v.13-15 Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.
This sixth trumpet blast unleashes four more demons upon the earth, and institutes another demonic invasion. But this second wave of demonic activity is diverse from the first.
- There are just four, not a multitude, and they are released from the floor of the Euphrates River, not from the bottomless pit
- Their release is not ordered by Satan but by an audible command made from the “four horns of the golden altar which is before God”, and is probably that of none other than Jesus Christ Himself
- Unlike their predecessors, these are given no restrictions, but rather granted the Sovereign license to kill a third of mankind
Clearly, something strange about the identity and nature of these demons is going on here but not explained, though it may be elsewhere in Scripture. Both Jude and Peter include a rather bazaar comment about a select group of demons. Listen to what they wrote:
“And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6)
“For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment…” (2Pet. 2:4)
Both writers identify fallen angels bound in chains, under darkness, reserved for the judgment. Moreover, gleaning from both, we discover that these demons “did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation” and were cast down to “Tartarus”. The Greek word for “the deepest abyss of Hades” and used nowhere else in the entire New Testament.
I tend to accept the notion that the accounts of both writers are related to this passage in Revelation, for two reasons. We should conclude that these are creatures far more threatening than average demons. Having committed crimes so vile to get abolished to an uncommon place called “the deepest abyss of Hades”, it seems consistent they would be bound at an uncommon place called “the great river Euphrates”. Secondly, being reserved in everlasting chains under darkness until this very hour that God requires them for judgment seems to explain why they must be set free only at the command of Christ Himself.
v.16-19 Now the number of the army of the horseman was two hundred million, and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed– by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.
God’s purpose for these four diverse demons is clear. They are meant to inspire a war between men in a magnitude unlike any other war ever fought, resulting in the death of one third of mankind (about two billion people) by this war.
v.20 But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
It’s difficult to imagine that warfare on such a global scale, with death tolls in the billions, doesn’t stir hearts to consider death and mortality and their eternal destiny, but it doesn’t. Despite being able to repent before a God willing to forgive, they continue to reject God. We can only hope that amongst the dead, there are many who do question and come to know Jesus as Savior before they die.