Monday, January 19, 2009
Revelation 9:1 - 21
Revelation chapter 9 contains the lengthy portion of Scripture covering trumpet judgments five and six. We will investigate both in depth.
Verse 1: And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
The star John sees-a male personage-is without a doubt the devil of verse 11. The Greek tense in verse 1 is not fall - present tense, but fallen - past tense. Isaiah describes this fall in chapter 14, verses 12 through 14: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most high. Satan's fall came through pride. He wanted to be coequal with God. Jesus, in eternity past, beheld this fall and said to His seventy disciples, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven (Luke 10:18). This fallen one is presented with a key to the bottomless pit, and he uses it.
Verse 2: And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
The term bottomless pit does not refer to one who has a voluminous appetite! Instead, the literal Greek renders it the pit of the abyss. The term is found nine times in the New Testament. In each case, it is a place to restrain or hold certain beings which have come under the judgment of God. For instance, when Christ went into the country of Gadarenes, He met a certain man who had a legion of demons. The demons within the man besought the Lord that he would not command them to go out into the deep [or abyss] (Luke 8:3 1). Their dread and terror of the pit (or abyss) was so great that they would rather become incarnated in swine. Oh, the pit of the abyss must be a terrible place! How frightful, then, is the hour when the prison house of fallen angels is finally opened. The smoke ascending out of the pit darkens the sun and the air. Talk about pollution! The environmentalists had better get saved or they will be around for the greatest soot inundation in history. Then they will have a steady job picketing the portals of hell-but it will be too late.
Verse 3: And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
These are not literal locusts. Their power is too great. They are most likely fallen angels who have been restrained and imprisoned in the bottomless pit since their fall (described in Genesis 6). These wicked beings, chained in darkness all of these centuries (see 2 Peter 2:4), can hardly wait to begin their acts of evil. They are told what they can and cannot do:
Verse 4: And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
In chapter 7, we saw multitudes sealed. The locusts, or fallen angels, are not allowed to touch the sealed, only the unsealed-those who have worshipped the Beast and accepted his number, 666. Note also that the locusts are not allowed to kill the unsealed (the unsaved). They are permitted only to torture them.
Verse 5: And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
What an agonizing period of time this will be!
Verse 6: And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.The next four verses give us a vivid description of these locusts, or fallen angels.
Verse 7: And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle [this speaks of strength and speed]; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold [this speaks of royalty; a picture of conquerors], and their faces were as the faces of men [denoting intelligence].
Verse 8: And they had hair as the hair of women [picturing attractiveness], and their teeth were as the teeth of lions [portraying cruelty].
Verse 9: And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron [picturing invincibility]; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle [denoting calamity].
Verse 10: And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
These facts reinforce the gruesome portrait of life upon earth as the pit of the abyss is opened and the convicts of the ages-the fallen angels-are released. The next verse clearly identifies the fallen star who is the leader of these perverted angels.
Verse 11: And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
This king is named in both Hebrew and Greek. Abaddon is Hebrew. The term, found only this one time in our English Bible, is found six times in the Hebrew Bible: Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Psalm 88:11; Proverbs 15:11; and 27:20. The Greek form, Apollyon, means the destroyer-a word that certainly describes Satan.
Verse 12: One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
Verse 13: And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
Verse 14: Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
As the sixth angel sounds, John hears a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is in the presence of God. Isn't it strange that many of the judgments are directly linked with God's program of atonement? Perhaps this is because so many have rejected the message of the altar which speaks of the shed blood of Jesus. Paul warned the human race of the danger of refusing this teaching: He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:28, 29). The rejection of God's Word always brings serious consequences. Before us is a scene wherein even the altar (the only place where sin can be forgiven) and the horns of the altar (actually touched by the blood) unitedly cry out to God for judgment. Never treat the message of the precious shed blood of Christ lightly. Those who do will be sorry! Now, because of rejecting the message, the voice from the altar tells the sixth angel to loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.The fact that they are bound proves that they are the fallen angels who rebelled and fell with Lucifer at the time of his revolt (see Isaiah 14:12-14). Once the Church is safely in heaven, four denizens from the pit of the abyss are released upon earth. Earlier we saw four unfallen angels holding back the judgment of God (chapter 7, verse 1). Now four wicked angels are set free to wreak havoc upon planet earth. They are commanded to execute their judgment in the area of the Euphrates River. This body of water runs through Iraq and Syria and will become the point of origin for the battle of the ages in the future.
