Book of Revelation A Door Opened to Heaven RV1213
“THE SEVEN TRUMPET JUDGMENTS” INTRODUCTION: “We are living in the age of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”…
1. …so Pastor Gabe Sylvia explained to us last week; an age in which:
a. God grants to us heavenly vision via the Spirit and the Word,
b. Spiritual warfare is the reality of Christianity: the church is, first and foremost, an army – the
c. We must keep focused on end-times reality: The Church Victorious in heaven,
d. …but the Victory is ours and is assured: sealed by the name of God and the blood of the Lamb.
2. Gabe mentioned that the Spirit has equipped us for the battle known as “The Great Tribulation.” (v. 14)
a. Note: a tribulation already in process and not something reserved for the end of time
b. Weapons:The Word, the Gospel, Truth, Faith, Salvation, Righteousness of Christ
c. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:10-17)
d. And prayer: the most overlooked but perhaps most powerful of all our spiritual weapons!
e. …praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:18-20)
3. In the visions of heaven that Jesus gives to John, the power of prayer emerges as the 7th seal is opened:
a. When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. (Rev. 8:1-5)
b. Incense altar: Old Testament altar of prayer
c. Symbolism: our prayers float heavenward on the aroma of incense – “a pleasing aroma to God by means of the sacrifice of Christ…
d. The meaning of “in Jesus’ name”, attached to our prayers.
4. Here, in Revelation 8, the prayers of the saints are poured out on the earth.
a. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:5)
b. As these prayers are poured out, judgments ensue: The Seven Trumpet Judgment.
c. Eugene Peterson: Reversed Thunder; p. 87. The Apocalypse is a fusion of vision and prayer. When the seventh seal is opened, there is silence in heaven for about half an hour. A climax has been reached. The silence prepares the imagination to receive an incredible truth. While conflicts raged between good and evil, prayers went up from devout bands of first century Christians all over the Roman empire. Massive engines of persecution and scorn were ranged against them. They had neither weapons nor votes. They had little money and no prestige. Why didn’t they have mental breakdowns? Why didn’t they cut and run? They prayed.
d. Prayer does change things – us, other men, the course of human history – everything but God.
e. But…prayer is always down-played in importance:
f. “When all else fails, Pray!”, so we say,
i. Prayer is perceived as feminine or for children.
ii. Action is manly; prayer is passive (weak?).
iii. Women and children always pray better than men.
iv. And we all pray best when we are at our weakest.
h. Eugene Peterson: Reversed Thunder; pp. 87-88. It was in order to hear those prayers that there was silence in heaven. Out of the silence, action developed: an angel came before the altar of God with a censer. He mixed the prayers of the Christians with incense (which cleansed them from impurities) and combined them with fire (God’s Spirit) from the altar. Then He put it all in the censer and threw it over heaven’s ramparts. The censer, plummeting through the air, landed on earth. On impact there were “peals of thunder, voices, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake”. The prayers which had ascended, unremarked by the journalists of the day, returned with immense force as “reversed thunder.” Prayer reenters history with incalculable effects. Our earth is shaken daily by it. The vision convinces the Christian of the potencies of prayer.
5. Perhaps the most overlooked, and most wonderful, aspect of prayer is its Witness to One God.
a. When we pray, we take all of life’s needs to one place, one throne in heaven, one God.
b. For most other men on earth, they have gods or “patron saints” who each handle a different aspect
c. Aphrodite for love, marriage, children: St. Jude for lost things and lost causes: Ancestors for
specific family needs, Mother Earth for crops and food, etc.
d. In the Greco-Roman world, everyday was ruled by a different god or goddess.
iii. Mars: God of War (Twia = Tuesday)
iv. Mercury: God of Commerce, Trade, Travel (Waden: Wednesday)
v. Jupiter: Chief god (thunder & lightning) (Thor: Thursday)
vi. Venus: Goddess of love & beauty (Freo: Friday)
vii. Saturn: God of agriculture (Saturday)
e. The Seasons and Months were also controlled by gods and goddesses (Romans had 10 months).
i. Janus: god of gates & doors
ii. Februa: goddess of purification
f. A god for every day; a goddess for every month!
