Study of The Book of Revelation 

W. T. Russel (Tape #4)   

Chapter 6:12 "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;" Care should be taken to understand the meaning of this sixth seal. Keep in mind John saw this in his vision.
Chapter 6:13 "And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind."
Chapter 6:14 "And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places."
Chapter 6:15 "And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;"
Chapter 6:16 "And said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:"
Chapter 6:17 "For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” I want to point out that we are brought by a vision to the end of the world by this sixth seal, and the seventh seal is yet unopened. There are some things in connection with this that I want to call attention to. The scripture in the sixth chapter quoted here is taken from Joel 2:30 “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke." 2:31 "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come." If this prophesy has ever been fulfilled, I don't know when it was. I've never read of anyone placing a date or time of its fulfillment. I also want to call your attention to this prophesy associated with the opening of the sixth seal. There will be a period of time the inhabitants of this earth will be able to see the end of the world and what will happen in the opening of the seventh seal. However, the Bible does not tell us how long it will be before that time. Matthew 24:29-31 is agreeable with this interpretation. Look at it: Matthew 24:29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:" 24:30 "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." 24:31 "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." When the Bible is correctly understood, it forces us to recognize in the closing scenes of this world what God is going to do. A period of time is set forth in the opening of this sixth seal that great men in high places or authority, wicked men of every kind, will seek to hide themselves from His coming and the judgment. The Bible also says in 1 Thess. 5:4 "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." I'm sure the child of God will know when the end of the world approaches--not the day nor the hour but the nearness. There have been people down through the centuries of time who thought the end was coming and predicted the time it would happen. Of course they missed it. This sixth seal actually tells us that there is going to be a time when the sinful world at large will recognize the Lord is certainly soon to come. They will be ready to hide themselves and even to pray for the rocks and mountains to fall upon them and hide them from the face of him that shall soon appear. I'm not going to be foolish enough to manufacture a time not found in the scriptures, but I'm sure that day will come. Let's go now to the eighth chapter to see the connection of the opening of the seven seals and the sounding of the seven trumpets. We will study the seventh chapter after we have discussed the eighth and its connection to the sixth.
Chapter 8:1 “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour." This show there is going to be some time--half an hour. I'm not going to estimate now the length of time that half an hour is typical of; however, there is a waiting period between this sixth seal and the disclosure of the seventh in John's vision. It just means there will be a final disclosure of what is to happen at a later time. It will be when the climax of this is reached in the twentieth chapter of Revelation. It's a sad thing so many people have taken the twentieth chapter of Revelation as a key to everything written in the book. They have taken the twentieth chapter as the beginning and tried to make everything else fit in with it. Instead of the beginning, it is the climax. We will not reach the climax of the coming of the Lord until we reach the twentieth Chapter in Verses 20:9 through 20:15. The climax is also found in Matthew 25:31-46 and Paul's version of the climax is in II Thessalonians 2:6-ll.Some may have wondered why we have used the seven seals as the affects of the preached gospel until the end of the world. The Book of Revelation is addressed to the churches. It has to do with the churches, and Jesus Christ's association with the churches. Jesus gave to no one else but the churches this commission. In Matthew 28:19 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” 28:20 "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Revelation begins with the church in her infancy. It ends with the final triumph of the churches over all the heresies, all the powers of evil, and brings it into the presence of God triumphal. That's the reason why that route is taken, and I believe it's the truth. Let's now discuss the seven trumpets. Seven churches were selected as a sufficient or complete number to represent the kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth. Someone might ask the question why the sounding of the trumpets has reference to the affect prayer has in connection with the preached gospel through the years even to the end of the world. I believe it does have reference to prayer and the effects that prayer has in connection with the gospel because of what is in chapter 8:3-5.
Chapter 8:3 " And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne." "And another angel came and stood at the altar," (This is not the brazen altar of sacrifice, but it is the golden altar of incense.) "Having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense," (I believe that angel is none other than the angel of the covenant which is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.) "That he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne."
Chapter 8:4 "And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand."
Chapter 8:5 “And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thundering, and lightnings, and an earthquake." It is evident the sound of the trumpets tells us about the answers to prayer. Paul explains the old ceremonial law of burnt offerings and incense in the temple. He tells us as the smoke of these offerings ascended up; it represented the prayers of saints going into the presence of God. Jesus was the angel of the covenant seen in heaven by John at the brazen alters when the prayers that were offered here on earth ascended up to God in heaven. Christ, the mediator between God and man, is represented in this scene. Therefore, the sounding of the trumpets has reference to the prayers as they are received in heaven but the prayers are offered here on earth and the results that we read about in Revelation is the answer to those prayers that are offered on earth.
