If we could take our Bibles and turn them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 9 and verse 13. The title of our message this morning is The Sins God Hates. What are the specific sins that as humanity persists in those sins they will actually trigger the wrath of God to planet earth. That’s what our passage this morning speaks of. We find ourselves this morning, as we’re moving verse by verse through the Book of Revelation, into the trumpet judgments, chapters 8 and chapter 9. We’ve seen the trumpet preparation, chapter 8, verses1-6. And then what begins to take place is the various trumpets begin to sound and as each trumpet sounds another judgment comes to the earth. We’ve seen a third of the earth’s vegetation destroyed, a third of the earth’s ocean destroyed, a third of the earth’s fresh water supply destroyed. We’ve seen a third of the luminaries darkened. And last week we saw a horrific judgment, chapter 9, verses 1-12 where demons were released from the abyss to torture men, humanity, for five months.
And what we have this morning is the sixth trumpet judgment, chapter 9, verses 1-13 involving a destruction of a third of the earth’s population. I believe that this judgment that we’re studying this morning is very different from the judgments that we saw last week. The judgment we saw last week is trumpet five, the early part of chapter 9; the judgment that we’re studying this morning is trumpet six, end of chapter 9. The source of the judgment that we studied last week is demons coming forth from the abyss. This particular judgment is a slightly different nuance. It’s not so much a fallen angelic army coming out of the abyss; it’s a human army coming out of the east.
Demons were very much in play in the judgment we saw last week but here humanity and demons using humanity is very much in play in the judgment that we’re looking at this morning. And it’s always painful to look at these judgments that are yet to come to planet earth but at the same time I think there are things about God’s character that can only be learned as we pay attention to the full counsel of God’s Word, including the parts of God’s Word that are unpleasant for us to absorb at first sitting.
Here’s sort of an outline that we’re going to be using this morning as we focus our attention on Revelation 9:13-21. The first thing we see is we see an army that is released from the east. Take a look if you could at Revelation 9 and notice, if you will, verse 13. It says, “Then the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,” now you’ll notice that we make reference to the fact that it keeps saying first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and here we are at the sixth trumpet. And so quite obviously what is happening is there’s a chronology here. The Lord expects us to understand these judgments in chronological sequence. Now there are some exceptions to that rule that we’ve covered; as time permits we’ll cover those today as well. But the reality is this is a chronology. This is what makes the Book of Revelation unique; it takes prophecies which are scattered all over the Bible that are very difficult to put into a chronological framework and it takes those prophecies and orders them for us chronologically. So now we are at the sixth trumpet judgment.
And you’ll notice what it says there in chapter 9 and verse 14 as this trumpet is sounded, look at verse 14, “one saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’” Now where exactly is this river called the Euphrates? It’s located in the east, it runs alongside a parallel river, the Tigris, two great rivers, the Euphrates and Tigris, and in between those two rivers is an area that we call Mesopotamia in Greek. Meso means middle, and you recognize the word potamia as in Potomac, river or rivers, it’s an area between the rivers. The Hebrew name for that area is what is called Shinar; Shinar is a Hebrew term, Mesopotamia is a Greek term, and it literally means between the rivers. And today we would categorize it as modern day Iraq.
It’s largely the area where human history began. Abram, when he was called by God was called out of that area. He was an idolater and he was told to walk by faith to a land that the Lord would show him in his faith walk. And so what is happening here is four angels, apparently according to chapter 9 and verse 14, are released from this river called the Euphrates. Now you might be saying to yourself well I think you’re taking the name Euphrates too literally.
The reality of the situation is the Book of Revelation mentions geography many times and to the best of my awareness and to the best of my knowledge every time the Book of Revelation makes reference to a geographical area it is always meant to be understood literally. We’ve seen Asia mentioned in chapter 1 and then then the seven churches, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Sardis, Thyatira, Philadelphia, Laodicea, etc. The Euphrates River is mentioned twice. And also what you have in Revelation 16:16 is a place called Armageddon. By the way, I was just there, I had a chance to give a talk there on Mt. Megiddo overlooking the valley of Armageddon. It’s a literal mountain and valley in northern Israel. It’s a compound word, “Har” mountain in Greek, and it’s combined with Megiddo, referring to Armageddon, a literal geographic place on planet earth where human history as we know it will end.
So these angels are called upon to be released from this area called the Euphrates. And I believe this—this particular judgment that we’re looking at today, trumpet judgment number six, is meant to be understood in light of a bowl judgment that we haven’t looked at yet, bowl judgment number six. In other words, trumpet six will take place in the first half of the tribulation period/ bowl judgment number six will take place in the second half of the tribulation period. But the two judgments are related to each other although they take place at different times, because what is happening is an army is being assembled from the east here in chapter 9 and by the time you get to chapter 16 the Euphrates River itself is supernaturally dried up to prepare the way for this giant army from the east making its way into northern Israel for what purpose? To fight the final battle of Armageddon, to wipe out once and for all the Jewish people. And two, under Satan’s design to resist the coming of Jesus Christ to planet earth. We haven’t seen the end of that process yet but certainly it begins here with this sixth trumpet judgment.
