So far we have had the seven letters to the churches, the seven seals of the scroll opened, five of the seven trumpets sounded, and the first of three woes. Phew! I get confused by this and needed to sum it up for my own benefit! Now we have the sixth trumpet and the second woe.
“And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, one saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ And the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year were released, so that they might kill a third of mankind. And the number of the armies of the horsemen was two hundred milllion; I heard the number of them.” ~Revelation 9:13-16
Four angels- fallen angels, demons- who were so horrible they had been bound throughout history, were now released and sent out with an army of two hundred million other demons to kill one-third of all mankind. One fourth had already died, so over half of the people on earth will have died at this point in the Tribulation. John describes what this army looked like:
“And this is how I saw in the vision the horses and those who sat on them: the riders had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone. A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone, which proceeded out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents and have heads; and with them they do harm.” ~Revelation 9:17-19
It is such a frightening thought to experience this. I cannot imagine the terror. What is so amazing is what John tells us next:
“And the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.” ~Revelation 9:20-21
Wow. After all of the horrors of the seals and the trumpets, still they will not turn their hearts to God. And yet, we are told by Paul in Romans 2:4~ “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
We understand in our human relationships that it makes sense to woo someone with kindness and love, and that is what God is doing right now with the world. He loves us and shows us His mercy and love and kindness and forgiveness. But during the Tribulation period, His wrath and judgment are being poured out. People can still turn to Him, but verses 20-21 of this chapter tell us that instead their hearts will be hardened.
The Greek word for sorceries is “pharmakeia”, which can also mean the use or administering of drugs, or poisoning. It is linked to idolatry. It appears that in the Tribulation days, men will worship the demons, the very creatures being used by God to pour out His wrath. There will also be idol worship- an idol can be anything that is put before God. According to verse 20, it sounds like perhaps money and power and wealth and possessions and houses/safety? I don’t know, just speculating. And there will be murders, immorality, thefts… it sounds like our world today, really.
Let God woo you! Turn to Him, the Creator of the universe, the Way the Truth and the Life. He will never disappoint, never let you down, never leave. Don’t hang around on this earth for the Tribulation!