*Below is Pastor Andrew’s preaching outline from Sunday’s sermon, not a word for word manuscript. This is meant as aid in seeing the thought and direction of the sermon.
Our text today features some of the most bizarre imagery in all of scripture. It is in text like this that many people turn off from the book of revelation and go back to things far less confusing. It is also things like the images in today’s text that have driven some people to make a lot of money off of over sensationalizing the text. Bringing these historically symbolic images to life as realities in ways the text does not.
It is in texts like this that we have to remember that it was written once again to an original audience how as not us to encourage them in the midst of their very real struggle against sin and the temptation to fall away from the Faith and compromise with the world.
Only 2 of the seven churches were not being plagued by idolatry in their midst, but they were being persecuted for their strong faith.
Also, to be reminded of as we approach todays text is that it is also a continuation of God’s revelation to the saints who longed for God’s judgment. Int he Trumpets we have seen a fuller picture of the Judgment of God on an unbelieving world. We have seen him answer the saints cry and to a degree show them the bigger picture.
I. Sin & Suffering (1-12)
Revelation 9:1–12 ESV
And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them. In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come.
- Fallen Star: 2 other places in Scripture we see a similar phrase:
Isaiah 14:12–15 ESV
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.
Luke 10:18 ESV
And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
If these are the texts in View heaven, we come to Rev. 9 then we again are seeing a picture of what has taken places and what is now being experienced in every generation and will be experienced in full on the last day.
What this fallen Angel does is what the Lord has given him authority to do…. Unleash the forces of evil onto the earth in a new and graver sense.
- Opened Pit:
Now what is key is that what comes out of the pit and fills the earth has a very real spiritual dimension to them. These are things found in the spiritual realms and are flowing form the abyss.
-These are not man-made objects: they are not helicopters or fighter jets: they are the power of the evil one unleashed
-Locusts are a common theme in the OT for judgment
Exodus 10:12 ESV
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, so that they may come upon the land of Egypt and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left.”
Joel 1:2–7 ESV
Hear this, you elders; give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation. What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten. Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth. For a nation has come up against my land, powerful and beyond number; its teeth are lions’ teeth, and it has the fangs of a lioness. It has laid waste my vine and splintered my fig tree; it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down; their branches are made white.
Joel 2:4–7 ESV
Their appearance is like the appearance of horses, and like war horses they run. As with the rumbling of chariots, they leap on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, like a powerful army drawn up for battle. Before them peoples are in anguish; all faces grow pale. Like warriors they charge; like soldiers they scale the wall. They march each on his way; they do not swerve from their paths.
Joel seems to paint the same picture of God’s wrath being poured out on the people because of their sin. Sin is in view and sin is what will kill and destroy.
the 5 months reflects the life span of locust, the reality that their effects are only temporary.
Luke 10:17–19 ESV
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
The 72 were in Christ and as such the forces of the evil one are nothing:
- Practically we see the reality that Sin leads to a sorrow and brokenness from the pit of hell that for those who are without Christ is an unbearable reality.
-The Sealed saints cannot be touched because the forces of evil have no sway in their lives.
-Sin and sorrow for those who are in Christ should not lead to despair beyond hope.
In the End we see a “king from the pit”” he is announced in both Greek and Hebrew pointing to again the totality of his work. Jew and Gentile alike fall under his work, which is given to him only by God himself.
His name means destruction and that is the reality of his mission.
And so, from this moment we see a sixth trumpet blow.
-when seen in paralleled to what has gone before this here is the culmination and the final response to a world plagued by sin, who have been warned through their suffering, and who know the reality of sin, but cling to their false idols.
II. Sin & Death (13-21)
Revelation 9:13–21 ESV
Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So, the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound. The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
The sixth trumpet reflects the culmination of what we have seen the four angels who waited for the number to be sealed now are given the green light to go. The horses ride forth to do their work.
Key again is that this is not a spur of the moment thing or something beyond God’s purview: they have been now released.
So, the forces of evil now no longer torment but bring death to those who have remained in unrepentance:
Echoing the final judgment of Exodus and the death of the first born
Jeremiah 46: reflects on this same army coming forth to destroy and kill, by God’s decree against sin.
The Ending is key to the whole: In the midst of overwhelming evidence of sins destructive power and the forces of death it brings to bear humanity apart from the work of Christ will cling to their own idols:
-Drunkenness kills….. Drunkenness remains
-STDs and broken lives are rampant, and yet we just try to make provisions and hope it doesn’t happen
-Drugs kill untold millions every year, and yet we continue to pursue them for sources of joy
-Pornography wreaks havoc on the lives of men and women. destroying homes warping the ins of children and leading to an overflow of anger and hate, and yet the hunger never dies
-In almost every case death is rampant people are disposable and yet when push comes to shove humanity will blame everyone but themselves and cling to their god’s who-in the end kill them.
III. Christ is Sovereign
What do we take away from a text like this?
- Nothing in this chapter happens apart from the decree of Christ from the throne
- God’s people are spared from the eternal effects of sin (though not the temporal ones)
- We don’t have to wonder why people don’t see the fruit of their own sinfulness, the text reveals that they cannot see
- However, their blindness is an opportunity to pray that God will open their eyes