Three Armies Revelation 9a
Revelation 9:1-21; 11:15-19
Stephen Caswell © 2004
Marathon, Tours, Armageddon
The ancient Battle of Marathon decided that the civilization of Europe should be Greek and not Persian. Long afterwards, at the Battle of Tours, Europe was saved from the encroachments of Islam. At the final Battle of Armageddon, Antichrist’s forces and the whole world will be stopped by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords from heaven.
In Revelation chapter 9 and the end of 11 we will see the judgments that occur when the final 3 trumpets sound. The first four trumpets proclaimed God’s judgments upon the wicked. After the fourth trumpet there was a warning that the remaining three judgments would be far more severe. The final 3 trumpets sound to assemble 3 armies for battle. We will see, The Army From Hell, The Army From The East and The Army From Heaven.
1. 5th Trumpet - The Army From Hell
a. The General
Revelation 9:1, 11: Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.
Firstly, we see that the leader over this army has fallen from heaven. He is a fallen angel since stars aren’t given keys. The Scripture says on at least 3 occasions that Satan fell from heaven, or was cast out of heaven. His fall was not just positional but moral too.
Isaiah 14:12-15: How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.
Originally, Lucifer was the highest of all God’s creatures. Yet he wanted more; he wanted to be like the most High God the One who possesses heaven and earth. His pride led to rebellion and his fall. Lucifer, whose name means morning star became Satan, which means Adversary. Since then Satan has led a rebellion against God. He first led 1/3 of the angels to follow him and then later tempted mankind to become like God and sin.
At present, Satan has access to God’s throne. But the day is coming when God will cast him out of heaven for good. After 3 ½ years, or the mid way point in the Great Tribulation, God will cast Satan to the earth. Revelation 12:7-13 describes this. Verse 13 says that Satan becomes very angry after this. Abaddon and Apollyon both mean the destroyer. Satan has been a liar and a murderer from the beginning.
b. The Army
Revelation 9:2-3; 7-9: And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle.
Satan organizes an army of wicked spirits to torment mankind. They ascend from the Abyss which is also know as the Bottomless Pit. In Chapter 9, Satan is given the key to the Abyss. Keys symbolize authority because they provide access to buildings. The Abyss is a prison house for fallen angels or demons. Satan is given authority to open this evil place and release these demonic spirits. Many demons reside in the Abyss.
Satan, himself, will be placed there for 1,000 years. Revelation 20:1-3. When the 5th trumpet sounds he will release these demons and they will serve him. In fact he is called their king in verse 11. Verse 11 shows us that these are not ordinary locusts because locusts don’t have a king over them. Proverbs 30:27: The locusts have no king, yet they all advance in ranks; These locusts are demons under Satan’s authority.
As they rise out of the pit we see that they have characteristics different to normal locusts. The phrase like horses prepared for battle may be further explained in v. 9 as like breastplates of iron. If so, this means the locusts have some sort of protective armor. They can’t be overcome by human means. Crowns like gold may imply that the locusts have high status among the demons but still rank below their king.
They have faces like men. The locusts have some humanlike characteristics. They possess intelligence and wisdom. Hair like women’s may refer to seductive beauty. They may at first appear to be beautiful creatures but turn out to be worse than your worst nightmare. The torment they bring will be unbearable. Their teeth are like lions’. This suggests strength and cruelty, a description similar to the beast in Revelation 13:2.
c. The Battle
Revelation 9:4-6, 10: They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months.
In the Old Testament locusts were a fearful plague, for they were able to reduce the land to starvation by eating up all the green vegetation. These locusts are forbidden to hurt the green vegetation, trees and God’s servants. In chapter 7 the 144,000 of Israel are sealed, and protection from the plagues is extended to all who know God. Satan is a destroyer and always has been. He destroys the souls of men. Here we see that Satan torments those who follow him. These locusts are forbidden to kill people, they may only torment them.
This demonic army attacks the people that follow the Anti-Christ. Satan in his cruelty will torment the very people who worship him. He doesn’t care about people. The locust’s torment is like a scorpion’s sting. The pain will be so severe that people will seek death; but they will not be able to find it. This torment will continue for 5 months, the lifespan of locusts. The demonic army will torment men who won’t be able to fight back.
Why are these people tormented like this? Because of their sinful practices.
John records their deeds in Revelation 9:20-21: But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
The Bible says that we reap what we sow. When people worship Satan and follow him they must be prepared to suffer the consequences. Certain sins allow Satan to possess people. Witchcraft, idolatry, sorcery and sexual immorality are those kinds of sins. Satan gains entry to people’s bodies through such sin. I believe that the torment that these people suffer comes from demonic possession. The demoniac of the Gadarenes suffered a similar torment from Legion. He roamed around the tombs crying out in torment until Christ saved him. The earth dwellers will be very wicked during the Great Tribulation.
God charges these people with breaking 5 commandments. By worshipping demons and idols they break the 1st and 2nd commandments which forbid worshipping other gods and idolatry. They committed murder which violates the 6th commandment. Sexual immorality breaks the 7th commandment whilst stealing breaks the 8th. Interestingly the word sorcery is φαρμακεία, from which we get pharmacy. Sorcery means the use or the administering of drugs. It refers to magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it, the deceptions and seductions of idolatry. Drugs are often used by people in pagan worship and witchcraft. People who take street drugs see Satan.
Let us never give Satan a foothold in our life. Witchcraft, idolatry, drugs and sexual immorality allow him to possess our bodies. Satan binds and torments his captives. If you have dabbled with things like Ouija boards, Tarriot Cards, Horoscopes, Séances and the like you need to repent of it. If you have taken drugs other than prescription drugs or been involved in sexual immorality then you must repent of it. We must confess such sin and turn from it. Then ask God to cleanse and fill you afresh with His Spirit. Unless these sins are confessed Satan will continue to have a legal foothold in your life.
2. 6th Trumpet - The Army From The East
Revelation 9:13-14: Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.
a. The General
After the 6th trumpet sounds, 4 angels bound at the Euphrates River are released. These angels prepare the way for the Kings of the Earth. They make it possible for the largest army ever assembled to attack Israel. However, these four angels aren’t in command. Satan is the General behind it all. The Anti-Christ is his Second in Charge who leads the army to fight against Israel and then the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. The Anti-Christ, the world’s peacemaker will initiate the greatest conflict man has ever seen. The world’s savior and hero is nothing but a war monger. Revelation 19:19: And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him (Jesus Christ) who sat on the horse and against His army.
b. The Army
Revelation 9:15-16: So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them.
This army will be the largest one ever to be assembled in human history. 200,000,000 soldiers is certainly a lot of people. You might think that this is just figurative speech. Not so! Mao Tse Tung boasted an army of 200,000,000 militia on May 21 1965. China alone claims to have an army this size. What about the rest of the world? What about the Muslim world? What about the Indian, Japanese, Korean and Russian armies? How does the Anti-Christ gather so many people together for war? Revelation 16:12-14: tells us.
Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
3 unclean spirits like frogs will go into all the world to bring their armies to Israel. Why are they like frogs? Frogs catch their prey with their tongue. They will use miraculous signs and smooth speeches. These demonic spirits will deceive the kings of the east and the whole world to fight against Israel. John says when the 6th bowl is poured out the water in the Euphrates River is dried up. This prepares the way for the kings from the East. China is east of Israel. They have constructed a 4 lane highway past Tibet, Nepal and the top of India right through to the Euphrates. The Highway stops at the Euphrates River since there is no bridge across it. This has been in readiness for some time.
Revelation 9:17-19: And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed — by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.
The battle horses described in verses 17-19 probably refers to tanks and other armored vehicles. Remember these things didn’t exist in John’s day. I believe he described the modern weapons of our day. Tanks spit out fire, smoke and brimstone. They can fire bullets and shells from the front and back. He may have seen cannon shells, missiles, mortars, rockets, lasers and bullets being fired. How would you describes these things if you lived in AD90? These three things will kill 1/3 of mankind. The devastation from this battle will be enormous. Remember that ¼ of mankind has already been killed with the opening of the seven seals.
c. The Battle
Revelation 16:14-16: For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame. And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.
The Battle itself will take place on the plains of Meggiddo or Armageddon. Many famous battles have already taken place there. It is in the north of Israel near the Valley of Jezreel and Mount Carmel. Napoleon said that Armaggedon is the greatest battlefield in the world. He also said that you could gather together the armies of the world in such a place; It’s so large. Anti-Christ will lead this attack on Israel because he hates God’s people. Through Israel God brought the Scriptures into the world. Through Israel the Messiah came and saved mankind. The Messiah, Jesus Christ then conquered Satan and his kingdom. Satan despises Israel and all of God’s people. Revelation 12:13-17 says:
Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Satan moves the world to fight against God’s people, Israel. The Satanic Trio will attack Israel and seek to capture Jerusalem. Satan wants to rule over the world and knows that Jerusalem is a key city. In desperation, Israel will call upon the Lord to help them.
3. 7th Trumpet - The Army From Heaven
a. The General
Revelation 11:15-17: Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever! And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of hosts will come to save Israel. Then the Anti-Christ will fight against the Lord and His armies from heaven. But God will bring an end to Satan’s rebellion. The time has come for the Lord’s King to claim the Kingdom. The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. In response the 24 elders fall on their faces and worship God. They praise the Lord for taking the kingdom by His great power.
Revelation 19:11-13, 15-16: Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
b. The Army
Revelation 19:14: And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
When Christ comes back from heaven He will not come alone. He will bring His elect angels and His saints with Him. Gathered together we are called the armies of heaven. The saints will follow the Lord Jesus Christ also riding on white horses. The Lord’s weapons will be the brightness of His coming and a sharp two edged sword that proceeds from His mouth. The Lord’s army will be great and travel swiftly to the earth.
Isaiah 13:3-5: I have commanded My sanctified ones; I have also called My mighty ones for My anger — Those who rejoice in My exaltation. The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like that of many people! A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together! The Lord of hosts musters the army for battle. They come from a far country, from the end of heaven — The Lord and His weapons of indignation, to destroy the whole land.
c. The Battle
Revelation 11:15-17: The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth. Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. The Lord rules from the Ark of the Covenant, it is His throne. Yet, in judgment God remembers His covenants. Great is His power to judge sinners and great is His faithfulness to His saints.
Re 10:5-7: The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, …. that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.
Although the armies of heaven accompany Christ, I don’t believe that they will fight the battle. The battle is the Lord’s and He will consume His enemies with His wrath. Although the battle will be fierce, Christ will conquer His enemies quickly and decisively. The wicked people of the earth will tremble with fear because they know that they can’t win. The Tribulation saints will rejoice as they see their Lord come. Christ will protect His elect through out the earth. No harm will ever come to His people again.
Although the Anti-Christ opposes Jesus Christ, he is captured immediately. He is no match for the Lord God Almighty. John likens this to a feast for the birds rather than a battle. The carrion birds of the air, like eagles and vultures are summoned to devour the flesh of those who are slain. Satan seems to go missing here. He flees like a dog with his tail between his legs. Perhaps, he recognizes how futile it is to fight against God. In Chapter 20 Satan is cast into the Abyss for 1,000 years.
Revelation 19:19-21: And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
Whether we like it or not we are in a spiritual battle. Satan is out to destroy the souls of men. Every Christian soldier is needed. How can we stand against our Adversary? Firstly, by putting on the armor of God each day. Secondly, by praying for the lost around about us. Thirdly, by praying for those on the front line. Missionaries, pastors and teachers sharing the Gospel all need our prayers. Fourthly, by sharing the Gospel with the lost. Finally, by standing up for the Truth wherever it is attacked.