Revelation 16:12, which will happen later but is related to this judgment says this: “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates;” the same river mentioned here, “and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east.” Many, many Bible teachers, including some very good ones, like the late John Walvoord, and you’ll see this in his Revelation commentary, believed that this giant army from the east must be China, after all, China is in the east and only China could come up with an army that’s this large. And so many people believe that this is a reference here to China.
However, I would gently disagree in this sense—do a word study on the word “East” in the Bible. What you’ll discover is “East” always has a specific meaning; it is always referring to that area that I had up on the screen, Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq, between the rivers. In fact, when you study the Garden of Eden you’ll discover in Genesis 2 it mentions those same two rivers and it mentions the Garden of Eden as residing in the east.
Genesis 11:2 talks about what I like to call the first united nations conference, where the nations of the world came together and they shook their collective fists in God’s face and tried to set up the first world government in human history. And you’ll discover that that building project took place right there in the east. It says Shinar, Genesis 11:2 and it specifically in the east. [Genesis 11:2, “It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.”]
And by the way, we just got out of the Christmas season. At the end of last year in December you had all of your Christmas cards, the three wise men, the magi, coming from the east. Matthew 2:2 tells us that that group was coming from the east. One of my favorites during that time of the year is the bumper sticker that says “wise men still seek Him.” Where do those wise men come from? Well, it’s a foregone conclusion that they came from that general area of Mesopotamia, Shinar, what we would call modern day Iraq, and there’s a city in that part of the world called Babylon.
You say Babylon, why is that a big deal? It’s going to become a very big deal in Revelation 17 and 18. Babylon, as I’ll try to defend before you, I believe will be the seat of the antichrist’s power during the tribulation period and here I think is one of your first hints in the Book of Revelation of that coming world capital. Why is this giant army coming from the east to the Euphrates River? Because the antichrist, who’s running the world from Babylon or modern day Iraq during this time will summon this army from that part of the world. The army, I don’t think can fit between those two rivers, but the antichrist’s empire can fit between those two rivers and that’s the designation that he summons this army from to make their way into northern Israel to fight the final battle, called the Battle of Armageddon, to eradicate the Jewish people and to resist the personal coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. And so it’s interesting how all of these clues start to fit into shape.
Notice, if you will, Revelation 9 and take a look at verse 15, “And the four angels,” watch this now, “who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released, so that they would kill a third of mankind.” One of the most interesting things to me to study in the Word of God is the timing of God. Did you know that God’s timing is precise. I mean, when you study the timing of God it’s revealed over and over again in Scripture its absolute ironclad precision. For example, many people in the earthly ministry of Christ wanted Christ to manifest Himself to the world before His time had come.
Remember what Jesus said in John 2:4, “And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.’”
You’ll find the same thing in John 12:27, Jesus said, “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour,’” the ordeal of the cross, “But for this purpose I came to this hour.” You see, in the timing of God and the providence of God the issue of the cross was important, the what question, but when that event would take place is also important to God. “What” is just as important as “when,” “when” is just as important as “what.” Over in John 7 and verse 6 it says this, “So Jesus said to them, ‘My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.’” Man always wants to do things on his schedule but Jesus is very clear that when it comes to the things of God they take place on His calendar, not man’s.
In fact, Jesus proclaimed His Messianic credentials to the nation of Israel at just the right time. Did you know that, when you study the seventy weeks prophecy? Like 19:42 it says this as Christ is speaking, “”If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” Verse 44, “and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” The day is important, the time is important to God.
According to Galatians 4:4 we learn that Jesus Himself was not dropped into history in His first coming at some random time; He came at a precise time. Paul writes, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.” Here in Revelation 9 in the verse we just read, verse 15, timing is very important, it talks about a specific hour, day, month, and year, for these angels bound at the river Euphrates to be released. [Revelation 9:15, “And the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released, so that they would kill a third of mankind.”]
I say that because I hope it is to you a way of encouragement because many of us struggle in our lives concerning the pattern of God. We get frustrated with God—God, something should have been happening by now in my life, I should have been married by now and I’m not. And those that are struggling with that I would encourage you to talk to all the people that are married. [Laughter] Or I should have had that promotion by now and I don’t have it. Or I should have been retired by now, I should have owned my house free and clear by now. We’re always struggling because we’re trying to fit God into our timing and yet what we discover in the Bible is that God doesn’t do things according to my schedule. He does things according to His own time schedule.
1 Peter 5:6 says, “Therefore humble yourselves” see, it’s humbling to submit yourself to the calendar of God, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,” He’s mighty because He controls the chronology of our lives, “that He may exalt you” when? “at the proper time.” There’s a timing to things. Things take place the Bible says in their seasons. And maybe that desire of your heart that you’re yearning for, maybe God is going to fulfill it at some point. The Bible does say “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you” what? “the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4. It just may be that the time is not right.