I have repeatedly said that the Gulf War of 1991 was not the fulfillment of this prophecy but was simply the beginning of the end, as the final pieces of the puzzle were being assembled for the future. This is the part of the world where Satan performed his destructive work against our first parents, Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:10-14). It is the area where Cain murdered his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8), and where mankind made its first united move against God (Genesis 11:1-4). Later God made His unconditional covenant with Abraham in this location, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates (Genesis 15:18).
This land area belongs to Israel and no one but Israel. God will see that they get it. Proof? And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee (Exodus 23:3 1). Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be (Deuteronomy 11:24). Again God says, From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast (Joshua 1:4).At one point in history, the Euphrates River became the boundary of the old Roman Empire-which is being restored and will fall under the rule of the Antichrist (chapter 13, verse 1). This area will surely become the sore spot as history progresses, for it serves as both the frontier of the promised land and the boundary of the ten-toed, ten-horned, western federation of nations that produces the Antichrist (Daniel 2:40,41; 7:23,24; and Revelation 13:1). The destruction unleashed upon the earth by the four evil emissaries is described in the next verse.
Verse 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.
The population of earth is presently five billion souls. In our study, we have seen one-fourth of this number die under the rider of the fourth or pale horse (chapter 6, verse 8). Thus, at this point in time, earth's population is three billion, seven hundred fifty million. Now an additional one-third-or one billion, two hundred fifty million-perish as the four fallen angels are released. These four executioners are undoubtedly waiting in the wings to begin the drama of the ages. They are prepared and eagerly anticipating their scheduled timetable. Remember, the Euphrates River is Middle East territory-the location of present-day Iraq and Syria. This is the world's present and future tinderbox.The holocaust will also include the Soviet Union and her allies posed against Israel (Ezekiel 38 and 39). The barbaric troops come against the nation of Israel from the north: Thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land (Ezekiel 38:15, 16). Russia is north of Israel. This is why Joel declared in chapter 2, verse 20, 1 will remove far off from you [Israel] the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate [Siberia], with his face toward the east sea, and his hInder part toward the utmost sea. Geographically, Russia alone meets the qualifications of this text.
As stated previously, Israel is mentioned as the battlefield of the world on eighteen occasions in Ezekiel 38 and 39. There is no doubt that the Holy Land becomes the site of the greatest war in the annals of history. Now Russia marches toward the middle of the Tribulation hour, but is driven back to Siberia (see Ezekiel 39:1, 2 and Joel 2:20). She strengthens her forces and then returns to the land of Israel once again. The scope and intensity of the offensive continues to increase until all nations become involved and are finally gathered together against Israel at Jerusalem. God says, I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle (Zechariah 14:2). At that point the Battle of Armageddon takes place: He gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).
This Mid-east war numbers the largest armies in the history of mankind.
Verse 16: And the number of the army of the horsemen [was] two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
Think of it! Two hundred million soldiers! No wonder the ancient prophet said, And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land (Ezekiel 38:16). This army advances in the latest and best of equipment: For the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation .The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings (Nahum 2:3, 4).
Many Bible scholars associate the army of two hundred million with Red China and her oriental allies by tying this text concerning the Euphrates together with chapter 16, verse 12: And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east [or the kings of the sun-rising] might be prepared. Such an assembly of military might is quite feasible considering China's present population of nearly one billion. Other Bible commentators believe this army is a supernatural one in light of the three verses which follow:
Verse 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.
Verse 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.
Verse 19: For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
The advocates of literalism believe that these same verses portray the latest inventions stockpiled in the military arsenals of the world. Either way, it will be a devastating period of time as the remaining third of earth's inhabitants are destroyed by fire, smoke, and brimstone-a sulfurous, poisonous gas.
