22/04/18 Revelation 9:12-21 “Will people ever learn from God? Do they want to?”


Revelation 9:12One woe is past; [and], behold, there come two woes more hereafter.


The 5th trumpet (1st woe) of last week was bad but the final two woes (especially the final last woe!) are going to eclipse it completely. A horde of savage demons may have been set loose upon mankind for 5 months in the 1st woe, but the 2nd woe sets loose an army the like of which has never been seen before, and the 3rd woe (when it comes in Revelation 16) will bring this terrible great tribulation to its end; any longer and all life on earth would be destroyed.

Mark 13:14; 19-2014 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judæa flee to the mountains:

19 For [in] those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. 20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.


Revelation 9:13And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,


The 6th trumpet sounds, announcing the 2nd woe (se Revelation 8:13).

voice - phone

horns – of animals; a symbol of strength and courage; mighty and valiant helper; author of deliverance (as of the Messiah); a projecting extremity like a horn, point, apex, as of an altar.

before (or “in the presence of”)


John’s vision is still in the throne room of God, where he hears a voice crying out from the 4 horns of the altar, probably representing all the prayers of all the saints. They are speaking as with one voice, as it comes from all 4 corners of the altar.

Revelation 8:3And 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.


Revelation 9:14Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in (at; by; next to) the great river Euphrates.


That is, telling this 6th angel to set free (from their bondage or chains) the 4 angels that have been put under bondage (obviously by God) at the Euphrates River. It doesn’t say where on the Euphrates. However, Babylon was on the Euphrates, so this may be significant. (Nineveh was on the Tigris River.) The destruction of Babylon (in particular, as a spiritual entity) is a major theme of Revelation (see Chapters 17 & 18). This would have to assume a partially symbolic view of this passage: that Babylon, representing satan’s opposition to God’s kingdom under the rule of the antichrist, is to be set free to gather its forces together in order to be drawn into battle with God’s people in the Valley of Megiddo north of Jerusalem. Keep in mind that the 2nd woe leads into the 3rd and final woe. This final (7th) woe brings the 7 bowls of wrath over a period of probably just 30 days before the gathering at Armageddon (Revelation 16) itself which then leads into the second coming of Christ with great power and authority in Revelation 19.


Also note that according to Genesis 15:18 & Exodus 23:31, the eastern boundary set for Israel was the Euphrates River, so this may relate to preparing for the massive invasion of historical Israel that would culminate in Armageddon.


Revelation is loosely bound together as much by events as by order of time. The 7 seals lead into the 7 trumpets which lead into the 7 bowls of wrath. We may assume that these are in chronological order, yet there are also many other events that seem to jump in and out of that time pattern. The judgments of God form the framework and the other events are added in order of relevance, not necessarily by time. The 6th trumpet (2nd woe) leaves only one more trumpet to blow; that occurs in Revelation 11:15) with probably just 30 days to the second coming of Christ.

Revelation 11:14-1514 The second woe is past; [and], behold, the third woe cometh quickly. 15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.


loose – let loose that which has been bound; to be divorced; unchained; dismiss a meeting; dismiss a law; annul; deprive of authority; demolish; break up into parts.

Luke 13:16And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

John 2:19Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.


bound – bind; tie; fasten; fasten with chains; bind under the law; bound to one (wife, husband); forbid, prohibit by law; bound by demons.

1 Corinthians 7:27Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed (noun). Art thou loosed (verb) from a wife? seek not a wife.


Euphrates is mentioned in the 6th bowl (vial) of wrath, being dried up to enable massive armies to gather for Armageddon.

Revelation 16:12And 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.

These 4 angels may be either good or bad – it doesn’t say – but that probably doesn’t really matter. They may have been evil angels bound in chains until this time as were the locust demons under Abaddon, but they also could have been bound by a decree of God to be ready and prepared to act for this time and not before.


Note that Christ had a purpose for coming.

1 John 3:8bFor this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

And that the blind man was born blind so that Jesus could heal him.