6. Imagine how complicated that made prayer! To whom should we go for what?
7. Eugene Peterson: Reversed Thunder; p. 92. The pagan world assigned each day of the week to the care of a god or goddess. Each divinity made its own capricious demands and dispensed good or ill arbitrarily. The pagan deities were at odds with each other, bickering and quarreling. The week was a hodge-podge of scheming and intrigue. Attempting to find meaning in a week of days, each of which is ruled by different and quarreling divinities, is like attempting to write a letter on a typewriter and discovering that there are 26 typewriters, each with a single key, distributed throughout a city. To write my letter, I have to go to one office to get the “a” typed, to another for the “r” and to a third for the “t.” One day I show up at the office of the “r” typewriter and find the owner on vacation for two weeks. Another time I go to the place of the “o” typewriter and discover that the secretary has raised her fee and that I am without sufficient funds. To make a rational petition or formulate an adequate thanksgiving apart from a single God of creation and redemption is like that.
8. The Christian prayed to one God…a different God!
a. All time was under His Sovereign control
c. Complete harmony and perfect unity were found in Father, Son, and Spirit: Three in One
d. One-stop praying: simple, direct, clean!
9. And The Lord’s Day serves as the focal point and fountainhead of human history –
a. Remember: this Revelation is given in one day!
I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:9-11)
b. The Day the church gathers to pray to God, to worship the Lamb, and to hear from the Spirit in
c. The Lord’s Day: Creation and Redemption celebrated
i. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)
ii. Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deut. 5:12-15)
ii. The day that celebrates creation (Gen. 2)
iii. The day that completes Redemption (Resurrection)
iv. The day the Church shapes history by means of Word, worship, and prayer!
10. This is the message of Revelation 8:6-9:21, and the Seven Trumpet Judgments.
11. Please note: Jesus borrows from Moses when He gives John the Trumpet Judgments: reconstruction of the plagues of Egypt. (Exodus 7-12)
12. Michael Wilcock: The Message of Revelation: BST; p. 91.
a. Now this may seem somewhat remote from normal Christian experience. In Scene 2 the church is assured that she will suffer, though her final safety will never be in question. But she is not accepting the suffering meekly. She is calling for vengeance on those who cause it. And lest we should imagine that this is a merely human prayer, which in the stress of the moment has lost sight of the divine command to pray for (not against) one’s persecutors, we are then shown in Scene 3 that God hears and answers it in a horribly comprehensive way. Two unanswered questions go with us, then, into Scene 3. Do the Trumpets mean triumph, doom, life, death, or what? And does the censer really mean that God’s people are to pray for trouble to strike the world?
b. Answers: the Trumpets show forth a mixed message –
i. Assembling to the People to worship, pray or attend a solemn assembly
• The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Make two silver trumpets. Of hammered work you shall make them, and you shall use them for summoning the congregation and for breaking camp. And when both are blown, all the congregation shall gather themselves to you at the entrance of the tent of meeting. (Numbers 10:1-3)
ii. Many of the readers of John in the first century would remember the trumpets of the
temple: the Trumpets blown as incense was offered and sacrifices made.
iii. The Prophetic Trumpets announcing a Word or an act from God
And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem. (Isaiah 27:13)
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (1 Thess. 4:16)
c. The saints are praying to God to vindicate their faith and avenge their martyrdom.
i. When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10)
ii. They were asking God to prove He was the true God and their faith in Him was not in
iii. And…to judge the false gods of the world
iv. Dennis E. Johnson: The Triumph of the Lamb; p. 141. The purposes of the trumpet cycle are to sound alarms, warning the complacent and calling them to repentance, and to summon the church to holy spiritual warfare. The plagues associated with the trumpets proclaim God’s supremacy and prefigure coming judgment, but they also leave time to repent.
14. Eugene Peterson: Reversed Thunder; p. 98. The trumpet plagues reconstruct the Exodus plagues. The Exodus plagues were not punitive but purgative, sent not simply to make Pharaoh miserable, but to get him to change his mind, to repent. The purpose continues here, as the praying imagination prepares to apply the trumpet plagues to our lives.
I. TRUMPET JUDGMENT #1: THE DESTRUCTION OF THE LAND (Revelation 8:6-7)
Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. (Revelation 8:6-7)
1. Remember: John uses recapitulation in his three sets of judgments:
b. Repetition of the same judgments under different symbols
c. Here John ties the 4 horsemen seals to the first 4 trumpets
2. One third of the earth is afflicted with “hail and fire mixed with blood”
a. A picture of the seventh plague against Egypt: hail and fire (lightning)
b. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.” Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail. (Exodus 9:22-26)
c. Destroying crops, livestock, and men in the field
3. Notice: one third of the earth is burned up with fire – trees, grass, crops, etc.
4. Here is another picture of the pillaging and plunder of war: the torching of the earth, livestock and
5. Result: widespread death by war and famine and pillaging.
6. The god of security is destroyed by Christ: there is no shelter except in Jesus and His Father.
II. TRUMPET PLAGUE #2: THE BLOODYING OF THE SEA (Revelation 8:8-9)
The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. (Revelation 8:8-9)
1. This plague commemorates the first plague of Egypt: The Nile turned to blood.
a. Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. (Ex. 7:20-21)
2. Here, a mountain is cast into the sea turning the Mediterranean into blood.
3. Rome ruled a widespread Empire, “floating” on the Mediterranean Sea.
a. Ships were the trucks and trains of Roman 1st century commerce
b. Fish was the #1 staple of Roman, Greek diet
c. Volcanic activity around Rome and Greece often disturbed commerce and fishing
d. “a mountain on fire” = a volcano
4. The seas turn to blood because of the massive death of sea creatures and mankind!
5. John sees in symbolic form the disruption of commercial trade and the network of commerce: The
a. And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out, “Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste. (Revelation 18:19)
b. Also symbolically called “Egypt”
c. …and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:8)
6. Again, war and conquest shall disrupt the commerce, trade and wealth of the world powers.
7. God here slays the god of prosperity whom mankind loves, worships and relies upon for happiness.
III. TRUMPET JUDGMENT #3: THE POLLUTION OF WATERS (Revelation 8:10-11)
The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter. (Revelation 8:10-11)
1. Here, again John hearkens back to the plague that turned the Nile to blood, but also the plague of
b. And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt!’” So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. (Exodus 8:5-6)
2. Wormwood: a bitter herb that made one sick and nauseous
a. Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will feed this people with bitter food, and give them poisonous water to drink. I will scatter them among the nations whom neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.” (Jeremiah 9:15-16)
b. Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets: “Behold, I will feed them with bitter food and give them poisoned water to drink, for from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land.” (Jeremiah 23:15)
c. And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water
3. I do not believe God is pointing to acid rain and polluted water – although this is a possibility.
Rather, God is pointing to the ancient war strategy of polluting and cutting off a water supply to a city under siege in time of war.
4. Please note: Again the judgment is limited: only a third of the earth’s water supply is so afflicted.
5. Grant R. Osborne: Revelation: ECNT; pp. 354-355. Water was scarce there, and so springs, both natural and humanmade, were essential. Thus springs were viewed as a source of life, and that is the metaphorical meaning in several places. As in Deuteronomy and Jeremiah, poisonous water is divine judgment for sin and rebellion. Again, this depicts a judgment that would shatter civilization. None of us could imagine a third of all rivers and lakes turning poisonous.
