Revelation 9:1-12 Part 4


1)    Then the fifth messenger trumpeted, and I saw a star having fallen from the heaven into the land, and the key of the shaft of the abyss was given to it.

2)    And the shaft of the abyss was opened, and smoke as smoke from a great furnace arose out of the shaft, and the sun and the atmosphere was darkened by the smoke from the shaft.

3)    Then locusts came forth into the land from the smoke; and power was given to them the same as the capabilities the scorpions of the land have.

4)    And it was said to them that they should do no harm to the grass of the land nor any green plant nor any tree, but only the men having no seal of God on their foreheads.

5)    And it was given to them that they not kill them but that they should be tormented five months, and their torment as the scorpion torments when it has stung a man.

6)    Then the men will seek the death in these days and will not find it; they will long to die, but the death flees from them.

7)    The appearances of the locusts like horses having been made ready into battle; upon their heads as crowns like gold; their faces as men’s faces;

8)    they had hair as women’s hair; their teeth were as lions’;

9)    they had breastplates as iron breastplates; the sound of their wings as chariot sound from many horses running into battle;

10) they have tails and stings like scorpions, their ability to harm the men five months in their tails.

11) For their ruler they have the messenger of the abyss, the Hebrew name: Abaddon, the Hellenic name being Apollyon.

12) The one woe did go forth.  Lo!  It comes yet two woes after this.

13) Then the sixth messenger trumpeted.  Then I heard one voice from the four corners of the altar of gold before God

14) saying to the sixth messenger having the trumpet, ‘loose the four messengers having been bound at the great river Euphrates’.

15) And the four messengers having been made ready into the hour and the day and the month and the year were loosed in order that they might kill the third of the men.

16) The number of the armies of horses: two myriads of myriads.  I heard their number.

17) And thus I saw in the appearance of the horses, and those who sit on them, having breastplates of fire and hyacinth and brimstone, the heads of the horses as lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulphur went forth out of their mouths.

18) From these three plagues, the fire and the smoke and the sulphur going forth from their mouths, the third of the men were killed,

19) for the ability of the horses is in their mouths; and in their tails, their tails like serpents having heads, they do harm.

20) And the rest of the men, those not killed in these plagues, neither repented of the works of their hands that they should not worship devils and idols of gold and silver and brass and stone and wood (which neither can see nor hear nor walk),

21) nor did they repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their fornications nor of their thefts.



Last Lord’s Day I said that I was going to proceed with verse thirteen and the sixth trumpeter this morning, after making a few more comments on verses one through twelve.

Well, that was the plan; but the whole time I was a bit uneasy with that.  I felt like I was missing way too much… rushing through it.  Now, there’s hardly ever a time when a preacher says all there is to say about a text in God’s Word (that’s especially true when preaching through the Revelation).

And there are times when I’m constrained to stay with a text until I’m done with it!  Problem is, I’m hardly ever done with it!  Some of them, you’d have to preach through the whole Bible to be done with it.  And that just can’t happen.

But… there are other occasions in which the preaching that’s been done to that point is just inadequate; that’s all there is to be said about it; and you have to do more.  And that’s exactly where we are this morning.  I have to do more, because we’re not where we need to be yet.

The “unease” with this began during the preparation for Last Lord’s Day’s preaching (since I had planned all that week to finish with the first twelve verses); and (I have to admit) it was also there during the preaching itself last Sunday (since I knew that I wasn’t finished); it continued through the rest of the day last Sunday; and I woke up shortly after midnight Monday morning compelled to change course and do more with the text.  And the “unease” disappeared.

I concluded that my distress all that week was due to a lack of attention to the three “woes” pronounced by the eagle that John saw flying in mid-heaven (back in chapter eight).  That’s “woe” to perfection, by the way (three woes).  And the fact is, that we now have three “woes” pronounced upon Israel, sounded by the last three of the seven trumpeters. 

And the woes pronounced against Israel by the prophets were due to her sin against God, and her sins are now made the subjects of the covenantal sanctions.  And that God’s heated displeasure with her is manifested in such a way that the sanctions of the covenant actually “mock” Israel’s sins.  That’s what I really needed to get at here.

