The Fifth and Sixth Trumpet Judgments
November 1, 2015 | Speaker: Bro Jurem Ramos
We are looking at the Seven Trumpet Judgments of Revelation, which, along with the last seven Bowl Judgments will happen during the Great Tribulation period or the last 3 ½ years before the second coming of Jesus. These seven trumpet judgments are God’s response to the prayers of the saints and they are more severe than the seal judgments.Last week, we looked at chapter 8 where we find the first four Trumpet judgments. The blowing of the first four trumpets release God’s destructive force that affect three aspects of the world of nature. The first trumpet affects the earth and vegetation. The second and third trumpets affect the sea and the waters as well as marine life. The fourth trumpet affects the heavenly bodies. These devastating disasters remind us of the OT plagues in Egypt during the time of Moses and the Exodus. As I said before there is no reason why these plagues should not be taken literally. The same God who sent real plagues in Egypt can do so again in the last days with greater intensity if He so desires. God is sovereign and nothing is impossible for Him. Today, we are going to continue our study of the Seven Trumpet Judgments and we will focus on the fifth and the sixth trumpets in Revelation chapter 9. But before doing that we will first look at the warning found in 8:13.
THE Eagle’s Warning (8:13)After the first four trumpet judgments that happen immediately one after another, we would expect the continuation of the remaining three trumpets. But as what often happens in the book of Revelation, there is an interruption at this point. We encounter here a warning or an announcement of the final three trumpet judgments. The announcement was that the next three trumpets would be more severe and devastating than the first four trumpets. But what is unusual about the announcement is its source. John saw and heard the warning coming from an eagle. Verse 13 says, Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice. Some conclude that because the eagle was talking this has to be symbolic. But we need to realize that, occasionally in the Bible, we read of animals receiving the ability to speak as in the case of the serpent in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:3-5) and Balaam’s donkey in Numbers 22:28-30. The eagle flew directly overhead so as to be seen by all, and cries out in a loud voice so that everyone is able to hear its warning. The eagle utters a threefold woe: “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth.” “Woe” is used throughout Scripture as an expression of judgment, destruction, and condemnation. God’s wrath and judgment will come upon “those who dwell on the earth.” This phrase “those who dwell on the earth” occurs seven times in Revelation for the unbelieving world in its hostility to God (6:10; 11:10; 13:8, 12, 14; 17:2, 8). These last three trumpet judgments are going to be worse than the previous four so that they are described as the three woes.
- Rev 9:12 The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come.
- Rev 11:14 The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.
- The first Woe (9:1–12) is a multitude of demonic locusts that emerges from the Abyss and spreads out over the land to torment everyone not marked with the seal of the living God. The pain and distress are so great that although people seek death they are unable to find it.
- The second Woe (9:13–19) is a demonic cavalry of some two hundred million mounted troops who, riding their fire-breathing horses, sweep over the land, killing a third of its inhabitants.
THE FIFTH TRUMPET (9:1–12)
A. The Abyss and Demonic Locusts 9:1–6When “the fifth angel blew his trumpet,” John “saw a star fallen from heaven to earth.” John had already seen several heavenly bodies fall from heaven to the earth but this star differs from the previous stars that were described under the sixth seal (6:13) and third trumpet (8:10). Those stars were inanimate objects. This star, however, represents a person because of the personal pronoun "he" which is used to refer to it (9:1,2). What is the identity of this “star”? Some say that this “star” may be a reference to Mohammed because of his reputation for gathering armies and leading them against corrupt Christianity. But the text says that this star was "fallen from heaven" and that the locusts that he released from the abyss could hurt only those who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. If those who had the seal referred to genuine Christians then the analogy breaks down because it would be far too much to assume that every true Christian was untouched by Mohammed's conquests. There are also others who say that because this star is “fallen from heaven” then this should refer to Satan because the word “fallen” indicates Satan’s fall from heaven. They also support this by connecting this star in 9:1 with the angel of the abyss in 9:11. I disagree that this star is Satan for the following reasons:
- It is not clear that the star of 9:1 is the same person as the “angel” of 9:11.
