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The Sixth Trumpet ... The 2nd Woe!

Rev.9: 12: One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
13: And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
14: Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
15: And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
16: And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
17: And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
18: By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.

The events that occur at the 2nd Woe are so catastrophic that nothing we can say or write will adequately describe them. Here is a woe that defies the imagination and leaves even the enlightened believer aghast; and because of this we will simply list the three main events scheduled to occur at this Trumpet and then very briefly explain them.

To begin with, the reader must bear in mind that the record of the 2nd Woe begins in Rev. 9.12, continues right through chapter 10 and ends at Rev. 11 verse 14. The events that are described between these two scriptural boundaries, therefore, are contemporary, they occur during the same period of time, that is - during the 2nd Woe. This is an important point to remember, especially when trying to interpret the events of Revelation chapter 11, which deals initially with the overthrow of Jerusalem and the work of the Two Witnesses.

The three main events scheduled to occur at the 2nd Woe (the 6th Trumpet) are as follows:

Let us now consider these three events and discover what is going to happen on earth at the 2nd Woe. The Great River Euphrates mentioned in Revelation 9: 14 is not the natural stream of water which flows in the Middle East, but a great spiritual outflow upon which sits that mighty metropolis of evil, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS! The literal Euphrates on earth, real enough though it is, is merely the physical replica or shadow of the Great River Euphrates above. At this point we will briefly explain the second, vital clue to understanding Bible prophecy.

The first clue is to realise that certain prophecies in God's Word are written in symbolic language. To understand them one must compare Scripture with Scripture and allow the Bible to interpret itself. This process was explained earlier.

The second clue is to know that certain realities in the spirit realm above are reflected or duplicated in some physical way on this earth. In other words, here below, in a very real and measurable form, we find miniature models, transient earthly counterparts, scaled-down physical replicas of the mighty spiritual originals which exist in the realms above. There is, then, this significant difference between a symbol and a model. Symbols are used in Bible prophecy to represent the qualities, characteristics, procedures, work and purposes of human or spiritual agencies. Whereas models are miniature copies or replicas of the agencies themselves. For example, consider a candlestick. It is used in Bible prophecy to symbolise the church's duty or purpose to shed spiritual light. A candlestick is a symbol of a church group, not a replica of one. The literal Euphrates, on the other hand, is a model, a scaled-down physical replica, a miniature copy of the spiritual Euphrates above. The prophecy of the Revelation has a great deal to say about these earthly counterparts; and as we study them here below we are able to learn a great deal about what is happening in the realms above.

Returning to the prophecy with this second clue in mind, we find that at the 2nd Woe four mighty angels are released from somewhere within the Great River Euphrates. They are obviously beings of awesome authority and power, and in the echelons of evil they stand as near to Satan as the four living creatures do to God. (see Rev. 4:6-8 where the throne of the Almighty is briefly described)

One Third of Mankind Slain

Marshalling an army of some two hundred thousand, thousand (200,000,000) these four demons slaughter one third of mankind!  Statisticians tell us: that in the year 1500 the world's population stood at around 500 million. By the year 1800, just 300 years later, it had doubled and topped the 1000 million mark. By the year 1930, a mere 130 years later, it had doubled again and stood at 2,000 million. And by the end of this century, barely 18 years hence, it will have rocketed to over 6,000 million souls! That's how fast the world's population is growing.

This prophecy states that at the 2nd Woe, one third of mankind will be slain. That is TWO BILLION people!

Let the reader pause for a moment and consider that stunning fact; for it means that in the near future, even at the present count, some 2,000,000,000 people are going to die at this Woe. This colossal figure of two thousand million represents the combined populations of China, and India. Or, put another way, all of Europe, the U.S.A Canada, Russia, Japan and several other nations besides. How this coming holocaust will be brought about is not fully explained; but it is going to happen nonetheless, for the scripture must be fulfilled. I repeat: One third of earth's population are scheduled to die under this 2nd Woe! We could, of course, speculate as to what type of warfare, if any, will bring this about (nuclear, biological, chemical, radiological, electronic or conventional) but we will not, because we could be totally wrong. The prophecy simply states that:

And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. (Rev. 9:15)

Strange as it may seem, the remaining two thirds of mankind do not link this massive slaughter with personal or national sin: for we are told that at that time people will still be unrepentant and will continue in their witchcraft, idolatry, deception and blasphemy. (Rev. 9:20-21) Here is spiritual blindness (or is it stubborn pride?) as its worst. Chapter 10 is inserted into the mainstream of the prophecy at this stage and the scene changes somewhat.

The reader must, however, bear in mind that the 2nd Woe is still in progress and will remain so till Revelation 11 verse 14 is reached.