So this angel, these angels are released from the Euphrates River in modern day Iraq at the right time and they summon this giant army and it says “and the four angels who had been prepared for the hour and the day and month and year, were released, so that they would kill” look at what it says here, “a third of mankind.” [Revelation 9:15] In fact, when you drop down to verse 18 you’ll see the same thing, “A third of mankind was killed by these plagues.” [Revelation 9:18, “A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths.”] This army is so large, this army is so powerful that as they’re being summoned from Iraq or Babylon they make their way into northern Israel from whence they came, all of the countries, and they destroy a third of mankind in the process. That is a figure, a statistic which is mindboggling when you think about it. Didn’t we learn earlier, Revelation 6:8, with the fourth deal judgment that a quarter of the world’s population had already been destroyed? [Revelation 6:8, “I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.”]
And now we learn that a third of the remaining population is yet to be destroyed. It’s like taking your hand and you’ve got four fingers and you’re holding it up and you put down your little finger and that’s the fourth seal judgment, a quarter of the world’s population wiped out. And then this judgment comes along and says a third of humanity was wiped out. Now you put down one more finger and of your original four you only have two left. By this time in the judgments a half of the world’s population has been eradicated, annihilated. And that’s why it’s so difficult to find this judgment in church history. History has been bad but not this bad. This is talking about something taking place on an unprecedented scale.
And there are many, many verses in your Bible which comment on the fact that there’s coming upon the earth a season of duress and distress that will be so extreme that it’s unrivaled by anything that’s ever happened in this world. Joel 2:2, of that time period says, “…There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it…” [Joel 2:2, “A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations.”]
Daniel 12:1 says, “there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time….” [Daniel 12:1, “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”]
We have on the screen Jeremiah 30:7, “Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress (Genesis 32:8; 35:10), But he will be saved [sōzō] from [apo] it.” And we have the words of Christ Himself in Matthew 24:21-22 where Jesus said, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will again.” A third leading ultimately to a half of the world’s population is eliminated by the time we get to this sixth trumpet judgment. And people say well, who was God to do that? Who does God think He is? Is He the Creator or something? Yes, He is the Creator and that’s what gives Him a right to bring judgment because He is the One that gave man life itself on day six of creation. And if God has the authority to bring humanity into existence in His providence, in His sovereignty, He has the authority also to decrease the population radically of mankind, which is apparently what happens here with this sixth trumpet judgment.
You’ll notice here that the numerical count of the army that’s coming is given in verse 16. John says, “The number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard” as John is receiving this vision, “I heard the number of them.” [Revelation 9:16] Now I’m one of those that wants to take every single number in the Book of Revelation literally and I do that, partly following the advice or the exhortation of Robert Thomas in his wonderful scholarly commentary on the Book of Revelation, and if you’re down to your last shekel and you can only afford two commentaries on the Book of Revelation and you already have a Bible I would get John Walvoord’s wonderful commentary on the Book of Revelation and Robert Thomas’s two volume set on the Book of Revelation. And Robert Thomas says of this, “no number in Revelation is verifiably a symbolic number.” [Revelation 8 to 22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 408.]
In other words, you take every number at face value unless you have grounds for not taking it literally. But there’s a little problem here; it mentions an army of two hundred million [200,000,000] and some of the Greek scholars have told us that the Greeks didn’t even have a number that high in their counting system; there was no number two hundred million. And so consequently I started to look this up in the original language and what you discover is it’s the same expression used to describe the angels in Revelation 5:11. Of those angels it says “myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands.” Literally ten thousand times ten thousand. [Revelation 5:11, “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands.”]
And consequently no one takes the angelic count as one million, we take that as a number that’s incalculably high. And when you look this up in the Greek, in the original language, it doesn’t really say two hundred million, what it says is “ten thousand by twenty thousand.” And because that’s a nearly identical expression as you find describing the angels, I think John’s point is not to give us a precise count; he’s simply making the point the number was incalculably large. I mean, it was a number that was astronomically high. Now if you want to take the number two hundred million at face value I think you’re on good grounds to do that as well. What I’m saying is that’s not what the Greek text really says. It doesn’t just say ten thousand times ten thousand describing the numerical count of the angels. It literally says, “ten thousand times twenty thousand.” In other words, this army is so big that’s coming, it’s even greater than the seeming infinitive of the angels themselves, an army translated in English of two hundred million.
Do you realize that when John received this vision on the Island of Patmos in the first century there weren’t even two hundred million people on the planet earth at the time? And he’s describing an army that far surpassed anything that he was ever aware of concerning a numerical count. So what is the conclusion with the two hundred million? I think what it’s saying is a lot, I mean, so many you can’t even number them. It’s even more difficult to number this army than it is to number the angels themselves.
