Rev. Mark H. Creech
In The Bruised Reed, Richard Sibbes asks, “Can we think that he that threw the angels out of heaven will suffer dust and worms’ meat to run a contrary course, and to continue always so?” Surely not. The Lord is full of grace, mercy, and long-suffering. Nevertheless, there is a limit to his patience.
Genesis 6:3 reads, “Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time…'” The primary application of this text is that God has limited humanity’s lifespan, but a second application is that God will not tolerate humanity’s sinful ways indefinitely. He has set a time frame for repentance and forgiveness, and none of us knows how long we’ve been given. Nothing is so fearful as going out to meet God in judgment because we were never reconciled with him.
In Revelation Chapter 9, after the Evil One has opened the bottomless pit, unchained demonic creatures of hideous description emerge to torture the earth’s unregenerate inhabitants for five months.
Then there follows the trumpet sound of a sixth angel:
The altar is the sacred place of sacrifice for sin. A fugitive could grasp a horn of the altar and ask for mercy. This solitary voice from the horns of the altar seems to be a call for judgment because the time of God’s mercy has passed. People have had ample warning and time to come to the horns of the altar with faith in Christ and ask for God’s mercy, but they have not.
In Revelation 8:3-5, prayers were offered on the altar, releasing God’s judgment. Revelation 9:13-15 seems to be the same scenario. If this is the same kind of situation, then the judgment of the sixth trumpet is also brought about by the prayers of God’s people.
These are imprecatory prayers, and the apostle wishes us to know just how strategic they are to God’s program. In Days of Vengeance (a commentary on Revelation), David Chilton believes “the Church of Jesus Christ is the new Israel,” a view without sufficient Biblical support. Still, what Chilton has to say on other matters is powerful.
For instance, Chilton provides a remarkable perspective on the critical import of imprecatory prayers, a view that would have some of today’s Christians aghast. However, it is entirely accurate. He writes:
How true! Imprecatory prayers are not inconsistent with the New Testament teaching to earnestly pray for the salvation of people who don’t know Christ. These are not prayers that facilitate or excuse the harboring of hatred and personal resentments. These prayers move the heart of God because they are about the exaltation of righteousness. They are prayers for divine justice, the overthrow of evil, the casting down of wicked people and influences, and the establishment of divine rule. These prayers are before God on the altar. He hears them, and he will answer.
In response to the prayers of the saints, the voice commands the sixth angel to release those angels “bound at the Great Euphrates River.”
Like that horde of locust-like, scorpion-tailed demons released from the abyss to torture, these four devils, restrained at the Euphrates River, are freed at the right time to serve God’s righteous fury.
The late W.A. Criswell, a mighty Baptist preacher, has a profound word to add here. He says:
When these fallen angels of a more threatening order are unfettered from the Euphrates, they lead an infernal army of diabolical destruction 200 million strong and eradicate one-third of the earth’s remaining population.
The Euphrates River, the eastern boundary of Israel, is associated in Scripture with the earth’s first great atrocities. It’s where sin started (Gen. 2:14-14; 3:6-7). It’s where the first murder was committed (Gen. 4:8). It’s where the first world rebellion against God started (Gen. 10, 11). It’s where the Tower of Babel, the wellspring from which all idolatry and false religion started to flow. It’s where all misery began, even the rise of God’s peoples’ greatest enemies and the scene of the most brutal civilizations in human history, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Medes. How ironic this place – this site – God posits his plans to begin the end of everything that raises its fists against him.
This army is like none other the world has ever seen, not simply because of its size, but because of its power to raze and kill. The Scripture says:
This army is surely hellish in nature and seemingly both human and demonic. Perhaps it describes a military that is inspired and driven by demons – a cavalry of armed forces who belch out fire, smoke, and burning sulfur with all the characteristics of modern warfare. They may also utilize chemical warfare in the “plagues” they inflict.
The world has already seen something similar. The Nazis dragged almost the entire world into conflict in World War II. Nazi leadership was steeped in the practices of the Occult, and their troops were fueled by methamphetamine, better known as crystal meth – a perfect sorcerous concoction for demonic control and empowerment.
Still, a more literal interpretation is hardly out of the question and makes perfect sense. Clarence Larkin, in his commentary on Revelation, says:
The final passages of Revelation 9 are enough to make any serious believer astonished and dismayed. After having suffered indescribably the ravages of war and holocaust, the Bible says people do not repent of their sins and turn to God. Instead, they double down in their defiance. They continue in their false religious practices, murdering and using sorcery (the Greek word is pharmakia – the same word for today’s use of drugs and an altered state of consciousness), sexual immorality, individual, corporate, and institutionalized thefts.
How sad is this description of unregenerate human nature! Unless an individual becomes humble as a small child and places his or her unsophisticated faith in Christ for the salvation of their soul, their heart only hardens with time against the Lord.
Hell is the place of unregenerate, spiritually dead souls – where Jesus said there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Luke 13:28). The fires of hell are fed by the inordinate weeping of self-love and coarsened anger at God.
The Lord is exceedingly patient, full of grace and mercy, but there inevitably comes an hour, a day, a month when his judgment falls on the unrepentant.
How close are you to his judgment? How close is our nation? How close is the world?
No one knows except God. Yet, the clock is ticking. God’s forbearance is running out.© Rev. Mark H. Creech
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.