Honestly, I wish I really knew what John is talking about as I continue to struggle with these symbols. It’s becoming more and more obvious to me that John is pulling Old Testament metaphors, putting New Testament content into them and using them as symbols for the persecuted churches of his day, and every day, and ultimately the end-time. I am starting to cut myself off from the dispensational premillennialism tradition that I have grown with, though I must admit it has much to offer in its commitment to the Bible, in my opinion it has taken an apocalyptic prophecy and forced it into literalness which has drastically affected its proper interpretation. On the other hand, amillennialists seem to spiritualize this passage so beyond what i think is possible. I think between dogmatic concrete literalness and over-spirituality we will be able to find the truth, but we must go to the text in order to find it. We must not try to fit in John’s employment of apocalyptic genre into our favorite denominational grids or mindsets that we are comfortable with, and let the text speak for itself to its day.
Chapter 10 is an interlude which shows us obviously that the seals, and the trumpets are at least parallel in structure. It seems to me that in chapter 11:15-19, it’s obvious we’ve come to the 2nd Coming again as we did in the sixth seal. I think that these are somewhat parallel, though it may be that the seals lead up to the end-time, and the trumpets begin the events of the end-time, and which the bowls will completely finish. But there is some kind of recapitulation relationship between the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls that is so evident as you read from chapter 6 through 16.
In the interlude between the 6th seal and the 7th seal, and in the interlude between the 6th trumpet and the 7th trumpet, both 7th judgments seem to be of particular importance. We all expect the climax, but it does not come. I think this is not simply a literary device but a fact of life, as we cannot predict how exactly God exacts His judgments. Divine justice takes its unexpected course, and delays are always God’s way of providing opportunities for fallen humankind to repent. Such is our loving God who though has a settled judgment against sin, is long-suffering and does not want anyone to perish (cf. 2 Peter 3:8-10). Hallelujah!