The sixth trumpet is sounded fulfilling the second woe through the release of the four angels who have been kept ready for this moment.† The voice that John hears is related to the mighty cry of the martyrs from the four corners of the altar.† They announce the hearing of their petitions for revenge because of their spilt blood.†
Revelation 6:9† When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.†
Revelation 8:3† Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.†
Revelation 9:13 speaks about the horns of the golden altar because of the fragrance of the prayers offered on it.
Exodus 30:1 - 3 "Make an altar of acacia wood for burning incense.† 2It is to be square, a cubit long and a cubit wide, and two cubits high--its horns of one piece with it. 3Overlay the top and all the sides and the horns with pure gold, and make a gold molding around it.†
Leviticus 4:7 The priest shall then put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the LORD in the Tent of Meeting. The rest of the bull's blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.†
Philippians 2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.†
Revelation 8:3† Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.†
This trumpet introduces the end of the period of restraint of Godís judgment.† The trumpet judgments have escalated from the one-third destruction of land, sea, rivers and sky -- and some human deaths -- to mental and spiritual torture of unbelievers.† Now the slaughter of one-third of the human population is at hand.†
The four angels commanded to hold back the four winds until Gods servants have been sealed are now relieved of their duty.†
Revelation 7:1 - 3 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea. 3"Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.Ē
This period between commanding the four angels to hold back the four winds of the earth until the seal of God has been placed on the foreheads of the servants of God, and the fulfilling of the second woe, brings the following parable to mind.†
Matthew 13:24 - 30 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27"The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from? 28'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up? 29"'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'
God exercises patience for the sake of the elect, those who were destined to receive his seal on their foreheads, until the time when the full number of the elect has been redeemed and their faith perfected to withstand the onslaught of the beast.
Habakkuk 2:3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. †
Luke 18:7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?†
Romans 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance.†
Romans 9:22† What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction.†
I Timothy 1:16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.†
II Peter 3:9, 15 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 15Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.†
Revelation 2:21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.†
The number four indicates the number of the human race, sometimes associated with north, south, east and west, and also the four corners of some object, indicating its total span.†
Ezekiel 7:2 "Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says to the land of Israel: The end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land.†
Ezekiel 43:20 You are to take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar and on the four corners of the upper ledge and all around the rim, and so purify the altar and make atonement for it.†
Revelation 20:8 And will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth--Gog and Magog--to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.†
Isaiah 11:12 He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.†
Jeremiah 49:36 I will bring against Elam the four winds from the four quarters of the heavens; I will scatter them to the four winds, and there will not be a nation where Elam's exiles do not go.†
Ezekiel 14:21† "For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: How much worse will it be when I send against Jerusalem my four dreadful judgments--sword and famine and wild beasts and plague--to kill its men and their animals.†
Ezekiel 37:9† Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'
Daniel 11:4 After he has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.†
Zechariah 2:6† "Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north," declares the LORD, "for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven," declares the LORD.†
Matthew 24:31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.†
When one peels back the covers of Scripture, the fibers holding together the Word of God are revealed.† There are many fibers, such as salvation history, prophecy and outcome, miracles, the testimony of many, and numerology.† Although one would not use any of these fibers to determine doctrine, one may certainly seek the fibers that provide continuity and fortification against falsification.
In this passage, the number four is used to indicate the universality of the judgment that is to follow: it will affect every one of the entire human race.† Nobody will escape.† The elect having Christ who already suffered these torments for them as well as the reprobate, having preferred to do it on their own.†
From the beginning, Gods judgment is represented by mighty waters.†
Psalm 69:2 I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.†
Psalm 104:6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.†
Psalm 124:4, 5 The flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us. 5The raging waters would have swept us away.†
These judgments will come from the north.†
Jeremiah 47:2† This is what the LORD says: "See how the waters are rising in the north; they will become an overflowing torrent. They will overflow the land and everything in it, the towns and those who live in them. The people will cry out; all who dwell in the land will wail.†
Isaiah 8:7 Therefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the River--the king of Assyria with all his pomp. It will overflow all its channels, run over all its bank.†
Jeremiah 1:14† The LORD said to me, "From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land.†
Jeremiah 6:1† "Flee for safety, people of Benjamin! Flee from Jerusalem! Sound the trumpet in Tekoa! Raise the signal over Beth Hakkerem! For disaster looms out of the north, even terrible destruction.†
Jeremiah 6:22† This is what the LORD says: "Look, an army is coming from the land of the north; a great nation is being stirred up from the ends of the earth.†
The Euphrates River had biblical and contemporary significance. In Biblical history the Euphrates signified a source of oppression and place of exile.† Beyond the Euphrates River stood ancient Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian Empire that conquered the northern kingdom, and Babylon, which had carried Judah into captivity.† The Lord had humbled and dismantled Babylon through the rising power of the Medo-Persian Empire and had resettled his people in the land of promise.† But prophets of the exile still spoke of foreign powers such as Gog who would sweep down from the northeast, from the Euphrates, to afflict Gods people.† We read about this in Ezekiel 38.