And notice the army’s description is given there in Revelation 9:17. Notice what it says, “And this is how I saw in the vision the horses and those who sat on them: the riders had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone.” What you have here is a description of this army; the horses are described, the riders are described, the breastplates on the riders themselves are described, the heads of the horses are described, the mouths of the horses are described, and you’ll notice right there in the middle of the verse John uses the expression “like,” do you see that? “…like the heads of lions;” what kind of figure of speech is that? That’s a simile. Why does John keep saying “like” or “as”? Because he was given a very difficult task; he was told Revelation 1:11 to “Write in a book what you see,” and I believe some of the things that God showed John were so astronomical, like this count here of an army, so beyond his comprehension that he simply uses the word “like” or “as” to analogize it to something that he would understand. [Revelation 1:11, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”]
And so what is this army that’s coming with this intricate sophistication? Maybe that’s some kind of advanced weaponry of some kind that John is trying to describe. That’s a possibility. I am sort of the opinion that this army is influenced heavily by Satan; we’ll see that around Revelation 16:12. [Revelation 16:12, “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east.”]
And I believe that John perhaps could be seeing in this vision the angelic realm. Of course he has made many references in the book to the angelic realm behind the scenes motivating this army. I think the army is a human army that John’s vision could go beyond that and he could see the fallen angelic satanic kingdom itself motivating this army.
It’s very similar to Peter and his conversation with Jesus at Caesarea Philippi where Peter (and I was just there in Caesarea Philippi) made the statement when the Lord began talk about dying on the cross Peter says that wouldn’t be a good career move for you at this stage. A Messiah doesn’t die on a cross, He rules and He reigns. And you remember what the Lord said to Peter? “Get behind me” who? “Satan.” [“But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Matthew 16:23] In other words, the Lord saw the angelic demonic motivation behind Peter’s statement and it’s very likely that that’s what John could be describing there in verse 17.
As we move into verses 18-19 you see the destruction that this army will wield. Notice, if you will, chapter 9 and verse 18, “A third of mankind” that’s a lot of people, “was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths.” Now this third is also mentioned, as we saw earlier, back in verse 15. It says, “so that they would kill a third of mankind.” [Revelation 9:15, “And the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released, so that they would kill a third of mankind.”] So that’s mentioned not in verse 15, it’s also mentioned in verse 18. [Verse 18, “A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths.”]
This become important because we have many Bible teachers today that are trying to tell you, the late R. C. Sproul being one, that the Book of Revelation concerns events that already happened. That’s a doctrine called preterism. Preterism means past in Latin, or gone by. And they take all of Revelation’s global language and they use what I call the ram, jam and cram method of interpretation and they try to cram the whole thing back into the events of A.D. 70 where the Romans invaded Jerusalem and over a million Jews lost their lives. I’m here to tell you this—A.D. 70 was a terrible time period but nothing on par with what’s being described here. Hitler’s holocaust was a terrible time period but nothing on par to what’s being described here. This is describing a judgment that is so broad in its scope it becomes impossible, if words mean anything, to find some sort of historical parallel. And that’s why we at Sugar Land Bible Church teach that this particular judgment is future; it’s yet to come.
We have more of a description of this army and the destruction that they will wield in verse 19. Notice what it says, “For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents and have heads, and with them they do harm.” So we have a description of what’s coming out of their mouth, a description of what’s coming out of their tails, and out of their tales comes something that’s so lethal that it brings death to mass amounts of people.
One of the things to watch as you move through the Book of Revelation is how these judgments continue to accelerate. If you go back to Revelation 9:5, the passage that we looked at last week concerning the locusts coming out of the abyss, Revelation 9:5 says, “And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man.” We had scorpion stingers earlier in chapter 9 only for five months and it was not allowed to kill anybody. Now we have something coming out of the tails of these entities that are being described and now people are being killed, not just stoned. It’s not just located or restricted to a five month period and you see, what the Lord is doing here in these judgments is He’s gradually turning up the thermostat.
For example, in Revelation 8:8 it talks there about a third of the ocean being turned to blood. [Revelation 8:8, “The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood.”] And then you go to Revelation 16:3 and it says all the ocean turned to blood. [Revelation 16:3, “The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died.”]
What is the Lord doing? He’s gradually turning up the temperature as humanity persists in its sin and its unbelief and this is very similar to how the Lord works. You study for example the plagues that took place in the days of Moses, ten plagues, and what you discover is early on Pharaoh and his magicians could reproduce a lot of the plagues that the Egyptians were experiencing under a cultic and satanic power. And then it got to the point of the gnats where God was bringing forth something that even Pharaoh and his magicians could not imitate or replicate. And finally they said to themselves this is the hand of God because God was turning up the temperature. He was turning up the thermostat. He was trying to get people’s attention. And then finally you get to plague number ten in the Book of Exodus and Pharaoh’s firstborn son is killed and all of the firstborn all over Egypt are killed and Pharaoh had a change of heart and he let God’s chosen people go.