John 9:2-32 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

One thing may be certain: these 4 angels have a purpose set out by God.


Revelation 9:15And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.


prepared – make ready; prepare; get everything ready; drawn from the oriental custom of sending on before kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable; prepare minds of men for the Messiah.

Luke 9:52And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

Matthew 25:34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:


This doesn’t refer to an actual time span, but rather that they were to be ready to act at that very hour and day and month and year. (The Interlinear says “at the hour and day and month and year”.) It’s much like having an appointed time and date, such as 11:00 am on 22/04/2018. When the time clock ticked onto the exact required time, then they were to act as they had been prepared. This alone does suggest that they mightn’t be bad angels, but perhaps good angels created with one purpose in mind. And that purpose was to slaughter a third of all men.


slay – to kill in any way whatever; destroy; extinguish; to inflict mortal death; also can mean to deprive of spiritual life and procure eternal misery in hell.

This may be associated with the “thirds” judgments of the 1st four trumpets in Revelation 8. A third of everything else seems to have been destroyed; now it is man’s turn. And Revelation 9:18 says that the army of Vs 16 will kill a third of men.


Revelation 9:16And the number of the army of the horsemen [were] two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.


numberarithmos (a fixed and definite number; indefinite number; multitude)

two hundred thousand thousandfrom duo + myrias + myrias – root words)

myrias can mean an innumerable (uncountable; immeasurable) number or, if it represents a number, as it probably does here, then it is 10,000.

2 x 10,000 x 10,000 = 200,000,000.

[The number in Revelation 5:11 (the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands), though, probably means an immeasurable number, but could be read as 10,000 (myrias) x 10,000 and 1,000s (chilias) x 1,000s.]


This number probably means 200,000,000, although some commentaries claim that it is simply a statement of an impossibly huge number. For, who could have imagined such a large army then? The entire world population at 100 AD would have been around 200 million! Barnes says: This would be a larger army than was ever assembled, and it cannot be supposed that it is to be taken literally. However, with today’s population figures in mind, it is now quite possible to imagine an army of 200 million, especially if we were to combine the armies of more than one country. The Interlinear says “two myriads of myriads”.


Clearly this army has some connection with the Euphrates; note the drying up of Euphrates for the kings of the east, yet that appears to happen just before Armageddon. However, this may be but the advance forces of that mighty eastern army. Or maybe this slaughter occurs in their approach to Euphrates later on.


Revelation 9:17And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses [were] as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.



fire – fiery; shining like fire. It could suggest the redness of a fire in colour.

jacinthhuakinthinos (hyacinth, of the colour of hyacinth; red bordering on black – deep red or crimson or purple?) Possibly blue or purple.

brimstone – or sulphurous; possibly yellow in colour.


The verse appears to suggest actual fire, smoke and brimstone (as John saw it) rather than just colours, yet the breastplates appear to be described as different (or multi) colours. While the locusts of the 5th trumpet have to have been demonic beings, these seem to be better explained by John seeing an actual huge army in these colours, either different countries combined or just the one army using all the colours seen. Perhaps the tanks or heavy weapon vehicles of today could only be explained by John in terms that he understood: that of chariots rushing into battle but here with all guns blazing. Even the horses were not really horses, but lions, a far more dangerous animal. To John it may have looked like armour-plated chariots with fire, smoke and brimstone coming forth from the front of them – including guided missiles and long-range ballistics. Most likely this is a literal army of today.


Revelation 9:18By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.


these three – the fire, the smoke and the brimstone.

A third of the men living on earth is the most logical interpretation, yet this must be an almost unbelievable amount, even given that huge losses have already occurred in previous judgments. It is the fire, smoke and brimstone that issues forth from the front of these “horses” with heads of “lions” that kills so many people. Allowing that the current world population is nearing 8 billion (7,632,819,325), and ¼ die in the 4th seal, plus a few more dying from other causes, we still have over 5 billion people. A third of these would see around 1.7 billion more die, bringing the population back to maybe 3.3 billion. 200 million soldiers killing 1700 million people is a bloodbath far more serious that anything ever seen before! This army is not intent upon conquest, but is set upon simply slaughtering all who oppose it.


