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FOUR ANGELS UNLEASHED – Revelation 9:13-21

Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on April 27, 2016 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; April 27, 2016 from Revelation 9:13-21

Theme: This passage describes the sounding of the sixth trumpet, and the unleashing upon the earth of the four ‘bound’ angels.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

In the last chapter, the “eagle” flying through the midst of heaven referred to the last three of the seven trumpets as three dreadful ‘woes’ that sound upon the earth (8:13). The fifth trumpet announced the first of those three ‘woes’—a dreadful plague of flying scorpion-like locusts from the bottomless pit (9:1-12). It gave us a picture of a judgment from God upon the unrepentant wickedness of man that will be horrible beyond imagination. And yet, as horrible as it will be, it will only be the beginning.

This morning, we come to the passage that describes the second of those three ‘woes’. And while in the first ‘woe’ we’re told that people will desire to die and that death will flee from them (v. 6), the second ‘woe’ involves the release of a quartet of homicidal angels that will bring about the slaying of a staggering one-third of humanity! Truly, “woe” is an apt word to use!

I. THE ANGELS (vv. 13-15).

A. The beginning scene of this second woe is set in the spiritual realms. We’re told that the sixth angel sounded; and that John then heard a voice coming from “the four horns of the golden altar which is before God” (v. 13). In the Old Testament, the altar was surrounded by four horn-like protrusions along its four corners; and on these four horns, the priests would smear the blood of the sacrifice (Leviticus 4:16-18). Also, the priests kept the fire of the altar burning (5:12-13). Thus, two features of the altar are the blood of atonement and the fire of judgment for sin. And here, we see that those who reject the blood that is offered on the altar must suffer the fire of judgment from the same altar (see 8:3-5). The voice heard from the altar may be the voice of the Lord Himself who died for the sins of His people and now stands as their avenger against those who persecuted them (see 6:9-11).

B. The voice from the altar now commands the sixth-trumpeting angel, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates” (v. 14). This river was near the place where Satan first tempted man to fall (Genesis 2:10-14). It was near where the tower of Babel was built (Genesis 11:2). It is the location of Babylon of old; and is the border to the frontier of the promised land. It’s a river that represents much of Satan’s ruinous activities against humanity. Apparently, four murderous angelic beings are “bound” at this place. And at the blowing of the sixth trumpet, the command is given that they be released from their bonds.

C. We’re told that these angels who are being released are those “who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year” (v. 15). This may mean that they were kept bound for that specific time; or it may refer to the duration of their dreadful activities against humanity (i.e., a year + a month + a day + an hour = 13 months and a little over a day). We’re told that they “were released to kill a third of mankind”. Mankind will never have seen such slaughter! How sobering to think that they are being restrained even now!

II. THE ARMIES (vv. 16-19).

A. Immediately, we’re told of what these angels did to bring about their murderous purpose. A vast army of horsemen is seen by John in his vision—a staggering number of two-hundred million (v. 16; literally “two-myriads of myriads”, the Greek word murias meaning “10,000”). In the May 21, 1965 edition of Time Magazine (p. 35), China is reported to have boasted of an army of 200,000,000 (cited in John Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation [Chicago: Moody Press, 1971], p. 280). Significantly, the sixth “plague” of 16:12-16 (which this study argues is parallel to the sixth trumpet) speaks of the Euphrates being dried-up to make way for “the kings from the east” (16:12). If that is truly a parallel, then these are not demonic beings. They are human horsemen marshaled from the land of the east; but they are clearly an army of demonically inspired human horsemen in unspeakably great numbers.

B. The horsemen are described as having breastplates of fiery red (or “the color of fire” in the English Standard Version), hyacinth blue (or “sapphire”), and sulfur yellow (v. 17). The breastplates, of course, describe the relative indestructibility of these horsemen. But we’re also told that the plague they bring upon humanity is “fire” and “smoke” and “brimstone”—which may be taken to parallel their breastplates (red = fire, blue = smoke, yellow = brimstone).

C. The horses themselves are described as something beyond the realm of known creatures. They had heads like lions, and out of their mouths came the three plagues of fire, smoke and brimstone (v. 17). By these three plagues, a third of mankind is burned, or choked, or poisoned (v. 18). The horses also have tails; and their tails are like serpents “having heads” (v. 19). From their heads they have the power to do harm (v. 19). We have to take into account that, prior to this, much of the human population would have already been killed in the first fourth seal (6:7-8), and in the third trumpet judgment (8:10-11). Imagine a demonically-inspired army that eliminates multiplied millions, or perhaps as many as a billion people, from the face of the earth!


A. The most remarkable thing of all in this story of the sixth trumpet is the hardness of the heart of people who are impacted by it. Though one third of humanity is put to death by this judgment from God, the survivors (we hope, though, with at least a few exceptions) refuse to repent of the works of their hands (v. 20). How amazing fallen people are in their hard-hearted sinfulness and rebellion against God!

B. The nature of the works of their hands describes something of the character of the times that will prevail during the reign of the Antichrist. People will be worshipers of demons. They will not be ‘atheists’ or strict ‘materialists’ who deny the existence of God or of the spiritual realms, but will actually worship the evil spirits. They will also worship idols; which, no doubt, will be inspired by the demons (v. 20; see also Psalm 115:4-8)—“idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk”. They will also refuse to repent of their “murders or their sorceries [i.e., uses of drugs] or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (v. 21). These things are already characterizing the world around us to a startlingly increasing degree!

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If people are not motivated to make sure they are under the grace of God now, may the story of this dreadful ‘sixth trumpet’ give them such motivation! Truly, as the writer of Hebrews says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31)!

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