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The Fifth Trumpet (2)

The Conquering Lamb  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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INTRODUCTION

It is good to be back in Revelation tonight—we will pick things up in chapter 9, but a little review before we get there.
We have been studying Revelation since September and we made it through 8 chapters.
What we have established is that the book has seven cycles.
The Lord is using these seven cycles to show the Apostle John the way things will be until Christ returns, as well as how it will be when Christ returns
Revelation 1:19 ESV
Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.
In the First Cycle, we saw how things will be in the church until Christ comes back
They will suffer
They will have sin to combat
They will have false teaching to reject
But if they endure, they will receive eternal reward when Christ returns and the Church will reign with Him forever.
In the Second Cycle, we saw this worship scene in heaven and a scroll in the hand of God the Father that has the history between the first and second coming of Christ written on it
John needs to know what is on the scroll so he can complete his task of writing about the ways things are and the way things will be, but there is no one worthy to open the scroll
Until Jesus, the slain, but victorious Lamb, enters in
He opens the seals on the seven seals on the scroll and we see how things will be until the Lord returns
There will be conquest—nation against nation
There will be war
There will be famine
There will be death
Christians will be killed for their faith
They will cry out for justice
And the Lord will answer their cries by returning and judging the world from His position of righteousness
And we saw in that cycle that the saints will not be judged by God. That is because the slain Lamb has already received their judgment.
Instead, the believers who make of Jesus’ church are the sealed servants of God, who serve Him on earth
And one day, the church is the great multitude from every nation who worships Jesus for all of eternity with the angels and elders and the living creatures in heaven
And then, right before the holidays, we got to the Third Cycle. This is where the Seven Trumpets enter in.
Cycle 1=7 churches
Cycle 2=7 seals
Cycle 3=7 trumpets
You can see the pattern—this is God giving us a perfect look at the time leading up to Jesus’ return and His return itself, from different angles
Same event from different perspectives
And the literary devices of the churches, seals and trumpets work to help us understand what God is showing us from each perspective
We established that trumpets are important in the Scriptures—particularly when it comes to warning people of judgment
The trumpets were a warning in Joshua when they were blown just before God judged idolatrous Jericho through the sword of His people
The prophets would refer to the trumpet as a sound of urgency when God was warning His people to repent of sin or face His discipline
And the trumpets are playing that role again in Revelation
In Revelation 8, the trumpets are sounded as a response to the prayers of God’s people rising up to Him.
The first four trumpets impact all of Creation
And there is agricultural and economic fallout as a result
But the judgments are limited
And from this we saw that whenever there are things happening in the world, God is doing something
His judgments are active in the nations everyday and will be until His Son returns
The first four trumpets demonstrate that to us
But Revelation 8 ended with this eerie scene of an eagle flying overhead pronouncing doom upon those who dwell on the earth:
Revelation 8:13 ESV
Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”
That catches us up to Revelation 9, where tonight we will hear the fifth trumpet’s blast and see a horrific image of demon locusts rising up out of Hell
READ Revelation 9:1-12
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.

SATAN (v. 1 and 11)

The first thing that we see is a fifth angel blowing his trumpet.
John told us in verse 6 that there were seven angels with seven trumpets, all ready to blow them.
The first four unleashed in verses 7-12
Now we have the fifth blowing his horn and when he does, John sees a star falling from heaven to earth
The star that falls is given a key and that is our first hint that we are not dealing with an actual star. Instead, this would be symbolic language.
You don’t give keys to objects. You give keys to persons—beings.
So we are dealing with a creature of some sort here
And I am going to argue that it is Satan. This isn’t controversial. Most Bible commentators agree on this.
What they don’t agree on is what is being referred to here.
First of all—why does he fall?
Some think this is a reference to his initial rebellion against God, but I don’t think that is the case.
Instead, I think this is referring to the blow that Satan’s domain took when Jesus came to earth and as the Messiah, assaulted Satan and his demons at every turn
And I believe this is the case because of what Jesus says in Luke 10 when he sees his disciples casting out demons:
Luke 10:17–18 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.
And it is a foreshadowing of what we will see in chapter 12:
Revelation 12:7–9 ESV
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
This is the old serpent from the Garden
The same enemy that deceived Adam to begin with
You see that he is given a key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.
In Greek, it bottomless pit literally means abyss.
This is Hell.
Bottomless because its misery and darkness is unending.
Satan is referred to directly again in verse 11.
Revelation 9:11 ESV
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.
He is the angel who is king over the abyss.
In Hebrew, he is Abaddon. In Greek Apollyon.
Both names mean “Destroyer.”
This is who Satan is. We know that from reading about him in Scripture. We know that from his activity in the world. We know that from Jesus’ teaching:
John 10:10 ESV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

THE DEMONS (v. 2-10)

