We conclude discussion on the judgment initiated by the seven trumpets. Revelation warns against idolatry, sexual immorality, and sorcery. We look at what God’s will is for our lives while we wait and expect the judgment and joy to come. Even though these are grim chapters of judgment, they point to the coming restoration of the whole world. We begin in the midst of one of those somber chapters, Revelation 9.
Let’s go back to Revelation 9. So, these locusts have the authority to torment for five months, but not the people of God with the seals. Then it goes on to describe the torment, which is interesting. Verse 5. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man.
Has anybody here ever been stung by a scorpion? How’s it feel? Can you describe it?
Okay, a bee sting for 30 minutes, and then you start going numb. So think about that happening all day long for five months.
Everybody here’s probably been stung by a bee. I got stung by a bumble bee one time. Man, I do not recommend that! It was like double the size of my thumb. It was my own fault. I grabbed him. You know, I thought I can get that guy! I was about twelve years old. That’s a lesson I didn’t forget, let me tell you. I will not grab a bumble bee again.
But, just think about that. You’ve got that all day for five months.
And verse 6. Now you kind of have a thought in your mind. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.
So it really hurts. This is pain coming in.
He goes on about these locusts. The shape of the locust was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men for five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit—
I have no idea what this thing is. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want one to bite me.
It seems that it’s some kind of demonic thing. You know, these angels that took on the wrong forms, they got put there in the first place, perhaps, like the guys in Jude who left their proper abode and did things they weren’t supposed to do? Now it’s like, okay, go ahead and do stuff. And they go and inhabit some locusts and turn them into these vile creatures.
I don’t know what happens. But it’s not good!
And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. Abaddon means destruction, and Apollyon means destroyer.
You get the picture here that this is a bad five months, and it’s worse than the first four trumpet judgments, which were horrific in and of themselves.
And then it says, One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things.
Three groups of seven
So we’ve got four trumpets inside the seventh seal, and then three trumpets that are the three woes to making up a total of seven trumpets.
You have three different groups of seven. Inside the seventieth week of years. So 70 sevens, and we’re in the seventieth seven, and we’re going through three sevens, three being the number of divinity, seven being the number of completion. So we’re in this judgment that’s divine judgment and coming to completion.
This is the completion of judgment on the earth.
The sixth trumpet judgment: War
Then the sixth angel sounded—verse 13—And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
Apparently, there’s these really horrific forces that are constrained somewhere on the earth, maybe hiding right behind a dimension, may be right there, and we can’t see that dimension, but it’s right there.
And these guys are unbound. The word there is literally untied like, “Go untie that donkey.” So they’re bound up, and it’s time to release these guys. They’ve been sitting there like a horse ready to go out of the gate for 2000 years, and now you’re going to let them go. That’s going to happen on the sixth trumpet.
I’ve already mentioned this, but I just love the fact that the furniture talks here, and the golden altar is speaking to this sixth angel. It’s a hopeful thought to me because this is going to be such an awesome place that we go to, even though it’s pretty dire right now as we’re looking at it.
Verse 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. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. 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. 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. 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.
This appears to be an army of some kind in some great battle, some great war. This number 200 million, if you get some translations, it will say 200,000. The literal is two myriad myriads. And in my view, this would have been a better translation; and some translations actually say that: myriads of myriads. So, a lot of whatever this is.
This is war happening, the war’s on people, and a third of the people die. If you go through and do the math, if this many people died and this is what’s left, the population is shrinking a lot, obviously.
Then, here’s the culminating thought. We’ve had seven seals, six trumpets, all this judgment on the earth. And we saw that atheism has gone away here. People look and say, “God is judging us.” Everybody gets what’s happening here. They have reality here about what’s going on.
And this is the result, verse 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. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
What a sad commentary on mankind.
Again, going back to the exodus, kind of reminds you of Pharaoh. One plague. “Oh, oh, oh, I’m sorry! I’m sorry! You can go!” “Oh, I changed my mind. You can’t go.”
What is it going to take, right? And, finally, the Passover, and he says, finally, you can go. And then again, he changes his mind and chases after them.
This is our human problem. Even when we see God in his power in judgment, we say, “I refuse to bow!” Just like Pharaoh. And it’s happening again. Really sad.
Murder, sorceries, idolatry, and sexual immorality
It’s interesting here the specific behaviors that are highlighted: murder, sorceries, idolatry, and sexual immorality.
Let’s just take a look at these things in Revelation. We can go back to 2:14. And now we’re into the letter to the churches, the what-was-and-is part of Revelation. Chapter 4 and forward is what is to come.
And it says, But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
The specific thing that’s called out in that particular church is idolatry and sexual immorality.
2:20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
Idolatry and sexual immorality.
We can jump way ahead to 21:8. Since this is such a morose lesson, let’s start in 6. And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things—Camp on that one. He who overcomes shall inherit all things.
For the ones who are overcomers. Remember an overcomer is a reward. If you overcome as I overcame. I will give you to sit with me on my throne. The big call here is to be the kind of witness that does not fear death, so that God will reward us with this amazing reward.
—shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. Again, this is like the Hebrew son where the king adopts someone and says you are now my son. This is my way of honoring you as a member of the royal family. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
One chapter forward to 22:14. Something similar. Now we’re talking about the gate. Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. Verse 15 then. But outside—outside the city. We’re now in the new earth, and we’ve got the city of Jerusalem, this 1500 mile by 1500 mile thing that came down from heaven as a prefab city.
