Revelation 9:13-21

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 22, 2012


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

The apostle John found himself caught up into heaven before the throne of God.

He saw Jesus take a scroll from the hand of God that had been sealed with seven seals.  As Jesus broke each seal and unrolled the scroll a little further, events begin to take place on the earth and the time that we call the Tribulation begins to unfold.

The Tribulation is a time when God’s wrath is poured out on an unbelieving world and God begins to make right all the things that have been so wrong.

Built within the seventh seal are seven trumpets.

We are now looking at the last three trumpets.  The last three trumpets bring such terrible things to the earth that they are called the three “woes”.

We now watch as the sixth trumpet sounds, bringing the second “woe”

9:13-21 Trumpet Six:  Euphrates

:13 Then the sixth angel sounded:

:13 soundedsalpizo – to sound a trumpet

There have been some strange videos on YouTube lately.  Most have been posted this month.  One has passed a million hits in two weeks.

One video that combines several clips was posted on January 16 and already has over a million hits.

Play “Strange Sounds” from Alberta Canada, Manitoba, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Tampa Bay Rays Game

What do I think of these things?  There may be natural explanations for these sounds.  Some of them may be a hoax – it’s not hard to put sound on top of a video, even I can do it.
Even I can cook something goofy up, like when I was filming David doing a little dance in front of our house on Friday afternoon …
Play “My Hoax” clip.
Could these be the “trumpets” of Revelation?  In Revelation the trumpets sound and terrible things happen.  Is that happening?
Caution.  Christians are famous for believing in all sorts of hoaxes.  There a plenty of people who love to create these kinds of things and then they get to laugh at the Christians who get worked up.

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

:13 hornskeras – a horn; a projecting extremity in a shape like a horn, a point, apex: as of an altar

:13 altarthusiasterion – altar; the altar for slaying and burning of victims used of; the altar of incense which stood in the sanctuary or the Holy Place

:13 horns of the golden altar

In both the Tabernacle of Moses’ day and the Temple of Solomon’s day, there was a small golden altar that was located just outside the Holy of Holies.  Both of those “golden altars” were models of this one in heaven.

The “horns” were the pointy things on the corners of the altar.

The “horns” on the altar were not like a car horn to make noise, but like an animal horn with a sharp point on it.

“Horns” seem to be seen in the Bible as a symbol of strength.  The horns on the altar would probably carry the idea that God has the strength to meet the needs of the worshipper.

The golden altar was to be the place of prayer.

It was where the priests would burn the incense during the time of prayer.
We first saw this altar back in chapter six when the cries were heard from those who had been martyred, crying out, “How long until you avenge us?” (Rev. 6:9-11)
We next saw this altar just before the seven angels started blowing their trumpets (Rev. 8:3-5)
(Re 8:3–5 NKJV) —3 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.
We’re going to see the altar two more times before Jesus returns (Rev. 14:18; 16:7)
(Re 14:18 NKJV) —18 And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.”
(Re 16:7 NKJV) —7 And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”
And now a voice comes from this altar, whose sole purpose is prayer.
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 that have been offered at the altar.


Much comes from prayer.

I'm not sure I understand just how all of Revelation works, 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.
But that’s not what the disciples were doing.  They were sleeping instead of praying.

(Mt 26:40–41 NKJV) —40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter 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.
(Jas 4:2–3 NKJV) —2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
James gives us two reasons why we don’t have what we ought to have.

1) We don’t ask

Sometimes we get disillusioned because things don’t happen instantly when we pray.

Yet some things take time.  Some things require more prayer.

3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

2)  Wrong desires

We’re off target on our prayers.  We’re praying for the wrong things.  We’re praying for our own desires and don’t stop to wonder what God’s desires are.

Sometimes if I pray for something long enough, it will dawn on me that I’m the one that’s off, not God.

Prayer is a way we are refined.

When our prayers are not answered, we ought to take time to ask some questions:

Am I off base?  Am I asking for the wrong reasons?

Is this something that God doesn’t want for me?

Am I quitting too soon?  If I’m asking for the right reasons and this seems to be something God wants, then I need to keep praying.

I want to encourage you to develop a regular, daily time of prayer.
Work on the discipline of praying for the things that are important.

Pray for your family.

Pray for your work and your ministry.

Pray for strategic things in this world – key Christian leaders, the president, our nation, the elections.

Pray for yourself.

Pray for specific things.  Pray for character traits to grow in your own life.

And pray every day.

:13 a voice from the four horns

It seems that the altar itself is speaking to the sixth angel.