6. Here war, conquest and political strife have robbed a third of mankind of the necessities of life.
7. The earth and the environment are worshipped by mankind as the source of life. God judges these
twin god and goddess, to show mankind that He is the source of life.
a. …for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the Lord your God, when he led you in the way? And now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile? Or what do you gain by going to Assyria to drink the waters of the Euphrates? Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord God of hosts. (Jer. 2:13; 17-19)
b. O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth,for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water. (Jer. 17:13)
c. On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38)
d. “Come, thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy praise…”
IV. TRUMPET JUDGMENT #4: THE DARKENED HEAVENS (Revelation 8:12-13)
The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night. (Revelation 8:12)
1. A darkened sun, a black moon, and falling stars that burn out are standard imagery of the end of the
ages and the world: Joel, Matthew 24-25, Acts 2, Revelation (repeatedly).
2. But here John is told to think back to the ninth plague of Egypt –
a. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived. (Exodus 10:21-23)
3. Once again this judgment is limited, and once again only a third is afflicted: 1/3 of the sun, 1/3 of the moon, and 1/3 of the stars are darkened. Also 1/3 of daylight is also lost as is 1/3 of the twilight.
4. In ancient times, victorious armies burnt city after city, fields and farms, all standing structures – until
the sky was dark with smoke and the sun and moon overshadowed.
5. Darrel W. Johnson: Discipleship on the Edge; p. 197. What is this but nature gone berserk—like the plagues that came on Egypt? Note the progression of these judgments: from earth and food supplies, to seas and commerce, to drinking water, to the light by which we see. Getting closer and closer to humanity itself. Natural forces let loose, out of whack, no longer operating in their intended ways.
6. God is casting down man’s most popular idols: the gods of the zodiac: the heavenly signs of
7. Please note this: Three forces combine to cause misery for mankind - the judgment of God, the warfare of mankind, and the disruption of nature, so that man’s gods fail him and force him to turn to the Lamb that was slain!
8. But mankind refuses to repent and believe in Christ!
9. So…an eagle appears in the sky to warn mankind of three coming woes…(trumpets 5, 6, and 7) Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!” (Revelation 8:13)
V. TRUMPET JUDGMENT #5: THE RISE OF DEMONIC ACTIVITY (Revelation 9:1-12)
And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them. In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women's hair, and their teeth like lions' teeth; they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come. (Revelation 9:1-12)
1. A star falls from heaven: The “morning star”…Lucifer
a. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15)
b. “The Angel of the Abyss” (hell; cf. 9:11)
c. Abaddon (Latin) or Apollyon (Greek) = “Destroyer”
e. Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world— he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:7-9)
2. God gives Satan a season of unbridled but limited activity –
a. And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Rev. 20:7-10)
b. A season on increasing demonic activity upon the earth.
3. This Lucifer unlocks the pit (hell) and releases his demons upon the earth…
a. They look like locusts with human faces, armed for war.
b. Another allusion to the Plagues of Egypt: Plague #8 – LocustsThen the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, so that they may come upon the land of Egypt and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left.” So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night. When it was morning, the east wind had brought the locusts. The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever will be again. They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 10:12-15)
c. These demons have crowns (authority) and weapons (power)
d. But they are limited in their use of such powers
i. They cannot inflict damage on creation
ii. They can only torment man; not kill them
iii. They can only torment unbelievers: “Only those people who do not have the seal of
e. They will make men so miserable that they long for death: Spiritual pain like a scorpion’s They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them. In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women's hair, and their teeth like lions' teeth. (Revelation 9:5-8)
4. Here is a picture of the sorrow, sickness and suffering of souls due to false religions. For behind
every false god, there lurks a destructive demon! What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. (1 Corinthians 10:19-21)
b. Allah, Buddha, Krisna – human names for demons from the Pit.
c. Offering good things to unbelievers, but delivering sorrow, sickness and suffering!