Chapter 8:6 “And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound."
Chapter 8:7 "The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.” Who was the great enemy of the church in John's time? John was the last of the apostles. The rest of the apostles died at the hand of the persecutors and civil powers. History shows this enemy tried to kill John by placing him in a caldron or barrel of boiling oil, and it was only by the providence of God that he lived. God spared him for writing of the Book of Revelation. He was exiled on the Isle of Patmos and wrote it. Who was the enemy of the church in John's time when this was written? It was pagan Rome. Changes were made in Rome, and we'll see the steps as we study. Pagan Rome was a Godless nation. She persecuted the early church, and was behind the killing of the apostles. Babies were tied to their mothers' necks. These mothers were killed with their babies hanging around their necks rather than give up their professed faith. We couldn't find a better witness than John. He had waded through it all. He knew how the other apostles died. The Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Before John was exiled on the Isle of Patmos in 68 A. D., he was aware of Paul being beheaded in Rome. The enemy of the church in John's day was pagan Rome. There must have been many prayers for their persecutors to be visited with the vengeance of God, and prayers to God for relief of the persecution the church was undergoing. What was the answer to their prayers? The prayers were answered by the fall of the Roman Empire as described in the historical account by Gibbons. He gives a step by step description in his book "The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire." B. H. Carroll writes his understanding of the first trumpet, "I understand the first trumpet to mean the judgment of the Roman Empire, the pagan Roman Empire that caused its decline, and thus judgment means the invasion of nations from the north." Gibbons explains that. "Scandinavia, Germany, and beyond the Danube, even the shores of the Baltic - out of their forests came the untamed Germans and Goths and across the Danube came the Vandals and Huns.” Carroll gives credit to Gibbons for this information from his book "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." Gibbons shows the invasion of these hordes from the German forests and across the Danube broke over all the boundaries of the Roman power and carried their wasting influence with fire and sword into Italy itself. I am persuaded beyond any question to agree that Gibbons is right in his historical account. I also believe B. H. Carroll is unmistakably right in his application of Gibbon’s historical account of the pagan Roman Empire's destruction. The destruction of pagan Rome came about in answer to the prayers of God's people. That was the first trumpet
Chapter 8:8 lets now look at the second trumpet. "And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;"
Chapter 8:9 “And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed." Now, I must disagree with Dr. Carroll here. He's a smarter man than I'll ever be, but even the smartest men can be wrong. I'd like us to keep that in mind. I'm glad we can interpret the word of God for ourselves, and I'm just giving you some things to think about in your study. B. H. Carroll said in this book a mountain means a city. I disagree. A mountain in the book of Revelation, the Prophesies of Isaiah and others has reference to a nation and to a kingdom. That being the case, I want you to see the symbolic meaning of this. He said the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and a third part of the sea became blood; and there died a third part of the creatures even them that had life, and a third part of the ships were destroyed. Near the city of Rome was the volcano, Vesuvius. Those who have studied history and geography know what happened to Pompeii years ago. I believe it was in the year of 79. History tells us that Pompeii and Herculaneum were cities buried by an eruption of the volcano of Vesuvius. This just gives us a little type. This is a symbol. I am saying it is a symbol of the overthrow of the pagan Roman Empire as a result of the prayers of the saints of God. This Roman Empire was completely buried as if by an eruption of a volcano never to rise again, and it all came about in answer to prayers. Carroll credits Dr. Lyman Beecher's history as stating it took Rome 300 years to die. Gibbons as he writes about the decline, writes about the fall in his book "The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire." The eruption of the volcano of Vesuvius was simply a type of the eruptions which took place through armies invading Rome and brought about the downfall of the existing kingdom or power at that time. According to Daniel, that empire divided into ten kingdoms. Each of those ten kingdoms were completely destroyed. Why were they destroyed? They were destroyed because of people praying on earth. The sounding of the trumpets gives us the answer to those prayers which were heard in heaven. By using worldly powers as agencies, God answered the prayers of God's people. He has been doing that all down through the years.
Chapter 8:10 "And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;"
Chapter 8:11 "And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter." Again, I'm going to have to depart company with Carroll. I like to be consistent as any writer should be in his writing. A preacher needs to be consistent in his preaching and in his life. We read in the first part of Revelation that a star represented a preacher, a minister, a messenger, or a representative. So I'm going to be consistent with my teaching and say the star was supposed to be of a heavenly calling since it fell from heaven burning as a lamp. This star just had the nominal appearance of a preacher, and he was just another Judas who got in among the others. I'm going to say the Holy Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Catholic Church, as they like to call it, had its origin with the fall of one man. This man would have been identified with the true church in his day, but I'm not talking about him as being a child of God and falling from grace but as being a preacher who turned from the truth. All the Protestants and denominations, except the Baptist, existing today originated with one man. Many of these denominations began during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. They all have a human head. This lamp or star burning as a lamp was not a church that apostatized, but it was someone who got in the rank and led off a people into heresy. The result of that heresy brought about much persecution among the churches of the living God. Of course God's people prayed about it. The Catholic Church is a counterfeit church, not an apostate church. Now, I know that people depart from the faith. I realize down through the ages there have been people who have departed from the true doctrinal principles of God after once holding to them. Nevertheless, the organization called the Roman Catholic Church had its origin through one man even though his identity is unknown. He, with his followers, made this counterfeit church look as much like the original as possible to deceive people. It is still a counterfeit church today. It will go down before the Lord comes back.
Revelations 13:3: " And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast." This verse confirms that a man was the head or the beginning of the Holy Roman Catholic or Holy Roman Empire. Verse three says the pagan head was wounded to death. What is the head? Christ set up the true church while he was on earth and is the head of the true church. The Holy Catholic Church came into existence by the pagan head being wounded to death. The ecclesiastical head took its place which had to be one man the same as all other false churches started in the world's history. This light burning as a lamp had no reference to a church apostatizing but was a wicked man who got in the true church and started a counterfeit movement. Notice the affect the counterfeit church and its teachings had upon the truth. The image is of casting wormwood into the water and making it bitter. Water, here, meaning the waters of life. When a false gospel is preached, and people are made to accept and believe a false teaching, it contaminates their minds. It doesn't contaminate the true water of life, but it does bring about contamination in the minds of the hearers. When a heresy is followed, it is bitter not sweet. Look at the opposite of this in Exodus after Moses had led the children across the Red Sea.
Exodus 15:23 "And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah."
Exodus 15:24 "And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink?" Exodus 15:25 "And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD Shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,"
Exodus 15:23-25 Heresy, a false gospel, false teaching, is unpalatable to the souls of men. But Psalms 34:8 says, "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusted in him." False teaching is always bitter-- never sweet, never good, but bad. The incident of the sweetened waters of Marah is just the opposite of waters that flowed from this man who was counterfeit in his teaching and a heretic in his practice. He produced only bitterness and woe, and it has gone on all down through the centuries of time with nothing to sweeten it. There was great glorification when Constantine the Great, became a Roman emperor. What did he do? He united that counterfeit church and the Roman state making that ecclesiastical movement a state or government church. Oh, there was much rejoicing. History tells us there was much glorification of Constantine because he had united the church and state, that counterfeit church. Gradually, the state became subordinate to the church. In other words the church did the dictating, and the state followed. The church was in the lead, that is, the counterfeit church claimed all ecclesiastical as well as civil powers. There is a Roman Catholic State in Italy. The pope of that ecclesiastical state demands that all countries send their ambassadors to him because he claims to be a civil ruler as well as ecclesiastical ruler. There is your church and state. The ecclesiastical powers of Rome, the church, had the power for a time. Later the state regained control. They just rallied back and forth until Garibaldi arose. He was an Italian general born in 1807 and died in 1882. Garibaldi as an Italian general paved the way for Victor Immanuel to come into Italy. Victor Immanuel was the first king of Italy, 1861 to 1878. Victor Immanuel marched through Italy at the head of his army with an open Bible. This was the first time this had ever been seen. Until that time, the Bible had been chained to the pulpit with the priest interpreting the scriptures for the laymen. They were not allowed to interpret it for themselves. It had been locked up in the Latin version, and Victor Immanuel declared liberty of conscience to all people. As we study these trumpets, I don't profess to know all the history connected with it. But I do profess this much that each trumpet down to the sixth is an answer to the prayers of God's people and like the sixth seal, stops right there until the climax in the twentieth chapter of Revelation. This may have been something that you've never heard or thought about before, but I want to admonish young preachers and others, especially the young preachers, to acquaint themselves with these matters while you are young. The time is coming when age is going to creep upon you. You will not be as alert in your thinking, studying and maintaining thoughts as you are today. I can memorize a scripture just as easily as I ever could go back over that scripture until I go to sleep, but find when I awake in the morning, it's gone. Why? It's not because I'm not as intensely interested as I use to be, for I am. It's because I am ageing. I'm just doing the best I can. I am glad of scriptures that I committed to memory when I was young because I remember them and can quote them now as well as I could then. It's not so with new scriptures recently learned. You need to acquaint yourselves with the affairs of the times today--what's going on in the world. Jesus said while he walked here on earth, "What I say unto one, I say unto all, watch." How are you going to watch? The signs are here right in this book to watch for and know that the coming of the day of the Lord draweth nigh.
Chapter 8:12 "And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise." The sounding of every trumpet by each of the seven angels is simply a response or an answer to the prayers of God's people.
Chapter 8:13 "And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhibiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!" The heaven mentioned here is not the heaven of disembodied spirits. It is the heaven above us--the sky where the birds fly--the first heaven. Of course the other heaven is outer space. The third heaven, heaven of heavens, is the place of disembodied spirits. I heard one preacher say the "woe, woe, woe" meant when you are plowing Old Beck and get out to the end of the row, you say woe, stop. It does not mean to stop. These three woes mentioned here mean some tragedy is coming upon the world. There are three of them left. We have already studied four of them. These woes are divided into two groups--a group of four and then a group of three just as the seals are divided in the same grouping.

Chapter 7 I would like to say again the reason I left out the seventh chapter is because I wanted to make the connection of the opening of the seals and the sounding of the trumpets in their order. In the last part of the sixth chapter, we talked about the sixth seal bringing us to the end of the world. The first verse of the eighth chapter said, "And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour." Then he begins with the seven trumpets leaving the incidents under the seventh seal with nothing said about it. The trumpets are sounded and the woes are given through the sixth woe just as the seven seals are given with only six seals explained. The seventh seal and seventh trumpet are reserved to be brought together in the final consummation of all things in Revelations 19:18-20. I think it is fitting and proper that we take stock of what we have learned about the opening of the seals and sounding of the trumpets and put this seventh chapter where it belongs. In the seventh verse of the sixth chapter, you will find these words. "For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" The seventh chapter tells us who will be able to stand the great day of God's wrath. The seventh chapter is in its place not only to assure John of God's grace and of souls being saved, but there would be a great gathering in heaven some day.
Chapter 7:1 "And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree." "And after these things" means after the opening of the six seals which brings us to the end of time in panorama. We were studying that from the standpoint of types, shadows and symbols. In the panorama of these seals have been portrayed in words for our understanding. This verse says he saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth. At one time some of the old people argued the earth had to be square since the Bible said the earth had four corners. (I don't want to reflect on the old people since I'm not as young as I once was, but I don't believe the earth is square.) Of course this is holding the four winds of the earth-- north, south, east and west. But let's get the symbol of it or the figurative meaning of the four winds. These winds are symbolizing destructive forces and are not literal winds. Several years ago a tornado came close to Bowling Green. If the tornado had gone there, it would have torn up the town. This is emblematic of forces God uses. He reveals here the use of such forces as a judgment against the wickedness of the world.
Chapter 7:2 "And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea," This angel had the seal of the living God. The seal is emblematic and supposed to be understood by us in the same sense as the seal of the state might be affixed to a legal document. In years gone by in the western part of the country when there was a lot of range land with no fences, cattle were sealed with branding iron which had the imprint of the owner. The brand might have been the name of the ranch, the owner's initials, or name. I believe when the Bible said the soldiers sealed the stone over the mouth of the sepulcher of Christ, it was not fastening the stone to the wall, but was actually a seal placed upon it which said you can't touch this. The Old Testament tells about things being sealed with the king's signet which is in the same sense as in the "seal of the living God" in Verse Two. Here is a scripture to harmonize with this type of seal. II Timothy 2:19 " Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." God knows everyone of his children. The knowledge of God of his children is the same as the sealing of his children.
Chapter 7:3 "Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads."
Chapter 7:4 "And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel." This is a vision done for the benefit of John and the churches to which the letters were written. This vision was also to all churches and God's people in every tribe of the children of Israel down through the centuries. There are twelve tribes of Israel originating from the twelve sons of Jacob. There are a certain number of people who belong to God in every tribe of the children of Israel.
Chapter 7:5 "Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand." I do not believe the number twelve thousand is a literal number from every tribe of the children of Israel. If I believed that, I'd join the hard shells and say God decided back in eternity that exactly twelve thousand of every tribe of the children of Israel would be saved--no more, no less--with exactly one hundred forty-four thousand as the sub total of the children of Israel. One hundred forty-four thousand is a square number. It denotes a number of Jews who are saved from every tribe which lets us know there will be some saved out of every tribe of the children of Israel. Take this number symbolically and figurative as you do the others. Similarly, the number seven is used for the number of completeness. John on the Isle of Patmos witnessed the sealing of all the Jews from that time to the end of the world. He names the tribes from which these will be saved in verses five through eight. We will not go into these since it is just a reference to all the children of Israel.
Chapter 7:9 "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindred’s, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;" After the one hundred forty-four thousand were sealed, he saw a multitude that no man could number. This was to assure John of the great company preserved of God who would be in heaven. Some preach and some get the idea there's only going to be a few in heaven. I agree there's going to be few in comparison to the many that have lived on earth. The innumerable company had white robes and palms in their hands. How many of you have ever heard the song we used to sing a long time ago "Palms of Victory"? I haven't heard it for a long time. The palms represent they had won the victory. Jesus said to fear not, for he had overcome the world. How did he overcome the world? He overcame it by faith. Someone said, "Did Jesus have faith?" Yes, he sure did. If he didn't, what was he praying for? Why did he pray? I'm not saying that Jesus Christ was saved like you because he was the Son of God when he came. Still he lived a life of faith while on earth because he came to do the will of his Father and he prayed to the Father. This shows also the suffering of the seven churches of Asia, their persecutions, and their hardships of which we have studied. Not only that but it shows the opening of the seven seals, the way the gospel is accepted by some, rejected by others, and even times when there'd be a famine of hearing the word of the Lord. When everything looked dark to John and to the other disciples in the churches of that day, it is revealed in the seventh chapter not only the salvation of a number of the children of Israel, but also an innumerable company no man could number. They stood before the throne with palms in their hands showing they had won the victory through Christ.
Chapter 7:10 "And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." Who were the ones in this verse? They are the ones with white robes and palms in their hands, the ones who had won the victory by faith and had reached home. They were giving praise to God for the salvation they had received through Christ.
Chapter 7:11 "And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God," Notice this about the elders. The elders represent the perpetuity of the priesthood on earth--the children of God perpetually carrying out his work by making sacrifices. The word priest indicates one who has something to offer. God's people have been offering their bodies as a living sacrifice to God, holy, acceptable unto him which is their reasonable service. The four and twenty elders represent the perpetuity of the priesthood until Christ comes back. That's taken from the Old Testament. I'd like to refer you back to it. Aaron had four sons. Two of them had their lives taken because they offered evil fire on the altars. One of the remaining two sons of Aaron had sixteen sons and the other had eight. In David's time the priesthood was divided among those twenty-four sons making a division of twenty-four times. This is where the "four and twenty elders" originated. Four and twenty elders represent the perpetual priesthood in service to God on earth. Every saved person is a priest, not a high priest, but a priest. Here is what happened to those elders and the four living creatures which made up the cherubim. They all fell before the throne on their faces and worshipped God saying, Amen. The word amen means "so be it" or "so may it be."
Chapter 7:12 "Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen."
Chapter 7:13 "And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?"
Chapter 7:14 "And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
Chapter 7:15 "Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them."
Chapter 7:16 "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat."
Chapter 7:17 "For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." This must have been a comforting scene to John after he had seen all the terrible things going on in earth--the many hardships, the persecution of the churches, and even those who had given their lives for the faith that they held. This scene showed John the day is coming when there is going to be a change. God will be right in the midst of his people, and he'll lead them into fountains of living waters, and he'll feed them, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. That's the heaven scene right here between the seals and the sounding of the trumpets. It's there as encouragement for John in the time in which he lived and to be sent to the seven churches of Asia. All those down through the centuries have been able to read it for encouragement as well as today.
Chapter 9:1 “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit." I want to call your attention to the word fall. It was not present tense when John saw it. It is past tense in his vision. And he said the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fallen. The star had fallen to the earth and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. The star John saw fallen from heaven was none other than the Devil himself. He had already fallen when John saw it. And to him was given the key to the bottomless pit. Now Jesus said, I am he that has the keys of hell and of death. The Lord gave limited permission for things to be done by and through the Devil. Refer to the Book of Job 1:8 "And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in all the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and eschewed evil?" Satan began to accuse Job by saying Job didn't serve God without getting something. This should be encouraging to every person serving God. God is the best paymaster you ever worked for. The Devil affirmed it when he said, "Doth Job fear God for naught?" He said, "Put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face." Of course, God just gave him the liberty to try it. It was a limited liberty. I'd like to point that out. He went far enough to take all of his wealth, his family, and his health. The only thing left was he and his wife. Job sat out in the ashes and scraped his sores with a piece of potsherd. Job 2:9 "Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die." God allowed the Devil to go that far with Job. We are told Job said, "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive well at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips?" Even in that dark hour, Job said Blessed be the name of the Lord. It takes something besides humanity and mortality to be able to say a thing like that in the condition that Job was in. My point is that God has given the Devil liberty to a limited extent. Here we see a key to the bottomless pit given to the Devil. he is the angel or the star that had fallen from heaven. He opened the bottomless pit with the key that was given to him. This is what he found.
Chapter 9:2 "And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit."
Chapter 9:3 "And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power." Continue to remember this is symbolic language. This book is God's picture book. The only way it can be rightfully understood and interpreted is to take the symbols and identify them with the very thing he intended to teach by the symbol or the figure. Let's look at verse two. He said out of the bottomless pit arose a smoke as it were of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. This is a natural phenomenon, but what is the spiritual interpretation of it? The spiritual interpretation of it is that every false doctrine is a heresy. It comes right out of hell and originates with the Devil. When heresy is taught and believed by people, it is just like a smoke screen that hides the truth from the minds and hearts of people. This is exactly what verse two teaches. Notice the locusts came out of the smoke. In other words, the locusts came out of the darkness brought about by the false doctrines and teachings which originated with the Devil coming out of hell. In the east, they were acquainted with locusts and their destructive power and force. He uses locusts here as a symbol. It says "and unto them was given power as the scorpions of the earth have power." These locusts, I think, are used as a symbol because there is nothing more destructive than locusts especially to vegetation. He uses this in a symbolic manner. Heresies, when believed, is darkness and keeps people there. Chapter 9:4 "And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads." I want to show you their purpose and what they do. In the seventh chapter twelve thousand (a definite number from each tribe of Jews) were sealed as a possession of God. It also says another innumerable company were sealed as God's possession. The torment coming out of hell would not affect those that had the seal of God, but it would torment sinners--unbelievers. Those are the ones who had believed a lie and then to their grief, found they were wrong. Still today, when people learn they have been deceived, they are tormented. They are tormented when they realize their heretical plan of redemption is wrong, and they are lost. There are people in our time who have believed heresy in the so-called churches. Yet in their hearts, they know they have nothing. These unsaved ones hope their "good works done on earth" might get them into heaven. Paul said in I Corinthians 15:19 "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." We do not know what's in the hearts of unsaved people who have adopted heresy and followed false teaching. This applies today as it did back in that time. In summary, these torments were for atheists and unbelievers, and not to any child of God. Children of God are already sealed and secured.
Chapter 9:5 "And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man."
Chapter 9:6 “And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them."
Chapter 9:7 "And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
Chapter 9:8 "And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
Chapter 9:9 "And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle." Chapter 9:10 "And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months." Verses five through ten is warfare of right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error. It is symbolic, and you can determine the meaning of it as easy as I can, if you can at all. We will not go into them any farther. Chapter 9:11 "And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon." Apollyon and Abaddon mean "destroyer". The purpose of the Devil in bringing about heresy which people will believe to the damnation of their souls is to destroy them. He is the destroyer of the human race and uses that means to bring about their destruction. I am proud I know the truth of the plan of salvation. There is no guessing or just believing God exists, but I know he exists. The Apostle Paul plainly tells us in II Timothy 1:12: "For the because I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." I believe when John looked into heaven and saw the innumerable company sealed of God as his possession, you were in that number if you are a child of God today. What a wonderful encouragement for John to look ahead two thousand years in the future and see a great multitude of people sealed of God. He witnessed that God will bring about his purpose with all his agencies not only in heaven but on earth. What a wonderful picture.
Chapter 9:12 "One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter."
Chapter 9:13 "And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God," Let me say this about the altar. I said previously there's no altar in heaven. What I meant by that is the altar is on earth. There is a vision of the altar in the temple which was a symbol. The "golden altar" is also a symbol seen in John's vision. It has reference to the altar of incense of which prayer was offered. As we see it in heaven, we see it as answered prayer, and as the trumpet sounds, it's a response to the prayers on earth and the response from heaven. It's there as a symbol. Jesus Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us. He is the one who stands between God and man tonight--not a golden altar. This is just a picture. The four horns of the golden altar is a vision before God.
Chapter 9:14 "Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates."
Chapter 9:15 "And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men." Notice it says here "prepared for an hour." That just simply meant for an hour in one day, a day in one week, and a week in one month. It was a definite time. They had been prepared, and they were waiting and the command was given that they be loosed from the River Euphrates. The ancient people thought every disaster which came their way, came out of the Euphrates River.
Chapter 9:16 "And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand: and I heard the number of them." The number would have been about two million. Chapter 9:17 "And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone." Chapter 9:18 "By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths."
Chapter 9:19 "For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt." Do you take that literally? Wouldn't that be a terrible scene? I've heard people say, "Why before the end of the world, there'll be locusts on earth as big as horses." What a locust, what a locust! That is the literal interpretation. However, every one of these figures have a meaning. It is up to us to figure out the symbol and find out the real thing that it's talking about. I'm not well versed in history. There is much of it I do not know. However, I have a book on ancient history, and I wish they studied it in high schools today, but they don't. In that history we find the things that happened in ancient times. This history book records the things in Daniel such as Nebuchadnezzar being the head of the Babylonian kingdom, and the very words of Daniel that were prophesied from the king's dream. As recorded in the Bible, this history book tells of the power and authority of Babylon falling to the Medes and Persians. From them, it was taken by the Greeks, then to the Romans, and finally the Bible comes right along and says that the God of heaven in the days of these kings shall set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed. All the rest of those kingdoms were destroyed. The horde represented by locusts, I think, was fulfilled by the wars that were declared about the sixth century by the Moslems--Mohammedans. Mohammed was the head of their religion. Wherever they went, they went to kill, to waste, destroy, and take possession. They did. Look at what is going on in Iran right now. Mohammed arose in the sixth century. At that time, Mohammed and his follower’s waged war making sure they were prepared to take over before they ever made a move. In our time the Ayatollah Khomeini knew what he was doing. He had been isolated for about fourteen years and not allowed to come back into his home country. Yet in all that time he was getting his forces together. He knew exactly when to make a move. The Mohammedans have always done that. The very territory today which was occupied by Baptist churches, the Mohammedans or the Moslems, have swallowed it up. They even have taken over part of the Holy Land. Their Mosque is right on the very site of the Temple of Solomon where Herod rebuilt that temple. If you get into it, you've got to pull off your shoes and leave them on the outside. I believe this is exactly what he is talking about.
Chapter 9:20 "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:" I reiterate that God gave them over into the hands of the wicked one to perform his work and take over the territory because of their turning away from God in the worship of idols.
Chapter 9:21 "Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." At this point, I would like to review what we have seen under the sounding of the trumpets. First Trumpet: The decline--the weakening of pagan power in answer to prayer. Second Trumpet: A complete overthrow of pagan power--pagan Rome. Third Trumpet: Roman Church, the ecclesiastical together with the civil Roman empire. Fourth Trumpet: The Dark Ages Fifth Trumpet: Three woes are introduced. The first is directly attributed to Satan. In that corruption as a result of the counterfeit movement, there is infidelity, rationalism and atheism. Not only that, Satan has been given liberty to open the bottomless pit. Hell's smoke ascends from the pit which has reference to the heresy and false teachings originating with the counterfeit movement. The locusts that came out of hell's smoke was the invasion of the territories discussed previously even the Holy Land itself. The land of Israel has almost been devastated by wars year after year. Modhammedism had full sway in Israel for some time and put the Moslem Mosque on the foundation of Solomon's Temple. The rest of the Ninth Chapter alludes to warfare. I can't point out every detail or even the exact period of time. However, I'm fairly close to the time.