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Image of the title graphic for the Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9 of a horizon view of skies of blues and reds with a vertical laser beam on the right and the words Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

Chapter Four of this Commentary

The Sixth Trumpet
of Revelation

Also called "the
second woe."

Scene 1

The four angels "bound at the great river Euphrates" are released.

Painting of four angels above the Euphrates River and another blowing his trumpet, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

Prophecies of Revelation for modern times?

China, Japan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Myanmar, Afghanistan, North Korea, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and other countries of Asia in the book of Revelation?

Revelation 9:13-15

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 were released, who had been held ready for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, to kill a third of humankind.”

I. “…a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God" says “to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’” Revelation 9:13-14

A. These "four angels" belong to the category of angels who serve God in the execution of his judgments and punishments on rebellious humans. Revelation 7:1-2

B. "...are bound..." 

1. "...bound..." is to be understood as figurative.

a) This circumstance means they are restricted with reference to the time for initiating their mission and not that they are physically tied with literal ropes or chains.

They were “…held ready for the hour, day, month, and the year…” That is, the time for them to enter into action was fixed by God with exact precision, even to “the hour.” Consequently, they should not rush into action prematurely.

Image of four white angels against a fiery backdrop holding back the forces of the Orient, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

This same type of restriction is discerned in the case of the "four angels standing at the four corners of the earth." The order they received was: "Do not damage the earth... until..." (Revelation 7:1-3). “…until…” An adverb of time. They should not act “until” until the 144,000 servants of God had been “marked… with a seal on their foreheads."

b) “...bound” does not by any means imply that the four angels were demons, that is, fallen angels. 

(1) At no time are they identified in the text of Revelation as “fallen angels.” Nor is it said or implied that they were “bound in Hell.” On the contrary, “...they are bound at the great river Euphrates,” that is, in a strategic place of planet Earth where they need to be to carry out their mission.

(2) “...held ready for the hour, day…” 

Who prepared them beforehand to act at a very precise hour in the timeline that marks the progress of humanity and the passage of the material universe toward the culmination of all that the Creator has programmed? My conviction is that only the Sovereign God could so prepare them. That being correct, it is totally inconceivable that the four angels would be fallen angels (demons) chosen to apply divine judgments and punishments to rebellious human beings unrepentant to the very end of their lives.

2. The question arises: Why would it be necessary to restrict these four angels, that is, forcefully detain them, tie them up, bind them so as to absolutely control their actions? The reason has already been stated, to wit: So that they would not act prematurely.

a) As a matter of fact, the angels who serve God are not automatons or robots but thinking beings with self-will, their election to remain in the place God assigned them instead of taking sides with Satan being proof of it. Jude 1:6

b) Considering the actions performed by the four angels of this vision-prophecy (to be studied shortly), I deduce they are among the "destroying angels" prepared to apply God’s justice to unrepentant, impious, rebellious people. As a matter of fact, specific reference is made to such angels in Psalm 78:49. God “let loose on them his fierce anger, wrath, indignation, and distress, a company of destroying angels.”

Two such angels are sent to destroy Sodom. “The two angels came to Sodom in the evening…” These two celestial messengers of God said to Lot: “…we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.Genesis 19:1-14

Logically, “destroying angels” sent by God would act at the time and place determined by him.

angels-destroying.jpg

In the same way, the four angels of the Sixth Trumpet who were given the task to “kill a third of mankind” (Revelation 9:15), would act according to the schedule set by God, in the precise timeframe determined by him, not getting ahead of him nor delaying their planned participation. Thus, they are seen “bound at the great river Euphrates,” waiting for the hour fixed by God for them.

c) Interestingly, when it comes to divine punishment for impenitent sinners, on occasion some of God’s servants are prone to be too impatient and perhaps even more severe in their judgments than even the Almighty himself.

(1) The case of James and John, named "Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder," is classic. Mark 3:17. When certain Samaritans refused to receive Jesus Christ, James and John exclaimed: “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?  But he turned and rebuked them.” Many translations include the statement: “You do not know of what spirit you are.” Luke 9:51-56

Oh! But Christ did not come to kill but to give life. It is no wonder, then, that the Lord rebuked the angry, impatient spirit of the “Sons of Thunder.”

(2) Even the martyrs of Jesus who are pictured “under the altar” of God in the “fifth seal” of Revelation appear to be impatient, insinuating that God should act more speedily against the enemies who had “slaughtered” them “for the word of God and for the testimony they had given.” For “they cried out with a loud voice, ‘Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?’" Revelation 6:9-11

(3) Meditating on the prophetical scenes of Revelation that project the profound evil of the deceived nations during the “little while” that precedes the Second Coming of Christ, it is not surprising that the holy angels of God would feel the same very strong impulse to quickly take vengeance on the enemies of the Most High, including those rebellious, recalcitrant human beings who take over the earth during the “little while.”

