In my latest reading of G.K. Beale's The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, Beale argues that six of the seven trumpets represent God's judgment on idolaters during the church age (the time between Christ's first and second comings), whereas the seventh trumpet concerns the last judgment.
often does not take the cataclysmic events accompanying the trumpets
literally. So what does he think that these cataclysmic events
symbolize? He sees the mountain going into the sea as the collapse of a
nation, and the famine to be a spiritual famine, the sort of famine
that Amos 8:11 mentions. What Beale could be saying is that the
spiritual emptiness and problems that have afflicted nations throughout
the church age are due to God's judgment of idolaters. And
Beale does not think that God is afflicting the idolaters in order to
encourage them to repent, although Beale does believe that a few
unbelievers who have been sealed (as well as some Christians who are
compromising with idolatry) will repent. Rather, for Beale, God is afflicting them to demonstrate their hard hearts and his own justice in punishing them.
Beale believe that John expected for Christ to return in his own
lifetime? My impression thus far is that Beale's answer is
negative----that John thought that prophecies were being fulfilled in
his own time and that the Kingdom of God was somehow being realized, but
that the final consummation could be years away. On page 544, however,
"The angel tells John that the final completion
is to be at the last judgment and establishment of the kingdom
announced by the last trumpet. Daniel knew that much, but was not given
hope to expect it in his own time, as John is, although even John's
expectation needs to be balanced by an 'already-and-not-yet'
This does not strike me as a straight answer. Did
John expect the final consummation in his own time or not? And stop
hiding behind "already-and-not-yet"!