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Back To The Future – Sermon #23


Revelation 9:13-21


Intro:  The images depicted in this chapter make it one of the most disturbing passages in the entire Bible. In verses 1-12, we studied a description of a swarm of demons. These demons came to the earth to torment all those who refused to bow to God. They tormented men for five long months and brought terrible suffering to the unsaved. The only grace in those verses is the fact that those who know the Lord Jesus as their Savior will be spared from that attack. It is also a blessing to know that those who are saved today will miss that terrible time because they are safe, at home in Heaven, with the Lord Jesus.

      As we continue to look at the events of chapter 9, we come to the sixth trumpet judgment. When that trumpet sounds a voice is heard to speak from between the horns of the golden altar. The mention of this altar reminds us of the golden altar of incense that was in the tabernacle and the temple. The golden altar was where incense was burned as an offering to God. It was the place of prayer; the place of intercession. It was a place of mercy, where prayers could be offered to the Lord.

      In these verses, the place of mercy has become a place of judgment. When people reject the grace, mercy and love of God, they are left with nothing but His wrath and judgment. That is what we are going to see in these verses. The world has rejected grace and they are given judgment.

      Let’s take some time today to look into the events of the latter part of Revelation 9. We are given a picture here of The World At War. Let me share some facts about that period of time.



(Ill. The voice from the altar commands the release of four fallen angels that have been kept chained in the Euphrates River. We do not know why these angels were chained to begin with. We do not know how long they have been chained. But, we know that when they are let loose on the world, terrible death and destruction follows with them. We are not given much information about these angels, but there are a few truths mentioned here that need to be addressed.)

A.  v. 14  A Place Is Mentioned – We are told that they are bound in the “River Euphrates”. This river is one of the most prominent in the Word of God. It was here that God planted the Garden of Eden, Gen. 2:14. It was here that God made mankind. The Euphrates River has been the scene of many of the firsts of humanity. The first sin; the first apostasy; the first murder; and the first rebellion against the Word of God all occurred here.

            The ancient city of Babylon sprang to life along the banks of this river. Babylon was the birthplace of false religion, of demon worship and of idolatry. Many of the false religions practiced in our world today can trace their origins all the way to Babylon. This area was the home of Nimrod, Gen. 10:8-10. He was the father of many vile, ungodly worship practices. Some of which still exist to this day!

            It was here, along the banks of this great river that all of the great cultural, religious and political systems of the world came to life. This river was said to be the eastern boundary of the land promised to Abraham, Gen. 15:18. It is this river that forms the dividing line between the Middle East and the Far East. The attention of the world is focused on this area today; and this area will continue to be the focus of the world’s attention until Jesus comes in glory.

B.  v. 15  A Plan Is Mentioned – These angels have been kept bound until a specific period of time. God is going to use them for His Own purposes as He judges the earth. The words, “were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year”, tells us that God has a plan! As we read this book, it may appear that things are spinning out of control. But the opposite is true! God is in control and He is working out His will according to a highly detailed, specific timetable. He knows what He is doing and He can be trusted to do right, Gen. 18:25.


      (Note: By the way, He knows what He is doing in your life as well. It may not always seem like it, but God has a plan. It is a good plan. It is the best plan, and He will bring His perfect will to pass in His time.)


C.  v. 15  A Purpose Is Mentioned – This verse is very graphic. It tells us that these demonic spirits are released for the sole purpose of destroying one-third of the human race. Consider this, Rev. 6:8 says that 25% of the earth’s population s killed there. Rev. 8:11 says that many die from drinking poisoned waters. If the population of the earth is about 6 billion when the Tribulation begins, it will have been cut in half by the time the sixth trumpet judgment is carried out and another one-third of humanity is slaughtered. Imagine, in the space of a few short years 50%, one out of every two people living on the earth, are dead and gone! In the United States it would be the equivalent of 150 million people dead in a very short period of time. Yes, according to Rev. 9:5-6, dead will take a five month holiday; but it will come back with a vengeance and billions will die at he hand of these four fallen angels!


(Note: People read this and they look at it with doubt. They make fun of the notion of fallen angels, bound in a river, released on the earth, bring with them untold death and suffering. Men may deny the truth of these verses, but that does not diminish their reality.

      Angels have power and fallen angels have power as well. Daniel found this out when he prayed to the Lord and the answer to his prayer was delayed three weeks by demonic activity, Dan. 10:12-13.

      We cannot see it, but there is a struggle going on around us right now, Eph. 6:12. Angels and demons are at war all around us. One day, the reality of spiritual battle will be made real to humanity. Four demons will be released on this earth and one-third of the remaining human population will die!)


  I.  A Time Of Demonic Activity



(Ill. These four demons will be released with the mission of killing one-third of humanity. They will use their power to energize a vast human army. They will use this demonically inspired force to accomplish their mission. Let’s talk about this army.)           

A.  v. 16  The Size Of This Army – We are told that this army will number “two hundred thousand thousand”.  A little math reveals that we are talking about an army of 200,000,000 men! We are talking about an army of immense proportions! Someone has calculated that an army that large could line up in a formation 1 mile wide and 87 miles long! Just a few generations ago an army of that size was almost incomprehensible. Today, it is not just a possibility; it is a stark reality.

