Revelation 9:13-21

Revelation 9:13-21

HELL ON EARTH, PART 2

In this lesson we see the effects of the largest army in history.

 OUTLINE

Modern warfare has changed dramatically in recent years. There is more emphasis on technology and less emphasis on the foot-soldier. But an army will arise in the future that defies the imagination and will overwhelm the world based on its sheer size alone.

I. The Demand

   A. The Tools of God's Judgment Are Prescribed by the Demand

   B. The Time of God's Judgment Is Prescribed by the Demand

   C. The Targets of God's Judgment Are Prescribed by the Demand

II. The Details

III. The Description

A. The Worship of Those Who Are to Be Judged

B. The Works of Those Who Are to Be Judged

 

OVERVIEW

   We are in the process of unfolding the judgments of the seventh seal of the title deed to planet earth given to

Jesus Christ by Him who sits on the throne of heaven. That seventh seal, as we have seen, contained seven trumpets of judgment which fall upon planet earth during the Great Tribulation, the last half of the seven year period of judgment on earth. The first four of the trumpet judgments are found in Revelation 8, and numbers five and six are set forth in Revelation 9. In our last lesson we studied the fifth trumpet the releasing from hell of a cloud of demons which afflict the world with indescribable pain.

   In this lesson we will examine the sixth trumpet judgment a command from God to release judgments which will take the lives of a third of the earth's population (Revelation 9:13-21).

THE DEMAND

   It is important to notice in verse 13 that the command to judge comes from the horns of the golden altar which is before the throne of God. This fact takes us back to Revelation 6:9-11 where we saw the souls of Tribulation martyrs crying out to God for vengeance upon those who took their lives on earth. They were told to "rest a

little while longer" until the number of martyrs was completed. We saw the prayers of those martyred saints ascending to the Lord in 8:3, and now in the sixth trumpet judgment we see their prayers answered as God releases an army of judgment to march across the earth.

The Tools of God's Judgment Are Prescribed by the Demand

   The four angels about to be released upon the earth are not to be confused with the four good angels of Revelation 7:1. There are good angels and bad angels in the Bible, and the four we encounter in 9:14 are of the bad sort. Good angels (7:1) restrain evil, but bad angels (9:14)release evil. These angels have been "bound at the great river Euphrates," chained up and prevented from acting-until now. The release of these angels can be compared with the release of the locusts in 9:3.

   The River Euphrates is the most frequently mentioned river in the Bible. It originated in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:14) and flowed south for 1,780 miles through Mesopotamia (Babylon and later Persia). The first sin, the first murder, the tower of Babel, Babylon itself-all happened at or near the River Euphrates. God's judgment has always been associated with this river.

The Time of God's Judgment Is Prescribed by the Demand

   The four evil angels have been kept in waiting for "the hour and day and month and year" of their release (9:15). Their place in the plan of God is precise. The only thing missing is the date which is known only to God. No dates concerning End Time events have been given to the angels or to mankind, not even to Jesus Christ

Himself (Matthew 24:36). But the fact that the hour of the angels release is set means that God has a date. If we knew the date we would orient our lives around that date rather than around Him, so He has not revealed it.

The Targets of God's Judgment Are Prescribed by the Demand

   The targets of the four angels' terrors are one-third of the remaining inhabitants of the earth. Revelation 6:8 began with 25 percent of the world's population being killed. Now a third of the remaining 75 percent (or another 25 percent) is going to be killed. So with the completion of this judgment nearly half the world's

population has perished. Not since the flood in Noah's day has such a huge portion of the human race perished in such a brief interval of time.

THE DETAILS

   Verse 16 says that this decimation will be accomplished primarily by an army of "two hundred million" persons. Some people cite Revelation 5:11 to show that John often uses huge numbers to indicate an

innumerable amount-that we aren't to read "two hundred million" as a literal number. But I believe it is a number to be taken literally-an army of 200 million soldiers.

   Revelation 16:12 describes the judgment associated with the sixth bowl which is to be poured out which involves the drying up of the River Euphrates. So we have the sixth trumpet and the sixth bowl each having to do with the Euphrates. Many expositors of Revelation believe that because the seven trumpet judgments are

contained in the seventh seal, and the seven bowl judgments are contained in the seventh trumpet that many of the trumpet and bowl judgments are occurring not consecutively but contemporaneously. That is, the sixth trumpet and the sixth bowl, both focusing on the River Euphrates, would be separated by very little actual time in terms of the three-and-a-half years of the Great Tribulation.

   The reason this is important is because the drying up of the River Euphrates would make it possible for "kings from the east" (16:12) to make their way westward, toward Israel. And there is a country to the east of the Euphrates that could field an army of 200 million persons: China. Obviously, the transporting of that many

soldiers from China to the Middle East would be impossible by airplane or ship. Interestingly, a great deal of road-building activity has been underway for years by China along the borders with her southern and western neighbors which will make it possible someday to move millions of people quickly into the Middle East. Regardless of how "peaceful" the world scene might appear at the moment the stage is being set for another world-level conflagration in the future.