That became more and more clear as we looked at John’s descriptions of the demon-creatures released from the abyss… such as, for example, the women’s hair over the men’s faces.  That’s clearly a mocking of the effeminacy of Israel’s men as the time of “the end” draws near, and as the spiral of sin reaches down to the depths of homosexuality.

Therefore we need to pursue the woes pronounced by the prophets (especially in Isaiah), and do some more work with the mockery of Israel by God as the nation enters its last days.

At least we’ve done the work on the authority of the Lord over all His creation and all His creatures (that’s really important here); and that the demon-creatures themselves are under His authority; and that they are complicit (even if they don’t know it) in the mocking sanctions of God as the prophesied woes are inflicted.

We’re going to start this morning by looking at the twelve “woes” pronounced by God through the prophet Isaiah… the first two in a chapter-long reading (to set the context); then the other ten we’ll hear with a verse or two each.

In these readings, the woes are pronounced against Israel and her sins against God.  However, in the Revelation passage – chapters eight and nine and beyond – the sanctions are seen by John as being carried out as pronounced through the prophets!  That’s the difference.  In the prophet Isaiah, the woes are pronounced by Yahveh against the nation because of its sins; in the Revelation, on the other hand, the woes are prosecuted … effected … realized, and in such a way that taunts and mocks and scoffs at Israel’s brazen, fifteen-hundred-year insolence.

So the things that you are to listen to carefully are a bit complex (since they are from the decree of God regarding His covenant people, and since they are in God’s prophetic language!); but if you do listen, you can actually discern the reasons why the sanctions are carried out as they are here in the Revelation!  For God is employing the demon-creatures, and their evil intent, as mockery!  His descriptions of the creatures and the deeds that they are to perform actually mock the sins of Israel against the Lord and His people. 

And as Israel absorbs the ever-intensifying sanctions through these creatures, the destruction and torment and death that the nation experiences is filled up with scorn and contempt, for this nation had been contemptuous of Yahveh and His Law-word from the beginning.  Israel’s contempt for Yahveh and His covenantal Law-word is now met with His contempt for her.

If you can get your minds around that, it’s much like the laughter we see in Psalm two as the nations gather against God’s Anointed.  It’s actually a contemptuous laughter, since Yahveh is using the rage of the nations against them to accomplish the salvation of the world!  He thought it was funny – a very serious funny, a “mocking” funny, for He was using them against themselves!

But let’s begin with Isaiah chapter three as we review the woes pronounced against Israel’s many sins against Yahveh.  This passage contains the first two woes:


1)    Observe this:  Yahveh Lord of Hosts is about to remove from Jerusalem and from Judah every kind of security: the entire supply of bread and water,

2)    the hero and warrior, the judge and prophet, the fortune-teller and elder,

3)    the commander of 50 and the dignitary, the counselor, cunning magician, and charmer.

4)    "I will make youths their leaders, and the unstable will govern them."

5)    The people will oppress one another, man against man, neighbor against neighbor; the youth will act arrogantly toward the elder, and the worthless (arrogantly) toward the honorable.

6)    A man will even seize his brother in his father's house, [saying:] "You have a cloak—you be our leader!  This heap of rubble will be under your control."

7)    On that day he will cry out, saying: "I'm not a healer.  I don't even have food or clothing in my house.  Don't make me the leader of the people!"

8)    For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen because they have spoken and acted against Yahveh defying His glorious presence.

9)    The look on their faces testifies against them, like Sodom, they flaunt their sin.  They do not conceal it. Woe to them!  For they have brought evil on themselves.

10) Tell the righteous that it will go well [for them], for they will eat the fruit of their deeds.

11) But Woe to the wicked—[it will go] badly [for them], for what they have done will be done to them.

12) Youths oppress My people, and women rule over them.  My people, your leaders mislead you; they confuse the direction of your paths.

13) Yahveh has risen to argue the case and stands to judge the people.

14) Yahveh brings [this] charge against the elders and leaders of His people:  "You have devastated the vineyard.  The plunder from the poor is in your houses.

15) Why do you crush My people and grind the faces of the poor?" says Yahveh Lord of Hosts.

16) Yahveh also says: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, walking with heads held high and seductive eyes, going along with prancing steps, jingling their ankle bracelets,

17) The Lord will put scabs on the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will shave their foreheads bare.