In verse 2, Satan opens the shaft of the pit and smoke like a great furnace rises up.
The smoke darkens the sun and air
This is how Satan works—in darkness
And this is also a sign of judgment—
And then, with the smoke come locust demons.
We have the demonic legions of our enemy—the fallen angels of Jude 6
Jude 6 ESV
And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—
And verses 3-10 explain to us what these demon locusts look like, what they do and how much power they have.
Let’s start with what they look like:
The description is terrifying, but I’m not sure we need to put too much stock in it because like the other images in Revelation, they are meant to convey meaning more than describe the literal reality of things
But if you add up all of the description, they:
Look like horses prepared for battle (v. 7)
They have what appears to be crowns of gold on their head (v. 7)
They have faces like humans (v. 7)
They have hair like a woman (v. 8)
Their teeth are like lion’s (v. 8)
They are war-like, wearing:
A breastplate like a breastplate of iron (v. 9)
The noise of their wings was like the noise of chariots going into battle (v. 9)
And they have scorpion tails (v. 10)
The coming of the locusts is meant to remind us of the language in Joel 2, which is associated with judgment and the Day of the Lord:
Joel 2:1–5 ESV
Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations. Fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them. 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.
You can see all of the parallel imagery.
The locusts also remind us of the locusts that came upon Egypt in judgment in Exodus.
Again—more association with judgment
But, we need to spend less time drawing a picture of what they look like in our minds and use the imagery to find out what they actually are like
So for example, they look like horses because they are prepared for battle.
Crowns of gold tend to represent victory in Revelation, so the fact that the locust demons are wearing them would tell us that they are anticipating victory.
We know they are not ultimately victorious, but they pridefully ride with confidence that Satan and his forces will win in the end
Their human-like faces tell us that they are intelligent and cunning, just like evil people on earth.
Their teeth like a lion show us they are ferocious
And yet they have hair like a woman, which shows how they can be seductive
They wear iron breastplates, symbolizing them appearing as invincible and impenetrable
And the sound of their wings sounds like chariots speeding into battle—it is the sound of war
Their scorpion tail points to the sting that they bring down upon “those who dwell on the earth.”
That brings us to what they do:
They will not harm creation like the judgments that accompanied the first four trumpets
Instead, they will come against people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads
This is a reference to the seal in Revelation 7:3
Revelation 7:3
saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
The seal is a reference to the seals of the ancient world. Not the animals, but the wax or clay seal that was made with a signet ring
When a King sealed something with his ring, it was secure.
It was identified as belonging to the King.
It was authenticated as being real by the King.
It was confirmed by the King.
And so it is with the children of God.
By the blood of the New Covenant, our salvation has been sealed and we belong to God.
We are secure in Him. Authentically His children. Confirmed in the Book of Life by the work of the Father, Son and Spirit to save us.
So they will not touch the created world or the redeemed in Christ, but they will harm the unsealed.
They will torment them for five months.
You see that in verse 5, but you also see it in verse 10 when the sting of their tail is described.
5 months was the full locust season
So that means the attack is really bad. It is full. It is about as bad as it could be without killing everything.
But in the end, it has its boundaries.
What we are talking about here is the demonic forces of hell tormenting the hearts and minds and bodies and lives of unbelievers
The curtain is being peeled back for John and he is being shown why things are the way they are
See, we are not just talking about a little depression here. Though let me tell you—a little depression will go a long way to harming a person.
We are talking about understanding why there is evil in the world and understanding the effects of that evil in people’s lives
To really get this, let me point to a couple of biblical examples:
In Isaiah 14, Isaiah is talking about the king of Babylon and the evil he is causing in the world.
And then suddenly, Isaiah peels back the curtain and shows us that all of the evil of Babylon is really not about Babylon at all, but Satan.
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.
Isaiah just switches from talking of the king to talking of Satan because he knows that Satan ultimately lies behind the king
There is a similar situation in Ezekiel 28. In that situation, Ezekiel peels back the curtain and sees the forces of hell behind the king of Tyre.
Ezekiel 28:13–16 ESV
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
Same thing, right? We go from talking about the king of Tyre to talking about the evil of the Garden and Satan’s rebellion against God.
Why?
Because he lies behind the evil of men like the king of Tyre
And so it goes today. We might watch TV and see all the evil and they can tell us that it is because of:
Poverty
Lack of education
Global economics
Inequality
Racism
Rivalries
Domestic disputes
Alcohol and drugs
And it’s true—we can blame a lot on all of that
But who is the wizard behind the curtain? It is the enemy and his demon locusts running amok in the world
The king of Hell is intent on bringing hell into people’s lives on earth
And when this happens, it gets so bad that people just want to die.
When Satan’s demons are having their full effect, people don’t want to live.
Revelation 9:6 ESV
And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.
We are talking about truly terrible stuff.
But for the people who were hearing John’s revelation for the first time, this was explaining some things.
They were suffering at the hands of Jewish synagogues who hated them and felt they were blasphemers
They were also suffering at the hands of the Roman Empire
And they hear this from John and God is telling them— “There is more to this.”
There is more than just the physical and the events on the ticker.
There is a spiritual war at hand and Satan’s forces are at work and so much of what we see in the world and in the lives of unbelievers is a result of his evil

