James J. Barker

Lesson 17

Text: REVELATION 9:13-21


  1. You will recall there are seven seal judgments, seven trumpet judgments, and seven vial (some prefer to use the word "bowl") judgments.
  2. The seven trumpets are included in the seventh seal, and then the seven vials are included in the seventh trumpet.
  3. Contained in the seventh seal are all the subsequent judgments leading up to the second coming of Christ, including the seven trumpets and the seven vials.
  4. In a previous message I quoted W. Graham Scroggie, who said it is "incorrect to speak of the Trumpets as following the Seals. They do not follow, but are the Seventh Seal."
  5. In like manner the vials constitute the seventh trumpet.  Again I will quote Scroggie: "Therefore the Bowls do not double back over the Seal and Trumpet Judgments; neither is it correct to say that they follow the Trumpet visitations. They do not follow because THEY ARE THE SEVENTH TRUMPET CONTENTS" (cited by Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
  6. Last week we looked at the fifth trumpet (9:1-12).  Tonight we will look at the sixth trumpet (9:13-21).
  7. Revelation 11:15 refers to the seventh trumpet.  Then comes the seven vials (16:1ff).



  1. With the sounding of the sixth trumpet, John hears a voice described as coming from the four horns of the golden altar before God.
  2. This golden altar is in the temple of God in heaven. In Revelation 8:3, this altar is the scene of the offering of incense with the prayers of saints.
  3. John Walvoord thinks, "The inference is that this judgment like those preceding is partially an answer to the prayers of the persecuted saints on earth and a token of divine response and preparation for their deliverance" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
  4. The voice instructed the sixth angel to loose the four angels declared to be bound in the great river Euphrates (9:14).
  5. These apparently are not the same four angels mentioned in 7:1, who have authority over the winds of the earth.
  6. The four angels in chapter 7, holding the four winds of the earth, are told not to inflict their punishment until the 144,000 witnesses are sealed and protected.
  7. These angels in Revelation 7:1 will be instruments of God’s divine wrath upon the world.
  8. These four angels here in chapter 9, however, are of a different character. They are described as "bound" in the great river Euphrates (9:14).
  9. In the Bible, we do not see any instances where holy angels are bound.  However, we read in Jude 6 that some of the wicked angels are bound in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
  10. And during the millennial kingdom, Satan will be bound for one thousand years and cast into the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:1-3).
  11. Therefore, we can conclude that these angels are fallen angels, i.e., devils or demons.
  12. These four angels bound in the Euphrates River will be loosed at the sounding of the sixth trumpet in order to execute the judgment of God (9:13-15).
  13. There are 21 references to the Euphrates River in Scripture.
  14. In Genesis 2:10 we are told that a river went out of the Garden of Eden to water the garden; "and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads."
  15. One of those four rivers is the great Euphrates River (Genesis 2:14).
  16. This fascinating prophecy in Revelation 9 describes an invasion from the Far East.   The Euphrates River is 1,780 miles long and is a natural boundary between the Middle East and the Far East.
  17. Since the battle of Armageddon will take place in Israel, a way will be prepared for the huge Chinese army to invade Israel.
  18. Revelation 16:12 says, "And 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."
  19. An article in the July 13, 2009 New York Times: Jubaish, Iraq — "Throughout the marshes, the reed gatherers, standing on land they once floated over, cry out to visitors in a passing boat. 'Maaku mai!' they shout, holding up their rusty sickles. 'There is no water!'  The Euphrates is drying up. Strangled by the water policies of Iraq’s neighbors, Turkey and Syria; a two-year drought; and years of misuse by Iraq and its farmers, the river is significantly smaller than it was just a few years ago. Some officials worry that it could soon be half of what it is now. The shrinking of the Euphrates, a river so crucial to the birth of civilization that the Book of Revelation prophesied its drying up as a sign of the end times, has decimated farms along its banks, has left fishermen impoverished and has depleted riverside towns as farmers flee to the cities looking for work."
  20. Note the word "prepared" (9:15, cf. 9:7; 16:12).  God has everything prepared.  Walvoord says, "They all are prepared for their hour of activity much as the whale was prepared to swallow Jonah."
  21. It is declared that the angels’ function is to slay the third part of men and that they had been prepared to fulfill this purpose at the given hour (9:15).
  22. The expression “an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year” emphasizes that this judgment comes exactly at the hour of God’s appointment.
  23. Worldly men worry and fret that some dictator will start a nuclear war, and that this will lead to the Battle of Armageddon.  That is not what the Bible teaches.
  24. Second Peter 3:7 says, "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
  25. Note the word "reserved." This world will blow up but not until God says so.
  26. God has His own schedule; His “hour, and day, and month, and year.”
  27. It is God's appointed hour. God uses sinful men and demons to accomplish His purposes, but it is God's schedule.
  28. Though the agency of men is used to accomplish the purpose of God, the time schedule is determined by God, not man.
  29. Even angels (whether the elect angels or fallen angels) execute God’s will in God’s time.
  30. God is right on schedule.
  31. The first five trumpets will be terrible (8:7--9:12), but the sixth trumpet will be even more devastating.
  32. One third of the world's population will be killed (9:15, 18). Earlier in the fourth seal, a fourth of the earth’s population is killed. Here an additional third is marked out for slaughter.
  33. The world population is expected to reach 7 billion this year.  If the rapture were to take place this year, and the tribulation were to immediately follow, that means approximately 1,750,000 people would be wiped out when the fourth seal is opened (Rev. 6:8).
  34. This would reduce the world population to 5,250,000.  Then when the sixth angel sounds his trumpet, another third of the earth's population will be killed (9:15, 18).
  35. This means the world population will be reduced to about three and a half billion people!   Half of the human race will be destroyed within a few short years!
  36. Walvoord says, "Never since Noah has such a substantial proportion of the earth’s population come under God’s righteous judgment."



