They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
I. WIDESPREAD. From the position and influence of him who has been as a leader and guide of others. His life known, his influence great, his example contagious. Men follow leaders; and the welfare of the world is now advanced, now retarded, by the fidelity or unfaithfulness of them who are charged with high trust and responsibility.
II. DESTRUCTIVELY INJURIOUS. In proportion to the influence which any one wields is his power for good or evil. If one falls from a high position, he drags down others. The angel of light, become an agent of evil, opens the bottomless pit. He brings the utmost evil upon men such "as have not the seal of God upon their foreheads."
III. BITTERLY AFFLICTIVE. The injury caused is great in the social degeneracy, in the weakening of moral principle. A pillar of the house trembles, all becomes less secure. But the painfulness is great:
1. To him who falls.
2. To them whom he drags down with him.
3. To them whose sympathies being only with goodness are afflicted by anything that tends to degeneracy of manners, to feebleness of faith, or to the lowering of the tone and felicity of human life.
4. To the widespread, outlying multitudes, amongst whom the spread of goodness is retarded by every act of unfaithfulness and every instance of degeneracy and defection. - R.G.
Loose the four angels which are bound.I. THE STATE OF SOCIETY AT THE TIME.
II. THE NATURE OF THIS VISITATION.
1. It is evoked by a cry out of the four horns of the altar. It comes from the immediate presence of God, and therefore with the sanction of God. The call itself is the common voice of all four of the horns of the altar, indicating the energy and the universality of the demand for vengeance, and of that vengeance itself. The implication is that God's appointed way of forgiveness has been set aside; that the Divine system of gracious atonement and salvation has been rejected, and that the wickedness of earth has risen so high, especially in point of antagonism to the Cross, that even the altar itself, which otherwise cries only for mercy, is forced into a cry for vengeance.
2. The command issues to the angel who sounds this trumpet. The command itself is the command of the contemned Saviour. But it is addressed to the angel. He obeys it as his Divine commission, and thus presides over the administration ushered in by his trumpet. He looses the imprisoned forces, and sets them free for action.
3. Other angels are the more direct executors of the woe. Some have taken these to be good angels. I do not so regard them. Good angels are free, not bound. Good angels would not destroy men, except by special command of God; but these had only to be loosed, and they at once rushed forth for slaughter, impelled to the dreadful business by their own malicious nature. They were bound in mercy to our race, and here they are let loose in judgment. Their number also indicates the universality of their operations.
4. The moment the four bound angels are released from their constraint, hosts of death-dealing cavalry overrun the earth. As there are infernal locusts, so there are infernal horses; and as the former were let forth to overrun the world with their torments under the fifth trumpet, so the latter are let forth to overrun the world with still more terrible inflictions under the sixth.
5. Fearful havoc of human life is made by these infernal horses. To say nothing of the dread and horror which their presence inspires, and the confusion which their advent strikes into every department of society, it is here written, that, by these horses, one out of every three of the whole human family is killed, destroyed from the face of the earth.
6. The continuance of this plague is equally extraordinary.
7. The object of this woe is partly retributive and partly reformatory. It belongs to the judicial administrations of the great day. It is God's terrific judgment upon the world, which has disowned allegiance to Him, and rejected the mediation of His Son. It is the righteous indignation of outraged justice which can no longer endure the superlative wickednesses of men. And yet, in wrath God remembers mercy. He suffers on]y one-third of the race to fall a prey to this tremendous woe. He delighteth not in the death of the wicked, but would rather that they should turn from their evil ways and live.
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
The rest...repented not
(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)I. ALL MEN NEED REPENTANCE.
II. GOD PLEADS WITH MEN TO BRING THEM TO REPENTANCE. These judgments of which we read are not God's primary dealings with men. He does not begin in this manner. God has pleaded with men by His Spirit in their consciences. By His goodness, giving them all manner of providential mercies. Then, more especially by His Word.
III. BUT THESE MILDER METHODS OFTEN FAIL.
IV. STERNER METHODS ARE THEN TRIED.
V. BUT EVEN THESE, AT TIMES, AND FOR LONG TIME, FAIL. This is the declaration of our text (also Jeremiah 5:3; Jeremiah 8:6; Romans 2:4, 5). So was it with Pharaoh, when the plagues one after another, which in many respects resembled these trumpet-plagues, came upon him.
VI. WHAT IS THE REASON OF THIS? The answer is manifold, as, for example:
1. Those that are spared argue from that fact that they need not repent.
2. Sin deadens belief in God. It makes men practical atheists.
3. God's judgments are put down to secondary causes.
4. "Perfect love casteth out fear." This is true in a sense the apostle never meant. Let the heart love sin, as it is so prone to do, and that love will utterly cast out the fear of God.
5. The law of habit. You may bend the sapling, but not the tree.
VII. How INTENSELY SERIOUS ARE THE TEACHINGS OF THIS FACT! Is it true that, though God sends judgment after judgment upon men, they will yet not repent? Then:
1. More judgments and worse will come.
2. How we need to watch and pray lest we be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin!
3. What imperative need there is of the power of the Holy Spirit!
(S. Conway, B. A.)4
PeopleAbaddon, Apollyon, John
PlacesEuphrates River, Patmos
TopicsBeings, Brows, Commanded, Damage, Forbidden, Foreheads, God's, Grass, Green, Growth, Harm, Herbage, Human, Hurt, Injure, Mankind, Mark, Ordered, Plant, Seal, Tree
Outline1. At the sounding of the fifth angel, a star falls from heaven, to whom is given the key to the bottomless pit.
2. He opens the pit, and there come forth locusts like scorpions.
12. The first woe past.
13. The sixth trumpet sounds.
14. Four angels who were bound are let loose.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesRevelation 9:4
3287 Holy Spirit, sealing of
4113 angels, agents of judgment
LibraryAnother Part of My Smoke' which You Frequently Laugh at is My Pretence
31. Another part of my smoke' which you frequently laugh at is my pretence, as you say, to know what I do not know, and the parade I make of great teachers to deceive the common and ignorant people. You, of course, are a man not of smoke but of flame, or rather of lightning; you fulminate when you speak; you cannot contain the flames which have been conceived within your mouth, and like Barchochebas, the leader of the revolt of the Jews, who used to hold in his mouth a lighted straw and blow it out …
Various—Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.
The Comforts Belonging to Mourners
Jesus Heals Two Gergesene Demoniacs.
Triumph Over Death and the Grave
The Eternity of God
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