In chapter 10 we read of how the prophet is given a little, open book. He is told to eat it. The open book could either be the prophetic book of Daniel, which was to be kept sealed or shut till the time of the end when it would be understood (Daniel 12:4). Or it could be the seven-sealed scroll which the Lamb had just taken from the Almighty's hand and opened seal by seal (Rev. 5:1-5). Either way, the message of the open book is sweet to the taste; that is, to those who figuratively eat, understand and believe it. But the reality of this Woe, when witnessed, is very, very bitter indeed. 'One third of mankind is slain!' That, dear reader, is a bitter prospect by anyone's standards. The bitterness will be bearable, however, especially when one considers that the prophecy does not have long to run. The end of all things will take place, we are told, in the days of the seventh angel, when he begins to sound his trumpet. (Rev. 10:7)

The message of Revelation 10 is one of great encouragement, for it reminds all believers of two things:

Having briefly considered the message of Revelation chapter 10, let us now return to the mainstream of the prophecy and continue with the events of the 2nd Woe.

Jerusalem's Capture

The second event scheduled to take place at the 2nd Woe (6th Trumpet) concerns the holy city of Jerusalem, which is to be captured by the Gentiles and dominated for a period of 42 months.

But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. (Rev. 11:2)

We know that the term 'holy' or 'great city' means Jerusalem because in verse 8 it identifies this city as 'where also our Lord was crucified.' That means - Jerusalem. The rising tension in the Middle East strongly suggests that an all-out attack on Jerusalem is not only inevitable but near. The whole Arab world, and many other nations besides, are lining up against the tiny nation of Israel, and it will not be long before the predicted attack will occur and Jerusalem will be captured.

Please note that the 42 month duration of Jerusalem's subjugation is 42 literal months, which is 1260 days or three and a half years. The principle of reckoning a day for a year and arriving at 1260 years does not apply in the prophecy of the Revelation. Some commentators have used that principle here and as a result have been obliged to begin this Woe in the distant past, some 1260 years ago. Because of this misapplication they have been unable to point to any time since the Revelation was given (AD96) when a 'third of mankind was slain,' or when 'Jerusalem was under the heel of the Gentiles for 1260 years.' Never in history has a third of mankind been slain; nor has Jerusalem ever been trampled under foot by Gentiles for an exact period of 1260 years, or days for that matter. Any historian will confirm that Jerusalem has been over-run by Gentile armies several times in its long and tumultuous past, but never for an exact period of 1260 years. So the day for a year principle cannot possibly apply in the book of Revelation.

The only remaining alternative is that at the 2nd Woe which is still future the present Middle East crisis will erupt and after another blood-bath the city of Jerusalem will be captured by the Gentiles. The exact 42 months period of brutal domination will then begin. Grim though this prospect may appear to those of us who worship the God of Israel, all is not lost, for the Messiah is scheduled to return to earth and to liberate Jerusalem from Gentile rule.

Speaking through the prophet Zechariah, Yahweh the Almighty God of Israel has this to say about the end-time capture and liberation of Jerusalem.

Zec.14: 1: Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
2: For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3: Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
4: And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
5: And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
6: And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:
7: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
8: And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
9: And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

This amazing prophecy about Jerusalem being attacked, captured and then miraculously delivered by the Messiah who is to descend upon the split Mount of Olives has obviously never been fulfilled. In other words, it has still to happen; and happen it will in the near future. All the events in the Middle East indicate that the final scenes are set; the mounting tension, the anger of the nations at Israel's behaviour, the utter fruitlessness of the various peace talks, the trade and arms embargoes, the outbreaks of anti-Semitism around the globe, all these indicate that a multinational attack on Jerusalem is not only certain but imminent.

We may be absolutely sure, however, that in spite of all these foreboding signs, pregnant with peril as most of them are, behind and above them all the Almighty God of Israel is working His twofold plan out. And that plan is this:

Rise ... Measure the Temple

The 42 month subjugation of Jerusalem, followed by its dramatic liberation by the Messiah, will accomplish the first part of the plan. And the instruction to rise and measure the Temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein (Rev. 11:1) will trigger the second. Let me explain further.

Following the clue of comparing scripture with scripture, we will turn to the prophecy of Ezekiel where in chapters 40 and 43 a similar instruction to measure the Temple of God was carried out. In the vision of Ezekiel, the prophet is given detailed measurements of every conceivable part of the temple: the wall, the gates, the chambers, the pillars and posts, the steps, the galleries, the courts and even the territory on which the temple stood. All were accurately measured and the specifications cover several chapters of Ezekiel's book.

"And why." you may well ask, "was the temple measured? What was the Almighty's purpose in ordering that painstaking exercise?"

The answer is, the temple was measured so that God's people could see, investigate and learn to live by the laws and principles which govern true worship of Yahweh the God of Israel. Here is proof of this astonishing fact.

