Summary: . . . what if what you worship is deaf, dumb, insensate, and unrepentant? You will become like that thing. You will become, eventually, unable to turn and return to the Maker and Lover of our souls.
13 and the sixth angel blew the trumpet, and I heard a voice from the midst of the four horns of the altar of gold before the face of God.
14 saying to the sixth angel, the one having the trumpet, release the four angels which are bound in the huge river Euphrates.
15 and he loosed the four angels prepared for that hour and day and month, and year, in order that they might kill a third of the humans.
16 and the number of the army of horsemen was two million. I heard their number.
17 and in this way I saw the horses in the vision and those sitting on them, having fire and jacinth and brimstone breastplates and horse’s heads as the lion’s, and out of their mouths they spewed out fire and smoke and brimstone.
18 by these a third of the humans were killed, out of (by) the fire and the smoke and the brimstone that they spewed from their mouths.
19 for power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails were the same as snakes, they had heads, and with them they injured.
20 and the crowds of people, those not killed in these plagues, neither repented of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons and the idols of gold and silver, and brass and stone and wood, which neither see nor have the power to hear nor walk,
21 and they did not repent from their murders nor out of their witchcraft, nor of their of their fornication, nor of their stealing.
V 13 The four horns of the altar, in the OT descriptions, was the place the sacrifice would have been tied for burning/barbeque. We’re not told who is speaking, but the multitude is below the altar, those who gave their lives for the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 6) were under this altar. Maybe they are the ones releasing judgment on the earth, or that it is released on their behalf.
v 14 What are these 4 angels? We don’t know. But the fact that they are bound is a pretty good indication that they are not among the good, obedient angels that stayed in heaven when Lucifer lead a rebellion and was cast down. This would be among those Jesus referred to by Jesus when He spoke of “the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25).
vv 16-19 These 200,000,000 horsemen and their mounts sound a lot like modern war machines.
v 19 these horses, like the locusts before them, are monstrous. Rather than the flowing, often beautiful horsehair tails (called skirts) these creatures have snakes.
v 20 the idea of impotent idols is mentioned in the OT (psalm 115 & 135), but what is more disturbing is that those who worship such things become like them (Psalm 115; Isaiah 6:10; Jeremiah 5:21; Mark 8:18 etc). There may be a relationship here-the people who are surrounded by death and destruction do not repent. They seem to miss the fact that what they are experiencing is the judgment of God. They have eyes, but cannot see.
Repentance isn’t a popular topic in popular culture. In fact the opposite of repentance is what most people seem to promote. People parade for their right to hate, others for their right to live immorally, others for the normalization of perversion. Things people used to hide in shame they now openly proclaim. We become like the thing(s) we worship. And many of us worship sub-human things. Some worship power, some money, some influence, some fame. Some, unimaginably, still worship actual idols-concepts couched in images of gold, or silver, or wood or even plastic. If you worship something less than yourself you will become less. If you worship Someone greater than yourself, you will become better than you could be. The Bible teaches that we who worship the Lord of all Creation will be transformed to become more like Him. His character of love, joy, truth, wisdom and justice, and even His way of seeing things, will be progressively infused into us (1 John 3). We are transformed from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3). But what if what you worship is deaf, dumb, insensate, and unrepentant? You will become like that thing. You will become, eventually, unable to turn and return to the Maker and Lover of our souls. You will become like these masses of people (in Greek, hoi polloi), facing the destruction of a third of the human population, and their own certain doom, they race full speed ahead away from God and toward perdition.
Prayer for Today
We humble ourselves before You.
Give us supple hearts, open eyes, sensitive ears, tender sensations of what is good and what is evil. Tune our minds to the truth so completely that we are immediately appalled by falsehood. Help us in all things to view things from Your perspective, and to always, constantly, instantly turn our hearts toward you when faced with the possibility of disregarding Your purposes or missing Your will. Father, protect us from the waves of popular opinion. Anchor our sense of right and wrong firmly in You.