Rev.9 — THE TRUMPET CALLS OF REPENTANCE
This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on June 21st, 2009. To listen to the audio of this sermon, just click on this link – Rev 9.
Review: Because Ch.9 is a continuation of what is happening in Ch.8, we need to go back and review a few things.
Prayers affect the way God works; prayers bring men to repentance; prayers show God’s glory to men.
The Image of the Trumpets goes back to the conquest of Jericho. We talked about how the blowing of the trumpets looked weak and insignificant, but how God used them to bring down the stronghold of Jericho. In Rev.8 the trumpets are sounded as a result of – or in response to – the prayers of the saints which are (1) listened to by God,
(2) enjoyed by God, (3) mixed with the fire and purposes of God, (4) hurled down onto the earth where God speaks into being the things that he does – that our prayers accomplish as they inform God’s purposes.
The image of siege is evident through the sounding of the first 4 trumpets as first the trees, then the ocean and trade, then the water supply, then the light is affected. God is laying siege to the unrepentant city of man, pressuring him to repent.
We combined this image with the image of the trumpets to talk about how the prayers of the saints are used by God to bring pressure and to break down the strongholds of sin and spiritual blindness and sin in the lives of men and to bring them to repentance (2Cor.10:3-5).
The image of plague goes back, of course, to the Exodus – where God brought plagues of darkness, hail with fire, bloody water – in order to humble Pharaoh. The point is that prayer – again – brings forth the trumpets that sound and call forth these plagues. So that what we saw last time was that the prayers of the saints humble those in positions of power and create a public witness of God’s power and glory in the world.
This morning we want to continue along these same lines of thought as we look at the sounding of the 5th and 6th trumpets…
The Prayers of the Saints Expose the True Nature of Idolatry.
The Image of the Locusts: The 5th trumpet reveals Satan being thrown down from heaven and bringing a plague of locust/ demons on the earth. As with the other images of Revelation, the image of locusts as a plague of judgment comes from the OT – out of the book of Joel – which is a book calling Israel to repentance (see Joel 1:2-7, 2:1-11 and 3:12-16).
The prayers of the saints, combined with the purposes of God reveal and expose the true nature of the idolatry of men – John is shown the spiritual nature of the idolatry and worship of the world in all its ugliness and fearfulness.
~ The Locusts are a picture of the things people worship They do not look like normal locusts, but instead are a combined image of beauty and horribleness. They have human-like faces and hair like women (picture of beauty) and golden crowns (a picture of wealth and status), and their wings sound like thundering chariots (a picture of power). In other words, they have about them, the things people idolize and desire.
~ The Locusts are a Destroying Plague At the same time, these things that have beauty are also hideous insects. They are locusts which strip away everything that is living and good and leave the earth empty and fruitless.
~ The Locusts are Supernatural Destroyers These locusts are supernatural – they come from the “Abyss” or from hell. They are set free by the star that had been thrown down – (clearly this is Satan, see Ezek.28 and Is.14). They have a supernatural power over those who do not have the mark of God on their foreheads.
Recognize the True Nature of Idolatry: We talk about idolatry a lot – Idolatry is our trust in things, to bring us happiness, to get us what we want. These things have power over our lives and lead us into sin. The locusts explain something about the power of idolatry over people.
The locusts are a true spiritual picture of the satanic and destroying nature of idolatry. Could there be a better picture of the nature of what idolatry is and does? They offer beauty and wealth and power, but they are demonic and destroying insects controlled by Satan, who is named Appollyon – “the destroyer” – (which is nothing new because Jesus said he is the thief that comes to steal and destroy). They are a picture of the idolatry that both draws men and tortures them – that strips away life. Idolatry both draws and stings us and leads us to hate our lives and even wish for death.
Pray for Idolatry to be Exposed: The prayers of the saints, then, are powerful to expose the true nature of idolatry. Prayer brings us into the presence of God (especially the Lord’s prayer), and forces us to see the purposes and desires of God as well as our own sin and need. In this way, prayer reveals the conflict between our idolatrous desires and what God is wanting to do in the world.
~ Prayer forces us to recognize another glory than our own.
~ Prayer forces us to recognize another kingdom than our own.
~ Prayer forces us to recognize another will than our own.
~ Prayer forces us to face our inability to provide for all our needs – our sin and bitterness – our spiritual enemy and danger.
Prayer helps us to escape the corruption of idolatry that so quickly and easily influences our hearts and minds. The Lord’s prayer forces us to face our false worship and idolatry. Prayer forces us to see idolatry for what it is – destructive, demonic worship with painful consequences – a life wasting plague.
The Prayers of the Saints Call For the Divine Invasion.
The Image of the Dreadful Army: This army represents the worst fears of both Jews and Romans. Invasion from the East – across the Euphrates had always been a threat to the Jews. Both the Assyrians and the Babylonians had come from this area. For the Romans, the wild Parthians, tribes of archers from the East, were a constant threat.
But this army is worse than the Babylonians, the Parthians, or even the Assyrians – it is a supernaturally powerful army – horses with the heads of lions and tails of snakes, breathing fire and brimstone. The vision (vs.17) is one of the invasion of judgment, and represents the dread of judgment and invasion of mankind.
The Saints Pray for Judgment: You may think – “I don’t” – but the truth is, if you long for God’s Kingdom to come – you do! and you should! We do not pray in a judgmental angry way out of hatred for people. However, we do pray for the work of Satan to cease – for the blasphemy of men against God to cease – for the unspeakable evil that is done on a daily basis to cease. More than that we pray to be free of our own sin -and for the world to be healed – and for God’s Kingdom to come.
The point here is that prayer (and again, specifically the Lord’s prayer), calls for this judgment – so that God’s Kingdom of justice and peace will come.
Man is Aware, on some Level, of Coming Judgment: This sense of judgment is always present in our world. Movies and books about the end of the world – fears of pandemic – predictions of global warming and financial and political ruin. People already have a sense of the coming of final judgment, even if they do not always attribute it to God.
But the saints not only know what the end of the world will be – they pray for God’s Kingdom to come – for evil to be judged – for justice to break in on those who refuse to repent and who live in open rebellion against God as though they had every right to do so.
Pray for the Urgency to Repent: “ 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” — 2 Peter 3:10-12.
The dreadful reality of the Divine Invasion in judgment of the rebellious earth should help us to see how urgent a matter repentance is. If God is going to judge the earth for murders and thefts and sexual immorality and magic arts – then we, as holy people, should not continue in these things ourselves.
Cultivate the Gift of Repentance.
Repentance is a Supernatural Grace: Notice that despite their experiences – despite their fear – despite having seen the judgment of God, those who do not have the mark of God’s Holy Spirit will not repent. Repentance is a gift from God. The gift of repentance gives us eyes to see and ears to hear.
Because repentance is the gift of God – a supernatural grace – we who have been given this gift should be quick to turn to God for grace and forgiveness. We should be quick to come to the cross both to be washed in the blood of Jesus, and for power to recognize and turn from sin. We should cultivate the gift of repentance by praying and asking God to reveal rebellion and idolatry in us – by asking for grace to see the true nature of idolatry and rebellion – and by asking for the grace to turn from these things.