The Trumpets: Warning of Judgment (Part Two)
Last time we saw the first four trumpet judgments. We saw through the pages of Scripture how one third of the earth was ravaged; one third of the plants, one third of the sea and one third of the fresh water. In Chapter Eight, it was planet earth who suffered, this week as we open the Bible to Revelation 9 we will see that it is the lost people on earth that suffer. The three woes declared by the eagle or the angelic being who looked like an eagle…
Revelation 4:6–7 (ESV)
6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.
TT- Demons are commissioned to torment and kill unbelievers and still the lost remain unrepentant.
Human Need Met By Text
Suffering reveals what is in the human heart. Suffering exposes the deep recesses of our heart and shows us who we really are. For God’s people, suffering causes us to cling ever so tightly to Jesus and trust Him even more. So, in a very real since, it is good when we struggle because we rely more on the power of God and less on ourselves. Sadly, though, suffering also shows the lost person’s heart. It reveals what is inside their heart as well. The sad reality is that those who dwell on earth in those days had their hearts revealed through extremely difficult suffering. Many will die as a result of the demonic army attacks but the ones who remain alive still will not repent.
Our text today shows us a picture of how the lost world responds to God and what they hold tightly to when times get excruciatingly difficult.
I want to begin this morning with a series of questions that are designed to expose your heart…
What do you love? What do you hate?
What do you want, crave, or hope for?
What is your goal?
What do you fear?
What do you worry about?
What do you feel like you need?
Where do you find refuge, comfort, pleasure or security?
Who are your heroes or role models?
What defines success or failure for you?
When do you say, “If only…? (e.g., “If only my husband or wife would…)
What do you see as your rights?
What do you pray for?
What do you talk about?
What are your dreams or fantasies?
When do you get angry?
When do you tend to doubt Scripture?
Where in your life have you struggled with bitterness?
What or whom do you avoid?
Do you feel guilty at times?
It is important that we see a true picture of our heart. Because the heart is evil and desperately wicked we tend to over rate ourselves and always see the flaws in someone else rather than our own. We are extremely selfish and solely focused inwardly.
Here’s proof of our self-centeredness…if I were to hold up and ask you to examine your senior class photo, who is the first person you would look for? YOU right?
As we read this chapter and especially the final statement that even after all this, there still is no repentance we can see the nature of God’s enemies. We can see just how wicked humanity is when God does not grant repentance and faith. In many ways this might remind us of the world during the days of Noah when all they did was evil all the time.
Genesis 6:5–6 (ESV)
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
So, will a person repent on his/her own? Will they repent after much heartache and struggle? The simple yet sad answer is no. When we get to the ending and the application, we’ll discover that repentance won’t even happen when God cares for them. The lost will never align with God unless He opens their hearts to believe.
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. 2 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. 3 Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. 4 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. 5 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. 6 And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.
7 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, 8 their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; 9 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. 10 They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. 11 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.
12 The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come.
The first thing John mentions here is that he saw a star fall to earth. He notes for us that this star…he was given the key to the bottomless pit. Now the pit is called in Greek…abyss. The star is not a star but a fallen angel and based on other biblical references we can determine this specific angel to be Satan himself.
Luke 10:17–20 (ESV)
17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
I find it very interesting that these disciples were protected from serpents and scorpions as they were sent out. In our current study all who are sealed with the Holy Spirit are also protected. It’s very compelling to also understand that Jesus is referring to this very event in Revelation. He saw Satan thrown to the ground as a star from heaven.
Satan is given the key to the Abyss and commanded to open it. Realize that Satan can only do what God commands him to do. The Book of Job is further proof of this fact. He is commanded and he follows God’s command. Does that seem strange to our modern idea of Satan. We have given him way too much power. He is a formidable foe but his power is under God’s command.
He unlocks the prison that has housed these demons for centuries and they are released. The Bible is very clear that they have been kept for this very purpose. Their orders are to torment for five months unbelieving humanity. They do this task just as they were told.
This vast army of demons are compared to locusts and then horses readied for battle. Here, just like last week we get further meaning as we look to the plagues of Egypt.