LIMITED POWER AND GOD’S POWER

Now, as you read this, it is a relief to see that those who are sealed by the Lord are not harmed.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t impacted.
Believers still feel the effects of Satan’s work in the world, but ultimately, we are not hopelessly plagued by Satan and his forces because our bodies are temples for the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 6:19–20 (ESV)
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
And ultimately, Satan’s deceptions can drag an unbeliever into Hell, but not a believer. Because no one steals from the hand of Jesus.
John 6:39 ESV
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
That is awesome, but if you are like me, there are unbelievers in your life that you love.
To think of them being bombarded by the evils of hell without the seal of the Lord—without protection and without hope—that is a grave reality.
It is heartbreaking when you really sit and think about it for a bit.
But let me offer you some solace in the fact that Satan’s power is limited.
Notice in verse 1 that Satan is given the key to the bottomless pit.
It isn’t his key. He doesn’t own it. It had to be handed over to him.
That is because his power is limited and he only has inasmuch authority as God allows.
He is in effect, a dog on a leash.
Here is how Joel Beeke says it:
God controls Satan so that he cannot ultimately harm believers, but is an instrument for the destruction of the wicked.
Satan is an instrument of judgment and destruction in the hands of God.
He fancies himself as a god, but he is only god over this world for a time.
And he is only god over this world, within the authority of the one true God.
2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Some people respond to this and they object. They say, “Look—if the fall of man and the devil are responsible for evil and sin and the devil can only work with God’s permission, isn’t God responsible for evil?”
Well this is where we have to be clear about what we mean and what we do not mean.
When we say Satan can only work with God’s permission, we are not saying God is the author of sin.
He can’t be. There is no sin in His character.
We are not saying He is responsible for what has gone wrong in the world.
He created the earth and it was good. He created man from the dust and it was very good.
What we are saying is that God permits or allows evil to happen.
He is not guilty. But He permits or allows all of it.
We do not always know the reason He allows it or permits it.
We do not always understand the reason He allows it or permits it.
But unless we are willing to say there are elements of existence outside of God’s control, which we are not, then we have to say He is allowing or permitting everything, including evil.
Here is the reality we have to deal with.
God could have snuffed evil out at the jump.
The snake didn’t get into the Garden without Him knowing.
He could have destroyed Satan right away or never created him.
He could have made humans so that we would not even have the ability to sin.
But none of that was His plan.
He wanted to create people who could willfully worship Him.
And while we might not always understand all the other reasons He has allowed history to unfold as it has, we can be confident of this—He is arranging it all to give Jesus, His Son, the most possible glory for all of eternity.
And here is the other thing about Satan’s limited power—it falls in influence every time someone repents and believes.
In that ways, he is both a fallen creature and a falling creature.
He is just sinking lower and lower with each converted soul.
Every time someone speaks the good news of the Kingdom and it is believed and a soul repents, there is a party in heaven and a power failure in Hell.
After all, this is why Jesus came:
1 John 3:8 ESV
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
This destruction took place 2,000 years ago.
When Jesus died on the Cross, He subjected Himself to the sting of death for you.
The took the scorpion’s tail at Calvary.
And he sucked all the poison out of it.
When He suffered and died for sin, He declared open war on Hell and He won the war.
Colossians 2:14–15 ESV
by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
And with the poison gone from the tail, the Son of God resurrected to step on the Serpent’s head, along with all his demon locusts.
And ultimately, the prison that Satan thinks he is king over, will hold him in burning chains for all of eternity.
Revelation 20:7–10 ESV
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

JOY OR DESTRUCTION

So then, what is the only way to avoid demonic attacks that end in destruction?
To trust in Christ and receive the victory over Satan that comes with eternal life.
Do you see what happens to the subjects of Satan’s Kingdom in this passage?
Life gets worse for them.
The evil in the world impacts them on every level until it drags them into eternal judgment.
This is what Satan gives to the members of his domain of darkness—he gives them misery.
But Christ has come to give abundant life.
The only remedy to the work of Satan is the seal of God.
We must receive the New Covenant promises of knowing God through His Son, and being safe in God now and forever, by turning from sin and trusting in Christ.
Only then can we live in confidence that Satan’s limited power will not be able to drag us to Hell in the end.
That is the purpose of the fifth trumpet.
The eagle has pronounced his first woe. You see in verse 12, the woe comes and goes and Christ has not returned.
There is still time to repent.
There is still time to heed the words of Christ.
That is what the fifth trumpet is meant to do.
It is an alarm warning you that Satan’s limited power is nothing compared to the eternal wrath of God.
It is an alarm warning you that Satan’s work is all within God’s sovereign plan.
And in that same plan, His Son will return to condemn Satan and all who follow him to eternal punishment.
You don’t want to be under that condemnation
That is the song the fifth trumpet is playing for you
A pleading song of repentance
Urging you to turn and be sealed by the love of God, that your soul would be unharmed by the evil one.
Trust in Him, if you haven’t. Cling to Him if you have.
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