At this point several verses predicting the final war of fire should be considered: A fire goeth before him (Psalm 97:3). For, behold, the Lord will come with fire (Isaiah 66:15). The whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy (Zephaniah 1:18). A fire devoureth before them (Joel 2:3). Who! The Russian army coming from the north. Then God states: I will remove far off from you [Israel] the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great [or terrible] things (Joel 2:20). This is the point at which the Soviets are pushed back to Siberia. Joel continues in verse 30 of chapter 2: And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.This sounds similar to the report mentioned in Malachi 4:1: For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven. And the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up (Revelation 8:7). Again-whether the means are natural or supernatural-it is catastrophic. Personally, I believe that both the natural and the supernatural-men and demons-will be involved in the Tribulation woes. Now, what about the remaining sixty-five percent of the population?
Verse 20: And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:
Verse 21: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
We have now witnessed the release of thirteen judgments-seven seals and six trumpets. One would think that after experiencing such devastation, mankind would begin considering eternity. Not so! Those who are still alive continue to rebel. Wicked sinners do not give in or give up easily. In fact, God's Word tells us that men won't repent even after they have been in the regions of the doomed and the damned for centuries. Even then they continue gnashing their teeth in an expression of their hatred toward God. Proof? The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:41, 42).Verses 20 and 21 present five major sins which permeate the Tribulation scene-and for which men would rather die than switch: (1) occultism, (2) murder, (3) drug abuse, (4) fornication (sexual orgies), and (5) stealing. We will look at these sins in-depth next week.
We want to finish out our study on the sixth trumpet by studying in-depth the five sins mentioned in Revelation 9:21-22
The Tribulation will be a time of pronounced devil worship. Anton LaVey began the church of Satan movement in San Francisco. Estimates reveal that tens of thousands in California alone are connected to this or some other type of occult organization. Stores where satanic objects may be purchased are presently springing up everywhere nationally and internationally. God hates this sin!
Listen to the Almighty: Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:3 1). And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people (Leviticus 20:6). Anything that smacks of demonic-related practices has the anathema of God upon it. Look at the listing found in Deuteronomy 18:10-12: There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times [astrology], or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord.
In addition to worshipping devils, earth dwellers of the Tribulation hour also use idols made of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood. God hates idolatry! This practice breaks His holy law-the second commandment-given to Moses in Exodus 20:4,5 which declares, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image...Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for l the Lord thy God am a jealous God.
There are those today who, knowingly or unknowingly, break God's commandment by worshipping lifeless, man-made idols. Their worship, however, is meaningless to God. The psalmist says in Psalm 115:4-8, Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them [helpless and hopeless]; so is every one that trusteth in them. God condemns idolatry-past, present, and future!
During the Tribulation hour, the world-steeped in occultism and idolatry-progresses to the worship of the image of the beast, or Antichrist, who proclaims himself as God (see 2 Thessalonians 2:4).
This image, made in his likeness (see Revelation 13:15), is undoubtedly the abomination of desolation spoken of in Matthew 24:15, which is placed in the Temple in Jerusalem and which brings great heartache to the Jews of that day. One can see that the world's present surge of occultism is paving the way for the coming of the greatest religious imposter in history.
During this same time, murder becomes a sport and judgment does not change the situation. The wicked refuse to turn from their brutalistic manner of living. They find pleasure in killing people, perhaps because terrorism is rampant. Jesus said, But as the days of Noe were, so shall the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:37). Noah's day was characterized by violence: The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence (Genesis 6:11). Our twentieth century is certainly leading us to this terrifying hour.
Drugs, fornication, and stealing
The final three sins prevalent during the end time are interrelated and have to do with sorceries-drug abuse, fornication (the practice of every conceivable sex sin), and theft. These sins indicate that bodies are being sold (through prostitution) and burglaries are being committed in order to support the drug kick. Present news headlines indicate that this day is already dawning! Surely our time as the Church upon earth is about to end and we must prepare to meet [our] God (Amos 4:12). In concluding this chapter, let's spend some time on the matter of drugs.
