the meaning of the name Saddam. Again, Wikipedia disagrees and says that in Arabic the name means “one who confronts”. All of this was then used to validate the likelihood that we are in, or soon shall be, the 6th Trumpet. What was particularly sad in all this was that Jim Bakker and his female colleague on the TV set, simply smiled, nodded in agreement, grunted approvingly, but never challenged these far-fetched interpretations. After all, if God had led Irvin Baxter to these interpretations, who were they to challenge their validity (Jim Bakker is clearly not from Berea. See Acts 17:11).
Our Response? Irvin Baxter reflects the “classic post-tribulational” view which sees the tribulation as beginning at the first coming of Christ and continuing on to His second coming. Therefore, the church has been in the tribulation for some 2,000 years. This leads to the “historical approach” to the Book of Revelation, where the events given by the Apostle John are to be found somewhere during the history of the church; that is, since the first century.
The great danger, as illustrated by Baxter’s quirky interpretations, is that the interpreter becomes the final authority instead of the Scriptures themselves being the final authority. This is no small issue and people listening to folks like Baxter, need to recognize what is going on. He is becoming the final authority. In fact, this almost irrational subjectivity of historicism finally has led many in the past few decades to abandon it as an approach to biblical prophecy. It was always interesting to observe how historicists were sure that their approach was correct but simply could not agree with one another as to what specifically was being fulfilled. So six historicists could have seven interpretations of the same event given in Revelation. Back to Baxter and Bakker. In this case, for example, why can’t the 5th Trumpet be referencing the war in Viet Nam, where there were lots of planes, napalm, death and destruction. And why couldn’t Pol Pot or Mao being the destroyer?
Another observation is the random selectivity in Baxter’s (and others) use of Scripture. He did not, for example, discuss the fact that mankind would be affected for 5 months by the locust-like creatures; nor that they had tails like that of scorpions. Or, when talking about the 2nd Trumpet, there was not a word about 1/3 of the waters becoming blood. But this kind of selectivity is not what a good expositor of the scriptures does. It is not only bad exegesis, but it is also a dishonest handling of God’s Word. There is no place for this kind of approach to the bible, especially when there is a large number of people that are likely being influenced by it.
Yet another observation we should make is the ignoring of established meanings for the symbols and terms used in Revelation. For example, in the 5th Trumpet, the bottomless pit is mentioned. This has an established meaning and is not a reference to Kuwait and Iraq. Revelation borrows heavily from the Old Testament (especially the prophets) and the names and symbols found in Revelation have meanings that are already established. No interpreter has the authority to change the meaning from those established in the OT.
We also should note that numbers, as used in Revelation, are used in the normal way numbers are used; that is, they are normal quantitative indicators. They are not used symbolically. For example, 7 churches means 7 churches. 1/3 of the oceans becoming blood means just that. But Baxter and others, in promoting their historicism, only use numbers in their normal way when it is convenient. So 5 months of locust activity, or 1/3 of the waters becoming blood, or 200,000,000 men being involved in the 6th Trumpet judgment are simply ignored. (ISIS had some thousands fighting for them, but not 200,000,000. Again, this is not an acceptable way to approach the Scriptures. In fact, it is just plain deceptive.
The growing lack of discernment in the church today is tragic. If watching Jim Bakker and his colleague suggests anything, it is that Christians today will believe most anything, as long as the “teacher” indicates that they received their view from God Himself. This, of course, is not a new phenomenon, which becomes obvious when we note Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 13 where these faithful prophets of God exposed the methods and messages of the false prophets in the nation of Israel. But as 2 Peter 2:1 declares, just as Israel was infected with false prophets, so the church faces that same thing with false teachers who will come in with their erroneous doctrines and lead God’s people away from the truth of God.