      Communist China has had the ability since 1964 to raise a fighting force of over 200,000,000 men. In the year 2,000 China had 363,050,980 available men between the ages of 15 and 49. Of that number some 199,178,361 men were fit for military service. Each year another 10,839,039 men reach fighting age in China.[1]

      I share these figures to teach us that the Bible is accurate, even though men want to make light of its prophecies. Such an army is possible in our day.

B.  v. 17-19  The Symbolism Of This Army – As we read this description of this vast army, one of the questions that arises is whether this army is human or demonic. I believe that we are looking at a human army that is demonically controlled and energized. They are men, but they are men who march under the banner of Hell.  They are humans, but they are humans under the control and direction of Satan and His demons. Let’s look at what John tells us about this army.

      Something that strikes me is the language used to describe these soldiers. It is the language of symbolism and it is, first of all, language that is descriptive of Hell. The men have breastplates of fire, jacinth and brimstone, or sulphur. These are the colors, red, blue and yellow. These are all the colors of fire. These are colors associated with the torments of Hell itself. Their horses breathe fire, smoke and brimstone. Again, these bring to mind images of Hell and its torments. Hell will be a place of smoke, of fire and of brimstone. These soldiers come with the colors of Hell; the smell of Hell; the weapons of Hell and the energy of Hell. It is a picture of an army controlled by Hell.

      People always want to know what we Christians believe about Hell. Do we believe that Hell is real, or just a symbol? I always tell people that they had better hope it is real. A symbol is always a weak attempt to describe something that is very real. If the language in the Bible regarding Hell is symbolic, then Hell is far worse than anything we have ever heard or read.

      There is also language that is used to describe things that are indescribable. John is trying to use First Century language to describe a Twenty-First Century army. As we look at the descriptions John gives us of these men, their horses and their methods of killing, it seems to me that he is trying to describe a scene for which he did not have the right vocabulary.

1. Faces like Lions – This may indicate that their horses, or whatever vehicles they ride, are fierce looking.

2.  Men are killed by the smoke, fire and brimstone that issue from the mouths of these beasts – Could this be a description of tanks, rockets, machine guns, etc?

3.  These beasts are said to have power in their heads and in their tails to kill and do damage – This brings to mind images of helicopters, missiles, warheads, etc.


      Imagine a man from the 1800’s plucked out of his time period and placed in our day. Now, imagine that same man being taken back to his time period. Now, imagine him trying to describe what he saw in our day to people in his day using the vocabulary he possessed.


(Note: It would be foolish to be too dogmatic and say that these verses can only describe a modern army and its equipment. We must, however, consider that possibility.

      Regardless of how you interpret these words, one thing is clear. It will be a terrible time of destruction, death and demonic activity. I praise the Lord for the fact that I will not be here when these events come to pass!)


  I.  A Time Of Demonic Activity

 II.  A Time Of Destructive Activity



(Ill. We are told very clearly that these demons unleash a vast army upon the earth. One-third of all the people living on the earth will be killed. You would think that death and destruction on that scale would cause mankind to look within his heart, acknowledge his sins and turn in repentance toward God.

      Those who survive the carnage continue on in the sins, refusing to repent. These verses are a clear X-Ray of the condition of the human heart. We can long to find good in man if we wish, but man is totally depraved. He is a hopeless sinner and, apart from the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is not good in man at all, Rom. 3:10-23. Every human carries within his heart the seeds of evil and he or she is capable of committing any sin that can be imagined. Lest we think better of ourselves than we should, the same capacity to plumb the depths of evil dwells in our hearts as well!)

A.  v. 20  Man Is Depraved In His Worship – Given all the sin and chaos during the Tribulation, one might think that it would be a time empty of religious activity. As we will learn from this verse, and from future studies, the Tribulation will be a time marked by intense religious activity. But, as you know, no religion can save. It takes faith in the shed blood of Jesus to accomplish that!

      Man is a religious creature. Regardless of where you go in this world you will find people engaged in worship. From the darkest jungles of Africa and South America, to the highest mountains in Asia, to the great cities of Europe, and America, you will find people engaged in worship. Every culture, whether it is primitive or advanced, has some involvement with worship. Even the atheist worships. He merely directs his worship toward himself.

1. This verse tells us that religion in the Tribulation Period will be marked by the worship of demons and by the worship of material things. Men will be caught up in the worship of the occult. There is an increase in our day in the interest in the occult. Movies, music and other popular media provide an opportunity for many to learn more about the devil, demons and Satanism. Witchcraft is becoming more popular than ever, and the numbers of practicing witches is increasing at an astonishing rate. All of this is leading toward the day when mankind will worship demons. You see, involvement with the occult begins with entertainment. People learn about it and begin to dabble in it. Then, it moves into the arena of enlightenment. People then begin to seek answers and help for their problems in the world of the occult. It then moves into the area of enslavement. People get trapped in the system and are unable to get free. America, and the rest of the word, is headed in that direction today! If you reject God and His Son Jesus, then you have nothing left but Satan!

2.  Man will also give his worship to gods of his own creation. He will worship “idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk”. This may either mean that man will make gods that he will bow down to and worship. Or, it could mean that he will give his worship to the material possessions of life. Man will worship his money, his car, his home, and his possessions. Even though he will give his love, his adoration and his worship to these things, they are not gods at all. They can not see him, hear him or move to help him. His worship of these things will not benefit him at all!


(Note: There is a thought here that should not be missed. Every person should look at the God he or she worships. Look at that person or thing that has your love, adoration and worship. Can your God hear you when you pray? Can you God see you when you have a need? Can your God move to do something about your problem? If not, then you need a God Who can! Ill. Many are worshiping gods like those of ancient Israel, Psa. 115:1-8; Jer. 10:3-6.)


B.  v. 21  Man Is Depraved In His Works – It seems that there will be a significant increase in wickedness in that day. John uses four words to describe the moral condition of the sinners living during the Tribulation. Let’s consider those four words briefly.

1.  Murders – It is hard to imagine a civilization being more murderous than our own. Hardly a day goes by without us hearing about several murders here in America. Large towns and small, no place is immune from the blight of murder. People kill others out of hatred or lust every day.

      There are hit men who will kill someone they do not even know, if the money is right. They don’t kill for hate, they kill for profit.

      Then there are serial killers. People who roam the country killing total strangers for their own perverted reasons. They kill for thrills.

      Then there are the abortionists. These people commit murder every day and they are protected by the laws of America! More babies have been sacrificed on the altar of convenience and personal rights than the total number of people killed in all the concentration camps of Nazi Germany!

      Why are things this way? We have taught a generation that man descended from apes. We have taught a generation that there is no God to be accountable. We have taught a generation that every person has the ability to determine what is right and wrong for himself. Our children are raised up on a steady diet of godless humanism and they have no thought for the rights and property of others. Just look at how rude and violent people have become!

      This verse teaches us that the Tribulation will be marked by murders. Apparently, the violence of mankind will increase after the removal of the church.

2.  Sorceries – The word “sorceries” comes from the word “pharmakeia”. You recognize that word; we get the modern word “pharmacy” from it. There are two possible interpretations for the use of this word in this verse. First, as we have already seen, the Tribulation will see a marked increase in satanic worship. Second, there will also be a rise in drug abuse. We are seeing this take place right before our eyes. The marijuana of the 1960’s and 70’s has been replaced with the crack and meth of this generation. Hardly a week passes without our hearing of a drug bust or a drug related arrest. Our world is busy seeking an escape hatch from its problems through the use of mind-altering drugs. This trend will increase as we move through these last days. It will reach pandemic proportions during the Tribulation.  It is even possible that the government will resort to drugs to control an increasingly violent population.

3.  Fornication – This is translated from the Greek word “porneia”. It gives us our modern word “pornography”. It is a word that was used in that day to refer to every kind of illicit, sexual sin. It covers ever type of sexual activity that mankind can be engaged in. Our country has already seen the “free love” movement and the “love ins” of the hippies. We have been through the “sexual revolution”. We have witnessed the day when things that were not even discussed in public are as common on our television screens as a Coca-Cola commercial. Cable, satellite and the Internet pipe endless streams of pornographic fare into our homes, and network television is just as bad. Children who are allowed to watch television without adult supervision know more about sex by the age of seven that most of us knew when we got married! Our society is saturated by sex. Man has taken a beautiful gift from God and perverted it.

      I’m going to say this again. I know that I am old-fashioned, but I am biblical! God designed sex to be exercised within the framework of the marriage relationship. Any sexual expression that takes place outside a marriage relationship involving one man and one woman is a sin and it will be judged by God!

      Sexual perversion will increase as we move into the last days. Other parts of the world are confronted with even more perversions than we are here. It will increase as the days go by.

4.  Thefts – The personal rights and property of others will have no meaning at all. We are already seeing this trend in our society, as a segment of our population believes that it is their right to take what they want when they want from whomever they can get it from. This attitude will become increasingly evident in the last days and will reach terrible proportions during the Tribulation. As food, water, medicine clothing and shelter become increasingly scarce; men will take what they want.


Conc: The Bible paints a bleak picture of the events of the Tribulation Period. There will be death and violence on an unprecedented level throughout the world. Yet, in the midst of it all, men will continue to harden their hearts to the Gospel of Christ and will continue their headlong plunge into the fires of Hell.

      That is why we should do everything in our power to reach them with the Gospel. No sacrifice is too great; no distance too vast; no expense too steep and effort is wasted in the work of reaching men for Jesus.

      As I close this message let me leave you with this invitation. First, if you have never been saved, this could be your future. Come to Jesus and be saved. Then you can miss the Tribulation and make Heaven your home. Second, if you are saved, but you haven’t been living it like you should, this is the day to get things settled between you and the Lord. Third, if you would like to do more and be used more to reach men for Him, He is looking for laborers for His harvest. Come and sign up today. Fourth, if you know people who will be left here and you want to come and pray for them, this altar is open.

[1] http://www.photius.com/wfb2000/countries/china/china_military.html

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