There are a number of words used in the Bible to describe the subject of sorcery. Altogether there are at least twenty-seven references to sorcery, sorceries, sorcerers, witches, witchcraft, and the art of bewitching. Of these, at least five in the New Testament are especially pertinent, for they have a direct bearing on the day in which we live-the present day of drugs and drug addiction.
In the books of the Old Testament and the Book of Acts the term sorcery always means witchcraft or magic-and one should note that the practice is continually and constantly condemned! Five occurrences of the word sorcery in the New Testament, however, have to do with drug addiction. In these instances, the original Greek word is pharmakeia- from which we get our English term pharmacy or drugstore. The literal meaning of the Greek is an enchantment with drugs, or to get high on or get a kick out of drugs. Medications prescribed by doctors are not part of this condemnation. The literal rendering of verse 21, then, is that men repent not of their enchantment with drugs during the Tribulation hour. Each of the five references must be carefully considered in the light of its context. Collectively, they clearly reveal:
The present world condition as foretold in the prophetic scriptures;
The inevitable result of drug addiction;
The certain and definite judgment upon the drug pusher as well as
The drug victim; and finally
The appraisal of this terrible sin in the sight of God Almighty.
As previously stated, we can already see the dawning of the day of drugs in the spread of drug use throughout all levels of society. Such a widespread use of drugs cannot help but bring its own destruction. Even amid all the trips in mind expansion propaganda, not one user has ever been able to actually do more or be more efficient than he was before experimenting with drugs. This steady downward retrogression will be climaxed at the close of the Great Tribulation, when the full cup of its own judgment is measured.
The closing chapters of the Book of Revelation graphically portray the terrible consequences of mankind's enchantment with drugs. What we are presently witnessing is only the beginning of the coming disintegration of society during the Tribulation period. Revelation 18:23 states: For by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. The Greek word for sorceries, as already mentioned, is pharmakeia. Thus, by their enchantment with drugs, or getting high on drugs, were all nations deceived. This is the result of mankind's first mass usage of drugs.
Now there is a change in the next occurrence of the word translated sorcerers. This change reveals a class of people who are doomed and is found in chapter 21, verse 8: But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. The Greek word for sorcerers in this text is pharmakeus. Whereas the word pharmakeia meant enchantment with drugs, pharmakeus means the enchanter with drugs-the pusher or the seller of drugs. This text plainly declares that eight distinct groups of people will never get into heaven but will rather be assigned to the lake of fire (a description of a literal hell). One of these groups is composed of those who are enchanters, or pushers of drugs. What a solemn warning against having anything to do with the soul-damning drug traffic of the present hour!
But wait! There is another reference to sorcerers in this book of the Bible-chapter 22, verse 15: For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. Here again the word is pharmakeus. Although the word is the same as the one found in chapter 21, verse 8, it has a deeper meaning in this context. By extension, it includes both the drug pusher and user! Take notice-these individuals are kept out of heaven. (Heaven would not be heaven very long if they were admitted.) There is only one place to which they can go and that is the place of eternal separation from the presence of God- the place prepared for Satan and his angels (see Matthew 25:41).
The Bible is explicit in stating that there is no heaven for those who refuse to repent of their sins. In hell, they will keep on sinning forever. They never repent or get saved there. Notice also that of the six groups named in chapter 22, verse 15, sorcerers (drug pushers and users) occupy second place-immediately following the term which describes outlaws as wild dogs. Oh, God hates this sin!
An additional word, witchcraft, with the same meaning is found in Galatians 5:19-21: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. The word witchcraft in our English Bible is again pharmakeia in the Greek. We also see that this sin is number six in this listing of seventeen kinds of sinners who shall not-shall not-inherit the kingdom of God. The drug user and the drug pusher are both excluded from heaven!
Is there no hope or escape from the clutches of this binding habit? Praise God, there is a source of liberation-it is the Lord Jesus Christ: For this purpose the son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Beloved, it is by the way of the cross of Calvary that Jesus has broken Satan's grip. Now, when any-any-guilty sinner calls upon Him for salvation, Jesus Christ immediately frees that person from the shackles of sin and death which bind him. Try Him. There is no limit to the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ.