Whilst undoubtedly one of the more complex chapters in Revelation, chapter 9 also contains some very practical lessons for the Christian by providing insight into the character and conduct of the enemy. The chapter begins with a Satanic smoke screen, emanating from the fumes billowing out their choking acrid debris into the air of earth. As always Satan obscures his purpose and as has been the case for generations his promises invariable conclude in the pit. This is the pit of broken promises, the pit into which the angels who followed him fell and an echo of the same trap set for Adam, David, Solomon, Ahithophel and Judas.
The second half of chapter 9 continues to provide forensic insight into the character of malevolence. The numbers perpetrating evil decrease from the swarms of locusts down to the 4 angels but their impact is amplified. These are the angels referenced in Daniel chapter 9, Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28; angels moving behind the scenes, motivating and manipulating the decisions and agenda of kings and politicians. These are the 4 angels of the Euphrates basin, hitherto placed on hold as the spiritual power house behind the dominance of Iraq, Turkey and Syria, once chained they now rise again, heralding the political ascendency of Turkey, Iraq and Syria. These lands become the setting for the fulfilment for some of the most unlikely of biblical prophecies. An army of 200 million are seen in this vision of John amassing for war with a third of the worlds population destroyed. At the time John wrote the world's population amounted to less than this total number observed as involved in the battle! Today however military, paramilitary and reserve forces already amount to 65 million (International Institute of Strategic Studies), with over 1 billion people potentially able to be called upon in the event of war. Today finally the numbers add up and the picture painted by John is no longer outlandish nor off the scale. Here is a battle and a slaughter ordered and ordained from the horns of the golden altar, all in God's plan and purpose, ultimately for His Glory.
A study in our series of expository messages on the book of Revelation.
Yours by Grace in Christ
Dr J Stewart Gillespie