"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
THE REVELATION OF CHRIST
Lesson Number 18
THE SIXTH TRUMPET
By Given O. Blakely
THE FOUR ANGELS
" And I heard a voice . . . saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." We are not told whether these are holy or evil angels - but it makes no difference. I am personally persuaded they are evil angels, and will present my reasons later.
The point is they are under the control of the King. Like Pilate, they "could have no power at all . . . unless it had been given . . . from above" (John 19:11).
A Pivotal Truth
I must not fail to continually put you in remembrance of this pillar of truth. John the Baptist also said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven" (John 3:27). Jesus Himself confessed, "The Son can do nothing of himself" (John 5:19). This is a vein of truth that runs throughout the Word of God, and it is central to our understanding of Christ's message to the churches. If we forget "the kingdom is the LORD'S: and He is the governor among the nations" (Psa 22:28), we will soon succumb to the hardships of life. It is ever true, and we do well to embrace it, "But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases" (Psa 115:3). Again it is written, "Whatever the LORD pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places" (Psa 135;6). How eloquently God spoke through the prophet Daniel on this matter. "All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'" (Dan 4:35).
Men saturated with the wisdom of this world give too much credit to man. They suppose him to be more capable than he really is. God has not whorelinquished the reins of His Kingdom to sinful men. Nor, indeed, does our adversary the devil, have unbridled jurisdiction. With unmistakable clarity, God has affirmed the government has been placed upon the shoulder of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is presently ruling "in the midst" of His enemies (Psa 110:1-2). No personality in heaven, earth, or under the earth can effectively contest or resist His government. The ONLY question is whether of not it will bless or curse us - and it WILL do one or the other!
Angels that are Bound
Notice the language of this text. There are four angels "who are bound at the great river Euphrates." Every major translation reads precisely the same (which, of itself, is most remarkable)-KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NIV, RWB, Darbys, and YLT. The BBE (Basic Bible English) translates the word "chained." This is, indeed, a strong word! It comes from the Greek word µ, which means (1) bind (together), tie (up) (Matt 13:30) . . . (3) of arrest and imprisonment bind, tie up (Mark 6:17) . . . (5) of physical incapacity cause to be ill (Luke 13:16); (6) the binding and loosing of Matt 16:19 and 18:18. (1) It is used three other times in Scripture, and in each case, it refers to bondage, as in forceful restraint (Acts 9:2,21; 22:5).
The use of this term does not seem to allow for the angels to be "holy," or "elect" angels. It does, however, describe the condition of fallen angels, who are declared to have been delivered "into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment" (2 Pet 2:4), and "reserved in everlasting chains" (Jude 6). I take this position because of what we are told of the holy angels. They are willing servants of the Lord, "who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word" (Psa 103:20). It seems inappropriate to say such angels are "bound," unless they are bound by God's word. That view, however, seems to take too much liberty with the text. Too, the angels are "loosed," set free, or released.
Again, the government of Jesus is clearly seen. Although these angels are powerful and destructive, they remain in "chains," so to speak, until released by the Word of the King!
While it is not pleasant to consider such things, those who are not serious about the Lord do well to remember His authority over the forces of evil. They are restrained or released at His Word! How quickly men will correct their ways when this is seen.
The River Euphrates
The location of these fierce angels is "at the great river Euphrates." This is a river of note in Scripture, and it is this perspective that gives weight to the text. This is one of the four rivers mentioned in relation to the Garden of Eden. One primary river flowed out of Eden, dividing into four subsidiary rivers. Of those rivers, it is written, "The fourth river is the Euphrates" (Gen 2:24).
When God made promise to Abraham concerning the land of promise, He stated "River Euphrates" as one of its boundaries (Gen 15:18). Additional references are later made to this boundary (Deut 1:7; 11:24; Josh 1:4). From this perspective, the Euphrates river was a boundary between the land of promise and the rest of the world-a border that separated Israel's ENEMIES from them. On one occasion, David defeated the king of Zobah in order to "recover his territory at the River Euphrates" (2 Sam 8:3).
The river Euphrates is the place where Jeremiah learned of God's indignation against the pride of Judah (Jer 13:1-10). Jeremiah also saw this river as a place of Divine judgment, where wicked men stumbled and fell (Jer 46:6,10). Again, Jeremiah was given insight concerning the overthrow of Babylon the Great. He was told to tie a stone to a book and "throw it out into the Euphrates."Just as the book sunk in the river, so Babylon would "sink and not rise from the catastrophe" God would bring upon them (Jer 51:63,64). Later in Revelation, the river Euphrates is said to be "dried up," thus preparing the way for the "kings of the east" (Rev 16;12)-i.e., restraint would be removed.
This, then, is language that has been cultured through Moses and the prophets. Here is something first associated with beauty and perfection-the Garden of Eden. It then became a line of demarcation between the enemies of God and His people. This is a vivid picture of the world order-something that began without flaw, then deteriorated because of sin.
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).