Summary: Repent today before you no longer want to.
During a tourist bus excursion to a volcanic canyon in Iceland a couple of years ago, a woman was reported missing when she failed to return to the bus. The bus driver waited an hour before notifying the Icelandic police. Soon after the missing person's report, search and rescue teams and even a helicopter arrived to search for the missing woman. About 50 people also participated in the search on vehicles and by foot.
But the search was called off within about 12 hours when it authorities discovered that the missing woman wasn't really missing. She was actually on the bus and she had even been a part of the search party. Apparently before reentering the bus after the stop to tour the canyon, she changed her clothes and “freshened up.” The other passengers didn't recognize her. Chief of police Sveinn K. Runarsson told reporters that the woman was innocent of the mistake. She recognized the description of herself and “had no idea that she was missing.” (“Lost Woman Looks for Herself in Iceland's Highlands,” Iceland Review, 8-27-13; www.Preaching Today.com)
That describes a lot of people. They have no idea that they’re missing. They have no idea that they’re lost and in need of a Savior.
Perhaps, that describes some of you. You’re in the church or on the bus, so to speak, and you do good things like joining the search party. But you don’t know that you are the one that needs to be found. You don’t know that you are the one who needs to repent and believe the Gospel.
So what happens to people like that? What happens to people who don’t realize their need and turn to Christ to save them? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Revelation 9, Revelation 9, where we see what happens to those who wait too long to let God rescue them from their sins.
Revelation 9:13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God… (ESV)
This is the altar of incense, from which the prayers of believers ascend before God (Revelation 8:1-5). Now, whether this “voice” is the prayers of the believers or the voice of another angel, we don’t know. But we are reminded that our prayers DO make a difference with our Sovereign God. They DO affect world events.
Revelation 9:14 [This voice is] saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’”
Now, the Euphrates River is a very important river in world history and geography. It was the eastern edge of the Roman Empire in Bible days; and to this day, it is the dividing line between east and west.
According to this verse, four angels are bound there awaiting release. No doubt, these are fallen angels or four of Satan’s demons, because God’s good angels are never bound in the Scriptures.
Revelation 9:15 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. (ESV)
Already in Revelation, we’ve seen a quarter of mankind killed. Now, we find that a third of those who are left are going to be killed when these four demons are released from the Euphrates River. That’s more than half of the world’s population terminated in two major catastrophes just a few years apart.
SATAN’S DEMONS WILL BE RELEASED, and billions of people will die!
How? Through a major world war.
Revelation 9:16 The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. (ESV)
That’s 200 million! In other words, these four demons will incite an army of 200 million troops, which will come from the east to invade the west. And before the war is over, 1/3rd of the world’s population will be wiped off the face of this earth.
I find it very interesting that at the height of the Cold War, Communist Red China, east of the Euphrates River, claimed to have a man and woman militia of 200 million troops (Time, 5/21/1965). That’s the same number of “mounted troops” predicted here in verse 16.
Today (2015), the CIA estimates that China has nearly 400 million men, between the ages of 18 and 49, fit for military service. That doesn’t include the 364 million women they estimate are fit for military service in China, as well. (CIA World Fact Book, updated August 11, 2015; www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html)
Just three months ago (May 2015), Chinese President Xi Junping and Indian Prime Minister Marendra Modi met and agreed to “enhanced military ties” between their two nations (Press Information Bureau, Government of India Prime Minister's Office, May 15, 2105, http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx? relid=121755).