We continue in our study of The Revelation by digging into Chapter 9 - the sounding of the 5th and 6th Trumpets of the 7th Seal.
So far, God has been sending multiple trials to the earth to cause people to repent and turn to Jesus for salvation. Yet many, if not most, are staying the course that leads to destruction.
At this point, God is doing what he can do to turn people to him. This is not punishment...that comes later. This is God's way of enticing people into his grace.
Listen to what the Lord is saying and respond to him. I've provided an outline below, so you can follow along. And let me know if you have a question or comment. I always love hearing from my friends.
God bless you, Kirk McCormick
Trumpets 5 and 6
· We’ve been introduced to the main players of the Tribulation, but now the specifics of the agony of the Great Tribulation are being revealed via the 7 Trumpets.
· The world is divided and the Lord has placed his mark on those who belong to him
** Review of Trumpets 1-4
· Trumpet 1 – 1/3 of the vegetation is destroyed
· Trumpet 2 – 1/3 of the ocean life is destroyed
· Trumpet 3 – 1/3 of the fresh water is destroyed
· Trumpet 4 – 1/3 of the sunlight/moonlight/stars (i.e.: natural light) is turned black
** At the end of the 4th Trumpet, a messenger (“Eagle”) declares there are three more “Woes” (i.e.: Trumpets that bring the culmination of the Tribulation = God’s judgment that leads tothe Second and Final Return of Jesus) signify a ratcheting up of the intensity of the Judgments/Punishments of God.
· Note: The three “Woes” correlate to the 5th, 6th, and 7th Trumpet (i.e.: judgments).
vs. 1-12 – The Fifth Trumpet (aka: the First Woe)
“Star” = another angel given a specific task: to unlock Hell for the demons to be released
“Locusts” = Demons designed to inflict incredible suffering (vs. 1-6)
· These are the “creatures under the earth” alluded to earlier (5:13)
o Note: The abyss is the intermediate residence – not a place of punishment - of the fallen angels, the demons, the beast, the false prophet and of Satan (9:1–2, 9:11, 11:7, 20:1, 20:3. See also: Isaiah 24:1-2).
o Their final place of punishment is the lake of burning fire and brimstone (20:10, 20:14–15).
o Example: the “Gates of Hell” at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13ff)
· These demons are unlike ANY ever previously seen or unleashed on earth
o Previously, the locusts destroyed the plants/crops (see Exodus 10:1-20 = the 8th plague released by God on Egypt)
o Here, the locusts attack the unmarked population of humans (note…they do not attack the people of God – v. 4)
· Their Task: inflict as much suffering on the unmarked that those people only wished they could die.
o Note: this task is “given” to them…they have no inherent power of their own, but are able to act only in accord with what God allows – i.e.: the power of evil is limited to what is allowed by God.
o so…these locusts are likened to Scorpions – power to sting ferociously (v. 3)
o their appointment: torture, pain, agony, suffering for “five months” (v. 10)
§ “5 Months” = a limited period of time (ironically related to the average lifespan of a normal locust)… but connotes limited since the judgment of God is not complete yet.
“Locusts” – what do they look like (vs. 7-12)
· Horses – animals of war, not peace (v. 7) – they were bred for this purpose/mission
· Crowns – symbols of being victorious in their quest (v. 7) – they will succeed in their mission
· Human Faces – perhaps a reference to the seeming intelligence of these animals or that the locusts are actually human armies coming to invade Israel…we’re not sure (v. 7)
· Hair like a Woman – not sure of this symbolism. Perhaps a reference to the Parthian warriors who wore their hair long (v. 8)
· Teeth like a Lion – ferocious (v. 8)
· Breastplates (Gk: thorax) of Iron – invulnerable, extraordinarily strong…these breastplates were much stronger than the customary bronze or leather breastplates of the Romans in John’s day. (v. 9)
· Tails and Stings like Scorpions – used for attacking humans, unlike normal locusts (v. 10)
** The king over them is Abbadon (Hebrew) = “Destruction” or “Ruin”
(or the Greek culture’s equivalent: Apollyon = “Destroyer”)
The Whole Point… the plague of Locusts are sent to encourage mankind to repent and turn to God. We’ll see later (vs. 20, 21) that it does not work.
vs. 13-21 – The Sixth Angel (aka: the Second Woe)
“Horns of the Golden Altar”
· Golden altar seen in 6:9, 8:3…where the souls of the martyrs rested
“Four Angels who are bound”
Jude 6 – “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home - these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.”
c.f.: 2 Peter 2:4 talks about how God did not spare fallen angels from being sent to hell until judgment.
Note: This is the first time that the angels blowing the trumpets did more than blow the trumpet to signify the release of the punishment. Here, the 6th Angel actively participates in the release of the punishment.
· “Four” = all-encompassing…no one on earth will avoid this punishment
· “Bound” = they are likely not good angels, but have been bound by God so they could not inflict their special evil abilities until the time is right.
“…Very Hour and Day and Month and Year…” = God’s sovereign timing…this is the perfect time according to God’s plan.
· Often called the “Great River” in the OT (See: Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; Joshua 1:4)
· this area designates being just outside the boundaries God gave for the Promised Land. Thus, this punishment likely designates armies attacking Israel from outside their boundaries… i.e.: all the nations of the earth will come against Israel.
“200 million Mounted Troops” = it is so large, too large to count, that John had to be told the number…
…BTW…regarding the current numbers of soldiers in the world’s armies, it is estimated that:
1. China currently has the largest army in the world…numbering ~2.4 million active service soldiers and 2.3 million reservists.
2. The USA has ~1.4 million active service soldiers, 1.1 million reservists.
3. India is “third” with 1.3 million active soldiers/2.1 million reservists.
4. Russia has 766,000 active soldiers with 2.5 million reservists
“Horses and Riders”
Note: Riders are not that important other than we are told of their breastplates – matching the plague of their horses:
“Breastplates fiery red (fire), dark blue (smoke), and yellow as sulfur”...the interpretation of this language is in v. 18.
Note: Horses are the weapons engaging battle:
“The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions [ferocious, cruel, brutal killers in the wild], and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur.” (9:17b)
“Tails were like snags, having heads with which they inflict injury” = a step above the demons/locusts with scorpion tails…
…these animals have the power to destroy from EITHER END…not just tails – as the locusts
Note: Interestingly, Jesus told the disciples in Luke 10:19 – “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
…likely not a foreshadowing of the End Times, but a continuation of the symbolism for evil and enemies of God (i.e.: the demonic)
** Their Punishment: One-third of mankind (i.e.: the unmarked…God’s people are safe) is killed.
(BTW…Zechariah 13:8-9 suggest that only 1/3 of the earth will be alive when
the Tribulation ends.)
** Their Arrogance: Harder Hearts than ever before!
Revelation 9:20-21 – “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.”
v. 20 - focuses on sins directed against God
…i.e.: they do not love God supremely (the first four of the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:1–11)
v. 21 – focuses on sins directed against other human beings
…“Murders [6th Commandment], magic arts [casting spells – added to list], sexual immorality [7th Commandment], thefts [8th Commandment]”
Point: The tragic irony here is that the very demons that these wicked humans worshiped were also torturing and killing them.
Next Week: Chapter 10