When I was a child my Daddy was the primary disciplinarian. Oh, my Mother would not hesitate to discipline my sister and me, but very often Daddy was the one to whom the task fell. My parents were big believers in corporal punishment, and did not hesitate to pull out the bolo paddle when we needed to be reminded of the straight and narrow. We never got spanked with a belt or a spoon, but rather that esteemed toy of childhood, the bolo paddle. Do you remember it?
It was a thin piece of wood with a rubber-band like attachment that had a small ball placed on the end of it. When used as a toy, the joy in it was to be able to successfully bounce the ball off the wood. When applied as a paddle to the backside of a child, the rubber string and ball were removed and no joy was found in the using of it!
My parents utilized spanking in a very appropriate way. They did not beat us, harm us, or injure us. What they did was enforce the idea of appropriate behavior in a way that got our attention and effected a change.
My Daddy was a very strong man. Because he had contracted polio at the age of 16, he walked with crutches the rest of his life, making his arms and shoulders quite strong. When Daddy spanked you, there was not a doubt in your mind that you had been spanked! A spanking from my Daddy was a major deterrent to future bad behavior.
In our passage today, we will see mankind refusing to change their ways in spite of horrendous judgment being rained down upon them. But, before we get to that refusal, we have quite a bit of material to cover.
Did you download the Revelation 9 drawing? If not, go here to download and print it. We will likely spend 2 weeks, maybe three, in Revelation 9:13-21, so settle in. Let’s go ahead and read the entire passage, then we will dive in to just the first verse.
13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God,
14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind.
16 The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number.
17 And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths.
18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths.
19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.
20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,
21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Let’s begin by considering what happens immediately following the sounding of the sixth trumpet. John hears a voice, and it is important that we not rush past the location of this voice. It comes from ‘the four horns of the golden altar before God’.
Recall with me that there are two altars in the Old Testament tabernacle. The brazen altar (Exodus 27:1-8, 38:1-7) which was outside the tabernacle proper. This was the altar on which sacrifices were made to atone for sin. The other altar was the golden altar (Exodus 30:1-10, 37:25-29) that sat just in front of the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies inside the tabernacle. It was on this altar that the High Priest burned incense twice daily. Then, once each year, the Priest would make atonement using the blood of the sin offering on the horns of this golden altar.
This is not the first time in our study that we have run across this golden altar. Let’s take a quick look back.
When we studied the 5th seal (Revelation 6:9), we learned that there were martyrs beneath the altar crying out for justice. Scholars are mixed regarding which altar is being referenced. Given today’s verses, I tend to believe the reference is to the golden altar of sacrifice. There would be no need for an altar of sacrifice in heaven….Jesus has already been the perfect sacrifice.
Then, in Revelation 8:1-5 the 7th seal was broken and we saw the golden altar before God’s throne. The angel took incense, placed it in a censer and hurled it to earth, causing thunder, lightening, and an earthquake.
In view of the fact that the golden altar is always mentioned in conjunction with incense which represents the prayers of the saints, and the prayers of the saints in Revelation 6 were asking God for judgment on those who had taken their lives, it seems that judgment is now being meted out on mankind in the sounding of the sixth trumpet.
K…..enough for now. We will be back in this passage next week. I hope you will take some time to read through it between now and then. There is much here to ponder.