“Then the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,…”(cf. Revelation 9:13-21)
The sixth angel blew his trumpet. There was no immediate release of forces of destruction as with the previous trumpets. John heard a voice from the corners of the altar. Now, from Exodus 30:2-3 & 10 the altar of incense had horns, and that seems to be this altar. Though it could refer to the altar of sacrifice in 6:10 where the martyrs prayed to God under the altar. And their prayers are what’s going to affect the judgment that follows. “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” Are these just mere servants of God? Well, the fact they were bound angels seems to tell they were fallen angels. Now, there’s four of them seems to link with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse back in chapter 6:2-8 and chapter 7:1. This river Euphrates was the idea of the limits of the Promised Land (cf. Gen. 15:18; Deut. 1:7). It was the farthest limits of the Promised Land. Now, some who are looking for historical allusions say this refers to the Parthians (the world’s most dreaded cavalry) who were on the borders of the Euphrates. In chapter 6, they say the bow was the weapon of the Parthians who were skilled archers, and that Rome was afraid of them. Their hair was long like the antennae of the locusts, maybe so, but I think we’re reading too much into this. If we make it to say that indeed these angels were fallen angels who were kept in rebellion, then they had been prepared for that specific hour, and day, and month, and year. If you read Enoch chapter 92, it talks about how God’s in control of every event on earth. I think that’s an allusion here that God is in control even of this demonic persecution that’s coming upon unbelievers
“And the number of the armies of the horsemen was 200 million…” – Some say it’s a demonic army from the abyss. Modern dispensationalists has to make it the army of China, but it’s demonic angels and it’s like an unnumbered mighty horde that was beyond counting. Remember during World War 2, the number of troops of both the Axis power and Allied forces combined was 70 million, and 200 million is indeed an astonishing number that’s the reason why in verse 17, John reminds us that all this was seen in a vision. This is visionary and not literal. These are symbolisms, and the horsemen have breastplates of three colors: red, blue, and yellow; we’re not sure if all breastplates were tri-colored, or some were red and others were yellow, others yellow. They were going to kill a third of mankind by these 3 plagues of fire, smoke, and sulfur. That’s where the three colors come from. Power was given them in the power of the horses. The horses went and did the killing. It’s in their mouths and tails – serpents in their tails, fire out of their mouths, and that’s what they kill with. So, it’s obviously not literal.
Notice in verse 20, and “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent…” – these plagues were designed for mankind to repent, but did not repent. There was a purpose for all this judgment. It’s redemptive, but they wouldn’t; they kept worshipping demons. You might want to see Deut. 32:17; Psalms 106:37; 1 Cor. 10:20; and 1 Tim. 4;1 about the demons behind idol worship; I don’t think that idols are anything but instruments of the demonic to trick and seduce men. Notice as it mentions in verse 21 of murders and magic – you might want to see Galatians 5:20 where ‘sorcery’ has the English word for ‘pharmacy’. “And they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts”. I think it’s very important to see that what we have here is a demonic invasion just preceding the end-time. But praise the Lord, these things could not hurt the people of God. Those persecuted Christians that were being killed by the synagogue of Satan and those who claim to be teachers but are actually false teachers. They were being persecuted by unbelievers, but God says, “There’s a persecution coming, a persecution on unbelievers. But you won’t be affected by it. I’m in control of history”. He says, “Trust Me. I’m going to bring all things to light. I’m going to make things fair. I’m going to make things right. I’m in control of history. I’m in control of evil. I’m on my throne. The prayers of my people affect me. I know what you’re going through, I’m going bring it all right. Trust Me, hang in there.”
That seems to be the real message of Revelation. Whether we can analyze every one of these allusions or not, being able to ascertain exactly what John meant is not as important as that we see the overall thrust. God says, “I love you. I’m in control. Fear not little flock, I will bring it to pass in the appropriate way”. That’s a message we all need to hear, whether we’re amid persecution or not. God’s on His throne in heaven. His people affect Him. God will judge the unbelieving world. God will bring history to a culmination. Wow. what a great message. Amen!