The first four trumpets all deal directly with the earth. They do not symbolize political, social, or economic judgment; those types of judgment come later in Revelation. Nor do they describe any judgment that has ever happened in history in some locale or region. The trumpet judgments are actual, literal, physical events that will affect the whole earth.1Some understand the destruction of all the green grass here, but subsequent reference to grass (Rev. 9:4+) as license to jettison normative interpretation in recognition of the apocalyptic literary genre:
To worry about the prohibition in Rev. 9:4+ against harming the grass, when in Rev. 8:7+ the green grass was already burned up, or about the question of how a great star could fall from heaven in Rev. 8:10+ when the stars had already fallen in Rev. 6:12+, is to misunderstand the literary genre in which the Apocalypse is written. . . . We are dealing here with a montage of divine judgments upon a recalcitrant world.2These supposed logical inconsistencies are easily explained. During the opening of the sixth seal, stars fall to the earth. As we discuss in our commentary on Revelation 6:13, this does not mean that every stellar “sun” in the universe made its way to the surface of our planet! More likely, it describes a meteor shower or asteroids since human life still remains after the impact (Rev. 6:15-17+) along with the sun and the moon (Rev. 8:12+). Thus, there remains plenty of cosmic material to supply the needs of the star which falls here (Rev. 8:10+). Concerning the grass, one wonders if such authors have ever read anything concerning the beneficial effects of fire upon rangelands? The complete burning of the grass (Rev. 8:7+) and its reappearance later (Rev. 9:4+) is easily explained by recognizing that the initial destruction burned the stalks of grass, but left the root system intact underground. Some time later, the grass sprouts up once again. “In most parts of the earth grass is not green the year round, but is seasonal. Burning of all the grass that is green during a particular season would leave the remainder untouched until its season of dormancy is over (Simcox).”3
1 John MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), Rev. 8:7.
2 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), 184.
3 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 8:7.