   The descriptions of the soldiers and even their horses speak volumes about the kind of destruction they will bring with them fiery breastplates, horses' heads like lions, and fire, smoke and brimstone coming from the horses' mouths. We have to wonder if, from John's perspective 2,000 years ago, some of the imagery he

applied to describing what he saw was a foretelling of modem effects of nuclear warfare. Some students of prophecy think John is describing, in an elementary fashion, implements of modem warfare which would be used in a worldwide war in the future.

   Whatever the exact manifestation of war that occurs, we do know this: The largest army in the history of the world is going to cross a dried-up Euphrates and bring destruction to the world.

THE DESCRIPTION

   We now turn to identifying those who will be the recipients of the judgments brought by this massive army upon mankind. Remember-when this happens, the Church will have already been raptured. There are believers on earth however-the 144,000Jewish evangelists and those who have believed through their witness. However, many of them will have already been martyred by this time. Some have gone underground; others have fled for their lives. But most of them, if they remain faithful to the Lord and refuse to take the mark of the Beast will be persecuted and martyred. However, just because there are few genuine Christians to be found doesn't mean worship isn't still going on.

The Worship of Those Who Are to Be Judged

   The worship of demons (idolatry) will be in full force during this period (verse 20). Satan will have energized millions of people to worship him through worship of the Antichrist. Just as we see in our own day millions of people involved in religious worship toward false religions, the same false religions will be active during the Tribulation. But anything that is not the worship of the true and living God is idolatry, the worship of Satan.

   Notice the downward progression, the deterioration, of worship during the Tribulation. They start out worshiping idols of gold, and then digress to silver, to brass, to stone, and to wood. There is only a downward spiral in idolatry. As I look around the Christian world today, I see supposed believers who look like they are

worshipers of the Tribulation age. People today who worship money and material things, or who worship their edifices of stone and wood, are no less guilty of idolatry than those who will worship these inanimate things in the Tribulation.

The Works of Those Who Are to Be Judged

   Worship always dictates works. Worship God and you'll do good works. Worship gold, silver, brass, stone, or wood and you'll eventually do the works of the flesh. John describes four kinds of works of those worshiping idols in the Tribulation (verse 21).

1. Murders

   We can see the devaluing of human life in some cultures where the true God is not worshiped. And, unfortunately, we can see it in our own. More attention seems to be paid today to the rights of the murderer than to the victim and his family. People are taking others' lives today over trivial matters randomly and arbitrarily.

The number of murders portrayed on television and in movies has dulled our consciences to the horrible act of

taking a human life. If it is this way today, think what it will be like in the spiritually dark days of the Great Tribulation.

2. Drugs

   The word sorceries in 9:21 is a translation of the Greek word phannakon from which we get our word pharmacy. Its original meaning was related to the combination of drug-based occult practices. Astrology, witchcraft, and divination were a gateway to demon possession. In the Tribulation there will

be rampant use of drugs and widespread occult practice. Can you see the Tribulation being an outgrowth of modern culture today where these two works are everywhere present? Losing control of one's mind through the use of mind-altering drugs becomes a natural spiritual way for the devil to come in and take control.

3. Fornication

   The third prominent sin of the Tribulation will be rampant immorality. The word pomeia refers to all types of sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage. Every institution today except the Church-and in some cases even the Church-is promoting in one way or another the breakdown of God's standards of sexual purity. Children are being taught and equipped in public schools to engage in "safe" sex. Colleges and universities have men and women sharing bathrooms in dormitories. Psychologists and psychiatrists focus more on personal fulfillment than on purity and loyalty. And that's not even considering the media-sex is everywhere you look. Just as sex dominated the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome before their demise, so it will come to characterize the culture of the world before its demise.

4. Dishonesty

   Thefts will be characteristic of the Tribulation culture, not only in terms of the scarcity of the necessities of life and people stealing food and other goods from one another, but also in the breakdown of honesty across the board. Man's conscience, without the sanctifying presence and restraining influence of the Holy Spirit, will become dead. Truth will become a thing of the past. There will be no standard for what is honest and what is dishonest; the lines will have disappeared. People will do whatever is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6).From the point of view of honesty, anarchy will reign-the absence of any moral order to guide men's behavior.

   I hope you never have to find out, but what would you do if you found yourself living in a situation like that? War going on around you, moral anarchy ruling your land, drug use, sexual perversion, and the occult taking place on every street corner. What would you do? We would think that anyone finding themselves in such a world gone awry would fall to his or her knees and cry out for the grace and mercy of God, cry out to be saved. But such is not the case. Twice John tells us that the people he saw in his vision

"did not repent" (9:20,21).

   The heart of man is not changed by punishment. His behavior may be temporarily altered because of the fear of pain, but only the Gospel can lead a person to true repentance. It's possible that very few people will turn to God in those final days and be saved. That is why today is the day of salvation. Make sure you have responded to the Gospel today before a day comes when it may be impossible.