Revelation 9:13-21

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

June 4 , 1997


As the Great Tribulation has progressed, we've seen a set of seven seals being opened on a scroll.

As each seal was opened, things would happen to move along events of the Tribulation on earth.

When the seventh seal was opened, it contained these seven "trumpet" judgments.

Seven angels are blowing seven trumpets, and as each trumpet sounds, more events happen in the Tribulation.

We now are looking at the last three trumpet judgments.

They are also known as the "three woes".

:13 I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God

As we've discussed before, this altar is the parallel one that the altar of incense was in the tabernacle.

The tabernacle altar was fashioned after this one in heaven.

The altar of incense was the place of prayer, where the prayers would rise up before God as the burning of incense.

We've already seen this altar several times in Revelation.

Re 6:9-11 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.

We saw it again:

Re 8:3-5 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast [it] into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

We're going to see this altar even a couple of more times before the book is over (Rev.14:18; 16:7)


Much comes from prayer.

I'm not sure I understand just how all this works in Revelation, but it's interesting to see how much of it is connected to the place of prayer.

We tend to get into trouble when we begin to neglect prayer.

Even at the end of His life, when things were getting very tough, Jesus pushed to spend MORE time in prayer, not less.

When He found His disciples sleeping during His prayer time -

(Mat 26:40-41 KJV) And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? {41} Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

There's awesome power in prayer.

We may not understand how it is all working, but we need to stay with it.

And now we hear a voice coming from the altar, giving instructions to the sixth angel.

What is the voice?

It could be an angel at the altar, perhaps it could be the altar itself, or maybe it's the prayers from earth below?

:14 Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.

The sixth angel is now instructed to go and loose these four "angels".

It's most probable that these angels are fallen angels, demons.

Even as the demon "locusts" were bound in the abyss, and released during this part of the Tribulation, these four angels are bound, waiting for the time of their release.

bound in - epi - upon, on, at, by, before

It could be they're bound at some location near the Euphrates, or somehow bound over it.


The Euphrates is kind of a landmark river in the Middle East.

It is even mentioned as one of the four rivers that came from the river flowing through Eden (Gen. 2:14), though this is before the flood of Noah.

The modern Euphrates river comes out of mountains of Turkey, and runs through modern Iraq and Iran.


It was the ancient boundary between East and West.

The Roman empire had the Euphrates River as it's eastern border.

It was also the border of the land that God gave to Israel:

Jos 1:4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. (also in Gen. 15:18; Deut. 1:7; 11:24)

The Euphrates was also the river that flowed through ancient Babylon, the source of all evil, cultish religion.

:15 which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year

God has a timetable, and things aren't going to happen until it's time.

:15 for to slay the third part of men.

We've already had 1/4 of the population destroyed during the fourth seal (Rev.6:8)

Now we see an addition 1/3 destroyed through these four angels.

It this 1/3 is 1/3 of the remaining population, that makes 1/2 of the world's population destroyed thus far.

With our current population being around 6 billion people, that would mean that between Rev. 6:8 and Rev. 9:15, 3 billion people will die.

:16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

two hundred thousand thousand = two hundred million.

Where did this army come from?

The assumption is that the army is tied to the release of these four angels.

Interesting notes:

The historical value:

There were only about 200,000,000 total people alive in John's day, let alone talking about armies.

The world's population didn't reach 1 billion until 1870, so this could have very well happened with human armies before that time.

The potential:

The U.S. has an army near 1 million soldiers.

Russia is around 1.5 million.

How could we get to 200 million?

Back a few years ago, Time magazine reported that China claimed to field an army of two hundred million. (Time May 21, 1965).

Today, China's population is over 1 billion people.

What is this army?

Some see this as a human army, and may have some connection with the sixth bowl judgment:

Re 16:12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.

Perhaps this army will be bringing destruction before it crosses the Euphrates?

Some see this as another demonic horde.

:17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone

This could be describing some kind of demonic creature.

Is it possible that it's describing some kind of 20th century war machine?

Breastplates - thorax - the breast, the part of the body from the neck to the navel; a breastplate or corset consisting of two parts and protecting the body on both sides from the neck to the middle

Fire - purinos - Fiery; shining like fire

Jacinth - huakinthinos - hyacinth, of the colour of hyacinth; of a red colour bordering on black

Brimstone - theiodes - of brimstone, sulphurous (yellowish)

:17 the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

This doesn't sound like your grandma's horse!

"heads of lions" - sounds scary!

brimstone - burning sulphur

Is this some kind of weapon, perhaps a tank?

Could it perhaps be descriptive of poison gas?

The Iraqis were rumored to have used "mustard gas" during the Persian Gulf War.

:20 yet repented not of the works of their hands

You would think that the people of the world would begin to wake up as all this death and destruction comes upon them.

But instead of repenting, their hearts just get harder.

It's like Pharaoh's heart, how he kept hardening it and hardening it with each plague from Moses, until he got to the point where God hardened Pharaoh's heart for him.


Repentance won't come easy in the Tribulation.

You know how hard it is to repent on this side of the Tribulation.

Repentance means to change your mind about something and change your actions accordingly.

Some people expect to wait until the Tribulation before they'll repent.

The Bible seems to indicate that they won't be albe to do it.

(2 Th 2:7-12 NIV) For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. {8} And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. {9} The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, {10} and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. {11} For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie {12} and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

:20 that they should not worship devils

There used to be a day when we'd kind of laugh at the thought of people worshipping "devils".

No more.

:20 idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk

Psalms 115:4-8 Their idols [are] silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; [so is] every one that trusteth in them.


People become like their God.

If their god is a little powerless hunk of clay which can't hear or speak, that's what they become like, uncaring and unfeeling.

:21 murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

The sins of the tribulation period:

1.murders - phonos - murder, slaughter

Including abortion.

2.sorceries - pharmakeia - the use or the administering of drugs; sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it

The drug lords won't be repenting. Also covers areas like astrology, new age "channeling", etc.

3. immorality - porneia - illicit sexual intercourse; adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.

4. thefts - klemma - thing stolen; the act of theft


We have come now to the midpoint of the Tribulation (Rev. 10-14), a time during which some important events must take place. Thus far, we have covered about three-and-a-half years of this seven-year period (Dan. 9:27). During this time, Antichrist began his career as a peacemaker and a special friend to Israel; but now, his true character will be revealed. He will become a peace-breaker and a persecutor of the people of God.