The Sixth Trumpet and Second Woe
It only gets worse. As long as unrepentant men bent on idolatry, sexual immorality, sorcery, and murder, makeup the majority of mankind, matters will only get worse—especially before the end. Today, we take up the sixth trumpet blast and “second woe,” and the result is just as horrifying as the previous woe.
When the angel sounds the sixth trumpet, a voice from the golden altar—the one where the incense and prayers of the saints were offered—commands that same angel to “release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” That these four angels are “bound” indicates that they are Satan’s minions, but destined by the Almighty for the exact moment they are to enact His will against wicked men—thus, proving again that even the devil does God’s will whether the former wills to or not. Once more, we are confronted with grotesque-looking and obviously demonic creatures. These creatures differ from those of the fifth trumpet in that they actually kill people—a third of mankind! This presents an unimaginable slaughter which would number over two billion today. The number of this army, “twice ten thousand times ten thousand,” is John’s way of saying, “innumerable”; but, even if one is counting, 200,000,000, is an unheard-of army of men.
But perhaps not of demons. And that must be what we are looking at here. The first woe seems to be a demonic horde that strikes at men psychologically, that is, at their sinful souls causing distress, fear, anxiety, and mental torture. This woe poses a demonic horde aimed at men’s bodies, suggesting physical devastation: war, famine, disease, and death. We might picture a world where hate and suspicion reign and treachery is commonplace. Civil disruption, murder, and violence spread like cancer. We see a world very much like the one God destroyed by flood so long ago (Genesis 6:5), and all demonically-inspired. Through God’s common grace, civil government, law, and conscience restrain men’s worst instincts. With these removed and a demonic horde driving men’s sinful passions, earth rivals hell. The prayers of the saints under the altar are answered by simply allowing men to behave like men, for this is exactly who we are when left to ourselves. Men craved their sin, their beastly desires, their carnal nature—and God let them have it all—the worst punishment any sinner can endure.
And yet even with all this hell, they still would not repent. Never forget: This is a picture of ourselves had not the Holy Spirit worked a miracle in our lives.