As we closed last time, we saw John’s description of the riders on the horses in this demon army numbering some 200,000,000. It is difficult, admittedly, to wrap our thinking around a scene such as the one John is describing here. We must remember that these are beings, creatures if you will, who exist in the spirit realm. There is a great deal concerning that realm that we do not understand. Scripture provides only brief glimpses for us here and there. Why is that? Primarily because the Bible is not the account of the creation of angels, the fall of some of them, and the spirit realm. Rather, the Bible is the record of the creation of man, man’s fall, and the redemption of man.
It is possible that this 200,000,000 member demon army will be lead by the four angels who had been in the great River Euphrates. They are incarcerated there at this writing, however they will be loosed at the end of the first three and a half years of the Great Tribulation. It is possible that they will be divided into four companies, each led by one of the four fallen angels who are released at this time. However all of this plays out logistically, one thing is certain; and that is their mission. Namely, to kill a third of mankind. Lets pick up with verse 19. John writes,
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. Some see this as a description of modern weapons of warfare being described by a first century man. That is a possibility. I have no doubt that the Antichrist will have at his disposal the very finest of weaponry and technology. However, I believe that which John describes here is spiritual in nature. I don’t believe that people will see the locusts, the four spirits, or the demon army. Their affects will definitely be seen and felt. The greatest minds from various fields such as medicine, psychology, and science will all try and figure out and explain what is causing the torment and eventual death of so many. They will have no explanation however.
John was permitted to see the result of this deadly demonic assault and that is that a third of all mankind is killed. How many will that be? Consider the fact the great bulk of these plagues will be experienced in the area of the Mediterranean Sea, in the old Roman Empire area. According to ancient maps, that area today is the home to some one billion people. This means that approximately 300 million people will die as a result of the demonic plagues. It should be noted that there will be many plagues during the Great Tribulation. [See 11:6, 15:1, 6, 8; 16:9, 21; 18:4, 8; 21:9; 22:18] It is used as a term to describe the final judgments. As the description that John has given us were not frightening enough, John sees more concerning the deadly power of the demons. He is also made aware of the fact that not only is the power of the demons in their mouths, but also in their tails. Look at verses 20, and 21. He says,
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. Lets think together concerning this. The death of one-third of the earth’s remaining population will be the most catastrophic disaster to strike the earth since the great flood of Noah’s day. Yet, in an amazing display of hardness of heart, the rest of mankind not killed by these plagues still refuses to repent. Tragically, those remaining will choose to worship the dragon and the beast (Antichrist) instead of the Lamb [13:4 – 8]. As he concludes his account of this amazing vision, he lists five sins representative of the defiance of those who refused to repent. Notice, he lists their refusal to repent over: 1) Idol worship, 2) murders, 3) sorceries, 4) fornication, 5) thefts.
Fallen humanity at this time, having refused the goodness of God in the gospel; will fill the inherent human need to worship by bowing down before demon spirits and false idols during this time. They won’t turn from it. Nor will they repent of their murders. Not a day goes by that we don’t read of cold-blooded murders in the streets of some of the world’s largest and most prosperous cities. Without any sense of morality, fallen humanity will imitate the demons in their blood lust. Violent crimes will run rampant during the Great Tribulation. Remember, the one the Bible refers to as, “The restrainer” will have been removed at this time. He next mentions, sorceries. This is from the Greek word, pharmakeia, and of course we get the word, pharmacy from it. This word describes both the use and distribution of drugs. It also describes sorcery, magical arts, and idolatry fostered by it (Thayer). By inference, it also describes the abuse of prescription medications (Strong’s).
Next in the list is, fornication. This is from the Greek, porneia, and is the broadest word for sexual sins of every description. It has been said that adultery is illicit sexual intercourse with one other than one’s spouse, whereas fornication is always sex between two unmarried people. That is not entirely the case. Fornication is sexual sin in general, whether between married, unmarried, and every other deviance imaginable. In spite of the terrible outpouring of God’s wrath during this time, people will not repent and turn to Him.
John also states that they will not repent of their thefts. Stealing, pillaging, and looting will be a common thing during this period of time, and it will be engaged in with reckless abandon.
Notice what John writes again, 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. One would think that mankind after witnessing so much death and carnage would turn from their sin and cry out to God. Such will not be the case. They will harden their hearts against God and His people all the more. We need to remember that the Bible says, the goodness of God leads you to repentance. [Rom. 2:4b NKJV] It is not God’s wrath, but rather His goodness that leads people to turn to Him. Interestingly, the truth Paul is addressing in this 4th verse of Romans 2 is the forbearance of God in withholding wrath and judgment that man rightly deserves, desiring that they repent. Paul is saying that it is God’s goodness that moves Him to do that.
Those who were not killed by the plagues have already rejected God’s goodness and the space He gave them to repent prior to the rapture and now the Great Tribulation hour. They rejected the Lamb as Savior and Redeemer, and now must face Him as judge. In his helpful book, Because The Time is Near, Dr. John MacArthur notes, “Under the influence of the massive demon forces, the world will descend into a morass of false religion, murder, sexual perversion, and crime unparalleled in human history. It is sobering to realize that the Lord will one day come “To execute judgment upon all” [Jude 15]. In light of that coming judgment, it is the responsibility of all believers to faithfully proclaim the gospel to unbelievers, thereby, “snatching them out of the fire” [Jude 23].”
May we heed the admonition. Jesus is Coming soon! Are you ready to meet Him? He doesn’t require you to be religious, to pledge allegiance to a certain denomination, or to clean yourself up before you answer His call. He simply asks you in simple faith to take Him at His Word and to receive the free gift of eternal life. The Bible says, But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. [John 1:12 KJV] The Word of God places us all in the same position. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, Paul writes by inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Romans 3:23. This tells us that none of us can come before a thrice holy God arrogantly or presumptuously, for none of us on our own are worthy to enter His presence. We all owe a debt we could never pay. It is the sin debt that all of mankind owed to God. The scripture goes on to say, For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. [Rom. 6:23 KJV] The payment for our sin debt required the death of a truly righteous, holy man. That man was the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He died the cruelest of deaths, death by crucifixion. His precious blood satisfied the claims of divine justice for all eternity, thus opening the way for us. Paul writes again, That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. [Rom. 10:9, 10 KJV] Will you receive Him? Will you receive the free gift of eternal life? I pray that you will. I f you asked Jesus to come in and be the Lord of your life, please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to rejoice with you!
Next time we will get into chapter 10.