—But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. That’s who’s outside, and it will be fun when we get there to talk about who that might be. And why there’s people just outside the city like this who can’t go in.
Suffice it for now to say, these particular behaviors are highlighted in Revelation as behaviors not becoming of an overcomer, and the kind of thing that God is eradicating from the earth. And even when judgment comes, people say, “I won’t leave those things behind.”
Which begs the question, why? Why is it we cling to these things so much?
Let’s end with a thought about these sins, and why they’re so appealing to mankind that it would cause us to look at something as horrific as these judgments and say, “I refuse to repent. I’m going to keep doing these things.”
Well first, of course, is idolatry. Idolatry is nothing more than not putting God in his proper place.
We already saw throne, throne, throne, throne, throne. Forty one times we’re going to see the word throne in Revelation. Was given. Was authorized. Was allowed. Was prohibited. God is in control. God is on the throne. God is God.
What we want to do is have somebody else be God. And who do we want to be God, mainly? Us. Right?
Now we will use an intermediary, happily. God himself for one thing. You know, “God, you’re obligated to do this for me.” That’s nothing more than God turning into Santa Claus, which makes us God. Or God turning into a vending machine. You know, “If I do this, you’ll do that.” That was the sin of Eliphaz and his friends in the book of Job that made God so mad.
Or we might use an idol, an actual figure, and say, “These are the calves that brought us out of Egypt.” What we’re really saying is, “These give me an excuse to do whatever I want to do.”
In fact, Jeroboam, when he set up the idol of the golden calves in Dan and in Ephraim, the two tribes left out of that list we saw last week, when he set those up, he did specifically so the people would stay under his control instead of going down to Judah where he might lose them, so to speak.
We want things under our control. That’s our fundamental problem.
Why do we want things under our control? So we can gain what we perceive as benefit for ourselves, one of which being sexual immorality.
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 6:15. There’s two reasons why the Bible very specifically condemns sexual immorality. And reason number one, very predictable in the Bible: Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? We’re all part of the body of Christ. Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”
Marriage is a sexual union. We’re only supposed to be married to one person, and when we are sexually immoral, we’re married to multiple people.
But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
Reason number one to avoid this particular sin is, it’s particularly self destructive. You know, all sin is self destructive. Paul makes that point in Romans, right? Slavery, death, corruption. Is that really what you want to do, guys? Don’t do that! It’s self destructive.
But sexual immorality is particularly self destructive, so don’t do that.
The will of God for your life
Reason number 2 comes in 1 Thessalonians 4. Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 4:3. For this is the will of God—
Did you ever have a counseling session with somebody who wants to know the will of God? Turn to 1 Thessalonians 4:3. This is the will of God: your sanctification. That’s it. That’s our will of God. He wants us to grow up. He wants us to become everything he designed us to be. That’s the will of God.
What do I do then? Which job do I take? Who do I marry? What circumstance do I try to fabricate? You won’t see any of those things.
Number one is abstain from sexual immorality. Why? Well, because if you don’t do that, it goes on to say, you’re basically a slave of lust.
And then he goes on to say don’t defraud one another. So reason number two is this is an impediment to becoming who God made us to be. God made us to be someone who serves other people, not someone who defrauds other people.
Sexual immorality is the ultimate in fraud, because what is marriage supposed to be about? It’s supposed to be about oneness. Two people having the same goal. And what is sexual immorality? It’s about me getting something from you. It’s about extraction. It’s about taking. And it’s fraud. I’m pretending we’re going to oneness because I want something from you, and I’m just taking.
Of course, lying and these other things, murder, that’s all part of that. I want something, so I’m going to coerce you to take it. Which is why the whole world filled with violence before the flood, and God took care of that.
Well, now you have a world full of the same thing, and God’s taking care of it again. And he’s going to bring it to fruition where his overcomers are going to be installed as the new regents, and he’s going to have a serving kingdom. And all this kind of attitude is going to be wiped out.
And the third thing, sorcery. This is the Greek word pharmakeia. So, pharmacy, sorcery, occult always involves drug abuse. And there’s two things about sorcery. One is escape. I can use drugs to escape the reality that’s real and create my own reality.
Sadly, I’m aware of a young man who has a problem with marijuana, and basically stays on it all the time. Stays high on it all the time, even to the point where his friends who are users of marijuana say this is overdosing. This is too much. And when confronted, has said, you know, I have to do this because when I’m high, I’m such a better person.
And the reason his friends are concerned about it is because when he’s high, he’s intolerable to interact with.
The reality is he’s a massive, off-the-charts jerk that no one wants anything to do with when he’s high, and he thinks he’s Mr. Congeniality when he’s high.
Which is what drugs do. It creates a false reality where we can control our environment. We are now God in our own environment through this drug.
And, of course, occult practice is I’m going to impose my will on others. I’m going to voodoo somebody and make them hurt, or something like that.
It’s this false reality about who’s in charge. A false reality about who’s on the throne. A false reality about where I live.
These three sins that are talked about all throughout the scripture are going to be eradicated, and the earth is going to be restored.
So grim days, really dire picture, but all pointed towards restoration.
And, again, one thing we can get from Revelation that’s really clear is God is God. God’s on the throne. If something happens, it’s authorized, and I have the power to deal with it when it comes.