Perhaps this is a picture of prayer being answered, as if the prayers themselves are giving instructions to the sixth angel.

:14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”

:14 releaseluo – to loose any person (or thing) tied or fastened

:14 bounddeo   to bind tie, fasten

Last week we talked about the authority that Jesus has given us in prayer to “bind” and “loose”, and we talked about the power to “bind” Satan.

(Mt 16:19 NKJV) And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
(Mt 18:18 NKJV) “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

It’s kind of interesting to note that the same Greek words used in Matthew are used here to describe the angels who have been “bound” and are going to be “released”.

It’s also kind of interesting that the authority for this action of “releasing” these four angels comes from the place of prayer.

:14 Release the four angels

I have to tell you I wonder if this voice sounds like Liam Neesen …

 who played Zeus in “Clash of the Titans” (2010).
PlayRelease the Kraken” clip

:14 four angels which are bound

These might be “good” angels, but it’s possible they 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.

Sometimes angels are assigned to nations.

The prophet Daniel had an interesting experience in prayer.  He had been praying and fasting for three weeks when an angelic visitor shows up and apologizes for taking so long to show up because he had been delayed:
(Da 10:12–14 NKJV) —12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.

Daniel is given an amazing prophecy into the end times, but when it gets delivered to him we get a peek into the spirit world.  These “princes” are angelic authorities that work with the nations.  Michael is the archangel whose chief responsibility of for the nation or Israel.

Could these four “angels” be tied to four nations in the area of the Euphrates?

:14 the great river Euphrates

The Euphrates is a landmark river in the Middle East.

It was the ancient boundary between East and West.

Over the last ten years we’ve become more familiar with the Euphrates since it runs right through the nation of Iraq.

The Euphrates starts in the mountains of Turkey, runs through the nation of Syria, runs through Iraq, and ends up forming the border between Iraq and Iran when it empties into the Persian Gulf.

It is interesting that the modern Euphrates is connected to four modern nations, just as there are four angels.  Coincidence?

:15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.

:15 preparedhetoimazo – to make ready, prepare; to make the necessary preparations, get everything ready

:15 hour and day and month and year

There was a plan in place and now it’s being executed.

:15 to kill a third of mankind

The fourth seal saw 1/4 of the population destroyed (Rev.6:8)

If you take away 1/3 of what remains (3/4), you’re left with ½ of what you started with. (that means 3 ½ billion have died)

With our current population being around 7 billion people, that would mean that between Rev. 6:8 and Rev. 9:15, 3 ½ billion people will die.

:16 Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them.

:16 armystrateuma – an army

:16 horsemenhippikon – equestrian, the horse( men), cavalry

:16 two hundred millionmurias – ten thousand; an innumerable multitude, an unlimited number

The phrase is literally, “(two) (ten thousands) (of ten thousands)”

We saw a similar phrase describing the angels in heaven worshipping God:

(Re 5:11 NKJV) —11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,

Where did this army come from?

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

:16 I heard the number of them

John actually hears someone mention the number.  He isn’t guessing at the size of this army, he’s told how big they are.


There were only about 200,000,000 total people alive in John's day, let alone talking about armies.  This number would seem incredible in John’s day.
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 world’s population is around 7 billion, but …
The U.S. has a total armed force of about 3 million soldiers.
Russia is around 21 million. (20 mil. in reserves)
China has 4 ½ million
According to Wikipedia, if you total up the world’s armies of today (active and reserve), you come up with 92,082,197.

How could we get to 200 million?

Some see this as another demonic horde, like the strange locusts.

:17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone.

:17 breastplatesthorax – the breast; a breastplate

:17 fiery redpurinos – fiery; shining like fire

:17 hyacinth bluehuakinthinos – hyacinth, of the color of hyacinth

Sometimes hyacinths are red, but mostly blue-purple in color.

:17 sulfur yellowtheiodes – of brimstone, sulfur

:17 breastplates of …

The actual colors mentioned in the New King James text make sense, but the actual Greek text doesn’t mention the colors, just the stuff

Fiery, hyacinth (a bluish flower), sulfur

:17 like the heads of lions

Sounds scary to me.

PlayMGM Lion Roar” clip

Now how does that look on a horse?  Something like this?

:18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths.

:18 fire … smoke … brimstone

These are the three “plagues” that will kill a third of mankind.

Perhaps this is some sort of weapon.

It is interesting that there were three “colors” on the breastplates, and at least two of them are just like these “plagues”.

Perhaps they aren’t colors at all, but the breastplates are made of fire, blue smoke, and sulfur.

