Habakkuk 2:12-3:19; Revelation 9:13-21; Psalms 137:5-9; Proverbs 29:5-8
NT: “The sixth angel blew his trumpet. From the four horns of the golden altar that is before God, I heard a voice say to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels who were prepared for the hour, day, month, and year were released to kill a third of the human race. The number of mounted troops was two hundred million; I heard their number. This is how I saw the horses and their riders in the vision: They had breastplates that were fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow. The heads of the horses were like the heads of lions, and from their mouths came fire, smoke, and sulfur. A third of the human race was killed by these three plagues — by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur that came from their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, because their tails, which resemble snakes, have heads that inflict injury. The rest of the people, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands to stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which cannot see, hear, or walk. And they did not repent of their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.” (Revelation 9:13-21 CSB)
The golden altar that was before God was the altar of incense. It was that altar that held the prayers of the saints that cried out to God for justice and vengeance. As the sixth trumpet sounded, a voice came from the altar of incense that instructed the angel to release four angels that had been bound. The fact that they were bound suggests that they were fallen angels – not angels devoted to the service of God. As Jesus taught in John 10:10, the devil desires only to steal, kill and destroy. If Satan was able to fully have his way, he would kill all of humanity and destroy all of God’s creation – but Satan is not able to fully have his way… and these four fallen angels have been bound since the dawn of creation until the exact and specific time of God’s just judgement. When the four fallen angels are released, they lead a two hundred million strong swarm (either a physical army, a demonic army, or a combination of both) that brings death over the face of earth.
When the 5th trumpet sounded, an army was released that brought pain and torture to those who had not given their lives to the Lord. So great was the torture, that the inflicted people desired to die, but could not. When these four fallen angels are released to do what they desire, one third of those tortured people are killed by fire, smoke and poisonous sulfuric gas. The torture and death that will be released on the earth will come because of sin. It will come because humanity refused to humble themselves and submit to the word, will and ways of God. It will come because humanity rejected God’s offer of salvation through the death of His Son and chose to take their destiny into their own hands.
One would think that after word-wide devastation, five months of horrendous torture and suffering, and one-third of the worlds population suddenly dying, that the vast majority of humanity would cry out for mercy, humble themselves and finally give their lives to the Lord Christ in faith. However, John reported that those who were left alive after God’s initial judgement will refuse to repent. In Luke 16, Jesus told a story about a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus that both died. The rich man went to hades and Lazarus went to the abode of the righteous dead. The rich man in torment cried out in misery and asked that Lazarus could be sent back to warn his friends and relatives of the constant torment that awaited them. Abraham replied to him, “If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.” It is frighteningly amazing how strong a person’s will can become – especially when they have hardened their heart. Pharaoh hardened his heart so much that he was willing to allow his entire nation to suffer ruin before he was willing to humble himself and surrender to the word, will and ways of the Lord God. That is the way men and women will be the closer we get to the end of days – they will so harden their hearts that they would rather suffer torment and complete devastation than humble themselves and surrender in faith to the Lord God. Hardening your heart is a terrible thing with horrifying consequences. Don’t allow yourself to get to that point. Instead, cultivate a broken and contrite heart before the Lord and place your faith in Him, and escape the death and devastation to come.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You have provided a way for me to escape the judgement of my sin. By accepting the penalty of sin that was levied on You and placing my faith in Your finished work of salvation, I am marked with Your seal and saved from the judgement to come. Help me to always maintain a contrite heart before You as I remain filled with Your Spirit and humbly and lovingly walk faithfully according to Your word, will and ways. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
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