Exodus 10:12–15 (ESV)
12 Then 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.” 13 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. 14 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. 15 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.
Then we should also look to the Book of Joel…
Joel 2:10 (ESV)
10 The earth quakes before them;
the heavens tremble.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
Here we see that these demons are given limited freedom to torment…they are not to kill anyone and they are to do this for a period of five months. I’m reminded of Job here when God told Satan that he could, in effect, torment Job but not to kill him. So, it is very clear that these evil angels are limited.
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.” 15 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. 16 The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. 17 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. 18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19 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.
Now things have changed, the time period for torment but not death is past. The four evil angels, who have been kept in chains until this appointed time, are now released. They go and kill 1/3 of humanity who is not sealed. Always remember that God’s people during this time are sealed and kept from torment and death.
These four angels lead the demonic forces that are now told to kill 1/3 of lost humanity. The army is so vast that it cannot be counted. That’s what twice ten thousand times ten thousand means.
Comparing this army to serpents concludes this section. Again the first section compared them to scorpions and now serpents. Very similar to what Jesus said his followers who were sent out would be protected from.
Repentance Has Departed
20 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, 21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Just as the plagues in Egypt had a dual effect…First to free the Hebrews and second to further harden Pharaoh’s heart ultimately leading to Egypt’s destruction, so too these plagues accomplish much the same, hardening for God’s enemies and salvation for God’s people.
John gives us a list of things that the lost refused or literally unable to repent from. I’d like to examine this list in order to aid us in repentance. We learned a few weeks ago that repentance is turning to God and turning away from sin. So here, these people refused to turn to God but in fact turned from God to these things listed.
Let’s look together at some specific things they would not let go of…
First, remember that these people had survived the five months of demonic torture. Many of their friends and family were killed as a result of this demon attack. They remained alive for now. We also should understand that while they were being attacked and killed God’s people were free from and torture, attacks or death. I would have to think that they saw this. While they should be asking themselves why certain people are immune to the attacks and they were not. What’s the difference?
There is no indication this was the case. Rather than turning to God, they hated Him even more as a result of their plight.
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,
They worshipped the works of their hands…this is a direct connection to the Golden Calf of Mount Sinai. Since that day, God has often referred to idolatry as worshipping the works of your hands.
Isaiah 2:8 (ESV)
8 Their land is filled with idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their own fingers have made.
We must consider the things we might tend to worship…what does worship mean? Ascribing significant worth to something other than God.
Are there things you worship? Do you find self-fulfillment in something besides God? We can worship our accomplishments or some significance we might get from someone saying, good job.
We can worship an untold number of things. We must be careful because the sad reality is we are far more idolatrous than we care to admit.
Notice with me that idolatry is not neutral. It’s not that we can worship God but we find security, meaning, and peace in something else. Idolatry is fuelled by demons. Right in the midst of this list is the word, demons. This false worship has so blinded those who engage in it that they can’t see the reality. How blind the idolater is when he worships the very being who is tormenting and killing him?
Psalm 115:4–11 (ESV)
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
5 They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
6 They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
7 They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
8 Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.
9 O Israel, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
So we see that wrong worship leads to wrong actions. When we engage in idolatry we become deadened to the reality because we are being made into the things we worship. Idolaters are blind.
So, their minds and hearts are blind and dead. They will not turn away from what they love.
What do we do if we should suspect idolatry in our life? First, realize that if you think there is something that might be an idol to you, it’s probably much worse than you realize.
Here is the simple answer…do what they could not do. Repent and turn from it to God. Take steps to guard against turning back to it. Listen, I don’t know how to say this gently but your very soul depends on fleeing from idols.
1 Corinthians 10:1–14 (ESV)
10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
I wanted to conclude with this passage to prove that even when God cares for a people that does not mean they will repent. When God sends plagues to judge that does not produce repentance, and when God sends demons to torture and kill people, that does not produce repentance. So, if God in His wonderful grace grants you repentance beloved, praise Him and REPENT.
 David Powlison, Basic Biblical Concepts of Human Motivation, unpublished