Although the four angels have been released to kill one-third of all people on earth, it is still not the final judgment because only one-third of the reprobate is killed; that the end judgment is approaching quickly is certain.† John relates to us that the release of the four angels was predestined to happen at an exact moment.† The angels have been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year.†
Most translations quote the original numbers, which relates to us the numerology involved: two times ten thousand times ten thousand.† John says that he heard the number, which means that he could not count the troops.† It is a cavalry as great if not greater in number than the angels are and much greater than an army that men can raise (5:11).†
In the light of the symbolism of this prophecy, we should not imagine that this number is the exact number of the troops that John saw in this vision, but that it indicates an enormous amount of soldiers.†
This imagery is found elsewhere in Scripture of which the following passages are an example:†
Psalm 68:17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the Lord [has come] from Sinai into his sanctuary.†
Daniel 7:10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.†
It is interesting to look at the numerological value of the number 10,000.† Again, we do not recognize the imagery of numerology in Scripture to determine doctrine, but to acknowledge that the very Spirit of God weaves Scripture into a unit, so that nobody would be able to falsify it or hijack it for their own deceptive doctrines without detection.
Ten thousand is 104 and four represents the number of the human race.† Or, the number 10 signifies a whole number, the number of completeness, multiplied by 103 of which the number 3 is the number of the Trinity.† Or one could say that the numbers used in Scripture to indicate a complete but infinite number are usually multiples of 10.† Such as we read in I Samuel 8:7 and many other places: Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.†
Believers are admonished to search the Scriptures to determine whether their teachers teach the truth and teachers are obligated to search the Scriptures to ensure that the gospel is kept pure.† But how would one know that what is being taught is pure?† By considering every doctrine, every word, every thought expressed, against the Scriptures, the Word of God.† No false doctrine can be stitched onto the Scriptures without in some way failing to adhere to the fibers of the entire Word.† It cannot usurp the numerology and claim it means something other than what is found in the Scriptures.† It cannot claim authenticity if a single prophet or latter day group delivers it.† Without the presence of the Holy Spirit it cannot claim to perform miracles or prophesy in such a manner that it will come to pass.† It is, therefore, an important part of our Bible study to acknowledge the fibers that strengthens us in times of trial, knowing that the Word of God is not just sweet mythology, or cute language to keep a group together, but that the Bible is the true revelation of Godís will to his church.
John mentions the riders, but the horses are the real destroyers in this vision.† The three colors of fiery red, dark blue of smoke, and the yellow of sulfur indicates Gods judgment and the fulfillment of the prophecies regarding these times.
Genesis 19:24, 28 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens. 28He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.†
Isaiah 30:27 See, the Name of the LORD comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire.†
Psalm 11:6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.†
Isaiah 14:31 Wail, O gate! Howl, O city! Melt away, all you Philistines! A cloud of smoke comes from the north, and there is not a straggler in its ranks.†
Isaiah 30:33 Topheth has long been prepared; it has been made ready for the king. Its fire pit has been made deep and wide, with an abundance of fire and wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of burning sulfur, sets it ablaze.†
Ezekiel 38:22 I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him.†
The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions indicating their destructive and mangling character and out of their mouths came three things: fire, smoke, sulfur.† Again, there are three things, not four or two, but three, indicating Gods perfect judgment.†
For residents of the Roman Empire at the end of the first century, the Euphrates was the eastern edge of Romeís domain, beyond which were the threatening powers of the East, especially Parthia with its cavalry of mounted archers, always harassing the Roman Empires eastern outposts.†
During the 60s AD, after the conflagration that destroyed large portions of Rome and after Neroís disappearance, rumors made the rounds in the capital and the provinces that the megalomaniac emperor had escaped to the east and was preparing to reconquer the world at the head of the Parthian cavalry.
In the vision of the sixth trumpet, the imagery of invasion from the East is derived from the Parthian threat, but the horsemen who sweep over the Euphrates in Johns vision are more terrifying than the Parthians.†
John reminds us that we are moving in the symbolic world of prophetic vision.† It is not by accident that John includes the words ďI saw in my vision: in this passage.† It was to make sure that we do not see this account of Gods judgment as anything other than a vision and that we ought to seek the revelation of Gods will in the imagery of what is said here.†
The mention of the Euphrates must not mislead us into a geographical literalism: what John saw was in a vision, so its symbolic character must be recognized.† In this invasion it is not the riders but the horses that are to be feared.† The horsesí heads are like lions, and it is from their mouths that fire, smoke and sulfur spew, which are the plagues by which they slay their victims.† It is easy to imagine a real, physical battle when one reads about this vision, but one should not ignore the spiritual battle that will be fought against the powers of evil, which endeavor to mislead the elect, if that were possible.
