Rev 9:17 KJV – 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.
John sees this angelic (or demonic) army bringing God’s judgment upon lost mankind. John sees that this army has “fire and smoke and brimstone” proceeding out of their mouth, which is used as a weapon of torment and death.
To begin our devotional for this morning, we need to understand what is meant by “brimstone”. Brimstone, when used in the Bible, is describing a very flammable substance (normally either cypress resin or sulphur). This is why “brimstone” is linked to fire and smoke. All three are related to burning and great pain and distress.
Throughout the Scriptures, fire and brimstone is linked to God’s judgment against sin…
- Sodom and Gomorrah – Gen 19:24, Luke 17:29
- Those who take pride in wickedness – Deut 29:23
- The desolation/punishment of the wicked man – Job 18:15, Psa 11:6, Isa 34:9.
- The breath of God kindling judgment upon heathen nations – Isa 30:33
- Lord’s judgment against Gog and his army – Ezek 38:22
- The Lord’s wrath at His second coming – Rev 9:17-18, Rev 14:10
Most importantly, the ultimate, eternal judgment of those who oppose the Lord is described by fire and brimstone as well… the Lake of Fire and Brimstone (Rev 19:20, Rev 20:10, Rev 21:8)
Will the eternal punishment of the unbeliever involve literal fire and burning?
Keep in mind, the book of Revelation is filled with symbolism. When the Rev 19:-21: passages refer to the eternal suffering of unbelievers as a “Lake of Fire and Brimstone”, it could be symbolically describing horrible pain and suffering through the use of the symbol of fire.
However, it is important to recognize that fire is used to describe the eternal suffering of the lost in other books of the Bible (Mark 9:44-48 etc). Because of its usage elsewhere, a literal fire seems to be a part of the eternal suffering of those who are lost.
In either case, since we know how painful it is to be burned on the stove or oven… how horrible the eternal suffering must be if the Lord links fire and brimstone to eternal judgment.
The solemn recognition of the horrors of the Lake of Fire should results in 2 basic life changes…
- For those who have never come to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it should drive them to Christ knowing that it is only through Him that forgiveness of sins and escape from eternal punishment can be had.
- For those who have trusted in Christ, it should drive us to use every opportunity to warn the lost of their condition and remind them of His great love, mercy and grace, inviting them to turn to Jesus while there is yet time.
May we all think on these things today and find encouragement to be a witness for our Lord!
For an in depth look at these sections of the Revelation: