Sunday, February 14, 2016

THE SIXTH TRUMPET - REVELATION 9:12-21

The Sixth Trumpet
9:12-21

Three “woes” were announced by the eagle in 8:13. The eagle said “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets the the three angels are about to blow”. This tells us that these last 3 trumpets will bring judgments more intense that the previous ones.

The first 4 trumpets brought judgment on one third of the earth, affecting the plant life, the oceans, the rivers and the light. But the 5th trumpet, the 1st woe, brought torment directly to men and women. The locusts with stingers like scorpions afflicted people all over the earth for 5 months.

The 6th trumpet is then blown, announcing the 2nd woe. It is also the last warning. The 7th trumpet brings the end.

A voice spoke from the altar, where the prayers of the saints for vindication are held. These are the prayers mentioned in 6:10-11. And those prayers are answered. The 7th seal and the 7 trumpets are God’s answer to those prayers.

Again we have this reference to God’s action in delivering Israel from Egypt. Of that, God said “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their task masters. I know their sufferings and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of hat land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3:7-9) That is similar to what God is doing in Revelation.

When the 6th trumpet is blown, Jesus, through the 6th angel,  releases 4 angels who had been bound at the Euphrates River. The word “bound” indicates they were held against their will. Therefore, they are likely fallen angels (demons).

Jesus does this according to a precise time table. The angels were prepared for this hour, day, month and year. (15) We do not know the plan. Jesus said “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority”.   (Acts 1:7) He also said “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”. (Mark 13:32) God knows the plan. He did not choose to reveal the timing of it to us.

The Euphrates River is important in Bible history. The most powerful enemies of Israel were beyond that river. The Assyrians and Babylonians, who carried Israel into captivity and destroyed their country, lived beyond the river. Ezekiel 38 speaks of Gog attacking Israel from the Northeast. That would be beyond the Euphrates. In other words, judgment came from there. For the Roman Empire, to which the 7 churches of Asia belonged, the Parthian empire was beyond the river, and repeatedly engaged in wars with Rome.

These angels were released to kill one third of all of mankind. (15)

Verse 16 speaks of mounted troops, or cavalry. There were “twice then thousand times then thousand” (ESV) or two hundred million (NIV). This number is likely symbolic, meaning a great number too large to count.

In verse 17 & 19, John described the horses as he saw them in the vision:
They had breastplates the color of fire (red) and sapphire (blue) and of sulfur (yellow);
 the horses’ heads were like lions’ heads;
fire and smoke and suffer came of the horses’ mouths;
their power was in their mouths and tails; and
their tails were like serpents.

The tails like serpents remind us that the power of these beings comes from the great serpent, Satan. So, it appears that these beings are demonic beings, released to inflict death on the earth.

Verse 18, though, tells us that people died from plagues. The plagues were fire, smoke, and sulfur. This brings to mind the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. Only there in the is this exact combination mentioned; fire, smoke and sulfur.

It is hard to know what is meant by all this. It appears then that demons are released. Since demons are spirit beings, they will likely work though people to bring about this plague and death. Since part of the power of the horses is in their mouth, there may be a metaphor here to deception. Satan is a deceiver. His first recorded action is to deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden. His minions, the demons, would use his methods as well, including deception.

Through deception, Satan can create much destruction. People believe they should do things that can lead to horrible consequences. Right now, men and women are studying how to use diseases as weapons, how to trigger natural disasters and how to make chemical weapons.

Idolatry is the emphasis of the sin of unrepentant mankind. (20) The teaching that idolatry is acceptable is itself a deception. There were those in the Asian churches who taught that you could worship the emperor and still believe in Jesus. Others taught you could participate in pagan worship ceremonies and still be a Christian. Jesus plainly rejected that in his criticism of those churches.

In America, we have freedom of religion. But there is a strong movement in the culture to force Christians to give up their belief that Jesus is the exclusive way to God. We hear people say we all worship the same god. Or that all worship is equally valuable. The prosperity gospel perverts God’s word to say that financial prosperity on earth is the goal of believers. Others incorporate pagan practices or ideas into Christianity. All of these ideas are deceptions calculated to distract people from the true faith in Jesus.


The vivid descriptions are to tell us they bring horrible devastation and violent death.
But the point is one third of all mankind are killed. This would be a great devastation. There are about 8 billion people on earth at present. That would mean, if it happened today, about 2.5 billion people would die. In addition to the horror of such loss, it would be difficult to have enough workers to do the things needed for the remainder of humankind to survive.

I believe this judgment is again only on non-believers. Believers have been sealed and protected. This is what happened with the plagues of Egypt. However, I do not know that it means no believers will die physically in these judgments. I do know they will not die spiritually, as they have been sealed by the Holy Spirit.

In a sense, death for the unbeliever here is physical and spiritual. Those who die in unbelief stay that way forever. They are held for the final judgment at this point. But, the time to repent is concluded for them.

Despite these losses, surviving humanity did not repent. The continued to worship idols, murder, commit sexual immorality, theft and sorcery. Certainly our headlines today are filled with these sins. I am reminded of what Americans call “9/11”, when terrorists destroyed the two World Trade Center Towers. Almost three thousand people died in that one attack. For the next three weeks, church attendance swelled, many prayer vigils were held and there was much talk of God. Within a month, almost all of that stopped and people went back to doing all that they had been doing.

As God did with Egypt and Pharaoh, as recorded in Exodus, he does with all of mankind. He brings partial or limited judgment to bring men and women to repentance so that they will avoid the final judgment. But Egypt did not repent and humanity in general will not repent.

 Proclaim the gospel this week. Do not just say God loves you. Say also, you are a sinner in need of repentance. Believe, repent and you will be saved.

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