Under the judgment of the first woe, people were tormented but now they are being killed because the severity of Gods judgment increased.† One would have expected that God would kill all of the unbelieving world with one decisive battle, but we see Gods judgment meted out in phases, the one more severe than the one before, all leading up to that final moment when those whose names have not been written in the book of life will follow Satan into the abyss.†
Their authority to kill a third of mankind must include the power to inflict physical death, since the locust demons were permitted to torment but not to kill those who lack Gods seal and are therefore, spiritually dead.†
At the risk of speculating, we may well ask how immaterial beings could cause the physical death of so many people.† They probably do so by the strategy first used by their father, the devil, in the garden: murder by a lie.†
John 8:44 You be long to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.†
We read later in Revelation (Rev 16) about the great deceit that goes forth from the false prophets to deceive the kings of the world.† Similarly, these horses of death wield death through the hellish deceit that pours forth from their mouths, hot, smoky, and rancid-smelling as sulfur.† Jesusí defeat of demons during his earthly ministry repeatedly showed them to be cruel parasites, intent on the destruction of the individuals who were their helpless hosts.
Mark 5:2† 7 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. 6When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!†
Luke 9:39, 42 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 42Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father.†
In contrast with the locust demons, the horses can also bring destruction with their mouths.† One can equate this ability to destroy with the mouth as a barrage of lies and blasphemy against Jesus Christ, who battles with the sword that proceeds from His mouth.†
Revelation 1:16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.†
This is possibly one of the most incomprehensible situations of all of mankind.† One would have thought that after this convincing display of power and the fulfilling of all the prophecies and Scripture, that there would not be a single person who would hesitate to worship Christ.† But quite the contrary.† They still ignore the battle, death and destruction that kill one out of every three of them and yet they continue to worship demons, idols of gold, silver, bronze and stone.†
Just as Jesus told us in Matthew 25:32 about the sheep and the goats.† The reprobate will face Jesus in all his glory and yet they will still accuse him of accusing them falsely.† ďLord when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?Ē† This, surely, puts an end to the argument of the Arminians who slander the reformed faith by suggesting that even though someone may desire to worship God, it would be futile if he were not of the elect.†
Scripture teaches us unambiguously that it is impossible for the reprobate to desire to worship God at any time, here, or in the life hereafter.† They will follow the beast into the abyss willingly, cursing God rather than pleading for mercy, fearing only their lot in hell.
II Chronicles 11:15 And he appointed his own priests for the high places and for the goat and calf idols he had made.†
Amos 5:26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god--which you made for yourselves.†
I Corinthians 10:19, 20 Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.†
I Timothy 4:1, 2† The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.†
Matthew 4:9, 10 "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me. 10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'
Psalm 115:5 - 8 They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see. 6They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell. 7They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. 8Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.†
Psalm 135:15† 18 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. 16They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see. 17They have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. 18Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.†
II Corinthians 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.† If there had been any doubt, the following passages clearly states that they cannot worship God.
Isaiah 44:18 They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand.†
Isaiah 46:7 They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Though one cries out to it, it does not answer; it cannot save him from his troubles.†
Isaiah 47:14 Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by.†
Jeremiah 6:10 To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.†
I Corinthians 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.†
II Corinthians 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.†
We have shown that the reprobate cannot be excluded from Godís grace by accident or in the face of their desiring to worship God.† They hate God with an eternal passion, from the beginning, like their father the devil, they hated God and they show this hatred even in the face of Christ s complete revelation as the Messiah.† But they cannot repent, because their hearts are hardened, their eyes are covered up.
Matthew 13:15 For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.†
Acts 28:27 For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.†
As the sixth seal provided a preview of the traumas that will characterize the dissolution of he first heavens and earth, so the sixth trumpet previews an increase of satanic deception that precipitates growing violence, death, and despair.† One would expect that such a crumbling of law, order, and safety should shake the idolatersí confidence in the works of their hands and cure their desire to worship demons, and the idols of gold and silver, which can neither see nor hear nor walk, but in spite of all the evidence, they persist in their hate for God.†
This wording echoes Danielís rebuke to Belshazzar.† The Old Testament often emphasizes that the idols are senseless and immobile.† Yet, even as demons destroy their own worshipers in despair and violent conflict, the survivors of Godís warning blasts of judgment do not repent of their murders, sorceries, immorality, and thefts.† These six warning notes, the overture of wrath to come, are ignored.
By worshiping anyone or anything other than God, they violated the First Table of the Decalogue, which deals with the relationship man has to have with God.†
Romans 1:18 - 25 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.† 24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.