However, regarding the four angels of the Sixth Trumpet, they are “held ready for the hour, the day, the month, and the year” they are to act. Therefore, it is necessary to bind them, that is, hold them back, so that they may execute their assigned task precisely in the hour predetermined by the omniscient God according to the plan he has laid out for humanity and planet Earth.

C. "...at the great river Euphrates." 

Why specifically “at the great river Euphrates” and not at the Nile or the Jordan River? Evidently, for the reason that the "the three plagues" would originate in the ORIENT, beyond, toward the East, of the Euphrates River.

Image of a map of Europe, Northern Africa, and Asia, with red arrows indicating the source and spread of major plagues, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

Let us take note, and keep it in mind, that this prophecy is about "the three plagues" and not about physical, material wars on earth. 

1. Historically, terrible, deadly plagues have broken out in countries of the Orient and the Middle East, being spread from those areas by various agents even to other continents.

Medieval Black Death Origin Traced to Central Asia. Updated June 15, 2022. By Nathan Falde. Published in Ancient Origins. https://www.ancient-origins.net

“The Black Death or Black Plague killed somewhere between 75 and 200 million people in just seven years, from 1346 to 1353. About 50 million died in Europe alone, which made it the epicenter of the deadliest plague in human history. And until now, no one had pinpointed the Black Death origin location, despite clear evidence that it entered Europe from the east. The truth about the Black Death origin location has finally been revealed, as a result of the work of a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, the University of Tübingen in Germany, and the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom.

Photograph of an area of Kyrzgyzstan to which has been traced the origin of Bubonic Plague, or Black Death Plague, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

These researchers combined data from archaeological, historical, and genetic studies, and through this complex approach, they were able to trace the true beginning of the Black Death to a particular spot in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, specifically to the year 1338.

…researchers from the Max Planck Institute and their colleagues were able to reveal the truth through DNA testing of human remains from two sites where the infectious disease had caused a high death toll. Mixed in with the normal DNA of these Central Asian inhabitants were DNA samples that could be traced directly to Yersinia pestis. This revealed, without a doubt, that these individuals had been plague carriers at the time of their death in 1338 and 1339.” https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/black-death-origin-0016897   

Cholera likely has its origins in the Indian subcontinent as evidenced by its prevalence in the region for centuries.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholera#History_of_outbreaks

“The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is a global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The novel virus was first identified from an outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. As of 15 June 2022, the pandemic had caused more than 536 million cases and 6.31 million confirmed deaths, making it one of the deadliest in history.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic

A relevant document on this site: "The Devastating Plagues of Modern times."

2. With regard to the worlds of religion and philosophy, the same has occurred. Not a few "plagues" of false religions and deceitful philosophies trace their origin precisely to the Orient and the Near East. Examples are Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Mohammedanism, and many kinds of false Christianity, from Gnosticism to the Greek Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

3. It is also worthy of note that the ancient empires of the Chaldeans, Sumerians, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, and Persians arose along the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. In the upper reaches of the Euphrates is where human beings built the infamous Tower of Babel.

And, right there in the NEAR EAST is where the cult to the "mother goddess" began, an intriguing, almost universal “religion” investigated at length in Chapter Eight of this Commentary in the development of the study on “the great harlot… great city of Babylon.”

4. It also seems very relevant that, in the vision-prophecy of the Sixth Bowl of the wrath of God, "the kings from the east" come to unite with the other deceived kings of the earth in opposition to God and his people during the “little while” that precedes the Second Coming. Revelation 16:12-16. We see, then, that the ORIENT figures in both the Sixth Trumpet and the Sixth Bowl of wrath.

5. Conclusion. Just as it has happened in the past, so is it programmed to happen during the “little while,” that is: The ORIENT plays a prominent role in the material and spiritual affairs of the human race, as also in the opportune realization of the plan laid out by God for planet Earth and its inhabitants.

II. “So the four angels were released, who had been held ready for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, to kill a third of humankind.” Revelation 9:15

A. "...held ready for the hour, day, month, and year..."

1. By means of these simple words it is clearly made evident that God has a very precise, detailed plan for the human race and their special habitat, planet Earth.

The expression “the hour, day, month, and year is similar to various clauses of the same nature in the New Testament. For example: 

Painting of an open pocket watch against a space background, for the hour, day, month, and year, the four angels bound at the River Euphrates would unleash the 200 million riders and the plague carrying horses, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

"When the fullness of time had come…" Galatians 4:4

"…until the full number of the Gentiles has come in." Romans 11:25

"...he allotted the times of their existence…" Acts 17:26

2. Again, it is noted for emphasis that the time fixed by God for the intervention of the four angels is exact to the year, month, day, and hour.