Revelation 9:19For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails [were] like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.


powerexousia (power of choice; liberty to do as one pleases; physical and mental power; the power of authority and of right; the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed; the sign of regal authority, a crown; the leading and more powerful among created beings superior to man, spiritual potentates) Used for “powers” in Ephesians 6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].

hurt – act unjustly, wickedly; sin; violate laws in some way; do wrong; sin against someone.


These soldiers on horses have the power to do what they want (as they please). Their authority is established, not by legal means, but by the brute force of having greater fire-power than anyone standing in their way. If anyone argues with them, don’t argue, just shoot them down! They have immense power issuing from their weaponry in front, and also in their tails. For these “horses” not only kill from in front but from behind as well. They are literally covered by weaponry from both ends (and probably from each side as well). They have awesome fire-power from the front but, in John’s understanding, while they had their real power in front, they still had considerable power from the rear end too, because their tails were like snakes’ heads with a bite to match. John probably saw them as invincible, being capable of being able to hurt (act wickedly or unjustly) against anyone they wanted to. No-one appeared to be able to stand against such “creatures”. This seems to describe a level of firepower that the world has recently achieved: the ability to destroy en masse huge numbers without retaliation.


Revelation 9:2020 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: 21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.


rest – the rest of the people that still remain alive after these plagues.

plaguesplege (blow; stripe; wound; public calamity; heavy affliction; plague) Translated as stripes or wounds in NT yet all 12 occurrences of “plague” in NT are in Revelation.

repented – to change one’s mind, usually for the better; to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.

hands – by the help or agency of any one; figuratively applied to God symbolising His might, activity, power: in creating the universe, in upholding and preserving, in punishing, in determining and controlling the destinies of men. Translated “hand/s” in all but one of 179 occurrences in NT.


devilsdaimonion (the divine power; a spirit, a being inferior to God, superior to men; evil spirits or the messengers and ministers of the devil) Cf “demons”

Also daimonizomai (to be under the power of a demon)

Matthew 9:32As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.

murders – murder or slaughter.

sorceriespharmakeia (the use or the administering of drugs; poisoning; sorcery or magical arts; metaphorically the deceptions and seductions of idolatry)

fornicationporneia (illicit sexual intercourse; metaphorically the worship of idols)


The amazing thing about all this is that even though it is apparent that the surviving men knew enough to be able to repent, yet they continued to do those things which they knew were evil. The implication is that they knew they had committed murders, sorceries, fornication and thefts (that of taking from God what was rightfully His: most of all, their worship) yet they wouldn’t change. They continued to worship their false caricatures of God, which were impotent, without power or any abilities at all. It summons a picture of the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel praying to their impotent gods which couldn’t do anything for them, especially in the presence of God Himself.


Even Paul in his letter to the Romans talks about such people who have so determined to be evil that God has ultimately cast them off as reprobate; if they want to do such turned-against-God activities, then let them sleep in the bed they have made for themselves! If you decide hard enough and often enough and long enough that you absolutely don’t want God in your life, then He may well give you exactly what you asked for! You might find yourself unable to repent, unable to seek God and His righteousness, even when you know that God is right! You may find yourself unable to repent because God has given you over to a reprobate mind. That is, a mind rejected by God as unusable and only fit to be thrown out; disqualified.


Romans 1:21-3221 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate (adokimos) mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.


Note that Paul also was intent on keeping himself from being disqualified from running the Christian race. Note that “castaway” is adokimos = reprobate.

1 Corinthians 9:24, 27  24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 27 But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (reprobate; disqualified; spurious; rejected).

Paul is actually saying he keeps his spiritual body under subjection lest after he has caused others to be saved, he himself should be found reprobate (rejected; disqualified) by God!


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