Having concluded our look at the Sixth seal and how it portrays conditions consistent to the rise of the Beast “THAT WAS” we now continued on with our investigation to see what THE SIXTH TRUMPET has to say on these matters.
Keep in mind the object of the trumpets is not the same as that of the seals. The seals showed us how historical events of the period affected the church, (viz. the French Revolution, the Enlightenment, the emergence of Protestantism and etc.) while the trumpets show us how present truth (that is those truths then due) affected surrounding society.
“Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God…” Rev 9:13
“The sixth angel was Martin Luther. “I” is John who represents the Church in the flesh. The voice is a message. (“Four” may or may not be spurious. The golden altar DID, of course, have four horns. Four, representing universality, would show the complete power of the altar.) Horns represent power. The golden altar represents the sacrificing of The Christ during the Gospel Age. Therefore, the message seems to be:
Luther delivered his message, and the Church heard (as a result) a message regarding the power of individual sacrificing with Christ.
This is EXACTLY what Luther’s JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH doctrine accomplished. Christians were no longer subject to the Roman Catholic priesthood and its fraudulent sacrifice of the Mass. They now stood before God as individually consecrated members of Christ’s body, sacrificing individually in Christ as part of the Great Sin-Offering. This message is closely tied to 3:7 where the door is now open and no one can shut it. The saints and history itself is, by this message, released or loosed from the Papacy. The saints were now, in Luther’s words, “A Priesthood of Believers.”
“…Saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound (in) the great river Euphrates.” Rev 9:14
“The four angels here are, no doubt, the same angels which we met in the sixth seal (Rev 7:1-3). It will be of value to review their symbolism. Whether or not four ACTUAL angels are involved behind the scenes is not very material. Four, as we recall, is a symbol of universality. The 7:1 four were standing at the four corners of the earth — all parts of the established order of things. They were instructed by Jesus (Rev 7:2, 3) NOT to let things go to the point of anarchy (four winds). These four angels are probably the PARTS OF SOCIETY WHICH WILL ULTIMATELY GO TOO FAR thus causing total breakdown.
They are probably the, (1) Social, (2) Political, (3) Financial, (4) and Religious elements of society.
“Here in Rev 9:14, Luther is told that his work would release these angels because they were, up until his time BOUND IN THE EUPHRATES. The Euphrates is symbolic of the support of the people given to Babylon. In Luther’s day, of course, ALL support of the people had been to the Roman Catholic Church — the only Babylon at the time. Because the Roman Catholic Church had complete control over the elements of society, social, judicial, as well as religious, those elements (the four angels) could not function outside of the approval of the Papacy. There could be no social changes, nor financial theories explored, no political freedoms, and no religious questioning. The four angels were, indeed, BOUND in the Euphrates. The people who supported Rome were fearful of giving support to anything not sanctioned by Rome.”
“So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.” Rev 9:15
The implications of this verse must be viewed carefully. These angels are prepared for a very specific time and work, but they are released to accomplish something additional. In other words, the PRIMARY prophetic work will be for the hour, day, month, and year, but, before that, they are released to “kill a third of men.” This two-fold function must be recognized in the interpretation.
Many suggestions have been made regarding the chronological implications of this verse. Each seems to be forced. We offer an alternative which is derived from within the symbolism of the sixth trumpet. First, it is imperative to note that the Greek text uses the definite article — ONLY before the word HOUR. Thus these angels were prepared for:
And A year.
If we look during the period of the Philadelphia Church, what can we find that might be called THE hour? Nearly all Bible students would conclude that the TIME OF THE END — marked by the close of the French Revolution — is the singular most important “HOUR” in Philadelphia.
Because of this, Verse 15 seems to be saying, the release of the four angels from the power of the Euphrates is so that they will be contributors to the events of the French Revolution. That Revolution could not have happened except that social, financial, religious, and political philosophies and liberties had reached such a degree of development and expression that all fury broke loose because of them — the flood of ideas mentioned in Rev 12:15.
But they are also released for A day, A month, and A year. Which day, month, and year? The answer seems clear BOTH in the Revelation account of the sixth trumpet AND in Daniel’s prophecy of the event. It will be the 1260th day (Rev 11:3); it will be the 42nd month (Rev 11:2); and it will be (pardon the strange English) the 3 1/2 year (Rev 11:6; Dan 12:7 and Rev 10:6). Thus, from the sixth-trumpet account alone it is possible to account for THE hour, and one each (the last of each) of the days, months, and years (reaching to THE TIME OF THE END).
But before we reach that special “hour,” (The Time of the End), the release of these four angels progresses so that a third of men might be killed. Once Luther had begun the Reformation, there were three basic parts of the Christian world: (1) the civil powers, (2) the Roman Catholic Church, and (3) the new Protestantism. These angels didn’t kill Protestants! In actuality, they made Protestants. They didn’t kill the civil power. They didn’t kill the Roman Catholic Church either except that those who made up the New Protestantism used to be Roman Catholic members. Here is the third that were slain. They were KILLED AS ROMAN CATHOLICS; they were REBORN as Protestants. This division of Christianity would be one of the factors leading to the French Revolution — the time for which the four angels were especially prepared.”
“Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them.” Rev 9:16
Suddenly, out of nowhere, we have mentioned armies of horsemen numbering 200,000,000, the context just about demands that this verse be connected with the previous verse. These “armies” are, apparently, the third of mankind which have become Protestant. [Editor: We are using the word “Protestant,” in this monograph, not in the sense of a Church, but in its generic sense, that is, as opposed to Roman Catholicism] They are horsemen because they are being carried foreword by their new and exciting doctrines. This verse says that the John Class “heard the number of them.” This statement is true as witnessed by the chart in The Divine Plan of the Ages, page 16. This chart, published by the London Missionary Society, shows us that at the beginning of the Laodicean period, the world numbers approximately 116 million Protestants. Adding the number since the days of Luther, 200 million of them during the Philadelphia period is a reasonable estimate — still vastly outnumbered by Roman Catholics, but definitely a vast number.
“And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone.” Rev 9:17
This, and the next two verses, is a description of the power of the Protestant movement during the entire Philadelphia period. John sees both horses and riders. The riders have DEFENSIVE armor — breastplates. This is to show the protection (Eph 6:16) which the Biblically-supported truths supplied for the reformed believers. The horses, on the other hand, have OFFENSIVE equipment: heads of lions and, later, tails like serpents with heads. The lion’s head and all that comes out of its mouth show the power at the head (beginning) of the reform movement. The message was so powerful that it DEVOURED its adversaries; hence, a third of mankind was killed (converted). As the movement progressed through time the power was not so great. As we near the end of the Philadelphia period, converts to Protestantism were sparse — but the power of the tails (the many Protestant denominations which had grown out of the movement) was strong enough yet to “do harm.”
The breastplates of the riders cause some difficulty. Most translators and commentators seem to think that three COLORS are meant by the description, NOT fire, jacinth, and sulphur. If this be so, the colors are the RED of fire, the BLUE of the jacinth (hyacinth), and the YELLOW of poisonous sulphur. Interestingly enough, sulphur is very combustible and burns at a very high degree of heart. The meaning is not easy of interpretation. These are, of course, the three primary colors from which all other colors are formed. This might well signify that the protection of the Protestants is from the complete color palate of truths from the Bible — a true and reasonable fact. The sources of these colors would add significance: the purifying power of fire (even as the red doctrine of the ransom is the doctrine by which all other doctrines are measured and considered pure or not); the faithfulness represented by blue which comes from a flower (hyacinth) or the stone named after it. If the gemstone is intended, perhaps the grace and promise of fruitage from faithfulness is meant. Perhaps the thought is that the power in the truths poisons [or burns away] any error when attempts are made to assault it. [Editor: Another thought is that when the proselyte comes in contact with these symbolic truths, “red, blue, and yellow,” the resultant combination is “white,” that is, he is given a “white” robe of righteousness.]
These horses are fierce and offensive in character as was the initial trend of Protestant reforms. From their mouths (i. e., from their message, their witnessing, etc.,) come fire, smoke, and brimstone (sulphur). The protestant doctrine WAS destructive of old Paganistic ideas and ways (fire); it was confusing to its enemies (smoke); and it set out to poison the false “waters” which Babylon had called truth to that point.
“By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths.” Rev 9:18
It was the OFFENSIVE onslaught that made converts (the fire, smoke, and brimstone); it was not the DEFENSIVE shield of the riders. This is a lesson to us all: We may be able to DEFEND the Truth — be able to use our shield (to fend off errors); but the way to reap wheat is not in the defense of Truth, but in the bold and forthright promulgation of it. However, we must always remember that we are only ministers of the Truth. Without the wonderful efforts of the Holy Spirit acting upon the hearts of those who might listen to us and causing them to turn from their unrighteous ways to the Truth and the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, there would be no Christianity.
“For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.” Rev 9:19
Once again — the POWER of the doctrines is NOT in their riders! It is in their ability to SPEAK — their lions’ heads, and their serpent tails WITH HEADS. (See 9:17 for the contrast of tail and head.)
“But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” Rev 9:20, 21
The rest of mankind NOT killed by these plagues apparently refers to that segment of the Christian world which remained Roman Catholic. They did not change the way they did things just because the Protestant reformation had come.
The listing of the WORKS OF THEIR HANDS (Verse 20) and the IMMORALITIES (Verse 21) does not seem intended for us to analyze each of the terms in the lists. On the contrary, the point seems to be that there are TWO AREAS IN WHICH THEY DID NOT REPENT. The FIRST area is that of false worship. This is the FIRST COMMANDMENT. The second area is that of harm to others. This is the SECOND COMMANDMENT. In these two, according to Jesus, is the whole Law and the Prophets. It is almost to say that the spiritual point of the Reformation was to bring to the attention of all professing Christians their having strayed from these two basic precepts. The Protestant movement would stress these two items; the Roman Catholic Church would not. And so it has been ever since — setting the stage for the final reform: Laodicea.
In our next segment we will attempt to determine when the Beast that was, and is not is to “COME AGAIN”.
Excerpts taken from the New Albany Notes on Revelation