Ezekiel 43: 10: Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern.
11: And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and DO them.

The order to rise and measure the Temple, in other words, is the Almighty's way of drawing His people's attention to the principles and laws of the Temple in Heaven: the sacred original of which the earthly temple was but a copy. And this is precisely what He aims to do during the 2nd Woe, while a third of earth's mighty population is perishing. He will then open the eyes of the innumerable multitude of believers to the eternal principles and laws of the Temple in Heaven, its layout, its structure, its services and its divine purpose. And many believers who had previously rejected the commandments of God at the time of Sealing will at this Woe begin to understand and obey the regulations of the Temple which governs the worship of Yahweh the Almighty God of Israel. They will then repent of their sins and begin to keep the commandments of God in accordance with His will.

The Ark of the Covenant

Towards the end of Revelation chapter 11 the prophet John tells of the heavenly Temple being opened. What did he see inside that sacred place? He saw, believe it or not, the Ark of the Covenant, the heavenly original which contains the Ten Commandments. Please note that John saw this some 60 years after the resurrection, so the commandments were not cancelled at Calvary as many Christians suppose.
The question is: What shall we do with the Ark of the Covenant?

Rev.11 19 And the Temple of God was opened in heaven
and there was seen in his Temple the Ark of his Testament.

Yes, the Ark of the Testament, in which is deposited the original version of Yahweh's perfect law, (the eternal constitution of the mighty universe) is still within the heavenly Temple and John saw it over 60 years after the resurrection. The reader may be sure that at the 2nd Woe, when the Temple in heaven is measured, those same principles and laws enshrined within the Ark of the Covenant will arouse the interest of believers all over the world. Then many will be ashamed of their hitherto rebellious attitude towards Jehovah's laws and will begin to keep His commandments just as He directed in the vision of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 43: 11 ... write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof,
and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.

This measuring of the Temple, in short, is a divine call to obedience, a call which is directly linked with the message of the Two Witnesses, who we will now consider.

The Two Witnesses

The third major event to occur during the 2nd Woe (6th trumpet) will be the powerful work, death and resurrection of the Two Witnesses.

Rev.11: 3: And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4: These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
5: And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
6: These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
7: And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

Who are the Two Witnesses, the two symbolic olive trees that stand before the God of the earth? They are two spirit-filled beings who come down from the Temple in Heaven. The prophet Zechariah tells of them in the following words:

Zechariah 4: 11: Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?
12: And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
13: And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
14: Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth.

Though we cannot at this stage be certain as to the identity of the Two Witnesses, because their names are not given, these scriptures tell us the following facts about the Two Witnesses and their work.

It is not necessary at this point in time to further identify the Two Witnesses, because when they do eventually arrive on the earth the whole world will speedily become aware of their presence. There will be no mistaking them or the absolute authority with which they preach. Even in the city of Jerusalem, which at the time will be under the Gentile heel, they will declare the message of God with awesome effect. No earthly authority will dare restrain them, for like Elijah of old they are able to reduce their opponents to ashes; and like Moses and Aaron, can cause all manner of plagues. (2 Kings 1, Exodus chapters 7 to 12)

Many and varied have been the claims and interpretations concerning the Two Witnesses, but not one of them meets all the conditions listed above. Nor is that surprising, for these two divine messengers can only appear on the world's scene at God's appointed time, which is when a third of the world's population is being slain and the city of Jerusalem is under the Gentile heel. When they do arrive, however, they will bring to all mankind a final appeal from God. Their message will be, in fact, the same call to repentance and obedience which every true prophet of God has delivered since the days of Enoch. Multitudes of believers from every nation, kindred tongue and people will heed their call and begin to obey God's law. This will be the time when the innumerable multitude (see page 12) will wash their robes and come into line with the eternal principles of God's law which is within the Ark of the Covenant inside the Temple of Heaven.

The vast majority of mankind, however, will reject the Two Witnesses and their powerful call to repentance, faith and obedience. Why? Because at about that time the most diabolical Agent of Evil this world has ever seen will be parading the earth and seducing its inhabitants into serving Satan. The Two Witnesses will be murdered by this being, who is symbolically referred to in the Revelation as the Beast.

For further information, see files Two Witnesses   and   Who/What is the Antichrist  for more information on these beings. This brings us to the end of the 6th Trumpet, the terrifying 2nd Woe, when within a short space of three and a half years:

The Second Woe is past;
and behold a Third Woe cometh quickly.

(Rev. . 11:14)

Trumpets 1-5 The Seven Seals Of The Revelation Trumpet 7

SBS   Prophecy   Book Index
Author: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
First published 1983 / Placed on the Internet 1996 / Updated: 1998 / Reformatted: May 2000