November 11th, 2010 by Kristi Stephens
On Friday and Monday we worked our way through the first half of Revelation 9, the “first woe,” which is also the fifth trumpet judgment. Today, let us take a look at the second woe, the sixth trumpet judgment.
The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the four horns of the golden altar that is before God. It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of the mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number.
The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.
Revelation 9:13-19, NIV
Just as the description of the creatures in the first woe indicated that these were demonic hordes, not actual locusts, this second woe also involves demonic forces. The “four angels” are clearly not holy angels – they are fallen angels, which we typically refer to as demons. Holy angels are fully in submission to God and would not need to be bound, as they obey His commands completely.
Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
I have often heard people speculate about where a force of 200 million soldiers could come from. However, the descriptions of the horses and riders, in addition to the fact that this massive army is being led by demonic generals, make a good argument for this army being a supernatural one rather than a human force.
The result of their attack is stunning – one-third of mankind is wiped out.
As we continue on through Revelation it is so easy to become bogged down, discouraged, overwhelmed at the waves of severe judgments. Where is the hope in this?
Today as we consider the darkness of hundreds of millions of demonic soldiers inflicting suffering and death on humanity, lift your eyes with me to who is in control. God is the one who bound these four demonic leaders until just the right time – the text says explicitly that they “had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year.” God is the one who commanded that they be released with the purpose of inflicting judgment.
Surely these demons think that they are serving Satan. They think that they are doing his bidding. But it is still God who is supremely in control.
Yesterday was one of those days when I was a bit overwhelmed by the darkness around us. Amazon was at the center of quite the controversy yesterday for selling a kindle edition of a guide for pedophiles on their site. Due to the nature of my husband’s job, we are probably more aware and cautious of the constant dangers around our children than the average American family. We had some heavy discussion when he arrived home about the depravity of mankind – I wonder how bad things were before the flood, how ugly daily life was in Sodom… how much worse it will get before God’s judgment will come with finality.
Passages like this one in Revelation are reassuring to me, even in their heaviness. They remind me that no matter how deep and prevalent the darkness, God is still on the throne. Even as human and supernatural forces wage war against Him and His people, He alone is sovereign over the affairs of this world.
Be still and wait for Him – we serve a just and righteous God.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.