So the four angels who had been prepared for this hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.
I. THAT THE END OF JUDGMENT IS REPENTANCE. This is the object always kept in view by him who judgeth right. All his judgments are therefore blessings in disguise. "He doth not willingly afflict." The cry from them who suffer wrongfully is not immediately answered in judgment upon their oppressors. He can requite his own in other ways. Yet, though judgment be stayed against an evil work, it is finally "loosed," lest the hearts of men be set in them wholly to do evil.
II. THAT THEY WHO PLACE THEMSELVES IN OPPOSITION TO THE SERVANTS OF TRUTH EXPOSE THEMSELVES TO THE JUST AND TERRIBLE JUDGMENTS OF GOD. Even the prayers of the righteous, which are accepted before the throne, cry for vengeance. The evil workers who place themselves in antagonism to the struggling Church are met, not only by the feeble arm of "the little flock," but by the might of him who, as a good Shepherd, defends even with his life them who are his own sheep.
III. THAT EVEN THE SEVERITIES OF JUDGMENT ARE INSUFFICIENT TO LEAD ALL TO REPENTANCE. That many are saved through the judgment is obvious to all observers. Yet is there a hardness of heart that seems to increase by the pressure of outward calamity. All do not see the Divine hand in the meted judgment; and many rise in greater rebellion by how much the strokes of that hand are severe. "The rest of mankind, which were not killed with these plagues, repented not of the works of their hands."
IV. We further learn that IT IS THROUGH DEVOTION TO EVIL THAT MEN ARE PREVENTED FROM REPENTANCE. Men harden their hearts even in the midst of Heaven's fiery judgments. Many happily learn righteousness, and repent of their evil ways, but of some - "the rest" - alas! always a remnant - it is to be said, "They repented not." They are devoted to evil. They are the willing slaves of lust and vice. They are greedy to do iniquity. The fiendish spirit finds its embodiment in them, and men are as though possessed with devils. If these are to be saved, other means must be devised. - R.G.
Loose the four angels which are bound.I. THE STATE OF SOCIETY AT THE TIME.
II. THE NATURE OF THIS VISITATION.
1. It is evoked by a cry out of the four horns of the altar. It comes from the immediate presence of God, and therefore with the sanction of God. The call itself is the common voice of all four of the horns of the altar, indicating the energy and the universality of the demand for vengeance, and of that vengeance itself. The implication is that God's appointed way of forgiveness has been set aside; that the Divine system of gracious atonement and salvation has been rejected, and that the wickedness of earth has risen so high, especially in point of antagonism to the Cross, that even the altar itself, which otherwise cries only for mercy, is forced into a cry for vengeance.
2. The command issues to the angel who sounds this trumpet. The command itself is the command of the contemned Saviour. But it is addressed to the angel. He obeys it as his Divine commission, and thus presides over the administration ushered in by his trumpet. He looses the imprisoned forces, and sets them free for action.
3. Other angels are the more direct executors of the woe. Some have taken these to be good angels. I do not so regard them. Good angels are free, not bound. Good angels would not destroy men, except by special command of God; but these had only to be loosed, and they at once rushed forth for slaughter, impelled to the dreadful business by their own malicious nature. They were bound in mercy to our race, and here they are let loose in judgment. Their number also indicates the universality of their operations.
4. The moment the four bound angels are released from their constraint, hosts of death-dealing cavalry overrun the earth. As there are infernal locusts, so there are infernal horses; and as the former were let forth to overrun the world with their torments under the fifth trumpet, so the latter are let forth to overrun the world with still more terrible inflictions under the sixth.
5. Fearful havoc of human life is made by these infernal horses. To say nothing of the dread and horror which their presence inspires, and the confusion which their advent strikes into every department of society, it is here written, that, by these horses, one out of every three of the whole human family is killed, destroyed from the face of the earth.
6. The continuance of this plague is equally extraordinary.
7. The object of this woe is partly retributive and partly reformatory. It belongs to the judicial administrations of the great day. It is God's terrific judgment upon the world, which has disowned allegiance to Him, and rejected the mediation of His Son. It is the righteous indignation of outraged justice which can no longer endure the superlative wickednesses of men. And yet, in wrath God remembers mercy. He suffers on]y one-third of the race to fall a prey to this tremendous woe. He delighteth not in the death of the wicked, but would rather that they should turn from their evil ways and live.
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
The rest...repented not
(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)I. ALL MEN NEED REPENTANCE.
II. GOD PLEADS WITH MEN TO BRING THEM TO REPENTANCE. These judgments of which we read are not God's primary dealings with men. He does not begin in this manner. God has pleaded with men by His Spirit in their consciences. By His goodness, giving them all manner of providential mercies. Then, more especially by His Word.
III. BUT THESE MILDER METHODS OFTEN FAIL.
IV. STERNER METHODS ARE THEN TRIED.
V. BUT EVEN THESE, AT TIMES, AND FOR LONG TIME, FAIL. This is the declaration of our text (also Jeremiah 5:3; Jeremiah 8:6; Romans 2:4, 5). So was it with Pharaoh, when the plagues one after another, which in many respects resembled these trumpet-plagues, came upon him.
VI. WHAT IS THE REASON OF THIS? The answer is manifold, as, for example:
1. Those that are spared argue from that fact that they need not repent.
2. Sin deadens belief in God. It makes men practical atheists.
3. God's judgments are put down to secondary causes.
4. "Perfect love casteth out fear." This is true in a sense the apostle never meant. Let the heart love sin, as it is so prone to do, and that love will utterly cast out the fear of God.
5. The law of habit. You may bend the sapling, but not the tree.
VII. How INTENSELY SERIOUS ARE THE TEACHINGS OF THIS FACT! Is it true that, though God sends judgment after judgment upon men, they will yet not repent? Then:
1. More judgments and worse will come.
2. How we need to watch and pray lest we be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin!
3. What imperative need there is of the power of the Holy Spirit!
(S. Conway, B. A.)4
PeopleAbaddon, Apollyon, John
PlacesEuphrates River, Patmos
TopicsAngels, Death, Free, Freed, Held, Hour, Kept, Kill, Liberty, Loosed, Mankind, Messengers, Month, Prepared, Readiness, Ready, Released, Slay, Third
Outline1. At the sounding of the fifth angel, a star falls from heaven, to whom is given the key to the bottomless pit.
2. He opens the pit, and there come forth locusts like scorpions.
12. The first woe past.
13. The sixth trumpet sounds.
14. Four angels who were bound are let loose.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesRevelation 9:15
LibraryAnother Part of My Smoke' which You Frequently Laugh at is My Pretence
31. Another part of my smoke' which you frequently laugh at is my pretence, as you say, to know what I do not know, and the parade I make of great teachers to deceive the common and ignorant people. You, of course, are a man not of smoke but of flame, or rather of lightning; you fulminate when you speak; you cannot contain the flames which have been conceived within your mouth, and like Barchochebas, the leader of the revolt of the Jews, who used to hold in his mouth a lighted straw and blow it out …
Various—Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.
The Comforts Belonging to Mourners
Jesus Heals Two Gergesene Demoniacs.
Triumph Over Death and the Grave
The Eternity of God
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