18) On that day Yahveh will strip their finery: ankle bracelets, headbands, crescents,

19) pendants, bracelets, veils,

20) headdresses, ankle jewelry, sashes, perfume bottles, amulets,

21) signet rings, nose rings,

22) festive robes, capes, cloaks, purses,

23) garments, linen clothes, turbans, and veils.

24) Instead of perfume there will be a stench; instead of a belt, a rope; instead of beautifully styled hair, baldness; instead of fine clothes, sackcloth; instead of beauty, branding.

25) Your men, your warriors in battle, will fall by the sword.

26) Then her gates will lament and mourn; deserted, she will sit on the ground.


In this text is pure mockery from God.  Yahveh pronounces two woes upon Israel in this passage: to take away all her beauty, and humiliate her warriors.  And in our Revelation text there is a caricature of contempt and disdain in these grotesque demon-creatures sent to torment all except our Lord’s elect.  Israel’s effeminacy is mocked; her beauty is mocked; and Israel’s warriors are humiliated by the creatures looking like horses, and their iron breastplates and stingers.  The great warriors of the land are reduced to begging for death.

Now.  I want you to hear the rest of the woes pronounced by Yahveh through Isaiah.  And remember, all of them are specific to the Jewish state – God’s covenant nation (as introduced at the beginning of the chapter that I just read).  I won’t have time to give these thorough treatment, or preach through them; but I’ll point out relevant things when appropriate.

The next several woes are from chapter five of Isaiah’s prophecy.  Here’s the third one:


5)    And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:

6)    and I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned nor hoed; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

7)    For the vineyard of Yahveh of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for justice, but, lo, oppression; for righteousness, but, lo, a cry.

8)    Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no room, and you be made to dwell alone in the midst of the land!

9)    In My ears says Yahveh of hosts!  Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.


Princes, priests and elders and lawyers have left God’s elect people poor and destitute by taking their land and their vineyards for themselves through usury and other covetous means – including murder.  Through the first four trumpeters in the Revelation, the land has already been decreed stripped of all of its production.  And the land taken away by the wicked has been taken away from the wicked.  And that’s what God said He would do!

Here’s the next woe… also in chapter five of Isaiah:


11) Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning and follow strong drink; that tarry into the night till wine inflame them!

12) … and they regard not the work of Yahveh, neither have they considered the operation of his hands.

13) Therefore my people are gone into captivity for lack of knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude are parched with thirst.

14) Therefore Sheol hath enlarged its desire, and opened its mouth without measure….


Again, the first four trumpeters of the Revelation have sounded; and all the ability to make wine and strong drink are being destroyed.  And people are selling whatever they have for one measure of wine.  Those who have mocked God in their impiety are now being mocked by Him!

Here’s the next woe from Isaiah five:


18) Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, and sin as it were with a cart rope;

19) that say, Let him hurry!  Let him hasten his work that we may see it!  And let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come that we may know it!


These are movers and shakers and peddlers of influence that have little patience with God’s holy Law-word.  And they mock the promises of God in His Word:  “Let Him show Himself!”  Yahveh pronounces woe on them.  Those in Israel at the time of the Revelation were saying the same thing when it all came down on them suddenly.

Let’s continue in Isaiah five:


20) Woe unto them who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!


Later in his prophecy Isaiah says that the people of Israel have turned God’s Word upside down.  Instead of His Word being Truth, Israel has substituted its own.  Ever since the fall and the curse, man has always considered his own word - his own opinion – his own understanding - first.  And as our Lord is making clear here in the Revelation, that mockery of the source of Truth is insanity.  Having been given the ability to think and to reason, man then turns on the One Who gave them that ability and so rejects the Source of it!!!

Further in Isaiah five:


21) Woe unto them who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!


So, not only have the men of Israel rejected the One, True Source of knowledge, but since they have made that determination, they then take that next logical step forward and look at themselves as the ones to exhibit all wisdom and prudence.  But Yahveh says that He would humble them to the dust.  And that’s what we’re seeing here in the Revelation as these woes are effected in the sight of the apostle John.