  1. Because of the incredible number of horsemen -- "two hundred thousand thousand" (200 million) --  many Bible teachers and Bible readers do not take this literally (9:16).
  2. Older expositors could not fathom such a large number of soldiers. For example, H.B. Swete wrote, “These vast numbers forbid us to seek a literal fulfillment."
  3. John Walvoord said, "Swete, if living today, would no doubt be astounded to read in Time (May 21, 1965, p. 35) that Red China alone claims to have a man-and-woman militia of 200,000,000, exactly the figure of Revelation 9:16."
  4. If taken literally, this would represent the largest armed force ever known to man. Considering the multiplied millions of people in the Far East, the literal interpretation is realistic.
  5. China has been cutting the size of its military, but it still has a huge army, as does North Korea.
  6. Military service is compulsory, so it would not be difficult for Red China to organize a large army with volunteers from its large population.
  7. Revelation 16:12 says, "And 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."
  8. These "kings of the east" are not identified, but this probably refers to Red China, perhaps in an alliance with North Korea and other communist countries such as Vietnam.
  9. The sixth trumpet and the sixth vial are possibly two different phases of the same judgment. "Chronologically the trumpets involved closely succeed one another and their judgments seem to fall like trip-hammer blows as the great tribulation comes to its close" (Walvoord).
  10. We are also given a graphic description of the horses as well as of the horsemen who sit upon them. They are declared to have breastplates of fire and of jacinth and brimstone (9:17).
  11. Strong Concordance says "jacinth" " is "of a red color bordering on black."   In Scripture, brimstone always represents the judgment of God.  The first reference is Genesis 19:24, "Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven."
  1. The last reference is Revelation 21:8, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
  2. This prophecy could be describing modern warfare. The heads of the horses are compared to heads of lions out of whose mouths fire, smoke, and brimstone issue. Certainly these are not ordinary horses.
  3. It does sound very much like a description of modern mechanical warfare -- tanks, helicopters, rocket launchers, missiles, flame throwers, napalm, nuclear weapons, etc.
  4. Revelation 9:19 says that "their power is in their mouth, and in their tails."  Their tails are compared to serpents, and even the tails have heads with which they can seriously hurt men.
  5. This sounds like John's description of modern warfare.  It is an awesome picture of a powerful military force destroying all that opposes it.
  6. Many Bible teachers think John is describing modern warfare.  Ray Stedman says, "What can this be? Let us remember that we are reading an ancient book in which are described events that are still future to us. What we have here is modern warfare described in military terms of John's day. 'Breastplates' of various colors suggest armored chariots -- i.e. tanks, missile launchers, and other vehicles of war, that are camouflaged with various colors (or perhaps are identified by national colors, since this is a conglomeration of armies coming together). 'Lion's mouths' that are spouting fire and belching smoke suggest cannons and mortars -- even nuclear missiles -- killing with fire, radiation, and poisonous gases. Tails like snakes that do injury perhaps describe modern helicopters, gunships, which have a rotor at the tail where also machine-guns and missile launchers are located. This may even depict weapons not yet invented. I recognize it is difficult to say precisely what all this means, but it is obvious that here we have a great military campaign, which results in monstrous slaughter of enormous scope" (All Hell Breaks Loose).
  7. The horses will have "the heads of lions" (9:17).  Verse 18 says fire, smoke, and brimstone will come out of their mouths.
  8. Verse 19 says, "For 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."
  9. The horses will have "the heads of lions" (9:17).  Verse 8 says the demon locusts have teeth like lions.
  10. All of this indicates these are not ordinary horses, but rather a description of modern warfare.
  11. John Walvoord says, "This indicates that though there may be a disarmament in the early phases of the time period between the rapture and the second coming, by this time, namely toward the close of the tribulation, modern means of war are once again being fully used. The world that longs for peace and seeks to attain it by the worship of the beast of Revelation 13 will learn the sad lesson that there can be no peace until the Prince of Peace rules."