:19 For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.

:19 powerexousia – power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; authority

:19 tailsoura – a tail

:19 serpentsophis – snake, serpent

:19 harmadikeo – to do some wrong or sin in some respect; to hurt, damage, harm

:19 tails … serpents … heads

It’s sounding more and more like a scary sci-fi movie.

Play War of the Worlds clip.

Did you notice how much the sound was like the “trumpet” sounds I played at the beginning?  Be cautious about hoaxes.

:20 But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.

:20 the restloipoy – remaining, the rest

:20 plaguesplege – a blow, stripe, a wound; a public calamity, heavy affliction, plague,

:20 repentmetanoeo – to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent

:20 worshipproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead

:20 demonsdaimonion – demon; evil spirits or the messengers and ministers of the devil

:20 idolseidolon – an image, likeness; a false god  

:20 idols … which can neither see nor hear



While the most horrible things on earth are taking place, people are still clinging to their “idols”.
We might think that an “idol” is nothing but a silly, pagan statue.
It’s a bit more.
Idols are the things that take the place of God in our lives.
Instead of going to God for help, we turn to our idols.
In the ancient days, when people got into trouble, they had their little gods made of gold or stone or wood, and they would pray to them, hoping that their little “gods” would help them.
Yet John reminds us that these “gods” can’t see you, they can’t hear you, and they can’t even get up off your kitchen table.
We of course are too sophisticated to worship little figures made out of stone.
But we have idols – the things we turn to before turning to God.
Things we look to in order to be “happy”.  Like …

Whether it’s going to the movies, watching TV, or cheering on the Angels, if we’re not careful, these things can become our “idols”.  Something is wrong when our sense of well-being is disturbed when our favorite TV show is cancelled or our favorite sports team loses a game.

It’s not that these things are bad, but when they become the first thing we turn to instead of God, we’re heading down a bad path.


When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.


It’s really good to be married, but if you’re well being depends solely on your spouse and not God, you are going to be disappointed. 


The trouble comes when my entire life is all about my kids.

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller writes,
A young woman named Mary was an accomplished musician who once attended my church. For many years she had battled mental illness and had checked in and out of psychiatric institutions. She gave me permission as her pastor to speak to her therapist …. “Mary virtually worships her parents’ approval of her,” her counselor told me, “and they always wanted her to be a world-class artist. She is quite good, but she’s never reached the top of her profession, and she cannot live with the idea that she has disappointed her parents.”
Medications helped to manage her depression, but they could not get to the root of it. Her problem was a false belief, driven by an idol. She told herself, “If I cannot be a well-known violinist, I have let down my parents, and my life is a failure.” She was distressed and guilty enough to die. When Mary began to believe the gospel, that she was saved by grace, not by musicianship, and that, “though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord shall take me in” (Psalm 27:10), she began to get relief from her idolatrous need for her parents’ approval. In time her depression and anxiety began to lift, and she was able to reenter her life and musical career.
Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods (Dutton, 2009), pp. 148-149
John wrote,
(1 Jn 5:21 NKJV) Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

:21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

:21 repentmetanoeo – to change one’s mind, turn around

The word means to turn around.  Make a change.

:21 murdersphonos – murder, slaughter

:21 sorceriespharmakeia – the use or the administering of drugs; magical arts

The word is also translated “witchcraft”, but don’t miss the fact that it’s stuff that’s done through the aid of chemicals.

It is no surprise that illegal drug use takes a person down a bad path.

:21 sexual immoralityporneia – illicit sexual intercourse

This is a very broad word and simply means any kind of sex outside of marriage.

Any kind of sex.  Homosexuality.  Adultery.  Pre-marital sex.

Some of you might be surprised to know that God knows about the sexual relationship you have with someone you are not currently married to.

And God is very, very grieved about it.

:21 theftsklemma – thing stolen; the act of theft


Will you repent?

These are the things that people will be doing when the world is falling apart.  They will see these incredibly scary things going on in the world, and they will refuse to turn around.
This is what an addict does.  When life is difficult, they turn to their addiction… unless they’ve learned to repent.
There might be some here today who are still caught in these kinds of things.
I want to tell you today that there is a way out of the mess.
There is a true, real God who loved you so much that He sent His only begotten Son to this earth in order to die in our place and pay for our sins.
Some of you here today even call yourselves Christians, but you too are doing these very same things. Paul wrote,
(Col 3:5–6 NKJV) —5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience…
Christian, if this is you, then you too need to repent.
Play John 3:16 clip.
Today God calls everyone to repentance.