5. Dennis E. Johnson: The Triumph of the Lamb; p. 149. Though limited in duration and severity, this outbreak of demonic activity among the unbelieving carries the expression of God’s wrath in the course of history to a new level, a first woe. The terrors and anxieties during a civilization’s dissolution, such as Rome would undergo in the coming centuries, epitomize but do not exhaust the torments of heart and mind symbolized by the army of the fifth trumpet. The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come. (Revelation 9:12)
VI. TRUMPET PLAGUE #6: THE DEATH OF MANKIND (Revelation 9:13-21)
Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions' heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound. (Revelation 9:13-19)
1. God releases the four angels, held back in chapter 7…
a. After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” (Revelation 7:1-3)
b. Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. (Revelation 9:13-15)
c. Four angels holding back the Four Horsemen, the “four winds of the earth”
d. Now these four wicked, fallen, demonic powers are released.
e. To bring death on a third of mankind!
2. They are pictured as a great army of mounted troops, sweeping out of the East, beyond the Euphrates
b. Out of Persia: The First Century Kingdom of Parthia
c. The unconquered, untamed, defiant enemies of Rome
d. Rome’s greatest fear: The Barbarian Horde of Parthians
3. They are pictured as invincible warriors: two million strong, on armored, fiery horses, and a
combination of lions, dragons, scorpions, and violent men.
4. They kill one third of mankind – a final glance back to the last plague of Egypt –
a. Plague #10 – the death of Egypt’s first born
b. At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. (Exodus 12:29-30)
c. One out of every 3 people slain by violence
5. In plague #6, the collapse of society is prefigured: loss of law and order, military protection, the rule
of state, and the defense of human life. The world as we know it goes berserk and consumes itself in bloodthirsty rage!
6. And yet, even in this 11th hour of misery, men do not turn to God – but rather away from Him!
a. The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21)
b. They are set in their idolatry
c. Their gods have failed them but they continue to cling to their false religions
d. Four forces drive mankind to destruction
i. Murder – loss of the sanctity of life
ii. Sorcery - reliance upon the occult
iii. Sexual immorality – sexual perversion
iv. Theft – greed and corruption
e. Mankind is sealed in its fate
7. The 144,000 (all God’s elect of all ages) are sealed, by God, and the rest have sealed their own fate
a. 144,000 = 12 (Old Testament) x 12 (New Testament) x 1,000 (fullness of time)
b. Old Testament and New Testament saints = the church in total
c. In the end, God allows us to seal our own fate. In the end, He gives us what we really and
d. Christ: a place among the sealed of God; martyrs on earth but victors in heaven; glorification
e. The gods of this world: sorrow, sickness, suffering, death; damnation
8. In the end, we all get what we really always wanted. And we get it forever!CONCLUSION: Judgment is not pretty.
1. But God’s judgments, on earth, are always meant to bring us to repentance and faith.
2. Notice the two-fold response of the men and women of this world:
a. First: They want to die but cannot. This is despair, the opposite of faith.
b. Second: They refuse to give up their gods and turn to Christ. This is impenitence.
3. We should not be alarmed at these things we see all around us:
a. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:12-18)
b. But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
c. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:9-14)
4. In these difficult days”, the church is to do two things:
a. Pray: The prayers of the saints become the judgments of God on the earth. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:16-18)
b. Share the Good News: We see this in the little scroll of Revelation 10 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Mt. 24:14)
5. Because prayer leads people to the gift of repentance and the Gospel grants people the gift of faith. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:13-17)
6. There is no escaping these turbulent, difficult and painful last days. We cannot hide from these seals,
these trumpets, the events of Revelation – not in church, not in CDS, not at Covenant College, not in your covenant group or Anchor study.
7. Soon, we will all be asked about Christ!
8. In 1985 A.D.: The Trials and Triumphs of the Early Church
a. A British-Italian Mini-series about the Acts of the Apostles
b. Courage, Hope, Love, Martyrdom of the Saints
c. St. Paul: “Soon we shall all be questioned about love”
9. And so will we…even now!
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