Lord, bless this time of study and open my eyes to Your truth.
"...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.'" (Revelation 9:13-14).
Every altar holds a clear lesson for us: either our sins can be forgiven or our sins must be judged. This altar with four horns speaks especially of the mighty power of God - He has the power to save or the power to judge. And He is about to dispense universal judgment.
The voice comes from the altar where the prayers of the saints have been offered up and ascended to heaven through the power of Jesus' blood. So the voice is coming as an answer to the prayers of many throughout the ages. The command is given to loose four of the most wicked and powerful fallen angels from the restraints God paced upon them. These prince demons seem to have charge over the four world empires that have existed on this earth. And God has kept these chief demons bound at the fountainhead of all ungodly kingdoms.
The Euphrates River flowed out of the Garden of Eden, where the first sin was committed. The Tower of Babel was built on the banks of the Euphrates by Nimrod, who pictures the coming antichrist with his spirit of rebellion. The Euphrates is both the cradle and the grave of human civilization and of the kingdom of satan, as we'll see when God's plan is complete.
When these demon princes are released, an incredible battle begins, setting the stage for the battle of Armageddon. Massive armies 200 million-strong clash so fiercely that one-third of the remaining population will be killed (vv. 15-16). John's descriptions of the instruments of warfare he saw sound much like our modern tools of war which utilize great fire power - tanks, helicopters and even atomic weapons (vv. 17-19).
The Tribulation is building to its full intensity as God's judgment continues to pour out upon the world and the sounding of the seventh trumpet approaches.