We see that pattern here in the Book of Revelation as things are progressively getting worse. And may I just say that that could be something in your life that God is using to get your attention. You have a problem, you try to fix it, and it doesn’t get fixed; and then you try to fix it again and not only does it not get fixed, it gets worse, then it gets worse, and it gets worse, and then finally you say to yourself Lord, what are you doing in all of this? And God says that’s the response I wanted from you from day one because God knocks us down many times so that we what? We look up. And many times we are kind of confused as to what is happening in our lives; we don’t understand the disciplinary hand of God because we don’t understand the pattern of God and how God characteristically will do this. And this is what is happening here in the Book of Revelation.
Now we come to verses 20 and 21 where we have the conclusion of the chapter. Don’t celebrate yet, there’s a lot to talk about here in verses 20 and 21, which is a record of humanity’s non-repentance. Look at what it says here in chapter 9 verses 20 and 21, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent” (you should underline that, “did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk;  and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”
You would think that humanity would turn to God at this point and say Lord, You’re sovereign, You’re in charge, You’re in control, “not my will be done but Thy will be done.” And yet that’s not what’s happening. In fact, you might recall from Revelation 6:15-16 that when these judgments officially hit men were hiding themselves in caves and among the rocks and among the mountains. “Fall on us and hide us,” Revelation 6:15-16, “from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” [Revelation 6:15-16, “Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains;  and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;”]
Isn’t it interesting now humanity is no longer hiding; now they’re simply saying we won’t repent. And the disintegration of the human heart continues until we hit Revelation 19:19 where the human race does something which to me boggles the mind, it unconscionably dumb and stupid what they’re doing. They’re going out and they’re fighting God. How do you fight God? That’s an impossibility. Revelation 19:19 says, “And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.” Revelation 6, humanity is hiding. Revelation 9 humanity refuses to repent. Revelation 19 now they go out and actually fight God, and they oppose God.
You say why is this so significant? Why is this interesting? Because that’s the condition of the human heart. There’s an awful lot of people out there that think this, particularly young people. And we know it’s true because we all had these same thoughts going through our minds when we were young… well, I’m just going to be away from God for a while, sow a few wild oats, I’m going to get my career started, I’m going to make some money, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that, not that those things, making money, having a career in and of itself is necessarily a bad thing but many people plot their lives as if God doesn’t exist. I’ll get my way first, I’ll do what I want to do and then at a given point in time, middle age, later age, I’ll get right with the Lord.
Let me tell you something beloved, it never works that way; the longer a person spends away from God the harder and the harder and the harder their heart becomes. The idea that I can go off into sin, do my own thing, be my own boss and somehow I’m going to get spiritually sensitive later on, that’s a complete myth. And that’s what’s happening here in the Book of Revelation. The human heart, to a large extent, is not softening, it’s growing harder and harder against God, because you know what happens to people? Life happens, difficulties come, and if a person is not walking with the Lord and they don’t have a biblical framework or grid through which to understand their trials what will happen is that root of bitterness will be planted in their hearts and they’ll start getting angry and more angry and more angry against the Lord and finally they’ll get to the end of their life thinking that that would be the time of greatest spiritual sensitivity… many times it’s the greatest time of spiritual hardness in people. Talk to people who are elderly, in convalescent hospitals, getting ready to die. What you see in many cases is not a softness of the heart, not a spiritual sensitivity; there are some, but by and large the rule, the norm is anger towards God… how could God have allowed this to happen to me, etc.?
And when you understand this pattern of the human heart you start to understand why the Bible places such a priority or an emphasis on today. For example, the Book of Hebrews, 3, verses 7-8, “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘TODAY” not tomorrow, not next month, not next year, not in the next season of my life, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,  DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS [AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,]”
2 Corinthians 6:2 says, Behold “now” or today “is ‘THE ACCEPTABLE TIME.’” of salvation. [2 Corinthians 6:2, “For He says, ‘AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.’ Behold, now is ‘THE ACCEPTABLE TIME, behold, now is ‘THE DAY OF SALVATION.”] Behold now is the day of salvation, get right with the Lord now, before the cruelties of life overtake you, because now you have someone to walk with you during life’s adversities. The human mind is deceived into thinking that I’ll get spiritually right and spiritually sensitive later and it never works that way. And those of you that are parents and those of you that are grandparents, you need to be teaching this concept to your children over and over and over again, that now is the time to get right with the Lord, now is the time to walk with the Lord. Do not put off for tomorrow, spiritually, what can be accomplished today because life doesn’t get easier and the human heart doesn’t grow softer. You’ve got to learn to walk with the Lord now.
And some of you, right now, within the sound of my voice, have something in your life of a sin pattern that the Holy Spirit has been trying to straighten out for a long time and you’ve been putting it off, putting it off, putting it off, thinking there’s some other season in your life whereby you’re finally going to get that thing in order. And isn’t it interesting that the more you try to contain sin and the more you try to control sin the more sin actually ends up controlling and containing you?