  1. In spite of the dramatic judgment inflicted by this invading military force, those who survive will still refuse to repent (9:20, 21; cf. 16:8-12).
  2. We have seven marks of the unsaved during the tribulation (could apply today as well):
  1. impenitent -- "yet repented not" (9:20); "Neither repented" (9:21).
  2. idolatrous (9:20).
  3. devil worship (9:20).
  4. murder (9:21).
  5. sorcery (9:21; cf. 21:8).
  6. fornication (9:21).
  7. theft (9:21).
  1. Such is the hardness of the human heart that even though sinners are faced by worldwide destruction and the divine judgment from God, they will still refuse to repent.
  2. Men will still be religious (cf. Rev. 17 & 18), but will refuse to acknowledge the true God.
  3. Walvoord says, "Though the power of satanic false religion is evident in the world, it does not have the transforming, purifying, redeeming quality found only in the power and grace of God."



Spurgeon: "How terrible to await the dread advance of a hurricane—such as occurs, sometimes, in the tropics—to wait in terrible apprehension till the wind shall rush forth in fury, tearing up trees from their roots, forcing rocks from their pedestals, and hurling down all the dwelling-places of man! And yet, sinner, this is your present position. No hot drops have as yet fallen, but a shower of fire is coming. No terrible winds howl around you, but God's tempest is gathering its dread artillery. As yet the water-floods are dammed up by mercy, but the flood-gates shall soon be opened: the thunderbolts of God are yet in His storehouse, but lo! the tempest hastens, and how awful shall that moment be when God, robed in vengeance, shall march forth in fury! Where, where, where, O sinner, wilt thou hide thy head, or whither wilt thou flee? O that the hand of mercy may now lead you to Christ! He is freely set before you in the gospel: His riven side is the rock of shelter. Thou knowest thy need of Him; believe in Him, cast thyself upon Him, and then the fury shall be overpast for ever" (Morning and Evening). 

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