- The star in 9:1 does not have to be a fallen angel. In OT "stars" sometimes referred to angels but not necessarily fallen angels. (e.g., Job 38:7, “when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy”). Most probably, this star is simply one of the many unfallen angels throughout the book of Revelation who are “dispatched on a divine mission to advance the next stage of God’s punishment against the rebellious earthdwellers” (Robert Thomas).
- The “angel” in 9:11 may not be Satan but just another fallen angel who is also confined in the Abyss and is released together with the demonic locusts as their king.
- It is too much to attach theological significance to a passing detail in the unfolding of one of the trumpet judgments (Robert Thomas).
- They have the angel of the abyss as their leader (9:11).
- They come from the abyss where evil spirits are imprisoned.
- They attack men rather than consume vegetation.
- They have the ability of demons to assume another form.
- The gospels show that demons could enter the bodies of animals such as the pigs in Mt 8:30-32.
- Perhaps they have ability to take the form of animals too. Lev 17:7 talks about goat demons. These demons were thought to appear in the form of goats. The Egyptians, particularly in the province of Mendes, enthusiastically worshiped the god Pan who was supposed especially to control over mountainous and desert regions (JFB).
- In Rev 16:13-14 three demons appear as frogs: “13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits.”
- Locusts have no stinging tails as scorpions do but these demonic locusts have such tails and they have power of inflict pain that is far worse than that of actual scorpions.
- They have a form such as no human being has ever seen.
B. The characteristics of the demonic locusts (9:7-12)7 In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle. JM: John can give only an approximation of what this spiritual army looked like, as the repeated use of the terms “like” (used eight times in this passage) and [“in appearance”] indicates. To describe the supernatural and unfamiliar demon horde, John chooses natural and familiar analogies. He begins with the head and moves progressively toward the tail of the creatures.
- The general appearance of the locusts was “like horses prepared for battle.” They were warlike, powerful, and defiant, like horses straining at the bit and pawing the ground in their eagerness to charge forward on their mission of death.
- On their heads John saw what looked like crowns of gold. The crowns they wore are victors’ crowns, indicating that the demon host will be invincible. People will have no weapon that can harm them and no cure for the terrible torment they inflict.
- That their faces were like human faces, suggests that the creatures have the intelligence and capacities of human being, not just that of insects.
- They had hair like women’s hair (9:8). This is a feature that differentiates the creatures from natural insects and adds to the gruesomeness of the demonic army.
- Their teeth were like lions’ teeth. These teeth denote voracity, yet in spite of their fierceness, these demons do not tear their victims apart.
- They had breastplates of iron. - Breastplates of iron are designed to protect the vital organs of the soldier and so here they symbolize their invincibility and invulnerability.
- John compares the sound of their wings to a moving army, noting that it “was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle.” The loud rushing sound of the swarm creates a formidable psychological problem for mankind and implies the hopelessness of resisting them (Robert Thomas).
- 9:10 As awesome to the eye and ear as these other elements of the special locusts are, they are only peripheral in comparison with the damage caused by their tails. And they have tails, like the tails of scorpions, and stings, and their power in their tails is to hurt men for five months. The power to inflict torture lies in these scorpionlike tails with stings. (Robert Thomas).
- 9:11 A further characteristic of this locust swarm is their leader: “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 identifying of this commander-king as an angel is further evidence these are not regular locusts.