You look at 800 years of the nation of Israel in Canaan and all of the apostasy and falsity that they gave themselves to prior to the Babylonian captivity and you say what caused the whole thing? Read the first and second chapters of the Book of Judges and you’ll see what caused the whole thing. God said very clearly when you go into Canaan I want you to take the Canaanites and to eradicate them, to push them out, to destroy man, woman and child. And the nation of Israel, as they went into the land under the days of Joshua fulfilled the will of God, maybe three-quarters, roughly; they were about seventy-five percent loyal and obedient.
But Judges 1 and 2 says they let this people group live and that people group live and that people group live and what happened is those people groups over the course of time got the upper hand, brought tremendous idolatry into the land of Israel leading to the Babylonian deportation and the scattering of the northern tribes. And the whole thing could have been prevented had the people of God done what God said right out of the gate. And you’ve got people groups in your life, sinful patterns, we all have them, that are trying to get control, gossip, anger, any number of things and the Holy Spirit keeps saying over and over again, you need to reckon that dead, you need to walk according to the new nature. And we don’t do that, we indulge in the sin nature. And what happens is the sin nature starts to get an upper hand on us and the whole course of our lives are changed consequently.
The Bible says “Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts, today is the day of salvation. [Hebrews 4:7, “He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.’” [2 Corinthians 6:2, “….Behold, now is ‘THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,’ behold, now is ‘THE DAY OF SALVATION”] And the Bible says this over and over again because it understands the wickedness of the human heart and how when it’s away from the things of God it becomes progressively calloused.
But notice if you will Revelation 9:20-21 and that’s why I’ve titled this sermon “The Sins God Hates” because if my count is right here there are six sins and if these sins are resident in a world and in a culture God, after a season of grace, will always bring diving judgment. These are the big six sins that will bring the wrath of God to this earth during the tribulation period. And I think if you’re intellectually honest, and we all seek to be that way, we see those same sins dominating our world today and our culture. They’re being mainstreamed.. I have them all underlined. [Revelation 9:20-21, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk;  and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries (pharmakeia) nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”]
The first one is the worship of demons, demon worship, tapping into the dark side, tapping into sort of a power source that doesn’t necessarily emanate from God. We see that all the time, don’t we? Psychic hotline, palm readers, Ouija board, horoscope (which I call a heirescope). And it’s interesting to me that when you watch certain videos and movies, crime solving programs, how many of them claim that they solve crimes today by tapping into those individuals that have some kind of foresight, some kind of ability to solve the crime, some type of ability to supernatural powers to look behind the scenes. I think of books that are very popular today, even amongst Christian families, I think of the Harry Potter series and how the writer of that Harry Potter series claimed that they had an ability to write that series lickety-split with very little deliberative process going on in the mind.
And to be honest with you, I’m a writer myself, I try to be, I struggle and strain with every sentence. I could not imagine a scenario whereby something overcomes me and allows me to produce literature where I’m not struggling at all because some higher power or greater power is giving me those scripts and those narratives. That’s how the Harry Potter series came into existence. I can count numerous examples like this for you and it’s interesting to me how those types of things are actually mainstreamed into the culture, and even in some Christian homes. The worship of demons!
And then it mentions here idols, idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood which can neither see nor hear nor walk. [Revelation 9:20-21, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk;  and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries (pharmakeia) nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”]
Idolatry, what is that? It’s worshipping something ahead of God. And when a person becomes an idolater they’re violating the first of the two commandments. “Thou shalt have no graven images.” “Thou shalt have no other gods besides me.” [Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Leviticus 26:1, “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image….”] God is very clear that He does not what His people trafficking in idolatry. An idol is not necessarily something small made of metal like a statue; it can be a person you worship instead of God, a career you worship instead of God, something that you’re looking to for your security, like a retirement account that you’ve not placed above God in terms of importance. It’s anything that we get our worth from and our sense of well-being from other than God.
And it’s interesting to me that some of the most innocuous and harmless things can end up becoming some of the greatest “graven images” in our lives. And it’s foolish to become an isolator, isn’t it, because what can an idol do? It’s made of silver and brass and stone and of wood; it can’t see, it can’t hear, and it can’t walk. And God is saying to His people come to Me, I’m all powerful, I’m present everywhere at once, I’m personal, and I will meet the needs in your life, not this thing that you have set up to eclipse Me. I like to call that line there in verse 20 the idiocy of idolatry. I mean, it’s crazy to worship something in place of God when that thing is just finite and created and has no power to deliver.
Study Isaiah 46 this week, it says this concerning idolatry. Baal, an idol in Babylon has bowed down, Ebo stoops over, their images are consigned to the beasts and the cattle, the things you carry are burdensome, a load for the weary beast. God is chastising His people for idolatry and He’s saying you’re carrying around these metal statues, are you getting tired? Are you getting fatigued? Because the day is going to come when you’re going to be so old you’re not going to carry that dumb piece of metal around anymore. What are you doing to do then? In fact, the day is going to come where you’re going to be so old and sick and infirmed that you’re going to need someone to carry you around. You think your idol is going to help you at that point? He says, Isaiah 46:4, “Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you.” Why give your life to something that can’t help you when you need it? Why not have a relationship with the living God that can see and hear and walk and can make the provision for the deepest needs at the times of our life where we need them the most?