Here’s the next woe in the prophecy of Isaiah:


21) Woe to those who are wise in their own opinion and clever in their own sight.


Similar to the one before, but somewhat different, this woe is pronounced against those with God-given skills in communicating, but who use them to oppose themselves with high-sounding theories and philosophies to turn even the elect from The Faith.

And what I mean by “opposing themselves” is this:  Some have been endowed with an ingenious artistry and facility in language.  It comes from God and, as Paul says in Romans one, they know it!  But instead of putting their great proficiency in communicating to work in explaining and defending the Faith that God has so clearly revealed, they instead skillfully oppose what they know to be true – therefore opposing themselves!  What is explained and defended is their own cleverness with the philosophies of the world order!

And of course what we see in the Revelation is God silencing their cleverness in the Parousia of the Christ.

Isaiah’s next woe from Yahveh is also in chapter five:


22) Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and valiant in mixing strong drink,

23) acquitting the guilty for a bribe and depriving the innocent of his right!

24) Therefore as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.


God says these are men of renown; they are strong and noteworthy as drinkers of wine and mixers of strong drink (which is different from wine).  They judged unjustly- acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent.  They took bribes in order that they might consume the reward of their injustice.

This is a location in the prophecy where the prophet breaks out (right after this woe) in violent condemnation of Israel’s judges who have despised the Word of the Holy One of Israel, beginning with their comparison with plants immersed in the flame of God’s wrath, to the extent that there be to them neither root below nor branch above.

And what continues after this is what seems to be condemnation that receives fresh fuel for the fire.  Verse twenty-five says:


“Therefore is the wrath of Yahveh kindled against His people, and He stretches His hand over them, and smites them….”


And here in the Revelation all the means of producing wine and strong drink have been taken away from them.  And since nobody has any, the reason for taking bribes to free the guilty and sentence the innocent has also been taken away!  See the mockery?

The next woe is from chapter ten.  Here it is:


1)    Woe unto them that decree iniquitous decrees, and to the writers that prescribe oppression,

2)    to turn away the poor from judgment, and to take away the right from the afflicted of my people; that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!

3)    And what will you do in the day of visitation, and in the sudden destruction [which] shall come from far?  To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your glory?


Should there be one woe chosen that best reveals the contempt and mockery of God’s sanctions here in the Revelation, this one would lead the list.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His three-year manifestation to Israel, healed and fed the dispossessed and the afflicted and hungry of His people, thereby reversing all that had been done to them by the princes, priests, elders, lawyers and judges of Israel. 

Instead of God’s Law, there had been a great proliferation of law by Israel’s leaders, much of it afflicting the weakest of the society.  They made “decrees”; and they wrote legal opinions that became the law of the land.  And the afflicted, the widows, and the orphans of Israel were affected in such a way that they had nobody to turn to, and nowhere to go.  Whereas the laws favored the most prominent, the weakest were “preyed upon” in order to enrich the ones making the laws!

And the text there in Isaiah says that Yahveh would leave the men of Israel nobody to turn to and nowhere to go for help.  And how’s this for mockery? ...  Here in the Revelation the men of Israel were left in such a state that all they could do was pray to die, for there was no one to help.

And the next woe, this from Isaiah twenty-eight:


1)    Woe to the majestic crown of Ephraim's drunkards, and to the fading flower of its beautiful splendor, which is on the summit above the rich valley.  [Woe] to those overcome with wine.

2)    Lo, the Lord has a strong and mighty one – like a devastating hail storm, like a storm with strong flooding waters.  He will bring it across the land with [His] hand.

3)    The majestic crown of Ephraim's drunkards will be trampled underfoot.

4)    The fading flower of his beautiful splendor, which is on the summit above the rich valley, will be like a ripe fig before the summer harvest.  Whoever sees it will swallow it while it is still in his hand.

5)    On that day the LORD of Hosts will become a crown of beauty and a diadem of splendor to the remnant of His people….


This is important to our text this morning because of the prophetic use of the “crown”; for in His mighty mockery, our Lord calls forth the demon-creatures from the abyss with golden crowns on their heads.

And here’s Isaiah chapter twenty-nine:


15) Woe to those who go to great lengths to hide their plans from Yahveh [They do] their works in darkness, and say, "Who sees us? Who knows us?"

16) You have turned things around as if the potter were the same as the clay.  How can what is made say about its maker, "He didn't make me"?  How can what is formed say about the one who formed it, "He doesn't understand [what he's doing]"?


In chapters two and three of John’s Revelation are messages from the King of Kings and Lord of the Church to seven congregations.  And one of the most serious of His charges against them was that there were some among them who were not faithing in the promised Parousia of the Christ!

It’s written right there in the text of Jesus’ messages to the Churches!  Some (who were wise in their own opinions) were saying to the Lord’s elect remnant….”Oh, you’ve got unrealistic expectations!  He’s not coming!  It’s been a thousand years, and He hasn’t come yet; everything’s going to continue just as it is.  So, just do what you want!!  He’s not going to be bothered by what you do!

But our Lord had promised to come quickly.  And that’s what He did, as God’s “heaven and earth” – Israel ceased to exist.  And the “vessels” that God had made could no longer call the One Who made them into question.

The next two are all we‘ll have time for; and they are similar to the last one.  These two woes are from Isaiah chapter twenty-nine:


1)    Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel – the city where David settled!  Add year to year and let your cycle of festivals go on.

2)    Yet I will besiege Ariel; she will mourn and lament, she will be to me like an altar hearth.

3)    I will encamp against you all around; I will encircle you with towers and set up my siege works against you.

4)    the LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.


13) Yahveh says:  "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.

14) Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish."

15) Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, "Who sees us? Who will know?"

16) You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!  Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"?  Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"?


Ariel, the city of David is, of course, Jerusalem, where the temple was, on the dome of the rock, on the mount, in the land, given to them by Yahveh as a special cosmic entity in the likeness of His heaven and earth.  And yea He did call her “heaven and earth”.  But their hearts are far from Him.

Their festivals keep coming around; and they keep on festivalizing as if nothing is amiss… and as if Yahveh had not spoken His covenantal sanctions.  And now we see in the Revelation that all their festivalizing has been taken away from them as the entire cycle of years and festivals and Sabbaths and jubilees are terminated in the decreation of this special heaven and earth.

In their own minds, and by their own light, they worship by their own rules rather than beginning, first, with the Word of God.  And they have turned everything upside down, and they are epistemological invalids because of it.

Paul uses this prophetic woe from Isaiah in Romans nine when he says, “Who are you, o man, to reply against God?  Should the thing formed say to Him Who formed it: ‘Why did you make me like this?’”  It’s Theological insanity for the creature to call the Creator into question.  And it’s faithless delusion and rebellion to begin any thought process separate from the inscribed Word of the Christ, for that IS calling Him into question.

Yahveh – God the Son, the Word of God – will not be mocked.  Israel was warned – over and over again, continually – that all their thought processes must begin with Him, and not with them.  Whether it be worship or business or justice – life itself is in Him and for Him and for His glory.  He IS Way, Truth and Life.  All wisdom and truth and knowledge is located in Him.

Israel began its reasoning at some other location – in her own light (rather than in the Light of God’s Revelation)… just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden.  Our first parents looked around them and decided that their reasoning was a good as God’s.   And they could have wisdom and knowledge as good as God’s.  That’s the definition of faithlessness, by the way!  And they were cursed for their rebellion.

And all men after them (save Jesus Christ) do the same thing – over and over and over – expecting a different outcome!  Isn’t that the definition of epistemological insanity?  One can’t “weigh” his own wisdom and knowledge – or another man’s wisdom and knowledge – against God’s in an attempt to decide where the truth is; that makes you the “judge” of which one is right!  And that’s faithlessness.  And confession and repentance and faithfulness is required of you.

Israel was called to confession and repentance all through history; but she never believed.  She continued to mock God to His face, refusing to hear the Source of Wisdom, turning His Word upside down, and persecuting and killing His prophets who brought the Word of repentance directly from the mouth of Yahveh.  That Word was the covenant of life and death; and Israel chose death… thereby militating against herself!

And what we’re seeing now in the Revelation in every detail of what John saw and heard, is the mocking retribution of the resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ as He executes the sanctions of the covenant, filling up every detail of His Own prophesied Word, turning Israel’s mockery back on them.