Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and more specifically, begins with the thirteenth verse of the ninth chapter and continues through to the eleventh verse of the tenth chapter. This particular part of the ninth chapter contains the description of the events that transpired and unfolded when the sixth angel sounded his trumpet in heaven. “And 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 which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 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. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. 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. 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. 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. 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: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Revelation 9:13-21).
FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE! FOUR LIVING CREATURES! FOUR ANGELS STANDING ON THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH! THE FOUR WINDS OF THE EARTH! FOUR ANGELS WHICH ARE BOUND IN THE GREAT RIVER EUPHRATES! While within the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ there is a prominent theme that centers upon the number seven—seven churches, seven angels, seven spirits of God, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls or vials—there is also the theme of four as well. Within the fourth and fifth chapters of this prophetic book we read of the four living creatures which existed before the throne of God in heaven—these living creatures which ceased not to worship and praise the living God of heaven and eternity both day and night. Immediately following the description of these four living creatures we find in the sixth chapter of this prophetic book a description of the four horsemen of the apocalypse which came forth on to the scene as the first four of the seven seals were broken and opened. In the seventh chapter of this prophetic book we read of the four angels which held back the four winds which blew upon the earth—these four angels who were given very specific instruction from heaven regarding the events which would take place upon the earth. In this particular chapter we read of a different set of fours, as there are four angels which were bound in the great river Euphrates—these four angels which were prepared for a specific hour, a specific day, a specific month, and a specific year. It’s actually quite interesting to consider the roles and functions each of these sets of four actually plays in the divine plan and will of the God of heaven and earth. Consider if you will the different roles each of these sets of four plays within the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and within the final days of human history upon the earth.
“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the four beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:6-11).
These four beasts are again mentioned in the fifth chapter of this prophetic book, and are mentioned in direct connection with the four and twenty elders which sat upon thrones before and around the throne of God in heaven: “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:11-14).
When you come to the sixth chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, you will find the seven seals which were upon the scroll that was previously in the right hand of the One who sits upon the throne in heaven being opened. Beginning with the first verse you begin reading how the first four of these seven seals directly resulted and led to four distinct horses—each with their own unique rider riding upon them—coming forth according to the word of one of the four living creatures. “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and He that sat on Him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to wonkier. And when He had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there’s ent out another hose that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And when He had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had come a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when He had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:1-8).
As it pertains to the four living creatures which are ever before the throne of God in heaven we know and understand that they exist to worship the living God of heaven and earth night and day from heaven. These four living creatures always and forever worship the One who sits upon the throne in heaven, and never cease to worship Him in the beauty of His holiness. The four horsemen which are found in the sixth chapter are vastly different, for when we read of the four horsemen that emerge as a result of the opening of the first four seals, we read of the judgment of the Lord beginning to break forth within and upon the earth. If you read and study the details of the second, third and fourth horses, you will quickly discover that when these horses with their horsemen emerge on to the scene, they do so for and with a very specific purpose. The second horse with its rider comes to take peace from the earth, and as a result of that peace, violence, murder and killing takes place among men upon the earth. There is actually something that is quite astounding when considering this particular reality—namely that in the absence of peace there seems to be violence, strife, contention, anger, hatred, murder, killing, and the like. When the second horse emerges from the earth along with its rider, it was not only given a great sword, but it was also given power to take peace from the earth. The question that I can’t help but ask is whether or not war takes place in the absence of peace, or if peace ceases to be found in the presence of war. In other words—is war a byproduct of the lack of peace upon the earth, or within a marriage, or within a home, or within a family, or within a nation, or within a work place, or even within a church? Scripture makes it very clear that unto this rider was given power to take pace from the earth, and in the absence of that peace, men went about killing one another. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation, as well as the words which James the half-brother of Jesus wrote in his epistle which is found in the New Testament.
Consider if you will the words which are recorded in the New Testament epistle of James concerning that which takes place among those who profess to be the saints and the called of God: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts, that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a. Friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But He giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but He giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up” (James 4:1-10).
In the third chapter of the New Testament book of First Corinthians, we find the apostle Paul writing to the Corinthian congregation concerning that which was taking place among them in their midst. Beginning with the first verse of this particular chapter we find and read these words: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strive, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollo’s; are ye not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).
If you turn and direct your attention to the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, you will find tremendous words of Jesus Christ concerning the Last Days, and the events that will lead up to them, and what will take place in the midst of them: “And Jews went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buildings of the Temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:9-14).
Notice that when speaking of the Last Days, Jesus revealed several signposts and signals that would reveal and confirm the presence of the Last Days. If you carefully read and study this particular passage of Scripture, you will notice that Jesus revealed and spoke of very specific events and occurrences that would take place leading up to, and even taking place within the Last Days. WARS AND RUMORS OF WAR! NATION RISING AGAINST NATION! KINGDOM RISING AGAINST KINGDOM! FAMINES! PESTILENCES! EARTHQUAKES! DELIVERANCE UNTO AFFLICTION! KILLING OF THE SAINTS! OFFENSE! BETRAYAL! HATRED TOWARD EACH OTHER! THE RISING UP OF FALSE PROPHETS! DECEPTION! INIQUITY ABOUNDING! LOVE GROWN AND LOVE GROWING COLD! When reading this particular passage of Scripture, it’s worth noting and understanding that Jesus didn’t sugar coat anything concerning and/or regarding the Last Days. Jesus didn’t specifically reveal everything that was going to take place in the Last Days, but what He did do was reveal what to expect leading up to the Last Days. What Jesus did when speaking unto His disciples in this passage of Scripture was provide specific signs that would point to and confirm the Last Days upon the earth. What’s worth pointing out when reading the words of Jesus is that absolutely everything He spoke unto His disciples is mentioned and recorded within the prophetic book of the Revelation. We find the fulfillment of much of what Jesus spoke about unto His disciples actually playing out in the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke of wars, of famines, of pestilences, of earthquakes, and each of these realities are specifically mentioned within the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Beginning with the opening of the first of the seven seals we begin to experience and encounter the fulfillment of the various events Jesus spoke about. One of the most striking features of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus is the powerful description of the events that would unfold in the Last Days as the judgment of God is no longer on a limited scale within and upon a city, or a nation, or an individual, but rather, upon the whole earth. The prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is indeed and is in fact a revelation of Jesus Christ—of His character and nature—but it is in light of that revelation that we encounter a revelation of the events that would transpire and unfold within the Last Days.
Upon the breaking and opening of the first four seals, we find death, we find famine, and we find war all breaking out upon the face of the earth. Immediately after we read of worship before the throne of God in heaven, we find the seals which were upon the scroll that was once found in the right hand of the One who sat upon the throne being opened. With each seal being broken and opened, a new manifestation—a new reality—would occur and take place upon the earth. It’s actually quite interesting to consider how events in heaven would directly impact and affect the earth—and not only the earth, but also every living creature within and upon the earth. If you read this New Testament prophetic book you will discover that it wasn’t simply the inhabitants of the earth who were directly impacted and affected by the judgment of the Lord. When we read of the events that begin to unfold in the prophetic book of the Revelation, we quickly uncover the judgment of the Lord on a much larger scale than previously experienced within and upon the face of the earth. There was only one other time when the judgment of the Lord had consumed the entire earth, and had destroyed both man and creature alike, as well as everything that grew from and upon the earth. After the great flood during the days of Noah, the judgment of the Lord was never again experienced on such a massive and global scale. In fact, immediately after the flood, the Lord promised and confirmed with an oath and a covenant that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood. The powerful and prophetic significance of the rainbow that appears in the sky after the rain is that it stands as a sign that the Lord will never again destroy the earth with or by a flood. With that being said, however, the Lord never declared or promised that He would not destroy the earth. The prophetic book of the Revelation reveals the tremendous reality that there is indeed and there is in fact coming a time when not only the earth, but also the heavens themselves will be destroyed, and the Lord will bring forth a new heaven and a new earth.
Consider the words of the prophet Isaiah, which are recorded in the sixty-fifth chapter of the prophetic book which bears his name: “For, behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: For, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people:O and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isaiah 65:17-20).
Consider the words which the apostle Peter wrote in his second epistle concerning the Last Days, as well as concerning the judgment of the Lord which will come upon the earth: “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserve unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heart? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:1-18).
What is found in the writing of the prophet Isaiah, as well as the writing of the apostle Peter is a powerful description that the judgment of the Lord is going to come upon—and not only come upon, but consume—both the heavens and the earth. The apostles Peter and John saw the heavens and the earth receding like a scroll and being consumed with fire. The same reality was understood by the prophet Isaiah, for the prophet Isaiah also saw this same reality which he wrote about in the prophetic book which bears his name. It is true the Lord can never and will never again destroy the earth with and by a flood, but the Lord never promised that judgment would not one day come upon and consume the face of the whole earth. The whole prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ describes the judgment of the Lord upon the face of the earth, and how it can and will impact everything that lives and moves and breathes upon it. The prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christi not only presents us with a powerful revelation of Jesus Christ, but it also presents us with a powerful word of warning and word of caution on how we are to live in the face of that which is going to come upon the whole earth. What we read in this particular portion of Scripture is another set of fours that would emerge upon the face of the earth—four angels which were bound in the river Euphrates until the appointed time when they could be loosed, along with an army of horsemen which numbered two hundred thousand thousand. Once we come to the sixth chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus we begin to enter into the Lord’s judgment upon the inhabitants of the earth after He had spoken directly to the Church in the second and third chapters of this book. What is so markedly tragic about this passage of Scripture is that even in the face of the judgment of the Lord upon the face of the earth, repentance was scarce among men. “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: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21). Let us this day read the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ—and while it is filled with tremendous symbolism and imagery, let us carefully examine how we are living in these days and times leading up to that which we find and read in the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Let us carefully examine our hearts and lives, and let us truly understand how we are living before the true and living God who sits upon the throne in heaven, and before the Lamb who was and is worthy to take the scroll out of His right hand.