THE SIXTH TRUMPET (9:13-19)
A. The Release of the Four Demons (9:13-15a)13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” Robert Mounce: When the sixth angel sounds his trumpet, [John hears a voice coming] from the golden altar commanding this angel to release of the four angels of destruction who have been temporarily restrained at the eastern boundary of the empire. Only here does one of the trumpet-angels become involved in the event that he heralds. unleash the four angels of destruction. The voice could be that of the angel-priest of 8:3–5 who presented the prayers of the saints to God upon the golden altar. ... John is recalling the fundamental truth that the prayers of God’s people play an active role in the eschatological drama. That the voice comes from the altar that is “before God” is a reminder that divine retribution is a personal act of the One whose sovereignty and love have been rejected by the unbeliever. That the four angels are bound indicates that they are demons (20:1ff.; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6), since holy angels are nowhere in Scripture said to be bound. These angels are not connected with the four restraining angels of 7:1. This earlier group was stationed at the four corners of the world (rather than being bound at the Euphrates, 9:14) and held back the winds of destruction (rather than being released to bring about destruction, 9:15). JM: The use of the definite article “the” suggests that these four angels form a specific group. Their precise identity is not revealed, but they may be the demons that controlled the four major world empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Daniel 10 provides insight into the warfare between holy angels and the demons that influence individual nations. Whoever they are, these four powerful fallen angels control a huge demonic army set to wage war against fallen mankind when God releases them to do so. Robert Mounce: The four angels are said to have been kept ready for this specific moment. 15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year. At the exact moment decreed by God the angels of destruction and their demonic horde will be released upon the human race. Robert Thomas: This sounds the note of divine providence that recurs so often in this book. God's actions are not accidental, but planned and precise in time, to the point of a fixed hour of a fixed day of a fixed month of a fixed year. All the forces of history are under His sovereign control.
B. The Deadly Attack (9:15b-19)15 So the four angels … were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. JM: Death, which had taken a holiday under the fifth trumpet (9:5–6), now returns with a vengeance. The shocking purpose for the release of these four demon leaders and their hordes was so that they would kill a third of mankind. The judgment of the fourth seal killed one quarter of the earth’s population (6:8). This additional third brings the death toll from these two judgments alone to more than half the earth’s pretribulation population. That staggering total does not include those who died in the other seal and trumpet judgments. The terrible slaughter will completely disrupt human society. The problem of disposing of the dead bodies alone will be inconceivable. The sickly stench of decaying corpses will permeate the world, and it will take an enormous effort on the part of the survivors to bury them in mass graves or burn them. To slaughter well over a billion people will require an unimaginably powerful force. John reported that the number of the armies of the horsemen was an astonishing two hundred million (twice ten thousand times ten thousand). This is likely an exact number, or more general specifications, such as those used in 5:11 and 7:9, would have been used. Then, as if anticipating that some skeptical readers would doubt that huge number, John emphatically insisted, “I heard their number.” The use of the plural “armies” may imply that the attacking force will be divided into four armies, each commanded by one of the formerly bound demons. … [T]he impossibility of marshaling, supplying, and transporting such a vast human force all over the globe also argues against this army being a human army. The figurative language used to describe this army’s horses suggests that this is a supernatural rather than human force. John briefly described those who sat on the horses. “and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur.” Perhaps this indicates that these horsemen were demonic in nature. The colors of their breastplates are the very colors and features of hell (14:10; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8).
- 14:10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb
- 19:20 These two [the beast and the false prophet] were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.
- 20:10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur.
- 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death
The Response of the Survivors (9:20-21)JM: The death of one-third of the earth’s remaining population will be the most catastrophic disaster to strike the earth since the flood. Yet in an amazing display of hardness of heart, the rest of mankind not killed by these plagues still refuses to repent. Mounce: “Once the heart is set in its hostility toward God not even the scourge of death will lead people to repentance.” As he concludes his account of this amazing vision, John lists five sins representative of the defiance of those who refused to repent:
- First, v.20 says, 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.”
- Second, violent crimes like “murders” will be rampant. Without any sense of morality, killings will increase.
- Third, John mentions “sorceries.” It comes from the Greek word pharmakōn which can refer to poisons, amulets, charms, drugs, magic spells, or any object that is supposed to possess holiness, elicit lust, or be otherwise enchanting. It can refer to witchcraft too. Usually drugs were involved in such practices. Drugs were and still are believed to induce a higher religious state of communion with deities. Sorcery is listed by Paul as one of the works of the flesh (Gal 5:20), and later in Revelation it proves to be the method by which Babylon deceives the nations (18:23).
- Fourth, “immorality” will prevail. The Greek word is a general term that can include any sexual sin. Indescribable sexual perversions will be rampant in that day.
- Finally, people will refuse to repent of thefts. As the plagues will result in increasingly scarce supplies of food, clothing, water, shelter, and medicines, theft will increase.
- Eph 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
- Heb 10:26-31 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.