But that’s not the direction of humanity. Humanity will worship demons, they will have given themselves over to idolatries. Look at verse 21, “… they did not repent of their murders…” [Revelation 9:21, “And they did not repent of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their sexual immorality, nor of their thefts.”]
I think when New York State recently passed a legislation favoring abortion up until the point of birth… do you understand that New York State just did that? And now how New York State has become a model for other eastern coast states doing the same thing. I think when that happened that issue in and of itself was really not what bothered me. What bothered me was the complete and total celebration that the people in leadership of that state had when they passed this abominable law, how they lit up the Empire State building and so forth, with the rainbow colors and I was watching very carefully the reaction of those that had passed this law. I mean, what really stuck out to me was not the law itself (which is horrendous and abominable) but what disturbed me was how happy they were, how jubilant they were, how ecstatic they were that they did this. And beloved, I know enough about God to know this, God is not mocked. Your Bible is very clear that those within the wombs of their mothers are people. It isn’t my perspective, it’s what the Bible says.
Luke 19:44, a verse we read earlier, Jesus said it well, “They will level you to the ground and your children” where? “within you.” That’s what the Romans did to the Jews in A.D. 70. Josephus talks about it, how they ripped open (the Romans did) the wombs of the Jewish women and strangled to death the child to eradicate the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob from the earth. Jesus describes that judgment coming and He specifically says “your children within you.” Genesis 25:23, to Rebekah, “The LORD said to her, ‘Two nations are” where? “in your womb.” I’m not here to preach my brand of politics folks, I’m just a Bible teacher but the fact of the matter is if you have any respect for this Book that we call The Bible, your position politically has already been determined… you’re pro-life, because God Himself is pro-life. [Clapping]
And I know this much, the perpetual holocaust on the unborn that’s gone on in the United States of America since the infamous Roe vs. Wade decision is not something that God can just turn His back on. Do you remember the very first murder in the Bible? Genesis 4:10 where Cain murdered Abel. Remember what God says. He says, “He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.” This insane abortion mindset that we have in this country, as God is my witness, is going to trigger the wrath of God and it will bring the wrath of God to this earth during the seven year tribulation period. And when I talk like this I have to be very careful because there are people within the sound of my voice that have had an abortion.
Abortion is not just the woman’s fault, is it? There’s two involved and many times the man, for whatever reason, is pressuring the woman to have an abortion. But here’s the reality of the situation. Every single abortion, late term or early term, stops a human heart from beating. That is a biblical fact, that is a scientific fact, that is a medical fact and I realize that there are about a million and a half of these per year in the United States. And I know there are many people in the sound of my voice that have either had an abortion or participated in an abortion. And to such people I would plead for you the grace of God. Murder is an awful thing, but did you know this? The grace of God is so broad and so expansive that it can even cover that sin along with any other sin.
There are three people in the Bible that had blood on their hands who ended up being God’s choicest servants. Do you know who they are? Number one, Moses. Number two, Paul. And who’s the third one, David. You know David, who committed murder, wrote this in Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far He has removed our transgressions from us.” Why does it say “east is from the west”? Why doesn’t it say north from the south? Well, there was a north pole and there’s a south pole, right. The distance between the north and the south is not infinite. But is there an east pole and a west pole? There’s not, so the distance between the east and the west is of such a magnitude that it’s an infinite line. David, who had blood on his own hands having murdered Uriah, the Hittite, said that even that sin itself was thrown as far as the east is from the west. And so if a person has participated in an abortion in any way, a horrific act, God will not look the other way as this holocaust continues in our culture but the grace of God is available as well.
“…worship of demons, idols, murderers,” notice the next one there, verse 21, “sorceries,” you’ll notice I put the Greek word translated sorceries, it’s pharmakeia. Now what English word do you think we get from pharmakeia? Pharmacy, where you get drugs. Isn’t it interesting that in our culture pharmakeia or drugs, drugs that used to be taboo, are now sort of becoming legalized? In some cases sold over the counter. When I was coming of age marijuana was always considered to be a no-no, that was taboo. It’s very interesting to me to watch how many of our states, like the state of Colorado, which is I guess what they mean by Rocky Mountain high….[laughter] have taken marijuana itself and assigned some kind of legitimate use for it. See what’s happening? We’re being desensitized to the things God hates. He mentions worship of demons, idols, murders, sorceries, now what’s the fifth one here, immorality.