3. Is it possible we could discern with some degree of precision this time fixed by God for the fulfillment of the Sixth Trumpet prophecy? Can we indicate it with reasonable accuracy on the timeline?

Well, maybe not with the exactitude we would like to have. Nevertheless, it is my own understanding that all the parameters for the time of the fulfillment of the prophecies of the three

“Woe’s” point to the last stage of the “little while” before the Second Coming. According to this line of interpretation, “the hour, day, month, and year for the four angels to act would be during that period, not before nor afterward.

In Scene 1 of the Fifth Trumpet, which focuses on the “smoke” that comes out of the “shaft of the bottomless pit” when it is opened, reasons were stated for assigning the fulfillment of that prophetical “first woe” to the “little while” that precedes the Second Coming of Christ. Since the “second woe” centering on the “three plagues” succeeds, logically, the first, its fulfillment would also come during the “little while,” if my understanding of this time factor is correct.

B. “So the four angels were released… to kill a third of humankind.

1. "kill..." In what sense? Would the four angels literally kill “a third of humankind,” or “kill” in some figurative way? For the following reasons, it is deduced that the physical death of “a third of mankind” as a result of the three plagues to be unleashed during the last state of the “little while” is projected by the prophecy.

a) First reason. According to Revelation 9:20-21, the purpose of killing “a third part of humankind” is to persuade the survivors to rethink their situation and REPENT!

Now it would seem highly unlikely, if not impossible, for a merely figurative “death” to produce its intended effects in minds and hearts as hard as iron in consequence of perennial, obstinate incredulity, and inordinate sensual passions. People of that kind are already “dead,” morally and spiritually, “through their trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 2:1. What else could be done to bring about their figurative, psychological, and spiritual death with the purpose of provoking them to really repent?

Of even greater import is the following consideration. Would not God act in a way absolutely contrary to his nature and his ardent desire that “all people be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” if he sent his angels to cause human beings to “die” morally and spiritually? 1 Timothy 2:4

b) Second reason. On the other hand, to cause a substantial percentage of human beings to die physically as a result of plagues brought on them because of their atheistic mindset and their unrelenting moral degradation might, indeed, lead some of the survivors to repent.

2. "…a third part…" 

a) “…a third part…” is a substantial part but not a major part.

b) The death by plagues of “a third part of humankind” should be more than sufficient to strike deep fear into survivors, causing any person with even a little bit of common sense to reflect on the “why” of such a catastrophe and turn his/her face toward God.

c) According to www.worldometers.info/population, the population of the world at 8:55 a. m., Atlantic time, June 13, 2022, was 7,932,545,519. Should present population growth continue at the same rate, or higher, the world population for the final stage of the “little while” would probably be much more.

An image of death as a skeleton robed in black with a devil on his shoulder before a huge moon on black, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

d) If “…a third part…” greatly amazes us, or makes us doubt the authenticity of this prophecy, let us keep in mind the following data: As noted in part C, 1 above, It is estimated that up to 70% of the human beings who lived in Europe during the most severe outbreaks of the bubonic plague died. Not just 33% but 70%!

Image of death as an abstract being in a setting blackish waters, and red, yellow, white, and black heavens in turmoil, illustration for the Commentary by Dewayne Shappley on The four angels bound at the River Euphrates released.

e) The third part of 7,932,545,519 is 2,617,740,021. However, “a third part” of those who would die as a consequence of the actions of the four angels would not be, I postulate, the third part of all human beings alive on earth in the time of the fulfillment of this prophecy, whatever the future global population might be, but logically, only a third part of those human beings who would be pertinaciously persisting in the grave sins named in Revelation 9:20-21.

Because people obedient to the gospel of Christ, plus those doing “instinctively what the law requires” (Romans 2:14-16), innocent infants, children, and adolescents, also the mentally impaired, would not figure, I reason, among the “third part” that dies from the three plagues. Assuming this interpretation to be correct, “a third part” would not be such

an elevated number as a literal third part of the entire world population.

Of course, in the prophetical language of Revelation, “a third part” does not have to be taken literally as exactly 33% of the atheistic, intransigent people who predominate during the last stage of the “little while.”

e)  “...the four angelskill...” How do they do it? That is the subject of Scene 2.

Your evaluation of this study will be greatly appreciated. hshappley@yahoo.com

Scene 2. Out of ASIA, two hundred million horses bringing fire, smoke, and sulfur!

Category. Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment. Commentary.

Revelation 9:1-4. Smoke from the Bottomless Pit comes out of not a few universities, their faculties, and student bodies.

Revelation 10:6. Going out into the FUTURE to the LAST DAY of TIME. Looking back at planet Earth in the 20th and 21st centuries.