Beloved, the fact of the matter is God has a sexual standard. I didn’t invent it but the Bible says the sexual standard is one man for one woman for one life, period! Now I recognized that many people have fallen short of that standard and I’m here to plead with you concerning the grace of God and its availability, but that never changed the standard. The standard is the standard, regardless of whether we have lived up to the standard or not. And God has a sexual standard—one man for one woman for one life! Anything outside of that would violate His perfect blueprint for the human race. And isn’t it interesting today that every form of sexuality is being promoted except one, “one man for one woman for one life.” If you say that you’re considered intolerant, hateful, a bigot, and as long as you promote anything other than that you’re considered to be in vogue. See, what’s happening is we’re becoming desensitized to the very sins which will bring the wrath of God to the earth in the tribulation period.
The last one here is thefts, and by the way when you study the word “thefts” in the Greek language here’s the word that comes up many times, klepto, as in kleptomaniac. Thefts, what kind of thefts are we talking about? White collar thefts? Maybe. Blue collar thefts? Maybe. But the greatest form of theft that’s happening in our world, in our culture is what I would call socialism leading to communism. The Bible says if you want to eat you should work. The Bible always intended for man to work. Genesis 3:19, “by the sweat of his own brow.” [Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”]
And then Bernie Sanders comes along and he tells these very young millennials that rule doesn’t apply to you, after all, you have all these student debts and student loans and you shouldn’t have to work for yourself because we’ll set up all of these programs whereby we’ll take away from one person and give it to you and that’s what you call socialism leading to communism which is the doctrine that you work and I eat; not I work and I eat but you work and you eat. And let me ask you just a basic question; can you think of anywhere on planet earth an example where socialism or communism has actually worked? It always sounds so good on paper but when you start to actually scrutinize where it’s been implemented it’s always a disaster.
In Venezuela right now the middle class, if there even is a middle class, is eating out of garbage cans because they fell for the socialist or communist allusion which is you can eat if someone else works, which is a rebellion against the principles that the Creator has established going all the way back to Genesis 3:19. The reason Marxism or socialism or communism never works is because you eventually run out of something called OPM, Other People’s Money. The whole concept behind socialism and communism and Marxism is theft; you’re taking away from somebody else that earned it by the sweat of his brow and you’re transferring it yourself despite the fact that you never earned it.
And why am I making an issue out of this? Because the millennials today coming up think that Jesus was a socialist or communist revolutionary. That’s what they’re taught many times in the public school, and this is one of the things they believe. And it’s all dressed up in the name of compassion. I mean, wasn’t Jesus in favor of the poor? Didn’t He care about the needy? Well listen folks, if you want to care about the poor and the needy the last thing you would do is to set up socialism and communism because socialism and communism creates the needy, creates the poor. The ones administering it live like kings; have you noticed that? But everyone else in Venezuela is eating out of garbage cans.
And theft is what socialism and communism actually is. It’s other people’s money. Jesus was not a communist! Jesus was not a socialist because the last time I checked the Bible says “Thou shalt not steal.” And it also says, “Thou shalt not covet.” There is absolutely no way you can get the principles of God’s Word to somehow mirror Marxism or communism and yet it’s institutionalized theft and it’s the very thing that’s going to bring the judgment of God during the tribulation period. I call these the big six. The worship of demons, the worship of idols, murders, sorceries, immorality and thefts. [Revelation 9:20-21, “ The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk;  and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries (pharmakeia) nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”]
And so we’ve completed our list of trumpet judgments and guess where we’re at here? Number six; remember what I taught you a few weeks back? When you had a six look for a what? A lunch break because a lunch break is coming, not just in a minute but a lunch break is coming in Revelation 10 and 11 where the chronology will stop and we’ll get some information about a little book that John eats and also the two witnesses. And so I would encourage you to read Revelation chapter 10 in preparation for next weeks sermon.
If you’re here today and all of this is new to you it could be because you don’t know Christ personally. Jesus stepped out of eternity into time to bear a consequence that we could never bear on our own. He bridged the sin gap between lost humanity and a holy God. His final words on the cross were “It is finished!” He rose from the dead, He ascended to the right hand of the Father, He empowered the church from that position with a simple message, and the message is this: if you will trust or another way of saying it is believe in what I have done in your place, not what you do for yourself, but what I have done in your place, then you can have the gift of eternal life. And so we like to conclude each of our services with that opportunity. Becoming a Christian is not a twelve step process; it’s a one step process where the Spirit of God places you under conviction and the best you know how in the quietness of your own mind and heart you trust or rest or receive, all synonyms, not in your own works but in what Jesus did in your place. And you can do that right now as I’m speaking and you can do that now as the Spirit places you under conviction. It’s not something you have to join a church to do, walk an aisle to do, give money to do, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you trust in His provision and His provision alone for your eternity and the safe keeping of your soul. We invite you, we exhort you and encourage you to do that right now as I’m speaking. If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.
Shall we pray. Father, we’re grateful for the parts of the Bible that are more difficult to absorb and handle but these things reveal to us Your perfect character which we desire to walk in this week. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen!